Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today's SWAT Standoff & Another "Injunction Dysfunction" Are Related

Last month, Judge Sally Kest presided over an injunction hearing that ended in the SWAT shooting of one of the parties, Palin Perez, today.

In her Petition for Injunction, the mother of his two children (ages 2 and 3), alleged Perez (Facebook photo below) had been abusive throughout their 4-yr relationship.

She wrote:
Mr. Perez has been violent, mentally, emotionally, verbally, and sexually abusive throughout our relationship. He has raped me . . . at least 4 times, laughing and calling me a whore. Also asking if I liked it. I cried the whole time. He has called me a slut, [expletive], whore, n . . .loving whore and bitch. He has threatened to take my life and even told me he would "cut my throat."

He has given me multiple black eyes and punched me in my head so hard and so many times I have migraine headaches. He has choked me and hit me during my pregnancy of my 3-year old.

I am in fear of my life scared that Mr. Perez will find me. I am afraid to go anywhere especially alone. I have a 911 phone, but I do not feel safe.

He was my boyfriend for the last 4 years and we have 2 children together. During the course of our relationship I wasn't allowed (per order of Mr. Perez) to leave the house at all! I wasn't allowed to have any communication with anyone. I wasn't allowed to have a phone or seek therapy. I could not look at any men, even on TV that made Mr. Perez feel [indecipherable] about himself.

Soon (2 months) after Mr. Perez and I began our relationship I found out that Mr. Perez had Domestic Violence issues (pending) with his ex-wife. I then found police reports and other papers explain what he did to her and realized he was doing the same to me. He was arrested and charged with Attempted Murder and Assault on his ex-wife, but it appears that it was continued without a finding.
CourtWatch monitored the first hearing over which Judge Kest presided on Wednesday, October 7, 2009. The Respondent (Perez) failed to appear when the case was called at 10:09 AM (it was on the docket for 9:30 AM). After the Petitioner briefly testified about the situation, Judge Kest granted a 6 month injunction, ordered $362/mo in temporary child support, and supervised visitation through Family Ties. The hearing concluded at 10:17 AM and the Petitioner left soon thereafter, with her injunction paperwork in hand.

At that point, the only fault we could possibly find was that the injunction was only granted for 6 months.

Fast forward to later that morning.

Mr. Perez arrived about an hour later and claimed he had been present but had not been called for his hearing. As one who has spent many hours on the 16th floor of the courthouse, I find his claim to lack credibility. If he had reported to the room he was instructed to, and at the time he was instructed to arrive, court personnel would have made certain he was in the hearing.

Here's where Judge Kest blew it.

Instead of telling Mr. Perez to file a motion to request a re-hearing, she cancelled the injunction she had just granted to the Petitioner and told him to return the following afternoon at 1:00 PM for a hearing.

When the parties returned the next afternoon, they had to wait for all the other cases to be heard first (Thursday afternoon is devoted to hearings that require Spanish interpreters). When the case was finally heard at 4:21 PM, the Petitioner's attorney attempted to introduce testimony about Perez's attempted murder case from another jurisdiction, but Judge Kest refused to consider it. Perez allegedly got those teardrop tattoos on his face while serving time in prison for that assault.

In addition to the above petition  against him, Mr. Perez (6'1" and 280 lbs) had filed an injunction a few days earlier on behalf of his two children, claiming that Ms. S (5'2" and 130 lbs) had been behaving erratically, had physically assaulted him, broken things, and threatened to kill him and to commit suicide with a knife. Police were called and she was Baker Acted. Her petition was filed after her release from Lakeside.

At the hearing on October 8th, Judge Kest granted a 1-year injunction, but no longer required supervised visits through Family Ties. In fact, Judge Kest also granted custody of the children to Mr. Perez  and only weekend visits for the mother.
Three weeks later, Perez filed an affadavit stating that Ms. S had violated the injunction by driving by his home, making harrassing phone calls, and alleged that his 3-year old daughter had been exposed to improper sexual behavior by her mother and her new boyfriend.
At the hearing for the alleged violations on November 20, 2009 Judge Theotis Bronson dismissed the charges.
Mr. Perez apparently realized he was not able to control the situation further, the Court system having thrown gasoline on the fire, and he took Ms. S and the children hostage shortly thereafter - holding them for 4 days until she was able to escape this morning.

The act of a desperate man? Undoubtedly.

Suicide by Cop? Maybe.
Whether or not this situation could have been averted will be the subject of a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking by law enforcement, court personnel, DCF, and domestic violence advocates. I'm just relieved that the children and their mother were not injured or killed.

Now for our two cents about Judge Kest's performance on the injunction court bench:

CourtWatch has sent our concerns about Judge Kest to her and to those above her in the past. Our concerns, thus far, do not seem to have been addressed. So we'll share them with you.

CourtWatch volunteers have consistently noted that Judge Kest is often disrespectful to the parties in her courtroom, speaks condescendingly to them, and seems to expect them to know the legal procedures for presenting their case (in spite of the fact they rarely have an attorney to represent them).  She conducts hearings in a manner that suggests that getting it done fast is more important that getting it done thoroughly - often failing to to elicit additional testimony that would be pertinent to the case and failing to cover all the issues (child support/visitation, property retrieval) that need resolution.

After 11 months hearing injunction cases, she should be doing a better job for the citizens of Orange County.

12/11/09: More information in the Sentinel about this case.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Wonder how Judge Krest would feel if Mr. Perez were involved with a daughter of hers! Shame on her!

  3. I was in a violent relationship with a man for 2 years before he finally went to jail for Felony False Imprisonment, Aggravated Assault, and Battery. I got my first injunction against him in 2007. The wonderful advocates with Habror House were very supportive, but realistic and told me I would still need to come back every year to keep my injunction in place. In October of this year I was scheduled to appear before Judge Bronson. Judge Kest came in to hear overflow cases, and I unfortunately ended up in her courtroom. She was extremey disrespectful, gave my ex's attorney every opportunity to attack me, but continuously shut my attorney down. She dismissed my injunction. Since then I have had him driving past my house, calling me in the middle of the night, laughing then hanging up. Yet, I am told since Judge Kest dismissed my injunction, it is unlikely I'd be granted a new one under these circumstances. Way to go Judge Kest keeping victims safe!

  4. Not all of the information listed here is accurate. In regards to the initial trial the reason the Judge allowed the hearing to be postponed to the following day is because he was indeed present at 9:00AM. The reason the Judge believed this is because the social worker affiliated with this case was at his side the entire time awaiting the hearing.

    1. You must be Merari Lewis....if so....I want to say...I hope this weighs heavy on your heart. Yoy failed my children and my safety. My children talk about seeing him die every day. I pray for forgiveness towards you. And also that God does not hold this against you. I am no longer angry with you. I just hope you make better judgements in life.

  5. I think the point isn't if the guy was really there at 9am, that's just a matter of splitting hairs...

    The true issues is the judge failing to look at both sides of the case. The judge acting biased. The judge not thinking clearly and putting life's in danger.

    In my opinion the judge is responsible for the death of Palin Perez. She gave him the power, puffed up his ego, encouraged him and gave him permission to act out more... That cost him his life! I am sure that Mr. Perez's life is of value to someone, so shame on that Judge...

    On the other hand, did the judge foresee all of this? Did she know that when Mr. Perez was denied by Judge Bronson that he was going to freak out anyways, jeopardizing the life's of the children and the their mother.

    Lets face it, he would have gone ballistic after the injunction too, probably ending someones life. Was it foresight and saving those young children and their mother from a sure death...

    who is to say...
    but a judge is not God

  6. When you say biased does that mean they don't agree with your side and that is why you called it biased?

  7. This issue is that judges need training in reading people. Sally Kest was my guardian ad Litem years ago, and choose to beleive the abusive parent. She is way out of her league behind the bench... she needs to find another day time job.

  8. ohhh yes i totally understand , that sadly judges only choose to listen to only one side , I am under forced guardianship and as competent and intelligent as I am my abusive father , petitioned the court to have me put under '' forced '' guardianship , and I am of age and still God willing have my whole life ahead of me but my father has lied in court and says things about me etc that are not true and that wasn't any of his business, I do not want to be cheated out of a life and I certainly don't want to have any regrets but I choose to believe and to think in the positive otherwise we will all drive ourselves crazy and we cannot do that , I publicly disown my father because when one's own family stoops so low as to do this right now it is unforgivable of what he has done to me , I cannot in the present forgive this ultimate betrayal , because it isn't safe physically nor emotionally , and all that I've ever done was love my father and ohhh how I loved him and when others were putting him down I took up for him and would say do not talk about my dad like that, because I love him. but that was then and this is now I'm all grown up now , but sadly he and I have grown apart and he thinks that money can buy happiness, by nature I'm a very out-going and happy individual and I love and appreciate life and never want to take this great gift for granted, life itself is a risk no matter where you go you take a chance by just walking outside your door , or you could be bathing and you get eletricuted etc. so no matter where one is whether at home or abroad death is waiting for us all, but one must'nt allow that truth to scare us from living life to the fullest , otherwise the only one who is really cheating you out of a life is you.. guardianship /conservationship needs to end, because one doesn't need a guardianship in order to care for those who truly cannot take care of themselves. so please please stop the abuse. do unto others what you ! would have them do unto you.. thank you

  9. To Anonymous (2/22/12):
    First and foremost, one of the toughest lessons I've had to learn was about forgiveness. In the years that I dealt with not being able to forgive my abuser, I learned that forgiving someone is not the same thing as saying (either directly to them or to yourself) that what they did is OK. Forgiveness is letting go of the bitterness (which will destroy your life) and letting God deal with the other person.

    Also, forgiveness is NOT necessarily allowing that toxic person back into your life when they could/would do you more harm. You're the best judge of that, so don't let anyone try to tell you what you should do.

    Finally, if you haven't already done so, I recommend consulting with an attorney about the guardianship situation. Perhaps you'll get a new judge who'll give you a fair hearing on the matter.

    Good luck to you!

    1. I want to take this time to Thank You...I am learning to forgive. It took a lot away from me by holding on to the "what if's" ...I have struggled these last 3 years moreso with guilt than anger. I know now that I couldn't have changed anything. I did what I could to keep my children and myself safe. Thank you for making people more aware of this subject. It is a silent scary issue that is often unnoticed and commonly overpassed by people on the outside looking in. I appreciate your time and attention in helping me and others. Your words and work has not gone unnoticed...with that said on behalf of my children and I thank you and I hope this helps others as much as it has helped me....

  10. I am the said victim in this case...As sad as this is and as hard as this was to get through(though my children and I are still trying to cope daily).Kest did faulted....she did not want to hear about his diagnosis from a psychologist....Border line personality disorder , ptsd, n a social path...and all of that Mr.Perez had to say was that I was Baker Acted ...not true...I signed myself in to get away from him. I begged the cops to take me because if I went back in the house I knew I was going to die. That was the reason for me saying I would kill myself...all the threats from him ...and telling me how I'm going to die...And she declared him a better parent for my children...????.He was never interested in the children. Ignored them daily. I was the mom and dad and also the disciplinary, teacher, chef , homework helper, fun parent. Many of times the only time he spent with my children were to yell at them. Anyways....the point is she didn't do her job. She completely dismissed my attorney. The DCF worker also failed. She never took interest in my words. Never even met me face to face. She believed him from the start. That's why she was fired. And whomever it was that say they know that Mr.Perez was there on time ....Yoy have no clue about anything ....that is your only reason to have post anything on here??? You really need to worry about your own words do not help nor do they matter...thank you....

  11. Oh and to clear up somethings....I never had my license....nor a boyfriend and I was never ever down by that area...I was petrified of him....I was living in a dv shelter so there was never truth to his claims of sexual indecencies. An we went before Judge Brosnan because he wanted to drop hid restraining order...mine was still in place ...important factor...after that court case the baliffs held me in the court room instead of Mr.Perez and when I left he was there....waiting for me ....if anyone has questions please feel free to ask...I'm ready to talk....I've been through HELL but I survived...I want to help anyone and help others understand...thanks

  12. I too went in front of Judge Sally Kest petitioning for custody of my granddaughter. She was rude, dismissive and didn't pay attention to the facts. She didn't even read the documents that I presented to the court nearly 10 days prior to the hearing. She is obviously biased and needs to be either removed from the bench or taught how to be a good listener. We look up to our judges for fairness, but Judge Sally Kest is definitely a defendant judge and hates pro-se plaintiffs. I hope she is voted out when her term is up. She is very arrogant and that should not be allowed especially when people are hurting.

  13. FYI: Judge Kest is running unopposed. So we have her for 6 more years, unless she retires.

    1. I need to report her actions to the Florida Bar and to the Chief Judge, who is still Judge Perry unless he is voted out on 8/14/2012. Something has to be done because in my first hearing with her when my daughter didn't appear in court, she was more interested in telling the bailiff about an ice cream social. She also repudiated me because we had left my granddaughter on the 2nd floor since we had no one to take care of her. What else do you suggest that we do? We had witness to prove her disdain and rudeness to me. I have been a paralegal for over 40 years and never experienced this rudeness from any Judge. I also worked for David Baker who is a Magistrate Judge at the Federal Court and he never conducted himself in this condescending manner. We need to put a brakes on her.

  14. The proper place to file a complaint is the Judicial Qualifications Commission. Here's their website:

  15. Judge Kest abuses her power on that bench. She is biased against anyone who is being victimized and cares more about paper pushing than the actual law! She forgets who pays her salary and that she to has to follow the law, especially when it pertains to someone's life. She obviously is more concerned about money that true justice, that is NOT the reason our legal systwm was built! If she doesn't like pro se litigents maybe she should do her job correctly the first time and follow thw law so that courthouse isn't backed up! I am not an attorney but had one who did little to nothing to plead my cade, went all the way to supreme court of Florida and they found in my favor. I am in the pricess, of filing complaint against this woman who took an oath to follow the law and is badically, encouraging the violaters. She has a husband who sits on bench there and couple of kids who are attorneys their in Orlando, surprise surprise!...Judge Kest will be held accountable for her unlawful, biased rulings and violation of the code of ethics she swore to...I may not have financial meana oe courtroom skills to outsmart my opponent but, I have rightd as a United states citizen and as a father. You forget, you have childten and grandchildren, how would it feel to be illegally kept from them and noone cared to listen???! What's the point of signing orders you don't enforce??!! You will have to answer for your unsubstantiated and illegal courtroom rulings, this has gone on way to long! You are the reason victims eventually take the law into there own hands!

  16. Judge Kest should be removed from the bench ASAP! She does not take the time to adequately review the facts in a case but quickly will make a ruling that can place a child in danger.

  17. I was in Judge Kest's courtroom for an injunction and she yelled at me. I just clammed up. Then I got a non hostile order. What is that. He can still call me and harass me. I hope he doesn't find me because she didn't order no contact.

  18. I was in Judge Kest's courtroom for an injunction and she yelled at me. I just clammed up. Then I got a non hostile order. What is that. He can still call me and harass me. I hope he doesn't find me because she didn't order no contact.