Friday, May 11, 2012
Court of Appeal Says Psychologist Can Be Disciplined For Misconduct as Family Law Special Master
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The state Board of Psychology properly disciplined a licensee for unethical conduct while serving as a special master in a contentious family law case, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.
The justices affirmed Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette’s denial of Dr. Randy Rand’s petition for writ of mandate. Rand was challenging the board’s order placing him on probation for five years, based on findings of unprofessional conduct, gross negligence, violation of statutes governing the practice of psychology, and dishonesty.
Those findings stemmed in part from Rand’s performance as special master in a visitation dispute between Loyal Davis and Jennifer Ives in Sonoma County. Based on what the appellate court called the “high-conflict” nature of the proceedings, the parties agreed to have Rand serve as special master based on his “expertise...as a court-apponted expert and license[d] mental health professional.”
The agreement gave Rand authority to determine visitation schedules and transportation arrangements for the parties’ children and related matters. But the relationship between Rand and Ives soured, and she eventually tried to have him removed from the case and filed a professional grievance against him.
The board eventually found that Rand had committed an “extreme departure” from professional standards by exhibiting bias against Ives. Among other things, the board found, Rand had communicated freely with Davis and his counsel, but refused to speak to Ives’ attorney and was willing to communicate with her only by e-mail.
The board also found that Rand had falsely accused Ives of perjury. And it said he exhibited further bias when he hired a lawyer who had previously represented Davis in New Hampshire to pursue a lien against property Ives owned there, in order to collect his master’s fees
Rand argued on appeal that the board had no authority to discipline him for conduct in which he engaged in a quasi-judicial capacity. But Justice Louis Mauro, writing for the Court of Appeal, said the board was correct.
The justice noted that the parties were specifically seeking Rand’s assistance because he was a licensed psychologist, whose skills were believed “essential to navigate and address the interpersonal issues involved in their high-conflict dissolution.” Besides, Mauro wrote, “that attorneys may be appointed as special masters does not mean that Rand was not practicing psychology as a special master.”
The case is Rand v. Board of Psychology,” 12 S.O.S. xxxx.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company