Thursday, August 16, 2012
S.C. Will Not Review Discipline of Psychologist for Misconduct as Family Law Special Master
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The state Supreme Court yesterday declined to review a Third District Court of Appeal ruling allowing the state Board of Psychology to discipline a licensee for unethical conduct while serving as a special master in a contentious family law case.
The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco, unanimously declined to hear Dr. Randy Rand’s claim that the board exceeded its authority 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.
The Third District ruled in Rand v. Board of Psychology, C064475, that the board acted within its statutory mandate because Rand’s appointment as special master in the visitation dispute between Loyal Davis and Jennifer Ives in Sonoma County was based on his skills, training, and expertise as a psychologist.
The court affirmed Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette’s order denying Rand’s petition for writ of mandate.
Davis and Ives had agreed to Rand’s appointment as special master, with authority to determine visitation schedules and transportation arrangements for their 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.”
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company