Commissioner H. Don Christian:

Commissioner Christian, as of May 4, 2019,  is currently sitting in Department C of the Pomona courthouse. Commissioner Christian has been practicing law since the early 70s and has been sitting at the Pomona courthouse for the last 17 years. This judicial officer has the most experience and ALWAYS knows the recent family law cases that come down. In the last 14 years of practice, I have appeared in front of Commissioner Christian 100's of time. As a practicing attorney, I must say that the outcomes of my cases in his courtroom have followed the letter of the law and are generally fair and can be explained to the client. I have not seen any gender bias in his courtroom and feel very comfortable when my cases are assigned to his courtroom as I know the outcome will be in accordance with the law/cases. Commissioner Christian, does not do a calender call in the mornings. He usually takes the bench around 9:15 a.m.. and calls matters as they are presented to him from the Court Clerk. If the interpreter is in the courtroom, interpreter matters are called 1st. If there are no interpreter matters, attorneys are given preference followed by the self-represented litigants.

A common complaint of Commissioner Christian is that he talks too much and people are compelled to sit through long speeches that apparently have nothing to do with their case.  Every day, Commissioner Christian takes the bench, calls the 1st case and then starts the long speeches. As an attorney, I find the recent developments in the law that he often talks about of interest (as Commissioner Christian keeps up on all areas of law), but I can see how the average litigant may not be interested in how many Ferraris he has owned, how is family is doing in Europe or what his views of Social Media are. Usually the speech spawns from the 1st called matter of the day when either an attorney or a litigant says something about the other parent or something about parenting that starts the speech. Usually, the speech goes on for at least 10-20 minutes. There may be mornings were there is more than 1 speech. With that being said, be prepared to come back after the lunch hour for the afternoon session. Again, as stated above, Commissioner Christian means well and he has many valid points in what he says, but it can eat away at the limited amount of court time and clients often complain to their attorney for having to pay them an hourly fee to listen to the speech..

In making custody and visitation orders, Commissioner Christian listens to both parties and routinely appoints minor’s counsel (child’s attorney) to meet with the parties in the children, look into collateral concerns and report back to the Court with the information obtained. That is, when you come to court on your Request for Orders, you will likely be coming back a second time for the report and final ruling on your custody matter. Key buzz words to avoid in Commissioner Christian’s courtroom are 1) “my” as in “my children”; 2) 50-50 as in “I want a 50-50 custodial plan”; 3) “Timeshare” as in “I want a 30% timeshare with my children”.; 4) Lack of adequate sleeping accommodations. Commissioner Christian dislikes “my” as both parents are required to produce and raise a child. As such, use the word “our” instead both in Court and in your pleadings. 50-50 usually triggers a speech about 6 months with one parent followed by 6 months with the other parent. Instead, provide him with a specific parenting plan rather than focusing on percentages of time. As for timeshare, it is better practice to use the word “parenting time” instead. Timeshare is a term used in child support and if used in this courtroom, it sends the message that your request for a particular parenting plan may be more about paying less child support rather then genuinely spending more time with your child. Finally, on multiple occasions, I have heard Commissioner Christian talk about having a big family and hosting his family in his relatively small condo and using a privacy curtain rather than having separate rooms. Raising lack of adequate sleeping arrangements in your pleadings or in court will get you little traction in this courtroom.

Finally, the Ex Parte (emergency hearing practice) is typically done in chambers, however, he may call the parties into the courtroom if he has additional questions or needs additional information to make a proper ruling. Commissioner Christian HATES the abuse and misuse of the Ex Parte application so please, do yourself a favor and only use this process for a true emergency.  

In closing, keep in mind that you may be here all day, but your case will likely be resolved by 4:15 p.m. when the building closes. Commissioner Christian is fair, but it will likely take some time to get your matter resolved.  If your case is assigned to Commissioner Christian’s courtroom and you need assistance navigating your case through, contact the Law Offices of Paul A. Eads today. 

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