Judge Mark A. Juhas
Judge Mark A. Juhas sits in a family law assignment on the Los Angeles Superior Court and has done so since November 2002. He is a member of several committees for the Los Angeles Superior Court and for the Judicial Council where he has served on the CJER (Education) Governing Committee, Elkins Family Law Implementation Task Force, Self-Represented Litigant Task Force and the Family and Juvenile Advisory Committee, which he has co-chaired for over 10 years. In addition, Judge Juhas is the current President of the California Chapter of AFCC. He regularly provides training for judges, attorneys, and other family law professionals.
Frank Davis, Ph.D.
Dr. Davis is a licensed psychologist specializing in providing forensic evaluations and clinical treatment for adults, children, and families involved in family court cases. He has been practicing since 2012 in Bay Area. Also, since 2015, Dr. Davis has worked at Transitioning Families, a specialized family reunification psychotherapy treatment program located in Sonoma, California wherein he works with a team of mental health professionals who serve adults, children, and families involved in high conflict, complex family law cases. Lastly, Dr. Davis currently serves as a member of the task force for the AFCC (International) Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations (in progress).
Diane E. Wasznicky, Esq.
Diane E. Wasznicky is a partner in the law firm of Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP in Sacramento, CA. She practices family law, including dissolution, support, and custody/visitation. She is co-founder and facilitator of the Sacramento Custody Discussion Group (1983 – 2008) and has served on the Senate Task Force on Family Relations Courts.
Ms. Wasznicky is active in a number of community and professional organizations, including serving as President of the Sacramento County Bar Association, President of Women Lawyers of Sacramento, President of the Association of Family Conciliation Courts (AFCC-CA), and President of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists (ACFLS). She served as a member of the State Bar of California Family Law Section Executive Committee from 2000-2003 and has served as an advisor to FlexCom since 2004. She also chairs the Legislation Committee of AFCC and currently serves as Treasurer of AFCC. She currently serves as a Coordinating Director for ACFLS.
Ms. Wasznicky also is active in organizing and planning continuing education events such as chairing/co-chairing the annual ACFLS Spring Seminar six times, the Annual All-Day Custody Seminar in Sacramento County for the past 10+ years, Minor’s Counsel Trainings in Sacramento, and many annual AFCC-CA Conferences.
She received her undergraduate degree in psychology, sociology and law from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1977. She then relocated to California to attend law school at the University of California, Davis, earning her J.D. in 1980. She was admitted to the State Bar in 1981 and has since practiced in Sacramento.
Shane R. Ford, Esq.
Shane R. Ford is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). He is also certified by the State Bar of California as a Certified Family Law Specialist. Mr. Ford has been named one of Northern California’s “Top 100” attorneys” and has been recognized as a Northern California “Super Lawyer” every year since 2006 by San Francisco magazine and Northern California Super Lawyers magazine. Mr. Ford holds Martindale Hubbell’s highest AV ranking for legal ability and ethics, representing a “very high to preeminent” reputation in the field of family law.
Mr. Ford frequently serves as a Settlement Commissioner for the Alameda County family law courts. In addition, Mr. Ford has served on the Boards of Directors for the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists (ACFLS), the Alameda County Family Law Association (ACFLA), and the Eastern Alameda County Family Law Association (EACBA).
Michele B. Brown, Esq.
Immediate Past President
Michele Brown is certified by the State Bar of California as a Certified Family Law Specialist. She is a Partner at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savtich, LLP in the Family Law Group and has been practicing family law for well over 20 years. In addition to being Immediate Past President of the CA Chapter of AFCC International, Ms. Brown is the Vice-President of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists (ACFLS); she is the Family Law Representative for the Board of Representatives for the California Lawyers Association; she is an Advisor for the Family Law Section of the California Lawyers Association; she is the Co-Chair for the Governmental Affairs Committee for the CA Lawyers Association and the Co-Chair of the Appointments Committee for the CA Lawyers Association. Ms. Brown holds the Martindale Hubbell’s highest AV ranking for legal ability and ethics and has consistently been named as a Super Lawyer. Ms. Brown received the Outstanding Service to Family Law Award from the Family Law Section of the CA Lawyers Association and was named a “Legend in Legislation” from Flexcom. Ms. Brown frequently testifies before the Senate and Assembly on bills involving family law and has assisted in drafting several family law bills.
Jorge Akagi, LCSW
Jorge Akagi, LCSW, is the director of Family Court Services for Placer Superior Court, responsible for administering court connected child custody mediation, recommending counseling, and custody evaluations services. Prior to his current assignment, he held the position of the operational manager for Family Court Services and Probate Court Investigations for the Sacramento Superior Court. He has extensive experience in conducting court-connected child custody mediations and evaluations for family as well as mediating disputes in probate guardianships and juvenile dependency cases. His experience also includes investigating child abuse and neglect as a social worker for Child Protective Services and a clinician for an outpatient community mental health program. He has recently served as a faculty for new court-connected child custody mediators and evaluators for the Judicial Council of California.
Commissioner Louise Bayles-Fightmaster
David L. Blacker, Esq.
David Blacker is a California State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist. He handles high asset cases and complex issues of paternity, custody, and business valuation. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Dave was a professional trombonist playing in local salsa, funk and jazz groups. Dave has served on the board of the California Chapter of the Association of the Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) since 2016 and is serving as Conference Co-Chair for the chapter’s 2020 annual conference. Dave is also the President and Co-Founder of the Center for Separating and Divorcing Families (anticipated opening 2020), which will provide an out of court process to handle, under one roof and for a fixed fee, the legal, emotional and financial needs of families in transition with the goal of minimizing the fallout from family law disputes. Dave also has served as a Settlement Master in San Francisco Superior Court, taught family law courses, and coached high school mock trial students. Dave is the parent of two high schoolers, both proud native San Franciscans. He continues to nurture his artistic spirit by cooking and playing music. He brings both his parenting experience and his creative outlook to his law practice.
Judge Christopher R. Bowen
Commissioner Erin M. Childs
Hon. Erin M. Childs has been the Family Law Commissioner for the Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County since January 2017, and was an AB 1058 Commissioner for the Fresno County Superior Court in 2016. For almost 14 years before that, Commissioner Childs ran her own family law firm, is a Certified Family Law Specialist and a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. As an attorney, she was a judge pro tem in small claims and family law, a court-appointed minor’s counsel and court-appointed attorney representing parties whose parental rights were subject to termination.
Commissioner Childs is on the Family Law Committee for the California Judges Association and on the Judicial Council’s Center for Judicial Education & Research Family Law Curriculum Committee for whom she teaches the annual Family Law Primary Assignment Orientations. She is a board member for the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts and helps teach the minor’s counsel training each year in Shell Beach, Ca.
Her favorite job, by far, however is raising Conor, Lauren, and her faithful chocolate lab Sookie with her very patient husband, Joe.
Michelene Insalaco, JD, CFLS
Ms. Insalaco has practiced exclusively in the area of family law for over 28 years, at both the trial and appellate levels, and is certified as a Family Law Specialist by the California State Bar. She has served as Chair of the San Francisco Bar’s Family Law Section, been a Member of the State Bar’s Family Law Executive Committee, and sat on the Board of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists. Ms. Insalaco serves as Minor’s Counsel in Contra Costa County and as a Settlement Master in San Francisco and Marin Superior Courts. Ms. Insalaco is the parent of two children, both presently in high school. Her hobbies include cooking, hiking, and chess.
Kenneth B. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Dr. Ken Perlmutter is a licensed psychologist practicing independently in Palo Alto for forty years. He has served children, parents and the courts in child custody related roles since 1985. His current practice focuses on various aspects of child custody matters, and he specializes in working with families in unique and complex high conflict cases. His primary work involves conducting Child Custody Evaluations (over 800 to date) and Brief Focused Assessments (he wrote the Protocol for Conducting BFAs in San Mateo County Family Court and co-wrote the Santa Clara County Family Court’s BFA Form Attachment to orders for “limited child custody evaluations”).
He has extensive experience with, and regularly serves as, parenting coordinator, custody mediator (both confidential and recommending), and co-parent counselor. He enjoys consulting with attorneys as a reviewing expert, both disclosed and non-disclosed, and as a confidential child custody consultant. Since the pandemic began, he has been in the forefront of adapting custody evaluation methods to meet its challenges, and recently co-presented a talk sponsored by the Family Law Section of the San Mateo Bar Association titled “COVID, Zoom, and the New Frontier—Preparing Your Clients for Remote-Child Custody Evaluations and Understanding Psychological Testing.” He is excited to serve on the Board of AFCC-CA.
Cheryl Scott, LMFT
Cheryl Scott is a licensed marriage and family therapist working for the Fresno Superior Court as the Director of Family Court Services. As the Director of Family Court Services, she performs the administrative and supervisorial duties for the department and continues to provide Child Custody Recommending Counseling, Mediation, and Investigation services for the Fresno Superior Court. She also acts as a court consultant and trainer for Judicial Officers, Family Court Services staff, and Family Law Attorneys. Cheryl serves as a representative of Family Court Services on the Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee and has worked closely with the Futures Commission. Cheryl’s background also includes providing counseling services for Severely Emotionally Disturbed youth, as well as Family Reunification services for the Fresno County Department of Children and Family Services.
Judge Monica F. Wiley
The Honorable Monica F. Wiley was appointed to the San Francisco Superior Court Bench on September 1, 2009 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Judge Wiley is the second African American female judge appointed to the San Francisco bench. During her tenure with the San Francisco Superior Court, Judge Wiley has presided in the civil, criminal, family, delinquency and dependency departments in both trial and calendar courtrooms. Judge Wiley is currently the Supervising Judge of the Unified Family Court and serves as a member of the Court’s Executive Committee, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, the Personnel Committee, the Public Outreach Committee, the Technology Committee, and the Events/Collegiality Committee. Judge Wiley is a member on the 2019-2021 Judicial College Steering Committee, a member of the faculty for the California Center for Judicial Education (CJER) for New Judges Orientation (NJO), and a faulty member for the B.E. Witkin Judicial College. She serves on the CJER Juvenile Curriculum Committee and is an Adjunct Professor at U.C. Hastings College of the Law where she teaches an advanced Trial Advocacy course.
Prior to her appointment, Judge Wiley was a senior associate at the law firm of Carlson, Calladine & Peterson LLP in San Francisco handling catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death cases for individual and corporate defendants. Before joining the private sector, Judge Wiley worked as a Deputy City Attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office for over ten years litigating complex personal injury matters and civil rights actions. She served as lead trial counsel in 27 jury trials both in state and federal court. Judge Wiley also served as a legal research attorney for San Francisco Superior Court Judge David A. Garcia (Ret).
Judge Wiley earned her J.D., cum laude, from Howard University School of Law. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Economies of Industrial Societies from the University of California at Berkeley and is a four-year letter winner as a member of the women’s intercollegiate basketball team. Go Bears!
As a practicing attorney, Judge Wiley was admitted to the United States District Court, Northern District of California and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Wiley serves on the advisory committee of Centro Legal De La Raza’s Youth Law Academy holds life memberships with the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) and the Association of African American California Judicial Officers (AAACJO), and is the current Chair of the Judicial Council of CABL.
Mesha Ellis, Ph.D.
Dr. Mesha Ellis is a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist who maintains a private practice in Torrance, California. Her areas of clinical specialty include child custody, juvenile delinquency, clinical, and psychoeducational evaluations. She additionally provides therapy services to children, couples, and families. Dr. Ellis earned a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology and a Doctorate (PhD) in Clinical Psychology from The University of Alabama. She received formal forensic training as a postdoctoral fellow in juvenile forensic psychology and adolescent inpatient treatment through The University of Washington after completing a pre-doctoral internship at The University of Chicago Hospitals.
Dr. Ellis held a tenure-track faculty position at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology from 2002-2007, where she taught and mentored students in the Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s degree program and the Doctoral Clinical Psychology program. Following her time at Pepperdine, Dr. Ellis worked as a research fellow in the Family Contexts Interventions Research Training Program at Vanderbilt University. She subsequently held research and faculty positions at Morehouse School of Medicine from 2008-2014. Dr. Ellis has conducted research evaluating antisocial and risk-taking behaviors in youth. She has also explored familial factors that contribute to the engagement in as well as the ramifications of violent exchanges between peers, family members, and within the context of romantic relationships. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters. She co-edited (along with Drs. Joy Asamen and Gordon Berry) The SAGE Handbook of Child Development, Multiculturalism, and Media. She is licensed to practice as a psychologist in California, Georgia, Nevada, and Tennessee.
Merlyn N. Hernandez, Esq.
Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.
Dr. Rempel is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of California. She has served as both a child custody evaluator and mediator for the Los Angeles Superior Court Family Court Services and transitioned into private practice in 1992. She completed more than 550 child custody evaluations. She also serves as a parenting plan coordinator, child interviewer, therapist, parent educator, mediator and consultant. Dr. Rempel performs pro bono child custody evaluations for the Los Angeles Superior Court, and assists with the San Fernando Valley Bar’s VAST mediation program. She has presented at programs such as the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Parents and Children Together program and local, state, national, and international meetings and conferences for the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, Beverly Hills Bar Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association, State Bar of California, American Inns of Court, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
Sherrie Kibler-Sanchez, LCSW
Merry has been a legal secretary since 2002, working primarily in family law, and has served as Chapter Administrator, and now Executive Director, for AFCC California since 2015. She is currently also the chapter’s webmaster and administrative editor for their newsletter, AFCC-CA Insights. Merry lives in Los Angeles.