BREAKING: ADC Files Amicus Brief in 9th Circuit Court Case, Farraj v. Cunningham


American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

BREAKING: ADC Files Amicus Brief in 9th Circuit Court Case, Faraj v. Cunningham

Washington, DC | | July 23rd, 2014 – Today, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) filed its amicus brief in the 9th Circuit in Farraj v. Cunningham, in support of petitioner Ayman Farraj. Farraj v. Cunningham originates from an ongoing family court custody case filed in California in July 2008 between Ayman Farraj and his ex-wife, Edith Salas.

In this case, family court Judge David Cunningham signed an order granting Salas the right to take their two children with her to India. The order was based on reports written by therapist Bruce Harshman, which were later revealed to be motivated by race, ethnic and national origin discrimination as an Arab-American. However, on Mr. Farraj’s motion to strike the therapist reports, Judge Cunningham maintained that the reports were valid and failed to address race, ethnic and national origin bias against Mr. Farraj.

ADC’s amicus brief argues that the federal court must exercise jurisdiction where independent rights are at stake including but not limited to the right to due process and independent parental rights. ADC strongly believes Judge Cunningham’s actions, coupled with the therapist’s reports, violated Mr. Farraj’s right to equal protection and due process, as well as his independent parental rights. ADC also strongly believes that Judge Cunningham violated his judicial duties and ethics under the California Judicial Code of Conduct.

In October 2013, Patricia Barry, attorney for Mr. Farraj, filed a complaint with Los Angeles Superior Court (Superior Court) against therapists Bruce Harshman and Steven Shaps and psychologist Carl Hoppe. As a result, the Superior Court conducted an investigation, and, in March 2014, the Superior Court removed Mr. Harshman and Mr. Shaps from the Superior Court approved list of therapists and custody evaluators.

ADC believes that Ayman Farraj’s case is only one example of discrimination against Arab-Americans in family court cases. ADC has increasingly received complaints of religious and national origin discrimination in custody and visitation family court proceedings. ADC firmly contends that Judge Cunningham was legally obligated to strike the therapist report upon knowledge that the reports were motivated by race, religion, and/or national origin. 

ADC was contacted by Ayman Farraj and his attorney Patricia Barry for assistance and support in this case. ADC’s amicus brief submission can be accessed here. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please contact ADC at 202-244-2990. Ms. Barry can be contacted at 213-995-0734.

Since its inception ADC has dedicated itself to defending civil rights, and will always continue its work in this regard.

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