Below is a chapter excerpted from my upcoming book "Railroading, Stonewalling & Gaslighting." The Augustus civil rights case was recently touched on in an article by Juliette Fairley.
No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
- U.S. Constitution, Amend. V.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Similarly, even the United States Supreme Court occasionally issues an opinion seemingly consistent with freedom. They did so in Troxel v. Granville (2000), where they affirmed what should never have even come into question – that parents have a fundamental right to raise their children.
“Due process” supposedly means that the government is not allowed to interfere with your rights unless they have shown a good reason, and given you your day in court. In my view, rights are unalienable meaning that they cannot be interfered with at all, and what he have now are mere privileges that the government can take away. But let’s leave that to one side, and consider the Augustus Civil Rights Case .
Los Angeles couple Donecia and Mark Augustus are the legally married, kind and loving biological parents of a daughter named Sasha, born in 2003. Now an adult, at all relevant times, Sasha was a minor child. Back in about 2015, Sasha and her best friend both decided they wanted to go live with somebody besides their parents. Apparently a rift began when the then 12-year-olds were disallowed from wearing certain types of clothing.
Sasha decided that life would be so much better if she could go live with her “cool aunt,” Shaunta Montgomery, Donecia’s sister. Next thing you know, Sasha was making a vague allegation that her father Mark had engaged in “inappropriate touching” sometime before. The matter was investigated by the Los Angeles Police and Department of Child Protective Services (“DCFS”) and determined not to be credible. The matter was laid to rest, or so one would think.
Fast forward to 2018. During 2018, there were periods of time when the Augustuses allowed their then-15-year-old daughter to stay with her aunt. But, at no time did Donecia or Mark Augustus ever agree to, or discuss, or even consider surrendering their parental rights – to Shaunta or anyone else.
Next thing you know, in October 2018, Shaunta files a Petition for Temporary Guardianship of Sasha. The one and only reason for the guardianship was the years-old allegation against her father Mark, which had already been investigated by L.A.P.D. A new investigation was commenced by DCFS.
In November 2018, Shaunta appeared before Judge Gus T. May for a hearing on her Petition for Temporary Guardianship of Sasha. At that hearing, Judge May enquired about 2 crucial things – (1) whether Donecia and Mark had been served Notice (they had not) and (2) whether the DCFS investigation had been completed (it had not). Shaunta asked Judge May for some clarification:
Shaunta: Okay. So there’s no temporary guardianship. She can be with her parents?
Judge May: Correct. Until we get the [DCFS] Reports, yes. [See Exhibit “B” to the First Amended Complaint]
Judge May indicated that he would not issue the Letters of Temporary Guardianship without the DCFS report being complete, and without Donecia and Mark being served. That would make sense, right? The hearing on Temporary Guardianship was continued to December 11, 2018.
Then, on December 6, 2018, five days before the hearing, DCFS completed its investigation, once again clearing Mark Augustus of the one vague allegation against him. Since that one allegation was the only basis for Shaunta’s Petition for Temporary Guardianship, one would think the whole thing would be resolved. Think again.
On December 11, 2018, the hearing on Temporary Guardianship of Sasha went forward. Present was Shaunta (representing herself), and also the newly-appointed “Minor’s Counsel” William Spiller, Jr. (representing Sasha). Minor’s Counsel is paid for by County of Los Angeles.
Exactly how Spiller got appointed is unknown to me. One thing I do know is that William Spiller was previously suspended and disciplined by the California State Bar, because he was found to have commited “acts of moral turpitude,” basically because he was losing medical malpractice cases on purpose. [See EXHIBIT “F” to the First Amended Complaint, pp. 73-82] If you have any idea of what CalBar routinely lets lawyers get away with, you can appreciate how terrible Spiller’s conduct must have been. Yet, this is a guy that County of L.A. now pays to represent children in court? WTF?
Minor’s Counsel William Spiller, Jr. Perpetrates Fraud Upon The Court
So, on December 11, 2018, Spiller and Shaunta come before Judge May. The very first thing Spiller says is that the 15-year-old Sasha has “waived” her appearance. One would think that a 15-year-old girl who is bold enough to want to ditch her parents is bold enough to show up in court. But no, Spiller will do all the talking, thank you very much.
Spiller proceeds to defraud the Court in ways that should shock your conscience. First, Donecia and Mark had not been served notice of the hearing. Not to worry, Spiller is prepared with a bullshit story about that. Second, Spiller did not present the DCFS Report exonerating Mark Augustus. Judge May began the hearing by stating:
Judge May: I haven’t received any of the things I need to decide the case today [i.e. the DCFS report and a Proof of Service for the hearing].
If law existed, or if the “Bill of Rights” protected anyone, that would have been the end of the December 11, 2018 hearing. Instead, Judge May allowed the hearing to go forward. And what a shit-show it was.
In accordance with what I reasonably infer to be L.A. County’s policy and custom, Mr. Spiller proceeded to falsely state that Donecia and Mark Augustus had been homeless (completely false, they have never been homeless or anything close); that Mark Augustus was “on the lam” and “avoiding the proceedings” (completely false, he simply hadn’t been served Notice); that efforts had been made to notify Donecia and Mark Augustus (completely false and nonsensical, for Sasha’s parents had no reason to avoid the hearing, knowing that DCFS had just cleared Mark Augustus, again, of the one vague allegation against him). 
At the December 11, 2018 secret Temporary Guardianship Hearing, when Judge May inquired about the status of the DCFS Report, and of Mr. Spiller’s own report (which naturally would contain the DCFS findings), Mr. Spiller stated:
William Spiller, Jr.: Yeah, let me apologize to the Court. We finished our report, and filed it, I think, yesterday, because we were – well, let me back up.
The normally extremely smooth and well-spoken Mr. Spiller was quite discombobulated, likely because he knew he was lying to the Court. In fact, by December 11, 2018, all parties had received a copy of the DCFS Report exonerating Mark Augustus. And, Mr. Spiller had completed his Report, which included mention that Mark Augustus had been exonerated, but Mr. Spiller did not file his Report until several days after the December 11, 2018 secret hearing at which temporary guardianship was fraudulently obtained.
Based on these facts, I infer that the reason Mr. Spiller did not file his report at the December 11, 2018 hearing was that he intended to enrich himself on County money by getting appointed as Minor’s Counsel, while County of L.A. enriches itself by gaining a pretext on which to increase its funding. If Spiller told the truth – that the Augustuses had not been served and that Mark Augustus had already been exonerated – the case would be over (and so would Spiller’s opportunity to milk the County of Los Angeles for a lot of money).
I further believe that Mr. Spiller failed to file his report also because he is a malignant narcissist who derives sadistic pleasure from inflicting emotional distress upon innocent human beings, as evidenced by his prior discipline by the Bar Association for losing meritorious court cases on purpose.
To be clear, I am not aware of any psychiatric diagnoses of William Spiller, Jr. But malignant narcissism is a reasonable inference, because anyone besides a narcissistic sadist would never be able to do this sort of thing in the first place. At the very least, after being caught losing cases on purpose and having his license suspended, a normal person would have learned his lesson and changed his ways.
Other than being a person who has no empathy whatsoever, what else explains William Spiller, Jr.’s ability to come to court and tell lies so that a child can be taken away from her parents?
An Unreasonable Seizure If Ever There Was One
At the December 11, 2018 hearing, Mr. Spiller threatened to invoke the power and authority of the Los Angeles County Child Abduction Unit to locate and take Sasha child into their custody, stating on the record that “we have done that before”. 
In the preceding quotation, in saying “we”, William Spiller Jr. was referring to himself and the Los Angeles County Child Abduction Unit working together in joint action. This is important to the legal case against Spiller because, on paper, Spiller is arguably not a government actor, thus not subject to the supposed protections of the constitution. But precedent has established that a private citizen can be held as a defacto government agent when the two act in concert. [See e.g. U.S. Supreme Court in Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co. 398 U.S. 144 (1970).]
Later in the afternoon of December 11, 2018, Donecia showed up at Santa Monica High School to pick up her daughter Sasha. However, Shaunta also showed up, now armed with the fraudulently-obtained Letters of Temporary Guardianship order, and backed up by the threat of force inherent in the authority of the Los Angeles County Child Abduction Unit.
Shaunta showed the Letters of Temporary Guardianship order to Donecia. Fearing the authority of the government, believing that government agents are authorized to use force to carry out court orders, Donecia reluctantly acquiesced and allowed Shaunta to take Sasha into custody. Fear of government force is the only reason Donecia Augustus allowed Shaunta Montgomery to take Sasha on December 11, 2018.
Such facts shock the conscience.
Follow the Money
The costs of operating the Los Angeles County District Attorney Child Abduction Unit are paid for utilizing County funds. Likewise, the cost of William Spiller’s services as minor’s counsel are paid for utilizing County funds. According to the May 17, 2019 County of Los Angeles Auditor-Controller Review, signed by Assistant Auditor-Controller Dr. Peter Hughes:
Under California Rules of Court 5.240, a court may appoint private counsel to represent a child in family law cases involving child custody or visitation, on a case by case basis. Minors’ counsel costs are paid for utilizing County funds. According to the Court’s records, minors’ counsel costs increased by 17%, from $1.6 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016-17, to $1.8 million in FY 2017-18. During the same period, the number of cases where minors’ counsel was appointed increased by 13%, from 787 to 889 cases.
Any fraudulent scheme perpetrated by multiple people (i.e. a conspiracy) achieves multiple purposes. For William Spiller, the motive is pretty obvious – money. Ultimately this bogus guardianship case litigated for 2 ½ years, with no resolution. The case was dismissed when Sasha turned 18 in July 2021.
Shaunta Montgomery also has her reasons. Shaunta is an open lesbian, always wanting a daughter. Among those who know the entire Montgomery/Augustus extended family, it is no secret that Shaunta took a disliking to Mark Augustus long ago, disapproving of Donecia marrying him. It caused a family divide that the court system exploited. That’s how the game works.
Is There A Right To Lie ?
To summarize, the actions of Defendants in the Augustus civil rights case constituted a fraud upon the court because (a) the Letters of Temporary Guardianship order was made at a secret, unnoticed (thus unconstitutional) hearing; (b) at the secret hearing, Defendants actively concealed the fact that five days prior Mark Augustus was exonerated by DCFS of the one vague allegation against him; (c) the Petition for Temporary Guardianship was entirely founded on that one vague allegation; (d) Defendants supported their efforts by making numerous intentional misrepresentations; (e) but for the Court’s reliance on Defendants’ intentional misrepresentations, the Letters of Temporary Guardianship would not have been issued – not on December 11, 2018, and not ever.
In many previous cases, government actors defend themselves by asserting “privilege” or “immunity.” “Privilege” and “immunity” are basically rules that T.H.E.Y. made up that say that government officials can lie and harm you on purpose and you can’t do anything about it.
There are a couple of recent cases that may give some hope for justice against lying government officials. In Hardwick v. County of Orange (2017), Orange County, California social workers argued that, strictly speaking, there was nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits a child welfare worker from lying to achieve a removal to foster care. Seriously, that’s what they argued. In a rare breath of fresh air, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opined that:
No official with an IQ greater than room temperature in Alaska could claim that he or she did not know that the conduct at the center of this case [social workers lying in court as a false pretext to take a child away from the parent] violated both state and federal law. The social workers in this case are alleged to have knowingly and maliciously violated the law in their attempt to sever Preslie's protected relationship with her mother. Perjury is a crime under both federal and California state law, as is the knowing submission of false evidence to a court. 
Another recent “right to lie” case is Benavidez v. County of San Diego (2021), where the Ninth Circuit found that:
To support a [federal civil rights] claim of judicial deception, a plaintiff must show that the defendant deliberately or recklessly made false statements or omissions that were material to the finding. A plaintiff who provides direct evidence of false statements can allege deliberate fabrication of evidence in violation of constitutional due process guarantees.
Challenging California’s Bullshit Accusatory Hearsay Exception Law
If it is so obvious that courts won’t allow lying to support taking custody of a child away from parents, how was the Augustus guardianship case allowed to litigate for 2 ½ years? This question became especially perplexing after attorney Marc Angelucci entered the case in July 2020.
I found about about the Augustus matter in June of 2020. At the time, I was civil rights attorney Marc Angelucci’s right hand man. I drafted a Motion to Set Aside and Vacate the Order of Temporary Guardianship, based on a lack of Notice at the original hearing, and also based on the fact that Mark Augustus had been cleared of the allegation. By then, the case had been transferred to a different Superior Court Judge, the Hon. Michael Small.
On July 8th, 2020, Marc and I showed up for the hearing, expecting a ruling on our Motion to Set Aside. Spiller had not even bothered to oppose our motion. However, Spiller said that he had not been served the papers, and so he needed a continuance.
First, Spiller had so been served. He was lying (shocker, I know). But second, and to the point, it’s hypocritical and ironic in the extreme. Spiller complains that he had not been served while haing no problem taking the Augustuses’ child away from them on a hearing where they had not been served.
Judge Small granted a continuance on our motion. Unfortunately, Marc Angelucci never got to argue the motion to Judge Small, because Marc Angelucci was murdered on July 11, 2020. There is a lot more about Marc’s murder (and who I believe is responsible) elsewhere in this book.
When Judge Small finally took up the Augustuses’ Motion to Set Aside, he denied it. As to Mark Augustus having been cleared of the underlying, ancient allegation against him, Judge Small stated that he didn’t have jurisdiction to overrule Judge May. That’s actually not true, a Motion to Set Aside is a valid procedure for reversing a Trial Court order. 
Wait till you hear why Judge Small didn’t care that the Augustuses had not been served notice of that December 11, 2018 hearing. You know, the one where the government took their kid away from them. Judge Small cited California Probate Code Statute § 2250 (e)(1) that says that the Court can “dispense with” notice requirements on a guardianship hearing for “good cause.” 
Being perfectly vague, that statute says nothing whatsoever about what might constitute “good cause” to “dispense with” the need to put parents on notice that a hearing is going to take place at which their kid can be taken away from them.
In practice, the “good cause” to “dispense with” the need to put the Augustuses on notice of a guardianship hearing was a single checkbox on a court form.
The Court finds notice of the time and place of hearing has been dispensed with for Mark Augustus (father) and Donecia Augustus (mother).
It’s difficult to imagine a more unconstitutional law than Probate Code § 2250 (e)(1). That’s why we added a constitutional challenge into the Augustuses’ federal civil rights case. Supposedly, we are supposed to have the ability to challenge whether a law is constitutional either “facially” or “as applied” in this particular instance. We named the State of California as nomial defendant to our constitutional challenge of the statute. We served the state Attorney General’s office. In fact, in recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down at least two state statutes as unconstitutionally vague.
State’s response? Attorney General Rob Bonta’s opposition does not speak to the substance of our challenge. Rather, he contends that we are simply not allowed to “sue” the State. Except, as we make clear in our opposition, we are not “suing” the State of California. We are challenging the constitutionality of a bullshit law, one that says they can take your kid away at a secret, unnoticed hearing. But, according to the Motion to Dismiss filed by State of California, we are simply not allowed to challenge this law, or any law.
At this writing, the Augustus civil rights case remains pending in federal court in Los Angeles. We shall see how it turns out.
 See First Amended Complaint in the Augustus case - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1I-LHTUrHVmS52FzMgYKtiKOCfaJfpvoS/view?usp=sharing  See Exhibit “B” to the First Amended Complaint  See EXHIBIT “F” to the First Amended Complaint, pp. 73-82  “Shock the conscience” is a legal term of art, and is the purported standard for determining that a due process violation has occurred.  See Exhibit “D” to the First Amended Complaint, pp. 21-30  See Exhibit “D” to the First Amended Complaint, pp. 21-30  See Exhibit “D” to the First Amended Complaint, p. 22  See EXHIBIT “B” to First Amended Complaint, p. 27  See e.g. U.S. Supreme Court in Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co. 398 U.S. 144 (1970).  See EXHIBIT “H” to First Amended Complaint, p. 89  Hardwick v. Cty. of Orange, 844 F.3d 1112, 1118-19 (9th Cir. 2017)  Benavidez v. Cty. of San Diego, 993 F.3d 1134, 1140 (9th Cir. 2021)  See Cal. Code Civ. Pro. § 453, and § 662.  See Cal. Prob. Code § 2250 (e)(1).  See EXHIBIT “A” to First Amended Complaint, p. 4  See Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204, 1207 (2018), striking down a residual clause from a state civil statute, and see also Johnson v. United States, 576 U. S. ___, ___, 135 S. Ct. 2551, 192 L. Ed. 2d 569, 578, striking down a residual clause from a state criminal statute.