Shenefield v. ShenefieldAnnotate this Case
Mark Shenefield filed a request for order (RFO) seeking joint legal and physical custody of the child he shared with Jennifer Shenefield. In his declaration, Mark quoted from and referenced the contents of a confidential, court-ordered psychological evaluation undertaken during Jennifer’s previous marital dissolution. Mark’s attorney Karolyn Kovtun filed the paperwork. Jennifer opposed Mark’s request and sought
sanctions for violations of Family Code sections 3111(d) and 3025.5, for unwarranted disclosure of the confidential custody evaluation. The trial court ordered the sanctions issue be heard at trial. Jennifer’s trial brief detailed her arguments for why the court should impose sanctions on both Mark and Kovtun. Mark did not file a trial brief. Following trial, the court issued sanctions against Mark in the amount of $10,000 and Kovtun in the amount of $15,000. Kovtun challenged the sanctions, filing a motion under Code of Civil Procedure section 473(d). A different court heard Kovtun’s request to vacate the sanctions imposed against her and denied the request. On appeal, Kovtun argued the court improperly sanctioned her because: (1) attorneys could not be sanctioned under section 3111; (2) the notice she received did not comply with due process standards; (3) the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her; (4) the court failed to enforce the safe harbor provision of Code of Civil Procedure section 128.7; and (5) the court improperly admitted and relied on a transcript of a meeting between Kovtun, Mark, and Jennifer. The Court found Kovtun’s arguments meritless, and affirmed the sanctions.