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Recall Group Enlists Help in Ousting Judge

Courts: Rally boosts effort to force out Nancy Wieben Stock, who's been criticized for child custody rulings.

May 04, 1997|EMILY OTANI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

HUNTINGTON BEACH — A group attempting a recall of Orange County Superior Court Judge Nancy Wieben Stock staged a rally Saturday to recruit volunteers and raise money for the effort.

Stock has been under fire since December, when she awarded former football great O.J. Simpson full custody of his two young children after he was acquitted of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman.

The judge found herself at the center of controversy again in January, after Marcia Amsden-Kyle of Anaheim killed her two young children and boyfriend Matthew Stephen Bailey before killing herself. Stock had awarded Amsden-Kyle and ex-husband Jeff Kyle joint custody of the children in 1991.

"This is a crisis, a crisis of the judiciary system," said Tammy Bruce, president of the Los Angeles-based Women's Progressive Alliance, which launched the recall effort.

Stock could not be reached for comment Saturday, but last month issued a statement defending her decisions as based on the law--not public opinion.

Many judges and attorneys have also lent vocal support to Stock, arguing that judicial independence must be preserved. In the Amsden-Kyle case, they said the slayings should not be blamed on a decision the judge made more than six years ago.

But Steve Densmore, an attorney and chairman of the recall committee, said at the rally Sat

urday that Stock misapplied or ignored the law in the controversial custody cases.

"People are saying we are letting emotion cloud judgment," Densmore said. "But we are more concerned with her ability to allow reason to interfere with her humanity."

More than 138,000 signatures from registered Orange County voters are needed to place the recall issue on a ballot. Volunteers were asked Saturday to help collect signatures.

Claire Bailey, whose son was killed by Amsden-Kyle, attended the rally Saturday and said she plans to help gather signatures. People must be held responsible for their actions, she said.

"There is nothing more painful than to lose a child," Bailey said. "I've come to realize that one decision has far-reaching ramifications and has affected my life."

Jeff Kyle, whose two young children were killed by Amsden-Kyle, also spoke out against the judge Saturday. He said Stock should have awarded him custody of the youngsters in 1991, even though he was unemployed and living with his parents at the time.

Those temporary setbacks should not have prevented him from caring for Storm Cameron Kyle, 9, and Tarah Leigh Kyle, 7, he said.

Another woman who attended the rally said she decided to get involved because she was so troubled by the news that two children were slain.

"It hit close to home," Marta Johnson of Anaheim said. "Something like [the recall] has to happen in order to wake people from their lethargy."

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