Las Vegas Judge Awards Custody to Alcoholic, Domestic Abuser, Part 2


by Sharon Rondeau

Judge Sandra Pomrenze during a May 2018 hearing on the custody case of the son of “Susan” and “Joe”

(Sep. 26, 2018) — On September 16, we published an initial article about a 13-year-old Las Vegas boy placed with his father by Judge Sandra Pomrenze despite the father’s history of domestic violence and mental-health issues.

The boy’s mother, “Susan,” believes that Pomrenze made a poorly-informed decision for lack of reviewing documentation she and others attempted to present at the last hearing, where she sought to have her son relocated to her home state and custody changed.

Susan has further criticized Pomrenze for withholding a copy of a video depicting an alleged interview of her son by a court-licensed psychologist completed last month.  The boy was interviewed with the stated aiding Pomrenze to determine whether or not Susan’s request for custody should be granted.

Court-recorded video footage of the August 27 hearing ends just before the child’s interview was said to begin, then resumes after the boy’s interview concludes.  Afterward, Pomrenze reflected that the boy stated he would like to see his mother more often but that she was not sure if the situation warranted his removal from his father’s care and the State of Nevada.

Susan said that while the video was played, her ex-husband “was falling asleep and snoring.  His attorney shook his arm so he would wake up. I couldn’t believe that; is that how much he cares for his son?”

She also objects to the fact that Pomrenze will not allow the video to be released to her or her attorney.

The hearing was concluded without a decision and continued to February 8, 2019.  Afterward, Susan’s attorney told her she would be withdrawing from the case.  The Post & Email has read her Motion to Withdraw.

Susan claims she has paid more than $20,000 thus far to the attorney, who was formerly a Family Court judge in the same district 20 years ago but removed from her position by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline.

As told by a relative of the boy’s father, “Joe” became suicidal in early 2015 and spent time involuntarily in a mental-health institution.  The relative said she was on the phone with Joe at the time of the incident and “recorded everything.”

A neighbor called the police, the relative said, while she listened, feeling helpless, to the saga unfold in which Joe threatened to kill his father and himself “with a .45 pointed to his head.”  Susan and Joe’s son was fortunately not in the home at the time, but rather, had been sent by Joe to stay with Susan, her mother and stepfather in their state.

“Prior to his going to a mental institution, he wasn’t capable of taking care of his son, so he flew him to Susan’s home,” the relative said.  “He had the good sense to do that before he was put in.”

After the police arrived, “I didn’t have a clue as to where they brought him,” Joe’s relative said.  “I later found out that he was strapped in a bed for three days for detoxification, then he was in a mental institution for 7-8 days.”

At her expense and conditional on her becoming his guardian, the relative signed an affidavit and arranged for the Joe to begin a long-term stay at a rehab center outside of the U.S. where she was living at the time.  “I flew him to XXXXXX and took care of him and put him in a rehab.  Because I knew people in-country, I was able to get him special treatment for detoxification and also psychologically,” she told us.

“He left my son with us,” Susan said about that time, although she and her parents were unaware that he was drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Regarding that factor later, Susan said that “the judge didn’t care if he was in a mental institution or not.

Prior to his institutionalization, Susan said her now-ex-husband was “a monster.” Their marriage ended in 2009, not long after it began, when her son was just a few months old.  Susan had arrived from a foreign country on a visitor’s visa, became pregnant, and insisted on maintaining the pregnancy, even if it meant returning to her home country and raising the child alone.

However, the father relented and agreed to marry her so that she could give birth in the United States.

She soon found that Joe was abusive, drank heavily, and threatened her with the specter that he would falsely report her as the aggressor to the authorities.

It was Joe who sued for divorce after Susan returned from a visit to her home country to escape his abuse, she said.  When she returned, she found herself barred from entering the premises or retrieving her infant son, who was in the care of her mother at the time.

One type of abuse, Susan said, was that her husband, in essence, sold her body for financial favors from the contractor of the establishment where he was working at the time, a situation Susan said Pomrenze cruelly used against her during the custody battle over their son.

Referencing the case’s early days, Susan said, “We went to court, and I had to give up because Pomrenze was really, really mean to me and said horrible things to me.  ‘You can go back on the street,’ she told me.  My ex said that I was a stripper and made big money, so I was ordered to pay $1,000 a month in child support.  I was in tears, but Pomrenze just ordered it.”

When she and her ex-husband lived in another state while he was out of work, she was a club dancer, Susan said.  “I don’t do that anymore,” she told us.

“So I gave up, and he used to call me and say bad things such as ‘When you’re done, you don’t want to be near me.’  I was a normal girl, but I was so mentally-abused by this guy that I agreed to sign custody over to him.  I was young and made a mistake.  I gave up because his attorney was one of the most expensive, and he had the money to fight.  I knew I was going to lose, so I figured I would just give it up.  I knew the judge didn’t like me.”

Joe’s relative is now completely supportive of Susan’s quest to gain custody of her son, although she did not start out that way.  “The reason I moved from outside of the country to Vegas was that Joe asked me to vouch for him in order to get his child back from Susan.  During all of this time, Susan and her parents didn’t know what was going on.  He said, ‘Please, don’t say I’m in a rehab facility; they’re going to take my child away.'”

“While he was here, my mother didn’t know what was going on,” Susan said.  “In order for him to go to school here and for her to get medical insurance for my, she applied for guardianship of him.  We went to court here, and then my ex showed up with the relative and said, ‘I want to take my son back to Vegas.'”

“I vouched for Joe,” the relative said, although she said she regrets it now.  “The court action barely got started; the attorneys met, and Joe prevailed.  I had agreed to be present to advocate for Joe and his son.  The authorities there trusted me, and I promised to take care of them.”

“The son went back to Vegas with us, and Joe was doing well for a while,” his relative continued.  “At the same time, though, I knew that the rehab center had said he shouldn’t go back to Vegas because it was too dangerous for him.  ‘He’s not ready to make this move,’ they had advised.  But I still believed in him then, and I took care of both of them.

“We returned to Vegas in October 2015, and by the following July he started drinking again.   He would sleep all day on the couch, and I started to see that he was depressed.  He was sued by several people and owed a lot of money to a lot of people.  I had found a job and started working to support the household.  We needed more money, and he was finally able to obtain employment; I vouched for him there, too.  But he started doing strange things,” the relative continued.

“One night, he invited a woman from Chicago to our home over my objections.  I didn’t want any strangers in the house. We had an argument; he insisted and won.  The woman came in.  I don’t use drugs; I don’t know anything about it, but he got terribly drunk and locked himself up in the bedroom for several days with this woman.  His son’s bedroom was adjoining and he therefore stopped sleeping.  XXXXX didn’t understand what was happening with his father because suddenly he was wobbling around when he walked and talking differently.

“I told him, ‘You need help right away, and this woman needs to leave.’  She finally left.  I went to work the following morning, and then received a call that a shotgun had gone off in the house.  I ran home and found Joe lying on the floor with a rifle beside him.  I knew if I called the police, it would be all over for him, so I didn’t.  I had my friend come over; he spoke to him the whole night.  Joe promised to stop drinking, but it didn’t last long.

“Judge Pomrenze did not even look at all of the evidence.  The son told me that many times  he’s had to call 911 to save his father.  I am heartbroken I didn’t call the police that night.

She attended the last hearing and said that Susan had been led to believe she would win custody.  However, the outcome was quite different. “Her lawyer told her to see another attorney, and she refused to ask for another judge.  I asked the attorney if it’s true that she’s best friends with Pomrenze, and she got very nervous, in my opinion, then said that the real ‘best friend’ is the person who introduced Susan to her.”

“I am not going back to see that judge,” Susan said.  “I’m sorry; I love my son, but I will never go back for her to humiliate me.  She gave my child to a man who has been mentally ill and threatened to commit suicide.  If it’s for me to go back in six months, I’m not going to see that judge.  Every day, I’m looking for what I could do about this judge.  Why is she still there?”

Susan said that her son missed 120 hours of school last year and provided a record of his attendance supporting her statement.  She said that in her state, there would be consequences against the parent or guardian in such a situation.



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