Mother sues The Irvine Company, Orange County DA and Family Court retaliate

Robert J Hansen
Donald Bren (left), The Irvine Company Chairman of the Board and Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer (right).Photo by(Image by Robert J Hansen)

Julie Holburn was due in court via Zoom for a status conference with Orange County Judge Sandy Leal on June 15, 2021, just a few months after her ex-husband chased her and her children down a city block

In March, William Holburn had been withholding their two children for days after they were supposed to be with their mother, something the Orange County DA or the court has acknowledged.

There was an emergency hearing scheduled for the next day because of the March incident, records show.

Judge Leal had appeared to confirm Julie’s appearance and her screen went dark.

Then there was a bang at the door.

“We’re here to serve a warrant,” the officer said when Julie opened the door.

Newport Beach police and OCDA County officials came in and took the two children who were asleep.

The court issued a warrant when Julie withheld the children, which she only did as the law makes exceptions for, due to the alleged March assault on the children and her.

Of the several times Mr. Holburn has withheld the children, or violated restraining orders and was deemed a vexatious litigant, has never had a warrant issued since 2014 when he crossed state lines against the custody orders and has never been held in contempt in family court.
Orange County Superior Court on Friday, May 19, 2023.Photo by(Photo by Robert J Hansen)

“I’ve been doing this for 24 years and I've probably had over 10,000 custody hearings. I have never seen a situation unfold this way,” Brian Baron, Julie’s attorney said in the courtroom.

Baron said he has worked with the child abduction unit previously on many occasions. 

“That's when children are abducted. They're taken from a parent. My client has sole legal custody, and the children remain in and have always remained at her home,” Baron said “I understand that there are allegations and my client may not be adhering to the custody orders, but that’s not abduction.”

Baron didn’t know what allegations were made by the district attorney's office that got them to have Judge Leal sign a warrant.

“It greatly troubles me that the district attorney, knowing that we had this hearing this morning and that I spoke to her yesterday -- because we had inadvertently discovered the warrant that had been issued yesterday,” Baron said. 

Baron explained to the deputy district attorney that the kids are at home with their mother; they haven't fled the jurisdiction and there was a hearing for the next day. That hearing didn’t take place until November 2022.

“ … would send her detectives over to the house this morning during the hearing time to go pick up children with police officers?” Baron said.

Julie’s attorney told the court that what they did was extremely traumatic for the children, unnecessary, unwarranted and shocking [they] would do that.

“Why go try to serve that warrant this morning?” Baron said. “Why is the district attorney involving themselves in this case when child protective services have been doing an investigation?”

Baron recommended that Julie hire a civil rights attorney 

Baron was also surprised with the detectives that have been involved in this case who appear to have been involved in this case previously.

“I'm looking at correspondence and involvement that is highly suspect and unusual in this case,” Baron said.
Screenshot of Orange County election records.Photo by(Graphic by Robert J Hansen)

The hearing continued to the next day. 

Baron was troubled by what was presented to the court yesterday because he discovered that there was inaccurate information given to the court in addition to the warrant. 

“This is very troubling -- as I keep pointing out to this court, this is a very troubling situation, especially when you have a government agency that's supposed to be neutral coming in and doing things no-noticed,” Baron said.

Julie sued the Irvine Company in 2018 because she had mold and asbestos in her apartment which was owned by the Irvine Company. The Irvine Company settled the lawsuit in 2021.

Julie’s attorney in that case, Omar Siddiqui, told her that the difficulty she was facing in family court and with the District Attorney was directly related to the lawsuit against The Irvine Company.

Several attempts to contact Siddiqui were made but could not be reached to confirm this.

The Irvine Company has donated thousands of dollars to District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s campaigns, according to county election records.

Full custody of the children was given to Mr. Holburn in November 2022, despite his history of abuse, harassment and not complying with custody orders, records show.

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento County, CA

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