SACRAMENTO, CA - A national TV host and famous lawyer dressed down a Sacramento judge over a controversial decision to award custody of a baby boy to his mother, who was later arrested for drugging the boy after he died from an overdose.
That wasn't the first time the judge has come under fire.
"Well, I hope the judge is happy tonight because the baby's dead," legal commentator and former prosecutor Nancy Grace said on her HLN show.
Grace is the latest person to point the finger at the Sacramento Superior Court judge who has been at the center of closely watched cases.
"What judge was that?" Grace asked.
"Her name is Sharon Lueras," Al Salmen replied.
Salmen called in to Grace's show during a segment on his grandson Ryder Salmen, who died at the age of 7 and a half months last year. The case generated new interest after the boy's mother was arrested last month on suspicion of intentionally drugging the baby with breast milk spiked with methadone. Salmen said Sarah Stephens had a long battle with drugs. In a custody hearing, he warned Lueras, whom he claims refused to look at critical evidence.
"We took them to court to get the baby. Judge ruled in her favor with a dirty pee test laying right on her bench," Salmen explained.
"So, she has a dirty urinalysis showing that the mom is on drugs, and they won't give you the baby," Grace shouted.
Earlier this year, Lueras was the target of an organized protest. Lueras had drawn similar criticism after the death of 9-year-old Matthew Hernandez. Prosecutor's charged the boy's father Phillip Hernandez with using a hatchet to bludgeon his son to death. The boy's mother Jessica Rose Hernandez said Lueras also refused to consider key evidence in her son's case and still awarded custody to the father.
"I told her then they were in danger. She wouldn't even look at it or listen," Jessica Hernandez said.
"If she had done her job, Phillip would've got the help he needed ... and my angel would still be alive," Jessica Hernandez said in a message to News10. "I hate her. The system has failed me."
News10 asked for a comment from Lueras about the criticism. A clerk said Lueras was unavailable. A spokesperson for the courts requested a written request for comment, but as of late Wednesday night there was no reply to the request.