"California is one state that has solved [its judicial] problem." 

(By Lyn Nofziger)
 
----- Original Message -----
From: Flaming Fury
To: franklynnof@cs.com
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 1:03 PM
Subject: Musings: California "Solves" Activist Judge Problem

Dear Mr. Nofziger,
 
Yes, I know who you are.  Your name has been familiar to me for many years.
 
July will mark the 45th anniversary of my arrival in California---as an adult.  Every vote I have ever cast has been in California.  I take issue with your Musings column in which you claim California has "solved" the problem of accountability of judges by letting the names of the justices of the state Supreme Court appear for confirmation on the ballot every twelve years.
 
How many judges have been thrown off the bench by this practice?  Only ONCE in four and a half decades have I seen this used--the famous (or infamous) Rose Bird court about two decades ago when the People, in their collective wisdom, decided they wanted the death penalty restored.  Even that, however, was preceded by a huge spending campaign against that particular court.
 
As a kid, history, government, and politics didn't arouse much interest in me.  That changed when a) I lost my first two presidential votes due to "residence requirements" and b) I lived in Japan for some years where I saw foreign policy in action.  Having arrived in California and been denied the right to vote in the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon contest because I hadn't been here a year yet, I stormed the registrar's office in July 1961 demanding to register.  They must have thought I was nuts to be so insistent in an off year.  I've been a fervent political activist ever since.
 
I've just retired from working the last 30 years or so in various legal firms (no, I am not a member of the bar---couldn't stand the company).  I have many friends who have seen major injustice in the courts.  Our judicial system is a mess!  It's worse than a mess.  It's a corrupt cesspool!  Judges routinely do not follow the law.  They make up word definitions from the bench.  They tell jurors who ask for a specific law, "Trust me, it's in there" (when in fact in this particular federal case, it is not in there).  They deny litigants/ defendants the right to call witnesses or to present evidence.  They take bribes.  They put their cronies in charge of affairs, such as appointing them for psychological evaluations, as conservators, as referees, as real estate agents to sell property of divorcing couples.  There is simply no limit to the amount of bias and corruption in the judicial system.  They established the Judges Miscellaneous Expense Fund in a Los Angeles bank (discovered by a friend of mine and verified---I've seen the checks he acquired through discovery) where they launder their bribes.
 
Does voting help at all?  I say not one whit.  First of all, finding out any information about any judge is next to impossible.  Sure, the "Daily Journal" publishes its daily judicial profile, which profiles are also mailed out to law firms reformatted to 8.5x11" paper to be stashed in large binders and consulted by attorneys.  But these profiles are blatant puff  pieces.  They never say anything negative about the profilee.
 
On a typical ballot, there will be anywhere from one to twelve judicial offices up for grabs.  In the accompanying ballot information book, we are lucky if we see candidate statements for 10% of those judicial offices.  Why?  Because each judicial candidate has to pay for that ballot pamphlet write-up.  And if a candidate is paying for a write-up, what will you bet the write-up is going to let it all hang out and tell the whole truth?  Not on your life!  It will be totally biased in favor of the candidate.
 
No lesser personalities than George Putnam and Dennis Prager have raised the issue in their radio talk shows about the difficulty of voters finding out anything about the judges who may one day stand in judgment of them.  Sure, the California or American Bar Associations may issue ratings of qualified or not qualified, but where do we see those ratings?  In endorsement editorials in the LA "Slime," which in itself has departed from the standard of unbiased reporting and has a decidedly liberal agenda.  At least they have the decency to place these judicial endorsements on their editorial pages.
 
Meanwhile, the average Joe Sixpack voter merely checks yes next to all the incumbent judges when they are running unopposed and probably closes his eyes and stabs for those with competition.  Without any meaningful way to critique the candidates, what's a voter to do?  They have no information to allow them to make an informed choice.  So the same corrupt judges get back in time and time again.  Only some particularly egregious conduct that makes the news---such as Ronald Kline's computer being hacked and his collection of child pornography revealed or Patrick Murphy's 410 days of "calling in sick" and collecting his hefty superior court salary while attending school in Mexico---will get the attention to misconduct all judges need to be exposed to.
 
So what is the voter to do?  Is there answer?  Yes there is, and it's not complaints to the Commission on Judicial Performance!  After all, that's merely the fox guarding the hen-house, judges guarding their brothers and sisters in black.  They have no incentive to censure their colleagues for doing what they did.
 
We need a house-cleaning from top to bottom to make judges accountable to the PEOPLE!  And the answer, Mr. Nofziger, is a California-hatched ballot initiative program called J.A.I.L.4Judges. 
 
Written by a pro se litigant right here in the greater LA area, this initiative idea has spread like wildfire to almost every state!  There's even a federal version ready to be introduced to Congress at the appropriate time.  Sufficient signatures are expected to put it on the ballot in South Dakota in 2006.  There are two other states presently gathering signatures for the measure.
 
What J.A.I.L.4Judges will do is establish Special Grand Juries (SGJ)---separate and apart from the currently established grand juries (most of which are nothing more than a consortium of cronies, picked by the judges and rubber-stamping the desires of the local D.A.)---to hear complaints about judges.  The complainant will be required to exhaust all available administrative remedies before coming to the SGJ.  Then, in order to have the errant judge disciplined, it will be necessary to prove that the judge violated the law or the litigant/defendant's rights under the law.  It will not be a retrial of the facts of the case, nor will emotional issues be allowed to hold sway.
 
Acronym notwithstanding, it is not the intent of the program to actually put anyone in jail.  J.A.I.L. stands for Judicial Accountability Initiative Law.
 
For a detailed understanding of how J.A.I.L.4Judges is set up to work, I commend you to href="../index.html">www.Jail4Judges.org.
 
If voting yea or nay on a slate of state Supreme Court justices every 12 years were a workable proposition, we wouldn't see the corruption and activism in California increasing every year.  But this isn't working, so  the problem grows steadily worse.
 
It is time for the People to take the reins and show judges what kind of judicial system we want!
 
Very truly yours,
 
Susan Kennedy
Los Angeles
flamingfury@BigValley.net
 

 
AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME?

"(W)hat is needed is a way to bring these superior beings (judges) back down to earth, remove the halos from their heads and make them accountable in the long run to the people.  And the way to do that is take away their lifetime appointments.  This doesn't mean they should be term-limited nor does is mean they should be forced to run for re-election.  What it does mean is that from time to time they should be subjected to a vote of their peers, meaning you and me and the rest of the voters.

"California is one state that has solved this problem.   Members of its Supreme Court are appointed by the governor.  But once every 12 years justices must present themselves for a vote of the people.  Nobody runs against them; it's not a political contest, but the people get to vote whether they want to keep them or replace them.  If the vote is 'yes' a justice goes back to the bench for another 12 years.  If it's 'no' the governor names someone to replace him.

"Once in a while, but not often, Californians throw a judge out.  I think it has a salubrious effect on the rest of the gang.  And if it works in California it could work for the country, not only for the Supreme Court but also for the circuit and district courts."

- Lyn Nofziger, Musings, 3/29/05