J.A.I.L. News Journal

Los Angeles, California                                              December 1, 2005
www.SouthDakotaJudicialAccountability.org ONWARD WE GO!
Scaring The Bajebers
 Out of The Legal System
(By Ron Branson - Author/Founder of J.A.I.L.)
Years ago I stated that the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (J.A.I.L.) will eventually be on the lips of everyone throughout the country, and its message will affirmatively overtake this nation from "Sea to Shining Sea."  (See the interesting animation http://www.jail4judges.org/Flash.htm 
which attests to this phenomenon.) 
Today, I am watching the beginning signs of this development materializing in our country; and despite the horrors of our opposition, there is nothing the system can do to change the onward and upward thrust of J.A.I.L. It is said that there are no armies on earth that can stop and idea whose time has come, and indeed the time of J.A.I.L. has come to America! Just like in quicksand, the more the corrupt establishment thrashes and flails in resistance, the faster they sink. And like the quote, "I do not care what they say about me, just so long as they spell my name correctly," so it is with J.A.I.L. The media opposition is spreading the name of J.A.I.L. around the U.S. like there is no tomorrow - media coverage which we could not afford.
The media is driving the foot traffic toward J.A.I.L. by the thousands. While we already possessed extended bandwidth supporting our website, we have had to recently re-double our extended bandwidth just to keep up, thanks to the media. And at the rate we're going, I don't believe it'll take too long before the media will cause us to have to quadruple our bandwidth. J.A.I.L. is that thing that our enemies do not want to talk about, but can't help themselves! Like one hooked on drugs, one may hate the fact that they are drug-dependent, but they just have to have more. Likewise, the media is hooked on that which they hate, i.e., J.A.I.L.; but, nonetheless, they just can't get enough of it, even though they know they're spreading around the knowledge of J.A.I.L.
Back on August 13, 1999, the largest legal newspaper in the U.S., the Los Angeles Daily Journal, published an article about J.A.I.L. This newspaper is widely read by thousands of both attorneys and judges religiously. On the front page, column one, first sentence, we read: "SACRAMENTO - Ronald Branson has picked a lot of fights with judges and lost. Now the vexed Los Angeles County litigant is going to voters with a proposed ballot initiative aimed at cracking down on a judicial system he regards as out of control. ....  'We believe there are some people out there who are nearly as agitated as us who want something to happen,' Branson told the Daily Journal. This will become the hottest initiative in time that ever happened in the History of California."  This article got the attention of the California judicial establishment, who retorted, "The state's judicial establishment isn't exactly holding its breath. 'We're not going to be lying awake worrying about this,' said Constance Dove, executive director of the California Judges Association. 'I think the voters have more sense than that.' "
Notwithstanding the judiciary's attitude of nonchalance, a shocking poll taken by the judiciary itself through its Judicial Council revealed, "Nearly half of the Californians questioned in a far-ranging new poll said they have less confidence in the court system... . 52% had a 'poor' or 'only fair' overall opinion of the state judiciary..." The results of this poll absolutely shocked the establishment. "When 52% of Californians do not think highly of the courts, that tells me we have to come up with [a] program to give people a better understanding of the system.' said Robert R. Dockson, ... chairman of the Commission on the Future of the Courts." L.A. Times, 12/11/92.
What this poll revealed was that the judiciary was in big trouble. Their proposed cure, "...come up with a program to give people a better understanding of the system." Now if you're not already laughing, I ask you where you think this effort to "give people a better understand of the system" has led. I'll give you a hint: They are afraid to take a poll to find out! Based upon the official poll on behalf of the judiciary, Ron was right. The judiciary was then out of control, and I say that it has only gotten much worse with the passage of time. If J.A.I.L. were on the ballot today, it would terrify all those judges who candidly said, "We're not going to be lying awake worrying about this."  Indeed, it is now getting hard to find people who hold respect for the judiciary here.
The Daily Journal went on to express how an Initiative five years prior was passed by the voters to curb judges in California by giving more power to the Commission on Judicial Performance. But they observed the difference offered by J.A.I.L., "J.A.I.L. would go quite a bit further -- -- further, in fact, than any judicial watchdog agency in the nation."
While I vehemently disagree with the implications of a South Dakota poll taken by the Argus Leader, a South Dakota newspaper, they did get a surprising response to their misguided question. The question was, "Should people unhappy with a judge's ruling have the authority to appeal to a grand jury for the right to sue the judge?" This was aimed directly at J.A.I.L. Their poll results reveals the following:

Yes: 49.2%
No:  50.8%

While I am abhorred at the result received, it does send a message that South Dakotans are very upset, for whatever reason, with their judges in South Dakota.
Contrary to those who speak against us, J.A.I.L. actually received quite a plug with an honest analysis by the highest of authority in California, to wit, Elizabeth Hill, the Legislative Analyst, who addressed the current Attorney General, Bill Lockyer on 3/30/2000:

"Limitations on Judicial Immunity.  Current law provides that judges are completely immune from civil claims based on actions taken within the scope of their judicial performance. As a result, perceived abuses by a judge within the scope of his or her judicial performance can only be remedied by appealing the action in question to obtain a reversal, filing a complaint with the Commission on Judicial Performance, or petitioning the Legislature to impeach the judge. None of these remedies allow the complainant to seek civil damages. Judges are currently subject to criminal prosecution for criminal acts taken within the scope of their judicial duties (for example taking a bribe). The "victim" of such an offense, however, cannot seek a civil remedy against a judge for any negative consequences of the criminal action.


"This measure would provide a mechanism for plaintiffs to overcome this immunity in certain cases by filing a claim with the newly created special grand juries who would have jurisdiction to determine whether a civil suit fell within certain immunity exclusions set forth in the initiative. Judges would no longer be immune from civil liability in cases in which they intentionally violate due process of law, deliberately disregard material facts, block the lawful conclusion of a case, or deliberately violate the U.S. or California Constitutions. In any case in which the special grand jury finds that a suit would fall within these exclusions, its finding acts as a bar against the judge raising the defense of judicial immunity...."


I view the above quoted commentary as an honest presentation of what J.A.I.L. will actually accomplish. There is much more I could quote to you from this report about J.A.I.L. But today I am seeing many newspaper articles published from around the states, to wit, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, New York, South Dakota, etc., to cite a few, that take a completely different tack than the official voice of the California Legislature, in that these recent reports are entirely dishonest and fraudulent, reporting intentional lies designed to deceive their readers.  None of these reports are in compliance with the Code of Ethics for Journalists. See http://spj.org/ethics_code.asp.
Now back to my original point. The current effort to pass J.A.I.L. in South Dakota is scaring the living "bajebers" out of the legal system. Its members 
are absolutely terrorized at the prospect that the voters of South Dakota may just actually vote J.A.I.L. in as an amendment to their Constitution. They realize the impact it would really have on cleaning up the corruption in South Dakota, not to speak of the impact it will have throughout this entire nation by South Dakota's influence. They realize that the security held for decades of the cozy, invincible relationship of their legal fraternity between lawyers and judges will be disturbed, and their haughty confidence dealt a severe blow. A common term used by the legal fraternity and newspapers that support it, is "judicial independence" that actually refers to that clandestine relationship which has been truly independent of all outside influence, including the law.
They, as I, can see that J.A.I.L. presents a "Showdown At OK Coral" for the future of this country, to wit, either the judiciary or the People of this country will prevail. There is absolutely no middle ground nor any way our country can survive much longer should the judiciary of this country continue its status-quo course of destruction; and these unscrupulous reporters, underlying the judiciary, want to make sure the People do not change that course. This is why we are hearing statements such as below, that J.A.I.L. will  "...plunge the court system into anarchy." ''Having this come in would be big trouble.''  To them, accountability equals "anarchy," and from their perspective, such honesty is evil; perhaps they are right, because they view good as evil, and evil as good.
One more thing. Everything you will read below is easily refutable, and can be shown as an attack upon the very document attorneys and judges have sworn by an oath to uphold and defend. Because my focus here is to establish their fear of J.A.I.L., and not to refute what dishonest reporting does not touch upon, I will save refutation for another day.
                                                                 -Ron Branson

Madison Daily Leader  

href="onclick="javascript:s_code_linktrack('Article-HomeLinkLogo');" ">New York Times
Judges in S.D. May Lose Lawsuit Immunity
Published: November 14, 2005

Filed at 10:48 p.m. ET

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) -- A movement is under way in South Dakota to turn the tables on members of the bench.

Activists are trying to put a radical measure on next year's ballot that could make South Dakota the first state to let people who believe their rights have been violated by judges put those judges on trial. Citizens could seek damages or criminal charges.

The measure would overturn more than a century of settled law in the United States by stripping judges of their absolute immunity from lawsuits over their judicial acts.

''The current system doesn't work because there is no adequate way to hold a given judge accountable for improper behavior or to prevent them from judicial misconduct if they choose to do so,'' said businessman William Stegmeier, a leader of the movement.

Legal experts warned that such a provision could dangerously undermine the independence of South Dakota's judiciary, plunge the court system into anarchy, and run afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

And they noted there are already remedies available to the public: Bad rulings can be overturned on appeal, and judges who break the rules can be punished by state disciplinary boards and, in South Dakota and other states, voted out of office.

Marie Failinger, a law professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., said judicial immunity is seen as a way to protect judges' independence so they decide cases on the merits, not in response to pressure from the community or individuals.

''Judges are kind of the last barrier we have between government oppression and the individual, so if they can't be independent, that could be a problem,'' Failinger said. She added: ''Judges will be chilled from making the right decision because they don't know what crazy litigant is going to decide they are going to sue them.''

Stegmeier, owner of a company that manufactures livestock-feed grinders, turned in 46,800 signatures last week to put the proposed state constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2006. That is about 13,000 more than needed. The state is still verifying the signatures.

Judicial immunity, the doctrine that says judges cannot be sued over their judicial acts, was established by the U.S. Supreme Court in an 1871 case.

The South Dakota amendment would eliminate state judges' immunity in cases involving deliberate violations of the law or someone's constitutional rights or deliberate disregard of the facts.

People could file complaints against judges after the traditional appeals process has concluded. A special grand jury would handle complaints, deciding whether a judge could be sued or face criminal charges.

If the grand jury decides on criminal charges, it could indict the judge and create a special tribunal that would act as both judge and jury, deciding guilt and any sentence. The measure would not apply to federal judges.

Stegmeier said he has never had a bad experience in court. In fact, supporters of the measure have no examples of any problems in South Dakota. But Stegmeier said the amendment could help curb the abuses he has heard about across the country.

On its Web site, the group promoting the amendment, South Dakota Judicial Accountability, cites an Indiana case from the 1970s involving the sterilization of a 15-year-old girl, and argues that stripping judges of immunity would also help prevent decisions such as the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed homes to be seized for private development.

''We didn't throw the yoke of the king off to get under the yoke of the judges,'' said Gary Zerman, a Valencia, Calif., lawyer who is a spokesman for the South Dakota ballot effort.

Tom Barnett, secretary-treasurer of the State Bar of South Dakota, said inmates would quickly figure out that they could harass the judges who put him behind bars by filing a complaint.

''You don't think there aren't going to be hundreds and hundreds of them, everybody giggling up in the penitentiary?'' he said.

Georgetown University Law School professor Roy A. Schotland, who studies judicial elections and constitutional law, said the measure could violate the Constitution.

''It at least erodes and may go so far as to destroy judicial independence, which means it erodes and perhaps destroys the rule of law and fair judging,'' Schotland said. ''Having this come in would be big trouble.''

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Editorial: Judicial accountability bill is full of holes
By KEITH JENSEN, Associate Publisher 11/28/2005
An initiated constitutional amendment is going to be on the 2006 ballot if enough signatures are valid. Obviously a lot of people signed the petitions, with the sales pitch that it is for holding judges accountable, but we wonder how many people actually read the proposal in its entirety. From our vantage point, it looks like Swiss cheese -- full of holes.

Proponents have named it the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law, so they could use the catchy acronym JAIL. The measure would, proponents say, "punish wayward judges with civil suits and even criminal charges."

And who are the "wayward judges"? Well, pretty simple: any judge that makes a decision that one or more of the affected parties aren't happy with, could be "punished" under JAIL!

The measure would set up a Special Grand Jury, with 13 jurors, drawn from the state's voter registration lists, each serving one year and paid more than $100,000 a year each.

Tom Barnett, executive director of the State Bar of South Dakota, noted that the grand jury would be "empowered to rule on the law and the facts. In other words, it is a super-legislature having the power to overrule the Legislature, decide which laws (or constitutional provisions) to enforce or ignore and then also decide the facts."

JAIL would have a budget of more than $2.5 million. The Legislature would be required (no choice) to establish a Special Grand Jury facility (centrally located) but not within a mile of any judicial body (talk about paranoia!).

And this is cute: it will be funded through fines, fees and forfeitures, but if that doesn't produce enough money, the Legislature will have to (again no choice) impose "appropriate surcharges upon the civil court filing fees of corporate litigants."

OK, so you have an individual who wants to file a civil complaint against a judge (say a convicted felon who sues because the sentence is perceived as too harsh, or a private citizen who believes the sentence is too lenient) and they have to pay a filing fee, right?

Well, not necessarily, because the amendment provides for a $50 filing fee, but you can file a statement that you are impoverished OR (get this) because you "object to such fee." You could drive a large cattle truck through that hole in the cheese.

There are so many more holes, they are too numerous to comment on. For instance, law enforcement officials are prohibited from serving on the Grand Jury, but felony drunk drivers, convicted drug dealers and child pornographers can! The move is apparently aimed at "activist judges," but it covers all persons shielded by judicial immunity...meaning every school board, city council, county commission, professional licensing board, in fact every citizen board in the state exercising quasi-judicial powers.

And where is the problem in South Dakota? We vote on our judges...citizens have an absolute right to reject a particular Circuit Court judge if they believe they will be treated unfairly...and all parties have an absolute right to appeal a judge's decision to the Supreme Court.

This is going to be one of those issues where you need to move from the headlines to the fine print and carefully read the amendment. From doing that, our conclusion is: it looks like Swiss cheese, but it smells like Limburger!

-- Keith Jensen
�Madison Daily Leader 2005
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