J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California                                           March 4, 2006
The Inherent Right of ALL People to Alter or Reform Abusive Government.
The Right Upon Which All Other Rights Depend
The Torchbearer for J.A.I.L. Nationally - Support Them!
P.O. Box 412, Tea, S.D. 57064  -  (605) 231-1418
"We need the People to act
to improve our judiciary."
By Susan Kennedy, CA JAILer
Dr. Scarborough,
With respect to today's e-letter reporting "Interim Results from our Judicial Impeachment Campaign," it is true that impeachment is described in the Constitution, where it states clearly that judges shall hold their offices "during good behavior."  As one who recently retired from 25+ years working in the legal field (not as an attorney), I have studied the federal codes with respect to impeachment.
Frankly, it isn't working.  We have a serious problem getting anyone to take it seriously.  The "good ole boys" are all looking out for each other.
To wit:  I am "represented" in Congress by a man who sits on the House Judiciary Committee.  In April 2004, I wrote him a polite and respectful letter posing some serious questions about how judges are vetted for nomination and about the impeachment process.  I AM STILL WAITING for this "representative" to grant me the courtesy of a reply to my questions---and it's close to two years now.
One of the issues raised in that letter was how it came to pass that two brothers were both seated on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which circuit covers your organization's geographic location, in direct violation of a specific federal code (I've archived the email and the statute number escapes me). This violation was resolved in September 2004 with the death of one of those brothers, Richard Sheperd Arnold.  His brother, Morris Sheperd Arnold, is still on the bench as far as I know.  The fact that this violation happened, and Congress--the Senate--let it happen, proves that someone is not exercising proper oversight of our Constitutional processes. 
One of the specifics in the impeachment process is for a complaint (such as you or I might make) against a judge on a Circuit Court to be presented to the presiding judge of that circuit.  Well, in the case of the Arnold brothers, each of them served as presiding judge at one time or another.  Can't you just imagine the laughter in chambers were someone to send a complaint to one Arnold brother, as presiding judge, saying "Your Honor, you need to bring impeachment proceedings against yourself or your brother because having two judges on the same bench who share consanguinity violates federal law"?
Now, on the one hand, I voted in your survey, and it warms my heart to see that my choice for the first to be impeached seems to also be the public's choice---Stephen Reinhardt.  (You most likely know that his wife, Ramona Ripston, is the head honcho for ACLU in the Los Angeles area, where I live, which raises questions of conflict of interest in my mind.)
On the other hand, I'd like to tell you about another method that I firmly believe has a far better chance of improving the membership of the judiciary at all levels.  J.A.I.L.4 Judges!  The first part of that is an acronym for Judicial Accountability Initiative Law.  (Yes, it's a  cleverly contrived slogan, but so is P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.)  What J4J would do is place the ultimate disposition of a complaint against a judge in the hands of the People in the form of a Special Grand Jury (SGJ).
All current mechanisms would remain in place, the appeals process and whatever "complaint departments" may exist within the given state, such as California's Commission on Judicial Performance.  Only after an aggrieved litigant has exhausted those remedies could he or she go to the SGJ and then, only for a carefully crafted list of specific violations of due process. Should the complaint be found to fall within the list of violations and the judge be found to have violated due process, the complainant could then bring a civil lawsuit against the judge before an ordinary trial jury with the opportunity to recover damages---which exists nowhere today.
At first, J4J would only function at the state level.  I'm ahead of you.  You're about to protest that most of the seriously egregious "activist" rulings take place at the federal level.  True, but we have to start somewhere, and this is not an issue to sell to the Congress as a starting point.  But consider this.  Where do we get candidates for the federal bench (excepting Harriet Miers, of course)?  We get federal judges from the ranks of state judges.  So if we improve the pool of state judges, the pool of potential federal judges improves automatically.  Eventually, once J4J is law in a preponderance of states, the federal Congress will see the headlight on the freight train.
As it stands today, J4J is an initiative law.  It has been in existence for about 10 years and was tried once in California.  A lack of grasp of California signature-gathering requirements and a late start sank the first attempt.  The million-dollar cost of paid signature gatherers is the current impediment.  Only 24 states currently have an initiative process, although I learned today that Alabama may become the 25th state.
J4J was, however, qualified earlier this year in South Dakota where a "true believer" was willing to put up most of the money out of his own pocket to acquire the necessary signatures.  The total signers actually numbered about one-third more than the minimum requirement.  The initiative is on the ballot as "Amendment E" for this coming November.
But oh you should see the hysteria it has generated, not only in South Dakota but in neighboring states!  Those whose cozy little "immunity" is threatened are going all out to defeat it!  I have watched initiatives in California for over 40 years, and never have I seen the level of hyperbole and mischaracterization as what they are saying in South Dakota.  In fact, the entire Legislature has signed on to an illegal resolution opposing it.  But the People will speak!  And those people number thousands and thousands in the 50 states.
J4J has some level of organization in all 50 states, and there is a national bill already crafted to be presented to Congress when the time is right.  Ronald Reagan said (paraphrased) "Ours is the first [nation] where the People tell the government what it is allowed to do."  The People have the ultimate right to oversight of the judicial branch as well as the executive and legislative.  J.A.I.L.4 Judges would make that a reality.
Don't stop what you are doing, but please take a few moments to look at href="../../State_Chapters/dc/DC_initiative.doc">www.jail4judges.org.  There is a page for each state there.  The full text of the initiative can be found for each state.  (The text is essentially the same for all states, varying only in a few minor details.) 
I wish I could believe that the impeachment process would work, but the judges all watch each other's backs, and the Congress has proved that most of them are wimps!  We need the People to act to improve our judiciary.
Susan Kennedy
Los Angeles
Our thanks to Susan for this informative write-up.

J.A.I.L.- Judicial Accountability Initiative Law - href="../../State_Chapters/dc/DC_initiative.doc">www.jail4judges.org
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