J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California                              December 30, 2006


The Inherent Right of ALL People to Alter or Reform Government.

The Right Upon Which All Other Rights Depend


Editorial: Judge needs another job

Brooks doesn't have judicial demeanor


Published December 26, 2006

It takes a lot for a California judge to be disciplined.

Only 31 have been removed or dismissed from office since the establishment of the Commission on Judicial Performance in 1960. Only 45 have been publicly admonished. So when the commission does act, citizens should pay attention.

On Nov. 29, commissioners issued a public admonishment of Superior Court Judge James M. Brooks, a judge for 19 years in Orange County. They rebuked Brooks' conduct, but did not remove him from the bench. It's hard to see why not. The evidence shows that Brooks lacks the appropriate temperament to be a judge.


The commissioners noted Brooks' "sarcastic, demeaning and intimidating" remarks in one 2004 case. When Arnold McMahon told Brooks that he failed to show up for a scheduled deposition because he had chest pains, and his doctor, after giving him an EKG, told him to immediately go to the nearest hospital, Brooks had this to say: "Gee. I wonder what's going to happen when we put you in jail, Mr. McMahon. Your little ticker might stop, you think?"

Brooks said if McMahon's wife didn't show up on the new date, he'd impose a sanction of $10,000, adding, "I'd mention jail but it might give her a heart attack."

The commission also cited a 2005 case where Brooks questioned the competency of a woman, Saher Joher, who co-owned a business because, as he referred to her, "Sosha or whatever her name is ... a lady that, in her own country -- I put a question mark; I know it's Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon -- probably a very nice lady, probably doesn't know how much she owns, I don't think." Brooks wrote that she "in her native Syria (?) probably wouldn't be allowed to own property."

Such conduct is not new for Brooks. In 1996, the commission disciplined Brooks for referring to Hispanic defendants as "Pedro" and issuing a bench warrant for an Asian defendant for "ten thousand dollars or twenty thousand yen"; in 1999, for saying in court that if his family was assaulted he would punch the offender's "lights out" and tell him, "touch them, you die"; and in 2003, for referring to operators of a mobile home park as "Nazis" and comparing their actions to the Holocaust.

The 4th District Court of Appeal also condemned Brooks' conduct in a 2003 case and ordered a different judge to preside over a retrial. This was a case in which a worker suffered broken bones and other injuries when his hand was caught in a bread-making machine at a food packaging plant. After suffering nerve damage in an alleged botched surgery, he sued. During the trial Brooks said, "It's too bad this poor gentleman hurt his foot, hand, whatever, but he came here to work illegally. So he's running the risk of getting injuries. He's running a risk of getting injured on any job if he is injured and outside the system. Tough. That's your problem."

As the appellate court said, immigration status is irrelevant; if an employer hires undocumented workers, California's safety and workers' compensation laws still apply.

Who would want to appear before such a judge? His conduct undermines the basic fairness and decorum that the public has a right to expect in the courtroom. The commission has treated him lightly, but that shouldn't obscure the reality. Brooks needs to find a new line of work.

In my public speeches and in our J.A.I.L. News Journals, I have commented with tongue-in-Cheek that we could save a lot of tax dollars by abollishing the Judicial Commissions around the country. The above is a case in point. The first Judicial Commission in this country was started right here in California in 1960. Back then it was called the “Commission on Judicial Qualifications, and was later changed to “Commission on Judicial Performance.”  Thereafter, the several states began to design their own Judicial Commissions by assorted names, but the net result of all of them is that they have great sounding names, but are all short on results.

As per above, the Commission on Judicial Performance has been in operation for forty-seven years, and has expended hundreds of millions of tax dollars, and what have Californians received for their money. The removal of 31 judges from the bench. My tongue-in-cheek appeals to a natural law of nature called death. Death has taken hold upon many, many California judges, and it was accomplished all with the help or assistance of a Judicial Commission. It did not cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. It did not require a form letter from the Commission that states, “During our October business meeting we took up the subject regarding your complaint against a Calfornia judge. During that meeting it was decided that there was no judicial conduct expressed that this Commission should take action.  Therefore, we have closed this case. Thank you for writing to the California Commission on Judicial Performance,” with a stamp on the inside and outside, “Confidential - Not for publication.”

Death has resoundedly proven much more effective than all state's Judicial Commissions. There is not one judge on record that has successfully evaded death's penalty. From my observation of judges complained of, many are promoted upward to higher judicial promotions. But with death, there has been not one judge who thereafer was promoted to a higher position.

I have said in the past that we could immesely improve our justice system by just flipping a quarter. No lawyers, no discovery, no appeals, truth and facts don't matter, just heads or tails. So, I likewise ask, is there anyone who finds fault with my position that we should just abolish every Judicial Commission in the country and let death take its course?  Afterall, death's penalty is final and unappealable, dispite who their friends were in high places. (Oh, yes, some of you will smile, others will have a heart attack. The truth is sometimes hard to swallow no matter from whom it comes!) 

-Ron Branson

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