Earlier, this was happening in San Francisco. I keep thinking of the “Silenced Mamas” articles that started this blog around 2009 . We are in devastation through loss of services, the Judges warn us, but they will cut back — and lobbying for increased taxes will happen, I guar-annnteee you.
By the way, I’ve been blogging more over at The Family Court Franchise System which is easier to read, and has a wonderful set of links on the left side, resources both for thought and for research, under “It’s Elementary.” While blogging some specific states (PA, CT, TX), it’s taking the larger historical view on WTF is going on.
How interesting that whereas last year, it was SF falling apart and closing courthouses; now it’s Los Angeles. I found this amusing — the shoe is on the other foot for a change. Not that it won’t impact citizens negatively (MOST things that this judicial system does any more, impact citizens negatively). But I know too much about what we don’t know (nor does the US Government) to give a lot of credibility to the theory that we, the people, should be picking up the pieces for former mismanagement by the powers that be.
By MARIA DINZEO
LOS ANGELES (CN) – The nation’s biggest court announced Monday extraordinary staff cuts and courtroom closures as a result of both California’s budget crisis and long term policy by the top administrative brass for California’s courts.
“These are extraordinary measures, never before seen in the Los Angeles Superior Court,” wrote Presiding Judge Lee Edmon in a memo sent to court staff Monday. “These changes will affect every judicial officer and staff member — as well as the millions of attorneys and litigants who depend upon our courts to deliver justice.”
The immediate effect of the cuts is the layoff of 300 court employees this June plus the closure of 50 courtrooms.
“It looks certain that more than 50 courtrooms will be closed countywide,” said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dan Oki who is on the court’s budget working group. “Our leadership in the past has done a great job reducing our operating budget without affecting courtroom operations,” he added. “But that ability is gone now and we’re moving strongly into the courtrooms.”
The axe being taken to the Los Angeles court, the biggest in the United States, is part of an overall budget battle in California.
What goes around comes around . . . .
Over the last three years, the California Legislature had cut the overall court budget by a total of $652 million. The effects of those cuts were softened in the first two years by a series of short-term measures and the tapping of reserve funds.
But now the pain is taking hold.
For many trial judges, the cuts represent past policies of the central administrative office coming home to roost.
Last summer, for example, the Administrative Office of the Courts budgeted hundreds of millions more for an IT project, called the Court Case Management System, that has already drained a half-billion dollars from court funds. Those enormous additional sums, for an IT project considered a fiasco by many trial judges, were proposed as the budget crisis loomed.
In addition, heavy staffing for the central office, retroactive raises, and a lavish pension plan for its top brass have also generated regular fire from the trial judges and legislators.
They also note (2/27/2012) that, an opposition to the Reform Bill (hotly contended out here: think of it as Trial Courts v. Judicial AOC) was lobbied for by Deloitte counsulting, which happened to be the beneficiary of the huge IT project that is — hotly contended. Politics and business as usual, larger than usual perhaps because California is the largest court system in the world:
By MARIA DINZEO
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A bill that would limit the power of California’s court bureaucracy in spending hundreds of millions on an IT project has an enemy behind the lines in the form of Deloitte Consulting.
The principal private beneficiary of the big IT project spent $124,000 last year lobbying against the reform bill, AB 1208. Deloitte’s lobbying report includes a $2,827 bill for an event at Sacramento’s exclusive Sutter Club, for a select list of legislators and Assembly staff members.
AB 1208 passed California’s Assembly in January and is now pending in the state Senate. Deloitte’s interest in the bill correlates with its extensive invoicing of California as the developer of a $1.9 billion software system for the courts.
As passed last month by the Assembly, the bill requires that any technology projects receive written consent from 2/3 of the trial courts with voting power apportioned based on population. That provision puts a check on the ability of the Administrative Office of the Courts to embark on projects like the Court Case Management System, a nine-year-old project with Deloitte as the principal consultant.
In its report to California’s Secretary State, Deloitte lists the law firm of Ochoa & Moore in Sacramento as the lobbyist paid to oppose AB 1208. But the report was filed by attorney Steven Lucas of Nielsen Merksamer in San Rafael. Partner Steve Merksamer was chief of staff for Republican Governor George Deukmejian in the 1980s.
My personal opinion:
My personal opinion is that we should lock the AOC with the leader of the Trial Courts in a room for, say, a year — and see which one comes out the victor. This would save the taxpayers a lot of money in terms of unnecessary parenting education, supervised visitation, and GAL, etc. costs. I had wished there was a way to do this with some of the (characters) I’ve been dealing with in my own case; alas the opportunity never presented itself. Think of all the children who’d still be seeing their parents.
“Collaborative Justice” movement has been preparing for this day a long time; ways to divorce without the judge. Of course I’m guessing that some collaborative justice personnel may be retired judges.
They say (from courthousenews article):
“But money is not destiny,” said (L.A. County Presiding Judge) Edmon in concluding on an up note. “The ultimate impacts of this blow will be determined by our response to it. That is why, while we are greatly concerned about our future, we do not despair. Our Court has a history of working together in the best interests of justice; that history will serve us well as we come to grips with the coming changes.”
Individual judges, however, expressed a long-smoldering anger with the bureaucrats who control the purse strings and the governing council of judges that approves their spending projects.
“These current cuts are now (and have been for years) impacting Los Angeles directly and in a devastating manner,” said Judge Czuleger in Los Angeles. “Are the cuts in part the result of a poor economy and Legislative cuts? Of course.”
“Could they have been better planned for and alleviated in some ways by the AOC and Judicial Council? Without doubt. This result was foreseeable and could have been dealt with by good leadership and intelligent planning. It was not.”
“Instead, AOC priorities were maintained at all costs,” he concluded. “This is what becomes of empire building.”
Speaking of empire building, there seemed to be little discord when it came to “GET FINE” after Richard Fine revealed, or at least sued in a class action, that (for example), the L.A. District Atttorney was sitting on $25 million of collected — but not distributed — Child Support. (Silva v. Garcetti). The swift alacrity with which trial court judges, legislature, and others got their act together (time: around 2009) can be seen best in the spreadsheet showing the chain reaction to being confronted on their own corruption, via lawsuits:
the Money Trail (a google site)
Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors’ Illegal Bonus Payments to Superior Court Judges Have Cost Taxpayers
Almost $1 Billion Dollars (Known, So Far), Illegally Enriched Developers, And Blatantly Trampled The People’s Rights
Since the late 1980s, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, on behalf of Los Angeles County proper, has illegally paid the Los Angeles Superior Court Judges bonus payments, now slightly over $57,000 per year, on top of their already generous salary and benefits, giving them a gross salary of more than a quarter of a million dollars each year, all in violation of the California Constitution. The highest ranking judge in the entire country, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, makes only $218,000, and Federal District Judges receive $157.000.
As of 2009, Los Angeles County taxpayers have paid over $300 million dollars for these judges’ bonuses.
Is there evidence that Los Angeles County got something in return?
The County attorney’s “Annual Litigation Cost Report” for the year 2007-2008, begins with the statement that “attorney fees and costs reached a five-year low … and were down 13 percent as compared to last year. … Meanwhile, the County was sued with increasing frequency – up 10 percent over last year.” The County reports that it prevailed in nearly two-thirds of its trials (current statistics report that figure has grown to almost 90%, and is now a point of braggadocio in the County’s appellate briefs), and received favorable decisions in over 90 percent of its appellate cases. A
Is that all the County got? NO! Those sneaky Supervisors, having rewritten the County Charter to say that their salaries are to match the compensation received by the superior court judges, are also receiving the same “judicial benefits” that the judges are. This was all done under the table, kept from the knowledge of the public. Luckily, they aren’t quite as smart as they think they are because there is no pardon for them for receiving these payments. Significant prison time is in the futures of these blatant crooks.
In the meantime, Richard I. Fine, a 70-year-old attorney with a long and very distinguished history bravely fighting for and protecting California taxpayers, the man who has saved them almost $1 billion dollars so far, found himself jailed on trumped-up contempt charges on March 4, 2009, after clashing with certain judges for years who refused to concede their bias when deciding cases concerning the County at the same time they were receiving hefty bonus payments from the county. In fear of losing this lucrative addition to their paychecks, coupled with the likelihood of their having to repay said sums and possibly face prison terms, a few judges are attempting to silence Mr. Fine and force him to abandon his rights and give up this quest in exchange for his freedom.
Mr. Fine remains jailed to this day, in solitary confinement in the “worst jail in the United States,” the L.A. County Men’s Central Jail downtown, according to an ACLU investigation and report. Deprived during the first three weeks of incarceration of simple pen and paper needed to prepare legal documents to contest his confinement, Dr. Fine’s friends and supporters helped and the habeas corpus process was begun. Since then, the judges have basically ignored his right to be heard, sitting on their hands and doing nothing while months pass. Meanwhile, Mr. Fine cannot earn an income, resulting in extreme financial damage to his family. Mr. Fine has not even been allowed one minute of time outdoors for fresh air and exercise. (Link)
(HE IS NOW freed; in fact was released on Yom Kippur, without cratering to the “coercive confinement” intended to break his spirit, apparently).
Take a look at this spreadsheet; it’s the cumulative effect of the chronology of events, particularly how retroactive immunity for (taking bribes) was passed into law through cooperation with the leader of the State Legislature after which the “get Fine” procedures were apparently in full swing. Note (see dates column) not all dates are in chrono order.
It’s much better seen in a table, with the dates, but here’s a sampling, starting around 8/2008
6/21/2005, An L.A. County judge (Chalfant) dismisses Silva v. Garcetti, in which they were withholding $14 million of child AND spousal support illegally, beyond the 6-month deadline (note — this was then collecting substantial interest; if abandoned, then it could also be claimed I suppose). That’s a lot of money for the families involved!
The case was dismissed (it says) even after they began distributing the monies. Then it turned out this judge hadn’t disclosed his conflict of interest, so the dismissal was appealed. It was characterized as too late to appeal. It went (somehow) to the Supreme Court (of California) which didn’t hear it, on 5/2002
2006, they start attempting to disbar Fine while he’s on another (corruption) case. Sterling Norris of Judicial watch files the Sturgeon v. County of L.A. case, on behalf of taxpayers; it’s moved out of county (obviously).
2007 Fine place on involuntary inactive status, immediately taking him OFF that case . . . . The moving (complaining) party in disbarment was a defendants class member in the Silva case…The State Bar apparently concealed this, but it came out when he showed up at a hearing. The Silva and (another) case were called frivolous. (both involved taxpayer losses and waste).
2008, Oct. taxpayers win appeal of “Sturgeon” (which is about the county-paid bribes). Fine sues the state bar. (Nov). Yaffe hears an Order to Show Cause (doesn’t say from whom) and sets a contempt hearing for Fine for “attacking the integrity of the L.A. Superior Court by saying they were accepting bribes (athough it seems they were!). By this time it appears (sound familiar, parents?) the judge is serving as both Judge and adverse witness.
Essentially, they are duking it out about criminal and illegal behavior: Fine seems to be coming at them head-on, citing actual rules, constitution, etc. The response has been appropriate for the same type of defendants (which is county, or in one case, the D.A.) who are alleged to have been evading the law. They continue to violate law and principle, it seems. Kind of like a showdown — but only one party is playing by the rules. This includes matters on the Form 700 (Disclosure — of potential conflicts of interest — statements) too.
11/13/2008 Fine contacts FBI on retaliation for his trying to hold the judicial system to some accountability
1/30/2009 Judicial Council tries to get a bill to have the State pay judges the supplemental benefits that they can’t get now from the County. This bill doesn’t apparently get through.
2/1/2009 Fine writes Eric Holder, asking him to investigate (Attorney General of the US, much?)
2/2/2009 Fine sends his criminal complaint (retaliation) to the FBI AND files a federal lawsuit over his disbarment.
2/11/2009 SBX-211 was introduced, as part of the budget act, but details not made available to the public (starting to sound familiar yet?) Site says that official documents record no “extraordinary sessions” on which this bill was introduce, on that date (various links are provided).
other chicanery . . .
by 2/18/2009 Judicial Council, a lobbyist (Burt Margolin) and the California State Senate President (Daryll Steinberg) get SBX-211 past, which grants retroactive immunity for the supplemental payments from the counties.
2/20/2009 Gov. Schwarzenegger signs off on this bill.
2/23/2009 California Supreme Court orders Fine disbarred
- 2/26/27/2009 Two motions by Fine to get in front of a judge NOT in the class of judges he’d been suing earlier….
- 3/4/2009 Final contempt hearing in front of Yaffe. Fine (apparently at the hearing) is handcuffed and led away by 3 uniformed and 6 plainclothes officers
- 3/20/2009 Fine Files Habeas Corpus (improper incarceration).
NOTE — he didn’t have pen and paper at first. Articles detail he is filing from memory and from a jail cell) This is how Los Angeles treats such an attorney (Chicago, Harvard, London educated, taxpayer advocate, etc.) How’s it going to treat commoners, and how does it? He also filed against the Sheriff, seeking authoried signatures (for his incarceration?). Other articles available on the web state that arrest records were falsified, and they seem credible..
Steinberg co-authored Senate Bill SBX2-11, the ‘smoking gun’ proof of judicial corruption in Los Angeles County. SBX2-11, you’ll recall, forgave the commission of (literally) ten million felonies committed by Superior Court Judges and County Supervisors under a scheme specifically forbidden by the Constitution. The scheme involved counties illegally giving judges (who are well-paid state employees) monies under the table, hidden from the public for at least twenty years. ‘Smoking gun proof’ in the sense that there was no need to retroactively immunize an act unless a crime had been committed.”“By the end of this month, at least eight judges will have been sued, as individuals not judicial officers (meaning no immunity), as a result of their having received County monies while ruling in cases in which the County has an interest, a clear denial of due process and an obstruction of justice. Thousands of such cases will be filed before this is over. (The geniuses who crafted SBX2-11, which included former Chief Justice Ronald George, neglected to immunize the guilty for every crime committed, just the first three, apparently, that came to mind. Viewed in a different light, major malpractice occurred. This legal exposure no doubt contributed to George’s sudden decision to ‘resign’, presumably hoping that doing so would stave off the inevitable indictments.) In the two lawsuits against individual judges that have already been filed and served, the entire court has recused itself, meaning the matter will ultimately be heard by judges in different counties … one of the three counties where judges did not receive the payments, many of whom are jealous as hell.”
And a post, after his release (on Yom Kippur, 2010):
Guest post by Dr. Richard I. Fine:
Please excuse my delay in communicating with you. I am still recovering from the 18 months of incarceration.
On behalf of my wife Maryellen, my daughter Tory and myself, I thank you for all of your prayers and efforts to help win my freedom.
The fight against corruption and to restore our judicial system is not easy. However, together, we have demonstrated that we will not allow our constitutional rights to be destroyed by corrupt judges. Judge Yaffe resigned from office after I reported him to the California Commission on Judicial Performance and sought his removal. Ronald M. George, the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court who knowingly oversaw the illegal county payments to the California judges has resigned from office rather that run for re-election. We have had an impact. We currently have requests for grand jury investigations of judges pending and requests for congressional investigations pending. The crusade is gathering steam.
We must now be ever vigilant to vote out all judges and justices in California who received the illegal payments, ensure that corruption does not occur in other states and in the federal judiciary, and pursue our grand jury and congressional investigations.
We now have the momentum! Let us continue together to victory.
Once again, a BIG thank you. Without your prayers and support, I would never have survived this ordeal.
God Bless You.
(View video of Dr. Fine’s discussion with Leslie Dutton of Full Disclosure Network here as he talks about his darkest hours … and his new-found hope for the future.)
Why — per Ron Branson of JAIL4Judges — Grand Juries Do Not Work (see if this makes sense):
(By Ron Branson – J.A.I.L. Founder & CIC)
(April 3, 2004)
The other day, while sitting in a restaurant, Barbie said to me, “Look, someone left a newspaper,” and she handed me the Sunday Los Angeles Times. As I took it, out fell a center section entitled, “Civil Grand Jury – Los Angeles County 2003-2004. Final Report – June 24, 2004.” Ironically, this “Final Report” is only published once a year, and here it was in my hand as if the Lord wanted me to see it. I left the entire paper at the restaurant and took only this report. I already knew I had in my hands the makin’s for a very good J.A.I.L. News Journal.
Now let’s recap what we have just learned. The Los Angeles County Grand Jury has no jurisdiction over judges, we must take complaints against judges to the CJP. The CJP tells us they do not have jurisdiction over criminal acts of judges, we must go to the State Attorney General. The Attorney General tells us they have a conflict of interest, and will not prosecute. But wait a minute, haven’t we all heard, “No one is above the law!” I am sorry to have to disappoint you, but I am here to tell you by personal experience, judges are indeed free to violated the law with impunity.
Yes, folks, we do actually have a government; “Of the Judges, By the Judges, and For the Judges” from top to bottom, and in every area. I’ve been everywhere within the government to call judges to account, including Congress multiple times. And even if you go after them civilly, which I have done numerous times, they will always be dismissed on “judicial immunity.” You just cannot sue them, and that is so even if what they did was in complete absence of all jurisdiction. I know, I know, some are going to write me and say, “Ron, here is what the law says, and it says they have no immunity if what they did was outside and beyond their jurisdiction. Yes, so it does say. But just try to get another judge to enforce it. And why should he? He enjoys full and complete immunity himself, and he likes it, and wants to keep it that way. If he rules against his fellow judge, then he will be ruled against when he is sued. Judges protect their Club jealously. “I’ll cover your assets, and you cover mine.” I have gone through the gamut many times, folks. Please don’t tell me what the law says. I stand by my statement that judges are absolutely above the law both criminally and civilly by practice. (I emphasize “by practice.”)
And now, for the exciting conclusion of this Report. I said that I was saving the best part until last. Here we go. Let’s see how many of you are sharp enough to figure out where I are going with this. I will even give you a clue. We have already established that judges are entirely immune from investigation by this Grand Jury, so now lets turn to the complaints that have been submitted to the Grand Jury over the past year of 2003-2004. Besides “Miscellaneous,” guess who gets the grand prize for the most number of complaints generated. If you have not already guessed, yes, it is the judiciary. Most complaints filed before the Los Angeles County Grand Jury are about Judges. 13% of the complaints to this Grand Jury is asking for an investigation of the judges, and that is more than cops, than jails, than politicians, than the medical industry, more than anything else. That tells us something is wrong with this picture.
But is it not the Judges who hand-pick the Grand Jury, who select their foreperson, who oversees them, and who are immune from investigation. Based upon these statistics, it is the judges who are the most in need of investigation, who are the most in need of accountable, who are the most secretive, and who are the most likely to be corrupt.
THIS REMINDS me of the UNTRACKABLE COURTHOUSE CORPORATIONS / PUBLIC BENEFIT CORPS that own the real estate judicial business is actually handled in. Someone else’s explanation, and the charts below come from my simply looking up corporate and charitable names with the words “courthouse” in them.
ANYTHING BELOW HERE IS “Miscellaneous”
Or, I think about the unknown quantity of “Public Benefit Corporations” actually being run through Los Angeles, including apparently one that the taxpayers are providing the lease on, to unknown leaseholders?
August 25, 2001 – Los Angeles County Courthouse Corporation and others. e.g. Los Angeles County Law Enforcement-Public Facilities Corporation and (too many to name or to discover). The Crusaders think that there are over a dozen of these ‘Public Benefit’ Corporations hiding in LA County. If you are aware of any of the others, drop us a line.
These companies are established as Tax exempt ‘charitable trusts’ under the Federal Statute – 501(c)(4). They direct millions of dollars but are basically unaudited. The Los Angeles County Courthouse Corporation (LACCC), for example, controls projects for $632 million, but as yet has not registered with the California Department of Corporations even though they have issued outstanding securities for this amount.
(here are some charities “city and county of san francisco” from the Charitable Trusts (attorney general’s) website:
or: from the SECRETARY OF STATE, i.e., these are corporate — not charitable registration– filings & status.
||Agent for Service of Process
||LOS ANGELES COUNTY COURTHOUSE CORPORATION
||LOS ANGELES COUNTY-ALHAMBRA COURTHOUSE BUILDING CORPORATION
||RICHARD B GOETHALS
||NINTH CIRCUIT PASADENA COURTHOUSE FUND
||JUDGE CYNTHIA HOLCOMB HALL**
**completely off topic
, but interesting: Judge Holcomb Hall died last March 2011
, age 82, cancer. Colorful article said her husband was a tax attorney, possible romance with Wm. Rehnquist, conservative appointee by Nixon, etc.
A controversial choice for the U.S. Tax Court when President Nixon appointed her in 1972, Hall weathered critics’ efforts to have her thrown off the bench because of concerns that her husband’s job heading the tax department of a Los Angeles law firm posed potential conflicts of interest.
. . .
Though on semi-retired senior status since 1997 and undergoing cancer treatment, Hall continued to hear cases until recently.
She was often on the conservative side of issues decided by the court, upholding in a 2007 ruling federal agents’ right to infiltrate the private North American Man/Boy Love Assn. (“NAMBLA”) to investigate suspected criminal conduct and dissenting from a court majority in 2003 in a case that reinstated a wrongful-death suit against gun manufacturers in a Los Angeles hate crime
From another article, an obituary, nicely written:
Metropolitan News-Enterprise Wednesday, March 2, 2011 Page 3
Ninth U.S. Circuit Senior Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall Dies at 82
By a MetNews Staff Writer . . .
She married Latham & Watkins tax partner John Hall in 1970. He was named to a senior Treasury Department position at the same time as her appointment to the Tax Court, and they lived in Washington for two years before he returned to practice in Los Angeles, after which she commuted between the coasts.
John Hall died in a plane crash in 1980. He received the coveted Dana Latham Award from the County Bar’s Taxation Section, posthumously, in 1981. The judge herself received that honor in 1989.
[[para. out of order}} Hall was active in court governance, serving on various committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States, including the Committee on International Judicial Relations. She also served on the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council.
Aside from her work, the judge’s interests including travel, gardening, and photography. A plaque at the entrance to the Ninth Circuit courthouse in Pasadena recognizes her efforts to beautify the grounds of the building.
Ninth Circuit Senior Judge Michael Daly Hawkins said in a statement: “[Those grounds], which she took on as a personal challenge, are among the most exquisitely landscaped of any public building this side of Versailles and her photographs, in black and white capturing the essence of her colleagues and in stunning colors showing our courthouses, are as much a part of her legacy as the cases she decided.”
(the top row is a L.A. building, it seems, per address, the address and suite# (though long ago), match here:
|Judicial Procedures Commission
||500 W Temple Street, Rm 383, Los Angeles 90012
Phone (213) 974-1431
the Ninth Circuit Courthouse Fund (1981) headed up by a judge relates? to the restoration of a historic hotel, after which it became a Federal Court of Appeals Building (Wikipedia, found on searching the address).
In 1981 the Vista del Arroyo was placed in the National Register of Historic Places
and GSA began design work to restore the building as the southern seat of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1995, the building was renamed to honor Judge Richard H. Chambers
, whose concept it was to bring a Federal courthouse to Pasadena.
- 1985: The U.S. General Services Administration reopens the former hotel as a Federal courthouse.
||LOS ANGELES COUNTY – EL MONTE MUNICIPAL COURTHOUSE BUILDING CORPORATION
||HAHN HALL OF ADMINISTRATION, 500 WEST TEMPLE STREET RM 383
|Entity City, State, Zip:
||LOS ANGELES CA 90012
|Agent for Service of Process:
||500 W TEMPLE STREET #383
|Agent City, State, Zip:
||LOS ANGELES CA 90012
(Whatever. Visit new blog, and enjoy (?) the side show — which isn’t a side show, these people are running the place!)
We are in earthquake country, perhaps that’ll settle some judicial council v. trial lawyers disputes that they couldn’t handle through ADR. I still think they should be put in solitary coercive confinement without an accurate arrest record and go through the procedure of trying to get some evidence on the record with some ‘problem-solving” citizens’ courts funded by (their retirement funds).
See ya’ later.