Thursday, December 17, 2009

Did Ninth Circuit's Turn to the Dark Side Cost Americans Their Republic?

The Ninth Circuit today issued a "Memorandum" denying Richard Fine's appeal.  The decision may be read in its entirety here.  Additional documents filed recently may be viewed at this link.

Commentary to follow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chief Judge Agrees With Richard Fine Concerning Conflict Created By Income Source

[Judge Adrienne Grover, left, Monterey County Superior Court]

In discussing the constitutional prohibition against a judge's salary being reduced during his/her term in office:
"Adrienne Grover, presiding judge of the Monterey County Superior Court, said the provision ensures the independence of the judiciary. Judges might hesitate to rule against a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor if they felt their salaries could be cut in retaliation.  [Judge] Maldonado said the protection is so central to American values that it was one of 64 grounds cited in the Declaration of Independence." 
So reported the Monterey Herald on Monday.

This is exactly Richard Fine's argument with respect to the LA County judges receiving payments from LA County ... they might hesitate to rule against the County if they felt the payments could be cut in retaliation.  And since the payments never were legal in the first place, they could have been cut at any time.

"So central to American values that it was one of 64 grounds cited in the Declaration of Independence"??  Hmmm.  From California Superior Court judges' lips to God's/the Ninth Circuit's ears, one hopes, inasmuch as LA Superior Court Judge David P. Yaffe clearly should have recused himself automatically from all cases in which LA County was a party.  Any other conclusion is farcical and is highly offensive in its presumption that the public lacks any intelligence whatsoever.

The Declaration of Independence cited the colonists' reasons for revolution against King George III's abuses of power, including:  "He has made Judges dependent on his will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries."

King Ronald George I exercises much the same power over California judges today, and it's equally as reprehensible now as it was 233 years ago.  In fact, in 1776, it was so wrong, it was worth starting a trans-Atlantic war over.  We escaped tyranny then; do today's Americans' have the same fortitude?  The efforts of the volunteer team supporting Richard Fine are welcome evidence that we do indeed.

We await now the Ninth Circuit's decision in Fine's appeal.  Do Justices Reinhardt, Trott and Wardlaw possess the integrity and bravery needed to act at this historical nexus?  Here's hoping that the hero worship that would follow a righteous decision will be a more attractive choice than the revilement that will follow a decision providing yet another coat of transparent paint atop the on-going cover-up.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Finally found some free time to calculate an approximation of the number of criminal acts forgiven by California Senate Bill SBX2-11 concerning payments received by state superior court judges from county supervisors: 

Wikipedia reports that there are presently 431 judges in LA County, and 140 Commissioners.

          571       LA Judges / Commissioners receiving payments
x          12       Payments per year

 x         22       Number of years (since early 1988*)

 x          6       Number of persons involved per payment 
   904,464          (1 recipient, 5 supervisors authorizing each)

 x          3       Number of acts per payment (bribery?,
2,713,392          misappropriation of funds?, obstruction of justice?)

That's almost . THREE . MILLION . FELONIES . ... we could be talking about here ... just in LA County alone.

At his State of the Judiciary speech in September 2009, Ronald George mentioned that there are “more than 1600” California judges who’ve agreed to the one-day-per-month salary waiver (for which they had about a 98% sign-up rate) during the budget “crisis”.  Therefore, there are approx. 1,632 judges in California.

If the same ratio of judges to commissioners in LA County applies across the state (33%), we have a total of about 528 commissioners in the state.

Now we must subtract the judges and commissioners in San Francisco County, Mendocino County, and Yolo County who’ve never received any payments.  The 2009 Court Statistics Report (pg 42) states that there are a total of 92 judges and commissioners in those counties.  (70 judges and commissioners reported for San Francisco County seems awfully low.)

Back to the math:

      1,632        Estimated total number of California judges
+       528        Commissioners

-         92        San Fran / Mendocino / Yolo judiciary

x        12          Payments per year

x         22         Number of years (since early 1988*)

x           6         Number of persons involved per payment  
3,275,712           (1 recipient, 5 supervisors authorizing each)

x           3         Number of crimes per payment (bribery?,
9,827,136           misappropriation of funds?, obstruction of justice?)

That's almost . TEN . MILLION . FELONIES .

We also really have to wonder if the following, who’ve refused to help in any way, have been knowingly aiding and abetting the payment scheme:

* CA Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (who signed off on SBX2-11)
* CA Attorney General Jerry Brown (gubernatorial candidate)
* CA Fair Political Practices Commission                           
* CA Commission on Judicial Performance (ordered by Jerry Brown to cease investigation)
* American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (CEO married to 9th Circuit Judge Reinhardt)
* Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ), state supreme courts  (colleagues of Ronald M. George, Chief Justice of CA Supreme Court, co-author of SBX2-11)

* Unconfirmed and not included are possible payments made as far back as early 1987.

UPDATE:  Retired Perdue Mathematics Professor Emeritus Daniel H. Gottlieb's review and finding of the above calculation as an acceptable approximation is welcome news ... despite the fact that it has substantiated our fears of the magnitude of the situation. 

UPDATE:  A number of our readers have asked whether the judges who failed to disclose the payments on the mandatory financial disclosure forms (Form 700, Statement of Economic Interests) acted legally.  Many are also questioning whether the payments were paid as taxable income to the judges.  Due to the sheer volume of inquiries on these subjects, we will endeavor to determine the answers as soon as possible.  Stay tuned.

CHIEF JUSTICE of Ninth Circuit Fails to Recuse, Executes Power Grab

Alex Kozinski, Chief Justice of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, did not recuse himself from an appeal brought by a member of his own staff, a Ninth Circuit attorney.  TIME Magazine has the report.

Kozinski's move was a blatant power grab.  It'll be interesting to see how the Obama Administration responds.

UPDATE:  Kozinksi has influence over the Los Angeles Times?  Hmmm.

UPDATE 2:  Obama Administration slaps down Kozinski as the Office of Personnel Management concludes that Kozinski's order was only an "administrative" ruling, trumped by the DOMA.

Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Friday, December 04, 2009

Professor Prepares Amicus in Support of Fine Appeal

Daniel Gottlieb, a retired math professor with an exemplary career, has prepared an amicus curiae brief for filing in support of Richard Fine's appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

Professer Gottlieb studied Fine's disbarment, and identified numerous troubling activities.

We leave it to the reader to decide whether California's State Bar acted honorably.

The WORLD Is Watching (Even Iran)

The "Free Richard Fine" websites have received multiple visits from these cities across the world.  Click here for LARGE map.   (This map represents about 50% of our traffic; additional cities will be added as we find time.)  (Try "refreshing" the map; sometimes not all the flags appear.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

SUPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT: L.A. County Judges to Lose Payments From County to Avoid Conflicts

Fox Business News has picked up Full Disclosure Network's scoop of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich's surprise announcement that LA County would no longer pay "new" judges the illegal $57,000 yearly bonus.

LA Superior Court judges, who are employees of the state, not the county, have been receiving the payments since the late 1980s, but they were not challenged until many years later because they had successfully been kept secret.  The late-2008 decision in Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles confirmed that the payments were unconstitutional, but rather than conform their illegal practices, the judges managed to get a bill snuck through the California Legislature in February that forgave their crimes and made the payments "legal".  (See Senate Bill SBX2-11.)

Antonovich's statement referenced the "now legal" payments, a surprising tacit admission that they had been, in fact, illegal.

Antonovich made the statement in response to a question about continuing public concern over the payments and the conflicts created in cases where Los Angeles County has been and is a party.

Will the new policy be applied to judges winning re-election?  Will those currently on the bench be yanked back to reality when they receive their legal and still generous salaries of $172,000 a year?  Will they (properly) blame the Supervisors for not informing them of the truth of the situation?

Time will tell.

Update:  Whoa!

It seems that Full Disclosure Network's story concerning the Antonovich statement has caught the interest of:

Fox Business News
ABC Fresno

and many others.  Yet from the Los Angeles Times, we hear ... *crickets*.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Documents Posted to Scribd

The Fine volunteers have collected PDF versions of documents filed with the courts and evidentiary documents discovered along the way.  The collection has been sorted and much of it put online at the Scribd document repository for public review.

Read 'em and weep.  Really weep.  Because after giving these the once-over, you won't be able to come to any conclusion other than that the Rule of Law is truly dead in California at present. 

Next, we'll be adding our screenshots of LA Times articles and other things that have disappeared from their online pages.

Over 200 hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin challenged us to try and keep the republic that he'd helped create ... the first in history of its kind, and going pretty strong ever since.  But times have taken a hard turn for the worse of late, we can no longer just sit back and watch while a rare few of considerable courage lob spitballs at the ankles of giants whose law licenses ought to be recalled by Cracker Jack.  Do your part, fellow citizen, and strongly consider refusing to vote for any incumbent in any election for the next few years.  There's not much time left to clean house before the noose about all our necks is tightened with finality.

Think on it.

If a small group of people are willing to take all sorts of risks exposing the bad guys and their nefarious activities (just think of what it's cost Richard Fine), voting out incumbents is something very important that you can safely do to help.

And you might even consider making a donation to help with costs in the battle to return due process and an honest judicial system to California.  For additional details, please follow this link.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Talk About Underhanded!

On October 30, 2009, Richard Fine filed a new petition for writ of habeas corpus, naming as de facto respondents, among others, USDC Judge John F. Walter and Magistrate Judge Carla M. Woehrle.  Despite the impropriety of the situation and over Fine’s strenuous objections, Walter and Woehrle promptly assumed oversight of the case ... against them … then rushed through a dismissal.  Fine’s recusal motions were then bluntly rejected due to the case being “closed”.

The petition was based upon Fine's allegation that Judge Yaffe committed frauds upon the courts by, among other things, making false statements and citing a non-existent order in his reply brief filed in response to Fine's appeal.

How long will decent judges remain complicit in this dreadful situation?

Fine will be filing for a writ of mandate with the Ninth Circuit and requesting a Certificate of Appealability from the USDC.  We're not taking bets on the outcome of either.

Review the relevant documents (the "USDC Habeas II" case) at Scribd.

How much did your judge get? 

UPDATE:  Nov. 24, 2009 

     The Ninth Circuit has issued an Order denying Richard Fine's Emergency Petition for Writ of Mandate which requested that the District Court judges be ordered to follow due process and not allow Judges Walter and Woehrle to dismisses cases against themselves.  We don't know what to think of this unsigned "order" ... OR the judges who entered it.  (See Full Disclosure's report for the Ninth Circuit's "explanation".)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Appeal Hearing Date Finally Set

UPDATE:  Never mind.  Ninth Circuit issued an order on Nov. 11th taking the hearing off calendar (meaning there will be no oral argument and nothing for the public to see).  It also denied Richard Fine's motions to strike "respondents' answering brief" (without saying which one), and his request for judicial notice of California Government Code Sections 68220-68222 (the official record of SBX2-11 (except for the missing "immunity" paragraph)).  Interestingly, it did not deny his request for judicial notice of the Notice of Appeal filed in the Sturgeon case (an acknowledgment that the issue of the county payments to judges is far from settled) and his motion to strike Judge Yaffe and the Superior Court's Supplemental Excerpt of Record.

Original post:

A hearing date has finally been set in Richard Fine's appeal.  The media are making arrangements to follow the hearing on Thursday, December 10th, 2009, 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 1 of the Pasadena location (125 S. Grand Avenue) of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Activists and protesters are reminded to arrive 30 minutes early to meet in the parking lot across the street.  (Allow an extra 10 minutes if you're arriving on one of the rented buses.)  Security is expected to be tight!  (Remember, they sent 8 burly detectives to haul the elderly, unresisting Richard Fine off to jail.)

Come see for yourself whether your right to have legal disputes and criminal trials handled by impartial judges will be restored.

By the way, did you know that, at the same time SBX2-11 was snuck through the legislature, another bill (SBX2-12) was also snuck through?  This one raised court fines by 50%.  Fifty Percent!  We're afraid to even guess at what they'll be sneaking through next year.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ninth Circuit Court Attempts Coup of U.S. Supreme Court?

Rogue Court Ignores 82 Years of Legal Precedent in Protecting Unindicted Felons on the Bench

By Savannah S. Winslow

LOS ANGELES, CA:  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has thumbed its figurative nose at basic precedent law by wholly ignoring the authority painstakingly established by the U.S. Supreme Court since 1927.  These laws had been protected by the loss of the lives of millions of U.S. soldiers over the years who died guarding Americans’ freedom from oppressors.  What has the Ninth Circuit done?

Rather than confront the problems created by the revelation of bribed judges remaining on the bench, Ninth Circuit judges Schroeder, Kleinfeld, Tashima and N.R. Smith launched more salvos against whistle-blower taxpayers' advocate attorney Dr. Richard I. Fine while attempting to prevent the criminal prosecution of LA County Superior Court Judge David P. Yaffe, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and many others.

Why might the Ninth Circuit choose a shameful path rather than the honorable one?  Because some of its members were formerly judges in Los Angeles County’s Superior Court who also secretly and illegally took huge amounts of money from County Supervisors while always ruling in the County’s favor in lawsuits where the County was a party.  Now, they all find themselves cornered, desperate people trying to escape the consequences of crimes they thought they’d long since gotten away with.   (In outrageously bold moves, they’ve even hidden several documents, keeping them out of the courts’ official files and their contents away from the public's view.)

Put on the spot to release Dr. Fine, who was incarcerated on a phony contempt charge (which they're calling "coercive confinement") by the lower-court judge he caught in the act, certain Ninth Circuit judges will also eventually face multi-count indictments for bribery, obstruction of justice, misappropriation of funds and more, according to Penal Code Sections 92-94, 146(a), 153 and 424, if the rule of law means anything at all anymore.  When did it become preferable for our judiciary to protect criminals rather than confront and expel them?  This case is certain to become a featured element in future law school "Ethics" courses if we are to survive as a nation of laws.  (Judging by our website traffic coming from major institutions nationwide (including several mainstream news outlets and even the Administrative Office of the Courts in Washington, D.C.), interest, concern and condemnation are rapidly mounting.)

Using a tactic which has no value other than continuing to delay the inevitable, the Ninth Circuit judges have turned their backs on the sacred guarantee of “due process” (i.e., a fair legal process) and have ordered that Dr. Fine again prove what they already know … that Judge David P. Yaffe was required to “recuse” (i.e., disqualify) himself from presiding over a case in which LA County was a defendant.  Dr. Fine, a 70-year-old taxpayers’ advocate attorney who, over the life of his distinguished career has forced the return to taxpayers of over $1 billion misspent dollars, followed his oath to protect and defend the Constitution by requesting Judge Yaffe’s recusal because of the clear conflict of interest created by the judge’s having illegally taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the County while at the same time hearing a case in which the County was a party.  (Unsurprisingly, Judge Yaffe ultimately gave LA County everything it wanted, as he had in virtually all previous cases.  Plaintiffs, meanwhile, got only the shaft.)

Courtroom observers report that Judge Yaffe, clearly enraged, and yet apparently also terrified at being caught out (so much so that he was seen to be trembling during the last confrontational hearing), jailed Dr. Fine on a trumped-up contempt charge, hoping that other judges would provide cover for him, rather than recuse himself from the case.  Dr. Fine has been kept in isolation in the LA County Men’s Central Jail since March 4th, purposefully and maliciously denied access to a law library and basic materials with which to defend himself.  (Every brief he has filed, all statutes and cases cited, were written from memory.)  Entering his seventh month behind bars though he’s committed no crime, Dr. Fine’s mortgage has fallen into default and foreclosure is imminent.  Because of the unsanitary conditions, he’s also contracted a deadly staph infection as a result of being locked down in the hospital wing of the jail.

In a surprising break from the pack, one seemingly courageous Ninth Circuit judge, Andrew J. Kleinfeld, has at least been willing to go on the record in recognizing that Judge Yaffe’s behavior was questionable and granted Fine the right to appeal on the issue of whether Judge Yaffe should have recused himself.  However, other Ninth Circuit judges continue to block Fine’s release pending the outcome of his appeal  ... despite the complete lack of opposition to every motion filed of late ... egregiously compounding the serious financial harm begun by Judge Yaffe.  Fine remains in jail even though the laws and precedent cases have always been clear ... absolutely crystal clear ... that Judge Yaffe was required to recuse himself, up front, for numerous reasons.  Is this a man of unstellar integrity?  Or a pawn (and, quite likely, soon-to-be a scapegoat) of the powerful County politicians?  California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George’s role in this whole vendetta must also be thoroughly investigated.  Why are the courts insistent upon keeping Dr. Fine in jail while having no legal leg upon which to stand and refusing to give any reason or cite any precedent law which might support their actions?  (The fact that there is no such precedent has presented quite a problem.)

How intense is the pressure on the Ninth Circuit coming down from on high?  Surely they would not be doing this, which is against all the principles and judicial philosophy of the “honorable” members of the court, for no better reason than to attempt to obtain hefty raises for themselves, using the ill-gotten gains that County judges received as a basis?  So who is it, really, that is orchestrating the campaign to try and break Dr. Fine and save Judge Yaffe and his cohorts?  Those are both lost causes because it is well known by now that Dr. Fine’s personal convictions prevent him from capitulating and turning to the dark side with them; doing so would allow the corruption to continue … as will the mugging of we taxpayers who have been tricked into financing the opulent lifestyles of these judges who, thanks to the illegal County payments of $57,000 per year in addition to their $179,000 state salaries and $30,000 benefit packages, are getting far more than even the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Did these judges all have their fingers crossed behind their backs when they took their own oaths?

There was NOTHING to be gained by Judge Yaffe's remaining on the case other than someone's need to control the outcome.  Given that the developer and the Supervisors involved had great interest in the outcome, the list of candidates is pretty short.

"Veritas vos Liberabit" means "The Truth Shall Set You Free".  Here’s hoping that we decent Americans will be able to find an honest and honorable judge … is there one left in California? … with the courage to do what needs to be done:  deal with the corrupt judges and politicians and stop punishing Richard Fine for being the rare, decent man having the courage to do the right thing.

“Let every American... swear … never to violate ... the laws ...
and never to tolerate their violation by others.  …
Let us have faith that right makes might,
and in that faith, let us, to the end,
dare to do our duty as we understand it.” 
~Abraham Lincoln

For the whole story, see:

NBC Report
Full Disclosure Network
Free Richard Fine website
Right Trumps Might blog

Address any questions to:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Missing Documents & Federal Court Rules"

Emmy-winner Leslie Dutton, right, & T.J. Johnston; Full Disclosure Network

Full Disclsoure Network interviewed members of Richard Fine's all-volunteer national support team about critical documents disappearing from court files:

Fred Sottile
"It’s happened far too many times for it all to be accidental. This is the third case … not the third document, but the third case ... in which documents that have been filed have not shown up on the docket. And in one other instance, the missing document was used to justify striking one of his pleadings for failure to follow a certain rule … except that he had and they knew it, but it was the only way to justify denying his habeas corpus petition. So … the rules don’t provide for playing “hide and seek” with legal documents. Which is one reason we provide the documents ourselves on the website, so at least the public can see what they contain and know what’s going on and know Richard’s side of the story."
"Every day that I visit a particular case ... I’ve just learned that things come and go, so I capture a screenshot just to be able to prove something like this … it’s not the way you’re trying to make it look."
PACER Docket
"... it’s still hard for me to accept that you can’t trust the basic things to have any integrity. I’ve had other people make comments to me about problems with the dockets and I kind of didn’t really listen because it just didn’t permeate my brain that that was even remotely possible. And yet I have seen now, in the past four months I’ve been working on this, so many different examples. And they all have to do with critical documents concerning Richard’s case."

Mardi Mason
More at link.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ronald George - What He DIDN'T Say

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George lamented Monday, in an op-ed published by the Los Angeles Times, on the subject of the "sacrifice" being made by LA County judges in waiving a day's salary each month because of the budget crisis.

What a bunch of wonderful people, right? Makes you want to pat them on the back, even.

A powerful right-cross will instead come to the minds of some when informed that these self-same judges managed to wrangle yet another raise from the County just a month or so earlier (they won't tell us exactly when, judges are allowed to keep secrets, didn't you know?), so even after the loss of a day's pay, they're still making more than they were before!

Our electronic thesaurus bellowed black smoke when asked for a word to express this degree of unadulterated gall.

It's disingenuous, to say the least, to be the cause of a financial crisis, then cry about it when it occurs ... as you snicker behind your hand with the knowledge that you're making more than you were prior to your great "sacrifice".

And by the way, who are the seven ultra-greedy judges who refused to waive the day's salary?

The Chief Justice's op-ed waxes on about the glories of our judicial system, with special accolades for the Judicial Council, another entity he heads. What he didn't say was that it was the Judicial Council, under his guidance, that wrote and presented Senate Bill SBX2-11 to the Legislature, the bill which tried (and failed miserably) to illegally confer retroactive immunity from criminal prosecution, civil liability and disciplinary action against all involved for their, literally, hundreds of thousands of felonies.

It's not even fathomable how the Chief Justice could have written these words: "Legislation in 1997 that allowed for statewide funding of the trial courts addressed historic inequities in the quality of justice dispensed among California's 58 counties." He admits that the current system was specifically constructed to prevent inequities, but purposefully omits revealing that the scheme to give the bonus payments to LA County judges was a deliberate artifice to return the inequity under the table ... in exchange for judges always siding with the County when it was involved in a lawsuit. Pretty sweet, no? No! It's CRIMINAL! (The payments were and are a serial misappropriation of funds under Penal Code Section 424, and others, and People v. Sperl (54 Cal.App.3rd 43 (1976)), and others, for example.)

We know it ... you know it ... and the rest of the country and world is slowly learning about it.

Right Trumps Might's map

The entirety of Mr. George's op-ed is a must-read ... for an example of a transparent gamble to elicit false sympathy for LA County's Superior Court judges who, despite the honor presumed by the wearing of the robe, are actually hiding behind its power for protection from consequences of acts committed by them that have been reviled by persons of true honor and decency since time immemorial.

With the discovery that the "immunity" provision of SBX2-11 wasn't properly codified (and was illegal in the first place, pursuant to the Constitution's prohibition against ex post facto laws), you no longer have any pretense of a legal leg to stand on. The bonus payments to judges were always illegal, and you knew it. But when objected to by Richard Fine, a distinguished taxpayers' advocate who's returned over a billion dollars to the people when portrayed truthfully, you made things even worse by trying to cover up this scandal. As far as we're concerned, the whole lot of you should resign immediately inasmuch as you've managed to corrupt all three branches of our government.
We taxpayers are owed the $300 million dollars that was stolen from us, and we want it back! We were played for fools for years as we were used as unwitting and unwilling parties to this mess by being made to foot the bill. It's over! Hello?! There is no way that judges of the lowest-level court in the state are worth salaries higher than justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Four hundred and thirty LA County Superior Court judges need to get over themselves.

After what you've done to Richard Fine (whether actively or passively), and the lengths to which you've gone to try and keep this nasty secret hidden, we promise to do absolutely everything within our power to see that you are held accountable and subjected to the full force and effect of the law ... before an unbiased Federal judge and jury. (Yikes!) Mr. Fine honored his oath to protect and defend the Constitution. It has cost him everything. You swore the same oath, but not only do you lack the courage to honor it, you have dishonored it by purposefully acting to destroy our constitutional protections. May it cost you eternal shame.

Friday, September 11, 2009

David P. Yaffe -- When Did Being "Honorable" Stop Being A Requirement For Being A Judge?

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

Judge David P. Yaffe apparently has no fans ... in fact, he seems to be utterly reviled. Little wonder he's failed to act with any shred of honor in refusing to disqualify himself from judging cases in which LA County is a party while simultaneously receiving illegal payments from the County. (Given that LA County no longer loses lawsuits filed against it when decided by its judges, some are calling the payments "bribes".)

For example, on May 22, 2001, journalist Roger M. Grace of the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, reported with refreshing honesty:
"I can’t stand him. ... From what I’ve observed, Yaffe does, to his credit, read the briefs. And he has a substantial quantum of law memorized. To his discredit, however, he’s a nasty and arrogant SOB."
"Chief among the quirks is that he indulges in a fantasy of infallibility. He decides cases on bases not advanced by the parties, but conjured up by himself, and does not permit an opportunity to brief the propositions he’s interjected. After all, a proposition spawned by David P. Yaffe could not possibly be wrong."
"My negative perception of this jurist, I have found, is shared by others. If I bring up the topic of David Yaffe in conversations, I hear comments such as 'he’s crazy' and 'he’s a contrarian son of a bitch.' (Each of the persons so labeling Yaffe is a leading practitioner.) A Superior Court judge told me he avoided talking with Yaffe at a judges’ event, saying, 'I would have puked all over him.'"
In responding to Mr. Grace's questionnaire concerning Judge Yaffe, lawyers had these things to say:
A lawyer who says she appeared in Yaffe’s courtroom two or three times when he was in a trial department comments: "I never really had a pleasant experience with him," explaining: "I found him to be rude."
She notes that he "seemed to be consistent" — that is, consistently rude. It wasn’t like he was having a bad day," the attorney says. She recounts: "My reaction was: why is this guy a judge if he hates lawyers?"
If the presiding judge asked her opinion as to whether Yaffe should be returned to a trial department, she says, "I would recommend against it." Where does he belong? "Retired," she responds.
(In a letter last year to then-Presiding Judge Victor Chavez, I made a somewhat different suggestion: "The reassignment of Yaffe to some other court would be in the public’s interest. [¶] I believe he should be in Department 95. That, of course, has nothing to do with where he should preside.")
Another lawyer recounts:
"I served on a committee with him that revised the local rules in ’94, ’95. He was very jealous of judicial prerogatives.
"The goal of the committee was to make the rules uniform. ... We were trying to abolish the secret rules, the rules on the clipboard."
That goal, he observes, was not shared by Yaffe.
MUCH more at link.

On another site, Courthouse Forum, the following comment about Judge Yaffe was lodged:
The horror stories related by [Roger] Grace in 2001 are mild compared to the manner in which Yaffe has degenerated. In my experience, he has a fascist mentality and a sadist's heart.
In one case, the City denied the existence of a hearing audio tape that was central to the case. The city submitted false declarations under penalty of perjury about the tape's not existing. Petitioner insisted that it saw the meeting being recorded. Two days after Yaffe's adverse ruling, the hearing officer was caught trying to slip the "non-existent" tape back into the achieves. Within the required 10 days, Petitioner brought the tape to Judge Yaffe's attention, reminding him of the prior false representations that the tape did not exist. Rather than hear the Reconsideration Motion, Judge Yaffe promptly dismissed the entire case and refused to even hold a hearing on the perjury and withholding of evidence.
Yaffe acts more like a mob hit man than a jurist. While I doubt he actually kills people ... his job is to kill lawsuits that harm the special interests, primarily developers. The mob analogy is not out of line. The entire superior court system is run more akin to a mob operation than a system of justice.
Lawyers do not have to fear only retaliation from vindictive judges like Yaffe, but from a host of other judges. This systemic corruption of the California judiciary places attorneys ... in a double bind: When they are silent, they endanger the public by allowing men like Yaffe to remain on the bench, but if they speak up, they endanger their other clients to which they owe fiduciary duties.

More observations about Yaffe here.

David Yaffe swore an oath to defend the Constitution. If he is found to have violated that oath, he must be held fully accountable.

"The Flaying Of The Corrupt Judge Sisamnes"

Oil on panel
Bruges, Groenige Museum

Image credit: "There was a crooked man ..."
Scott Gustafson

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Ninth Circuit Grants Stay In Disbarment Action!

The Ninth Circuit today entered an Order staying the disbarment OSC against Richard Fine.
"In light of the significant overlap between the discipline case and the issues raised by respondent’s pending habeas petition, Fine v. Sheriff of Los Angeles County, No. 09-56073, disciplinary proceedings are stayed pending the resolution of the habeas petition."
A motion to set aside the disbarment action in the lower court, the U.S. District Court, based upon the Ninth Circuit's stay will be filed tomorrow.

Formal Appeal Filed

Filed, Appellant's Opening Brief (ten days early) and Motion for Release, on Monday, August 31st. Response briefs, if any, to Opening Brief not due until October 9th. However, the Motion for Release should be considered within a few days.

The substance of the appeal is that there are numerous U.S. Supreme Court precedent cases which make it crystal clear that Judge David P. Yaffe should have recused (disqualified) himself, and NO precedent cases hold otherwise.

Simple decency and honesty among the honorable require that the Ninth Circuit free Richard Fine pending its ruling on the appeal, and that it ultimately find that Judge Yaffe should, in fact, have recused himself.

Will the Ninth instead attempt a coup of the U.S. Supreme Court? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Got 'em!

It's all over, they just don't know it yet.

We made the mistake of assuming that we were in an intellectual fight of sorts, but for all the supposed wisdom their side portended, it turns out that the operatives are nothing more than obsequious back-room connivers with spectacularly unremarkable IQs who acted far too rashly ... bringing about their own demise as their house of flimsy cards collapses about them.

And the silver bullet has turned out to be a forehead slapper!

The Constitution of the State of California – in Article I, Section 9 – says quite plainly:
“[An] ... ex post facto law ... may not be passed.”
Wikipedia, on types of "ex post facto" ("after the fact") laws, says:
"... a form of ex post facto law commonly known as an amnesty law may decriminalize certain acts or alleviate possible punishments ... retroactively."
Translation: ANY law made concerning the consequences of an act, made after the act was performed, that affects the actor either positively or negatively as a result of committing the act (e.g., makes him guilty when he was innocent at the time, or innocent when he was guilty at the time), is illegal.

This means that our Legislators' callous and in-our-faces grant of retroactive immunity under SBX2-11 for the thousands of criminal acts (as many as 108 THOUSAND felonies, by our count) by LA County Superior Court judges in taking payments from LA County's Supervisors (Antonovich, Knabe, Molina, Yaroslavsky and Ridley Thomas) to the tune of over $300 million dollars (using stolen tax dollars), is unconstitutional. (They had to have known this, which leaves us with the obvious question hanging in the air ... what did they get for themselves in return? Here's hoping the press will hammer their doors down and find out!)

The judges knew the payments were illegal all along. They have known since 1988, twenty-one years, that what they were doing was illegal and corrupt. And yet they continued, month-in and month-out, year-in and year-out, buying trinkets and luxuries with OUR dollars. Luckily, the foolishness of the legislators' tacit admission that the payment exchanges were criminal acts is a bonus for the People, negating most every justification in one fell swoop!)

The judges even managed to get ANOTHER raise for themselves recently ... they're now each getting an extra $57,000 per year, up from the $46,000+ they were receiving previously ... and THEN they ever so graciously announced they'd take a cut-back in pay along with the rest of the court staff during this budget crisis ("in a show of solidarity with court employees who are facing furloughs"). The truth is that, even with the cut, they're still making more than they were!

[Readers of the sorely-missed "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strips will see and understand that the judges and Legislators have been playing a game of "Calvinball" with us; in Calvinball, the rules change whenever the rule-maker can think of a new one that will benefit himself. It was funny, imaginative and entertaining in the comics.

The characters in our story, however, are far from loveable. They're mostly pompous old men who have proven they no longer stand for anything decent. This whole thing will ultimately be humiliating to their entire families. We actually regret that part, but there's been more than enough time for the decent to act. And your deliberate failure to act amounts to aiding and abetting Mr. Fine's torture by Judge Yaffe.]

Here's a clue about the futures of those given "retroactive immunity" under SBX2-11:

Gov. Schwarzenegger had better start clearing out the prisons soon to make room; five hundred new prisoners will soon be coming their way. In the meantime, perhaps Arizona's Sheriff Arpaio can give us some guidance on setting up tent city prisons in the desert, and help us figure out how many pairs of pink boxer shorts to order for the new inmates.

Question of the hour: To whom do you turn yourself in if you want to get on the right side of the Law if it's not too late?

[Follow-up report: Who, exactly, is afraid of which LA County Supervisor behind passage of SBX2-11 (Antonovich, Knabe, Molina, Yaroslavsky, or Ridley Thomas) ... and why?]

HELP WANTED AD: Lawfirm needed to assist in defense of current and former Los Angeles County Superior Court judges and involved members of the Board of Supervisors, members of the Judicial Council, members of the Legislature, lobbyists, developers, their counsel, and others. Apply for consideration in the Comments section. (Just kidding, barely. Although your phones will be ringing soon, no doubt. We look forward to seeing your clients in court!)

Image credits:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Robert Kennedy speaks out against Retroactive Immunity"

Oct 21, 2007, article by Glenn Greenwald at Salon Magazine:
The very idea of "retroactive immunity" ... is so radical, so repugnant to the most basic principles of the "rule of law," that only one prior attempt can be found in recent history (at least from my research): the efforts by some in Congress in 1965 to enact a law retroactively legalizing the mergers by six large banks which clearly -- as a federal court found -- were illegal under our nation's antitrust laws.

The banks knew when they merged that they were almost certainly violating anti-trust laws. But they did it anyway. And when courts began ruling that their behavior was illegal, they ran to Congress to demand that a law be passed granting them amnesty, claiming that the consequences would be ruinous if they were held accountable under the law.

But the very concept of retroactive amnesty -- the idea that corporations could break the law and then have Congress pass a special law legalizing their lawbreaking conduct -- was so profoundly offensive to Sen. Robert Kennedy (who had been the Attorney General when the banks broke the law with their mergers), as well as then-Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, that they engaged in extraordinary efforts to try to put a stop to this Congressional travesty:

Review the rest of this "Salon" article here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ninth Circuit Grants Certificate of Appealability, Denies Interim Release

The Ninth Circuit today entered an order granting Richard Fine's request for Certificate of Appealability as to the issue of whether Judge Yaffe should have recused himself. A second order commanded payment of $455 for filing fees, set a briefing schedule, and denied interim release.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ninth Circuit Sets Hearing Date

UPDATE: As of Friday morning, the most current information is:

On Monday, August 10, 2009, a two-justice panel will consider Richard Fine's Request for Certificate of Appealability (only, not the emergency motion itself yet). Only one justice is needed to vote in favor of granting it. If it is denied, Fine then has the option to request reconsideration. If it is granted, then the matter will be set for a full hearing, following a briefing schedule.

Monday's hearing will be in San Francisco. It is not open to the public.

For further information, contact:

David Madden
Asst. Circuit Executive for Court Information
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
(415) 355-8020

Richard I. Fine v. United States District Court
Case No. 09-56073
Emergency Motion for Immediate Release, Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

Relevant documents (click title to view):
Fine's Request for Certificate of Appealability to US District Court

US District Court Judge John F. Walter's denial of Request

US District Court Judge John F. Walter's SECOND denial of Request

Fine's Request for Certificate of Appealability to Ninth Circuit Court

Fine's Amendment to Request for Certificate of Appealability to Ninth Circuit Court

Fine's Objections to USDC Magistrate Judge Carla M. Woehrle's Report and Recommendation denying petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Relevant Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure:
Rule 22: Habeas Corpus and Section 2255 Proceedings

Rule 24: Proceeding in Forma Pauperis

Further details of the Fine saga available at the Free Richard Fine website.

Does the Ninth Circuit have the courage to save We the People?

The Ninth Circuit must overcome a lengthy path of hurdles if it intends to further the corruption of LA superior court judges' receipt of bonus payments from LA County.

This Excel spreadsheet itemizes the plethora of issues which the Court must rationalize away to a learned audience if it intends to protect fellow judges and justify Richard Fine's continuing incarceration. Each column in the spreadsheet corresponds to each major event which led to today's circumstances. Each entry in that column is a fact which compels Fine's release. The Court must be able to justify the legality of every fact in that column before it may logically move to consider the facts in the next column, etc.

As yet another battle looms in the war on behalf of We the People versus the corruption that is seemingly everywhere, the Ninth Circuit justices will be forced to publicly reveal its bias if it exists. Will they turn out to be heroes? The People await this decision with bated breath.

Who will win? Will the Ninth Circuit have the ability to repel and defeat the conquering horde of superior court judges as they continue to pillage and plunder county coffers? Should we just go ahead and change the state's name to Georgifornia after Ronald M. George, Chief Justice of the state supreme court, actual and de facto leader of all state judges and under whose direction Senate Bill SBX2-11 was engineered and passed? If the Ninth Circuit chickens out and refuses to take the high road, should we all just move? Only two things can stop Truth from winning out: a lack of courage or a lack of morals.

Stay tuned for the next episode of "The Twilight Zone of Richard Fine".

For details of the continuing Fine saga, visit the official Free Richard Fine website. No citizen of Los Angeles County can expect fair and impartial treatment by the courts under the present circumstances.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

"Freed Journalists Reunite With Families in United States"

Dear Former President Clinton:

Next stop LA? Our political prisoner isn't nearly as pretty, but he too has been jailed by a petty tyrant.

Monday, August 03, 2009

"Judge tosses suit opposing payments to LA judges"

In the matter of Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles (Part II), Judicial Watch sought an injunction to stop payments being made to judges by the County. The hearing was July 13, 2009. Today we learn:
"A state appeals court judge has thrown out a lawsuit claiming that Los Angeles County judges are unconstitutionally receiving both county and state benefits."

"Justice James Richman of the 1st District Court of Appeal says the benefits are permitted under a state law [Senate Bill SBX2-11] passed in February."

Inasmuch as this was a spectacularly bad move politically for those legislators who initially wrote and passed this subversion of the California Constitution, one can only wonder how they benefitted.

The "yes" votes on SBX2-11 in the secret midnight session of the California Senate Committee were cast by:

Ducheny Alquist Calderon Cedillo
Corbett DeSaulnier Florez Hancock
Kehoe Leno Lowenthal Liu
Negrete McLeod Oropeza Padilla Pavley
Romero Simitian Steinberg Wolk
Wright Yee

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Motive Uncovered!

We were literally stunned when we recently uncovered the fact that a representative for LA County's Board of Supervisors actually requested that local attorney bar associations submit amicus curiae ("friend of the court") letters to the California Supreme Court in support of judges in the appeal to overturn the Sturgeon decision which held that the payments the County had been making to judges for 20-some-odd years were illegal.

Suspicious and knowing there was no good reason for the County to take a position against its own interest and insist it should continue making huge bonus payments to judges, we investigated and learned that the following entities submitted amicus letters or briefs in the case: the LA District Attorney, the LA County Public Defender, and the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel (ASCDC). (See here, page 11.) (We note with interest that the LA County Bar Assn apparently rejected the request. We also note with great interest the ASCDC's surprising and naive revelation that "the California Legislature promised its continued support of local judicial benefits in return for judges' support of the 1997 Trial Court Funding Act and of the 1998 Trial Court Unification Act." There sure are a lot of people in bed together from what are supposed to be independent entities.)

If you are wondering, as we were, why on earth the LA County Board of Supervisors actually fought to continue making payments to judges after the Sturgeon decision relieved them of any possible obligation, here's what we found:

Article II, Section 4 of the county Charter:

"The County of Los Angeles shall have a Board of Supervisors consisting of five members ... They shall each receive as compensation for their services a salary, payable monthly from the County Treasury, which shall be the same as that now or hereafter prescribed by law for a judge of the Superior Court in and for the County of Los Angeles, except that retirement benefits shall be those now or hereafter provided by law for officers and employees of the County of Los Angeles."

That's right ... LA County Supervisors' salaries are dependent upon the amount that superior court judges get.

The California Constitution section which governs judges' compensation was specifically constructed to say that only the State may pay judges' salaries in order to avoid just this sort of improper situation. Yet here we are, with the guilty parties all grinning smugly like Cheshire cats after they managed to sneak through a late-night bill granting themselves retroactive immunity from criminal prosecution. (Note to Supervisors: nothing in SBX2-11 (may it soon rest in peace) grants you immunity for any monies you received as a result of your approval of the payments to judges.)

On a different subject, we note that LA County's payments to superior court judges were, all other arguments aside, illegal until February 20, 2009, when SBX2-11 was enacted. Because SBX2-11 granted retroactive immunity from prosecution, the payments cannot be recharacterized as having been legal all along.

And the 1988 Memorandum, an answer to their request for a legal opinion, proves judges and Supervisors knew all along that the payments were illegal. Yet they decided to do it anyway; it was many years before they were caught.

Richard Fine was factually, legally, morally and ethically correct and beyond reproach when he insisted the payments were illegal. As an officer of the court, he had a duty to press the issue.

Judge Yaffe was not wrong as a result of innocence about the payments' illegality. He knew full well, from several resources, that the payments were illegal at the time of Richard's disqualification demands. He also well knew:
* that the fact that he hadn't ruled in any substantial way against the County in years had the clear appearance of bias
* that he could not be both judge and adverse witness in the same trial
* that THREE Supervisors had illegally received campaign contributions from parties seeking project development votes in their favor
* that Richard had not received any notice of the secret January 8, 2008, hearing, thus the hearing could not lawfully proceed, making Judge Yaffe's order unquestionably "void"
* that his prosecution of Richard for his refusal to obey the "void" order was wholly improper, and his continuing refusal to release Richard in the face of all these facts is a crime against the tenets of justice
* that his judicial reputation is extremely unflattering, a black mark on the reputation of the superior court and judges as a whole.

One thing Judge Yaffe apparently doesn't know: taxpayers are no longer on the hook for paying damages when elected officials are found guilty of improprieties. Just ask Mike Antonovich.

Decent, moral, honest judges must be terribly ashamed of themselves by now for not having stepped up sooner. (Why didn't you?) Still, "late" is certainly better than "never," and the choice of never, even if by default, is not acceptable from one who wears a robe.

It's embarrassing enough as it is for us as citizens to watch it happen. Stop letting things get worse. Have you given any thought as to what will ultimately happen once this all plays out?

No, it won't be easy ... which is exactly how others of us know it's the right thing to do. If you don't understand why you need to stand up, read this. Then look in the mirror and, after reminding yourself of the purpose of the oath you took, the reason it was created in the first place, ask yourself if you're honestly abiding by it. When the whole story finally has a full airing, will you be perceived as part of the problem? Or will you be a part of the solution that leads the people out of this mess of apparent corruption that's being perpetrated against us all? Until then, can you give us any reason to have even an iota of confidence in the honesty of the judicial system in Los Angeles County?

We now await a ruling from the Ninth Circuit, assuming they can only conclude that being prevented from earning an income constitutes immediate, irreparable and continuing harm worthy of an emergency hearing. If it doesn't, nothing does.

[Next investigation: Did LA County continue to make payments to LA Superior Court judges after the Sturgeon decision was issued (10/10/08) and before SBX2-11 was enacted (2/20/09)? And if so, which judges, if any, rejected them?]

See "The Best Courts (Your) Money Could Buy" for additional details.

Also see "What Are We All Waiting For, Fellas?"