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.