Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Editorial: Judges & Justice

People deserve to appear before fair, impartial, courteous and respectful judges.

If judges fail to meet those standards, they should be investigated and prosecuted by the Judicial Conduct Board and disciplined by the Court of Judicial Discipline. But judges should not be targeted because of the rulings they make.

Dissatisfaction with judicial decisions should be handled through the appellate process. We are troubled that the Pittsburgh police union seems to ignore this distinction in its new complaint procedure about magisterial district judges.

Problems regarding judges’ bias and demeanor should be raised with the county president judge or with the Judicial Conduct Board, especially if a pattern of such conduct is documented. But judges should not be targeted because police officers disagree with their decisions on the setting of bonds. And the promise that the Fraternal Order of Police will use the complaints when making its judicial endorsements undermines the ability of judges to act independently when deciding cases.

It is critical to ensure our judges adhere to the highest ethical standards. But seeking to affect judicial decisions by threats to report judges is directly contrary to the operation of our justice system.

~Shira Goodman & Lynn A. Marks

Judges & Justice


StandUp said...

Good editorial and I hope judges are reading it!

Rudy said...

Judges don't just, for no reason, ignore rights and laws. They may do it because they are ignorant of the law and the Constitution, but knowing that ignoring the law allows them to make decisions that would not appear reasonable if they conformed to the law would play a large part. To make a distinction between the legality and constitutionality of judge's decisions and the legality and constitutionality of other aspects of his behavior is therefore counter-productive to getting at the root of the problem. Politically and monetarily powerful organizations, like the police, lawyers organizations, and other special interest groups, are free to put pressure on judges, because judges have immunity, so are allowed to break the law in all aspects of their behavior. Thus, immunity of judges does not not protect them from pressure, it increases pressure on judges to stray from the law and the constitution to do bad things. Currently, forcing litigants to spend countless money and time, profiting lawyers in appeals which drag on for years, and making complaints to so-called judicial oversight boards, which themselves are influenced by special interest groups, is putting pressure on citizens, not on judges who do not conform to the law and the constitution. Judicial immunity is the problem. At present, the reticence by police to investigate, and district attorneys to prosecute judges who violate the law, can be explained by the fact police and district attorneys can influence judges to make decisions that are against the law and the constitution. The district attorney, likewise, is immune and cannot be prosecuted for failing to prosecute judges.

Gloria Jean Sykes said...

If this 'sound advise' was adhered to, then the thousands of 'victim' of probate and family division appointing (lawless and wrong) Guardianships, then we wouldn't have a need for NASGA or any other support advocacy groups to stop the blatant guardianship abuses of the elderly and disabled and children in custody cases. Unfortunately, for all of us, until the Probate Divisions, Family Courts, and all other administrative Divisions/Courts that appoint guardians and guardian ad litems follow the laws, all of us will suffer greatly and have our civil and human rights taken from us as if this was Hitler's Germany following the guidelines of his T4 plan. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Dicipline Commission has asked to ban my testimony (the Sykes case) as to disbar attorney Kennedy Ditkowsky because my mother asked me to 'find Ken" and hire him to 'get [my mother] out of the Guardianship" and "save" her life. The ARDC dismissed every complaint against the court appointed guardian's attorney, and the TWO Guardian Ad Litem (attorneys) in the Sykes case, even though the IARDC's role is to prevent lawless attorneys from doing all that Cynthia Farenga, ADam STern, and Peter Schmiedel have accomplished. God bless us all.

Anonymous said...

Judicial immunity is judge-made "law." There is no judicial immunity in the U.S. Constitution.
In 1984 the Supreme Court ruled in Pulliam v.Allen, 466 U.S. 522, that Judicial immunity is not a bar to prospective injunctive relief against a judicial officer, such as petitioner, acting in her judicial capacity. Pp. 466 U. S.
528-543. The Court of Appeals affirmed the award of attorney's fees. In response to Pulliam, state-court judges began lobbying their federal brethren for immunity from civil rights liability. It wasn't until 1991 that they became really alarmed, when the Supreme Court ruled in Hafer v.Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991) that judges can be sued dividually and can no longer hide behind the judge-made immunity myth: "State officers may be held personally liable for damages under § 1983 based upon actions taken in their official capacities." The lobbying then began in earnest, and in 1992, both houses of Congress came up with identical versions of the "Access to Justice
Act of 1992," dealing with attorney fees. They changed the American Rule where both sides would pay the costs of their litigation, to the English rule - that the loser pays. But that was 1992, and the legislation failed.
Well, that's not the important part of this message. Here's the dirty part: Snuck into the Bill in 1996 was a provision which called for automatic immunity for civil rights violations committed by state judges. It was introduced by Sen. Grassley as "restoring" judicial immunity for State court judges. Don't know where he got that idea, because there is NO immunity in the U.S. Constitution. In fact, what the Constitution says is: "The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good behavior." What is good behavior?
1. Is knowingly acting without jurisdiction "good" behavior?
2. Is knowingly violating an individual's constitutional protections "good" behavior?
3. Is granting blanket immunity to judges sued in their individual capacities "good" behavior?
4. Is showing favoritism to one side over another "good" behavior?
5. Is failure to obey controlling authority "good" behavior?
NO to all the above!
In 1992 law reformers fought the Bill and won. But where were they when Congress, in 1996, gave the judges what they wanted: the long-sought immunity from civil rights
actions? So what is the lesson to be learned here? Don't be asleep at the switch; become active in terms of protecting your rights, because your government apparently won't do it for you!
WHY ARE LEGISLATORS AFRAID OF JUDGES? Because some day they may have to appear before them!

Eyes in Cook County said...

What the ARDC is doing to Attorney Ken Ditkowsky is outrageous and they are leaveing TRACKS and evidence. Any wonder why most lawyers roll over while billing their client?

A lawyer who stands up for right vs wrong is at risk for retaliation and here we have it.

A lawyer that speaks out about the abuses he is witnessing - look out! His opponents will do whatever it takes to threaten him, to silence him into submission.

I don't know of any other case that could compare to the Mary Sykes case, with a cast of characters in support of your position and that includes a lawyer who is putting his career, his profession, his future at risk.

I hope one day someone does an indepth documentary on Mary Skyes case beginning on Day One how guardianship was used to avoid consequences for Order of Protection. The court appointed the 'respondent' - I have to ask is this a common practice? Or is COOK COUNTY ILLINOIS the worst of the worst?

I suggest the documentary be distributed to all grammar schools, high schools, colleges, law schools etc.

Until and unless our elected politicians get the courage to stand up and demand the abuses stop with change and reform with harsh consequences for those who fail to follow the laws.

The younger generation needs to be educated and warned what is waiting for them, waiting for their parents, their relatives, their grandparents, we're all at risk to become future wards of the state.

Mike said...

Anon, you're so very right. Legislators are afraid of judges. If the President of the US of A and the Pope couldn't save Terri Schiavo, then judges have too much power.

Thelma said...

To Eyes - Not if they still teach them about our wonderful justice system!

Anonymous said...

My experience on a judicial kickback complaint was dismissal without an ivnestigation, despite the statutory requirement that if a complaint were facially meritorious, it "shall" be investigated. What could be more facially meritirious than a $20,000 kickback claim?
Although it's usually a waste of time to file a discipline complaint against a judge, WE MUST BOMBARD THEM WITH COMPLAINTS to stop the summary dismissals and make them pay attention!.