June 1, 2002
A Song and Dance For Judicial Reform
Long Island Newsday
Four court experiences on Long Island and other parts of New York
are making Gloria Parker - a world-renowned musician who has been enchanting
audiences for decades - sing bitter tunes these days.
resident who played her "glass harmonica" in Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose"
is incensed with the judicial system she calls "corrupt."
Parker is one
of several New Yorkers who use unusual, if abrasive, methods to confront judges
and attorneys they think are running roughshod over the Constitution, denying
justice and robbing the legally unsavvy. ....
"Evil lurks in these
buildings where men wear robes of black and defy God," she said. "These
buildings are called courthouses or, more appropriately, brothels," Parker said,
voicing her frustration and distaste for the judicial system.
complaints are in the titles of her 22 tracks on a CD titled "Corruption Reigns
in the Courtroom." The music ranges from waltzes to samba: "Money Buys Justice,"
"If You Know the Judge, No Need for the Law," and "What Has Happened to
Justice?" The songs were written by Parker, who accompanies The Witnesses, a
band she assembled. "I don't say all judges or lawyers are dishonest but my
experiences in New York have alerted me to the corrupt dealings in the court,"
Parker is not alone in her
Americans for Legal Reform, in Huntington Station,
is among the court's most visible detractors. The group's truck, with its
12-foot- high billboard that reads "Stop the Lawyer Disease" is occasionally
spotted in the parking lots of Long Island courts.
Some critics call them
loudmouths. Members use a bullhorn to spread their accusations against
barristers and judges alike with an arsenal of lawyer jokes. One favorite: "What
do you say to a lawyer with an IQ of 50? Good morning, Your Honor."
idea is to get under their skin," said Harvey Kash, a member of the 12-year-old
group. "At our meetings we have wall-to-wall people now. There are so many
people who have been wounded by the system."
Americans for Legal Reform
has volunteer court watchers, maintains a database that members use to refer
people to or steer them away from attorneys, coaches people on filing grievances
against attorneys or judges and helps people develop a strategy for dealing with
the court and their attorneys.
Andrew Schepard, a Hofstra law professor,
said many criticisms of the judicial system stem from the structural problems of
an outdated system where politics can undermine efficiency.
them being angry," he said, adding the fact that the court system is
unnecessarily complex, uses Latin phrases and is expensive and time-consuming
bars it from being user friendly.
"Many of these are structural issues,"
he said. "The way people frame them is they are angry with the individual judges
and lawyers. They should look for systemic reform." But Schepard praised the
state's Chief Justice Judith Kaye for advocating changes to cut red
Another group watches the judges who watch the
"We document the dysfunction, corruption and
politicization in the processes," said Elena Sassower, coordinator of the Center
for Judicial Accountability in White Plains. "The public has a very limited role
and the essential things take place behind closed doors and what that conceals
is how dysfunctional and corrupt they are."
Sassower's group, which
includes Long Islanders, has targeted the state Commission on Judicial Conduct,
the sole body empowered to discipline jurists. One problem is that the 11-member
body of appointees seems accountable to no one, least of all state taxpayers,
said a former state comptroller.
"The commission's activities remain
shielded from independent review and the citizens of the State are denied
independent assurance that a critical state program is operated in compliance
with all applicable laws and procedures," reads a 1989 report by then- State
Comptroller Edward V. Regan. The report was titled "Not Accountable to the
Public: Resolving Charges Against Judges Cloaked in Secrecy."
Sassower said, few judges are ever disciplined. In fact, in 1999, 83 percent of
the 1,424 new complaints against judges and justices were dismissed upon initial
review, according to its own documents. In 2000, there were 1,288 complaints and
a similar percentage were dismissed on initial review, the documents state.
Still, of the 398 investigations conducted in 2000, the commission issued 13
formal "disciplinary determinations," actions such as censures or admonitions,
five fewer than in 1999.
Sassower's group "shadows" the progress of
complaints, she said. "We examine whether the commission is doing the job the
public is paying it to do and is required to do."
Parker's case was
resolved last week, but she said she is on a mission from God to warn
"The way the justice system is manipulated has truly shocked me,"
The voices for judicial
reform are universally increasing and uniting. For instance, Elena
Sassower mentioned above is also a JAILer and her organization, Center
for Judicial Accountability, is working together for passage
of J.A.I.L. as are other organizations seeking judicial reform.
In the past, the judges
have been hidden in the background, and received little attention of political
movements, but those days are changing. Mark my word -- the day is coming, and
now is near at the door, in which the political attention nationwide will
be focused upon the judges and the judiciary of this nation, and what they have
As set forth on our
website, "The name of J.A.I.L. will soon be on the lips of everyone from
Sea to Shining Sea."
J.A.I.L. is an acronym for Judicial Accountability Initiative
JAIL's very informative website is found at www.jail4judges.org
JAIL proposes a
unique new addition to our form of government.
JAIL is powerful! JAIL is
dynamic! JAIL is America's ONLY hope!
JAIL is spreading across America like a
fast moving wildfire!
JAIL is making inroads into Congress for federal
JAIL may be supported at P.O. Box 207, N. Hollywood, CA
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what J.A.I.L. can do for me, but ask what I can do for
"..it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather
an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.." -
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil
to one who is
striking at the
-- Henry David Thoreau <><