550* * Judges' Party Time Ends
- Apr 1, 2002J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California April 1, 2002The following account arises out of the early days of J.A.I.L. when it was known as the Judicial Reform Act of 1996 (JRA) and before J.A.I.L. was on the internet. I know nearly every player in the below article and they know me. Our relationship will be reflected within the article by a bracketed comment in maroon color. In short, J.A.I.L. was an actor in the fruition of this matter.-Ron Branson, Author/Founder of JAIL4Judges.Daily News (Los Angeles)Monday, April 1, 2002Front Page Headline - Lead StoryJudges' Party Time EndsAudit: Money from 'slush fund' should have gone to court's accountBy Troy AndersonStaff WriterParty time for Los Angeles judges --golf tournaments, dinner cruises, horse races, baseball games and theater events-- partially funded by fees that should have gone to the court system has finally ended.For decades, Los Angeles County's judges have treated themselves to the lifestyles of the rich and famous with money in an obscure fund created in 1960....... the independent audit, ordered by [Los Angeles] Presiding Judge James Bascue in February 2001, found there was no practical way to determine how much money was deposited to the fund... [Ron Branson subpoenaed Jim Bascue to the witness stand when Mr. Bascue was the Chief Deputy of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office in 1983 in the matter of the dismissal of Barbara Branson from the D.A.'s office without a hearing, cross-examining Mr. Bascue regarding the truthfulness of a document submitted and relied upon by him. This cross-examination regarding the contents of this document became so embarrassing that the hearing officer short-circuited the cross-examination and finally said, "Let's just say the document was submitted for its existence, and not for its content."] It also found the judges were not improperly influenced in legal cases by the money from lawyers. (And why, pray tell, were the lawyers giving money to the judges before whom they stood, deciding their cases? -RB)The association's board of directors voted 3-0 in December to turn the nearly $60,000 left in the fund over to the court and end the practice of accepting contributions from lawyers and others...."My gut reaction is very simple," said taxpayer advocate and Beverly Hills attorney Richard I. Fine, "this is a typical misuse of funds case. Should the taxpayers pay for judges to go on (ocean) dinner cruises? Should the taxpayers pay for judges to have golf tournaments?"Should the taxpayers pay for retirement parties? Should the taxpayers pay for wine and cheese get-togethers?" ....[Deputy County Counsel Frederick] Bennett said the court made the right decision in December  to ensure the proper separation between the court and the judges' association accounts, but it did not want the money repaid because of the difficulty separating funds commingled for decades....[Frederick Bennett is the sweetheart of all of the judges of the County of Los Angeles. He has "faithfully" defended every Los Angeles County judge sued by Mr. Branson, and boasts that never in his entire tenure has he ever lost a defense case against a judge.]In August, state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, called for a state audit into whether judges operated the special account partially supported by child custody and support cases as a slush fund for their own benefit. [Both Attorney Gary Zerman (the National J.A.I.L. Lt. Commander-In-Chief) and Mr. Branson testified at the inquiry on the conduct of these Los Angeles judges prior to the senator calling for this audit.]The state auditor questioned whether she had authority to conduct the audit of a private judges association. On March 19, Kuehl wrote a letter to Bascue asking for a copy of the independent audit he ordered. The Daily News obtained the audit last week.Among its findings was that judges' fund records showed a large number of checks from judges were made out to "Cash." ....The National Organization for Women had asked Kuehl to call for the inquiry because of concerns that funds from attorneys and clients involved in child custody and child support cases were improperly influencing cases before the judges.The fund, which the audit by the Los Angeles accounting firm of Simpson & Simpson showed... operated under the County's tax identification number without filing tax returns until the association incorporated in 1997. (In other words, these judges didn't file tax returns on this money from 1960 to 1996--36 years-- and started filing only after the heat was on them. RB)Details of the fund, supported by lawyer contributions, court monitors and legal seminar fees put on by judges, emerged out of a legal battle between the judges association and a group of parents who claimed they were victimized by the family court system because of the financial interests of the judges.La Crescenta resident Marvin Brier, a 63-year-old retired bank computer analyst who spent several years and $100,000 investigating the fund while helping his daughter regain custody of her 13-year-old son, said the audit shows collusion between lawyers and judges in family court cases. [Marve Brier in 1996 called Mr. Branson and told him he had photocopies of checks that proved judges were getting money under the table, and that he was going to go to the District Attorney's Office with his evidence. Mr. Branson advised him not to turn lose of his original evidence because he is sure to find that the District Attorney is in on this scam and will seek to cover it up. Since that time, Marve Brier has taken his evidence to every government agency and to the media, all shunning or covering up the matter. Marvin has spoken on his experiences on various occasions at the invitation of Mr. Branson.]"I'm stunned," Brier said. "Basically, the lawyers bought this stuff for the judges and then they got favorable judgments. The judicial canons and state bar ethics strictly prohibit this."I think all the people who lost children in the family court system have a right to go back and look at who gave money to the association in their cases. My daughter lost local custody of her son and we attribute this to the money. We regained custody by using this evidence in various court cases."Irene Jensen, 47, who maintains residences in the San Fernando Valley and Salt Lake City, said she hasn't seen her daughter in 19 months. [Irene was one of the first members of JRA (JAIL's predecessor) in 1996-- before the members became known as "JAILers."]"We are paying for these judges to have a good time on our misery," she said. "Where is my money going? In the last nine years, I've spent well over $100,000 fighting for my daughter's life. Does this mean my money helps these judges go on cruises?" ....Fund expense records for 2000 showed money was used for golf tournaments at El Caballero Country Club, Brookside Country Club, and Braemar Country Club, Fantasea Charters & Event Production ocean dinner cruises out of Marina del Rey, Los Angeles Turf Club Inc., horse races and tickets for L.A. Dodgers games and the Lion King theater production....We are proud that J.A.I.L. has played a part in the history of the development of this judicial scam of Los Angeles County. Our special thanks to the Daily News for boldly publishing the above article, and to Marve Brier, Irene Jensen, Attorney Gary Zerman and others not specifically named who also contributed in exposing this scandal.J.A.I.L. is an acronym for Judicial Accountability Initiative Law
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