Out of The Legal
System (By Ron Branson - Author/Founder of
Years ago I stated that the Judicial Accountability Initiative
Law (J.A.I.L.) will eventually be on the lips of everyone throughout
the country, and its message will affirmatively overtake this nation from
"Sea to Shining Sea."
Today, I am watching the beginning signs of
this development materializing in our country; and despite the horrors
of our opposition, there is nothing the system can do to change the onward and
upward thrust of J.A.I.L. It is said that there are no armies on earth that
can stop and idea whose time has come, and indeed the time of J.A.I.L. has come
to America! Just like in
quicksand, the more the corrupt establishment thrashes and
flails in resistance, the faster they sink. And like the
quote, "I do not care what they say about me, just so long as they spell my
name correctly," so it is with J.A.I.L. The media opposition is
spreading the name of J.A.I.L. around the U.S. like there is no tomorrow -
media coverage which we could not afford.
The media is driving the foot traffic toward J.A.I.L.
by the thousands. While we already possessed extended bandwidth supporting our
website, we have had to recently re-double our extended bandwidth just to keep
up, thanks to the media. And at the rate we're going, I don't believe it'll
take too long before the media will cause us to have to quadruple
our bandwidth. J.A.I.L. is that thing that our enemies do not want to talk
about, but can't help themselves! Like one hooked on drugs, one may hate the
fact that they are drug-dependent, but they just have to have more.
Likewise, the media is hooked on that which they hate, i.e., J.A.I.L.; but,
nonetheless, they just can't get enough of it, even though they know
they're spreading around the knowledge of J.A.I.L.
Back on August 13, 1999, the largest legal newspaper in the
U.S., the Los Angeles Daily Journal, published an article about
J.A.I.L. This newspaper is widely read by thousands of both attorneys and
judges religiously. On the front page, column one, first sentence, we read:
"SACRAMENTO - Ronald Branson has picked a lot of fights with judges and
lost. Now the vexed Los Angeles
County litigant is going to voters with a proposed ballot initiative aimed at
cracking down on a judicial system he regards as out of control. .... 'We
believe there are some people out there who are nearly as agitated as us who
want something to happen,' Branson told the Daily Journal. This will become the
hottest initiative in time that ever happened in the History of
California." This article got the attention of the California
judicial establishment, who retorted, "The state's judicial establishment
isn't exactly holding its breath. 'We're not going to be lying awake
worrying about this,' said Constance Dove, executive director of the California
Judges Association. 'I think the voters have more sense than that.'
judiciary's attitude of nonchalance, a shocking poll taken by
the judiciary itself through its Judicial Council revealed, "Nearly
half of the Californians questioned in a far-ranging new poll said they
have less confidence in the court system... . 52% had a 'poor' or 'only
fair' overall opinion of the state judiciary..." The results of this poll
absolutely shocked the establishment. "When 52% of Californians do not think
highly of the courts, that tells me we have to come up with [a] program to give
people a better understanding of the system.' said Robert R. Dockson, ...
chairman of the Commission on the Future of the Courts." L.A. Times, 12/11/92.
What this poll revealed
was that the judiciary was in big trouble. Their proposed cure, "...come up with
a program to give people a better understanding of the system." Now if you're
not already laughing, I ask you where you think this effort to "give people a
better understand of the system" has led. I'll give you a hint: They are afraid
to take a poll to find out! Based upon the official poll on behalf of the
judiciary, Ron was right. The judiciary was then out of control, and I say
that it has only gotten much worse with the passage of time. If J.A.I.L. were on
the ballot today, it would terrify all those judges who candidly
said, "We're not going to be lying awake worrying about this."
Indeed, it is now getting hard to find people who hold respect for the judiciary
The Daily Journal went on to express how an Initiative five
years prior was passed by the voters to curb judges in California by giving more
power to the Commission on Judicial Performance. But they observed the
difference offered by J.A.I.L., "J.A.I.L. would go quite a bit further --
-- further, in fact, than any judicial watchdog agency in the nation."
While I vehemently disagree with the implications of a South
Dakota poll taken by the Argus Leader, a South Dakota newspaper, they did get a
surprising response to their misguided question. The question was,
"Should people unhappy with a judge's ruling have the authority to
appeal to a grand jury for the right to sue the judge?" This was aimed
directly at J.A.I.L. Their
poll results reveals the following:
49.2% No: 50.8%
While I am abhorred at the result received, it does send a
message that South Dakotans are very upset, for whatever reason, with their
judges in South Dakota.
Contrary to those who speak against us, J.A.I.L. actually
received quite a plug with an honest analysis by the highest of authority
in California, to wit, Elizabeth Hill, the Legislative Analyst, who
addressed the current Attorney General, Bill Lockyer on 3/30/2000:
"Limitations on Judicial
Immunity. Current law provides that
judges are completely immune from civil claims based on actions taken within the
scope of their judicial performance. As a result, perceived abuses by a judge
within the scope of his or her judicial performance can only be remedied by
appealing the action in question to obtain a reversal, filing a complaint with
the Commission on Judicial Performance, or petitioning the Legislature to
impeach the judge. None of these remedies allow the complainant to seek civil
damages. Judges are currently subject to criminal prosecution for criminal acts
taken within the scope of their judicial duties (for example taking a bribe).
The victim of such an offense, however, cannot seek a civil remedy against a
judge for any negative consequences of the criminal action.
"This measure would provide a mechanism
for plaintiffs to overcome this immunity in certain cases by filing a claim with
the newly created special grand juries who would have jurisdiction to determine
whether a civil suit fell within certain immunity exclusions set forth in the
initiative. Judges would no longer be immune from civil liability in cases in
which they intentionally violate due process of law, deliberately disregard
material facts, block the lawful conclusion of a case, or deliberately violate
the U.S. or California Constitutions. In any case in which the special grand
jury finds that a suit would fall within these exclusions, its finding acts as a
bar against the judge raising the defense of judicial immunity...."
I view the above quoted
commentary as an honest presentation of what J.A.I.L. will actually accomplish.
There is much more I could quote to you from this report about J.A.I.L. But
today I am seeing many newspaper articles published from around the states, to
wit, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, New York, South Dakota, etc., to cite a
few, that take a completely different tack than the official voice of the
California Legislature, in that these recent reports are entirely
dishonest and fraudulent, reporting intentional lies designed to deceive
their readers. None of these reports are in compliance with the Code of
Ethics for Journalists. See http://spj.org/ethics_code.asp.
Now back to my original point. The current effort to pass
J.A.I.L. in South Dakota is scaring the living "bajebers" out of the legal
system. Its members
are absolutely terrorized at the prospect that the voters
of South Dakota may just actually vote J.A.I.L. in as an amendment to their
Constitution. They realize the impact it would really have on cleaning up
the corruption in South Dakota, not to speak of the impact it will have
throughout this entire nation by South Dakota's influence. They realize
that the security held for decades of the cozy, invincible relationship of their
legal fraternity between lawyers and judges will be disturbed, and their haughty
confidence dealt a severe blow. A common term used by the legal fraternity and
newspapers that support it, is "judicial independence" that actually refers to
that clandestine relationship which has been truly independent of all outside
influence, including the law.
They, as I, can see that J.A.I.L. presents a "Showdown At OK
Coral" for the future of this country, to wit, either the judiciary or the
People of this country will prevail. There is absolutely no middle ground
nor any way our country can survive much longer should the judiciary
of this country continue its status-quo course of destruction; and these
unscrupulous reporters, underlying the judiciary, want to make
sure the People do not change that course. This is why we are hearing
statements such as below, that J.A.I.L. will "...plunge the court system
into anarchy." ''Having this come in would be big trouble.'' To them,
accountability equals "anarchy," and from their perspective, such honesty
is evil; perhaps they are right, because they view good as evil, and evil as
One more thing. Everything you will read below is easily
refutable, and can be shown as an attack upon the very document attorneys and
judges have sworn by an oath to uphold and defend. Because my focus here is to
establish their fear of J.A.I.L., and not to refute what dishonest reporting
does not touch upon, I will save refutation for another day.
Judicial accountability bill is full of holes
KEITH JENSEN, Associate Publisher
An initiated constitutional amendment is going to be on the 2006
ballot if enough signatures are valid.
a lot of people signed the petitions, with the sales pitch that it is for
holding judges accountable, but we wonder how many people actually read
the proposal in its entirety. From our vantage point, it looks like Swiss
cheese -- full of holes.
Proponents have named it the Judicial
Accountability Initiative Law, so they could use the catchy acronym JAIL.
The measure would, proponents say, "punish wayward judges with civil suits
and even criminal charges."
And who are the "wayward judges"? Well,
pretty simple: any judge that makes a decision that one or more of the
affected parties aren't happy with, could be "punished" under
The measure would set up a Special Grand Jury, with 13
jurors, drawn from the state's voter registration lists, each serving one
year and paid more than $100,000 a year each.
executive director of the State Bar of South Dakota, noted that the grand
jury would be "empowered to rule on the law and the facts. In other words,
it is a super-legislature having the power to overrule the Legislature,
decide which laws (or constitutional provisions) to enforce or ignore and
then also decide the facts."
JAIL would have a budget of more than
$2.5 million. The Legislature would be required (no choice) to establish a
Special Grand Jury facility (centrally located) but not within a mile of
any judicial body (talk about paranoia!).
And this is cute: it will
be funded through fines, fees and forfeitures, but if that doesn't produce
enough money, the Legislature will have to (again no choice) impose
"appropriate surcharges upon the civil court filing fees of corporate
OK, so you have an individual who wants to file a civil
complaint against a judge (say a convicted felon who sues because the
sentence is perceived as too harsh, or a private citizen who believes the
sentence is too lenient) and they have to pay a filing fee,
Well, not necessarily, because the amendment provides for a
$50 filing fee, but you can file a statement that you are impoverished OR
(get this) because you "object to such fee." You could drive a large
cattle truck through that hole in the cheese.
There are so many
more holes, they are too numerous to comment on. For instance, law
enforcement officials are prohibited from serving on the Grand Jury, but
felony drunk drivers, convicted drug dealers and child pornographers can!
The move is apparently aimed at "activist judges," but it covers all
persons shielded by judicial immunity...meaning every school board, city
council, county commission, professional licensing board, in fact every
citizen board in the state exercising quasi-judicial powers.
where is the problem in South Dakota? We vote on our judges...citizens
have an absolute right to reject a particular Circuit Court judge if they
believe they will be treated unfairly...and all parties have an absolute
right to appeal a judge's decision to the Supreme Court.
going to be one of those issues where you need to move from the headlines
to the fine print and carefully read the amendment. From doing that, our
conclusion is: it looks like Swiss cheese, but it smells like
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) -- A movement is under way in South
Dakota to turn the tables on members of the bench.
Activists are trying to put a radical measure on next
year's ballot that could make South Dakota the first state to let people who
believe their rights have been violated by judges put those judges on trial.
Citizens could seek damages or criminal charges.
The measure would overturn more than a century of settled
law in the United States by stripping judges of their absolute immunity from
lawsuits over their judicial acts.
''The current system doesn't work because there is no
adequate way to hold a given judge accountable for improper behavior or to
prevent them from judicial misconduct if they choose to do so,'' said
businessman William Stegmeier, a leader of the movement.
Legal experts warned that such a provision could
dangerously undermine the independence of South Dakota's judiciary, plunge the
court system into anarchy, and run afoul of the U.S. Constitution.
And they noted there are already remedies available to
the public: Bad rulings can be overturned on appeal, and judges who break the
rules can be punished by state disciplinary boards and, in South Dakota and
other states, voted out of office.
Marie Failinger, a law professor at Hamline University in
St. Paul, Minn., said judicial immunity is seen as a way to protect judges'
independence so they decide cases on the merits, not in response to pressure
from the community or individuals.
''Judges are kind of the last barrier we have between
government oppression and the individual, so if they can't be independent, that
could be a problem,'' Failinger said. She added: ''Judges will be chilled from
making the right decision because they don't know what crazy litigant is going
to decide they are going to sue them.''
Stegmeier, owner of a company that manufactures
livestock-feed grinders, turned in 46,800 signatures last week to put the
proposed state constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2006. That is
about 13,000 more than needed. The state is still verifying the
Judicial immunity, the doctrine that says judges cannot
be sued over their judicial acts, was established by the U.S. Supreme Court in
an 1871 case.
The South Dakota amendment would eliminate state judges'
immunity in cases involving deliberate violations of the law or someone's
constitutional rights or deliberate disregard of the facts.
People could file complaints against judges after the
traditional appeals process has concluded. A special grand jury would handle
complaints, deciding whether a judge could be sued or face criminal
If the grand jury decides on criminal charges, it could
indict the judge and create a special tribunal that would act as both judge and
jury, deciding guilt and any sentence. The measure would not apply to federal
Stegmeier said he has never had a bad experience in
court. In fact, supporters of the measure have no examples of any problems in
South Dakota. But Stegmeier said the amendment could help curb the abuses he has
heard about across the country.
On its Web site, the group promoting the amendment, South
Dakota Judicial Accountability, cites an Indiana case from the 1970s involving
the sterilization of a 15-year-old girl, and argues that stripping judges of
immunity would also help prevent decisions such as the recent U.S. Supreme Court
ruling that allowed homes to be seized for private development.
''We didn't throw the yoke of the king off to get under
the yoke of the judges,'' said Gary Zerman, a Valencia, Calif., lawyer who is a
spokesman for the South Dakota ballot effort.
Tom Barnett, secretary-treasurer of the State Bar of
South Dakota, said inmates would quickly figure out that they could harass the
judges who put him behind bars by filing a complaint.
''You don't think there aren't going to be hundreds and
hundreds of them, everybody giggling up in the penitentiary?'' he
Georgetown University Law School professor Roy A.
Schotland, who studies judicial elections and constitutional law, said the
measure could violate the Constitution.
''It at least erodes and may go so far as to destroy
judicial independence, which means it erodes and perhaps destroys the rule of
law and fair judging,'' Schotland said. ''Having this come in would be big