* Three Strikes For Judges
J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles - January 2, 2001
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For a beautiful navy blue T-shirt with "J.A.I.L." on the back and www.jail4judges.org large and visible over the pocket, imprinted in a bright yellow-gold lettering, send your check payable to J.A.I.L. for $11.95 plus $4 S&H. (Discounts on volume quantities.) Wear them to your next courthouse function and watch the reaction.THREE STRIKES FOR JUDGESJAIL has just received the current edition of "Ecobyte" January 2001, Volume 4, Number 1, out of San Anselmo, California 94979. On page 14 are two articles: Three Strikes for Law-Breaking Judges, and J.A.I.L. Update. If the former title sounds familiar to you, it is. It is a reprint of the article written by Peter Blumberg in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the largest legal newspaper in the country. For the benefit of those who have not had the opportunity of seeing the former article, we are below giving an edited version.THREE STRIKES FOR LAW-BREAKING JUDGES PROPOSED(Reprinted with permission).... You've heard of the "Three Strikes You're Out" law? The Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (J.A.I.L.) is Branson's version of "three strikes" for judges allowing special nonlawyer tribunals to criminally sanction and permanently remove jurists who repeatedly break the law......"This will become the hottest initiative in time that ever happened in the History of California."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."It was only five years ago that [California] voters strengthened public oversight of judges with Proposition 190, which revamped the Commission on Judicial Performance. ... [We wonder what motivated the voters to do that.]... J.A.I.L. will go quite a bit further-- further, in fact, than any judicial watchdog agency in the nation.It would eliminate the broad civil liability immunity that jurists currently enjoy and would establish three statewide 25-member grand juries empowered to investigate, indict and, through a special trial jury, sentence judges for criminal misconduct. The grand jurors could dismiss frivolous complaints, but would also have authority to remove any judge from office who receives three adverse immunity decisions.To finance the $17 million that the Secretary of State estimates the grand juries would cost, Branson has proposed deducting 2-1/2 percent from the gross annual payroll of all the state's judges, magistrates and commissioners.Branson said the independence of the grand jurors-- citizens over 30 years old chosen by lottery from the state's voter rolls (excluding all members of the State Bar, public officials and law enforcement personnel)-- will insure both tougher scrutiny and impartial judging of the judges.... "The Jurors shall keep in mind, in making their decisions, that they are entrusted by the People of this State with the duty of restoring a perception of justice and accountability of the judiciary, and are not to be swayed by artful presentation by the judge," it states. "They shall avoid all influence by judicial and government entities."Branson's own run-ins with the law-- including 13 cases he has unsuccessfully pursued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court-- have consumed thousands of hours of his time, but he complains that California's highest elected officials have ignored his calls for reform.... The opposing lawyers in Branson's parking ticket case could not be reached Tuesday, but his secretary seemed unfazed to hear about Branson's J.A.I.L. campaign. "Oh, he never stops," she said. [Yes, she is right, we shall never give up!]Branson's partners in the initiative campaign include Costa Mesa attorney Phillip Putman and Newhall sole practitioner Gary Zerman, both of whom profess such profound disenchantment with the justice system that they specialize in legal malpractice litigation and are ever closer to dropping out of the Bar altogether.Putman [stated]... "The state courts have gotten so outrageously vindictive, vigilantist and vituperative toward and parties and attorneys" he said. "I'm about ready to resign. I just refuse to go into the courtroom and allow these jackasses to spew their venom at me, which they do all the time."Zerman [said] ... "The system is not holding judges accountable."But as passionately as Branson, Putman and Zerman believe in their cause....... "I think the internet has made it easier for disgruntled litigants to join forces" said Gerald F. Uelman, professor at Santa Clara School of Law. "This may be a reflection of that, but I don't think there's any grassroots movement that could provide the support needed to qualify an initiative measure."Besides, Michael Belote, a Sacramento lobbyist for the CJA [Commission on Judicial Performance], said the proposed ballot initiative is patently unconstitutional. [Not to speak of the great embarrassment JAIL is bringing to the CJP, since that agency is charged with the responsibility of maintaining judicial integrity, the failure of which JAIL is exposing.]"One could almost pick at random every element of the California Constitution and the United States Constitution that this violates," he said. "What about a jury of one's peers, a right of confrontation, the fact that you can't have lawyers or judges on the grand juries?"The J.A.I.L. proponents fully expect the establishment to fight back-- and that's exactly what they hope for to jump-start their low-budget campaign."Once we get them to holler 'ouch,' they've done our advertisement for us," Branson said.* * *J.A.I.L. UPDATEIn Congress, JAIL is being proposed as a legislative Bill. Among the states there are two approaches, a Constitutional Amendment by legislation, and the initiative states, as a Constitutional State Initiative. The states are free to file or refile repeatedly at will. California is now between initiatives and will have to refile.The drawback for JAIL at this time is lack of funding. JAIL hopes to catch the eye of financial backers. All of the JAIL Chapters will file and refile or labor until the necessary funds are received to get JAIL passed. By getting JAIL passed in just one state will start the domino effect until it's passed throughout the nation.JAIL may be supported at P.O. Box 207, N. Hollywood, CA 91603.* * *Our thanks to Jo Ann Fawcett, EditorEcobyte: P.O. Box 2523, San Anselmo, CA 94979(415) 259-0118; Fax: (415) 259-0120Email: ecochicks@...
J.A.I.L. is an acronym for (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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