Judicial Watch on Mission in California
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California July 1, 2001Judicial Watch on mission in California
May 27, 2001
By Howard Breuer
SAN MARINO -- Two years after setting up shop in a Huntington Drive office building, Judicial Watch's West Coast operation is raising hell:
Suing Gov. Gray Davis in Pasadena Superior Court seeking records on the state energy crisis and on contributions from the Chinese government;
Shuttling monitors to the courtrooms of judges in response to reports of
judicial abuse; and, Tracking countywide implementation of the state's "Three Strikes, You're Out" law.
Soon, "the San Marino office will be the equivalent of the Washington office -- they will be equal and will be the hubs of the operation," says Larry Klayman, chairman and founder of the in-your-face advocacy group, who thinks too many Los Angeles-area judges are irresponsible and need to be reined in. "We very much relish the opportunity to say good things about judges," Klayman said. "But they're few and far between."
He rattled off such egregious recent examples as former Pomona Superior Court Judge George W. Trammell, sentenced to 27 months in prison for mail fraud after extorting sex from a defendant; Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Arnold Gold, who retired Tuesday following months of complaints ... and former Citrus Court Judge Patrick B. Murphy of Alhambra, tossed off the bench for collecting his $133,000 salary while attending medical school in the Caribbean.
"What other business would tolerate that?" asked Sterling "Ernie" Norris. The ex-Marine and 32-year county prosecutor retired from the District Attorney's Office last year to direct Judicial Watch's Judicial Monitoring Project. He said the monitors have therefore become a big part of the local operation, sitting in the courtrooms of unpopular judges and tallying the days they're absent. "This will be forthcoming in a critique," Norris said. "We need to know: why are these doors closed and why are there no judges on the bench? That will be forthcoming."
Judicial Watch's expansion will help keep judges accountable, he added.
"There is a great amount of people out there who believe they are being
abused by the judicial system and they have no recourse," said Norris. "They feel the judges all support one another and if you appeal, you still lose -- it's all part of the brotherhood."
Judging the judges
Government officials say they encourage the scrutiny -- but most judges don't need it. "In my experience, most of the judges do a very good, conscientious job," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, a former U.S. prosecutor who served on the state Senate's Public Safety Committee. "There are always exceptions in every profession," he added. "I think each institution bears close examination." Taxpayers already pay for independent oversight of judges via the state Commission on Judicial Performance, said Victoria Henley, the commission's director and chief counsel.
The 41-year-old commission's board consists of six citizens, three judges and two lawyers, and was the first agency of its kind in the country, said
Henley,adding her staff members also sometimes sit in courtrooms to monitor judges.
She added that the number of problems with Los Angeles-area judges isn't
disproportionately high, given that they comprise almost a quarter of the
state's courts. She disagrees that too few judges do a good job. "That's very unfair to the judiciary in the state of California, who are working pretty tirelessly at their jobs during difficult times," she said. Judicial Watch says a state-run commission or agency can't objectively investigate and criticize powerful judges, politicians and presidents. "The whole idea is that there be some means that is not influenced by politics and politicians that objectively looks at government actions and judicial actions," Norris said.....Howard Breuer can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4444, or by e-mail at howard.breuer@....Connie Ruffley, Attorney Mike Pendleton or Attorney Sterling Norris may be reached at judwatch@....Michael Pendleton and Sterling Norris will be our guests Thursday, August 24th at The Republic/Granada Forum, 5657 Lindley Avenue, Tarzana, CA. starting at 7:30 p.m. For instructions on how to get there, please call (818) 385-4003. Admission is $5. For other information on this event, call Kyle Hammans at (818) 988-0277.J.A.I.L. is the new means of a peaceful revolution in this country.
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