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* Investigating The Commission on Judicial Performance

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  • jail4judges
    J.A.I.L. News Journal ____________________________________________________ Los Angeles, California October 29, 2001
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 28, 2001
      J.A.I.L. News Journal
      Los Angeles, California                                          October 29, 2001 
      Conflict Charge
      Problematic For Watchdog Panel
      Ethics: Legal experts say the state Commission on Judicial Performance must protect its own integrity in a probe of allegations against its top lawyer.
      Bu Steve Berry
      Times Staff Writer
      Los Angeles Times 10/28/01
      With its longtime top lawyer under fire for an alleged breach of ethics, the integrity of California's judicial watchdog agency could be tarnished if the group's handing of the controversy is not beyond reproach, legal experts said.
      The 11-member Commission on Judicial Performance, which disciplines unethical judges, said last week that it plans to seek an independent examiner to investigate the charges against Victoria Henley, the commission's chief counsel and top administrator.
      The commission, as the state's guardian against unethical, corrupt and incompetent judges, plays a critical role in maintaining the integrity and credibility of the judiciary.
      If the allegations prove true, "then you have a situation where the righteous are being unrighteous," said Robert Fellmeth, director of the Center for Public Interest at the San Diego University School of Law. "Here's a body that is supposed to be imposing ethical standards on judges, and they have their own ethical problems."
      Already the case has caught the attention of the state's top judge.
      "In view of the seriousness of the allegations, I hope they will be resolved expeditiously," California Chief Justice Ronald M. George said Friday. "It is particularly important that it be resolved in a manner that does not impugn the critical role played by the commission ... in ensuring integrity among judicial officers."
      The charges have been especially shocking in the legal community * because they have been directed at the 48-year-old Henley, whose integrity had never been publicly questioned during her 10 years at the commission's helm.
      "She's always been a straight-arrow person and a paragon of integrity, said Peter Keane, dean of the Golden State University Law School....
      Henley's job is to direct the entire staff, including the lawyers who investigate misconduct by judges, and to make recommendations to the commission. The commission has the power to privately or publicly reprimand judges or remove them from the bench.
      Henley refused to comment last week and did not return calls Friday.
      If the charges against her are found to be true, the commission will have to move swiftly and forcefully to protect its credibility, said Fellmeth of the Center for Public Interest. "This case raises the hypocrisy angle," he said.
      Fellmeth said the conflict-of-interest charge is more than just an abstract allegation. "She has a duty to be neutral, and that person should not be financially inter-twined with the subject of her investigation."

      * Oh do people have short memories. This article says, The charges have been especially shocking in the legal community because they have been directed at the 48-year-old Henley, whose integrity had never been publicly questioned during her 10 years at the commission's helm. Is this writer kidding us, or doesn't he remember Victory Hensley being right in the middle of a dispute over Attorney John Plotts, who became a whistle-blower from the inside of the California Commission on Judicial Performance. 
      John Plotts was one of their very own investigators who exposed the Commission as corrupt, and Victoria Henley threaten to and indeed did fire him because he would not shut up. She accused him of impugning the integrity of the Commission on Judicial Performance, and making it look bad, and this matter hit the newspapers all over, and became a heated controversy over whether one could or should be fired because they spoke up about internal corruption. Henley argued that matters of the Commission were and are to be kept secret, and they Plotts had breached the Commission's secrecy by speaking out. 
      I propose we either create another ethics watchdog commission to investigate this ethics watchdog commission, or we set up a Citizen's rotating Special Grand Jury created by J.A.I.L. I vote for the latter.
      - Ron Branson
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