- J.A.I.L. News Journal ____________________________________________________ Los Angeles, California November 20, 2001 IMessage 1 of 1 , Nov 20, 2001View SourceJ.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California November 20, 2001I have often said that no judicial disciplinary body in this nation is concerned in ethics or misconduct of their judges. That they are rather concerned about embarrassment, i.e., that one of their own would get caught with their pants down, reflecting poorly on the whole of the judiciary. I have said that it is only this sense of embarrassment that forces them to take "bold" disciplinary action, or at least show some concern for public appearances, lease they all sink together.I have seen miscreant judges who generate multiple complaints, shuffled around from pillar to post in an attempt to keep them away from the public they have riled. These commissions wish to hide their tract record from catching up with them. The below published report supports my theory set forth in the above paragraph that the entire judiciary is motivated only by embarrassment, and nothing else.Judges Hiding The Truth!Public in dark on judge change© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 18, 2001
You seldom see a whole system changed -- especially within government -- to satisfy the complaints of one unhappy customer.
But apparently that's what defense attorney Jim Cummins has done to Citrus County's judiciary.
Cummins had a run-in with Circuit Court Judge Barbara Gurrola on Oct. 26. Gurrola questioned a bill Cummins had submitted to the court, which he took as an attempt to impugn his integrity. Cummins then asked Gurrola to disqualify herself from about 30 criminal cases he was handling, claiming his clients could no longer get impartial treatment. Gurrola denied that request.
Cummins then vowed to file legal motions to question her involvement in all his cases, and threatened to complain to the state Judicial Qualifications Commission about Gurrola's allegedly derogatory comments.
Twelve days later, all members of Citrus County's judiciary -- Circuit judges Patricia Thomas, Richard Howard, Gurrola and County Judge Mark Yerman -- held a psuedo-press conference to announce they were rearranging their duties. The circuit judges rotate every two years between the criminal, civil and family benches. But this change was taking place more than a year sooner than scheduled.
The judges were tight-lipped about their action, and refused to directly answer questions about whether their decision was prompted by Cummins' protests. By declining to explain their motives, they have fueled speculation that reflect poorly on Gurrola's competence and the entire court system.
Whether real or perceived, the impression the judges leave with defense attorneys who are unhappy with a particular judge is that they need only make a few threats to get their way.
More damaging, perhaps, is the perception the public is left with that Cummins' may have a legitimate concern, and that Gurrola was removed from the criminal bench to protect a mistake, or simply to deflect criticism.
Gurrola flatly refused to discuss the issue, other than to say doing so would violate judicial canons. While we acknowledge it might be improper for her to comment about Cummins, his cases or his threat to discredit her, we are less clear about why neither she nor Thomas, the administrative judge, will explain the shift in duties.
Seizing the ethical high ground from an attorney is more than understandable, it is commendable. But denying the public's right to know if they have reason to question the behavior of a judge, or a decision about how the courts are run, is not a matter of ethics; it is an issue of accountability.
Thomas should find some way to explain the situation. If nothing else, she should assure the public what this issue is not about.
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