Secret Payments To Judges
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California June 27, 2002Los Angeles Daily NewsWed. June 26, 2002Attorney: Payment to JudgesHistory's Largest CorruptionBy Troy AndersonStaff WriterA taxpayer advocate attorney filed complaints Tuesday alleging Los Angeles County government pays judges an extra $30,000 a year each, on top of their state-paid salary and benefits, and claiming it makes them biased in cases involving the county."These Los Angeles County voluntary payments and the judges' practice of not disclosing the payments are probably the single largest corruption of a state judicial system in the history of our country," said attorney Richard I. Fine of Beverly Hills."Even worse, Los Angeles County is using taxpayer moneys for this while claiming it doesn't have money to fund health care for the poor, and other social programs."Fine filed the complaints with the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Fair Political Practices Commission, the California Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice, asking them to investigate and prosecute Los Angeles County and Los Angeles Superior Court judges and commissioners for violations of criminal and other laws.The complaints follow a lawsuit Fine filed June 13 on behalf of Sylmar resident John Silva against Los Angeles County, alleging that the payments were illegal.Los Angeles Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini said federal judges have dismissed two similar lawsuits filed by Fine."The only adjustments in the three actions are slight adjustments in who the plaintiff and defendants are," Parachini said. "Mr. Fine has been told twice unequivocally by judges in federal court that there is no merit whatsoever to this complaint. We consider this a closed issue."Fine said the federal judges dismissed the cases, saying they did not have jurisdiction, and they did not decide the merits of the case. They said they would have jurisdiction over a case like Silva's lawsuit.Since 1998, Los Angeles County has been paying judges more than $30,000 a year each above their base salary of $136,224, which will go up to $139,493 on July 1. Here is a breakdown of the extra funds paid annually:
- $25,884 in cash for health and insurance benefits, even though they are fully covered by the state.
- $5,586 in professional development for legal journals, books and conferences, although the court already provides most of their journals and pays for conferences.
- $840 a year as a transportation allowance....
- Two retirement programs, one from the county and one from the state. The county provides a matching contribution of up to 4 percent for the judges' retirement plans.
Allow me to comment and address some matters on the above. The reason for these "hidden salaries" to judges are two-fold.Much of government bureaucratic salaries are tied to judges' salaries, and when the judges receive a pay raise, so does a whole string of bureaucrats. By hiding these funds and not calling it a "salary," it avoids a universal round of salary increases for all other government officials.Number two, governments, including the County of Los Angeles, know that their continued status quo existence depends upon these judges ruling in their favor, so they have to treat these judges royally in every respect.This editor himself, in a lawsuit against the County of Los Angeles, moved for a venue change outside the County of Los Angeles because every judge therein had a clear conflict of interest. Of course, the very ones holding the conflict of interest ruled on my question of their conflict of interest and "found" that they did not have a conflict of interest. When I then turned and sued this county judge in federal court, who shows up to defend this judge but the very same attorney that was defending the defendant County of Los Angeles in front of this judge in the original case.Ah, yes, and I'm not done yet! What federal judge sat in judgment on the case but a former Deputy District Attorney having worked for and receiving retirement from the County of Los Angeles. One just cannot win. Fact is, that many, if not most Los Angeles Federal judges have in some capacity worked for the County of Los Angeles prior to ascending to the federal bench, and are personal friends of those working for the County of Los Angeles. I've already talked about this before, showing they work on a first name basis, and ask how the wife is and the judge's children by name.Now let's consider these secret funds given in cash off the record to all L.A. County judges. We are told these judges receive more than $25,000 per year for health care. Pray tell, who in this world pays anywhere near $25,000 for health-care insurance annually? Oh, wait, health-care? We were just told these judges already have full health-care coverage provided to them by the state. Isn't this "double-dipping?" You say, "Well, if their employer is so stupid as to pay them twice, its their fault, why shouldn't the judges take it?" But where does this secret funds come from? Yes, yes, the taxpayers! They've been ripped off again, and the County of Los Angeles wins again.And let's not forget, this is at a time when the County of Los Angeles is claiming that due to budget shortfalls, they are having to close health-care facilities to the poor that have "NO" health-care whatsoever. Yes, I said "NO" coverage -- because they cannot afford it. -Ron BransonJ.A.I.L. is an acronym for Judicial Accountability Initiative Law
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