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Retired Judges Program a Disaster

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  • jail4judges
    J.A.I.L. News Journal _____________________________________________________ Los Angeles, California December 13, 2002
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 13, 2002
      J.A.I.L. News Journal
      Los Angeles, California                                          December 13, 2002

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      Retired Judges Program
      a Disaster
      Two Retired Judges Censured
      by State for Unethical Conduct
      Los Angeles Times, 12-10-2002
      by Jean Guccione
      Times Staff Writer
      Two retired Superior Court judges were censured Monday and barred from future judicial assignments for unethical conduct on the bench.
      The State Commission on Judicial Performance found that James R. Simpson of Los Angeles County improperly "presided over matters involving friends, gave favorable treatment to friends and tried to influence other judicial officers and police in their handling of matters concerning the judge's friends."
      In the other matter, the 11-member commission found that Arthur S. Block of Riverside County "engaged in a pattern of inappropriate sexual conduct [and] attempted to intimidate potential witnesses during the investigation of the alleged sexual conduct."
      He also was said to have improperly attempted to use his judicial office to help an acquaintance resolve a traffic matter in Los Angeles County.
      Simpson and Block admitted they had engaged in willful misconduct....
      As a sitting judge in September 1995, Simpson improperly recalled an arrest warrant for his former campaign manager, Allan E. Brandstater, over Brandstater's failure to pay a $270 fine for improper registration tags on his vehicle, according to the commission. ....
      Simpson also admitted trying to influence two court commissioners -- Dona Bracke and Steven K. Lubell -- and a Glendale police officer on their handling of minor traffic cases involving the judge's friends.
      A former deputy district attorney, Simpson was elected to the Glendale Municipal Court in 1994 and elevated to the Superior Court in January 2000, when the courts were unified. ....
      In the other discipline case, Block admitted having called Deputy County Counsel Tanya Galvan into his chambers during a May 8, 2001 dependency court hearing, asking her to close the door and kissing her on the mouth. He contends the act was consensual.

      Commentary by Attorney Gary Zerman
      National J.A.I.L. Lt. Commander-In-Chief

      A question from the above article is --  Why were no criminal proceedings brought against these two retired judges? 
          --Attempted to influence police officers and other judges
          --Intimidated witnesses
          --Fixed cases
          --A sexual assault 
      Sounds like probable criminal conduct to me. 
      Furthermore, the article states "admitted they engaged in willful misconduct." As the saying goes, "A leopard cannot change his spots." Obviously, these "now retired" judges were likely conducting themselves in the same manner while they were on the bench. Thus, this matter should call for further investigation, but none will come --yet another example of a judicial scandal swept under the rug.

      The fact is, little is ever done to any active judge who commits misconduct or criminal activity.  And even less is done to a retired judge.  What can the system say to a retired judge -- we are going to now REALLY retire you?  Unclear from the above article is whether Block and Simpson will be "banned" from now going into private judging. In fact, when active judges get into significant trouble, they usually take an early retirement to avoid public exposure, and then slide stealthily into "assignment" or private judging, all with no penalty.
      We must terminate the use of these retired judges, because under the present system they are not held accountable.  This situation provides a ripe opportunity to have dirty illicit matters assigned to these retired judges for adjudication, and then to make corrupt rulings.  (This same process also occurs with state court commissioners and federal magistrates, all appointed by sitting judges.) As the above shows, Block and Simpson did much injustice before anything was done. And they were brought to task because of embarrassment to the system, rather than for the loss of integrity in the system.

      The problem of retired (i.e., "assigned") judges was the subject of a recent article in the September 7, 2001 Los Angeles Times, p.B2,  "Courting Retirees to Return to Judicial Duties - Experienced jurists who want to work part time are in demand to help fill vacancies and heavy caseloads."  This article reported:  "The use of retired judges has drawn some criticism from lawyers, who point out that such jurists do not have to face election as do full-time judges. ... In February, 2000, Chief Justice George [Cal. Supreme Court] created the eligibility requirements for assigned judges and developed a formal complaint process. 'Frankly, I had a real concern... that I was assigning judges who were not measuring up to certain standards,' he said.  'Now they are up to the same standard, but they are certainly not accountable to the electorate.' "

      Chief George was correct to be concerned - however, these retired judges (as evidenced by "banned" and retired judges Simpson and Block) demonstrate that retired judges are in fact NOT measuring up.  Maybe Chief George was in fact correct, where he stated that the retired judges ARE up to the same standards of sitting judges -- regarding the matter of illicit conduct. 
      One thing indisputable that Chief George stated is that these retired judges simply are NOT ACCOUNTABLE to the electorate, i.e., the people. That is in fact the case with all judges. Federal judges have 
      life-time appointment, are impeached less frequently than Haley's Comet comes around (once every 64 years), and give themselves [and all their brethren state judges] ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY.  (See:  Bradley v. Fisher (1972) 80 U.S. 335; Pierson v. Ray (1967) 386 U.S. 547; and, Stump v. Sparkman (1978) 435 U.S. 349.)  JAIL4judges will change that situation and will make all judges accountable to "We the People."

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