* * To Purge The Judicial System Of Corruption * *
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California September 4, 2003Veteran Pennsylvania Attorney UrgesThe Public To Purge The Judicial SystemOf CorruptionBy Attorney Daniel C. Barrish, lawmandan@...While we receive complaints from some of our readers that J.A.I.L. just "won't work," we also receive emails like the one below from an attorney in the law profession for over 25 years who has become disheartened with what he has worked hard to uncover involving the Pennsylvania judicial system. Attorney Barrish wonders "why the Supreme Court would allow this judicial sore to fester." He believes that the "vast majority" of judges are honest, and "as long as they listen with an open mind and try to do what is both consistent with existing law and just, that is all we can reasonably ask and expect." Yes, that is true AS LONG AS.... However, the fact is that TIME HAS RUN OUT. We no longer have a sufficient number of honest judges. Far too many judges are corrupt because we failed to establish in the Constitution a means by which the people could enforce its provisionsby holding judges accountable for their willful violations thereof. Until that happens, the corruption will continue and grow only worse.Just today we were happy to receive the following from Attorney Barrish: Thank you for your gracious email, Ron. Certainly I would want to become a JAILer. I can't turn down that invitation! Let's all welcome him as a new Pennsylvania JAILer! We are truly honored! -Barbie-The purpose of this posting, and perhaps subsequent postings, is to publicize what I have discovered about the Pennsylvania judicial system during the last two years and to suggest to others how to deal with perceived injustices....we have the obligation at least to try to bring all this information to the attention of the public in an attempt to have the citizens of Pennsylvania take whatever actions are necessary to purge the judicial system of the corruption which plagues it from within.......any suggestions in regard how to disseminate this information to the public would be sincerely appreciated.
--Attorney Daniel C. Barrish--This is my first posting. By way of background I have been an attorney and general practitioner in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, for over twenty-five years, and have dealt with many family court matters during that period. The purpose of this posting, and perhaps subsequent postings, is to publicize what I have discovered about the Pennsylvania judicial system during the last two years and to suggest to others how to deal with perceived injustices. That which I will relate is so unbelievable that I personally would not believe the scenario if it were told to me. The truthfulness, though, is in nothing that I state, but rather what is of record and how judges give themselves away. I consider myself merely a tour guide, pointing out the importance of that which can readily be observed.I have represented Mr. Thomas Tracy for over two years in custodylitigation in Montgomery County; the mother is Andrea Cockfield, and the parties have been divorced since 2001. There are two children, G., a boy 8 years old when litigation began, and K, a girl 13 years old at that time. After a three-session trial extending over sixty days, the judge ruled favorably for Mother; Father appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which affirmed. Surely "sour grapes," you say, when I state that the case was "fixed" by the trial judge; surely "fermented grapes" when I state that the case was "fixed" in the Superior Court, so I am essentially starting backwards by telling you about the judges and their lack of credibility, and will relate the facts later.Victims of crimes have a tendency to gravitate to each other and commiserate. I went on to find out that there were unquestionably three cases which the lower court judge "fixed," and almost certainly others.No one believes this, though, least of all other judges, no matter how much you talk and no matter how much evidence you present. It follows that, but for the weak "underbelly" of dishonest judges, there is virtually no chance of having the legal system right that which is surely a serious wrong. And what is that vulnerable spot? Their own public filings with the Pennsylvania Court Administrator, who is another story in and of himself.Pennsylvania Rules of Court require that each trial judge file with the Pennsylvania Court Administrator a listing of all cases in their undecided inventory that they have had for in excess of ninety days. This listing is called a "703" report, the name coming from a section of the Pennsylvania Code. 703 reports are filed twice a year: by July 31, for the half-year ending June 30, and by January 31, for the half-year ending December 31. They are considered important because if a trial judge has an excessive number of such cases, then efforts are made to accelerate the disposition of those matters; and if there is no success in that regard, the trial judge is reported to the Judicial Conduct Board --again, another story in and of itself.Hypothetically this seems rather fair, especially to litigants who all too often have to wait unnecessarily excessive periods of time before a judge renders his or her decision; that is, if the trial judge lists all such cases. The trial judge in this case failed to file one report and filed another report only because the "cat was out-of-the-bag" about thismatter; and in that report, the trial judge picked a recent date at random, actually during the trial itself, as the date of assignment. Remember those two other cases referenced above as surely being "fixed?" Well, one was in excess of six years old, and the other in excess of three years old, and neither was ever reported. For the end of calendar-year 2001, the trial judge advised that there were no cases in that judge's inventory in excess of ninety days.But that is nothing compared to the other required filing of all judges in Pennsylvania, both Common Pleas and Appellate, that being by May of each calendar year on which occasion each judge makes required financial disclosures --again, filed with Pennsylvania Court Administrator; --again public documents, which, incidentally, must be copied and given to you if you so request.The trial judge in this matter went on the bench in December 1995, and was first required to file a financial statement in 1997, for calendar-year 1996. The instructions for these financial filings are very simple --so simple in fact that if a judge fails to understand them, then that individual should not have been made a judge in the first place. The judge must indicate information both for self and spouse; and must, among other requirements, make reference to all real estate owned (except for the family home), and all debt owed (except the mortgage on the family home) by identifying only the creditor, confirming that the amount is in excess of $5,000.00 and indicating the rate of interest.Not too complicated, is it? Well this trial judge, in all annual financial disclosures, listed no real estate despite public records confirming that the trial judge owned at least two rental properties in Montgomery County and a summer home at the New Jersey shore, nor did the trial judge reference in excess of one-half million dollars in mortgages on those properties. Why would a trial judge fail to reveal this information?Certainly we all have had at one time various investments, some good, and some bad, and owing money is the American way to go --surely nothing to hide there. The secret, though, rests with the Jersey property. Although the trial judge alluded to rental income in regard to supplemental income disclosures, the trial judge gave a false address for the Jersey property which trial judge and spouse purchased for $228,000.00 in 1992; did not indicate that it was subject to a very significant mortgage; and then failed further to reveal that the mortgage was mysteriously paid off in the fall of 1997, just after the first required financial filing. The likely identity of a mysterious benefactor who satisfied the mortgage debt in its entirety, when finally determined, should confirm this trial judges dishonesty.The trial judge is Rhonda Lee Daniele, the self-purported patron judge of children, having devoted a good part of her career to the "welfare of children." During one of the trial sessions in the custody case, Judge Daniele advised that she was "computer illiterate," and she had no trouble proving that. She had no idea --not even a clue-- that the damning financial information that she failed to disclose was right there on the Internet, ready to be accessed. Chalk one up for technology, but give the Pennsylvania Judicial System a minus because the judiciary and various significant others are now aware of this, some for almost one year, and yet nothing has been done.At this point I should state that I have never been a crusader. But after all these years, I have surprised even myself and come out of the closet as a somewhat Quixotic figure, trying to fight for honesty and justice, but ending up rather as one merely jousting with windmills. I have put in excess of two hundred fifty pro-bono hours into this case. What drives me on is an object less than 1/2-inch wide. Ever since the horrors of September 11, Rhonda Lee Daniele has worn on her judicial robes a small enamel American flag. I am particularly incensed by this because,by her so doing, she is desecrating my flag.If Tom Tracy had not been deprived of seeing his daughter for two years now, and if Tom Tracy did not have to go through a continuing hell to see his son, what happened in the Superior Court, oddly enough, almost seems hilariously funny. It is amazing how "the bigger they are," the more they think that they can get away with, and the more out of touch they become. Judge Daniele is a computer wizard compared to the Superior Court Judge who was responsible for the appellate court order affirming the lower court opinion.As a momentary diversion, aside from the obvious, what makes the matter so uproariously funny is that, for whatever reason, Judge Daniele was obligated (money talks!) to include all sorts of bizarre provisions in her final order, one of which --and this is not a typo-- directing that the 9-year-old boy and the 13-year-old girl unbelievably be made parties to the custody action and responsible for any contempt, so Father must sue the children for contempt, not Mother. Almost tongue-in-cheek in her opinion, the trial judge directs that no parent, guardian or lawyer is needed to represent a child's interests in a custody matter, and the children stand alone, as if adults, in the caption. No, I am not crazy, or at least I am no crazier than I have ever been, although this matter could push me over the edge if anything could. I can send scanned copies of both the order and opinion if anyone could tell me how to do it in this news group.Now back to the Superior Court and the Appellate Court Judge who affirmed Daniele's decision. This is perhaps the biggest shocker of all, and the information is all confirmed by those annual financial filings and information gleaned at ease from the Internet. Whether you believe me or not is irrelevant. The dishonesty of this judge is far worse than Daniele's because this judge's actions constitute such a betrayal to justice and has such an effect on hundreds of other cases, both family and non-family, that it is not an exaggeration to state that the entirePennsylvania Judicial System, as we presently know it, could essentially be irrevocably discredited.Our dishonest judge? None other than Phyllis W. Beck, our recently proclaimed "Daughter of Pennsylvania." This appellate court judge has such a reputation for honesty and virtue that it is rivaled only by the likes of Mother Theresa. Judge Beck has an honorary "chair" in my law school (Temple University) and is virtually worshiped for being onmore boards of foundations for serious diseases than there are serious diseases.Then there is the other side of Phyllis W. Beck. The Judicial Code of Ethics, probably more importantly than anything else, mandates that no judge can be a director or trustee for any for-profit business, with several extremely minor exceptions not relevant to this judge. The reason is obvious --potential and actual conflicts of interest.Well, as it turns out, Judge Phyllis W. Beck has been one of nine (9) trustees for twelve (12) years of a family of mutual funds, with publicly traded shares, called Third Avenue Funds, presently valued at about seven billion (yes, a "b") dollars. Is this our Phyllis W. Beck? No doubt because in all SEC filings, she identifies herself as a Pennsylvania appellate court judge, and gives as her address her Superior Court chambers in a pricey Bala Cynwyd office building. But surely we know all about those chambers because we, the taxpayers, pay for them. Not to worry, though, because while Judge Beck at the end of year 2000 gave up her position as trustee for Third Avenue due to a merger, the Funds' quarterly report confirmed that she still will be available in an "advisory capacity." And what kind of "advisory capacity?" Surely not legal because judges are precluded from giving legal advice, just like they are precluded from identifying themselves as a judge in financial documents, and just like the implied obligation to use their chambers for judicial purposes only.Judge Phyllis W. Becks involvement with Third Avenue Funds stems from her brother, Martin J. Whitman (W represents the judges maiden name, Whitman), President of those Funds and Wall Streets current wunderkind. Judge Beck even has a remote Martha Stewart connection. Third Avenue Funds is bailing K-Mart out of bankruptcy, and one of K-Marts biggest contracts is with Martha Stewart. Perhaps with some good luck they may become neighbors some day.Has any of this information been disclosed in any filed annual financial disclosure form? Of course not, but this "honest" judge, who wants the public to realize how virtuous she is, does disclose information which she is not required to disclose --all companies and funds in which she and her husband own shares (but not number of shares), and right there, in the middle of the list, is a casual reference to Third Avenue Funds, just above Vanguard Funds. (Judge Beck at one time owned at least 20,000 shares of Third Avenue Funds, but perhaps more if further shares are/were held by her husband or jointly!)Then there is the requirement that a judge disclose all gifts to that judge and spouse in excess of $200.00. In 2001 Judge Beck honestly disclosed a pair of opera tickets and a parking space; but, whoops! she forgot to mention a no-strings gift in the form of an award from the Heinz Family Foundation (honoring the late Senator) to her husband, Dr. Aaron Beck, known primarily for his work in the mental health field. This was not to Dr. Beck's own foundation, mind you --it was a personal award/gift to him. One could only wonder why in the world she would have failed to disclose this. What is terribly frightening is that judges of questionable virtue usually have a reason for their behavior.What is potentially the worst effect of Beck's deception is that any attorney or party who ever had this woman on a Superior Court panel could justifiably file legal actions either in Federal or State Court relating to a perceived conflict of interest. And then there are the insurance companies. Mutual funds delve heavily, directly or indirectly, into shares of stock of insurance companies. When this entire matter is revealed to the public, surely the antennae of insurance company attorneys will be drawn to conflicts of interest, both real and imagined. That is, if the public ever hears about this situation.I have filed in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania what is called a "King's Bench Petition," a little-known filing based upon a provision in Pennsylvania's Rules of Appellate Procedure which allows those who feel they are appropriately aggrieved to file a petition seeking reliefstemming from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's constitutional obligation and right to maintain a proper judicial system for the Commonwealth. The Supreme Court's docket number is 141 MM 2003, but you will not find this case as you would find virtually all other Supreme Court matters via Internet Public Access at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court website because the Supreme Court felt it was appropriate, at least at this time, not to allow it.Of great concern to me is why the Supreme Court would allow this judicial sore to fester. Judge Beck is not an elected judge, but instead a "senior judge" invited to return to the bench to serve in a capacity similar to that which she served before mandatory retirement at age 70. She could be dismissed at a whim, but still sits, each day of service potentially increasing the damage (some irreversible) that she has already created.Finally, my "final" comment. One of the reasons I am posting this information is because, just today, the text of some of the 911 September 11 tapes were released. As if we needed to be reminded, there were communications from unsung heroes, who never thought of themselves as heroes, who saved the lives of many others at the expense of their own. And surely if they knew what would happen, they would have done it again. It is in memory of these people who loved this country and for what it stands that we have the obligation at least to try to bring all this information to the attention of the public in an attempt to have the citizens of Pennsylvania take whatever actions are necessary to purge the judicial system of the corruption which plagues it from within, and return to it fully the concepts of honesty and fairness to which the citizens of Pennsylvania are long accustomed and for which these brave souls died. Certainly the vast majority of judges are honest, and although we may disagree with the philosophy of some, as long as they listen with an open mind and try to do what is both consistent with existing law and just, that is all we can reasonably ask and expect.The two judges referenced in this posting greatly disgust me because it is not because of deceptive judges, who act for their own personal gain at the expense of the welfare of others, that those who were heroes on September 11 gave their lives. Almost as disheartening is the fact that the selfish, illegal acts of but a few can cause the public to lose faith in the entire judicial system, thus making it far more difficult to remain a nation of law and order.I am in no position to criticize the Justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for any action that they have taken, but I surely wish they would remember that those citizens of Pennsylvania who are informed of corruption and misdeeds are the allies of the Supreme Court and not their critics.I have one problem, though, for which I could use some assistance, and that is, that since I have never been one who has ever sought the limelight (in fact I have always tried to avoid it), I have no idea whatsoever how this matter and all the issues related to it can be brought to the public's attention. I have no press connections, so any suggestions in regard how to disseminate this information to the public would be sincerely appreciated.My name is Daniel C. Barrish, Esq., and my address is: 1912 Guernsey Ave., Abington, PA. 19001; Tele: 215.886.7870; fax: 215.886.7871; email: lawmandan@... (Pennsylvania Attorney ID #08718)
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