* * Argus Leader Conducts a Judicial Poll * *
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Los Angeles, California August 30, 2005
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______________________________________________________Argus Leader (S.D.)Conducts a Judicial Poll(By Ron Branson - Author/Founder of J.A.I.L.)A recent poll was taken by the Argus Leader newspaper apparently in an attempt to influence South Dakota J.A.I.L.'s impact in S.D. They posed the following question to the people, "Should people unhappy with a judge's ruling have the authority to appeal to a grand jury for the right to sue the judge?" Their poll results reveals the following:
Total votes: 1,931Assuming the validity of such a poll, South Dakota Judicial Accountability (SDJA) is a shoe-in for passage in South Dakota in the Nov. 2006 election.First off, such a question is totally bogus as presented to the voters of South Dakota if it is meant by the Argus Leader to infer that this is what SDJA is all about, and what the voters are voting for by supporting this measure in the forthcoming election.The above poll poses a question on whether the citizens of South Dakota should be able to whimsically do an end-run around the appellate court and go directly to the Special Grand Jury created by the SDJA measure for an appeal because they are "unhappy" with a judge's decision, and can thereby sue the judge.The fact is, that even I, as the Author/Founder of J.A.I.L., would not support such a measure for the following reasons:A.) We are supposed to be a nation of laws, and not of men. To be able to appeal a decision because one is "unhappy" with the decision is to convert our laws into emotional feelings, opening the door to every kind of whimsical appeal. Laws are to be fixed and predictable just like yardsticks, not to be stretched, compressed or molded by the feelings of men. Yardsticks are not respecters of persons, changing standards according to statures of persons.B.) By law the jurisdiction of courts are established by legislatures, and such laws must govern our courts. They must govern over courts the same way every time for every person. After all we are to be a nation with "Liberty and Justice for All," not just for the wealthy or influential.C.) Our country is established on a system of three separate, but equal branches of government; a legislature, an executive, and a judicial branch, with each a check upon the other two. This is a good system in theory, and we must not change that. Like an umpire at a ballgame calling fouls and strikes, judges must be free and independent to exercise their unfettered discretion without fear of reprisal for their decisions, nor should judge's decisions be overturned by upper courts for light or transient reasons.It is for these above reasons I vigorously oppose such a ridiculous proposal if it were placed upon the ballot. It is also for this is the very reason why I am totally amazed that the above poll reveals that 49.2% of South Dakotans would support such a measure if placed on the ballot. And this is why I question the validity of the poll taken by the Argus Leader.Are the people of South Dakota so ignorant and so blind so as to render established laws governing courts moot? I would hope not. If this poll is one-half correct, as it claims to be, it reveals such a great displeasure with the courts and the judges so much so that they are willing to abandon the above current principles just so they could sue a judge. In other words, they just want to get their hands around a judge's throat. What a thought!Now we come to the question, if I, being the Author of the SDJA (J.A.I.L.) Initiative would oppose the proposed changes for the judiciary as set forth by the question asked by the Argus Leader, then what is it I propose?I have already stated that I support the exercise of independent discretion of judges. I have said that their decisions should never be overturned by the appellate courts except for abuse of discretion. I have further stated that the laws governing court jurisdiction must be honored.So, you ask, what is my problem with the courts then? My problem is when judges act outside and beyond their discretion. For instance, passing laws from the bench (judicial activism) is not within their jurisdiction. Ignoring the Constitution they have sworn to uphold, and the laws which govern their conduct and behavior is not within their discretion. It is not in their discretion any more than an umpire has the right to change the rules of the game, or to apply different rules to different players according as he deems fit.My problem is with the concept that judges should be protected from liability from wrong-doing by their own self-made immunity when they choose to commit crimes or chose to disregard laws, and make up new laws as they see fit. I have a problem with judges being above the laws when they are to be under the law. This is what SDJA is all about.Conclusion: If 49.2% of South Dakotans would vote to sue judges based upon being unhappy with their decisions, and would rather appeal to a grand jury instead of an appellate court, which I have condemned as senseless, then how much more would they wisely vote in 2006 to hold judges liable when they willingly, knowingly and deliberately choose to violate the Constitution and the laws they have sworn to uphold?Based on the above, I say SDJA will be a shoe-in, a "no-contest" come this next November, 2006. In such case, we can all celebrate the Victory for America next year! Thank you Argus Leader for your poll.-Ron Branson
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