Without going into my personal motivations at this point
in time, but as a firm supporter of J.A.I.L., I am delighted to see your
newspaper taking an interest in J.A.I.L. But I am less than delighted with
the misinformation contained in your headline and news story. If J.A.I.L.
were to be passed today, no Judge could ever "...go to jail for handing down a court ruling in South
Dakota that someone disagreed with...." Allow me to explain.
The office of judge should be the most respected and
esteemed position in our society - far above that of governors, presidents,
emperors and kings. There is a legitimate place in our society for
judicial immunity. If you take the time to read and analyze J.A.I.L., and
think about it, J.A.I.L. recognizes and reinforces legitimate use of judicial
immunity against "frivolous or harrassing" lawsuits, (see ¶3). If J.A.I.L.
were passed tomorrow in South Dakota, no judge could ever be imprisoned just
because someone disagreed with a judge's decision.
Judges, just like you and me, are mere humans capable
of innocent error. That is why the appeals process exists. J.A.I.L.
does not change that process. As a legal document, J.A.I.L. specifically
and deliberately addresses "willful" violations of law. Before anyone
can bring a case against a judge to the Special Grand Jury for willful
violations of law, he must first exhaust his legal remedy within the
existing judicial system.
You wrote "At the center
of their concern is a feeling that judges think they rise above the law in what
the initiative's backers call a self-made doctrine of judicial
immunity". It isn't a "feeling." It is a fact.
When Congress passed 42 USC 1983 which says "every person," it did not exempt
judges from its mandate. And there is no legislative history of any
discussions of immunity for judges. But try to sue a judge.
Better still, try to find a suit against a judge that wasn't dismissed by
their black-robed brethren on the basis of judicial immunity.
Can you think of any reason why a man or woman, just
because he or she is a judge, should be above the law? Can you think
of any reason why anyone should not be accountable for willful and/or
malicious acts in office?
If you take the time to look at judicial
conduct in your state, I'll bet you a cup of coffee it isn't a lot
different than it is here in New York. Start with your friends and
neighbors. Ask them the following question: "Have you ever been
in court, any court, for any reason, and when it was all over and you were alone
in the parking lot... did you have the feeling... deep deep down inside... that
something... just.... wasn't..... right?" If you ask them slowly
around here, nine times out of ten, they will finish the sentence for
you. That might be an interesting question for your Opinion
Every town and village judge in my state is required to
attend a judicial training program every year. In 2002 that training
program included a section on judicial immunity. Why does the state
need to train judges on how to be immune? Does that make any sense to
We are talking about serious stuff. As an example,
in my state, the so-called law provides the authority for Child Protective
Services to seize a child from its parents upon an allegation of child
abuse. The parents then have one year to disprove the allegation. If
they fail to do so within one year, the state may then put the child up for
adoption. How does one prove a negative? To make matters worse, the
Social Services Department is funded, in part, based upon how many children
they seize. Seizing children is a profitable business. Does
that make any sense at all to you?
Let's go to something of even a more everyday
occurrence. Have you ever been in traffic court? Who was the damaged
party? In my state, the state keeps all sorts of statistical records on
the subject. It's gotten so crazy that traffic tickets have become a
significant part of "tax planning". Look up Colonie, NY on your map.
It's not very big. But one of its part-time judges was bragging to me that
they had built Colonie into the fourth largest municipality in the state based
upon the amount of cases processed each year, i.e., revenue flow. It's
almost a statewide contest with bragging rights. Recently one of those
part-time judges was disbarred for "conversion" of his clients' money. He
can no longer practice law because he is a crook. Yet the law has no
provision for his removal as a judge. Does that make any sense
Two years ago I attended the dedication ceremony of the
new wing at the Albany Law School. I listened to Richard Wesley, Associate
Justice of Court of Appeals (the highest court in New York) speak for an
hour on the responsibility of the court to make new law consistent with current
social and economic policy so that everyone may know which rights the court will
recognize and protect. Yes, you read it right. Last year Justice
Wesley was appointed by President Bush to the federal 2nd Circuit Court of
Appeals. Who knows where he will go from there? Perhaps the Supreme
Court? I suggest you investigate his amazing ascendancy to
I'm confident you are familiar with the recent US Supreme
Court Decision in Kelo v New London. In that case another eastern
judge just like Richard Wesley - David Souter from New Hampshire - authored
the majority opinion. Sandra Day O'Connor resigned from the Court a short
time after authoring the minority dissent in which she said there is now
"[n]othing to prevent the State from replacing...any farm with a factory."
The majority opinion in Kelo is nothing more than an expression of the "social
and economic policy" of which Justice Wesley spoke. Does any of that
fulfill any degree of common sense to you?
In the economy as it exists today, every municipality is
feeling the pinch. And it's going to get worse. Why should any
municipality, under the mask of economic development, be allowed to take your
homes or your farms and give it to a private developer just because they think
it will increase their coffers?
I don't know the judiciary in South Dakota as intimately
as I know the judiciary in New York. But I'm trying to learn. If the
people like Bill Stegmeier, who are putting a great deal of effort into
gathering signatures to get J.A.I.L. on the ballot, are successful in their
efforts, I hope to be able to come to your state and speak personally with you
and people like you. We are going to need straight-forward reporting
of the facts by the media. We are going to need the media to stimulate an
honest public dialog among the people so they may exercise their suffrage
If we are going to maintain a government of the
People, by the People, and for the People, instead of by and for the
corporations, the People of South Dakota, if for no other reason, should
pass J.A.I.L. for their own protection against being overrun and their destiny
controlled by socialist judges of which I speak.