Corrupt judges behind the scenes
The article below is why I do not put much credence in bizarre and unorthodox legal theories. If the judge is corrupt and on the take it makes no difference whether we put in a bid bond, have captured our strawman, come on the private side, or have accepted something for value. The way I see it, people end up using these unorthodox approaches because they either believe or perceive, based on experience, that an orthodox approach will not prevail. The truth is what we put in, whether orthodox or unorthodox, makes not difference when the one on the receiving end is accepting some type of bribe that is affecting their decision making.
After I learned from a contractor that one of our judges asked if it would be o.k. if he paid for his new $300,000 house in cash; and then, had a walk in safe installed in the basement of his house, I was convinced that a judge on the take happens more frequently than most of us expect. Bear
June 1, 2008
Federal jury convicts two Caddo judges
Date of pair ' s detention hearing to be decided Monday
By Loresha Wilson
Caddo Judges Michael Walker and Vernon Claville lost the trial of their lives Saturday when a federal jury convicted them of taking cash bribes in exchange for making it easier for some defendants to go free.
The verdict was an apparent surprise to the judges. Defense attorneys and courtroom spectators also seemed surprised when Walker and Claville were stripped of their personal belongings and remanded to jail.
U.S. Judge Maurice Hicks said there was no clear and convincing evidence the judges are not flight risks or dangers to the community. On Monday, Hicks will set a date for their detention hearing.
Walker and Claville were booked into Bossier Parish Maximum Security Facility late Saturday.
"I would like to congratulate the citizens of this parish because now I hope they understand that justice is not for sale in Caddo Parish and that there is a price to pay for those who think there is," U.S. Attorney Donald Washington said following the verdict. Washington, who prosecuted the case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Alec Van Hook and First Assistant Bill Flanagan, appeared relieved as he spoke about the verdict.
"I am somewhat elated that finally we are at a point where I think that justice is back on an even keel in Caddo Parish," Washington said.
Prosecutors say Walker, who oversaw the drug section in Caddo District Court, and Claville, a juvenile judge, committed racketeering acts during a corruption investigation that began nearly five years ago.
The evidence presented convinced jurors the judges took bribes from a government informant on 24 occasions between May 2007 and July.
The trial began May 19 and testimony ended Friday with prosecutors saying Walker and Claville had victimized the state ' s judicial branch.
On Saturday, the jury of 10 women and two men filed into the hushed, tense courtroom at 5 p.m. after deliberating nearly a day and a half. Some wiped tears as they made their way to the jury box.
Walker was calm but stared at the panel as the verdict was read. Relatives and supporters sitting in several rows of the U.S. District Court cried and displayed signs of disbelief. Someone in the rear of the half-filled courtroom said, "Oh, my God.
"About 50 people, including Caddo Commissioner Stephanie Lynch, Orlando Chapman, owner of Brother ' s Seafood Restaurant, and local businessman Roy Cary, showed up to hear the judges ' fates.
Claville appeared nervous but showed little reaction during the reading of the verdict.
Each faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. Hicks has not set the sentencing date.
"This has not been an easy case," Washington said. "It has been very difficult as it relates to how the law actually applies to the situation, but also has been very difficult to address the situation with the idea that we have judges (who) needed to be addressed in the fashion that they have been addressed.
"Ron Miciotto, attorney for Claville, declined to comment on the decision as he left the courthouse Saturday. Walker ' s attorney, Daryl Gold, would only say, "I ' m extremely, extremely disappointed.
"Gold, after promising for two weeks the defense team would answer questions at the end of the trial, said he didn ' t want to knock the jury ' s verdict and will comment on the case after the detention hearing.
Defense attorneys had passionately insisted the government ' s case was weak, built on inconclusive wiretap records, surveillance and testimony of Travis McCullough, the man who agreed to testify against the judges in exchange for having drug charges against him dismissed.
The racketeering charges accused Walker and Claville of engaging in a pattern of criminal activity with McCullough. That activity ranged from bribery and official misconduct to interstate commerce. The FBI began its investigation in 2003. The operation was enhanced in May 2007 after McCullough ' s cell phone was tapped.
Wiretaps ultimately identified a scheme in which McCullough acted as the middleman between a bondsman and the judges to reduce bonds and remove probation and juvenile court holds in return for money.
McCullough made three "controlled payments" to Walker and one to Claville. The marked funds were subsequently recovered, some of which were removed from slot machines at a casino where Walker had been gambling.
Though the charge contained 24 different instances, only three of which involved Claville, the prosecution didn ' t have to prove Walker and Claville committed all the acts in order for the jury to find them guilty as charged.
Bondsman Larry Williams also was charged in the case. But as part of a plea agreement, he testified against the judges to get a reduced charge of public bribery. Williams said he paid McCullough to have the bonds reduced and holds lifted and, prosecutors say, McCullough subsequently paid the judges.
Walker was a Shreveport attorney before winning election in October 1994 to fill a seat created on the 10-member court to handle its large case load. He was re-elected twice more, with his recent term set to expire Dec. 31.
In 2004, the state attorney general ' s office declined to prosecute Walker in connection with a chest-butting incident involving Walker and a deputy city marshal. The city marshal ' s office turned over an affidavit accusing Walker of battery on an officer and disturbing the peace for an incident in Shreveport City Court.
Claville was sworn into office in January 1995. The Southern University graduate began his law practice in Shreveport in 1997.
The Louisiana Supreme Court disqualified the judges in October after they were indicted.
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