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State Cuts Threaten to Blunt Justice System

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  • Ron Branson
    San Francisco Examiner http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/2011/07/state-cuts-threaten-blunt-justice-system#disqus_thread State cuts threaten to blunt
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7 2:45 AM
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      San Francisco Examiner

      http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/2011/07/state-cuts-threaten-blunt-justice-system#disqus_thread

      State cuts threaten to blunt justice system

      By: Examiner Editorial | 07/06/11 9:00 PM

      "A sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the fabric of ordered liberty for a free people,” former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger said. The things that “could destroy that confidence and do incalculable damage to society,” he added, include inefficiency and delays in the judicial system and people believing the courts no longer protect their legal rights and keep them safe.

      Sadly, it looks as if we are heading into that crisis of confidence.

      At a time when the numbers of San Francisco homicides, shooting victims, auto thefts, auto burglaries and domestic violence incidents have increased by double digits — and when there are scores of homicide cases sitting in the District Attorney’s Office awaiting prosecution — The City’s judicial system is about to be gutted.

      Forty-one percent of San Francisco Superior Court staff will be laid off, and 40 percent of courtrooms will be closed in September due to California’s latest $150 million in cuts to the statewide judiciary. Those cuts are in addition to the $200 million already slashed earlier this year.

      Justice delayed is justice denied, as the saying goes. San Francisco courts will prioritize criminal cases and urgent civil matters such as restraining orders and evictions, but hearings could still take months. As for lower-priority cases, they are out of luck.

      It’s already taking some civil cases nearly two years to move through the system. Divorces, child-custody and other family-law matters will take between eight and 18 months longer to settle after 200 court clerks, court reporters, research attorneys and management employees are no longer on the job and 25 courtrooms have been closed, according to Michael Yuen, the Superior Court’s chief executive officer.

      The court’s presiding judge, Katherine Feinstein, said, “Justice will be on hiatus.” California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said she’s “completely dismayed” and called the cuts “unsustainable.”

      Even worse, the judicial system is being dismantled at the same time that plans are under way to release tens of thousands of inmates from state prisons to relieve overcrowding.

      Yes, the state has a budget crisis and is forced to make many painful cuts. But it’s hard to imagine what Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic state legislators were thinking when they chose to place public safety on the chopping block. They should have first looked at cutting excessive wages and benefits from the state’s bloated payroll, cutting benefits for undocumented immigrants and privatizing inefficient state services.

      “Courts are not a luxury,” Cantil-Sakauye said. “They are at the heart of our democracy. These cuts threaten access to justice for all.”

      California’s leaders have assaulted a foundation of our democracy. Fortunately, this crime can ultimately be adjudicated at the ballot box.


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      First Post:

      I find this article disingenuous. It suggests that rather than cutting back on the judiciary, "They should have first looked at cutting excessive wages and benefits from the state’s bloated payroll..." Somebody has their head in the sand. Here in California an apprentice judge in the County of Los Angeles with less than one year on the bench receives a greater salary than does the Chief Justice who sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. How did this happen? It started some 15 years ago when the County of Los Angeles decided to pay all county judges a bonus on top of their full salaries paid for by the State of California. (Can anybody spell bribery?). All cases involving the County, whether plaintiff or defendant, were determined in the county's favor, with approx. two exceptions.

      This practice was challenged for constitutionality, of all places, in court in the County of Los Angeles by a judge also on the take from the County of Los Angeles, and surprisingly, the decision went in the county's favor, not to speak of the judge taking the county kick-backs. Attorney Richard Fine appealed this decision, and the California Court of Appeals unhesitatingly found the practice clearly unconstitutional inasmuch as it mandates all remuneration to judges in California must come from the State Legislature, not from counties.

      A panic among the Los Angeles Judges ensued, and they hastily rushed a team of lobbyist up to Sacramento to seek emergency legislation permitting the judges to continue receiving said bribes, whoops, I mean bonuses. While in last years contemplation of a state budget, the judges did get emergency legislation "passed" that provided that all judges in California get more salary than the Chief Justice of the United States. Well, they did not actually put it in these words, but you get the idea.

      This ordeal has caused many to become satirical about the California judiciary.  And what was the words at the top of this article? "A sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the fabric of ordered liberty for a free people,” former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger said. The things that “could destroy that confidence and do incalculable damage to society,” he added, include inefficiency and delays in the judicial system and people believing the courts no longer protect their legal rights and keep them safe."

      In all of my years of litigation within the courts from 1982 taking me up to the U.S. Supreme Court fourteen times, never once did I see anything but fraud, cover-up, confusion, subterfuge, and avoidance of the issues brought before the court. I came to state about the problem before public audiences, if you think the injury is bad, just wait until you see the remedy. It is like entering a hospital with a broken finger, and being carried out in a full body cast. There is absolutely no symbolance of truth, justice or efficiency. I have witnessed a mere pursuit of $55 go on in litigation for five years, complete with a battery of government lawyers, and costing the taxpayers of California a fortune. And what was resolved within the litigation? It became apparent that there in no end of the wasting of the taxpayer's money to avert admitting to to the truth! They were in effect saying, "We cannot risk losing this case because we might and set a presidence, and if so, everyone might contend they are also entitled to due process of law under the Constitution. The fraud must go on!"

      As I see it, there are but only two remedies to the instant situation. Either we place JAIL4Judges on the ballot (www.jail4judges.org) or the judiciary goes entirely broke. We are well on the way to the latter. The battle lines are drawn. It is either the People who shall prevail or it is the doctrine of judicial immunity that shall prevail. Both just cannot possibly co-exist!

      Ron Branson
      VictoryUSA@jail4judges org



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