EDITOR’S NOTE; In
an open letter from Los Angeles County Men’s Centrail Jail where he was
locked up 17 months ago, crusading attorney RIchard I. Fine has called
up for public support in his effort to reign in the judiciary and
restore the rule of law and respect for the Constitution.
Fine exposed exposed illegal and secret payments of more than
$40,000 a year to Los Angeles County judges that were authorized by
elected officials and showed the judges ruled in favor of the county on
nearly all legal issues brought before them.
Fine, 70, of Tarzana, was jailed for coercive contempt of court
without charge or bail by Judge David Yaffe, who now admits he never
filed the order justifying Fine’s arrest and confinement in March 2009. State and
federal courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court have refused to intervene
and Fine could be held indefinitely.
His call to action traces the history and law of his case urges
Americans to stand up and end this travesty of justice. If it can happen
to Richard Fine, it can happen to anyone with the courage to challenge a
judicial system run amok.
A CALL FOR ACTION TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY
AND THE CONSTITUTION
This open letter is directed to all citizens, groups and public servants who are concerned that Americans have lost our constitutional rights, and most importantly, are willing to step forward and take the necessary action to restore those rights.
I, like you, have believed that those rights are protected by a fair, impartial judiciary resistant to corruption.
I believed that the integrity of the judicial system and the judges who worked within the system.
Then, I became involved in a series of cases in which judges were receiving illegal payments from Los Angeles County, who was a party before them. The judges did not disclose the payments and did not disqualify themselves. They then decided the cases in favor of L.A. County.
My belief was shaken but not shattered, as I believed the federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, would condemn such action and restore the constitutional rights.
This did not happen.
Instead, I was imprisoned indefinitely for fighting to uphold our constitutional rights.
America has been revered as the one nation in the world which represented a bastion of liberty and human rights and freedom from oppression. This is no longer true.
It is now up to us, the American citizens, to take action to restore our constitutional rights and rebuild our democracy.
RESPONSE TO U.S. SUPREME COURT DENIAL
On July 26, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court denied my Petition for Rehearing. The Court had before it L.A. Superior Court Judge David P. Yaffe’s July 13, 2010′s admission that he (1) never intended to make a finding as to whether Mr. Fine had standing to disqualify Judge Yaffe as was stated in the March 18, 2008 Order, and (2) that the March 18, 2008 Order was only a draft and not filed. The admission occurred 17 months after Judge Yaffe used the March 18, 2008 house order as a basis to hold Fine in contempt of court in the case of Marina Strand Colony II Homeowner’s Association v. County of Los Angeles, L.A.S.C. Case No. BS 109420. (Marina Strand case.)
JUDGE YAFFE’S ADMISSION & DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS
The admission demonstrated that Judge Yaffe engaged in “fraud upon the court”, obstruction of justice and denial of due process. The denial of the Petition for Rehearing violated all previous U.S. Supreme Court case precedents. Judge Yaffe made the July 13, 2010 Minute Order in response to my June 28, 2010 motion to vacate the U. S. District Court’s June 29, 2009 denial of my petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. In such motion I showed that no March 18, 2008 Order appeared on the docket of the Marina Strand Case, and consequently no March 18, 2008 order existed. Further Judge Yaffe was responding to my complaint against him made to the California Commission on Judicial Performance. Such complaint contained this fact, among others in seeking Judge Yaffe’s removal.
The U.S. Supreme Court case is Richard I. Fine v. LeRoy D. Baca, Sheriff of Los Angeles County, U. S. Supreme Court Case No. 09-1250. The question before the U.S. Supreme Court was: “Whether Judge Yaffe should have recused himself?” Judge Yaffe took the position that he did not have to recuse himself because I did not have the right to disqualify him. That position changed more than two years later on July 13, 2010 as shown in the July 13, 2010 Minute Order.
SUPREME COURT IGNORES JUDICIAL CORRUPTION
The case involved the largest judicial corruption scandal in American history. Since the late 1980′s, California Counties have been making payments to state-elected judges located in their counties in addition to the state judges’ compensation paid by the State of California. In 2008, these county payments were held to violate Article VI, Section 19 of the California Constitution in the case of Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles, 167 Cal. App. 4th 630 (2008) Rev. Denied 12/23/08. By this time, the illegal payments by L.A. County alone to state L.A. Superior Court judges were over $300 million. Ninety percent of the state judges in California have received these illegal payments from counties in which their courts were located. In L.A. County, the payments were $46,366.00 per judge per year in 2009 and $57,000.00 per judge per year in 2010.
ALL CALIFORNIA STATE JUDGES IN LOS ANGELES TOOK ILLEGAL PAYMENTS
All of the state judges presided over cases in which the county which paid them the illegal payments was a party before the judge, without disclosing the illegal payments to the opposing party.
RETROACTIVE CRIMINAL IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION
After the Sturgeon decision, the California Legislature passed California Senate Bill SBX 211, which was enacted on February 20, 2009. It became effective on May 21, 2009. On December 22, 2008, Judge Yaffe testified that he had taken, and was taking L.A. County payments, did not disclose such on his Form 700 Statement of Economic Interest and could not remember any case in the last three years that he decided against L.A. County.
JUDGE YAFFE SAT AS WITNESS & JUDGE ON THIS CASE
Judge Yaffe was both the judge and witness in the contempt proceeding and “judged his own actions”. This act violated due process as stated in the case of In Re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133, 136 (1955) – “No man can be a judge in his own case . . . No man is permitted to try a case where he has an interest in the outcome.”
The U.S. Supreme Court had the December 22, 2008 transcript of Judge Yaffe’s testimony before it when it decided to deny the Petition for Rehearing. The U.S. Supreme Court justices knew that they were violating due process as set forth by the precedent of the Murchison case, when they denied the Petition for Rehearing.
The U.S. Supreme Court justices also knew that they were denying due process because Judge Yaffe’s admission in the July 13, 2010 Minute Order demonstrated his “fraud upon the court” in the Marina Strand case.
This “fraud upon the court” vitiated the entire Marina Strand case and voided any order or judgment of Judge Yaffe. (See U.S. v. Throckmorton, 98 U.S. 61 (1897); Valley v. Northern Fire & Marine Co., 254 U.S. 348 (1920).).
Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court justices knew that the direct payments of $46,366.00 per year from L.A. County to Judge Yaffe violated due process as stated in Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U.S. 510, 532 (1927) cited in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc., 556 U.S. ___ (2009), slip opinion page 10:
“Every procedure which would offer a possible temptation to the average man as a judge to forget the burden of proof required to convict the defendant, or which might lead him not to hold the balance nice, clear and true between the state and the accused, denies the latter due process of law.”
The U.S. Supreme Court in Caperton also stated at slip opinion, page 16: “Just as no man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, similar fears of bias can arise, when without the consent of the other parties, a man chooses the judge in his own case . . .” L.A. County has “bought the L.A. Superior Court” through the L.A. County payments to the state L.A. Superior Court judges.
GRANTED IMMUNITY FROM CRIMINAL PROSECUTION
Finally, if Judge Yaffe having decided cases in favor of L.A. County for three years, the L.A. County payments to Judge Yaffe may be considered “bribes”. This is particularly true since California Senate Bill SBX 211 gave retroactive immunity from state criminal prosecution for the payments. In Offutt v. United States, 348 U.S. 11, 14 (1954), the U.S. Supreme Court stated::
“A judge receiving a bribe from an interested party over which he is presiding does not give the appearance of justice.”
In this regard, Judge Yaffe also violated 18 U.S.C. section 1346 – the intangible right to honest services. In Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. – (decided June 24, 2010), the Supreme Court held that bribery and kickbacks were violations of 18 U.S.C. section 1346.
Also, on July 26, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Fine’s Application to be set free from L.A. Men’s Central jail. The U.S. Supreme Court had before it a June 18, 2010 Minute Order from Judge Yaffe in which Judge Yaffe admitted that Fine had requested a hearing to be set free on May 17, 2010, and Judge Yaffe refused to hold such hearing.
Judge Yaffe also admitted in the June 18, 2010 Minute Order that Fine had informed him that continued incarceration will not induce him [Fine] to furnish information.”
U S SUPREME COURT NOW ALLOWS “COERCIVE CONFINEMENT”
The denial of the Application violated U.S. Supreme Court precedent which holds that confinement beyond the time that bears a reasonable relationship to the purpose for which the person is committed is a denial of due process. (See Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715 (1972); McNeil v. Director Tatuxent Institution, 407 U.S. 245 (1972). A reasonable relationship was interpreted in the Jackson and McNeil cases to mean penal confinement. In California, “penal” confinement for a contempt of court conviction is five days under California Code of Civil Procedure section 1218. Fine has been incarcerated for 17 months, since March 4, 2009.
No federal court cited any case in support of the denial of Fine’s writ of habeas corpus, which opposed the aforementioned U.S. Supreme Court cases. The U.S. District Court did not cite any case to support its conclusion that Judge Yaffe should not have been recused. The Ninth Circuit did not rely upon the Caperton case and did not cite to that part of the Tumey case set forth above which addressed due process to support its conclusion that Judge Yaffe should not have been recused. The Ninth Circuit did not cite any other case on the subject.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a one word ruling: “Denied.”
The result of the denial of the Petition for Rehearing and the Application to be set free is that the United States Supreme Court has removed the constitutional right of due process.
All of the federal judges and justices took an oath of office on becoming a judge or justice to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States.
Further, under Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution: “The judges, both of the Supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior. . .”
JUDICIAL CONFLICTS & ABUSE
The actions of the District Court, Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle and U S District Judge John F . Walter, the Ninth Circuit justices Steven Reinhardt, Steven Trott, and Kim Wardlaw the U.S. Supreme Court justices in the federal Habeas Corpus case of Fine v. Baca demonstrated that: (1) they did not engage in legal analysis for reasoning; (2) they did not uphold the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States; and (3) they did not follow the rule of law.
POLITICAL CORRUPTION & THE COURT
Further in this highly charged political corruption case, it was unconscionable of the Ninth Circuit to select as a panel Justices Reinhardt, Wardlaw, Trott. Justice Reinhardt is married to Ramona Ripston the Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California. The ACLU is a “quote” partner with Leroy D. Baca Sheriff of Los Angeles County in the Court Mandated management of the Men’s Central Jail according to an interview on Full Disclosure Network ACLU representatives and high ranking sheriff’s officials. The ACLU further admitted received funds from L A County for monitoring the Men’s Central jail. Justice Trott is a former member of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s. According to his current financial disclosure form he is presently receiving approximately $12,000 per year in pension benefits from L A County. Justice Wardlaw according to the interview with her husband William (“Bill”) Wardlaw is a family friend of L A Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. In 2004 her husband William (“Bill”) Wardlaw attempted to convince L A County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to run for Mayor of Los Angeles. Bill Wardlaw also appeared as a contributor to the election campaign of Zev Yaroslavsky. Bill Wardlaw is a partner in the investment consulting firm of Freeman, Spogli which engages in managing investments for Counties and other governmental organizations. Kim Wardlaw’s financial disclosure forms unfortunately did not disclose whether she and Bill Wardlaw maintained L A County investments and whether Freeman Spogli was managing L A County investments as various parts of the financial disclosure form were blacked ou
JUDICIAL POWERS ABUSED
Their actions demonstrated that they abused their power and the trust placed in them by their position to:
1. undermine and destroy the constitutional right to due process;
2. promote bribery and dishonesty within the judiciary;
3. ”cover-up” for those members of the judiciary who had taken illegal payments and then presided over cases in which the person who made the illegal payment was a party; and
4. incarcerate those persons such as Fine, who had challenged such illegal conduct.
All three of these Ninth Circuit Justices should not have presided over my case, as each of them had financial or political relationship with L A County, the L A County Sheriff or an L A County supervisor. They were biased from the outset of the case. The Ninth Circuit has approximately forty-nine available judges to have decided Fine’s case. It is incredulous that the Ninth Circuit selected three judges who have relationship with L A County to be the Judges to preside over my (Fine’s) case.
Their actions are outside the realm of “good behavior” and appropriate sanctions are both mandated and should be immediately implemented. This is necessary to restore the federal judiciary to a place of honesty and integrity where it will hopefully again gain the respect which it has now lost.
CITIZEN ACTION NEEDED
Immediate federal legislation must be passed:
1. prohibiting any federal, state, county or municipal judge or justice from taking any compensation from any person appearing before him or her, or likely to appear before him or her, with the exception of a governmental entity of which the judge or justice is an elected official or employee;
2. prohibiting any elected judge or justice from presiding over a case in which a party or its lawyer contributed greater than $500.00 to the judge or justice in the judge in the justice’s last election campaign and since such election until the time of the case; and
3. requiring every judge or justice to disclose on the record at the commencement of each case any information which is reasonably related to the question of disqualification under federal or state law or codes of ethics, even if the judge or justice believes there is no basis for disqualification.
4. The law should be retroactive to January 1, 2007 to encompass the Marina Strand case and the federal writ of habeas corpus involving Mr. Fine.
At the State of California level, the state judges and justices have taken the same oath with the added inclusion of upholding the constitution and laws of the State of California.
Additional reforms are also necessary to stop the unlimited coercive confinement to which I am unlawfully subjected.
I recommend that we make into law those cases that have upheld constitutional rights. By doing this, the courts will not have the opportunity to disregard constitutional rights in the future as they have done in my case.
In the Marina Strand case, Judge Yaffe violated California Code of Ethics:
1. Canon 4D(1) – by engaging in financial dealings that may reasonably be perceived to exploit the judge’s judicial position or involve the judge in frequent transactions for continuing business relationships with . . . persons likely to appear before the court on which the judge serves;
2. Canon 3E(2) – by not disclosing on the record information that is reasonably relevant to the question of disqualification under Code of Civil Procedure section 170.1, even if the judge believes there is no basis for disqualification; and
3. Canon 3E(1) – for not disqualifying himself in any proceeding in which disqualification is required by law.
Judge Yaffe also violated California Code of Civil Procedure section 170.1(a)(6)(A)(iii) – by not disqualifying himself when a person aware of the facts might reasonably entertain a doubt that the judge would be able to be impartial.
In the Marina Strand case and in the habeas corpus case Judge Yaffe never disputed that he violated these Canons or Code sections by taking the L.A. County payments in the Marina Strand case. He only argued that he should have been “caught” earlier. He never acted upon his legal responsibility that he should have disqualified himself at the outset of the Marina Strand case.
California must now “clean up” the judiciary. Chief Justice George, who presided over nearly 20 years of illegal county payments to judges, is now retiring. The counties can immediately stop the illegal payments and relieve their budget crises.
Irrespective of Senate Bill SBX 211′s retroactive immunity against disciplinary action, judges who took the illegal county payments can either retire, or be voted out of office at their next election.
IMPEACHMENT AS A REMEDY?
Ultimately, there is impeachment as a remedy to rid the judiciary of such judges as Judge Yaffe who violated the law, violated the Code of Judicial Ethics, took L.A. County illegal payments and in return for such payments made orders and judgments in favor of L.A. County and its co-applicants as occurred in the Marina Strand case, committed “fraud upon the court” and obstructed justice by making false orders and unlawfully incarcerating those who challenge them, such as Fine.
Impeachment proceedings must immediately be instituted against Judge Yaffe by the California legislature. The Attorney General and the L.A. District Attorney must immediately institute criminal charges for obstruction of justice. The United States Attorney General must immediately institute charges for violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1346 – The intangible right to honest services. Only by taking these actions will the errant members of the California judiciary understand that the public is serious about ridding the judiciary of the unsavory judges. Judge Yaffe has already been reported to the Commission on Judicial Performance. At the same time, it is incumbent that the Governor demand that the California Supreme Court, on its own motion, reverse its denial of the writ of habeas corpus in the case of Fine v. Superior Court decided March 5, 2009. This reversal would be based upon Judge Yaffe’s admission in his July 13, 2010 Minute Order that he never intended to decide whether Fine had standing to file a verified Statement of Disqualification in the March 18, 2008 Order and that the March 18, 2008 Order was a draft and not filed, as distinguished from having been represented as a real order in the March 27, 2008 Order Striking Notice of Disqualification.
GOVERNOR MUST ACT
The Governor must also demand that the California Supreme Court, on its own motion, and that the L.A. Superior Court, on its own motion, void and annul all orders and judgments of Judge Yaffe in the Marina Strand case, including the March 4, 2009 Judgment and Order of Contempt against Fine which incarcerated Fine. This voiding and annulling would also be based upon Judge Yaffe’s July 13, 2010 admission of fraud upon the court and obstruction of justice.
The Governor must further demand that the California Supreme Court reverse its order disbarring Richard I. Fine. Such order violated the First Amendment, was made in retaliation for Fine’s position against the illegal payments from the counties to the judges and specifically disbarred Fine for having been correct in filing cases that he filed challenging the County payments to the judges as being a violation to Article VI, Section 19 of the California Constitution as was held in the Sturgeon case before the California Supreme Court initiated its Order of Disbarment.
To encourage the California Supreme Court and the L.A. Superior Court to act, the Governor should inform them that he will withhold all court funding until they act as requested and that he will not a
pprove any court funding in the new 2010-2011 budget until they act as requested.
Further, the Governor should arrange the introduction of legislation to repeal California Senate Bill SBX 211 which was enacted as part of the 2009-2010 budget package. This will remove the retroactive immunity and will also remove the judiciary’s successful action to reinstate the illegal county payments to judges which is presently in litigation.
Only by removing these illegal payments will California begin to have an honest judiciary.
Finally, the Governor should also arrange for the introduction and passage of California legislation parallel to the federal legislation outlined above.
For over 20 years Californians have lived under a “third world judicial system” in which illegal county payments to state judges have eviscerated any semblance of due process and constitutional rights.
Judge Yaffe’s conduct of making false statements about court orders and unlawfully imprisoning Fine to satisfy his greed for L.A. County payments demonstrated the low level to which the California judicial system has sunk.
The federal judiciary and the U.S. Supreme Court’s acceptance and approval of such California judiciary conduct indicate that the United States is no longer a nation governed by the “rules of law.”
Now is the time for the citizenry to exercise its voice and its power, to express to its public servants that change must occur, and to demand and institute the necessary reforms.