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Judge Yaffe Explains Why He Freed Richard Fine after 18 Months of Coercive Confinement

It was a bizarre and unexpected end to a bizarre story — the Yom Kippur release of anti-tax crusader Richard Fine from County Jail where he was locked up pointlessly for coercive confinement for 18 months.

Judge David Yaffe backed down Friday afternoon and without a hearing or attorneys present issued a court order that basically says Fine must be crazy to have endured the pain and horror of jail for so long and to have fought so hard and at so much personal cost to expose the scandal of tens of millions of dollars in illegal payments to judges by LA County.

Yaffe’s order (Yaffe-Release-Order.rtf), obtained by Leslie Dutton whose Full Disclosure Network has championed Fine’s cause, represents both an attempt to quarrel intellectually with Fine and to dismiss him a nut case whose conduct is “bizarre…irrational…makes no sense.”

“It is becoming increasingly clear that Fine’s conduct is irrational. Fine has always had the key to his own jail cell. He has elected to give up his freedom for 18 months in order to keep a judgment creditor from collecting a $50,000.00 judgment.

“He refuses to even discuss his obligations to the judgment creditor but portrays himself as a lone hero who is being incarcerated because he has exposed a vast conspiracy of over 400 judges of this court who are dishonestly collecting money to
which they are not entitled.”

Yaffe finally concludes:”Fine’s continued incarceration is a detriment to the public because Fine is using up jail space in an overcrowded jail, and may cause the release of persons who constitute a greater threat to the public than Fine does.”

Why it took Yaffe 18 months to determine Fine’s confinement does not serve “any useful purpose” is hard to understand unless you know the judge is regarded by attorneys who have appeared before him as erratic and often irrational in his decisions.

So I guess if Yaffe resorted in the end to self-justification by calling FIne crazy, it’s something he knows about — if only a juvenile name-calling excuse.

Maybe Fine is crazy, maybe everybody who fights for what they believe in is crazy.

That’s certainly the viewpoint of every repressive regime and of every oppressor in modern history. That’s why they use gulags, and prisons for the politically incorrect.

The legal standard for coercive confinement in a contempt of court case is five days in jail after which it is presumed the incarcerated will not back down. Yaffe exceeded that by 180 days.

There was never any question Fine would break. His whole life is marked by an obsessive passion for doing what he believe is right, fighting against illegal taxation and official abuses.

As Yaffe knows, the legal standard for insanity is knowing the difference between right and wrong. The question which deserves a proper judicial inquiry is whether Yaffe — not Fine — can tell the difference.Enhanced by Zemanta

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24 Responses to Judge Yaffe Explains Why He Freed Richard Fine after 18 Months of Coercive Confinement

  1. Anonymous says:

    The legal standard for coercive confinement in a contempt of court case is five days in jail after which it is presumed the incarcerated will not back down. Yaffe exceeded that by 180 days.
    You have no idea what you’re talking about. 5 days is for PUNITIVE confinement, not coercive confinement. Fine being locked up was coercive confinement, where an individual is held indefinately until they do something they’re perfectly capable of doing and legally obligated to do but refuse to do for whatever reason. In Fine’s case, it was participating in a debtor’s exam because he screwed up, missed a deadline, ended up costing his client his case, and was now required to pay the legal fees of the other party.
    Any rational lawyer would have just participated in the debtor’s exam as they would legally be obligated to do in the case of a screw up. Regardless of what Fine has fought for, he is not exempt from legal processes that all other lawyers must abide by. If Fine had participated in the exam, he would have been out of jail immediately. Instead he chose to sit in jail, piss off the courts even more by citing cases of punitive punishment that had nothing to do with his case (he wasn’t being held punitively), and write essays from jail ordering the governor to release him.

  2. As you may remember, Judge Yaffe presided over the case involving the Solar 8 where IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy and his hired hitman, the $700 an hour lawyer Steve Kaufman, tried to silence the opposition to Measure B, the self serving ballot measure that would have enriched the IBEW, but would have cost the RAtepayers billions extra.
    While Yaffe was pricklish, he came up with the right decision and only eliminated foru (4) words.
    Of course, he failed to consider the covered up memo that exposed the real cost of Measure B.

  3. Bob G says:

    If he payed the judgment of $50,000, he wouldn’t be required to reveal his financial situation to anyone. By not paying a judgment which he legally owed, he opened himself to the motion to question him on his finances. That seems pretty simple. Reporters have been held in jail for a lot longer than 5 days in the attempt to force them to reveal their sources. If coercive jailing were limited to 5 days, everyone would understand that and calculate accordingly. Fine and others could skip out on every judgment owed, and do limited time.
    In other words, there has to be some way to enforce court orders ultimately, whether it be by wage garnishment or jail. Our system provides for appeals and an appeal of the appeal, which Fine made use of.
    Ron and others may believe that the judges in Los Angeles County courtrooms are corrupted by their pay and corrupt in all other things as well, but this is a view that is apparently not held by a majority in the legal community. There are judges who are known to be harsh or rude or inept on certain issues, but that is a different issue that is of concern mainly to lawyers who appear in front of them.
    The ultimate conclusion, if you accept Fine’s reasoning, would be that each and every case heard by a Superior Court judge in Los Angeles County must be voided, because that is what he seems to have been doing by refusing to accept a legal judgment against himself.

  4. I should have run for office says:

    Yaffee always seemed to be a overly fussy judge, but by and large fair, and he got to the right result. I don’t know the facts of this case, but it seems to involve a refusal to disclose assets. Confinement for refusing to comply with a judge’s order is not unusual at all.
    About the judge’s pay: I recall that LA judges are paid a bit more than others due to the high cost of living– to keep high quality judges on the bench–to stop them from leaving for private judging. Its no secret that occurs and while it may be questionable legally, its out in the open and makes a lot of sense.

  5. God, if only people bothered to learn about a subject before they go taking sides and talking about things with which they’re unfamiliar. It’s a classic mark of stupidity.
    Let’s put the shoe on another foot: let’s say you’re sanctioned $50,000 for making a calendaring mistake and being one day late filing a document (an event that is always forgiven on the first occurrence). You never received notice of the hearing imposing the sanction, your name isn’t even on the service list. At the same time, your opponent … in this case, L.A. County … is MORE THAN 90 DAYS LATE filing a different document in the same case, yet no sanction is issued. Let’s say you find out that your opponent has secretly given the judge about $100,000 while he presided over the case.
    Would you just fork over $50 grand, even though you were deliberately prevented from objecting?
    Let’s say you’ve also sworn an oath to defend and protect the Constitution … which SPECIFICALLY says that only the State may pay its judges (to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening). (Article VI, Section 19.)
    I’ll call anyone a liar to their face who claims they’d pay a dime under these circumstances. Defending a corrupt judge without bothering to learn the facts just reveals your laziness and/or ignorance.
    And the passage of Senate Bill SBx2-11 conclusively proves the judges’ guilt in having taken the payments. If they had committed no crimes, there would have been no need to retroactively immunize them from criminal prosecution and civil liability. Instead, they’re forgiven for having committed TEN MILLION FELONIES. Go ahead and side with crooks if you want, but you look like a fool to those who know ALL the facts of this situation.
    Those interested may review the actual documents at and catch up on the commentary at the Right Trumps Might blog at

  6. It is about “fair and honest services” which are lacking in the Los Angeles Superior Court. It is that simple. Yaffe denied them to the people in favor of Antonovich and Epstein.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Re: I should have run for office
    “…and while it may be questionable legally..”
    This is the whole point. All CA counties except three in Northern California, the Capitol of High IQ, paid their judges approximately $46,000 extra so they can sit and mulch enough greed to fertilize, say, a crop of condominiums on top of a big pocket of natural gas. But everyone knows this. Right? Jus’ bidnus.
    If you don’t know the case, shouldn’t you research before passing judgment? Hmmm. Now I feel more bitchy. An idea for your political platform: “This is my United States of Whatever.”
    Richard Fine is standing up to serious corruption. (Very serious now that we’re threatened by business privatizing our water.) He lost a whole lot more than $50,000 in doing so. Look into the case. He is a hero. And you will be hearing more from him. Thank God.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “Richard Fine is standing up to serious corruption. (Very serious now that we’re threatened by business privatizing our water.) He lost a whole lot more than $50,000 in doing so.”
    No, it had nothing to do with fighting corruption – it has everything to do with Fine screwing up and wanting to use the fact that he fought corruption to not have to own up to his mistake.
    Fine had 90 days to file for a hearing when he was representing Marina Strand. He jeopardized his client’s multi-million dollar case by missing the deadline and the defense made a motion for dismissal. Fine then filed an affidavit of fault, and the judge granted relief from the dismissal and allowed the case to continue with Fine removed as counsel.
    By Code of Civil Procedure 473b, the affidavit made him liable for legal fees (and makes that one poster’s implication that Fine had no idea he would be sanctioned for legal fees nonsense). And because he was removed as counsel, he was no longer obligated to receive a hearing notice (so the argument that he should have received a notice also has no legal basis). Notices only go out to the parties involved and their attorneys. After he screwed up and almost got his case dismissed, Fine was neither.

    • John Clark says:

      Anonymous II? Are you another anonymous, or the same one? What or who are you hiding from, and do you have a reason? You can reply anonymously.

  9. Fine's no hero says:

    Ron, as a journalist you need to atone for your own laziness and gullibility. Write about the real victim here, the judgment creditor Fine’s refusing to pay. How did Fine get into this mess and how could he get out of it? Pay the judgment owed against him or at least answer questions about his assets. And you make him a hero? Shame on you!

  10. Fine's no hero says:

    Ron, as a journalist you need to atone for your own laziness and gullibility. Write about the real victim here, the judgment creditor Fine’s refusing to pay. How did Fine get into this mess and how could he get out of it? Pay the judgment owed against him or at least answer questions about his assets. And you make him a hero? Shame on you!

  11. Fine's A Phony says:

    Sorry Ron, I hate to disagree with you but Fine was wrong and as has already been said, had the keys to his jail in his hands at all times.
    Fine had tried and failed to use the “judges are corrupt” argument whenever he lost, but if he ever actually won a case, I doubt he would have refused the judgment in his favor.
    There are a bunch of nuts around who every now and then refuse to recognize the jurisdiction of whatever court they’re about to loose in, because there are “fringes on the flag, as if that matters. Fine’s argument about the judges having a conflict of interest because the County pays them a cost of living enhancement, was just as batty.
    We need to have well paid judges to ensure they are impartial, and frankly the notion that because the County of LA pays each and every judge an extra $46k pa regardless of how they rule, is ludicrous. Fine’s argument would have merit if only a handful of judges were paid the money, but that’s not the case. All judges get it and rightly so. This was a supremely technical argument that might be the subject of a law school exam, but had no place in reality.
    Face it Ron, Fine’s case went all the way up to the US Supreme Court and they declined to intervene. Are they corrupt too, like Fine says?
    Fine is no hero and while I have every sympathy of an older man having to endure incarceration, I think the people who supported him were not fully aware of the legalities and realities. They were upset with the decision over the development, but that was no reason to give Fine’s whacky legal logic any credence.

  12. Dear Mr Kay:
    Pleae stand corrected. Judge David Yaffe never issued an order for the release of Richard Fine. Minutes were issued, which described an order, but there was no evidence that an order was issued, singed, and entered by the Judge Yaffe. [1]
    The releae, like the initial arrest and imprisonment, were all based on false and deliberately misleading court records.
    Richard Fine was held for 18 months under false records by the Sheriff – stating that he was arrested on location and by authority of the non existent “Municipal Court of San Pedro”.
    More disturbing, throughout the past 2 years, the Los Angeles Court denied access to the California civil docket in the case (the Register of Actions) in apparent violation of First Amendment rights.
    Moreover, the US District Court, the US Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, and the US Supreme Court, all purported to review the habeas corpus and related actions without the foundation record in the case – the docket – ever being produced by the Los Angeles Court.
    Joseph Zernik, PhD
    [1]Detailed review and links for the false records in the case:

  13. Mariscal says:

    What stands out to me is that the Municipal Courts have been consolidated with the Superior Courts, for years now. I find it very suspicious that, after 2005, there is any documentary reference to a Municipal Court, anywhere in Los Angeles County. The misspelling, in regards to computerized databases, would make information difficult to retrieve or examine.
    Also, Judge Yaffe’s reasoning is somewhat flawed, if he, just now, considers jail overcrowding a factor in deciding to release Fine. The overcrowding in our jail system has been common knowledge for well over 18 months, as Sheriff Baca has released numerous misdemeanor inmates during this time period for overcrowding reasons.
    It is also disconcerting that the judge is implying a psychiatric determination and/or conclusion as to Fine’s ability to make “reasoned decisions”, without any input from any qualified medical professional or behavior specialist. The judge has had only limited contact with Mr. Fine.
    I agree with Mr. Joseph Zernik, in that there are just too many “loose ends” to call this an open and shut case of contempt.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mariscal, Joseph Zernik is not commenting on the legal details of the case. He’s criticizing the recordkeeping of the Sherrif’s department.
    And Yaffe’s criticism of Fine’s irrationality has somehow got spun as a psychiatric assessment on this site. You don’t need a psychiatrist to be of the opinion that someone is acting irrational – all you need is to not understand why someone is doing what they are doing. And you don’t need a psychiatrist to testify in court when there is nothing punitive at stake and the fact that the judge thinks his behavior is irrational benefits Fine by getting him out of jail for free, without him having to pay the sanctions he was legally required to pay in the first place.

  15. Brian Franklin says:

    Most jurists (lawyers and judges) are parasitical excrescences upon mankind. Richard Fine is not one of them.
    The sanctions business is farcical. Epstein’s folks have committed fraud from the beginning including his own lawyer who is on the bar (president) who made a special effort (facilitation) to get Mr. Fine disbarred to remove the most viable and correct advisary in this contest. Keep in mind that this Epstein/ Antonovich conspiracy even adulterated the Environmental Impact Report. No, Mr. Fine doesn’t owe these criminals a dime.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Richard Fine was never served notice of the sanctions for attorney fees and he strenuously objected when he discovered it. The question should be asked why the court not served this notice on Fine, if not as the attorney then as a personal party. Fine, so that the Marina Strand Case could continue, elected to assume the responsibility of that sanction. That notice was never filed as later admitted by Yaffe during the contempt hearing as it was only a draft. When Dr. Fine objected and refused to pay and answer to asset questions in regard to the sanctions based on that Yaffe should have disqualified himself due to fraud upon the court, Fine was consequently jailed for contempt of court charges. Fine could not continue being the lawyer in the Marina Strand Case as his bar license was taken away by sham third world methods.
    Fine for his integrity and relentless crusade against corruption and for the common good was disbarred (disempowered) and imprisoned. The conspiracy to disbar Fine has been ongoing since 2004. In 2009, these conspirators finally succeeded.
    The judge guild is a brotherhood and yes, they all protect each other, more so if there they are all on the take. Read the bill, SBX 211 passed at the midnight hour. Ronald George (the top guy of the State Supreme Court) even got the state legislators involved in the conspiracy against the public, Partners in Crime. Look no further than the MD’s. Rarely, does a MD license is taken away. See Sick to Death by Hedley Thomas. Similarly, a judge rarely gets dethroned. Judicial immunity was grabbed by the judges to ensure no accountability. The issue of judges on the take is more ominous when there is a history of these judges consistently ruling in favor of LA County. One can easily grasp the orchestrated conspiracy against Fine and the public in his second letter to Eric Holder, et al. posted on his website, Free Richard Fine and in his complaint against the State Bar/State Supreme Court file with the US District Court, CV10-00048 on 1/5/2010.
    To defenders of judicial corruption, know your facts (or perhaps intentionally twisted so as to mislead) before you start denouncing Dr. Fine. One of the State Bar conspirators against Dr. Fine is currently the US Ambassador to Australia. How about that? The question should be asked, is this country’s government and judicial system any better than a third world country? If not, the people in authority are hypocrites and we the public are no better than enablers if we do not speak up and take a stand.

  17. DAVID SHARP says:

    You can argue about Richard Fine and whether he was improperly jailed all you want, but the simple fact is that the Los Angeles Superior Court consists of a bunch of corrupt judges as ANY lawyer would privately tell you. Given that, I side with Richard Fine.

  18. jj says:

    LA Superior Court Judges are truly corrupt (there might be one or two that actually follow the law and the facts regardless of the parties status, but I have yet to come across them). For the most part, LA Superior Court Judges are interested in protecting the high paying jobs ($200,000) annually, unbelievable benefits, and other perks such as payouts from the county.
    For example, Commissioner Robert Harrison of the Downtown Los Angeles Stanley Mosk Courthouse who presides mainly over small claims court, will never rule for the underdog. That is he will never rule against an attorney, a landlord, the City of Los Angeles, the MTA, etc., no matter what the law says and now matter what the facts are. That is he ignores the law and the facts to rule for the party he thinks has more political power, particularly since he realizes that parties in small claims court have very limited rights, and that the underdog will likely not have the knowledge, time or money to pursue any actions against him.
    If you doubt me, take a look at all the cases he has presided over against attorneys, landlords, the MTA, the city, and the like. You will find he has rarely if ever ruled against those he believes to have more political power. Why should he care about the little person’s rights – he is only concerned about protecting his cushy job, for which he is utterly not qualified for. He is truly a disgrace to the title of Judge.

  19. JJ says:

    Also Judicial Immunity is meant to protect judges who make good faith mistakes, not to protect corrupt judges who ignore the facts and the law to rule for those they identify with.

  20. Ernie says:

    I only learned about this whole story this evening,, but it does not take much to realize that judges should not be taking extra additions to their regular pay and then ruling on cases before them that are 100% favorable to the folks paying them. That is corruption. I will never, ever, vote for judges on my election ballot mindlessly, ,, ever again. From now on, I will only vote for ones I specifically know about. This corruption has got to stop.

  21. t mcoy says:

    When our Second American Revolution takes place, we must request from France their blueprints for construction of the guillotine. The totally corrupt judge Yaffe must then be given a fair trial and immediately taken out to the front of the courthouse and beheaded.
    This exercise in justice will be carried out against all the judges and lawyers in America, and America will start anew without the vermin called lawyers who corrupt our system and give sewer rats a bad name!

  22. John Clark says:

    Anyone notice that this is the same Judge David Yaffe who found against Christopher Dorner who went the (so-called) legal, civilized route to get himself reinstated into the Los Angeles police force? He failed. He appealed. He failed again. He tried the Supreme Court. Same result. So he exercised what he saw as his 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms against an out of control government. Yes, a terrorist was born that day.
    Also, it’s my personal belief that it was a secret directive from the White House that secured the release of Richard Fine, Esq. The day or so before, remember, Judge Yaffe EXTENDED his imprisonment for a further period! Yaffe’s about-face makes no sense. With the then current emphasis on Cuba’s unjust confinement of its political protesters, Mr. Fine’s was just too embarrassing to this greatest country on God’s Green Earth.

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