Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Judicial Critic Richard Fine Fights For Freedom: Sheriff Baca To Defend Judge Yaffee?

Los Angeles, CA Sheriff Leroy Baca is the "Respondent" referred to in U. S. Judge Magistrate Carla Woehrle's Order to Respond on the writ of habeas corpus filed by judicial critic Richard I Fine.

After spending over a month in L A. County Central Men’s Jail, having been sentenced indefinitely for Contempt of Court on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 the first break occurred for Mr. Richard I. Fine. For two weeks his writ of habeas corpus had been assigned to U. S. Judge George Wu, and for a while there it looked like all the Judges, State and Federal , would keep Fine locked up for some time, without any action on the case. When Full Disclosure Network contacted Judge Wu’s clerk to find out what was causing the delay and why there had been no action on Fine's writ of mandate, we received a prompt response referring us to U. S. Magistrate Judge Carla M. Woehrle. After all, a writ of habeas corpus is supposed to generate action “forth with” which means RIGHT NOW and two weeks seemed like a long time, especially to Mr. Fine.

However, by the end of that afternoon, the U.S. Central District Court posted on their website an ORDER REQUIRING RESPONSE TO PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE OF HABEAS CORPUS signed by Judge Woehrle that states:

“An answer must address both the merits of all grounds for relief asserted in the petition, and any applicable procedural issues. If Respondent (Sheriff) concedes the issue of exhaustion, (of all legal remedies) Respondent shall so state, expressly, in the answer.” And Respondent may file, a motion to dismiss on grounds other than the merits of Petitioner’s claims, such as failure to exhaust state remedies or untimeliness.” (read entire order here)


Richard Fine’s long and distinguished legal career paid off when he had no choice but to represent himself. While in L A County Men’s Central Jail. He dictated from memory, via the jail telephone to his loyal volunteers. He gave them, the exact wording and citations to be included in his writ of habeas corpus. Then, they filed the writ in the U.S. Central District Court of California, on his behalf and without his signature as he had no access to even paper or pen.

According to Richard I. Fine here is a brief summary of the issues contained in his writ of habeas corpus to which the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department must now respond in fourteen days:

1) Can Judge Yaffe legally sit as a Judge in a contempt proceeding where one of the parties (Fine) has raised the issue of his taking illegal payments from one of the parties in the case?
2) The Original declaration and Order to Show Cause supporting the contempt proceeding did not give notice of all documents used in the proceedings.
3) The lawyers used by the Court in the Contempt proceeding were lawyers who were actually working for the benefit of a party whose order they were trying enforce.
4) The Commissioner who required Richard I. Fine to answer questions was not a Judge or duely appointed Referee and did not have the legal power or authority to order Fine to answer questions.
5) The underlying order (for Fine) to pay money to the County and Del Rey Shores Developers was unconstitutional because there was never any notice given to Fine and Fine was not present at the hearing when such order was made.
6) The charge of practicing law without a license, is a criminal charge and there was a denial of due process, in the absence of a jury trial option.
7) There was no evidence presented in court to support any of the charges upon which Judge Yaffe held fine guilty to: a) Not answering questions to a commissioner, and b) practicing law without a license
8) Judge Yaffe had taken illegal payments from the county, a party to the case, and therefore was not qualified to sit as a judge
9) No order by the California Supreme Court that ordered Fine to be “inactive” or “Disbarred” was presented at the contempt Trial.
10) Judge Yaffe was disqualified from the case by Civil Code Section 170.3 (c) (3) objection for having taken money from the county and for not disclosing the receipt of this money. Judge Yaffe did not respond to this complaint and thereby consenting to the disqualification.

When the Full Disclosure Network® contacted the Film and Media Office of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to arrange for an interview with Mr. Fine in the Central Men’s Jail, Twin Tower #1, we were asked for his booking number and release date.

Full Dislosure informed Deputy Johns there was no release date and that Fine had been sentenced for an indefinite period of time, without bail, without an attorney and there was no future hearing date scheduled. The Deputy started to laugh and said you have got to be kidding, we don’t keep people here indefinitely. We have overcrowding don’t you know?

This was reminiscent of the Paris Hilton episode a few years back, when she was released from County jail early for some reason but mainly due to overcrowding. But Paris Hilton was not in the cross hairs of the Superior Court of the State of California and Richard I. Fine had dared to attempt to disqualify Judge David Yaffe for having accepted illegal payments from a party involved in the case before him.

That was March 11, 2009 and the Full Disclosure request for interview with Fine was denied. According to Deputy Johns, it was denied because Fine had been sentenced for Contempt of Court and the Sheriff would not approve an interview and only Judge Yaffe would do that.

Despite his family’s pleas for help to legal aid organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Judicial Watch organization, Mr. Fine was unable to obtain legal representation of any kind. Both Judicial Watch and the ACLU claimed that they turn down many people due to lack of resources. The ACLU told Full Disclosure they turn down hundreds of people every week By way of explanation Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the ACLU, Southern California wrote “if it were an important case that would affect many, many people we might do it but we just cannot.”

New filings and updates on this case are to be provided soon.

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