Sunday, May 31, 2009

Judicial Benefits & Court Corruption: Powerful Friends Support Judges Bid To Keep Double Benefits (Video 7 min)

Los Angeles, CA The Full Disclosure Network® presents a seven minute preview video featuring excerpts from Part 3 and 4 from an on going series entitled “Judicial Benefits & Court Corruption.” These two new episodes feature Sterling Norris, Judicial Watch attorney, whose 2008 successful lawsuit found the L.A. County’s payments of double benefits to Judges was unlawful. (Sturgeon vs County of Los Angeles).

The San Diego Appellate Court decision in favor of the Judicial Watch lawsuit was upheld when the Supreme Court refused to hear it. However, in this series Norris describes the behind the scenes court maneuvers conducted by the California Judiciary that is apparently determined to retain the illegal benefits, while serving as employees of the State of California.

Here are few of the points made by Norris in the two new episodes:

  • Failure of California Judges to disclose receipt of payments from counties either to the parties involved in lawsuits or on their economic interest disclosures.

  • In the last ten years each of the 600 Judges in L.A. have received $350,000 in illegal payments.

  • L.A. Superior Court hired a lobbyist for $60,000 to sponsor SBX211 legislation. Has the Superior Court hired lobbyists before?

  • SBX211 (part of the Feb. 2009 Budget Bill) legalized retroactively the judicial double benefits and

  • SBX211 provided retroactive criminal and liability immunity from prosecution to the Judges and County officials involved in the payments of public money. Norris asks why? They must have thought crimes were involved.

  • Have the L. A. Superior Court ever intervened in any other lawsuit, as they have with this issue of double benefits?

  • Judicial mind-set and integrity questioned as the battle over wages escalated.

  • Legal and law enforcement forces step forward to fight for judicial double benefits, ignore conflict and judicial bias potential

  • Major forces on record defending double benefits to Judges: L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley, County Public Defender, All Bar Associations, big law firms who appear before the Judges. Norris asks, did the Court stop to think about a resulting bias and prejudice?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Public Pension Crisis: The Ticking Time Bomb. Cable TV Series (12 min Video Preview Here)


Los Angeles, CA Following a panel discussion entitled: "The Ticking Time Bomb" at the Milken Institute's State of the State Conference in the fall of 2006, the first public predictions regarding the "unfunded public employee retirement benefits of $300 to $400 billion are revealed"
The Full Disclosure Network® presents a two-part cable tv series that includes an exclusive interview with public finance expert B. Scott Minerd, CEO Guggernheim Partners Asset Manaegment who provides insight and analysis on the looming financial disaster in California. DVDs of the complete series are available from the website. A twelve minute video preview from the series is available here.

Featured in the series are:
  • B. Scott Minerd, CEO Guggenheim Partners Asset Management
  • Hon. Keith Richman, Calif. State Assembly
  • Carl De Maio, CEO Performance Institute
  • Jack Ehnes, CEO CALSTERS Pension System
  • Dave Low, CA School Employees Association
  • Barbara Lloyd, Sr. VP Lehman Brothers

    Here are hightlights from each segment: of the series:

    Segment #1:
    When serving as Managing Director of Credit Suisse Scott Minerd described how he exposed the risky derivative securities which directly led to the liquidation of the Orange County investment portfolio and the county's subsequent bankruptcy."

    Segment #2: Will Municipal bankruptcies spread across California? Minerd suggests that pension benefit debt is unanticipated by the public and bond rating companies. The $300-$400 billion debt is "present value" but Minerd adds" the actual sum is
    more likely a trillion dollars."
    Segment #3: Assemblyman Keith Richman cites San Diego, Contra Costa and Orange Counties have billions in unfunded public employee pension benefits. Minerd suggestions to head off crisis. (1) Attempt to fund now (2) Ignore and pay as you go (3) Break promises made to public employees by redefining benefits, employees work longer, caps on benefits.

    Segment #4: Carl DeMaio CEO Performance Institute cites retroactive benefits approved by elected officials, and pension benefit debt is $130 billion before unfunded health care benefits that is three times all outstanding debt now in California. Keith Richman cites State Legislative Analyst reports that School Districts are likely to go bankrupt.

    Segment #5: Only ten percent of Counties have funded or partially funded public employee benefit plans. Plans include coverage for spouses, survivors even after medicare age, according to Barbara Lloyd, Sr. VP Lehman Bros.

    Segment #6: 2006 Infrastructure Bonds of $40 billion to cost $40 billion in interest. Minerd suggests that when voters approved the bonds "all it did was allow the state to spend more on other things and not to address the true fiscal issues."

Friday, May 15, 2009

FISCAL CRISIS: Illegal Payments Create Law For Judicial Criminal & Liability Immunity: Nominees For U S Supreme Court To Be Impacted?

Judicial Watch Attorney (Sturgeon vs County of Los Angeles)

Los Angeles, CA While counties, cities and the entire state are on the brink of financial collapse all California Superior Court Judges are fighting hard, in court and in the State Legislature, to keep the illegal payments made to them by county governments. The Judicial Watch organization successfully challenged those payments made to Judges in L A County, where over the past decade it has been estimated that L.A. Judges have received up to $300 million dollars. A Fourth District Appellate Court decision in October 2008 (Sturgeon vs County of Los Angeles) held those payments to the Judges were indeed unlawful. This action prompted the Judges to fight back.

Judges were apparently worried about being prosecuted for criminal acts and liability for taking the unearned money. At the urging of the Los Angeles Superior Court, the California Judicial Council quietly authored a provision that was slipped into the State Budget legislation SBX 211, without public debate or awareness. This provision granted retroactive immunity from criminal prosecution to all California Judges and County officials who received or made those illegal payments of public money. Depending on who you talk to the payments are referred to as "unearned benefits" or "Judicial Benefits".

Full Disclosure Network ® inteviewed Judicial Watch attorney Sterling Norris in April 2009 as part of an on going "special series" entitled Judicial Benefits and Court Corruption. We asked Norris what motivated the California Judicial Council to change the law giving retroactive immunity from criminal prosecution to the Judges and the Counties? His response was:

"they would not have sponsored the legislation unless they really felt the Judges needed immunity from criminal prosecution and liability".

Ironically, Richard I. Fine, a former prominent anti-trust attorney is still sitting in the Los Angeles County Central Men's Jail, in isolation, for more than 70 days. He was held in contempt of court, after he attempted to disqualify Superior Court Judge David Yaffe from sitting on a case that involved the County of Los Angeles. According to Fine , Yaffe failed to disclose to the parties in the case (Marina Strand Colony II Homeowners Association vs County of Los Angeles) that he had been receiving $46,000, on top of his State salary, from the County for years. Yaffe recently defended the practice of "coercive confinement" in contempt cases in response to a Writ of Habeas Corpus for Immediate Release filed by Fine in the Federal Court on March 29, 2009.

Sterling Norris of Judicial Watch had these comments regarding unearned payments to Judges and their failure to disclose.
  • "There is no question that the judges should have disclosed they were receiving $46,000 from the County of L.A. , there is no way the judiciary, ethically, could get around it....""
  • "$46,000 each year is not a small amount, many people don't make that much all year and this, from the County, is on top their $200,000 State salary. In California they are the highest paid court judges in the nation".
  • "If (the Judges) are on the up and up, you go get a declaratory judgment (in court) saying, in spite of court consolidation, we are entitled to the money"
  • "We have never seen people excused from liability retroactively"

  • "There is a criminal doctrine of law that if you received money you are not entitled to, and you keep it, that is considered theft"
Without immunity for criminal acts, a complicating factor associated with the illegal payments to Judges, is that a number of Los Angeles Superior Court Judges have been appointed to higher courts during the past two decades. They now sit on the Supreme Court and the Appellate Court. The question is, does the fact they have accepted unearned money from other than their employer disqualify them from higher appointments? In his request for investigation and complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice Richard I. Fine points to both Appellate and Supreme Court Justices who have received illegal payments from the County and who have been granted criminal immunity.

The California Constitution (Sec. 17, 19, 20) states that Judges may not receive money from other parties than their employer, the State of California, and the Legislature has the sole responsibility for setting compensation and retirement benefits. On page 4 of the Fine request for investigation he names California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, who has been mentioned as a possible nominee to the U. S. Supreme Court by President Obama.
In a telephone interview on Friday, May 15, 2009 from his jail cell, Mr. Fine expressed concern about the possible U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Justice Moreno because he had not recused himself from two critical cases involving the SBX2 11 and the controversial retroactive criminal imnunity issue. First, by not recusing himself in the disbarrment case of Fine who had raised the illegal payments to Judges and second, on the Writ of Habeas Corpus, where Fine was seeking immediate release from L.A. County Jail for contempt of Court. In both instances Fine maintains that Justice Moreno had a personal conflict and that two Federal Judges (George Wu and Dale Fischer) recused themselves from the Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Richard Fine as they had been Superior Court Judges in Los Angeles and had received illegal payments from the County and retroactive immunity from criminal prosecution.


The on-going controversy over the State's fiscal crisis, Judicial benefits and appointments is playing out in yet another court hearing on July 2, 2009 when San Francisco Appellate Court Justice James A. Richman will preside in an L A Superior Court to rule on the Judicial Watch motion for injunctive relief, to prohibit the county from making futher illegal payments to the Judges. At that time Sterling Norris will have an opportunity to raise thie issue of Constitutionality of SBX2 11 granting Judges retroactive immuity for liability and criminal acts without public discussion or debate.

The Judical Watch organization, has been been faced with formidable opposition from County of Los Angeles and their private lawfirm Jones-Day and the Superior Court of Los Angeles who retained Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who successfully obtained "Intervenor" status in the case. The "unearned benefits" going to the Judges, not to the public, raises the issue who will pay the big law firms? Will it be the taxpayers who pay or the Judges who personally benefit from the illegal payments? No matter who wins and who pays, this legal battle is going to cost a lot of money.

The Full Disclosure® Host Leslie Dutton contacted Judge Mary Wiss, president of the California Judges Association for an interview for this two-part interview with Sterling Norris, Judge Wiss referred us to their lobbyist, Mr. Mike Beliote, who declined an interview saying "the Judges have decided not to be interviewed on this subject" The Full Disclosure series is to be released to 40 cable systems and on the Internet in June 2009. This is part three and four of the on-going series. # # # #

Friday, May 08, 2009

State Department Hosts Media Tour For Broadcasters From Saudi Arabia,Egypt,Syria,Yemen, Gaza, United Arab Emirates

International Visitors Council of L.A. & State Department
Invite Full Disclosure to Meet With Mid-Eastern Media Operatives
Pictured Above from left to right
Ms. Naglaa Moustafa Mahomoud Farghaly
Script Writer & Media Channel 7 Egypt TV
Ms. Razzam Hejazi,
Director-Film Maker, Annimation Program (Syria)
Mr. Samir S. S. Abushammala,
(Gaza) Political Correspondent. Al-Jazeera Satellite
Ms. Lor Dib,
Correspondent, Al-Iqtisadiah Satellite Television (Syria)
Leslie Dutton,
Producer-Host Full Disclosure Network (USA)
Mr. Mohammed Al-Hassan A. Alemary,
Broadcast Correspondent-Presenter, Al Arabiya TV News Channel (Saudi Arabia)
Mr. Mohammed Nassar Al Momayiz,
Senior Producer, Dream TV (Egypt)
Mr. Samr Husain Mohamed Husain Al Marzouqi,
Channel Manager, MTV Arabia, Arab Media Group (United Arab Emirates)

Los Angeles, CA (May 9, 2009) The International Visitors Council of Los Angeles (IVCLA) and the U. S. Department of State invited the Full Disclosure Network® to meet with visiting broadcasters from the middle east who were part of an organized tour to learn how American media operations function. The May 6, 2009 meeting was one of many that were arranged for the visitors, with major media organizations, including the CBS Television Network in Los Angeles.


Here are the State Department objectives taken from materials provided by IVCLA for the "Creative Broadcast Programming", a regional project on the near East.

  • Examine the role of popular culture and entertainment media in shaping public perceptions.
  • Learn about the relationship between the media, public broadcasting, entertainment industry, and the government and the policies that oversee this relationship.
  • Engage with writers, producers and media personalities involved in the broadcasting of news, current affairs education, music, arts, science and coverage of international issues, as well as drama, comedy and entertainment; and
  • Provide exposure to the geographical, cultural social and ethnic diversity of the United States.

    As Full Disclosure® is "the news behind the news" the visiting broadcasters got a candid report on the relationship between government and the Full Disclosure Network®. During the meeting there was a exchange of information on issues that impact broadcasters world wide, in particular the issues of government control of the media, and the impact of the Internet and bloggers on traditional media and government.

    Full Disclosure® is preparing a Video Report on the May 6th meeting to be released soon. The IVCLA arranged a prior meeting with Full Disclosure and visiting Russian journalists that was video recorded in October 2008 and is available for viewing.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

“COERCIVE CONFINEMENT” Judicial Benefits and Court Corruption: Video Preview of Series (10 min)

L.A. Superior Court Judge David Yaffe

Los Angeles, CA. Why was prominent anti-trust attorney Richard I. Fine sentenced to “coercive confinement” in the L.A. Central Men’s Jail for an indefinite period of time? It has been sixty days in solitary confinement and is growing each day. On May 1, 2009 Fine and his supporters learned the reasons why. In a ordered response to his Writ of Habeas Corpus and request for immediate release. A Ventura, California law firm representing the Los Angeles Superior Court and Judge David Yaffe, filed a response and revealed the intent of the confinement was to “coerce” Fine into submission.

Full Disclosure Network® presents a ten minute preview from a two-part series covering this extraordinary case where Richard I. Fine and others discuss the circumstances and implications of Los Angeles Superior Court Judges, including Judge David Yaffe, of taking illegal payments from Los Angeles County while sitting in judgment on cases where the county is a party. Having raised the issue of Judicial corruption since 1999, Fine maintains that over a period from 2005 through 2008 only two cases have been decided against the County by a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge.

Here is a quote from the Court Ordered response filed by the Ventura, California law firm of Kevin M. McCormick (BENTON, ORR, DUVAL & BUCKINGHAM) hired by L. A. County Superior Court and Judge David Yaffe where they are opposing the release of Richard I Fine from solitary “coercive confinement”.

“The use of COERCIVE CONFINEMENT resulting from civil contempt has been approved and found appropriate by the United States Supreme Court, federal district and appellate courts and California state courts, regarding the right of a civil judgment creditor to pursue and of a trial court to impose for purposes of an individual’s compliance with a valid court order.”

This is an on-going series covering the issue judicial benefits and court corruption. Part Three and Four feature a one-hour interview with Judicial Watch organization and former prominent L. A. Deputy District Attorney, Sterling Norris, whose landmark case (Sturgeon vs County of Los Angeles) found that payments made to Superior Court Judges from the Counties was illegal. Judicial Watch has vowed to challenge the legislation enacted in February 2009 as part of the California budget bill SBX 211 that provided retroactive immunity from prosecution for all state judges and county officials who received or approved the illegal payments since 1988.

The entire series is featured on 40 cable systems and the Full Disclosure Network website.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Will L A Public Cable Channels Comeback? A Plan To Restore Public Studio Facilities

Stanley Sheinbaum (at podium) Leslie Dutton, T.J. Johnston

Los Angeles, CA Almost sixty people lined up to testify on Wednesday, April 29th at the City Hall hearing before the Budget and Finance Committee on ITA funding for public cable channels. There was only one proposal presented to the Committee to restore public studio facilities. First to testify were PUBLIC TELEVISION INDUSTRY CORPORATION (PTIC) officials who outlined in their one minute presentations how they would restore the public cable facilities. A complete video news report is to be released on the Full Disclosure Network this week.

Members of the non-profit PTIC Board of Advisors who addressed the plan were:
Stanley K. Sheinbaum, Ron Kaye, Scott Wilson, David R. Hernandez, Arthur Poma, Xavier Hermasillo, Sandra Needs, Dr. Charlotte Laws, Leslie Dutton, H. Andrew Thornburg and T. J. Johnston
Many other supporters testified as well and are featured in the upcoming video report.

The PTIC proposal presented a plan to restore public cable studio facilities, one each year for the next four years. Fourteen public studios and channels went dark this January when Time Warner Cable opted out of providing public access, instead under the new DIVCA legislation they are required to pay the city $5 million per year to be used exclusively capital costs for replacing the public studios. This 1% cable franchise fee cannot be used for any other purpose according to the legislation and city officials told the Council committee they expect to receive the first payment of this money in just a couple of weeks.

The concept of public access cable channels, as intended by the FCC mandate, was to provide opportunity and facilities whereby independent producers could record their shows in sound proof studios with editing rooms, professional assistance and training. The FCC concept was to encourage citizen involvement and coverage of issues and events by enabling the public's voice to be heard in contrast to the main stream media and government perspective.

With the telecoms now providing Internet access and video delivery under the DIVCA legislation, A-T-T and Verizon are also required to provide public channels in the same manner as are the cable companies. Currently A-T-T has proposed a plan to place all Southern California Cities public programming on one channel in an "On Demand" fashion so that they will be downloaded rather than cablecast. The City of Los Angeles is opposing the A-T-T plan known as U-Verse and insisting they provide separate public channels.

For more information on PTIC's Plan call:
David R. Hernandez, Vice President, PTIC 818-448-3403
Leslie Dutton, President 310-822-4449