Sunday, June 07, 2009

Fear Rules in Los Angeles Court System: Anonymous Attorney Speaks Out


Great work. You may be on the way to another Emmy. I could say that what you reveal is shocking, but I am getting used to it after 44 years of practice. From your story I am not clear what the 9th Circuit did. There is apparently no case number there and no formal order. If the District Court is doing nothing, what will make them act?

We attorneys live in an atmosphere of fear. There seems to be more interest in maintaining the appearance that our legal institutions are just, than in allowing a critical examination of cases, where they appear not to be. The California Supreme Court in Fine’s Bar case is an example. The California Supreme Court failed to review his case and issued no opinion much less a well reasoned one. What this does is lead to arbitrary action.

Fine appears to be in a legal no man’s land, where he has been judged by Judges, whose partiality is questioned, under laws which are not defined, under opinions which are not published, and with reasoning which is not disclosed, in a system where decent persons are afraid to speak out.

What appears to be the case here as in many others, is if those in authority can’t get a person for the legal action the person did, they will spend millions to uncover something to get him or her for something else. Fine’s case appears to be a simple one where he has failed to answer questions at a debtor examination, based on a judgment, which either has not been appealed or for which there is no stay pending appeal.

Ordinarily a judgment creditor has a right to collect a judgment and the debtor examination is part of the process. I am sympathetic to Fine. He has some interesting constitutional issues to address, but my question is whether he is addressing them in a proper manner. What is wrong here, is that he is jailed during a protracted process to wear him down, to restrict him from preparing his case, and by isolating him from the tools by which he needs to prepare his case.

Why can’t he get a stay from the District Court? Why can’t the District Court stay proceedings in Superior Court and release Fine pending its review? If the District Court won’t grant a stay but won’t rule, it might be appropriate to seek a mandate in the Court of Appeals for it to rule one way or the other. What appears strange is that apparently this is what the Court did by a phone call rather than a formal order. Why?


  1. Due to popular demand, we welcome civil comments on this topic.

  2. I have known many people during my twenty five years of public life who have been brutalized and denied justice, a fair hearing or a ruling based upon the black and white letter of the law. These cases all involved the County of Los Angeles and appeals have been fruitless.

    At the same time the well connected and campaign donors have had unbelievable freedom from prosecution or administrative action of any kind. The LA County and it would seem State Courts are not agents of justice, but an extension of thug gang rule. They are no different than Stalin or Mao's courts.

  3. Response to Victoria Kim's so-so article in today's L.A. Times:

    Thank you for your article on Mr. Fine.

    You suggested that some of the people who are helping Mr. Fine are doing so because they have a bone to pick with the court system for a previous unhappy experience. I have no previous experiences with the court system at all. I’m 50 years old, so not even having to go to traffic court is probably unusual.

    You also suggest that some are supporting Mr. Fine because of his educational pedigree. I would like to suggest to you that maybe these people, and the ever growing number of people who are supporting Mr. Fine, are doing so because it is right and it is also the duty of every citizen to stand against those who would take our liberties from us and adulterate the Constitution of the United States, as the jurists here is Los Angeles have certainly been doing.

    This is a simple matter. Mr. Fine is in jail because he stood against the brewing tyranny of Los Angeles County.

    The Supreme Court of the United States of America is THE court; all other courts are called minor courts. This system is defined in the Constitution. Part of that definition includes the very simple guideline for judicial compensation, as does our State of California Constitution. Judges are to be paid by the state; the only other compensation they may receive is in academia – that’s it, and even if they were at the bottom of their law classes, they should still know this. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse anyway.

    Michael D. Antonovich certainly consults county legal staff before he gets involved in matters of legal importance. He no doubt knows the laws concerning the compensation of judges. Therefore, we have two crimes here from the beginning. Antonovich and other county supervisors offered the judges a bribe and the judges accepted that bribe. The crimes then continue when the judges willfully declined to recuse themselves from cases involving the county for obvious conflict-of-interest reasons. Then they deny Mr. Fine his constitutional right to due process because he dared to challenge them. Then they violate his human rights with substandard and cruel incarceration. Then they violate his Constitutional right to redress. Therefore, this Los Angeles group of minor courts is criminal in their nature, along with the county supervisors.

    The California Judges Association and friends, headed by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George, paid a lobbyist (to date: $60,000.00) to force a bill through to retroactively provide immunity to these people and authorizes the perpetuity of the bribe.

    The man in the cell next to Mr. Fine is accused of committing a crime that, by comparison of economic hardship to the victims, is miniscule to that of the jurists and the county supervisors. The difference apparently also is in who committed the crime.

    The judges and the supervisors apparently think they have impunity. If I were them, I wouldn’t get too comfortable with their SBx2-11 protection. Bad guys eventually are made to suffer for their crimes. When SBx2-11 is overturned, I hope for them that they saved their pennies. Those who have received these bribes since inception will owe as much as $920,000.00 (at $46,000/yr. for 20 years). Hopefully, this will be attended with a hefty fine.

    The story boils down to simply this: The County compensates for ineptness by co-opting the very willing local judiciary. The judiciary’s 30 pieces of silver turns out to be 46 or 47 thousand dollars; all that to betray the sanctity of “fair and honest service.” Please remember that Antonovich in open court admitted that he regularly consulted with judges about cases. I just wanted here to emphatically communicate to you that we stand with Mr. Fine because he is doing the right thing.

    Brian F.

  4. Attorney speaks out is a very interesting read. On the one hand this person is knowledgeable, helpful and sympathetic. On the other hand this person is an officer of the court and may possibly be able to really assist Richard (and the citizens of L.A. County yet still remain anonymous.
    I hope that Lawyers in L.A. get the message and view this moment in time as an opportunity and a responsibility to act. They can start by contributing to Richard's cause and offer council. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Don't let your kids inherit this mess.