Saturday, November 28, 2009

County To Stop Payments For New Judges.....L A Supervisor Michael Antonovich (Video 3 min)

L A County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich
November 23, 2009
Lincoln Club of Los Angeles County

Los Angeles, CA Full Disclosure Network® presents a 3 min video report on the November 23, 2009 remarks made by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich at a meeting of the Los Angeles County Lincoln Club in North Hollywood. The Supervisor provided an update regarding the controversy over long-time practice of the County making payments to Los Angeles Superior Court Judges. Civic leader David R. Hernandez provides his account of the presentation in the video.

A Fourth District CA Court of Appeals decision in November of 2008 ruled the county's payments were illegal in the Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles lawsuit that found Judges, who are all elected officials, had not been disclosing the extra payments they received from the County to litigants in the courtroom, in cases involving the county, nor on the Form 700 Economic Interest statements as required by the California Fair Pactices Act.

In response a question about the continuing public concern that county payments created a “conflict” for judges and if this conflict was going to be resolved?

Here are some of the points made by Supervisor Antonovich:
  • All new judges (elected or appointed) will not be receiving payments from the county.
  • Most other California counties have been paying (illegal) benefits to the judges
  • This was not just a Los Angeles County practice
  • Recent legislation, Senate Bill SBX2 11 has now made the payments legal.
  • L A Judges have not always ruled in favor of the County
  • Several rulings have been in favor of illegal aliens (which the county opposed)

Featured in the video: are two prominent critics of the illegal payments made to Judges by the County and below are comments from Richard I Fine from his L.A. County Jail cell.

David R. Hernandez, Civic Leader (by telephone)
Sterling Norris, Judicial Watch Attorney (Sturgeon v County of Los Angeles)

From his L. A. County Central Men's Jail cell, Richard I Fine: Anti-Trust Attorney who remains in solitary “coercive confinement” following his attempt to disqualify Judge Yaffe for not disclosing to litigants in his courtroom, receipt of payments from County . Fine had this to say regarding the disclosure by Supervisor Antonovich:

“This is long overdue. This is a great victory for those of us that have been fighting the illegal payments. The County has spent approximately $300 million since 1988 on these illegal and criminal payments to the Judges. I and others have filed complaints with the U S Dept. of Justice knowing that these payments violate the tangible rights to honest services and I have filed a complaint with a the California Attorney general showing that these payments are a misappropriation of funds, and obstruction of justice and bribery."

"Senate Bill
SBX2 11 which was enacted on Feb. 20, 2009 confirmed that the payments are criminal by the judges and those who make the payments now have retroactive immunity from criminal prosecution, civil liability and disciplinary action. The action of the Supervisors to stop the payments appears to be a clear response to rid themselves of this criminal activity."

In response to comments made by Sterling Norris (in the video) Fine said, "The 2010 budget bill resolution of the County left the decision regarding these payments to the Executive Officer and Auditor-Controller that is the reason you do not see second resolution to these payments. With respect to the Judges, this only deals with the payments in Los Angeles County, 429 judges, will continue to receive their payments however, those payments will stop as each judge comes up for re-election . The longest period of time is if that judge is reelected, he would get payments for six years until there is another election. Then he would be come a new judge.”

Sterling Norris, Judicial Watch Attorney:
Full Disclosure received the following response that is quoted in the video from Sterling Norris, Judicial Watch attorney who won the Fourth District California Court of Appeal decision ruling the county payments to judges were illegal.

“I have not seen anything in the press regarding a resolution by the Board of Supervisors has been passed that would impact the newly hired judges. Even if they did pass such a resolution, it would not impact the majority, about 95 percent of the judges, nor would it impact or our litigation, even if such a resolution would be approve by the by Board of Supervisors. It is estimated that from 1500 to 2000 California Judges will be impacted by the Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles case that is still in litigation.”

Link to a complete listing and video links to the Series "Judicial Benefits & Court Corruption{

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ninth Circuit Court Dodges Judicial Recusal Issue ...... Ignores Supreme Court Precedent In Richard Fine Case

Los Angeles, CA In an unexpected turn of events, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has posted an Order denying Richard I. Fine’s Emergency Petition for Writ of Mandate to Immediately Order Trial Court (U.S. California Central District) to Enter Writ of Habeas Corpus or Issue Order to Show Cause. This action, posted on the Federal Pacer website, did not have any Judicial signatures or names of Judicial officers who authorized such action.

Full Disclosure Network immediately contacted the Executive Office of the Ninth Circuit Court, requesting verification that the unsigned Order was valid. Here is the explanation we received from David Madden , Assistant Circuit Executive in San Francisco...........
"Once a case has been calendared, all subsequent petitions, motions, etc. go to the appellate panel which has been assigned the case. This case was ordered to be submitted on the briefs, without oral argument on December10, 2009, in Pasadena, California. It has been assigned to a panel of judges and it was the panel that denied the emergency petition brought by Mr. Fine."
"Names of judges sitting on a panel are not revealed until 10 days prior to the case being heard or submitted on the briefs. Should a panel need to issue an order in a case more than 10 days prior to a hearing/submission,the order is issued "for the court" by the clerk of court or designee. This process is followed fairly often"
From his L. A. County Central Men’s jail cell, where he has been held for almost nine months in solitary “Coercive Confinement” for civil contempt of Court, Richard I Fine gave Full Disclosure his reaction to this development.........

“This action of a panel is unheard of. It violates due process because it is allowing Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle and Judge John F. Walter to judge their own actions of denying the Writ of Habeas Corpus. This is a direct violation of the United States Supreme Court case of In re Murchison and hundreds of years of common law which hold that no man can judge his own actions. The Ninth Circuit is bound to follow the Supreme Court, they do not have a choice in the matter."

He went on to say "It also violates California law as set forth in the case of In re Farr. This case prohibits holding a person for more than five days in “coercive confinement” for contempt of court if there is no substantial likelihood that the contempt order would serve it’s coercive purpose"... and
"It further shows that the Ninth Circuit may be biased against me in this case, as it is willing to violate the law and Supreme Court decisions to protect wrong doing judges. It is this type of action which supports the necessity of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s hearings on Judicial Recusals."

Fine concluded saying, "We definitely need new laws to stop this type of illegal conduct by Magistrate Judge Woehrle, Judge Walter and the Ninth Circuit as they refuse to follow clear Supreme Court Precedent ."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Two US Judges Refuse to Recuse From Case Naming Them As Defendants: (Video 9 min)

Los Angeles, CA The Full Disclosure Network® presents a short video news blog report on what has been described by the volunteer legal team helping Richard I. Fine as a “bombshell cover-up” by two Federal Judges, Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle and Judge John F. Walter denied Fine's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Case 09-cv-7943) where they themselves were named as defendants.

The case of jailed Anti-Trust Attorney Richard I. Fine a prominent attorney who holds a PhD in International law has generated a protracted legal battle playing out in the U.S. Central District Court of California and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals all the while Fine has been held in solitary coercive confinement in the L.A. County Central Men’s jail since March 4, 2009.

Fine was sentenced for an indefinite period of time, without bail, hearing date or release date, for civil contempt of court after he attempted to disqualify Superior Court Judge David Yaffe on the grounds that he had taken illegal payments from a party to the case.

In his new Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed in the U.S. District Court Mr. Fine cites on page 12 that the 5 day limit to hold him for “coercive incarceration” as having been violated by the L. A. Superior Court and the L A County Sheriff.

Also on page 12 the petition cites that 28 USC Section 2243 as having been violated by Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle and Judge John F, Walter. Magistrate Judge signed an order to strike the filing of the Writ, even though she was named as a defendant and Judge Walter signed both a judgment and denial even though he was named as a defendant.

Fine also filed an emergency writ of mandate in the Ninth Circuit Court of appeal to order the District Court to issue the writ.

Appearing in the video are:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Fight Against Illegal Judicial Benefits & Court Corruption: Video 6 min

Los Angeles, CA The Full Disclosure Network® presents a special six minute “preview” covering the ten-part cable television series. The Video Reveals the on-going Court battle between Superior Court Judges, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Court Administrators, a prominent jailed anti-trust attorney and the Judicial Watch organization. The legal battle began when Richard I Fine challenged Superior Court Judges who had been receiving illegal payments from the County of Los Angeles and who did not disclose those payments on their Economic Disclosure Form 700 nor to the parties appearing before the judges in their court rooms in cases that involved the County of Los Angeles.

Appearing in the six minute video are:

  • Richard I Fine, who is serving an indefinite sentence in L.A. County Central Men’s Jail since March 4th, 2009 for attempting to disqualify Judge David Yaffe
  • Sterling Norris, Judicial Watch Attorney (Sturgeon vs. County of L.A.)
  • Paul Orphanedes, Judicial Watch Attorney (Sturgeon vs. County of L.A.)
  • Professor Emeritus Daniel Gottlieb, Purdue University (ret.)
  • Leslie Dutton, Full Disclosure host and moderator

Issues covered in this preview presentation of the complete series are:

  • Senate Bill SBX2 11, Legislation granting retroactive criminal and civil immunity to all California Judges, County Government and Court officials who participated in the illegal payment scheme, since 1988 to present.
  • L. A. County Sheriff Leroy Baca’s fight to prevent Full Disclosure Network’s access to interview jailed attorney Richard I Fine.
  • Richard I Fine’s incarceration in the L. A. County Jail

Related Links:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chief Justice Ronald George Attacks California Intiative Process & Direct Democracy


OCTOBER 10, 2009

It is an honor to speak as a representative of the new class of Academy members. I would like to share some thoughts with you on a matter that has been of recent and continued professional concern to me, but that I believe may be of general interest to members of the Academy, because it fundamentally implicates how we govern ourselves. This is the increasing use of the ballot Initiative process available in many states to effect constitutional and statutory changes in the law, especially in the structure and powers of government.

A not-too-subtle clue to my point of view is reflected in the caption I have chosen for these remarks — “The Perils of Direct Democracy: The California Experience.” Although two dozen states in our nation permit government by voter Initiative, in no other state is the practice as extreme as in California.

By the terms of its Constitution, California permits a relatively small number of petition signers — equal to at least 8% of the voters in the last gubernatorial election — to place before the voters a proposal to amend any aspect of our Constitution. (The figure is only 5% for a proposed non-constitutional statutory enactment.) If approved by a simple majority of those voting at the next election, the Initiative measure goes into effect on the following day.

The legislature (by two-thirds vote of each house) shares with the voters the power to place proposed constitutional amendments before the electorate. California, however, is unique among all American jurisdictions in prohibiting its legislature, without express voter approval, from amending or repealing even a statutory measure enacted by the voters, unless the Initiative measure itself specifically confers such authority upon the legislature.

The process for amending California’s Constitution thus is considerably easier than the amendment process embodied in the United States Constitution, under which an amendment may be proposed either by a vote of two-thirds of each house of Congress or by a convention called on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the states. It can be ratified only by the legislatures of (or by conventions held in) three-quarters of the states.

The relative ease with which the California Constitution can be amended is dramatically illustrated by the frequency with which this has occurred. Only 17 amendments to the United States Constitution (in addition to the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791) have been adopted since that document was ratified in 1788. In contrast, more than 500 amendments to the California Constitution have been adopted since ratification of California’s current Constitution in 1879.

Former United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black was known to pride himself on carrying in his pocket a slender pamphlet containing the federal Constitution in its entirety. I certainly could not emulate that practice with California’s constitutional counterpart.

One Bar leader has observed: “California’s current constitution rivals India’s for being the longest and most convoluted in the world . . . . [W]ith the cumulative dross of past voter initiatives incorporated, [it] is a document that assures chaos.”

Initiatives have enshrined a myriad of provisions into California’s constitutional charter, including a prohibition on the use of gill nets and a measure regulating the confinement of barnyard fowl in coops. This last constitutional amendment was enacted on the same 2008 ballot that amended the state Constitution to override the California Supreme Court’s decision recognizing the right of same-sex couples to marry. Chickens gained valuable rights in California on the same day that gay men and lesbians lost them.

Perhaps most consequential in their impact on the ability of California state and local government to function are constitutional and statutory mandates and prohibitions — often at cross-purposes — limiting how elected officials may raise and spend revenue. California’s lawmakers, and the state itself, have been placed in a fiscal straitjacket by a steep two-thirds-vote requirement — imposed at the ballot box — for raising taxes. A similar supermajoritarian requirement governs passage of the state budget. This situation is compounded by voter Initiative measures that have imposed severe restrictions upon increases in the assessed value of real property that is subject to property tax, coupled with constitutional requirements of specified levels of financial support for public transportation and public schools.

These constraints upon elected officials — when combined with a lack of political will (on the part of some) to curb spending and (on the part of others) to raise taxes — often make a third alternative, borrowing, the most attractive option (at least until the bankers say “no”).

Much of this constitutional and statutory structure has been brought about not by legislative fact-gathering and deliberation, but rather by the approval of voter Initiative measures, often funded by special interests. These interests are allowed under the law to pay a bounty to signature-gatherers for each signer. Frequent amendments — coupled with the implicit threat of more in the future — have rendered our state government dysfunctional, at least in times of severe economic decline.

Because of voter Initiatives restricting the taxing powers that the legislature may exercise, California’s tax structure is particularly dependent upon fluctuating types of revenue, giving rise to a “boom or bust” economic cycle. The consequences this year have been devastating to programs that, for example, provide food to poor children and health care for the elderly disabled. This year’s fiscal crisis also has caused the Judicial Council, which I chair, to take the reluctant and unprecedented step of closing all courts in our state one day a month. That decision will enable us to offset approximately one-fourth of the more than $400 million reduction imposed by the other two branches of government on the $4 billion budget of our court system.

The voter Initiative process places additional burdens upon the judicial branch. The court over which I preside frequently is called upon to resolve legal challenges to voter Initiatives. Needless to say, we incur the displeasure of the voting public when, in the course of performing our constitutional duties as judges, we are compelled to invalidate such a measure.

On occasion, we are confronted with a pre-election lawsuit that causes us to remove an Initiative proposal from the ballot because, by combining insufficiently related issues, it violates our state Constitution’s single-subject limitation on such measures. At other times, a voter Initiative — perhaps poorly drafted and ambiguous, or faced with a competing or “dueling” measure that passed at the same election — requires years of successive litigation in the courts to ferret out its intended meaning, and ultimately may have to be invalidated in whole or in part.
One thing is fairly certain, however. If a proposal, whatever its nature, is sufficiently funded by its backers, it most likely will obtain the requisite number of signatures to qualify for the ballot, and — if it does qualify — there is a good chance the measure will pass. The converse certainly is true — poorly funded efforts, without sufficient backing to mount an expensive television campaign — are highly unlikely to succeed, whatever their merit.

This dysfunctional situation has led some to call for the convening of a convention to write a new Constitution for California to replace our current 1879 charter, which in turn supplanted the original 1849 document. Yet, although a recent poll reflects that 79% of Californians say the state is moving in the wrong direction, only 33% believe that the state’s Constitution requires “major” changes and approximately 60% are of the view that decisions made by Californians through the Initiative process are better than those made by the legislature and the governor.
Add to this mix a split among scholars concerning whether a constitutional convention, if called, could be limited in the subject matter it is empowered to consider. Some argue that a convention would be open to every type of proposal from any source, including social activists and special interest groups. There also is controversy over the most appropriate procedure for selecting delegates for such a convention.

A student of government might reasonably ask: Does the voter Initiative, a product of the Populist Movement that reached its high point in the early 20th century in the mid-west and western states, remain a positive contribution in the form in which it now exists in 21st century California? Or, despite its original objective — to curtail special interests, such as the railroads, that controlled the legislature of California and of some other states — has the voter Initiative now become the tool of the very types of special interests it was intended to control, and an impediment to the effective functioning of a true democratic process?

John Adams — who I believe never would have supported a voter Initiative process like California’s — cautioned that “democracy never lasts long . .
. . There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” The nation’s Founding Fathers, wary of the potential excesses of direct democracy, established a republic with a carefully crafted system of representative democracy. This system was characterized by checks and balances that conferred authority upon the officeholders of our three branches of government in a manner designed to enable them to curtail excesses engaged in by their sister branches.

Perhaps with the dangers of direct democracy in mind, Benjamin Franklin gave his much-quoted response to a question posed by a resident of Philadelphia after the adjournment of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Asked the type of government that had been established by the delegates, Franklin responded: “It would be a republic, if you can keep it.” And, as Justice David Souter recently observed in quoting this exchange, Franklin “understood that a republic can be lost.”

At a minimum, in order to avoid such a loss, Californians may need to consider some fundamental reform of the voter Initiative process. Otherwise, I am concerned, we shall continue on a course of dysfunctional state government, characterized by a lack of accountability on the part of our officeholders as well as the voting public.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009


From Left: Stanley Sheinbaum, Bill Rosendahl, Leslie Dutton on October 29, 2009

Los Angeles, CA Full Disclosure Network® is releasing a two minute video report featuring a short excerpt from a meeting with L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, held on October 29, 2009 where he informs Stanley Sheinbaum, the former LAPD Police Commission President and First Amendment powerhouse that Public Access television is finished in Los Angeles. The meeting was videotaped during an interview by Full Disclosure Network's® Host Leslie Dutton, as part of Documentary Series entitled “Saving The Public Channels in America”. In the interview Council member Rosendahl repeatedly called for citizens to come forward and pressure elected officials, his colleagues, and Congress to save public access channels.

It was a shock when Councilmember Rosendahl informed Sheinbaum and Dutton that public access in L.A. is now finished and not expected to come before the council again. The entire Los Angeles City Council and the Mayor had unanimously signed off on a budget proposal that provided for a public access channel. That proposal was submitted just a few months ago by Sheinbaum and Dutton, Founding members of the Public Television Industry Corportation (PTIC) resulting from months of rallying public access TV supporters to testify a number of times before the City Council, the ITA Council Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee meetings. The PTIC plan received a recommendation from the ITA Agency and when the Mayor did not opposed the unanimous Council vote, or the ITA recommendation, it appeared that the proposal to restore public access TV in Los Angeles had full support.

The Full Disclosure Network® video video report is being distributed by to public access producers via Email in an effort to rally the troops for yet another push at the City Council in order to rekindle their commitment and restore the public channels. PTIC leaders have expressed a concern that a most of the public access viewers and producers can no longer be reached as the channels have been dark for almost a year. The elderly, low and moderate income citizens who are computer and Internet illiterate are without a means to receive local and neighborhood news via independent television programming. The mainstream media has long ago abandoned public affairs and local issues.

Currently the city receives $25 million dollars from cable franchise operators plus a yet to be reported amount from telecom giants ATT and Verizon who are now competing for subscribers and required to pay similar fee to the city. A 2007 State Law known as DIVCA mandated State control of public cable and telecom franchises. Included in the legislation however was a provision for an additional 1% ($5 million) exclusively reserved for public access facilities, also controlled by the City. The current fiscal crisis has led to speculation and questions regarding where the money will go.