Kanawha County West Virginia Judge James Stucky Says Man Who Stole And Sexually Assaulted Goat While Dressed In Womens Clothing And High On Bath Salts Not Criminally Responsible

September 18, 2012

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA – A judge says a West Virginia man will not be held criminally responsible for allegedly stealing, sexually assaulting and killing his neighbor’s pygmy goat while high on bath salts.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge James Stucky ruled Monday that Mark Lucas Thompson of Alum Creek is not competent for trial on the charges he faces for animal cruelty.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the decision comes after several mental evaluations. Stucky instead ordered that Thompson spend six and a half years in treatment at the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston.

Police arrested Thompson in May 2011 after neighbors found him in his room standing next to the dead goat and dressed in women’s clothing. He was indicted for animal cruelty and petit larceny.

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Judges, Lawyers, And Staff From Ninth Federal Circuit Take Hawaii Vacation At Taxpayer Expense – Over A Million Dollars Down The Drain

May 20, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, federal district and bankruptcy courts in nine Western states and two Pacific island territories, along with lawyers practicing in those courts, and court staff, will gather at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa from August 13 – 16, 2012 in what looks like a less than valiant attempt to ensure American justice is being served…at a cost to taxpayers of approximately one million dollars.

From tennis courts to the caddy shack and luau experience, justice will be served in a manner many Americans never get to experience. Breitbart News has reviewed a letter from the offices of the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Jeff Sessions, and the offices of Senator Chuck Grassley, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with several detailed questions they want answered by the Ninth District.

The letter cites the 2010 version of the Ninth Circuit’s annual judicial conference that cost taxpayers over $657,000 in travel costs alone, along with $860,000 in combined travel costs for the Ninth Circuit’s 2008 and 2009 annual conferences in Monterey, California and Sun Valley, Idaho, respectively. It also provides evidence of the Ninth Circuit’s awareness of the Government’s budget challenges in the face of a still suffering Obama economy, going on to challenge why the Ninth Circuit seems determined to go on spending large amounts of money on plush conferences, when a more prudent approach could provide the same value for professional purposes.

The Senate’s latest effort doesn’t appear to be just a bit of politically motivated PR of some form. The Ninth District is considered by many to be the most liberal of all U.S. Court Districts, with 64% of sitting judges having been appointed by Democrats–the highest of all the districts. Many also consider the district as having the highest rate of being overturned by the Supreme Court. Research by Breitbart News suggests other districts are making efforts to cut back, while the Ninth District appears to have maintained a Party on, dude! attitude when it comes to putting on its judicial conferences.

As in past years, the Ninth District seems content to leave taxpayers on the hook for whisking many judges and aligned judicial professionals off to an exclusive destination, so that they might also enjoy “yoga, surfing lessons, stand up paddle board lessons, Zumba (a Latin-inspired dance program), a tennis tournament, a day trip and tour of Upcountry Maui, a Gemini Catamaran snorkle trip, and an activity called ‘The Aloha Experience.’”

That list from the Senate letter appears to have been taken directly from a flashy webpage that functions as a brochure of sorts for the expedition. All of the activities would be subsidized, or paid for by tax payers to some extent, despite a claim at bottom that “Government funds are not used for any sporting or recreational activities”.

What happens in Maui may stay in Maui, but one still has to get there and back, while salaries also have to be taken into account. That was pointed out in a previous report on the Ninth Circuit’s 2011 conference by another news outlet. In 2011, they claimed, “a minimum of $700,000 will be spent on salaries of the 267 judges in attendance, which range from $164,000 to $223,500″ for last year’s event. They also reported that each judge was eligible for a $391 per day stipend for hotel and food costs, that could total $417,600 over last year’s four day Ninth Circuit conference.

Meanwhile, independent research by Breitbart News suggests some, if not all other districts, are taking a more prudent, responsible approach in hosting their annual conferences this year. The Eighth Circuit seems to be taking a more modest approach with a three day event, if this is representative: “The judges of the Eighth Circuit invite you to join them August 8 – 10, 2012, at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown for the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference.”

The Seventh Circuit appears to team up with the District’s Bar Association for a 3 day conference in Chicago, at first glance, at least appearing to be far more down to business oriented. The main site for the Sixth District’s 2012 annual conference is here. It lists a number of what it calls “social” events in this linkable document, and the Sixth Circuit doesn’t appear to have the fancy website, though it looks inviting enough, without going to the length, or approach of the Ninth District, relying instead on typed documents in pdf form to present relevant information.

While deadline prevented Breitbart News from doing an exhaustive analysis of all the districts, there does appear to be a glaring contrast between the Ninth Circuit’s approach and that of many other districts, as pointed out in an August 2011 write up by U-T San Diego, done while the Ninth Circuit was presumeably educating, as well as entertaining and serving justice and itself in grand style–some part of it at taxpayer expense–at the La Costa Resort & Spa with “400 lush garden acres near the beach in Carlsbad, CA–but miles away from the pressures of the world” according to this report.

CARLSBAD — Hundreds of federal judges from nine western states are gathering at the La Costa Resort & Spa this week for the annual 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ Judicial Conference.

The event is costing $225,000 to put on — funded with $50,000 of taxpayer money and $175,000 in payments from attorneys who are charged to attend.

In addition, The Watchdog estimates a minimum of $700,000 will be spent on salaries of the 267 judges in attendance, which range from $164,000 to $223,500.

A conference session Wednesday afternoon highlighted the impact of judiciary budget cuts.

While federal law permits the conference as a means for improving the justice system, some circuits have started canceling or curtailing the conferences, citing budget woes.

Three of the 12 federal court circuits — the ones in New England, the Rocky Mountain states and some mid-Atlantic states — have canceled their next judicial conference, The Watchdog found in a survey.

Others aim to keep costs low by holding conferences at lower cost venues. For the Washington D.C. Circuit, that means Farmington, Penn., where they can stay in $110 per night accommodations.

They may not always get the law right, given what many view as the Ninth Circuit’s high rate of being overturned, but it appears as though they can do a mean “Zumba” and have some darned good tans, while not exactly starving themselves as many Americans continue to look for work in President Obama’s down economy.

In background discussions for this report, the offices of Senators Sessions and Grassley seemed determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on in the Ninth Circuit in this regard. No doubt conservative media and new media outlets will be spanking the bottoms of some mostly liberal judges on conservative blogs and other venues, perhaps as they should, while this story unfolds this week.

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Investigation Centers On Will County Illinois Judge Joseph Polito’s Internet Account Being Used In Attempts To View Hardcore Internet Pornography

April 24, 2012

JOLIET, ILLINOIS – Associate Judge Joseph Polito was trusted with one of Will County’s most notorious heater cases in 2007 when he presided over Plainfield man Craig Stebic’s attempt to divorce his missing wife Lisa.

Now he’s at the center of an unsolved riddle of his own.

Someone using Judge Polito’s computer login and password at the Joliet courthouse has been trying to use county computers to view hardcore Internet pornography, documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Polito won’t say if it’s him — but Chief Judge Gerald R. Kinney has apologized “for any embarrassment this incident has caused.” And he’s referred the case to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, which has the power to file disciplinary charges that could result in Polito being suspended or even fired.

Among the 243 porn websites somebody using Polito’s county computer account attempted to access are chubbyparade.com, hugeheavybreasts.com, bigbras-club.com, portofdebauchery.com and teenagesextape.com.

Many of the websites have names that can’t be printed in a family newspaper. Several suggest an interest in masturbation and large breasted women. Others cover specialty interests including office sex and older women.

The list of porn websites was logged by Web-filtering software designed to stop county employees from wasting taxpayer time on non-work-related websites.

Tens of thousands of attempts to visit inappropriate websites — typically social networking, chat and shopping sites — are automatically blocked and logged in Will County government every month by the software, which is similar to software used in workplaces across the U.S.

But it wasn’t until the Sun-Times used the Freedom of Information Act to request a copy of the log in May last year that officials say they launched an investigation into the unusual activity on Polito’s computer account.

Chief Judge Kinney insisted for months that documents identifying Polito as the likeliest prolific courthouse porn user were judicial records that the public had no right to see. He finally released them earlier this month, after the Illinois Attorney General’s office wrote in a legal opinion that the list of porn websites was “unrelated to any judicial function [and] is not a judicial record.”

The list covers a six-month period beginning in late 2010. It shows that someone using Polito’s county computer account attempted to view porn on five days in January and April last year.

Polito, who was appointed an associate judge in 2006 and has a computer on the bench of his third-floor courtroom, was assigned as a “floating judge” at the time, records show. He handled traffic, small claims and forfeiture hearings on the days his account was used to try to view porn.

Now assigned to divorce cases, he refused to speak to a Sun-Times reporter about his workplace Internet habits last week. A bailiff who polices Polito’s courtroom said the judge “is not available” for comment.

But a defendant in a small claims case who appeared before Polito on Jan. 4 last year said it would be a “disgrace” if it turns out the judge was looking at porn during court hours.

Andrew Coleman, 53, believes he was treated “unfairly” in several rulings by Polito. His opponent in court was a “young woman in a tight leotard” and Polito “sat there and smiled at everything she said and ignored everything we said,” Coleman said, adding, “Maybe that’s where his mind was — he didn’t seem focused on the facts.”

Judge Kinney disagrees that the alleged porn use had any effect on Polito’s work. The chief judge said there was “no evidence that there’s been any impact on [Polito’s] ability to serve the community as a member of the judiciary.”

In a vaguely worded statement he released with the other Will County Circuit Court Judges, Kinney added that “appropriate steps have been taken to address any underlying issues that led to this behavior.”

He said a probation officer whose account was also used to view porn is no longer employed by Will County but declined to discuss specifics of Polito’s case, saying the matter was a “confidential personnel issue.”

Whoever used Polito’s account was likely frustrated.

Though he or she tried to visit 69 inappropriate websites on April 27 alone, none of those nor any of the other 164 attempts to view porn logged by the filtering software was successful, according to Will County Information, Communications and Technology director Mike Shay.

The software works by blocking websites on a banned list, Shay said. The list of banned sites is updated daily, but the vast amount of pornography published online means it isn’t foolproof, Shay added, making the system vulnerable to a determined and persistent porn hunter.

“Sometimes someone will get through,” he said.

Whether they’re a judge or an office clerk, anyone who uses a computer at work should assume they’re leaving a digital trail that can be tracked by their bosses, according to Daniel Keller, president of Interim HR Consulting.

If you’re at work using a computer and Internet connection supplied by your employer, “There shouldn’t be any expectation of privacy,” he said.

Keller routinely advises clients to install porn-blocking software but said that the biggest problem facing employers is workers using social media during work hours.

“Back in 2007 or 2008, most of the terminations for inappropriate Internet use were related to pornography,” he said. “Now it’s nearly all Facebook and Twitter.”

Whatever you’re looking at, Keller cautioned, “there are tracking mechanisms that go back to the individual user.”

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Man Sentenced To 3 Days In Jail By Autauga County Alabama Judge John Bush For Sagging Pants

April 11, 2012

PRATTVILLE, ALABAMA — A Prattville man was given a three-day jail sentence Tuesday for contempt of court after his wardrobe didn’t pass judicial muster.

LaMarcus D. Ramsey, 20, was in Autauga County Circuit Court to enter a plea on a charge of receiving stolen property. Circuit Judge John Bush took exception to the fact that Ramsey’s blue jeans were sagging too low. The three-day stint will be served in the Autauga Metro jail.

“You are in contempt of court because you showed your butt in court,” a visibly irate Bush told Ramsey. “You can spend three days in jail. When you get out you can buy pants that fit, or at least get a belt to hold up your pants so your underwear doesn’t show.”

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Broward County Florida Judge John Hurley Orders Man To Take Wife On A Day With Bowling And Meal At Red Lobster

February 8, 2012

MIAMI, FLORIDA – Judge John Hurley ruled that a man involved in a dispute with his wife must take her out to dinner and bowling and then get counseling.

Judge John Hurley ruled that a man involved in a dispute with his wife must take her out to dinner and bowling and then get counseling.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a Florida judge ruled on Tuesday that a man involved in a scuffle with his wife treat her to an evening at a local bowling alley and a romantic meal at Red Lobster.

Judge John Hurley ordered that Joseph Bray, 47 and his wife Sonja, 39, also visit a marriage counselor.

Hurley handed down this ruling instead of setting bond or slapping Bray with a prison sentence after he deemed domestic violence charges leveled by Bray’s wife to be “very, very minor.”

According to Bray’s arrest affidavit, Bray and his wife got embroiled in a spat after he failed to wish her a happy birthday. Bray’s wife claims that her husband shoved her against a sofa and grabbed her neck.

The judge, citing Bray’s otherwise clean record and the incident’s apparent lack of serious violence, did not consider Bray’s behavior a major offense. However, Bray must follow the stipulations of Hurley’s ruling very closely if he wants to avoid potential jail time.

“He’s going to stop by somewhere and he’s going to get some flowers,” Hurley said at a hearing, according to Florida newspaper Sun Sentinel. “And then he’s going to go home, pick up his wife, get dressed, take her to Red Lobster. And then after they have Red Lobster, they’re going to go bowling.”

Hurley noted that he would not typically treat a domestic violence charge in a similarly jocular or light-hearted manner.

“The court would not normally [make this ruling] if the court felt there was some violence but this is very, very minor and the court felt that that was a better resolution than the other alternatives,” Hurley said.

According to Google Maps, there is a Red Lobster conveniently located in Plantation, Florida—Bray’s city of residence—adjacent to a Kohl’s and nearby the Broward Mall.

Fortunately for Bray and his wife, the Plantation Red Lobster receives high marks in Google Maps’ Review section.

Google user Georgia Valente writes that “of all the Red Lobsters in South Florida,” the couple’s dinner destination is “quite possibly the best.”

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Harris County Texas Court Sentenced Man To Life In Prison For Of Robbery That Occured While He Was In Jail

December 13, 2011

HOUSTON, TX – LaDondrell Montgomery had his conviction for armed robbery and a life sentence overturned thanks to his attorney discovering he was in jail at the time of the crime.

But he’s still not a free man. The Houston, Texas, felon remains in jail faced with five more robbery charges.

“He learned from his trouble. But he did have a record and I believe that is what kind of got him into trouble now, ” Larry Montgomery, 58, told ABCNews.com. “Some of the people involved [in the cases] knew him from the past, from the neighborhood, and I believe had personal vendettas against him.”

LaDondrell Montgomery, 36, has had several stints behind bars, starting in his twenties, which made it difficult for him to remember whether he was in jail or out on a particular date.

His life sentence for armed robbery, which he received in November, was overturned last Thursday after his attorney realized he had an air tight alibi. He was in jail at the time of the crime.

“My son had previously been in and out of incarceration before and had trouble remembering the dates,” the elder Montgomery said.

LaDondrell Montgomery might not have known where he was on Dec. 13, 2009, but he knew one place where he was not- the check cashing store that was held up by an armed robber.

He insisted throughout the trial that he was not the man in the surveillance footage that was used to convict him and sentence him to life in prison.

Montgomery’s life sentence was thrown out after his attorney, Ronald Ray, scoured his rap sheet and realized he had been in jail at the time on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge and hadn’t been released until nine hours after the crime.

State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis chided Ray and Assistant Harris County District Attorney Alison Baimbridge for being “spectacularly incompetent,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

Baimbridge was unavailable for comment, but told the newspaper that prosecutors are typically barred from questioning suspects.

“That information, everyone would assume, would come from the person in custody,” she said.

Ray told the newspaper the barb didn’t bother him.

“I have freed a man from a life sentence, so if you want to say I’m incompetent for doing that, I’ll accept that with a smile,” he said.

For now, Larry Montgomery, who is a bishop with the Nation of God Ministries, said he hopes his son will be exonerated of the other counts and will return to being a productive member of society, something his father said he trying to do.

“He got married and he had a child,” Montgomery said. “He went to work for the Harris County Flood Control. Every day, all the time. He was trying to turn his life around as a family man.”

It’s unclear whether Montgomery has discovered five more iron-clad alibis to get him out of trouble this time.

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Aransas County Texas Judge William Adams Finally Suspended (But Still Not Charged) After Video Surfaces Of Him Beating His Daughter

November 23, 2011

McALLEN, TEXAS – The Texas Supreme Court suspended a judge Tuesday whose beating of his then-teenage daughter in 2004 was viewed millions of times on the Internet.

Aransas County court-at-law Judge William Adams was suspended immediately with pay pending the outcome of the inquiry started earlier this month by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, according to an order signed Tuesday by the clerk of the state’s highest court.

The order makes clear that while Adams agreed to the commission’s recommended temporary suspension and waived the hearing and notice requirements, he does not admit “guilt, fault or wrongdoing” regarding the allegations. His attorney did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Adams’ now 23-year-old daughter Hillary Adams uploaded the secretly-recorded 2004 video of her father beating her repeatedly with a belt for making illegal downloads from the internet.

William Adams has not sat on the bench since the video went viral. It has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube.

The public outcry over the video was so great that in a rare move, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced publicly Nov. 2 that it had opened an investigation. A statement from the commission then said that it had been flooded with calls, emails and faxes regarding the video and Adams.

William Adams appeared in court Monday for a day-long hearing regarding the custody of his 10-year-old daughter. His wife had sought a change in their joint custody agreement, and another judge imposed a temporary restraining order effectively keeping William Adams from being alone with his younger daughter until he reached a decision. An order was expected in that dispute Wednesday.

As Aransas County’s top judge, William Adams has dealt with at least 349 family law cases in the past year alone, nearly 50 of which involved state caseworkers seeking determine whether parents were fit to raise their children. A visiting judge has been handling his caseload.

After reviewing the investigation conducted by local police, the Aransas County district attorney said too much time had passed to bring charges against William Adams.

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Aransas County Texas Judge William Adams Under Investigation After Career-Ending Video Surfaces Of Him Brutally Beating His Daughter – 2.3 Million Hits On YouTube Before State Took Action…

November 3, 2011

McALLEN, TEXAS – As his adult daughter took to national television, the career of the Texas judge now infamous for the violent beating he gave her as a teenager began to look less certain Thursday. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced that it had opened an investigation into the video, now viewed more than 2.3 million times on YouTube, that shows Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams beating his then 16-year-old daughter with a belt for using an illegal file-sharing program. carrer

County officials said Thursday that Adams would not hear any cases related to Child Protective Services for at least the next two weeks. And the top administrator in Aransas County cast doubt on whether Adams could credibly return to the bench.

“I would think it would be very difficult,” said Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills Jr. “Personally I don’t see how he can recover from this.”

Calls to Adams’ office and that of his attorney were not immediately returned Thursday.

Hillary Adams, 23, says the outpouring of support and encouragement she’s received since posting the 2004 video online last week is tempered by the sadness that it’s her father lashing her 17 times with a belt and threatening to beat her “into submission.”

“I’m experiencing some regret because I just pulled the covers off my own father’s misbehavior after so many people thought he was such a good person. … But so many people are also telling me I did the right thing,” she told The Associated Press outside her mother’s home in the Gulf Coast town of Portland, near Corpus Christi Wednesday.

“He’s supposed to be a judge who exercises fit judgment,” she said

And she said the videoed attack was not a one-off. “It did happen regularly for a period of time,” she told NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday.

In the same interview, Hallie Adams blamed her ex-husband’s bouts of violence on his “addiction,” calling it a “family secret.” She did not elaborate. Their 22-year marriage ended in 2007.

Police in Rockport, where the 51-year-old judge lives, opened an investigation Wednesday after receiving calls from several concerned citizens, Police Chief Tim Jayroe said.

Adams, Aransas County’s top judge, was elected in 2001 and has dealt with at least 349 family law cases in the past year alone, nearly 50 of which involved state caseworkers seeking determine whether parents were fit to raise their children.

Aransas County Attorney Richard Bianchi said Thursday that a visiting judge would be handling CPS cases on Adams’ docket for the next two weeks. The agreement between the judges was only on those specific cases, but Bianchi said the visiting judge should take on all of them.

“It makes sense to me that as long as he’s (the visiting judge) here, he’ll be travelling from San Antonio, that it might be just as well that he go ahead and handle the whole docket,” Bianchi said.

Asked if he had concerns about Adams’ ability to handle future cases, or about the impact on cases already processed in Adams’ court, Bianchi said his top concern was the integrity of the process going forward.

“We have to do everything we can to protect that process,” he said.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services did not immediately provide comment, but Bianchi said the agency was involved in the decision to bring in a visiting judge to handle those cases.

Corpus Christi television station KZTV caught up with the judge Wednesday, and he confirmed it was him in the video. But he said it “looks worse than it is” and that he doesn’t expect to be disciplined.

“In my mind, I haven’t done anything wrong other than discipline my child after she was caught stealing,” Adams said. “And I did lose my temper, but I’ve since apologized.”

When told of her father’s comments, Hillary Adams said, “it’s a shining perfect example of his personality and he believes he can do no wrong. … He will cover up rather than admit to what he did and try to come clean.”

The 13-member Commission on Judicial Conduct comprises judges, lawyers and regular citizens. If this initial investigation leads to a formal proceeding, Adams would have an opportunity to make his case to the commission in a hearing. After that hearing the commission has the authority to censure a judge or recommend to the Texas Supreme Court that the judge be suspended or removed. The Supreme Court would then form a tribunal of appellate judges to review the case and make a determination.

Rockport Police and the Texas Rangers are conducting their own investigation. If criminal charges are brought against Adams, the commission could suspend him.

If the judicial commission and police investigations do not amount to anything, Adams could be safe in his seat on the bench for another three years. The last time he ran for re-election he faced no opposition.

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Aransas County Texas Judge William Adams And Wife Caught On Video Beating Their Daughter For Using Internet

November 2, 2011

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – A video uploaded to YouTube is gaining national attention for claiming to show a Texas judge beating a young girl.

A description on the video says the abused girl is Hillary Adams, the daughter of Aransas County Judge at Law William Adams.

The video’s timestamp shows it was uploaded October 27, but didn’t receive national attention until Wednesday morning. Last night the video had 300 hits. By Wednesday afternoon, it had already topped 500,000.

In a phone interview with TV station KZTV, Hillary Adams says she uploaded the video to bring attention to the problems she says she had when she was younger.

“It had happened before, and had been escalating,” Adams says. “I set up a camera, and I caught it.”

Adams says she was downloading music from a peer-to-peer networking site — something she says her father had forbidden — before the incident happened.

“My father’s harassment was getting really bad, so I decided to finally publish the video that I had been sitting on for seven years.”

Adams says the abuse happened for years, but she never thought it was unusual. “I thought abuse at some level was normal.”

A woman, purportedly the judge’s wife, also appears on the video hitting the girl. The video’s description claims the wife was also abused and should not be blamed for her conduct in the video.

Users on the popular site Reddit uploaded images of pizza orders they sent to his house overnight, and some said they were calling the Aransas County courthouse to leave messages.

The judge is up for re-election, and a Facebook page has been created advising people to vote him out.

Judge Adams responded to the allegations on Wednesday, saying “It happened years ago… I apologize.”

When asked if he thought the conduct in the video was excessive, Judge Adams answered, “It’s not as bad as it looks on tape.”

Watch the video below. WARNING: This video may be disturbing to some viewers.

Police open investigation

Aransas County officials say the video is causing major disruptions, as people are flooding phone lines to complain.

Officials there say the Sherriff’s office and local police have opened an investigation into the claims made by Judge Adams’ daughter.

Judge Adams says he has already contacted the Judicial Review in Austin and “more will come out” during the investigation.

Local officials say they’re stepping up police presence in the small town, after many people have called in death threats.

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Worthless Corpus Christi Texas Judge Jose Longoria Allows BS Case To Proceed, Woman To Be Convicted In “Pretty Simple, Straightforward Spanking Case”

June 18, 2011

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – A judge in Corpus Christi, Texas had some harsh words for a mother charged with spanking her own child before sentencing her to probation.

“You don’t spank children today,” said Judge Jose Longoria. “In the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don’t spank children.”

Rosalina Gonzales had pleaded guilty to a felony charge of injury to a child for what prosecutors had described as a “pretty simple, straightforward spanking case.” They noted she didn’t use a belt or leave any bruises, just some red marks.

As part of the plea deal, Gonzales will serve five years probation, during which time she’ll have to take parenting classes, follow CPS guidelines, and make a $50 payment to the Children’s Advocacy Center.

She was arrested back in December after the child’s paternal grandmother noticed red marks on the child’s rear end. The grandmother took the girl, who was two years-old at the time, to the hospital to be checked out.

Gonzales who doesn’t have custody of the child or her other two children, is trying to get them back, but until CPS feels she is ready the kids are living with their paternal grandmother.

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Forsyth Georgia Municipal Court DUI Judge And Monroe County Chief Magistrate Jeff Davis Pleads Guilty To DUI For A Slap On The Wrist

June 11, 2011

MACON, GEORGIA — A Forsyth Municipal Court judge who heard DUI cases has pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge.

Judge Jeff Davis, who also is chief magistrate for Monroe County, entered his plea in Bibb County court Friday. He was sentenced to one day in jail, a year of probation, 40 hours of community service and an $800 fine.

Bibb County authorities arrested Davis early Saturday at a safety checkpoint in near the Monroe County line.

The next day, Davis resigned from his job with the Forsyth Municipal Court. He has not stepped down from his Monroe County job.

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Dumbass Broward County Florida Deputies Go To Wrong House On Easter Sunday, Hold Judge And Family At Gunpoint

April 27, 2011

DEERFIELD BEACH, FLORIDA – Broward Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes, her sister and her sister’s family says they were ordered at gun point by several Broward Sheriffs Deputies on Easter Sunday to come out of her sister’s home with their hands up.

It was no evening of peace for the Deerfield Beach family, who’d just finished dinner with friends and family, and sent extra Easter dinner to a needy family connected with their church. Then, at 8:20 p.m., police got a call about a possible burglary next door. But a bad address caused police to go to the wrong home.

“Do I feel safe?” asked Carmita Scarlett, the homeowner and sister of Judge Holmes. “No, absolutely not. No, no. So much confusion, so much anger. So much, almost like, resentment. You know, ‘you made the mistake and,’ I told them, ‘I’m the victim and you’re upset with me?’”

The call to police said there might be a burglar inside 235 Southwest 4th Street. But there is no 235. Only 236 and 230.

Arriving police outside spotted someone inside 230 – Neville Scarlett was in the kitchen cleaning up the Easter dinner plates – and thought he might be the burglar.

He was not.

Moments earlier, the same person who called police also called the Scarlett’s to warn them about a possible burglar outside. Fearful, Carmita lowered the kitchen window shade. That’s when she heard someone hit the window with something metallic. She says she saw a gun pointed directly at her.

“There’s a man with a gun and he’s going to shoot me!!” yelled Carmita. “I thought it was the robber!” Her sister, Judge Holmes, came running to the kitchen. The judge carries a legal firearm and immediately pulled it out and held it in her hand.

“She said ‘Who are you!? What are you doing?!’ He said ‘this is BSO.’ She said, ‘this is Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes!!’” Carmita said.

“‘I’m the owner of this home. I’m Carmita Scarlett. Why are you at my home?’ I kept saying that. They said ‘put your hands up and come outside,’” she said.

Judge Holmes, perhaps borrowing from real life conflict she sees in her own courtroom, immediately cautioned deputies that she was armed so there’d be no misunderstanding.

“They said, ‘Come out with your hands up!’ She said, ‘I am Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes. I am armed.’”

They all slowly went out through a side door. “She was putting the gun down. They yelled, ‘put the gun down! Put the gun down!’ Right there, the cop had his gun pointed at her.”

Judge Holmes, surrounded by deputies with guns drawn, slowly put the gun on the grass, announcing it as she went. She was holding a cell phone in the other hand. When she began to place that on the ground, police began yelling.

“When she went to put that down, they yelled, ‘Get away from the gun!’ She said ‘everybody calm down. I’m putting my cell phone down’.”

At that point, a higher-ranking deputy recognized her and called on his team to lower their guns, according to Carmita.

“The one that first recognized her, he picked the gun up, opened it up, took the bullets out, he started giving her a speech: ‘Judge Holmes, you know, these guys may not know who you are. I know who you are. This could have been so different.’ And my sister said, ‘everyone of ya’ll know me. Ya’ll been before me’.”

Oh my, what an Easter Sunday Carmita had. She and her husband and granddaughter have seen stuff like this on TV and never believed it. “There’s no way that cops would really – because I’ve never had a run in with the cops – really go in and do stuff like that,” she said.

And now what does Carmita believe?

“Oh God.” She buries her face in her hands.

It was a communication meltdown from the beginning. The neighbor across the street originally called police to say she thought there was a burglar in the home of Pastor Brown across the street because the caller thought she saw lights going on and off. Instead, police went to the house next door, the Scarlett’s home.

Judge Holmes, one of the very few black judges in Broward County, saw justice from a whole new perspective. Tuesday night she was in her courtroom conducting a late–running trial and would not comment.

Judge Holmes has hired former U.S. Attorney and old friend Kendall Coffey, who says they’re concerned about what happened but won’t say whether she is considering legal action. He cautioned against reading too much into the fact that she brought him in to represent her and field questions while she’s in trial.

A BSO spokesman wouldn’t comment Tuesday night but did confirm the timeline, address and original burglary call. Police in South Florida often say they routinely must make certain people confirm who they say they are before lowering their weapons.

But Carmita was downright angry. Remember the man outside her kitchen window who pointed a gun at her? Still wearing her pajamas and footies, she approached him afterward. “I said ‘you had a gun pointed at me!’ He said ‘because I felt threatened.’ I said ‘threatened how?’”

She said other officers explained to her that they have families, too, and they want to make it home alive each night. But she says they did so in a condescending way, lecturing her as if she’d done something wrong.

“I know no one apologized, OK? And, to me, if you want to make amends for something, you want to make peace, you apologize, you shake, you leave, you say ‘I’m sorry,’” she said. “And, you know, the cop that had his gun on me, he said ‘well, I was fearing for my life.’ I said ‘really! You were fearing for your life? Really?’ He said ‘forget it – I’m out of here.’”

Carmita says she just wanted someone that night to apologize.

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Montana Judge Robert E. Lee, Chosen To Preside Over DUI Court, Charged With Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs

April 8, 2011

BUTTE, MONTANA – A Montana justice of the peace set to preside over a DUI court later this year has been charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

An assistant attorney general filed the misdemeanor DUI charge Thursday against Robert E. Lee.

He’s charged with driving to the Butte-Silver Bow County Courthouse on Nov. 13 while under the influence of methadone. The synthetic narcotic is used to relieve pain or prevent withdrawal from drug addiction.

Lee was to perform a wedding that morning.

A blood test confirmed the presence of methadone.

Lee says he does not take drugs and he is confident he will be vindicated.

Lee says he is scheduled in October to rotate in as the presiding judge for the county’s new DUI court.

A Montana justice of the peace recently appointed to help oversee a new DUI court has been charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

An assistant attorney general filed the misdemeanor DUI charge Thursday against Robert E. Lee, a retired Butte police officer.

Lee is charged with driving to the Butte-Silver Bow County Courthouse on Nov. 13 while under the influence of methadone, a synthetic narcotic used to relieve pain or prevent withdrawal symptoms from drug addiction.

He was knocking on the window of the police station that Saturday morning asking officers to let him into the courthouse because he had a wedding to perform, police said. Lee appeared confused and under the influence of alcohol or drugs, officers said.

The officers said Lee told them he drove to the courthouse and police found his vehicle parked in a handicapped zone. Court records said his driver’s license and some credit cards were found on the ground outside the courthouse.

Lee performed poorly on a field sobriety test, police said. A blood test confirmed the presence of methadone.

Lee told officers he was on lorazepam, an anti-anxiety medication. His wife told investigators that Lee was taking lorazepam to get off methadone.

Officers searched Lee’s vehicle and found a methadone tablet. At his house, officers were shown an empty bottle of methadone. The 60-tablet prescription had been filled nine days earlier.

Lee told KXLF-TV he was confident he would be vindicated. He also said he believed he would be allowed to remain on the bench, since the charge was a misdemeanor.

It’s not clear why he was charged five months after the reported violation. The county attorney denied a records request from The Montana Standard in December based on an item on the police dispatch log. County commissioners asked the state to help prosecute the case late last month.

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Highly Intoxicated Huntingdon County Pennsylvania Judge Douglas Gummo Arrested Trying To Get Into Female Judges Hotel Room – Found Naked And Wrapped In A Sheet

April 1, 2011

PENNSYLVANIA – Police have filed charges against a Pennsylvania judge who they said they found highly intoxicated, unclothed and wrapped in a bed sheet in a Cumberland County hotel.

Douglas Gummo, a magisterial district judge in Huntingdon County, is
charged with harassment, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.

East Pennsboro Township police said they were called to the Radisson Penn Harris hotel in Camp Hill on April 1 after getting a call from another judge. Police said Gummo had met the other judge at a conference at the Radisson and he was trying to get into her room.

“She refused him admission to her room previously in the evening,” a police news release states. “Gummo returned a short period later and beat on her door for approximately ten minutes and attempted to turn the door knob. He left and returned on two other occasions beating on the door attempting to gain access.”

The release goes on to state that when Gummo tried to get in the room the third time, the judge inside, who has not been identified, called police.

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Hillsborough Florida Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen Allows Lawsuit Case To Proceed Under Islamic In A U.S. Court…

March 22, 2011

TAMPA, FLORIDA -  The question of what law applies in any Florida courtroom usually comes down to two choices: federal or state.

But Hillsborough Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen is being attacked by conservative bloggers after he ruled in a lawsuit March 3 that, to resolve one crucial issue in the case, he will consult a different source.

“This case,” the judge wrote, “will proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law.”

Nielsen said he will decide in a lawsuit against a local mosque, the Islamic Education Center of Tampa, whether the parties in the litigation properly followed the teachings of the Koran in obtaining an arbitration decision from an Islamic scholar.

The suit was filed by several men who say they were improperly ousted as trustees in 2002. The dispute may decide who controls $2.2 million the center received from the state after some of its land was used in a road project.

But attorney Paul Thanasides last week appealed Nielson’s decision with the 2nd District Court of Appeal, saying religion has no place in a secular court.

His client: the mosque.

“The mosque believes wholeheartedly in the Koran and its teachings,” Thanasides said Monday. “They certainly follow Islamic law in connection with their spiritual endeavors. But with respect to secular endeavors, they believe Florida law should apply in Florida courts.”

The four ex-trustees suing the center did not return calls for comment. And attorneys representing them declined comment.

Nielsen, an appointee of Gov. Jeb Bush in 2000 who was subsequently elected, also did not return calls for comment.

The judge’s ruling comes as conservative lawmakers in Florida and around the nation are increasingly discussing legislation to ban or curtail the use of Islamic law, sometimes called sharia law, in U.S. courts.

Two Florida Republicans, Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Larry Metz, this month announced legislation to prevent Islamic law, or any foreign legal code, from being applied in state courts.

The Tampa case is drawing attention from some who cite it as proof judges are improperly using foreign law.

“Florida has joined the march towards Sharia,” a writer on the Constitution Club blog said.

Markus Wagner, a professor of international law at the University of Miami School of Law, said it is not improper for a judge to use foreign law in an arbitration if all the parties agree to do so.

“If we both sign a contract agreeing to be governed by German law, then Florida courts will interpret German law,” he said.

Others are less certain, including Neelofer Syed, a Tampa immigration lawyer who is a guest lecturer on Islamic law at Stetson University College of Law.

The mosque, she said, is incorporated under the laws of Florida and so is ruled by state law.

“I think the judge’s ruling is flawed,” Syed said. “If you live in a country, you are subject to that country’s laws.”

Just about everything involving the arbitration is in dispute.

An a’lim, a Muslim scholar trained in Islam and Islamic law, said the parties agreed to his arbitration if the lawsuit against individual trustees was dismissed. This occurred, though the ousted trustees then re-filed against the mosque itself.

Thanasides said the mosque’s directors would have to appoint a representative to participate in any legally binding arbitration.

That, he said, didn’t happen because the board was never notified of the arbitration.

Thanasides said the arbitration was not binding on the mosque for a litany of reasons. He said the mosque was not properly notified of the proceeding and did not participate. He questioned whether the a’lim had proper standing to decide anything.

He also questioned whether the arbitration actually took place, noting two participants the a’lim said were present were overseas at the time.

The a’lim ruled in a Dec. 28 decision that the ex-trustees were ousted improperly.

The ex-trustees then asked Judge Nielsen to enforce the arbitration award, which could wrest control of the money from the mosque’s current leaders.

Thanasides said using Islamic law to decide the issue violates the U.S. Constitution. He said existing Florida law governs arbitration findings. At a hearing in January, Nielsen disagreed.

“It appears that the Koran provides that where two or more brothers have a dispute, they are first required to try to resolve the dispute among themselves,” the judge told attorneys, according to a transcript of proceedings.

“If that does not occur, they can agree to present the dispute to the greater community of brothers within the mosque or the Muslim community. And if that is not done, or does not result in a resolution of the dispute, then it is to be presented to an Islamic judge …

“The next question is whether the proper procedures have occurred. … Did they properly invoke the use of … an Islamic judge or an Islamic A’lim?”

In an appeal of the judge’s decision, Thanasides wrote, “The First Amendment restricts courts’ authority to review, interpret and apply religious law because these actions interfere with a party’s right to choose, free from state involvement, the religious dogma it will follow.”

The judge said he would use Islamic law to decide only the legitimacy of arbitration.

“What law would we be applying (at) trial?” Thanasides asked.

“That trial would be civil law,” the judge said. “Florida law.”

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UK Magistrage And School Governor Busted With Extreme Animal Pornography On His Laptop

March 5, 2011

UK – A MAGISTRATE has narrowly avoided jail after being caught with a collection of extreme pornography — including images of women having sex with a gerbil and a FROG.

Michael Hall, 46 — who is also a school governor and worked on a council panel to protect children — downloaded the disgusting images on to his laptop computer.

When police raided his home they found 230 photos and 150 videos showing women engaging in sex acts with horses, a donkey, dogs, a gerbil, a frog and a live snake.

Police acted on a tip-off after learning the magistrate, from Rotherham, South Yorks, had an account on a file-sharing website which was raising concerns.

Filthy

They found the filthy porn stash when they raided his home in Swinton, Rotherham, last September.

Hall admitted 21 specimen charges of possessing hard-core pornography when he appeared before Leeds magistrates.

He was sentenced to a three-year community order which requires him to spend 144 days completing a programme for sex offenders.

He was also ordered to pay £85 towards court costs and he will be supervised by the probation service for three years.

Hall became a magistrate in 2007 and served until October last year when he fell foul of the law.

He was a governor at three schools in Rotherham, St Thomas CofE Primary in Kilnhurst, Swinton Fitzwilliam Primary School and Swinton Community School in Mexborough.

He was also a member of the Rotherham Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel which is made up of councillors and lay members.

Hall helped scrutinise the council’s work in relation to policies and procedures affecting young people such as how children in care are looked after and anti-bullying strategies.

Sally Sharp, head of West Yorkshire Crown Prosecution Service rape and serious sexual offences unit, said: “This case is particularly repugnant involving multiple charges of possessing extreme pornographic images.

“The fact that the defendant was a magistrate and in a position of trust is additionally an aggravating feature.

“The conviction sends out a clear message that no-one is above the law.”

A Rotherham Council spokesman said: “We have been made aware that a Swinton man has been convicted of possessing extreme pornography.

“The council has supported the police with their investigation and we are pleased it has reached this outcome in court.

“We can confirm that this individual was a governor at the three schools and was a member of the Children and Young Peopkle’s Scrutiny Panel.

“He has already resigned from all these posts.”

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Man Gets A Slap On The Wrist After Canadian Judge Shifts Blame To His Rape Victim

February 25, 2011

MANITOBA, CANADA – A Canadian judge whose controversial ruling and remarks in a sexual assault case sparked outrage is being investigated by the Canadian court system, a website statement said Friday.

Last week, Manitoba Justice Robert Dewar sentenced 40-year-old Kenneth Rhodes to a two year conditional sentence to be served at home for raping a 26-year-old woman.

That sentence, along with comments by Dewar which suggested that there was “sex in the air,” have led to several complaints from the victim and the public.

According to court records provided by CNN affiliate the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Rhodes met the victim and her friend at a bar before they drove out of town to a small lake on an isolated road in August 2006. The victim said Rhodes made several passes at her, and later that night, after she was intoxicated, he raped her.

“The victim was so afraid that she fled without pants through the woods,” prosecutor Sheila Seesahai told the court, adding that Rhodes took advantage of the much smaller victim.

Rhodes’ defense had a different story.

“It was a lapse of judgement on his part,” attorney Derek Coggan argued, according to court records.

The judge’s suggestion that the women’s choice of clothes and their behavior may have given the accused the wrong impression led many to believe he placed some of the blame for the attack on the victim.

Protesters upset with the judge’s ruling gathered outside the Law Courts in Winnipeg on Friday and shouted “no means no.”

Concerned about the dangerous precedent the ruling and remarks could set for future sexual assault cases, the protesters called for the judge to apologize to the victim and all Manitobans.

The court issued a statement on behalf of Dewar saying it was “inappropriate to comment further at this time” because the case could still be appealed.

The Canadian Judicial Council on Friday indicated its intent to review complaints against Dewar. A statement on the council’s website said the it “works to foster ongoing public confidence in the judiciary.”

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A-Hole Mississippi Judge, Nutcase Talmadge Littlejohn, Jailed Lawyer Who Refused To Recite The Pledge Of Allegiance In His Courtroom

October 7, 2010

NEW ALBANY, MISSISSIPPI – A Mississippi judge yesterday jailed a lawyer who refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in his courtroom.

Attorney Danny Lampley, 49, was taken into custody Wednesday morning after Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn cited him for criminal contempt of court for failing to recite the 31-word pledge at the outset of the morning’s proceedings at the Lee County courthouse.

An October 6 order signed by Talmadge notes that Lampley was being charged for his “failure to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance as ordered.” Lampley, the judge added, “shall purge himself of said criminal contempt…by standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in open court.”

Lampley, pictured in the mug shots at right, was jailed for nearly five hours before Littlejohn ordered his release so that the lawyer could be present for a “previously set hearing before the Court.” The attorney, no longer in stripes, returned to the Tupelo courthouse after being sprung from jail.

It is unclear whether Lampley, who does not believe citizens are required to recite the pledge, will again be sanctioned by Littlejohn if he takes a pass on the pledge.

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Black Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Judge Joseph Williams Rejected Plea Deal For “White Boy”

October 6, 2010

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA — A black judge from western Pennsylvania rejected a plea agreement for a man accused of fighting with police during a traffic stop, saying it was “a ridiculous plea that only goes to white boys.”

The plea agreement was for a sentence of three months probation. Allegheny County Judge Joseph Williams said on Tuesday that a black defendant in that situation would not have been treated as leniently.

In court, Williams told Assistant District Attorney Brian Catanzarite that he “for some reason comes up with I think ridiculous pleas whenever it’s a young white guy,” according to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I’m just telling you what my observation is. If this had been a black kid who did the same thing, we wouldn’t be talking about three months’ probation.”

Catanzarite responded that he was standing in for another prosecutor and didn’t broker the plea deal.

“Now that the court has essentially called me a racist, I think that’s unfair. I don’t make offers based on race. I make offers based on facts,” Catanzarite said, according to the Tribune-Review.

Williams later recused himself from the case, and a white judge accepted the plea agreement for 24-year-old Jeffery McGowan.

The defendant, who had no criminal record, agreed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct. He had faced charges including aggravated assault.

Williams’ secretary on Wednesday told The Associated Press the judge does not give interviews.

The Allegheny County district attorney’s office did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, told the Tribune-Review the plea deal was appropriate and agreed to by the officer, who was not injured.

“Negotiated pleas are never based on the race of a particular defendant but rather on the behavior of the defendant and the facts associated with that behavior,” Manko told the newspaper.

“The assistant district attorneys who handled this plea on behalf of the commonwealth have outstanding reputations, and we firmly stand behind their integrity and the integrity of all of our prosecutors.”

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Senior Atlanta Federal Judge Jack T. Camp Arrested On Drug And Gun Charges After Sex And Drugs With A Whore

October 4, 2010

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – A federal judge faces drug and firearms charges after an exotic dancer at an Atlanta strip club told authorities the judge used cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs with her.

Attorneys for Senior U.S. District Judge Jack T. Camp’s said after a hearing Monday that the 67-year-old intends to plead not guilty. He was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond.

Authorities say in an affidavit Camp paid a dancer at Goldrush Showbar to have sex with her in early 2010. The informant also told authorities the two used drugs together on several occasions.

FBI agents who arrested the judge Friday said they found two illegal firearms in his car along with a bag containing blue pills and a white powdered substance.

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Long Island New York Judge Michael Dorsky Loses Job And Law License After Dating And Dropped Case Against Police Officer Defendant

September 24, 2010

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - A federal appeals court says a former traffic court judge must lose his law license for going on a date with a defendant and then ruling in her favor.

Michael Dorsky worked for the Department of Motor Vehicles in Garden City, Long Island.

The defendant was a New York City police officer who was accused of driving an uninsured vehicle.

Dorsky lost his job after the case.

The ruling was made last week.

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Wayne County Michigan Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny Jails Court Reporter 30 Days For Slow Typing

September 24, 2010

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – Paulette Martin, an official reporter for Detroit’s 36th District Court, has gone from writer’s block to cell block.

Martin is serving a 30-day contempt sentence in the Wayne County Jail for repeatedly missing deadlines to produce an overdue court proceeding transcript — the first court reporter to receive such a stiff sentence for failing to complete her duties.

The jail term also covers her allegedly absconding from an earlier sentence by fleeing the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, where she had been given five days to transcribe the record of a lengthy preliminary examination.

“We just can’t tolerate this,” said Presiding Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny, who locked up Martin.

“And this isn’t the first time” Martin has stalled cases, he said.

There are at least three other instances of her being unable to find records of cases, he said.

Defense attorney Leland McRae said his representation of Darious Morris on arson and other charges is hamstrung by a compromised official record: “This breeches the integrity of the process.”

What really galled Kenny was his thwarted attempt to get the transcript produced by setting up a workstation for Martin in the courthouse.

“We even bought her lunch, and then she takes off — she just left,” he said.

Judge: Busy court needs transcripts on time

The preliminary examination covered three days in June and took 13 witnesses to come up with enough evidence to have Darious Morris stand trial in a complicated arson and real estate case.

You could look it up, but defense attorney Leland McRae says don’t bother.

“There are 300 pages of transcript, except maybe 61 pages are missing,” McRae said Wednesday.

Paulette Martin, the official court reporter from that hearing in Detroit’s 36th District Court, is now lodged in the Wayne County Jail serving a 30-day contempt sentence because she missed deadline to type up the transcript of Morris’ hearing.

Martin even took it on the lam — leaving the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, said Presiding Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny, after he told her she could swap a five-day sentence for a completed transcript.

“She just left,” he said.

Judge David Allen, scheduled to hear the Morris trial, said he is frustrated as McRae and assistant prosecutor Rebecca Camargo try to sort out the situation.

“From time to time, we get a tardy transcript; these are busy courts,” Allen said. “I’ve never had anything like this.”

But Martin — who uses a masked microphone to whisper a running verbatim taped account of the proceeding — has had three cases where she could not produce transcripts because she said she couldn’t find the tape.

“And all of these are since November 2009,” Kenny said.

Martin’s court-appointed lawyer Mack Carpenter was not available for comment.

Court rules say a transcript is due 28 days after a defendant is bound over for trial in circuit court. The record is crucial in assessing witnesses and evidence and helping determine trial strategy or plea negotiations.

The Morris transcript was due July 12, but when another five weeks passed, Kenny ordered Martin into court on Aug. 20 and set a new deadline of Aug. 25. When she called Kenny to say family matters had arisen, he gave her an extension until Sept. 1.

Kenny said Martin told him she helped care for an ailing parent. He said he sympathized, but added that the work could have been passed to someone else.

“We can’t have a case dead in the water,” he said.

With no transcript done, Kenny ordered Martin to serve five days in jail for contempt. But, he said, she could free herself with a finished product.

The judge had a work area set up in the courthouse for her, but she said she wanted her personal equipment from home. Kenny said she instead went out and bought herself a new laptop computer.

On Sept. 3, Martin was taken from the jail to work in the courthouse. Court officials bought her lunch, after which Kenny said she absconded.

A bench warrant was issued and she returned to court on Sept. 7 — without a finished transcript.

“I gave her the maximum, 30 days for contempt, and there she is,” Kenny said.

He jailed another court reporter, but that was seven years ago and it took only a day to get that transcript.

McRae said there was a flash drive supposedly containing the transcript, but there were 61 pages missing when the file was opened.

He said there is no way to re-create an accurate record: “Evidence has been destroyed through no fault of the defense.”

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the court system needs all hands on deck.

“If one person in the system is irresponsible or incompetent, it has the potential to affect an entire case,” Worthy said. “We don’t need this when resources are already scarce.”

Kenny said he is referring the matter to the state board of review that certifies court reporters.

“I’ll let that committee sort it out,” he said.

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Michael Talbot chairs the review board and said errant reporters can be counseled, placed on probation or even have their certification revoked.

If referred, “we will look at it very seriously,” he said.

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Jackson County Michigan Judge James Justin Suspended After Fixing His And Wife’s Tickets

September 21, 2010

JACKSON, MICHIGAN – Court records show that a Jackson County judge who was suspended indefinitely in July by the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed nine traffic cases against himself and his wife.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports Sunday that records show that District 12 Judge James Justin had four parking tickets he received from 2002 to 2004 “dismissed after explanation” to himself.

The newspaper reports he also dismissed five traffic tickets received by his wife between 1999 and 2009. Court documents show that the nine tickets carried potential fines and costs of $751.

Justin’s lawyer Dennis Kolenda says his client acknowledges that he was wrong but his actions warrant no more than a reprimand.

The Judicial Tenure Commission is investigating misconduct complaints.

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Manhattan New York Criminal Court Judge And Former Prosecutor James Gibbons Quits In Disgrace After Fathering Child With Young Legal Aid Lawyer And Collection Of Porn Is Discovered On His Office Computer

August 27, 2010

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK – A cleavage-crazed criminal court judge – who fathered a son with a young Legal Aid lawyer – quit after officials found a massive porn stash on his work computer, sources said Thursday.

Disgraced Manhattan jurist James Gibbons, a whip-smart ex-prosecutor who once convicted rapists and killers, fired off a terse resignation letter last week after the nasty cache was uncovered.

“There was a lot of porn on his computer – all young women,” an investigator told the Daily News. “Lots of crotch and cleavage shots.”

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is scouring the vile files to determine if criminal charges are warranted – and are checking whether any of the women are underage.

Gibbons, 47, already had raised eyebrows with his ethics-skirting romance with Legal Aid lawyer Jeanne Emhoff, 31, who he fathered a son with weeks ago.

Emhoff’s Facebook page, which was pulled down Thursday, featured a photo of a man with a boy on his shoulder.

The porn revelation staggered the baby’s grandparents.

“This is going to break her heart,” Emhoff’s stepdad said of his wife. “She thinks the world of Jim. … This will destroy my wife.”

Gibbons – who was not arrested – was caught when a computer-monitoring system in the courthouse red-flagged his courthouse terminal, a law enforcement source said.

He was on paternity leave when the images were discovered and the computer seized.

During the 14 years he worked in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Gibbons was well-known for his efficient handling of street crimes.

He also enjoyed a good reputation on the bench after his December 2001 appointment by departing Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“He was a very careful judge on the law,” lawyer Adam Freedman said. “If he was using his state-issued computer for illegal activities, it would be uncharacteristic, considering how careful he is on the law.”

Despite the possible conflicts of interest between Gibbons and Emhoff, a source close to the case said, their affair was unrelated to the investigation.

“There is absolutely no link between the judge’s relationship with Jeanne Emhoff and any alleged criminal activity,” the source said. “One has nothing to do with the other.”

It was unclear when the porn was found on the disgraced judge’s computer, but sources said its discovery was just routine.

“In government agencies, and in many private sector firms, employers are able to monitor employee computer usage,” a source said.

Gibbons quit his position with a simple three-paragraph letter that offered no clues to his sudden nightmare.

“It has been a privilege to serve as a judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York,” he wrote. “Please accept this letter as a statement of my resignation of that office effective today.”

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Suffolk County Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Christine M. McEnvoy “Reprimanded” After Driving Drunk – Her Case Was Of Course “Continued Without A Finding” And There Was No Conviction

June 10, 2010

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – A Superior Court judge has been officially reprimanded for driving under the influence of alcohol last year, the Commission on Judicial Conduct announced today.

Judge Christine M. McEvoy had apologized to her family and the “people of the Commonwealth” after admitting in court in June 2009 that she had been driving drunk.

She said she took “full responsibility” for the April 15, 2009, incident, in which she drank wine at a 99 Restaurant in Woburn and was heading to her home in Belmont when she was pulled over by Lexington Police.

McEvoy’s case was continued without a finding for a year, which meant that if she stayed out of trouble, the charge would be dropped.

The commission noted in a statement that McEvoy had “successfully completed her continuance without a finding in the Concord District Court, including successful completion of drivers’ alcohol education program, and her criminal case has been dismissed.”

The commission said it had reprimanded McEvoy “with some conditions,” but the statement did not detail them. Howard V. Neff III, a staff attorney for the commission, said state law prohibits him from commenting beyond the statement.

Although the commission made the reprimand public, it is technically considered a private sanction. The most serious sanctions typically require the approval of the state Supreme Judicial Court and are considered public .

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Scam By Military Prosecutor And Judge Sends Sex Offender Doctor To Jail For Just 7 Days – At Least 23 Victims, Some Of Whom Have A Problem With Doctor Receiving Less Than A Slap On The Wrist

June 6, 2010

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, JAPAN — Victims of convicted sex offender Lt. Cmdr. Anthony L. Velasquez say they are furious at the Navy for letting the disgraced doctor off with what they perceive as a light sentence — and then misleading them into thinking the sentence had been much tougher.

At least 23 women had alleged that Velasquez sexually violated them after they sought medical treatment in two locations, at Japan’s Naval Air Facility Atsugi branch clinic in 2007 and 2008 and Kuwait’s Camp Arifjan clinic between December 2008 and June 2009.

On May 26, Velasquez pleaded guilty at a Yokosuka Naval Base court-martial to two counts of wrongful sexual contact and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. In exchange for those guilty pleas, under the terms of a pretrial plea agreement negotiated between the Judge Advocate General’s Office and the defense, prosecutors dropped 29 other counts of sexual misconduct and related charges leveled against Velasquez by his former patients.

Military judge Cmdr. David Berger sentenced Velasquez to two years in prison, a $28,000 fine, dismissal from the Navy and forfeiture of all pay and allowances, but the convening authority suspended the prison sentence and fine in accordance with the pretrial agreement. Instead, Velasquez spent just seven days in the Yokosuka Naval Base brig.

But a post-trial e-mail sent to victims by the JAG office left some with the impression that Velasquez would suffer a much harsher fate.

The May 26 e-mail stated that “the judge awarded a sentence of 24 months, a $28,000 fine to be paid right away or else an additional 6 months would be imposed, total forfeitures of pay, and most iportantly [sic], a DISMISSAL from the Navy.”

The e-mail made no mention of the plea agreement. Nor did it state that the judge’s sentence had been largely set aside because of the plea deal. Unless Velasquez violates the terms of the plea agreement and commits another crime, he won’t go to federal prison or pay any penalties.

Stars and Stripes contacted seven of the women whose complaints led to charges against Velasquez. Three said they did not fully understand what happened.

“I was confused when I read the [May 26] Stars and Stripes article, and it said that none of the punishment set would be happening unless he committed another crime … so I guess I don’t even know what his actual punishment is,” said an enlisted soldier whom Velasquez was convicted of molesting while she was a patient at Camp Arifjan. “It’s all been very unclear to me. I ask questions, and a lot of them don’t get answered.”

Capt. Rex Guinn, commander of Regional Legal Service Office Japan and the ranking officer copied on the JAG e-mail, said the victims were offered the right to choose whether they wanted to be notified of a plea agreement as part of the Victim-Witness Assistance Program. Neither Guinn nor any of the attorneys copied on the e-mail sent a follow-up e-mail to the full group of victims to clarify the decision.

“It was a wrap-up providing the 2703 form,” said Guinn, referring to a form that explains the post-trial rights of victims. “That was the intent of the communication.”

The victims are free to lodge an official complaint if they believe they were misled, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ron Steiner said. As of Friday afternoon, no one had done so, he said.

Two of the victims that Stars and Stripes interviewed said that prosecutor Lt. Emily Dewey, the author of the e-mail message, explained the plea deal to them after they sent her private replies about the confusing message.

Another victim said she did not blame Dewey for the misleading e-mail “because it didn’t sound like her at all.”

That victim said Dewey had told her about the impending plea deal days before the final hearing. Before the deal was made, she said, Dewey had expressed her eagerness to fight the complete case in a trial.

Dewey could not be reached for comment Friday, but told Stars and Stripes last week that all requests for comment should be referred to her superiors.

Among the seven women interviewed, two expressed some satisfaction that Velasquez had been found guilty, along with relief that the trial had concluded.

However, all expressed dismay over the terms of the plea deal, which most called “a slap on the wrist.”

Velasquez was released from the brig earlier this week and was walking around base at Atsugi on Wednesday, according to Navy officials.

“It feels like, because we’re military, there is no justice and that he’s getting away with it,” said one of the victims. “Had we been in the civilian world, he’d be in jail for a long time.

“But that’s not the case in the military, where the higher-ups make that decision,” she continued. “It’s another slap on the hand. It’s appalling. You know you’re going to suffer the rest of your life, and he’s just going to lose his license. Are you kidding me? It doesn’t make up for what he did.”

Many of the women visited Velasquez for common maladies such as neck and sinus pain. But, according to evidence and court testimony, Velasquez, 48, used his ungloved hands to fondle their genitals while purporting to check their lymph nodes.

“For me, this is yet another example of the military protecting officer positions from disciplinary action,” another victim said. “Have an enlisted man do the same thing, the sentence would have been much harsher.”

Steiner, the Navy spokesman, emphasized that Velasquez will have to register as a sex offender when he returns to the United States. His medical credentials also will be subject to revocation by a civilian medical body, and he will be dismissed from the Navy–the harshest type of discharge available in that service.

“That’s the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge,” Steiner said. “These are serious outcomes.”

The case must now be authenticated, which includes transcription and review of the proceedings by attorneys. It is then forwarded for approval to the convening authority, which in this case is the Naval Forces Japan commander, Rear Adm. Richard Wren.

Wren can make the sentence more lenient but he cannot make it any harsher.

“The convening authority can order a rehearing to the findings … but I’ve never seen it happen,” Guinn said.

Following Wren’s decision, the case is subject to appeal.

Appeared Here


Crazed Charlotte County Florida Judge Peter A. Bell Reprimanded After Throwing Domestic Violence Victim In Jail Overnight

May 6, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A Charlotte County judge faces a formal reprimand by the Florida Supreme Court for throwing a domestic-violence victim in jail overnight.

An investigative panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission said Judge Peter A. Bell meant well but was “misguided” in going beyond the findings of a sheriff’s deputy who investigated an altercation involving an attorney and his ex-wife. The JQC charges against Bell said that during a hearing on March 8 of last year, he found probable cause to proceed with a domestic-battery case against the man — but also ordered the woman arrested, acting entirely on his own.

The names of the man and woman were not mentioned in the complaint, to protect the family’s privacy. It said two minor children were interviewed as witnesses by Charlotte County Deputy Liborio Rivera, who investigated the domestic-battery case.

A legal stipulation agreed to by Bell said the defendant was a lawyer who regularly appeared in Bell’s court. When they were married, the couple attended the same church as the judge.

The stipulation said Bell determined that there was some indication that the woman had committed domestic battery in forcing her ex-husband from her home. Although police had not charged her, the JQC said, she was arrested on Bell’s order and held overnight in jail.

The stipulation said Bell “admits that it should not have occurred and regrets and apologizes for such conduct.”

Appeared Here


Crazed Charlotte County Florida Judge Peter A. Bell Reprimanded After Throwing Domestic Violence Victim In Jail Overnight

May 5, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A Charlotte County judge faces a formal reprimand by the Florida Supreme Court for throwing a domestic-violence victim in jail overnight.

An investigative panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission said Judge Peter A. Bell meant well but was “misguided” in going beyond the findings of a sheriff’s deputy who investigated an altercation involving an attorney and his ex-wife. The JQC charges against Bell said that during a hearing on March 8 of last year, he found probable cause to proceed with a domestic-battery case against the man — but also ordered the woman arrested, acting entirely on his own.

The names of the man and woman were not mentioned in the complaint, to protect the family’s privacy. It said two minor children were interviewed as witnesses by Charlotte County Deputy Liborio Rivera, who investigated the domestic-battery case.

A legal stipulation agreed to by Bell said the defendant was a lawyer who regularly appeared in Bell’s court. When they were married, the couple attended the same church as the judge.

The stipulation said Bell determined that there was some indication that the woman had committed domestic battery in forcing her ex-husband from her home. Although police had not charged her, the JQC said, she was arrested on Bell’s order and held overnight in jail.

The stipulation said Bell “admits that it should not have occurred and regrets and apologizes for such conduct.”

Appeared Here


Drunk Driving Morris County New Jersey Judge George Korpita Suspended, Kicked Off The Bench, Loses License And Right To Hold Public Office

February 23, 2009

MORRIS COUNTY, NEW JERSEY – The state Supreme Court has suspended the law license of a former Morris County municipal judge who threatened a police officer during a driving while intoxicated stop in 2007.

The state attorney Disciplinary Review Board recommended that George Korpita only be censured, but the high court handed down a three-month suspension for the “unethical behavior,” according to a Feb. 2 order that was released today.

Korpita was a municipal judge of Dover, Rockaway Borough and Victory Gardens when he was charged with driving while intoxicated in Roxbury in November 2007.

He pleaded guilty in December 2007 in Superior Court in Morristown to driving while intoxicated and to threatening a public servant. Korpita admitted he flashed his municipal judge identification and mentioned several times he was a municipal court judge.

“I’m a judge. I’m okay, bro. I’m okay,” he said, according to the arrest report. Korpita failed five sobriety tests and had a blood-alcohol reading of 0.22, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08.

When the officers refused to back off the arrest, Korpita threatened to take action against them if they appeared in one of his courts, Korpita admitted. Officers routinely appear in municipal courts to help prosecute tickets and complaints they sign against people.

Korpita was sentenced in February 2008 to three years of probation, to never serve in public office again and to never seek to have his record expunged. He also was ordered to perform community service, to attend an in-house substance-abuse program, to lose his driver’s license for a year and to pay $1,000 in fines.

While awaiting sentencing in the Roxbury case, Korpita was charged with driving while intoxicated in Sparta. He has pleaded not guilty in Sparta and that case is pending.

Prior to having his attorney’s license reinstated, Korpita also must submit proof of his mental-health fitness and periodic reports of his sobriety to the state Office of Attorney Ethics, the Supreme Court order states.

Appeared Here


Drunk Driving Morris County New Jersey Judge George Korpita Suspended, Kicked Off The Bench, Loses License And Right To Hold Public Office

February 23, 2009

MORRIS COUNTY, NEW JERSEY – The state Supreme Court has suspended the law license of a former Morris County municipal judge who threatened a police officer during a driving while intoxicated stop in 2007.

The state attorney Disciplinary Review Board recommended that George Korpita only be censured, but the high court handed down a three-month suspension for the “unethical behavior,” according to a Feb. 2 order that was released today.

Korpita was a municipal judge of Dover, Rockaway Borough and Victory Gardens when he was charged with driving while intoxicated in Roxbury in November 2007.

He pleaded guilty in December 2007 in Superior Court in Morristown to driving while intoxicated and to threatening a public servant. Korpita admitted he flashed his municipal judge identification and mentioned several times he was a municipal court judge.

“I’m a judge. I’m okay, bro. I’m okay,” he said, according to the arrest report. Korpita failed five sobriety tests and had a blood-alcohol reading of 0.22, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08.

When the officers refused to back off the arrest, Korpita threatened to take action against them if they appeared in one of his courts, Korpita admitted. Officers routinely appear in municipal courts to help prosecute tickets and complaints they sign against people.

Korpita was sentenced in February 2008 to three years of probation, to never serve in public office again and to never seek to have his record expunged. He also was ordered to perform community service, to attend an in-house substance-abuse program, to lose his driver’s license for a year and to pay $1,000 in fines.

While awaiting sentencing in the Roxbury case, Korpita was charged with driving while intoxicated in Sparta. He has pleaded not guilty in Sparta and that case is pending.

Prior to having his attorney’s license reinstated, Korpita also must submit proof of his mental-health fitness and periodic reports of his sobriety to the state Office of Attorney Ethics, the Supreme Court order states.

Appeared Here


Luzerne County Pennsylvania Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan Sent Thousands Of Children To Prison And Pocketed $2.6 Million In Bribes

February 12, 2009

WILKES-BARRE, PENNSYLVANIA – For years, the juvenile court system in Wilkes-Barre operated like a conveyor belt: Youngsters were brought before judges without a lawyer, given hearings that lasted only a minute or two, and then sent off to juvenile prison for months for minor offenses.

The explanation, prosecutors say, was corruption on the bench.

In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

“I’ve never encountered, and I don’t think that we will in our lifetimes, a case where literally thousands of kids’ lives were just tossed aside in order for a couple of judges to make some money,” said Marsha Levick, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which is representing hundreds of youths sentenced in Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors say Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC. The judges were charged on Jan. 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shortly afterward.

No company officials have been charged, but the investigation is still going on.

The high court, meanwhile, is looking into whether hundreds or even thousands of sentences should be overturned and the juveniles’ records expunged.

Among the offenders were teenagers who were locked up for months for stealing loose change from cars, writing a prank note and possessing drug paraphernalia. Many had never been in trouble before. Some were imprisoned even after probation officers recommended against it.

Many appeared without lawyers, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1967 ruling that children have a constitutional right to counsel.

The judges are scheduled to plead guilty to fraud Thursday in federal court. Their plea agreements call for sentences of more than seven years behind bars.

Ciavarella, 58, who presided over Luzerne County’s juvenile court for 12 years, acknowledged last week in a letter to his former colleagues, “I have disgraced my judgeship. My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame.” Ciavarella, though, has denied he got kickbacks for sending youths to prison.

Conahan, 56, has remained silent about the case.

Many Pennsylvania counties contract with privately run juvenile detention centers, paying them either a fixed overall fee or a certain amount per youth, per day.

In Luzerne County, prosecutors say, Conahan shut down the county-run juvenile prison in 2002 and helped the two companies secure rich contracts worth tens of millions of dollars, at least some of that dependent on how many juveniles were locked up.

One of the contracts – a 20-year agreement with PA Child Care worth an estimated $58 million – was later canceled by the county as exorbitant.

The judges are accused of taking payoffs between 2003 and 2006.

Robert J. Powell co-owned PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care until June. His attorney, Mark Sheppard, said his client was the victim of an extortion scheme.

“Bob Powell never solicited a nickel from these judges and really was a victim of their demands,” he said. “These judges made it very plain to Mr. Powell that he was going to be required to pay certain monies.”

For years, youth advocacy groups complained that Ciavarella was ridiculously harsh and ran roughshod over youngsters’ constitutional rights. Ciavarella sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centers from 2002 to 2006, compared with a statewide rate of one in 10.

The criminal charges confirmed the advocacy groups’ worst suspicions and have called into question all the sentences he pronounced.

Hillary Transue did not have an attorney, nor was she told of her right to one, when she appeared in Ciavarella’s courtroom in 2007 for building a MySpace page that lampooned her assistant principal.

Her mother, Laurene Transue, worked for 16 years in the child services department of another county and said she was certain Hillary would get a slap on the wrist. Instead, Ciavarella sentenced her to three months; she got out after a month, with help from a lawyer.

“I felt so disgraced for a while, like, what do people think of me now?” said Hillary, now 17 and a high school senior who plans to become an English teacher.

Laurene Transue said Ciavarella “was playing God. And not only was he doing that, he was getting money for it. He was betraying the trust put in him to do what is best for children.”

Kurt Kruger, now 22, had never been in trouble with the law until the day police accused him of acting as a lookout while his friend shoplifted less than $200 worth of DVDs from Wal-Mart. He said he didn’t know his friend was going to steal anything.

Kruger pleaded guilty before Ciavarella and spent three days in a company-run juvenile detention center, plus four months at a youth wilderness camp run by a different operator.

“Never in a million years did I think that I would actually get sent away. I was completely destroyed,” said Kruger, who later dropped out of school. He said he wants to get his record expunged, earn his high school equivalency diploma and go to college.

“I got a raw deal, and yeah, it’s not fair,” he said, “but now it’s 100 times bigger than me.”

Appeared Here


Luzerne County Pennsylvania Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan Sent Thousands Of Children To Prison And Pocketed $2.6 Million In Bribes

February 11, 2009

WILKES-BARRE, PENNSYLVANIA – For years, the juvenile court system in Wilkes-Barre operated like a conveyor belt: Youngsters were brought before judges without a lawyer, given hearings that lasted only a minute or two, and then sent off to juvenile prison for months for minor offenses.

The explanation, prosecutors say, was corruption on the bench.

In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

“I’ve never encountered, and I don’t think that we will in our lifetimes, a case where literally thousands of kids’ lives were just tossed aside in order for a couple of judges to make some money,” said Marsha Levick, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which is representing hundreds of youths sentenced in Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors say Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC. The judges were charged on Jan. 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shortly afterward.

No company officials have been charged, but the investigation is still going on.

The high court, meanwhile, is looking into whether hundreds or even thousands of sentences should be overturned and the juveniles’ records expunged.

Among the offenders were teenagers who were locked up for months for stealing loose change from cars, writing a prank note and possessing drug paraphernalia. Many had never been in trouble before. Some were imprisoned even after probation officers recommended against it.

Many appeared without lawyers, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1967 ruling that children have a constitutional right to counsel.

The judges are scheduled to plead guilty to fraud Thursday in federal court. Their plea agreements call for sentences of more than seven years behind bars.

Ciavarella, 58, who presided over Luzerne County’s juvenile court for 12 years, acknowledged last week in a letter to his former colleagues, “I have disgraced my judgeship. My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame.” Ciavarella, though, has denied he got kickbacks for sending youths to prison.

Conahan, 56, has remained silent about the case.

Many Pennsylvania counties contract with privately run juvenile detention centers, paying them either a fixed overall fee or a certain amount per youth, per day.

In Luzerne County, prosecutors say, Conahan shut down the county-run juvenile prison in 2002 and helped the two companies secure rich contracts worth tens of millions of dollars, at least some of that dependent on how many juveniles were locked up.

One of the contracts – a 20-year agreement with PA Child Care worth an estimated $58 million – was later canceled by the county as exorbitant.

The judges are accused of taking payoffs between 2003 and 2006.

Robert J. Powell co-owned PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care until June. His attorney, Mark Sheppard, said his client was the victim of an extortion scheme.

“Bob Powell never solicited a nickel from these judges and really was a victim of their demands,” he said. “These judges made it very plain to Mr. Powell that he was going to be required to pay certain monies.”

For years, youth advocacy groups complained that Ciavarella was ridiculously harsh and ran roughshod over youngsters’ constitutional rights. Ciavarella sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centers from 2002 to 2006, compared with a statewide rate of one in 10.

The criminal charges confirmed the advocacy groups’ worst suspicions and have called into question all the sentences he pronounced.

Hillary Transue did not have an attorney, nor was she told of her right to one, when she appeared in Ciavarella’s courtroom in 2007 for building a MySpace page that lampooned her assistant principal.

Her mother, Laurene Transue, worked for 16 years in the child services department of another county and said she was certain Hillary would get a slap on the wrist. Instead, Ciavarella sentenced her to three months; she got out after a month, with help from a lawyer.

“I felt so disgraced for a while, like, what do people think of me now?” said Hillary, now 17 and a high school senior who plans to become an English teacher.

Laurene Transue said Ciavarella “was playing God. And not only was he doing that, he was getting money for it. He was betraying the trust put in him to do what is best for children.”

Kurt Kruger, now 22, had never been in trouble with the law until the day police accused him of acting as a lookout while his friend shoplifted less than $200 worth of DVDs from Wal-Mart. He said he didn’t know his friend was going to steal anything.

Kruger pleaded guilty before Ciavarella and spent three days in a company-run juvenile detention center, plus four months at a youth wilderness camp run by a different operator.

“Never in a million years did I think that I would actually get sent away. I was completely destroyed,” said Kruger, who later dropped out of school. He said he wants to get his record expunged, earn his high school equivalency diploma and go to college.

“I got a raw deal, and yeah, it’s not fair,” he said, “but now it’s 100 times bigger than me.”

Appeared Here


Anti-American U.S. Supreme Court Takes Another Huge Bite Out Of U.S. Citizens Rights

January 27, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC —The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police officers have leeway to frisk a passenger in a car stopped for a traffic violation even if nothing indicates the passenger has committed a crime or is about to do so.

The court on Monday unanimously overruled an Arizona appeals court that threw out evidence found during such an encounter.

The case involved a 2002 pat-down search of an Eloy, Ariz., man by an Oro Valley police officer, who found a gun and marijuana.

The justices accepted Arizona’s argument that traffic stops are inherently dangerous for police and that pat-downs are permissible when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that the passenger may be armed and dangerous.

The pat-down is allowed if the police “harbor reasonable suspicion that a person subjected to the frisk is armed, and therefore dangerous to the safety of the police and public,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.

Appeared Here


Anti-American U.S. Supreme Court Takes Another Huge Bite Out Of U.S. Citizens Rights

January 27, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC —The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police officers have leeway to frisk a passenger in a car stopped for a traffic violation even if nothing indicates the passenger has committed a crime or is about to do so.

The court on Monday unanimously overruled an Arizona appeals court that threw out evidence found during such an encounter.

The case involved a 2002 pat-down search of an Eloy, Ariz., man by an Oro Valley police officer, who found a gun and marijuana.

The justices accepted Arizona’s argument that traffic stops are inherently dangerous for police and that pat-downs are permissible when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that the passenger may be armed and dangerous.

The pat-down is allowed if the police “harbor reasonable suspicion that a person subjected to the frisk is armed, and therefore dangerous to the safety of the police and public,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.

Appeared Here


Drunk UK Judge Esther Cunningham Thrown Out Of Courtroom After She Kissed A Lawyer And Swore At Prosecutor

January 14, 2009

UK – A drunk district judge was thrown out of a courtroom after she forcibly kissed a solicitor and swore at a prosecutor.

Esther Cunningham drank brandy before appearing as a solicitor to represent her cousin in a dangerous dog case.

She told an usher to ‘f*** off’ and called the CPS lawyer ‘a f***wit’, the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal heard.

Six months later, the 54-year-old was drunk when she taught students on a legal course, the tribunal heard.

Cunningham, of Grantham, Lincolnshire, accepted she had a drink problem and blamed it on personal problems.

She admitted bringing her profession into disrepute two years ago and was suspended for six months with £6,200 costs.

Appeared Here


Drunk UK Judge Esther Cunningham Thrown Out Of Courtroom After She Kissed A Lawyer And Swore At Prosecutor

January 14, 2009

UK – A drunk district judge was thrown out of a courtroom after she forcibly kissed a solicitor and swore at a prosecutor.

Esther Cunningham drank brandy before appearing as a solicitor to represent her cousin in a dangerous dog case.

She told an usher to ‘f*** off’ and called the CPS lawyer ‘a f***wit’, the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal heard.

Six months later, the 54-year-old was drunk when she taught students on a legal course, the tribunal heard.

Cunningham, of Grantham, Lincolnshire, accepted she had a drink problem and blamed it on personal problems.

She admitted bringing her profession into disrepute two years ago and was suspended for six months with £6,200 costs.

Appeared Here


Australian Judge Warns Teen Speeder About Sexual Predators In Jail

January 8, 2009

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – An Australian court has issued a blunt warning about the sexual predators a young driver faces in jail if he does not stop speeding, as authorities struggle to stop teenagers street racing.

“You’ll find big, ugly, hairy strong men (in jail) who’ve got faces only a mother could love that will pay a lot of attention to you — and your anatomy,” said Magistrate Brian Maloney.

The 19-year-old male appeared in Sydney’s Downing Center Court on Monday charged with driving without a license, failing to stop at a police alcohol check point and driving dangerously.

It was his third time before the courts for driving offences, prompting the magistrate’s warning he would be jailed next time.

Maloney barred the teenager from driving until 2013, placed him on a 12-month good behavior bond and ordered him to do 150 hours of community work.

Breaching any of these conditions would see the teenager jailed where he would “shower with the gorillas in the mist down at Long Bay jail,” said Maloney, his comments confirmed by the court on Tuesday.

“Out of control” was the frontpage headline in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday for a story on four teenagers either booked for street racing, speeding, driving without a license or crashing their car and killing a passenger.

The newspaper’s editorial backed the magistrate’s warning of life behind bars, saying his comments were “a vision in clarity” and gave the teenager “a reality check of his future.”

“We can only hope this strategy helps. Hope it ends the slaughter of young innocents on the roads through stupidity…,” said the Telegraph. “Road safety has become a war zone and any tactics are permissible…”

Police in the southern state of Victoria impounded 42 cars in the past six days after drivers were caught speeding.

One driver, aged 78, was clocked in Melbourne on New Year’s Day at 170 kph (105 mph) — 70 kph (44 mph) over the limit.

The 78-year-old was the “oldest hoon” in Victoria to have his car confiscated for speeding, local media said on Tuesday.

“It is disappointing to see a senior member of our community being so irresponsible,” Acting Police Sergeant Carlo Visser told Melbourne’s Herald-Sun newspaper.

“What example does this set for younger drivers?” said Visser.

Appeared Here


Australian Judge Warns Teen Speeder About Sexual Predators In Jail

January 8, 2009

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – An Australian court has issued a blunt warning about the sexual predators a young driver faces in jail if he does not stop speeding, as authorities struggle to stop teenagers street racing.

“You’ll find big, ugly, hairy strong men (in jail) who’ve got faces only a mother could love that will pay a lot of attention to you — and your anatomy,” said Magistrate Brian Maloney.

The 19-year-old male appeared in Sydney’s Downing Center Court on Monday charged with driving without a license, failing to stop at a police alcohol check point and driving dangerously.

It was his third time before the courts for driving offences, prompting the magistrate’s warning he would be jailed next time.

Maloney barred the teenager from driving until 2013, placed him on a 12-month good behavior bond and ordered him to do 150 hours of community work.

Breaching any of these conditions would see the teenager jailed where he would “shower with the gorillas in the mist down at Long Bay jail,” said Maloney, his comments confirmed by the court on Tuesday.

“Out of control” was the frontpage headline in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday for a story on four teenagers either booked for street racing, speeding, driving without a license or crashing their car and killing a passenger.

The newspaper’s editorial backed the magistrate’s warning of life behind bars, saying his comments were “a vision in clarity” and gave the teenager “a reality check of his future.”

“We can only hope this strategy helps. Hope it ends the slaughter of young innocents on the roads through stupidity…,” said the Telegraph. “Road safety has become a war zone and any tactics are permissible…”

Police in the southern state of Victoria impounded 42 cars in the past six days after drivers were caught speeding.

One driver, aged 78, was clocked in Melbourne on New Year’s Day at 170 kph (105 mph) — 70 kph (44 mph) over the limit.

The 78-year-old was the “oldest hoon” in Victoria to have his car confiscated for speeding, local media said on Tuesday.

“It is disappointing to see a senior member of our community being so irresponsible,” Acting Police Sergeant Carlo Visser told Melbourne’s Herald-Sun newspaper.

“What example does this set for younger drivers?” said Visser.

Appeared Here


Douglasville Georgia Police Officers To Receive "Training" After Bogus Arrest – Court Bailiff Attacked Woman With Head Scarf – Judge Keith Rollins Jailed Victim For 10 Days On Bogus Contempt Charge

December 23, 2008

DOUGLASVILLE, GEORGIA- The Douglasville Police Department said Monday its officers will undergo “sensitivity and cultural diversity training” after a Muslim woman who refused to remove her head scarf at a courthouse was jailed.

Lisa Valentine has been shaken “to her core” by her arrest last week, her lawyer says.

“We never want this to happen again. It’s not our intent to embarrass anybody,” Police Chief Joe Whisenant said at a news conference.

The judge who had the woman jailed briefly for contempt of court will also take part in the training, Whisenant said.

The incident took place December 16 when Lisa Valentine, who also goes by her Muslim name, Miedah, accompanied her nephew to a hearing at Douglasville’s municipal courthouse. The scarf, called a hijab, covered her hair but not her face. It is part of her religious belief that her hair should be covered in public, as a form of modesty.

In an interview with CNN’s Rusty Dornin, Valentine said a bailiff told her she could not enter with her head scarf.

“I didn’t pose a threat to anybody,” Valentine said. “So I got really angry. I told her that was discrimination, and I said it was b.s. — and I used the full term of the word.”

She tried to leave, but the bailiff demanded that she appear before the judge, and pulled on her arm, Valentine said.

“I was right near the door. I said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ And so she got in front of me,” Valentine said. “… She called for a guard or a police officer. He came and then he just was near me, and was like, ‘You’re going to do what you’re told to do.’

“And then he grabbed my arm, and of course instinctively I pulled it away. So he’s like grabbing me and bending my arm, like you see people who are resisting arrest, and trying to get really physical with me. … Then I said, ‘OK, OK,’ and I let them put the handcuffs on me.”

Valentine said she would have had no problem with allowing a female officer to check under her head scarf to make sure she did not pose any danger.

Valentine said that when she told the judge what had happened, he sentenced her to 10 days in jail for contempt of court.

At the jail down the street, Valentine had to change into a jumpsuit. Her mug shot was taken — without her head scarf.

She was let out of jail later that day. Her attorney, M. Khurram Baig, said he does not know why she was released so quickly.

“It’s been devastating for her,” Baig said. “We’re talking about a major life-altering event for somebody to realize that everything they thought they knew about our justice system may not actually be the case. So she’s been shook to her core.”

Douglasville authorities describe the day’s events somewhat differently.

In a news release, police said Valentine repeatedly used the expletive, told the bailiff that the judge was “racist,” pointed her finger toward the officer, and “became loud enough that she attracted the attention of another officer.”

The news release said an officer did tell Valentine she could not leave, “and placed her hand on Mrs. Valentine’s wrist.”

“Mrs. Valentine resisted the officer’s efforts by stiffening her arm, but did not physically fight with the officer,” the release said.

When Judge Keith Rollins was told of the incident, the news release said, he ordered her jailed for 10 days.

The police department’s senior staff then investigated the incident and “determined that no fight took place” and “that Mrs. Valentine’s actions were primarily verbal and her resistance passive,” according to the release. The police chief told the judge of the department’s findings and the judge rescinded the contempt order, the release said.

“Mrs. Valentine was not arrested because of her head scarf or any action related to the scarf,” it said.

Valentine’s attorney said she has told him she did not call the judge racist.

When word of the incident spread, groups across the country weighed in on Valentine’s behalf, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union.

On Friday, about 50 people demonstrated outside the courthouse. Speakers called Valentine’s treatment a violation of the Constitution and called for Rollins to step down.

Valentine’s husband, Omar Hall, said the judge sent the message “that nobody of faith who wears a turban, a khimar, a yarmulke or a habit … can enter his court.”

Another woman, Halima Abdullah, said she spent 24 hours in jail in November 2007 after a similar incident involving the same judge.

Rollins did not respond to calls from CNN on Monday and has not made a public statement.

The Douglasville police news release said that although Rollins prohibits head coverings in his courtroom, he “has also made an accommodation for those people who, for legitimate health, religious or other serious reasons, either cannot remove the headgear or, where doing so, would subject them to violating religious tenants or suffer extreme embarrassment or distress.”

“In such cases, the judge has heard cases involving those people outside the courtroom at another location,” the release said.

Rollins would have made that accommodation for the case of Valentine’s nephew, but the officer “did not affirmatively provide information on that policy,” according to the news release.

“It is also unclear how familiar this officer was with the alternative procedure,” the news release said.

When told Monday of the planned sensitivity training, Yusof Burke, Georgia executive director of CAIR, said it was “a responsible action” and that he was “glad to see they’ve had a change of heart.”

Asked whether CAIR considered it enough, he responded: “I think, from our standpoint. … We just want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Baig, Valentine’s attorney, said he and his client needed to learn more specifics about the plan, and otherwise had no immediate response.

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst, said that when it comes to cases involving headwear, courts “generally weigh the government necessity vs. the interest in religious freedom.”

“Courts can say you have to take a head scarf off for a driver’s license photo because there is a public interest in making individuals clearly identifiable,” Toobin said. “The government interest in removing a head scarf to enter a courtroom, I think, is much thinner.”

Whisenant, Douglasville’s police chief, said the sensitivity and cultural diversity training will be “forthcoming very soon.”

“We’re taking all steps that we think are reasonable to make sure that this never happens again in our courtroom,” Whisenant said.

Appeared Here


Douglasville Georgia Police Officers To Receive "Training" After Bogus Arrest – Court Bailiff Attacked Woman With Head Scarf – Judge Keith Rollins Jailed Victim For 10 Days On Bogus Contempt Charge

December 22, 2008

DOUGLASVILLE, GEORGIA- The Douglasville Police Department said Monday its officers will undergo “sensitivity and cultural diversity training” after a Muslim woman who refused to remove her head scarf at a courthouse was jailed.

Lisa Valentine has been shaken “to her core” by her arrest last week, her lawyer says.

“We never want this to happen again. It’s not our intent to embarrass anybody,” Police Chief Joe Whisenant said at a news conference.

The judge who had the woman jailed briefly for contempt of court will also take part in the training, Whisenant said.

The incident took place December 16 when Lisa Valentine, who also goes by her Muslim name, Miedah, accompanied her nephew to a hearing at Douglasville’s municipal courthouse. The scarf, called a hijab, covered her hair but not her face. It is part of her religious belief that her hair should be covered in public, as a form of modesty.

In an interview with CNN’s Rusty Dornin, Valentine said a bailiff told her she could not enter with her head scarf.

“I didn’t pose a threat to anybody,” Valentine said. “So I got really angry. I told her that was discrimination, and I said it was b.s. — and I used the full term of the word.”

She tried to leave, but the bailiff demanded that she appear before the judge, and pulled on her arm, Valentine said.

“I was right near the door. I said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ And so she got in front of me,” Valentine said. “… She called for a guard or a police officer. He came and then he just was near me, and was like, ‘You’re going to do what you’re told to do.’

“And then he grabbed my arm, and of course instinctively I pulled it away. So he’s like grabbing me and bending my arm, like you see people who are resisting arrest, and trying to get really physical with me. … Then I said, ‘OK, OK,’ and I let them put the handcuffs on me.”

Valentine said she would have had no problem with allowing a female officer to check under her head scarf to make sure she did not pose any danger.

Valentine said that when she told the judge what had happened, he sentenced her to 10 days in jail for contempt of court.

At the jail down the street, Valentine had to change into a jumpsuit. Her mug shot was taken — without her head scarf.

She was let out of jail later that day. Her attorney, M. Khurram Baig, said he does not know why she was released so quickly.

“It’s been devastating for her,” Baig said. “We’re talking about a major life-altering event for somebody to realize that everything they thought they knew about our justice system may not actually be the case. So she’s been shook to her core.”

Douglasville authorities describe the day’s events somewhat differently.

In a news release, police said Valentine repeatedly used the expletive, told the bailiff that the judge was “racist,” pointed her finger toward the officer, and “became loud enough that she attracted the attention of another officer.”

The news release said an officer did tell Valentine she could not leave, “and placed her hand on Mrs. Valentine’s wrist.”

“Mrs. Valentine resisted the officer’s efforts by stiffening her arm, but did not physically fight with the officer,” the release said.

When Judge Keith Rollins was told of the incident, the news release said, he ordered her jailed for 10 days.

The police department’s senior staff then investigated the incident and “determined that no fight took place” and “that Mrs. Valentine’s actions were primarily verbal and her resistance passive,” according to the release. The police chief told the judge of the department’s findings and the judge rescinded the contempt order, the release said.

“Mrs. Valentine was not arrested because of her head scarf or any action related to the scarf,” it said.

Valentine’s attorney said she has told him she did not call the judge racist.

When word of the incident spread, groups across the country weighed in on Valentine’s behalf, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union.

On Friday, about 50 people demonstrated outside the courthouse. Speakers called Valentine’s treatment a violation of the Constitution and called for Rollins to step down.

Valentine’s husband, Omar Hall, said the judge sent the message “that nobody of faith who wears a turban, a khimar, a yarmulke or a habit … can enter his court.”

Another woman, Halima Abdullah, said she spent 24 hours in jail in November 2007 after a similar incident involving the same judge.

Rollins did not respond to calls from CNN on Monday and has not made a public statement.

The Douglasville police news release said that although Rollins prohibits head coverings in his courtroom, he “has also made an accommodation for those people who, for legitimate health, religious or other serious reasons, either cannot remove the headgear or, where doing so, would subject them to violating religious tenants or suffer extreme embarrassment or distress.”

“In such cases, the judge has heard cases involving those people outside the courtroom at another location,” the release said.

Rollins would have made that accommodation for the case of Valentine’s nephew, but the officer “did not affirmatively provide information on that policy,” according to the news release.

“It is also unclear how familiar this officer was with the alternative procedure,” the news release said.

When told Monday of the planned sensitivity training, Yusof Burke, Georgia executive director of CAIR, said it was “a responsible action” and that he was “glad to see they’ve had a change of heart.”

Asked whether CAIR considered it enough, he responded: “I think, from our standpoint. … We just want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Baig, Valentine’s attorney, said he and his client needed to learn more specifics about the plan, and otherwise had no immediate response.

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst, said that when it comes to cases involving headwear, courts “generally weigh the government necessity vs. the interest in religious freedom.”

“Courts can say you have to take a head scarf off for a driver’s license photo because there is a public interest in making individuals clearly identifiable,” Toobin said. “The government interest in removing a head scarf to enter a courtroom, I think, is much thinner.”

Whisenant, Douglasville’s police chief, said the sensitivity and cultural diversity training will be “forthcoming very soon.”

“We’re taking all steps that we think are reasonable to make sure that this never happens again in our courtroom,” Whisenant said.

Appeared Here


Disgraced Former Washington DC Judge Roy L. Pearson Loses Final Appeal After Bogus $54 Million Lawsuit Over Pair Of Pants At Cleaners

December 19, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC – Roy L. Pearson, the former administrative law judge who sued his dry cleaner for $54 million over a misplaced pair of pants, lost his final appeal in the District’s highest court.

“Appellant failed to establish either that the Chungs’ ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ and ‘Same Day Service’ signs constituted false or misleading statements, or that they lost his pants.

“Thus, the judgment for the Chungs on the fraud and CPPA claims was proper. Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s motions for a jury trial,” says the D.C.’s Court of Appeals ruling.

The saga involving the missing pants started when Pearson filed a civil suit against Jin Nam and Ki Chung, the owners of Custom Cleaners in Northeast.

Back in June 2007, Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled that the Chungs did not violate the consumer protection law by failing to live up to Pearson’s expectations of the “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign once displayed in the store.

After losing his case in court, Pearson lost his job as a judge in the District when a supervising panel said his lawsuit showed bad judgment and reflected poorly on the city. He initially calculated his losses at $67 million but later lowered them to $54 million.

The recent Court of Appeals ruling says, “Pearson, however, offers no support for this interpretation of the ‘Same Day Service’ sign, which frankly defies logic.”

The Chungs sold the business because of the revenue losses and emotional toll the family suffered after the lawsuit.

Appeared Here


Disgraced Former Washington DC Judge Roy L. Pearson Loses Final Appeal After Bogus $54 Million Lawsuit Over Pair Of Pants At Cleaners

December 19, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC – Roy L. Pearson, the former administrative law judge who sued his dry cleaner for $54 million over a misplaced pair of pants, lost his final appeal in the District’s highest court.

“Appellant failed to establish either that the Chungs’ ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ and ‘Same Day Service’ signs constituted false or misleading statements, or that they lost his pants.

“Thus, the judgment for the Chungs on the fraud and CPPA claims was proper. Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s motions for a jury trial,” says the D.C.’s Court of Appeals ruling.

The saga involving the missing pants started when Pearson filed a civil suit against Jin Nam and Ki Chung, the owners of Custom Cleaners in Northeast.

Back in June 2007, Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled that the Chungs did not violate the consumer protection law by failing to live up to Pearson’s expectations of the “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign once displayed in the store.

After losing his case in court, Pearson lost his job as a judge in the District when a supervising panel said his lawsuit showed bad judgment and reflected poorly on the city. He initially calculated his losses at $67 million but later lowered them to $54 million.

The recent Court of Appeals ruling says, “Pearson, however, offers no support for this interpretation of the ‘Same Day Service’ sign, which frankly defies logic.”

The Chungs sold the business because of the revenue losses and emotional toll the family suffered after the lawsuit.

Appeared Here


Out Tax Dollars At Work: Jury Finds Woman Innocent Of Writing Bad Checks, Crazed Indian River Florida Judge Dan Vaughn Sentences Her To 55 Years In Prison Anyways

December 13, 2008

VERO BEACH, FLORIDA — It was $1,900 here and $10,000 there.

On Friday, it all added up to a sentence of 55 years in state prison for 42-year-old Johnnie Miles, whose criminal record — of bad checks and financial fraud — dates to when she was 14 years old, according to court officials.

A month ago, a six-member Indian River County jury found the 29th Avenue resident innocent of the latest charges against her: defrauding a store out of $7,500 during a three-month period in 2007.

But under state rules, Circuit Court Judge Dan Vaughn was allowed to take another look at the facts in the latest case. That’s because she was on probation for a 2003 conviction for grand theft and fraud in Indian River County.

Because of her record, Vaughn gave her the maximum for probation violation: 11 five-year state jail terms, all to be served consecutively, adding up to 55 years. Each five-year term is for the 11 offenses for which she served four years in state prison.

Her record goes back even further, including an additional 20 felony fraud and theft convictions, nine petty theft convictions and seven misdemeanor cases, according to county court records.

“She is one of the most notorious thieves” in the county, said Assistant State Attorney Adam Chrzan, who handled her latest case.

Her record, the attorney said, includes such things as making purchases using just credit card numbers. She told a store owner she was the victim of an identify theft and her card was stolen.

In the recent trial, Chrzan said the jury may have been swayed by testimony that a person identifying herself as Johnnie Miles called Riverside Bank claiming her checkbook and credit card were stolen, leading to fraudulent charges.

During sentencing on Friday, Miles made no comment.

Appeared Here


Out Tax Dollars At Work: Jury Finds Woman Innocent Of Writing Bad Checks, Crazed Indian River Florida Judge Dan Vaughn Sentences Her To 55 Years In Prison Anyways

December 13, 2008

VERO BEACH, FLORIDA — It was $1,900 here and $10,000 there.

On Friday, it all added up to a sentence of 55 years in state prison for 42-year-old Johnnie Miles, whose criminal record — of bad checks and financial fraud — dates to when she was 14 years old, according to court officials.

A month ago, a six-member Indian River County jury found the 29th Avenue resident innocent of the latest charges against her: defrauding a store out of $7,500 during a three-month period in 2007.

But under state rules, Circuit Court Judge Dan Vaughn was allowed to take another look at the facts in the latest case. That’s because she was on probation for a 2003 conviction for grand theft and fraud in Indian River County.

Because of her record, Vaughn gave her the maximum for probation violation: 11 five-year state jail terms, all to be served consecutively, adding up to 55 years. Each five-year term is for the 11 offenses for which she served four years in state prison.

Her record goes back even further, including an additional 20 felony fraud and theft convictions, nine petty theft convictions and seven misdemeanor cases, according to county court records.

“She is one of the most notorious thieves” in the county, said Assistant State Attorney Adam Chrzan, who handled her latest case.

Her record, the attorney said, includes such things as making purchases using just credit card numbers. She told a store owner she was the victim of an identify theft and her card was stolen.

In the recent trial, Chrzan said the jury may have been swayed by testimony that a person identifying herself as Johnnie Miles called Riverside Bank claiming her checkbook and credit card were stolen, leading to fraudulent charges.

During sentencing on Friday, Miles made no comment.

Appeared Here


Our Tax Dollars At Work: Crazed Cincinnati Ohio Judge Robert Ruehlman Jails Lawyer For 6 Months For Saying "Fuck" In Court

December 7, 2008

CINCINNATI, OHIO – For the second day in a row, Judge Robert Ruehlman threw someone in jail and cited him for contempt for cussing in the courtroom.

It was an accused gang member Wednesday. On Thursday, it was a private attorney in a non-criminal case.

Michael Brautigam was before Ruehlman representing himself in a contentious civil suit he had filed against his North Avondale condo association and other condo owners in the building who are represented by Cincinnati attorney Peter Koenig.

Brautigam lives at Rose Crest Condominiums in the 700 block of Clinton Springs Avenue. He sued, accusing the condo association of not properly taking care of the building and asked a judge to force it to fix the roof and make other repairs.

Brautigam, who is an attorney but isn’t licensed in Ohio, asked Ruehlman for more time to file documents. Ruehlman gave it to him.

As Koenig and Brautigam turned to walk away from the judge, Brautigam called Koenig “a (bleeping) liar.”

“He used the famous F-word,” Koenig said. “(Ruehlman) asked Mr. Brautigam if he said that.”

Brautigam admitted he had and had directed it at Koenig.

Ruehlman cited Brautigam for contempt and sent him to jail for six months.

“I had to give him six months because I gave the other guy (on Wednesday) six months,” Ruehlman said.

Jamel Sechrest was before Ruehlman in a Wednesday hearing with four other accused members of the “Taliband,” a gang police say has terrorized Northside and its residents by selling drugs and committing other crimes.

Sechrest, unhappy at having to wait until Feb. 2 for a trial – and sitting in jail until then – muttered “That’s (bleeping) bull (bleep).”

“You don’t say bull (bleep) in the courtroom,” Ruehlman told Sechrest before citing him for contempt, sentencing him to six months in jail.

Koenig was surprised at being the recipient of Brautigam’s curses.

“Judge Ruehlman absolutely did the right thing by attempting to maintain order, civility and decorum in his courtroom. Attorney Brautigam has been discourteous and disrespectful to judges, lawyers and litigants in our community on more than one occasion,” Koenig said.

Appeared Here


Our Tax Dollars At Work: Crazed Cincinnati Ohio Judge Robert Ruehlman Jails Lawyer For 6 Months For Saying "Fuck" In Court

December 7, 2008

CINCINNATI, OHIO – For the second day in a row, Judge Robert Ruehlman threw someone in jail and cited him for contempt for cussing in the courtroom.

It was an accused gang member Wednesday. On Thursday, it was a private attorney in a non-criminal case.

Michael Brautigam was before Ruehlman representing himself in a contentious civil suit he had filed against his North Avondale condo association and other condo owners in the building who are represented by Cincinnati attorney Peter Koenig.

Brautigam lives at Rose Crest Condominiums in the 700 block of Clinton Springs Avenue. He sued, accusing the condo association of not properly taking care of the building and asked a judge to force it to fix the roof and make other repairs.

Brautigam, who is an attorney but isn’t licensed in Ohio, asked Ruehlman for more time to file documents. Ruehlman gave it to him.

As Koenig and Brautigam turned to walk away from the judge, Brautigam called Koenig “a (bleeping) liar.”

“He used the famous F-word,” Koenig said. “(Ruehlman) asked Mr. Brautigam if he said that.”

Brautigam admitted he had and had directed it at Koenig.

Ruehlman cited Brautigam for contempt and sent him to jail for six months.

“I had to give him six months because I gave the other guy (on Wednesday) six months,” Ruehlman said.

Jamel Sechrest was before Ruehlman in a Wednesday hearing with four other accused members of the “Taliband,” a gang police say has terrorized Northside and its residents by selling drugs and committing other crimes.

Sechrest, unhappy at having to wait until Feb. 2 for a trial – and sitting in jail until then – muttered “That’s (bleeping) bull (bleep).”

“You don’t say bull (bleep) in the courtroom,” Ruehlman told Sechrest before citing him for contempt, sentencing him to six months in jail.

Koenig was surprised at being the recipient of Brautigam’s curses.

“Judge Ruehlman absolutely did the right thing by attempting to maintain order, civility and decorum in his courtroom. Attorney Brautigam has been discourteous and disrespectful to judges, lawyers and litigants in our community on more than one occasion,” Koenig said.

Appeared Here


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