As President Trump struggles to “make America great again” the “draining of the swamp” has been self-effectuating. We just saw how some of that muck surfacing from the bottom, could possibly have put themselves in control of national security. There is a larger lesson here to be learned from the dog and pony show that three judges put on for the country.
JUST A SYMPTOM OF A HIDDEN PROBLEM
As they say, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The legal challenges to President Trump’s immigration ban has coincidentally uncovered a black hole containing the fuel behind the moral collapse of our government. This attempt to overpower Presidential authority, is a symptom of a much larger national crisis, that has destroyed many of the “forgotten men.” If they can publicly ignore the law in such a high profile case, imagine what they have been doing to the rest of Americans and their families?
Federal Ninth Circuit Appellate Judges Clifton, Canby and Friedland, were appointed, not elected, to lifetime taxpayer funded positions. They “abused their discretion” which is subject to judicial disciplinary action as a violation of their oaths of office, in their ruling on the Presidential executive order that temporarily banned travel from terrorist-producing nations. Any citizen could file a complaint against them for putting our safety at risk. They used their own machinated “precedent” to do this, when clearly our Constitution states only Congress can override the President.
On January 3, 2017, CNN reported that President-elect Trump strong-armed Republicans after they conspired to delete an independent ethics watchdog committee from a bill, scheduled to be voted on by the House of Representatives. In what was an undermining of his vow to “drain the swamp,” Trump made clear his anger at the move in his usual manner – via Twitter. This prompted GOP lawmakers to hurriedly change these plans of this covert attempt to take over their own policing. Various political pundits expressed their outrage at such a concept- “self-policing?” they cried! Yet for decades that is exactly the privilege that the Judicial Branch has gifted itself.
HAVE YOU OR YOUR FAMILY BEEN A VICTIM?
Unless you have been swept into its maelstrom, it is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of how far the Judicial members have removed themselves from scrutiny. They declared their immunity from law suits and prosecution for crimes they commit under color of law, and formed a secretive disciplinary board populated by their associates. The Judiciary has also exempted themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, and rule on their own conflicts of interest (self-recusal). For many years, all attempts by Congress to create an independent Office of Inspector General within the Judicial Branch has been blocked, lead by Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court, even though OIGs exist in every other agency of the government.
These same conditions exist in state courts – it is one close-knit club. Because of this, there are incomprehensible numbers of victims being rendered homeless by engineered foreclosures and the extortion of assets by family courts, with only the federal judges to turn to as a remedy for state court civil rights violations. It is only in recent years that thousands of innocent people were released from incarceration thanks to DNA technology–a testament to how seriously out of control these civil servants are.
In addition to being the only autonomous sector of our government, the Judiciary has completely usurped the authority of the U.S. Constitution using court procedural rules, and blocked the Attorney Generals from reviewing them for constitutionality. Over the course of decades, judges have instituted increasingly self-serving bench decisions, using this backdoor of case law or “precedent” to obstruct the right to jury trial which is supposedly guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment. They now overturn jury trial verdicts using procedural rules, even though that is also a direct violation of the Constitution.
It is not unusual for civil litigation to last five years, and often ten or more years, because it has one purpose- the generation of revenue. With unregulated hourly attorney fees, and the unbridled ability to rig cases now devoid of juries, unless you have lots of funds for the most politically-connected lawyers and purchase a cooperative judge, you’re case will be dismissed. Barely a shred of integrity remains, having been replaced by a seditious legal industry, that occupies every corner of the grandiose court houses where justice is supposed to be served.
THIS HAS TO STOP
For all their claims that the sequestration from oversight by other branches of government is “necessary for judicial independence,” judges continue to espouse that accepting campaign contributions or appointments to the federal bench as political favors, does not affect their impartiality. In reality, it does not matter whether the judge is elected or appointed, they will invariably have either a vested interest in, or an obligation to the legal industry, which is a primary source of election campaign funding. Defeated candidate Hillary Clinton received approximately $21 million from the legal industry for her campaign, as opposed to the reported less than $200,000 to President Trump. We have seen just how that has effected influence over him, as he was freely able to question the integrity of the judge that granted a stay on his immigration ban, that was intended to block terrorism.
The big question remains of how do you undo this “catch 22” when the branch of government that has the last say- known as “judicial review,” (something Thomas Jefferson vehemently opposed) has created arbitrary rules in order to justify and conceal their own abuse of power. Congress has refused citizen requests for investigations either out of fear of retaliation or just plain collusion, because the majority of them are lawyers invested in the legal industry. That fact has effectively defeated the separation of powers.
This all this leads to a few conclusions. One is that capitalism does not mix with justice. If you want to get rich, then you had best invent the ipod or sell designer shoes- wealth and unchecked power should not be a by-product of delivering justice. Another is that because of the human condition, if you give most people an inch, they will take a mile – or as Jefferson phrased it: “Judges are as honest as other people and not more so..” in his opposition to lifetime judicial appointments.
Jefferson was never at a loss of criticism nor was he ever wrong regarding the Judiciary. On August 18, 1821- He predicted this conundrum would eventually come about- when he wrote in a letter to a Mr. Hammonde “The germ of the dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body…working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction.. it will render powerless the checks provided of one [branch of] government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”
And here we are…a nation in turmoil, possibly on the brink of collapse because of a branch of government cloaked in secrecy, that fancies itself above the law and that has no semblance whatsoever to a democratic system of justice.
The saga of Democrat and first female Pennsylvania Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, is an interesting contrast to that of Presidential Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton's quagmire regarding mishandling of official government emails. In fact, the two women are, or were comrades and Clinton supported Kane's run for office in 2012. The difference of course is who they were up against and how much money they had to fight allegations, making the speed and timing of today's announcement that Clinton has been cleared a bit suspicious.
If you missed Pennsylvania's three-ring Judicial circus, coined "Porngate" by the media, it turned the Commonwealth's third branch on its head. After Kane released thousands of racist and pornographic emails she discovered on state servers upon taking office, it resulted in the forced resignation of two Supreme Court Justices and various and sundry removals and penalties for over 100 state attorneys and employees. The best description of what had transpired can be had by viewing this video of Pennsylvania Senator Anthony Williams press conference. After Attorney General Kane gave an interview on CNN there was a scramble throughout the judiciary to silence her. Yet since the Williams declaration that he would sandblast the judiciary, there has been little action and there certainly was no support for Attorney General Kane, who became the sacrificial lamb in the Commonwealth's struggle to rid its government of systemic corruption.
Attorney General Kane was arrested and eventually convicted based on allegations of leaking decade old grand jury information, by Frank Fina and Mark Costanza, former OAG prosecutors, who she exposed as major senders of the rancid emails, which involved several judges. It was not just the content of the emails that was problematic, but the communications and relationships that may have been violations of due process.
When the PA Supreme Court bench suspended her law license the bench included Justice Michael Eakin sitting in judgment of Kane, who himself was guilty of sending racist and graphic emails and eventually resigned. This is what happens when you mess with what many Pennsylvanian's call the black-robed mafia, in the state that gave us the Kids for Cash Scandal, the Penn State serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky and did some grandstanding by firing the entire Philadelphia traffic Court bench to avoid further investigation into the higher levels.
The Kane case is a microcosm of what America is facing now in this Presidential election. As Kane said in her CNN interview-" you would not believe how powerful this is" a reference to what is essentially organized crime that continues to have a grip on the Keystone state, and apparently the nation at-large. The discrepancy between this email scandal and the use of a secret server by Hillary Clinton, to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act, is the timing and handling of the investigation. No one knows the exact amount, but at least one million emails were investigated by an independent prosecutor from Maryland named Doug Gansler, in the "Porngate" fiasco.
It was done in a similar manner as the FBI handling of Clinton's email and those found on the pervert husband of her assistant, Huma Abedin. They used keywords to scan and find whatever it was that they were looking for, however, while the estimated 700,000 emails in the Clinton investigation took only about a week, the investigation into the Porngate emails took more than six months, and still no results have been released to the public and no decisions has been made.
It stands to reason that it would take much longer than a week to ascertain as to whether the contents of email threads contained information relevant to the Clinton investigation. It is logical that pressure was put on FBI Director Comey to vindicate her purely for the election. Hillary Clinton has not been cleared however, of allegations of money laundering through her foundation. That material evidence against her remains quite incriminating, as a looming indictment continues to unfold.
Hopefully this country will wake up and smell the coffee on November 8th- and have the intelligence to see that we cannot defeat this infestation of criminals in our government by way of another insider. The choice is obvious-if America wants to cleanse its system and survive as a secure and free nation.
Finally the Cries of Victims of Government Corruption Have been Heard by a Handful of Members of the Senate
For at least a decade, hundreds if not thousands of Pennsylvania citizens, have been struggling to have their voices heard by their government. Pennsylvania has become known not only throughout the nation, but around the world for its epidemic of judicial corruption. Calls to the Governor, the Judicial Conduct Board, the FBI, the Ethics Commission, the Auditor General- have all fallen on deaf ears leading citizens to believe that the entire government had been compromised.
However, five state Senators- John Yudichak, Rob Teplitz, James Brewster, Anthony H. Williams and Mike Folmer have apparently been working quietly in the background to make major changes in Harrisburg. Senators Teplitz, Yudichak and Brewster submitted Senate Bill 1328 on June 23, 2016 to the Senate State Government Committee for a Constitutional Convention, the only solution that would provide sweeping, comprehensive change. Without a doubt the section most in need of drastic change contains the provisions of the Judicial Branch and its Judicial Conduct Board. Not surprisingly that Senate Committee is chaired by two other Senators that have been at the forefront of attacking judicial corruption – Senator Anthony Hardy Williams and Michael Folmer. They spearheaded a bill to stop the seizing of assets before people are convicted of crimes- a no brainer. In fact it was shocking to find out that this was a standard practice throughout Pennsylania.
No doubt their intention is to address the much needed restructuring of the Unified Judicial System created by Article V Section 10(c) and the subsequent 1993 Amendment with Section 18 that created the Judicial Conduct Board, that has been a complete failure and embarrassment to the Commonwealth. It has been 40 years since the last Convention of 1968- that resulted in a rogue Judicial Branch, that defies the checks and balance of our democracy. The public record shows that the proposed structure of a “self-disciplinary” agency was vehemently opposed at a sparsely attended forum in 1993.
This autocratic court system in Pennsylvania gave rise to the Kids for Cash Scandal, Porngate, the removal of three Supreme Court Justices, the termination of the entire Philadelphia Traffic Court Bench- just to mention the few most widely known fiascos. Other lesser known albeit just as damaging are the multiple counties that allowed cases to be delayed for decades causing massive damage to an untold number of families in the domestic relations jurisdictions- most prominently Montgomery and Westmoreland Counties. Many of these delays are alleged to have been intentionally machinated by complicating cases to increase revenue for the local courts and legal industry- causing bankruptcies and home foreclosures that continue due to judicial-attorney collusion and negligence. However, these injustices have gone widely unreported in the media, which has focused on the criminal justice system that is equally as decayed as the civil justice system.
Now finally there is hope that Article V Sections 10 and 18, will be repealed, or at the very least- rewritten to demand that judges be made accountable to the citizens, that the judicial branch observe the checks and balance system and that they no longer be allowed to operate in secrecy, which has plagued the state with one scandal after the other.
It is interesting to note that it was not proposed by either the House or Senate Judiciary Committees. Senator Stewart Greenleaf has been cited as a major obstacle to judicial reform, whose family law firm- Elliot Greenleaf LLC, has suspiciously been awarded tens of thousands of dollars in state contracts by the Judiciary during his almost 30 years controlling the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is also interesting to note but not surprising. that of the five Senators pushing for Constitutional changes- only one- Senator Teplitz- is a lawyer.
But for those caught up in the corruption – the 2018 proposed date will seem like a millenium to wait. Pennsylvania Court Watch will be vigilantly monitoring the progress of this Bill, and reporting on members of the General Assembly who attempt to impede its passing.
And Pennsylvania can thank former Attorney General Kathleen Kane, for if she had not released the rancid emails that exposed the true nature of the men running the Judicial Branch, it is unlikely that any of these Senators ever would have initiated this effort to return integrity to our government. Only the “Porngate” scandal got enough attention; not even 6000 innocent children going to prison in the Kids for Cash disaster was enough to get our government to wake up and do their jobs. As Thomas Jefferson said over 150 years ago – “Judges are as honest as other men and not more so…”
A Reuters examination of nine years of cases shows that 66 of the 17,000 lawyers who petitioned the Supreme Court succeeded at getting their clients’ appeals heard at a remarkable rate. Their appeals were at least six times more likely to be accepted by the court than were all others filed by private lawyers during that period. Read More…
These firms were involved in a third of the cases the high court accepted, Reuters found. When the justices agreed to hear cases brought on behalf of Big Business, top firms were involved 60 percent of the time. Read More…
A Reuters analysis of high court records shows that a group of eight lawyers, all men, accounted for almost 20 percent of all the arguments made before the court by attorneys in private practice during the past decade. In the decade before, 30 attorneys accounted for that same share. Read More…
The unregulated, unlimited ability of attorneys to charge their clients by the hour, for as many hours a week as possible, is nothing more than an incentive to prolong cases. This is an abomination in this country. The members of every bar association have used this to trap litigants in the court system until they extort as much of their assets as possible. There is no motivation for any attorney to ever expedite a case quickly, and in fact the current system has the exact opposite objective. Judges never issue sanctions against attorneys, as these attorneys are the ones that put them in office to begin with, by funding their judicial campaigns.
The most egregious behavior is no doubt in the family courts. Unsuspecting families think they are coming to a safe haven to resolve their family issues, and hire a lawyer. The truth is the lawyers on either side only work for each other- prolonging the case to bill as much as possible. The hourly fees range from $200 to $1000 per hour. And in my experience- the rate at which you pay has nothing to do with the quality of the legal work. It has to do with how much influence the law firm has on the judge. Most of the time, the law firm has contributed to the judge's electoral campaign and this is how the outcome of the case will end.
If you enter the courts without an attorney i.e. pro se.. you will receive no justice at all. In fact, I requested statistics on the outcome of pro se litigants vs represented litigants- and the Administration of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) claimed they had no such statistics. I also requested the length of family court litigation in comparison to other civil cases- and they claimed they did not have that information either.
Senator Stewart Greenleaf, who is an attorney, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, almost exclusively from law firms. He also has been the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee for about 25 years. He has been contributing greatly to the complete lack of court reform in this State.
I have seen cases that are intentionally dragged out by attorneys for five years, ten years and even 20 years. If the incentive of the hourly fees were removed this would stop. This can be done by not only capping hourly fees, but by limiting the amount of charges they can invoice per week. Not only must their hourly fees be capped, but a threshold for the length of time before they are assessed punative fines, needs to be set. For example, any case that goes beyond 18 months, needs to be reviewed by a panel of non--bar associated citizens. If there is any intentional expansion of the case, both the judge and the law firms should be fined in the thousands for such conduct.
Other solutions are to tax the falsely proclaimed "non-profit" bar associations to support the court system, as the fees just to file have become prohibitive.. The U.S. Constitution provides for equal treatment under the law, and we have anything but that.. what we have are profiteering attorneys who all belong to the same club, and for decades have been robbing Americans blind. They have precluded too many people from benefiting from any of the statutes of our U.S. and State Constitutions.
A massive change that needs to be made is to bring the entire Judicial Branch back under compliance with the Open Meeting Laws, to which every other agency and branch of our government is subject. Since 1978, the lawyers have been making their own rules, to the point of completely obstructing justice and out and out stealing people's assets. This has to stop, and the only way that it will is to make it clear to the new governor and the newly elected senators and representatives that we will not tolerate this any more.
Everyone needs to demand that the General Assembly address these issues and provide restitution for all the people that have been harmed by these lawyers. All bar members must be prohibited from serving on the judiciary committee, and it is just insane at how long this has been allowed to continue, and it continues because people do not speak up.. they wait for everyone else to do it. Copy this and send it to the Senators and Representatives in your State.. no matter what State you are in.. because there is no justice anywhere in America today.
Speaking in soft but plain words, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., used his year-end report on Thursday night to urge lawyers who practice in federal courts to take steps to help improve the efficiency, and reduce the cost, of trying cases. Roberts also added some strong encouragement for judges who preside over federal civil trials to take greater control of the management of cases, rather than leaving the process to the tactics of the competing lawyers.
To draw contrasts with the goals he was promoting, the Chief Justice brought up the chivalric but discredited practice of dueling to preserve one’s honor after being slighted or insulted. Recalling that experience, Roberts said it serves as “a stark reminder of government’s responsibility to provide tribunals for the peaceful resolution of all manner of disputes.” For courts to provide justice, he added, they “must be governed by sound rules of practice and procedure,” and he said both lawyers and judges in the federal system must make those rules work.
The Chief Justice said he was focusing the 2015 annual report on the federal courts on the efficient and less costly operation of those courts in order to highlight a broad new set of amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, developed over a five-year study period and put into effect this past December 1. They have the Supreme Court’s approval and that of the policy-making machinery of the federal court system, and Congress chose not to alter them..
While many rules’ amendments “are modest and technical,” Roberts said this new set of rules “are different” because they were drafted “to address the most serious impediments to just, speedy, and efficient resolution of civil disputes.” He put a good deal of emphasis, throughout his remarks, on the courts’ “discovery” process — that point before a trial opens when lawyers are demanding information from the other side with the aim of helping their side of the case when the trial gets underway.
For years, federal judges and critics of the modern court system have criticized what they call “discovery abuse,” meaning time-consuming and excessive information demands that slow down the process significantly and yet push up the cost because of lawyers billing during that sometimes lengthy process.
Turning to his admonition to lawyers to make the system of litigation work better, Roberts bluntly remarked: “I cannot believe that many members of the bar went to law school because of a burning desire to spend their professional life wearing down opponents with creatively burdensome discovery requests or evading legitimate requests through dilatory tactics.” Lawyers, he added, must work together cooperatively to chart cost-effective litigation and to achieve “just results.”
Turning to the presiding federal judges, the Chief Justice urged them to get involved very early in the process of litigation, rather than waiting for lawyers to “dictate the scope of discovery and the pace of litigation.” It is up to the judge, he commented, to “identify the critical issues, determine the appropriate breadth of discovery, and curtail dilatory tactics, gamesmanship, and procedural posturing.”
Attached to the text of the Chief Justice’s remarks was the annual compilation of data about the operation of the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Chief Justice wants less gamesmanship by lawyers, SCOTUSblog (Dec. 31, 2015, 6:01 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2015/12/chief-justice-wants-less-gamesmanship/
The cavalier attitude continues in Pennsylvania government, even after all of the corruption exposed over the last decade. With three State Supreme Court Justices removed, two Common Pleas judges in prison for the Kids for Cash Scandal, the concealment of the Penn State pedophile, the firing of the entire Philadelphia Traffic Court – our elected politicians have the audacity to continue to act in their own best interests.
This bill was to amend the Act of July 8, 1978 (P.L.752, No.140), entitled “An act providing for the forfeiture of the pensions of certain public employees and authorizing the State or political subdivision to garnish the pension benefits of certain public officers and employees upon conviction of certain criminal activity related to their office or position of employment,” In 2004, another amendment was made, which added various criminal codes.
The bill in its current form falls disgracefully short, and even more appalling is the removal of the original provision of restitution in Page 6, Section 4 at line 29, for citizens victims of public corruption, which read:
“…the court shall order the defendant to make complete and full restitution of any monetary loss incurred as a result of the criminal offense to any victim, including, but not limited to the Commonwealth or a political subdivision of [any monetary loss incurred as a result of the criminal offense]”
As can be seen the word “victim” was removed by the Judiciary Committee, which should not have had any input on this bill, in April 14, 2015. It was returned to the House and was passed on May 17, 2016 and it now reads for review by the Senate as:
“…the court shall order the defendant to make complete and full restitution to the Commonwealth or political subdivision of any monetary loss incurred as a result of the criminal offense.”
Senator Stewart Greenleaf, has Chaired and controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee for almost 30 years. To have the same lawyer controlling the laws in this state for decades is unconstitutional- no one should serve more than one term on any committee, let alone as the Chair, be able to filter the bills. Not to mention all of the Senator’s election campaigns were funded by lawyers, some of whom are now judges.
This is also further proof that lawyers do not belong in the legislature. They are too closely tied with lawyer-judges that are employed in the Judicial Branch, and is addressed in the Judicial Transparency Act proposal sent to members of the Legislature by Pennsylvania Court Watch in October 2015.
The bill still also allows resignations by judges to save their pensions. The current version is below. The politicians probably intend to make the restitution funds part of the budget to apply to their salaries. Below is the contents of the bill as it now appears in the Senate for review. If people would contact these Judiciary Committee members, maybe an appropriate bill focused on protections for the public would be enacted.
The underlined portions are changes to the bill, which was passed by the House and is now in the Senate as of May 18, 2016.
|PRIOR PRINTER’S NOS. 582, 1184||PRINTER’S NO. 3364|
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
INTRODUCED BY PETRI, BARRAR, BLOOM, CUTLER, DIAMOND, EVERETT, LAWRENCE, MACKENZIE, MALONEY, MARSHALL, MICCARELLI, MURT, SACCONE, SIMMONS, STEPHENS, WATSON, FARRY, SANTARSIERO, B. MILLER, KILLION AND DEAN, FEBRUARY 23, 2015
AS AMENDED ON SECOND CONSIDERATION, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, MAY 17, 2016
Amending the act of July 8, 1978 (P.L.752, No.140), entitled “An act providing for the forfeiture of the pensions of certain public employees and authorizing the State or political subdivision to garnish the pension benefits of certain public officers and employees upon conviction of certain criminal activity related to their office or position of employment,” further providing for definitions, for disqualification and forfeiture of benefits and for restitution for monetary loss; and repealing a retroactivity provision.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The definitions of “crimes related to public office or public employment” and “public official” or “public employee” in section 2 of the act of July 8, 1978 (P.L.752, No.140), known as the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act, amended July 15, 2004 (P.L.733, No.86), are amended and the section is amended by adding a definition definitions to read:
Section 2. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:
“Benefits administrator.” A retirement board, pension fund administrator or employer that manages, controls or maintains a pension system for public officials or public employees.
“Crimes related to public office or public employment.” Any of the criminal offenses as set forth in the following provisions of Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes or other enumerated statute when committed by a public official or public employee through his public office or position or when his public employment places him in a position to commit the crime:
Any of the criminal offenses set forth in Subchapter B of Chapter 31 (relating to definition of offenses) when the criminal offense is committed by a school employee [as defined in 24 Pa.C.S. § 8102 (relating to definitions)] against a student.
Section 3922 (relating to theft by deception) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher.
Section 3923 (relating to theft by extortion) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher.
Section 3926 (relating to theft of services) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher.
Section 3927 (relating to theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher.
Section 4101 (relating to forgery).
Section 4104 (relating to tampering with records or identification).
Section 4113 (relating to misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institutions) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of misdemeanor of the second degree.
[Section 4701 (relating to bribery in official and political matters).]
Section 4702 (relating to threats and other improper influence in official and political matters).
[Section 4902 (relating to perjury).]
Section 4903(a) (relating to false swearing).
Section 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities).
Section 4906 (relating to false reports to law enforcement authorities).
[Section 4909 (relating to witness or informant taking bribe).]
Section 4910 (relating to tampering with or fabricating physical evidence).
Section 4911 (relating to tampering with public records or information).
Section 4952 (relating to intimidation of witnesses or victims).
Section 4953 (relating to retaliation against witness, victim or party).
Section 5101 (relating to obstructing administration of law or other governmental function).
Section 5301 (relating to official oppression).
Section 5302 (relating to speculating or wagering on official action or information).
Article III of the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the “Tax Reform Code of 1971.”
Any criminal offense under the laws of this Commonwealth classified as a felony or punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding five years.
In addition to the foregoing specific crimes, the term also includes all criminal offenses as set forth in Federal law that are:
(1) substantially the same as the crimes enumerated herein[.];
(2) classified as a felony; or
(3) punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding five years.
* * *
“Public official” or “public employee.” Any person who is elected or appointed to any public office or employment including justices, judges and [justices of the peace] magisterial district judges and members of the General Assembly or who is acting or who has acted in behalf of the Commonwealth or a political subdivision or any agency thereof including but not limited to any person who has so acted and is otherwise entitled to or is receiving retirement benefits whether that person is acting on a permanent or temporary basis and whether or not compensated on a full or part-time basis. This term shall not include independent contractors nor their employees or agents under contract to the Commonwealth or political subdivision nor shall it apply to any person performing tasks over which the Commonwealth or political subdivision has no legal right of control. However, this term shall include all persons who are members of any retirement system funded in whole or in part by the Commonwealth or any political subdivision. For the purposes of this act such persons are deemed to be engaged in public employment.
“School employee.” As defined in 24 Pa.C.S. § 8102 (relating to definitions).
“Student.” An individual who is:
(1) instructed by a school employee;
(2) supervised by a school employee;
(3) counseled by a school employee; or
(4) mentored by a school employee.
Section 2. Sections 3(a), (b) and (d) and 4(a) and (d) of the act are amended to read:
Section 3. Disqualification and forfeiture of benefits.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no public official or public employee nor any beneficiary designated by such public official or public employee shall be entitled to receive any retirement or other benefit or payment of any kind except a return of the contribution paid into any pension fund without interest, if such public official or public employee is [convicted] found guilty of a crime related to public office or public employment or pleads guilty or no [defense] contest to any crime related to public office or public employment.
(b) [The benefits shall be forfeited upon entry of a plea of guilty or no defense or upon initial conviction and no payment or partial payment shall be made during the pendency of an appeal. If] The benefits shall be immediately forfeited upon the public official’s or public employee’s entry of a plea of guilty or no contest or upon initial entry of a jury verdict or judicial order of guilty, with respect to any crimes related to public office or public employment. The forfeiture shall not be stayed or affected by pendency of an appeal or collateral attack on the plea, verdict or order, regardless of whether a court has entered or stayed the sentence pending the appeal or collateral attack. If a plea, verdict or order is vacated and a verdict of not guilty is rendered or the indictment or criminal information finally dismissed, then the public official or public employee shall be reinstated as a member of the pension fund or system and shall be entitled to all benefits including those accruing during the period of forfeiture if any. Such [conviction or] plea, verdict or order shall be deemed to be a breach of a public officer’s or public employee’s contract with his employer.
* * *
(d) The appropriate [retirement board] benefits administrator may retain a member’s contributions and interest thereon for the purpose of paying any fine imposed upon the member of the fund by a court of competent jurisdiction, or for the repayment of any funds misappropriated by such member from the Commonwealth or any political subdivision.
* * *
Section 4. Restitution for monetary loss.
(a) Whenever any public official or public employee who is a member of any pension system funded by public moneys [is convicted or pleads guilty or pleads no defense] enters a plea of guilty or no contest in any court of record to any crime related to a public office or public employment or whenever there is initial entry of a jury verdict or judicial order of guilty against the public official or public employee in any court of record to any crime related to a public office or public employment, the court shall order the defendant to make complete and full restitution to the Commonwealth or political subdivision of any monetary loss incurred as a result of the criminal offense.
* * *
(d) [The retirement board, administrator of the pension fund or employer of the defendant] Upon the finding of guilty of a public official or public employee, or upon the entry of a plea of guilty or no contest in any court of record by a public official or public employee, the court shall notify the appropriate benefits administrator of such finding or entrance of plea. The appropriate benefits administrator, upon being served with a copy of the court’s order, shall pay over all such pension benefits, contributions or other benefits to the extent necessary to satisfy the order of restitution.
Section 3. Section 7 of the act is repealed:
[Section 7. Retroactively.
The provisions of this act shall be retroactive to December 1, 1972.]
Section 4. The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:
(1) This section applies to the following provisions:
(i) The editorial change in the second paragraph of the definition of “crimes related to public office or public employment” in section 2 of the act.
(ii) The addition of the definitions of “school employee” and “student” in section 2 of the act.
(2) The provisions referred to in paragraph (1) are intended to clarify the scope of the act as amended by the act of July 15, 2004 (P.L.733, No.86), entitled “An act amending the act of July 8, 1978 (P.L.752, No.140), entitled ‘An act providing for the forfeiture of the pensions of certain public employees and authorizing the State or political subdivision to garnish the pension benefits of certain public officers and employees upon conviction of certain criminal activity related to their office or position of employment,’ further defining ‘crimes related to public office or public employment’ to include certain sexual offenses committed by school employees against students.”
Section 4 5. The following provisions apply to crimes related to public office or public employment committed on or after the effective date of this section:
(1) The amendment or addition of the definitions of “benefits administrator,” “crimes related to public office or public employment” except for the editorial change in the second paragraph of the definition, and “public official” or “public employee” in section 2 of the act.
(2) The amendment of section 3(a), (b) and (d) of the act.
(3) The amendment of section 4(a) and (d) of the act.
(4) The repeal of section 7 of the act.
Section 5 6. This act shall take effect immediately.
Without the Seventh Amendment, which guarantees the right to civil jury trial, we cannot defend our rights under the First, Second, or any other Amendments of the Bill of Rights. Jury trials are the institutional check against judicial criminality. Because relatively few people become involved in litigation, the fact that civil jury trials have almost completely disappeared has gone unnoticed.The average citizen assumes that should they become entangled in a lawsuit, the problem will be resolved by a jury of their peers. They are sorely mistaken; more often than not, they will be at the mercy of one person — a judge who has very little restrictions on how they want to apply the law.
There has recently been a focus on criminal justice reform, but those cases are still guaranteed a jury trial unless the right is waived by the defendant. However, criminal convictions are often addressed through civil rights complaints. Other issues such as challenges to the constitutionality of state laws, state judicial due process violations, employment discrimination, and mortgage fraud are handled in civil court, but unless one can afford a high profile lawyer, the real challenge will be getting a judge to allow you a jury trial.
Research shows that over the last several decades, courts have increasingly ordered pretrial dismissals under a modernized version of a court rule called a “Motion for Summary Judgment (MSJ)”.
A Simple Explanation of the MSJ
In simple terms, the MSJ has now dubiously replaced the Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which mandates:
“In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”
However, this procedural rule is being abused, by allowing the substitution of the MSJ by either party to bypass a jury trial. By filing the motion, the judge is given the option to dismiss the case before it proceeds any further. One party, usually the defendant, will argue that the facts show the other side cannot prevail under the law with the evidence submitted into the court record.
The MSJ (codified as Federal Rules of Civil Procedure F.R.C.P. 56) allows any judge assigned to a case to deny a demand for a jury trial and make a decision themselves, in violation of one of the most important provisions of the Bill of Rights. This is a perversion of the original intent of the device, whereby under the common law, (often confused with “case law” — they are not synonymous) both parties would have to agree to waive the right to jury trial. In effect, the majority of citizens are being denied due process and “equal protection of the laws,” as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment,, as federal civil jury trials are all but extinct.
Academic legal scholar Richard L. Steagall writes that “the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were adopted in 1938. That year 19.9% of the federal civil cases were tried. The rate was 12.1% in 1952 and 11.5% in 1962. By 2005, 1.7% of federal civil cases filed were tried. The decline in trials coincides with a significant increase in summary judgment. Today summary judgment is granted on issues of reasonableness, state of mind, and credibility, results that were inconceivable 23 years ago. . . . Two prominent federal judges have observed, federal “trial” judges appear no longer very interested in doing their job [of trying cases]. The preference for summary judgment over trial is a part of the twenty five-year turn away from the post World War II belief in law. Grants of summary judgments by district courts and affirmances by the Court of Appeals are now a daily ritual in civil rights cases.”
Without Jury Trials, Personal and Political Agendas Have Replaced the Law in Our Courts
As you can imagine, a biased judge can come up with any twisting of the rule, which is usually in favor of the more affluent party. But in reality, the only authority the judge has is to decide if the evidence as presented is questionable — and if so, the case must go to a jury trial. However, since there is no oversight of these judges, they often arbitrarily decide on the integrity of facts themselves, in abuse of the MSJ rule. Deciding on whether parties are being truthful, is by law, a function and power designated to a jury.
It is rare that on appeal the higher court will disagree with their peers in the lower court. For example, in a study of Pennsylvania federal courts, 77 percent of employment discrimination cases are dismissed via MSJs. The rest are only settled with any meaningful compensation if you are willing to share it by hiring an attorney. Self-represented (pro se) individuals, many of whom are skilled in litigation, do not appear to have any success in federal courts. In fact, that is a topic for another day, as another rule is being abused against informa pauperis litigants, which is how many self-represented litigants are forced to file. The courts have done everything possible to limit their services to those cases that are lucrative, and obstruct jury trials for everyone else.
Without jury trials, judicial power has become overbearing and is driving the country into a tyrannical oligarchy of the elite members of the bar associations. The public has been misguided into believing the political power lies with our elected officials. Not so . . . it lies in the federal courts, where the federal judiciary not only has final say on public policy through judicial review, but over individual lives, in both criminal and civil issues.
While both the federal and state courts show rampant MSJ abuse, it is the federal courts which are the most problematic. They are the last resort for victims of civil rights violations by state judges, under the Supremacy Clause. These types of cases are usually filed pursuant to 42 U.S. Code § 1983, Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights, and 42 U.S. Code § 1985, Conspiracy to Interfere with Civil Rights. They can involve complaints related to judicial misconduct issues, corruption in family court, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, mortgage fraud, or police brutality cases, to name a few.
Can a Judge Legally Put a Price on Justice?
The Judiciary members claim the MSJ rule is indispensable for “economic” purposes, however, it was originally instituted centuries ago only to resolve simple debtor issues. In the mid-twentieth century the courts refocused the rule to filter out frivolous lawsuits by prisoners, who can file for free and often direct complaints related to prison conditions. While this truly may be a systemic problem, the courts indiscriminately began to use the rule to weed out less lucrative cases as well as those which threaten corporate political donors. The effect of the now ubiquitous MSJ has been that, generally, only cases which generate revenue for the legal profession — which recycles it back into the political machine as campaign contributions — are given a jury trial.
A study on the MSJ in 2008 by Cornell University Law Professor Theodore Eisenberg (article posted below) found that “aside from displaying variation in summary judgment rates . . . civil rights advocates’ concerns about summary judgment may be well founded. Summary judgment rates in employment discrimination and other civil rights cases are consistently higher than rates in contract and tort cases.” He further stated that “the wider availability of jury trial in employment discrimination cases after enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 may have shifted judicial behavior. Perhaps judges, concerned about allowing cases to proceed to trials no longer conducted by them, increased use of summary judgment to retain greater control of cases.”
Victims turned into judicial reform activists — in addition to academic legal scholars — have been sounding the alarm, but the majority of citizens remain unaware of the disappearance of the right to jury trial. This perversion of the process has transformed the justice system into a legal industry, and mecca for racketeering and organized crime. The scholars, most of whom have no stake in the attorney hourly fee system, have stated that many cases of merit have likely been dismissed using the MSJ. Scholars also report that MSJs are not necessarily more economical, but, in fact, are being used to complicate cases and increase legal fees.
The federal judges have become so driven by their own agendas that President Obama cited this injustice and failure of the federal courts in the Preamble to the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Act. It states:
“The Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), significantly impairs statutory protections against discrimination in compensation that Congress established and that have been bedrock principles of American law for decades. The Ledbetter decision undermines those statutory protections by unduly restricting the time period in which victims of discrimination can challenge and recover for discriminatory compensation decisions or other practices, contrary to the intent of Congress.”
Descent Into Tyranny
Note that there exists no constitutional right to an MSJ. One does, however, possess a constitutional right to a jury trial. Nevertheless, because of a complete breakdown of the checks and balance system upon which our democracy is based, thousands of people have suffered injustice by the very people entrusted with the highest powers.
The first step towards ending government corruption is to listen to the Founding Fathers. No one has ever surpassed the ability to predict what could go wrong in our government than the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. Having your fate in the hands of any one individual is contrary to the very essence of a free society. This exposé cannot be concluded without his famous warning in his 1820 letter to William Jarvis :
“You seem . . . to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is “boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem,” and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots.”
Read the Research and Judge for Yourself
If you would like to learn more about all of this, the articles upon which this post are provided below. The first listed is the most comprehensive study published in 2009 called “The Explosion of Summary Judgment…” It is suggested to begin by reading the first few pages of that one.
If you are really feeling energetic, take a stab at the The Federalist (more commonly know as The Federalist Papers), a series of 85 essays written between October 1787 and May 1788. The essays were published anonymously, under the pen name “Publius,” in New York newspapers of the time, in lobbying for adoption of the U.S. Constitution over the existing Articles of Confederation. The essays explain particular provisions of the Constitution in detail by its authors. For this reason, The Federalist Papers are often used today to help interpret the intentions of those who drafted the Constitution.
Even with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and establishment of the state Right To Know offices, government reform advocates often battle for years to obtain information which should be publicly available. In America today, millions of your tax dollars are paid to contracted law firms that file endless objections, at both the national and state levels for information requests. Without a doubt, the most difficult nut to crack is the Judicial Branch, which has built a wall to conceal potentially revealing data.
One judicial reform advocate attempted to investigate the Pennsylvania Eastern District Courts and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The inquiry was made directly to the U.S. Administration of Courts (AOC) in Washington, DC. Cases were requested of civil rights cases with the correlating names of federal judges, in their decisions involving self-represented litigants (pro se is the legal term). That information could reveal patterns of judicial bias or other violations of due process. Civil rights cases can involve such complaints as abuse by state court judges or discrimination law suits.
The answer from the AOC (below the email thread can be viewed), was a refusal with a justification that “judge-specific information cannot be released unless required to do so by law.” The ambiguity of this statement is only overshadowed by the absurdity of it. One would think that such data would be regularly reviewed and published, for effective oversight of judges, to ensure the integrity of the U.S. federal courts. However, since the entire Judiciary is self-policing, no one really knows just how many citizens have been denied due process, by specific judges, with the concealment of such information.
It has long been suspected that citizens who either cannot afford, or are attempting to circumvent outrageous legal fees, are faced with judicial prejudice when they represent themselves in court. The largest area of pre-trial dismissal of cases has statistically been in civil rights claims- most specifically employment discrimination law suits, an area where litigants often represent themselves, and petition for a waiver of filing fees. Approximately 77% of all employment discrimination law suits are dismissed before trial, by a single judge.
This control of case outcomes is accomplished predominantly by use of the “motion for summary judgment” (MSJ) ( F.R.C.P. 56). Do not be fooled by the fancy title -it is really quite simple. It has replaced jury trials with the power of one judge to dismiss any case. Its abuse began in the 1980’s, with the rule originally intended to reduce frivolous filings, predominantly by incarcerated criminals. After the discovery process, which allows for the demands for evidence between both parties, the use of an MSJ allows individual judges to dismiss cases instead of granting a trial, based on how they think a jury might find the facts of a case.
This MSJ is a “rule” – not a law- instituted by lawyers themselves, and not by the elected legislators. It is supposedly necessary for economic purposes to reduce meritless law suits. But its potential for abuse has become more than obvious in civil litigation, with only 1.1% of cases now allowed to proceed to jury trial. The U.S. Constitution’s Seventh Amendment (Amendment VII) states “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…. ” Obviously, something got lost in the translation to the court rules committees. The banality of this rule has resulted in a massive decline in jury trials, and its abuse in the lower courts appears heavily supported by the appellate courts.
Another federal rule is being used against pro se litigants, who also often file “informa pauperis,” allowing them a waiver of filing fees, which have risen to upwards of $400 in federal courts. The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution adopted in 1868, which addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, surely intended to provide justice and protect for those that cannot afford legal counsel or filing fees. However, this federal rule intended to be used toward prisoners, is now being used to allow a single judge to dismiss any civil case if it is filed informa pauperis, before the opposing party is even required to respond, under 28 U.S. Code Chapter 123- Fees and Costs at Section 1915.
There is a plethora of acadmic scholarly research articles regarding the constitutionality of MSJ use, which has been buried in the vaults of law schools. Most agree that it has changed the legal system dramatically in a most undemocratic manner. While they do not use the term “abuse, ” these scholars more politely cite other possible reasons for so many pre-trial dismissals – and they decline to focus on pro se litigants. They attribute it to perceived ineptness at court procedures, which have become increasingly complex- even for seasoned lawyers. There are also opinions that judges feel that discrimination has become obsolete with all of the agencies in place to address these issues, such as the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission(EEOC).
More compelling agendas stem from the obvious evolution of the justice system into nothing more than a legal industry, focused purely on profit. This collusion between the courts is easily facilitated by the ubiquitous national, federal, appellate, state and county lawyer unions – aka bar associations. The bar associations certainly serve no other legitimate purpose than to provide venues for judges and lawyers to synchronize their control of the courts. The current strong connections between politicians and members of the legal industry, fuel obligations to protect corporate donors against discrimination law suits, which are most commonly instituted by self-represented litigants.
When both parties are represented by lawyers, at the very least, it allows for the inevitable complicating of litigation to maximize their hourly fees. And if a represented party receives an award, between 33% and 50% percent of that award will go to a law firm. This has generated resentment for those who file for free and represent themselves. It is alleged by many court reform advocates that self-represented litigants are treated as pariahs, and are not allowed jury trials which often result in sizeable awards in civil rights cases.
What is the Administration of Courts hiding? The data that was denied by the courts, would give insight into patterns of constitutional violations of due process and judicial bias. The only way to identify such abuse would be to review MSJs granted by specific judicial districts – and even more pointedly- by specific judges within those districts. The criminal courts clearly are overburdened by frivolous inmate filings- however, the rule should never have been extended to civil cases. While the courts claim that MSJs are not unconstitutional, the obstruction of jury trials and prejudice against indigents is another question altogether.
Obstructing jury trials is contrary to every principle of fairness and justice in our now sinking democracy. The solutions are there, but the public just has to speak louder. The problem is that people are not compelled to get involved until it effects them – which is then too late to avoid the catastrophic effects of judicial misconduct.