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U.S. Federal Courts Refuse to Release Statistics on Judicial Decisions in Civil Rights Cases

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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 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.

Class Action Scams

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Why You Should Opt-Out

If you have ever received a notice in the mail inviting you to join in a class action lawsuit, or received an unexpected check for some negligible amount, please read on. These lawsuits are being generated not by the public, but by the lawyers. While they claim they perform a public service by controlling corporate corruption, the regulations are designed by the bar associations specifically to cycle money into their political machine and pockets, rather than for maintaining social order.  Instituting your own lawsuit would, if you prevailed, be substantially more rewarding.

Websites make class actions convenient with one-stop shopping, such as classaction.org. which has a whole cornucopia of topics you can search, to join in a lawsuit which you never would have thought of  yourself. These lawsuits are so commonplace in the news, which places them in a false positive light, society assumes they have little effect on their lives.  But while approximately 42% of all adults are now unemployed, this may be one of the reasons.

While they may sometimes seem like a nice little windfall, it is nothing compared to the fees generated for the attorneys.  One recent class action was based on “non-emergency telephone calls from Capital One’s dialer(s) to cellular telephones through the use of an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice in an attempt to collect on a credit card debt ..”   This did not sound like misconduct so egregious as to have caused much damage.

The outcome of the case is rather stunning, considering the cause of action.   The final order of the lawsuit stated that 1,378,534 people were “Plaintiffs” in this class action against Capital One Bank and its vendors. Five of those people were “class representatives” that received “incentive awards.”  The settlement total was a whopping $75,455,098.74. The “class representatives” each got $5000 – for a total of $25,000.  The other 1,378,529 “plaintiffs” got $39.10 each, for a total payout of $53,900,679.40.  But as far as individual benefits,  it was lawyers who by far reaped in the rewards.

Doing More Harm Than Good

Without a doubt, the most astounding (or disturbing) part is the attorney fees in the amount of $15,668,265.00, for litigation that lasted only a few months and never went to trial.  And it is  a mystery of what happened to the remaining $5,861,154.30?

It is clear that justice is not the objective here, to allow such a frivolous action to cause such a huge debt;   the attorneys on both sides went through the motions of advocating for clients.  Damages, if there were any,  are not going to the injured party, but into the pockets of racketeering “officers of the court.”  These “officers” are keeping an elite group in power. It is no secret that lawyers are the largest contributors to judicial campaigns, so the judge has this on his mind when allowing a case to move forward.  Whether or not it is an appointed federal judge or an elected county judge, they all are members of the inter-related national and local bar associations.  These bar associations lobby heavily in congress at the state and national levels.

The settlement agreement reveals a few other questionable items.  If you don’t cash the check within 180 days- where does it go? It states that it goes to a currently “unnamed nonprofit” organization.  It settled with amazing speed -in about three months, considering individual pro se litigants average five years(self-represented litigant). I  have seen how people are treated when money is not readily available for re-circulating to the courts and lawyers; the tactic is to drag out the litigation creating installment payments.  If you refuse to pay an attorney, you will most likely receive no justice at all.

The terms of the agreement also stated that no identities may ever be revealed as to the “plaintiffs” (other than the “class representatives”).  So therefore, it is not possible to determine if these people really had a claim or if they were ever mailed or received their payments.  There is a clause that this class action cannot be released to the news media.    It also stated that the Defendants never agreed to any wrongdoing or liability and merely agreed to the settlement under threat of being dragged through litigation and bad publicity,  for years.

But who really pays in the end and is this just a backend method of funding politics?   It decreases corporate ability to employ people and increases  lay-offs. Since Capital One is a bank, you can be sure the costs are passed on to the consumer through increased overdraft fees, credit card interest rates and other bank fees. Actually in 2012, Capital One paid out another $210 million in settlements- with two  million consumers getting about $70 each.  Assuming it was again ~20% for the attorneys  that’s about $40 million in legal fees.  Total securities settlements last year were  $1.1 billion, the largest settlement amount in 2014 was $265 million, compared with $2.5 billion in the prior year.  At 20-30% fees for attorneys, do the math.

The effects are even more damaging to society from medical malpractice and product liability class actions, driving up the cost of healthcare, prescriptions and just about every commodity you can think of. Of course, you can always jump on the bandwagon, and maybe get picked as a “class representative.” A few thousands dollars may give you temporary relief for all the unemployment and inflation caused by these scams, that really only benefit the courts and lawyers.  Or you can exempt yourself, so that this money does not go into the hands of political parties whose agenda you do not support. Clearly, this practice must be outlawed; there is no benefit to society whatsoever.

Game Over for the Judiciary
Are Judge and Lawyers Around the Country Finally Realizing Its Game Over?

“The Fraternity “- The Corruption of the Legal System Exposed by a Judge

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john_molloy2

"The once honorable profession of law now fully functions as a bottom-line business, driven by greed and the pursuit of power and wealth, even shaping the laws of the United States outside the elected Congress and state legislatures.”

-- Justice John F. Molloy

When I began practicing law in 1946, justice was much simpler. I joined a small Tucson practice at a salary of $250 a month, excellent compensation for a beginning lawyer. There was no paralegal staff or expensive artwork on the walls. In those days, the judicial system was straightforward and efficient. Decisions were handed down by judges who applied the law as outlined by the Constitution and state legislatures. Cases went to trial in a month or two, not years. In the courtroom, the focus was on uncovering and determining truth and fact.

I charged clients by what I was able to accomplish for them. The clock did not start ticking the minute they walked through the door.

Looking back

The legal profession has evolved dramatically during my 87 years. I am a second-generation lawyer from an Irish immigrant family that settled in Yuma. My father, who passed the Bar with a fifth-grade education, ended up arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court during his career.

The law changed dramatically during my years in the profession. For example, when I accepted my first appointment as a Pima County judge in 1957, I saw that lawyers expected me to act more as a referee than a judge. The county court I presided over resembled a gladiator arena, with dueling lawyers jockeying for points and one-upping each other with calculated and ingenuous briefs

That was just the beginning. By the time I ended my 50-year career as a trial attorney, judge and president of southern Arizona's largest law firm, I no longer had confidence in the legal fraternity I had participated in and, yes, profited from.

I was the ultimate insider, but as I looked back, I felt I had to write a book about serious issues in the legal profession and the implications for clients and society as a whole. The Fraternity: Lawyers and Judges in Collusion was 10 years in the making and has become my call to action for legal reform.

Disturbing evolution

Our Constitution intended that only elected lawmakers be permitted to create law. Yet judges create their own law in the judicial system based on their own opinions and rulings. It's called case law, and it is churned out daily through the rulings of judges. When a judge hands down a ruling and that ruling survives appeal with the next tier of judges, it then becomes case law, or legal precedent. This now happens so consistently that we've become more subject to the case rulings of judges rather than to laws made by the lawmaking bodies outlined in our Constitution.

This case-law system is a constitutional nightmare because it continuously modifies constitutional intent. For lawyers, however, it creates endless business opportunities. That's because case law is technically complicated and requires a lawyer's expertise to guide and move you through the system. The judicial system may begin with enacted laws, but the variations that result from a judge's application of case law all too often change the ultimate meaning.

Lawyer domination

When a lawyer puts on a robe and takes the bench, he or she is called a judge. But in reality, when judges look down from the bench they are lawyers looking upon fellow members of their fraternity. In any other area of the free-enterprise system, this would be seen as a conflict of interest.

When a lawyer takes an oath as a judge, it merely enhances the ruling class of lawyers and judges. First of all, in Maricopa and Pima counties, judges are not elected but nominated by committees of lawyers, along with concerned citizens. How can they be expected not to be beholden to those who elevated them to the bench?

When they leave the bench, many return to large and successful law firms that leverage their names and relationships.

 

 


 

fraternitycoverThe Fraternity: Lawyers and Judges in Collusion

Business of law

The concept of "time" has been converted into enormous revenue for lawyers. The profession has adopted elaborate systems where clients are billed for a lawyer's time in six-minute increments. The paralegal profession is another brainchild of the fraternity, created as an additional tracking and revenue center. High powered firms have departmentalized their services into separate profit centers for probate and trusts, trial, commercial, and so forth.

The once-honorable profession of law now fully functions as a bottom-line business, driven by greed and the pursuit of power and wealth, even shaping the laws of the United States outside the elected Congress and state legislatures.

Bureaucratic design

Today the skill and gamesmanship of lawyers, not the truth, often determine the outcome of a case. And we lawyers love it. All the tools are there to obscure and confound. The system's process of discovery and the exclusionary rule often work to keep vital information off-limits to jurors and make cases so convoluted and complex that only lawyers and judges understand them.

The net effect has been to increase our need for lawyers, create more work for them, clog the courts and ensure that most cases never go to trial and are, instead, plea-bargained and compromised. All the while the clock is ticking, and the monster is being fed.

The sullying of American law has resulted in a fountain of money for law professionals while the common people, who are increasingly affected by lawyer-driven changes and an expensive, self-serving bureaucracy, are left confused and ill-served. Today, it is estimated that 70 percent of low-to-middle-income citizens can no longer afford the cost of justice in America. What would our Founding Fathers think?

This devolution of lawmaking by the judiciary has been subtle, taking place incrementally over decades. But today, it's engrained in our legal system, and few even question it. But the result is clear. Individuals can no longer participate in the legal system.

It has become too complex and too expensive, all the while feeding our dependency on lawyers. By complicating the law, lawyers have achieved the ultimate job security. Gone are the days when American courts functioned to serve justice simply and swiftly. It is estimated that 95 million legal actions now pass through the courts annually, and the time and expense for a plaintiff or defendant in our legal system can be absolutely overwhelming.

Surely it's time to question what has happened to our justice system and to wonder if it is possible to return to a system that truly does protect us from wrongs.

A lawyer from Tuscon, Arizona, John Fitzgerald Molloy (b. 1917) was elected to the Superior Court bench where he served for seven years as both a juvenile court and trial bench judge. He subsequently was elected to the Court of Appeals where he authored over 300 appellate opinions, including the final Miranda decision for the Arizona Supreme Court. During that period, he also served as president of the Arizona Judge's Association. After 12 years, Molloy returned to private practice to become president of the largest law firm in southern Arizona. His book has received widespread praise for its candor and disquieting truths. (Photo courtesy of Paragon House)

Copyright 2004, Paragon House



From an Internet released preview of the book by John Fitzgerald Molloy, The Fraternity: Lawyers and Judges in Collusion, Paragon House, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2004. Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.