Corruption occurs when some attorneys and/or judges behave dishonestly. For example, if a judge accepts bribes to swing cases in a certain direction, that is corruption. When the judicial system itself protects judges who lie, cheat and set people up, corruptionism has taken hold. In other words, corruption means individuals are abusing the system, but corruptionism means the whole system is abusing individuals.
Corruptionism in the Criminal Courts vs Civil Courts
The public is familiar with criminal courts since those are the courtroom scenes they see on TV’s “Law and Order.” Because corrupt criminal courts imprison innocent people, giving rise to a proliferation of Innocent Projects around the nation, we see examples of criminal injustices on “Dateline,” “48 Hours” and “20/20.”
We do not, however, see the massive judicial corruption in civil cases. We do not see the judges who are eyebrow deep into money laundering. The public cannot imagine the vast corruptionism that exists in civil litigation. Instead, we are fed a steady diet of lies about horrible run-away verdicts and McDonald’s Coffee, but we don’t see investigative journalism about judges who get to refinance their homes without having to make any mortgage payments. How can we correlate a judge’s throwing out a $10 million punitive damages award against a major corporation with his home being refinanced six months later? How can we find out who paid off the mortgage for the judge? We don’t.
What Happens to Lawyers Who Squeal on Judicial Corruption
We seldom learn about judicial corruption, but there is the case of former U.S. Attorney Richard I. Fine of Los Angeles who was thrown in jail for about 14 months on bogus charges because he opposed Los Angeles County judges’ getting millions of dollars in extra salaries from LA County. Other attorneys who object to misconduct are disbarred. Since California attorneys know that exposing judicial corruption can result in jail and disbarment, very few attorneys complain.
What A Tangled Web We Weave
When there is in-fighting among the forces of corruptionism, some bizarre cases arise. Perhaps the most recent case which shows the dearth of respect the judicial system has for the U.S. Constitution is Lucia vs. Security & Exchange Commission, decided June 21, 2018 October Term #17-130.
The SEC illegally functioned as a court by having its staff members select Administrative Law Judges [ALJs] to hear cases. The ALJ’s decision is final unless the Commission itself opts to review a specific case. That’s a lot of power to vest in an individual judge who was selected in secret by the very people who author and administer the SEC regulations. It’s like forcing tenants to go to a Landlord-Tenant Court were the landlords get to appoint the judges.
The Supreme Court found that the SEC was ignoring the U.S. Constitution by allowing the SEC employees decide who would be an ALJ when the Constitution required such judges to be appointed by the “President,” “Courts of Law,” or “Heads of Departments.” It is important that all courts be fair and to allow judges to be chosen by mere employees -- contrary to the Constitutional mandate – shows how little regard the powerful have for the Constitution. How can anyone expect Truth, Justice and the American way to prevail when the entire SEC ALJ system is unconstitutional?
But Wait, It Gets More Complicated
Realistically, we know the President is unlikely to appoint the judges. This President cannot even appoint his own staff. The Courts won’t be appointing any judges since it would probably take the courts 20 or 30 years to decide on the appointment procedure. That leaves Department Heads to appoint the judges. Oh, great the single most politically motivated person will appoint his cronies to be the ALJs.
It would make more sense to have the SEC’s civil service employees who understand the regulations to make the appointments since they are not subject to transitory political pressure. Oh, wait. That’s the system we’ve just declared unconstitutional. So, we’re transiting from the judicial appointment process, which is the least political method, to a system that maximizes corruptionism.
Trying to Reform a Corrupt Judiciary Can Backfire
As California is witnessing, attempting to reform a corrupt judicial system can backfire. After the epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct was exposed by the Feds, California revised Rule 5-110 to require prosecutors to voluntarily provide exculpatory evidence to the judges and when there was clear evidence that some underlying conviction was wrongful, the prosecutor had a duty to notify the court and undertake an investigation. The California State Bar, however, has repudiated the revised Rule 5-110 by continuing to rely on perjury, by concealing exculpatory evidence from the court and by affirmatively misleading the court contrary to Rule 5-200(B). As a result, after new Rule 5-110, the California courts will be umpteen times more corrupt because prosecutors know that the State Bar rejects the rule.
So, is the Lucia Case similar to the Rule 5-110 revision in that its actual result will be to make the SEC judges crass political appointees? BTW, how do we know that President Trump did not require Justice Neil Gorsuch to swear personal loyalty to him as he did with Comey? More tellingly, given Trump’s characteristic behavior, is there is reason to think he did not exact such an oath from Gorsuch?
Enter Time Magazine
Corruptionism permeates all aspects of American life. When Time Magazinepublished the cover of the crying toddler looking at President Trump with the caption “Welcome to America,” the entire world thought this little girl had been separated from her mother. That was an outrageous lie. While I am no fan of Donny Small Hands, I am a much bigger foe of the media’s subverting the truth. Intentional distortion of evidence is exactly how we railroad hundreds of thousands of people into prison. This is precisely the corruptionism the California State Bar champions. When everyone from prosecutors, to judges, to the Supreme Court, to the President and even Time Magazine is dishonest, how will the Republic itself survive?
(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams’ views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.