Tue, Apr

Reading the Tea Leaves of Judicial Corruption


CORRUPTION WATCH-The parameters of judicial corruption appear rather straight forward within the system as a whole.

But a close examination of the day to day nitty-gritty shows it to be more complex. No system has only villains. 

Det. Mark Fuhrman, of OJ Trial fame, probably described the LAPD in the 1990s most succinctly by saying that all true cops learn to lie, cheat and set people up. Too bad the judges in our system were not forced to operate for a decade or so under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice as was the case with the LAPD. Although no institution is perfect, today’s post-Consent Decree LAPD is a transformed institution, while the judicial system itself has nose-dived in terms of ethics, honesty and integrity. 

The corruption in the judiciary seems to be a significant factor in the brewing scandal with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department with its falsified evidence against innocent people and its near habitual use of perjury to wrongfully convict people. The role of the OC judges should play a significant in the November OC District Attorney’s race. There cannot be a corrupt DA without corrupt judges. 

The Answer Is in the Tea Leaves and Not Blowin’ in the Wind 

Just take a look at the tea leaves to see how the Orange County judges play a significant role in the corruption at the Orange County District Attorney’s office and the Sheriff Department’s Crime lab. 

Tea Leaf Number # 1: After Judge Thomas Goethals uncovered the subornation of perjury of jail house informants in the Dekraai murder trial, OC prosecutors steered so many cases away from Judge Goethals that his courtroom would be without cases. The vital lesson is not that the prosecutors disliked a judge who would not agree to accept their subversion of justice, but that the OC District Attorney’s Office knew that the other judges would go along with the perjury and falsification of evidence. 

If Orange County Superior Court were filled with honest judges committed to Truth, Justice and the American Way, then Judge Goethals would not have been 86'd by the DA’s Office. If the other OC judges also protected the constitution, prosecutors would not have avoided Goethals. The pattern of the tea leaves shows that OC prosecutors know that the other OC judges cooperate with the subversion of our constitutional rights and aid in the railroading of people. 

Tea Leave #2:  This tea leaf is known to almost no one as it is a non-published opinion from the appellate court which oversees Orange County. The case is Myers v Orange County Superior Court, (case # G055071 July 27, 2018) and for people who like sleuthing, it should be intriguing as this case reveals the real culprits.  

Here are the abbreviated facts: (1) Myers was arrested for a DUI. (He was not driving under the influence but that is not the issue here.) (2) Myers’ public defender said that it had a conflict and could not represent Myers without breaching some pre-existing duties to another client. (3) The OC judge insisted that the public defender’s office represent Myers even though it could not defend him. 

What sort of judge demands that a defendant be represented by an attorney who admits that he cannot say anything in his client’s defense? The OC Public Defenders’ Office and Myers had to have a three-judge appellate panel order the trial court judge to let the Public Defender’s office out of the case and to appoint a new attorney for Myers. 

The right to an attorney in a criminal trial is bedrock U.S. Constitutional law; yet, this Orange County judge was insisting that Myers be represented by an attorney whose hands were tied. That’s like having a blind surgeon. 

Are Tea Leaves Important? 

When one is dealing with a system that is corrupt, sometimes the only thing we have are the tea leaves to glean what is happening. 

From these tea leaves we see that the judges themselves are often the problem. The prosecutors in Orange County shun the honest judge, thereby telling us that they know the other judges to be unethical. We see a judge who demands that a defendant be represented by the Public Defender’s Office which says it cannot defend the person. But, these tea leaves also tell us that there are a few judges and justices who still struggle to do the right thing. 

How Long Must We Wait? 

Bribery is rampant and pandering to corrupt officials is an epidemic. How long will the Governor and others tolerate the Queen of Hearts to ravage the California judicial system? There was a time, long, long ago in what seems like a galaxy far, far away when California had one of the nation’s premier court systems. California was a judicial leader, but since 1986 the system has sunk to unimaginable depths of corruption and predatory abuse. 

As long as members of the public never have to deal with the courts, they do not know the level of corruption, but the Governor knows. There are people with sufficient power to root out the corrupting judges and justices, but they sit silent. At most, these mucky mucks make deals that allow the thieves to quietly leave the bench, but they do nothing to help the victims. Families have been destroyed, innocent people have spent hundreds of thousands of years in prison, people have lost their homes and jobs and have been driven into bankruptcy by corrupt judges, but as long as the bigwigs are not personally inconvenienced, everything looks fine to them. 

If the Fates should smile kindly upon California this week, we might be on the road to recovery. On the other hand, we may have to start naming more names and explaining why we are naming them.  All we seek is justice, and justice shall we pursue.


(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.

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