Monday, June 8, 2009

Chief Justice John Roberts says Judge Brent Benjamin doesn't have to recuse himself just because of a measly $3 million campaign contribution

Was justice Brent Benjamin the best judge money could buy? Shouldn't he be thrown off the bench? How exactly was the $3 million spent?

This is an appalling case of unjudicial conduct. I suppose that Justice Brent Benjamin will continue for many years to astonish the state of Virginia with bizarre behavior. Thank heaven for US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. If he'd swung the other way, and joined Roberts, Scalia, Alioto and Thomas, it would have been a disgrace to our country's justice system.

High court: Judge should have dropped case involving donor
June 8, 2009
By Joan Biskupic

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin violated consitutional due process of law when he voted in a dispute involving a coal compay whose CEO had contributed to his campaign.

WASHINGTON — A West Virginia judge who won election with significant contributions from a coal company CEO and then cast a vote to overturn a $50 million jury verdict against the company should have withdrawn from the case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

By a 5-4 vote, the justices said West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin violated constitutional due process of law when he voted in the dispute after being asked to take himself out because of a conflict of interest...

The case of Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal had become a flashpoint in the national debate over potential corruption in state judicial elections by big contributors.

Monday's decision is likely to enhance the ability of litigants to challenge judges as potentially biased because of campaign money they receive.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote for the majority, noted that the $3 million CEO Don Blankenship spent on the 2004 state West Virginia court election far exceeded the total spent by all other Benjamin supporters and Benjamin himself.

"We find that Blankenship's significant and disproportional influence … offer a possible temptation to the average judge," Kennedy said.

Kennedy noted that Judge Benjamin had said he did not feel beholden to Blankenship and could be fair in appeal by Blankenship's Massey Coal of the 2002 verdict won by Hugh Caperton and his Harman mining company.

Yet, Kennedy said that more is required than a judge's subjective assessment of the situation. An objective risk of bias must be considered.

...Joining Kennedy in the majority were Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Dissenting from Monday's decision were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why is Bonnie Dumanis prosecuting this case?

Joe Ryan, 52nd US Congressional District write-in candidate

By Joe Ryan 10/22/2008

As many of you reading this already know, I was arrested (actually kidnapped) at the 52nd district candidate's debate. If you get your information from Michele Clock of the Union-Tribune, then you don't know the truth. Here's some facts:

1. I was arrested after I walked onto the stage with the other three qualified candidate's for the 52nd district seat, announced my presence to the assembled voters, and I began to participate in the debate being held. I did not disrupt anything, I merely exercised my constitutional right right to be included in the debate.

2. The Union-Tribune deceived the public again. Michele Clock wrote, that Joe Ryan was protesting being excluded from a "public forum". While it's true that the debate was a public forum, Joe Ryan did not object to being excluded from the debate on that basis; rather Joe Ryan insisted that he had a constitutional right to be included in the debate, because the debate was being held at a government facility. When the government gets involved, they may not discriminate against one candidate in favor of another.

3. I was in contact with Grossmont College personnel throughout the day of the debate, trying to get them to acknowledge and follow the law, but they obfuscated, and played games all day; then they finally claimed (around 5pm) that the school had no control over the event whatsover. I informed Grossmont personnel about the existence of a legal advisory that had been issued by the Chancellor office of the California Community College system that indicated they were breaking the law, but they refused to acknowledge that a debate that only included candidates favored by the Chamber of Commerce, 'supported' any candidacy. Amazingly, Dana Quittner, secretary for the president of Grossmont college, insisted that my rights were completely fulfilled by the fcat that I could use the debate facility myself, on some alternative evening, sometime in the future.

4. I e-mailed every member of the Grossmont College Board about the problem I was having with the college staff, and only one responded (Tim Carruthers). Tim tried to be helpful. He contacted Dana Quittner for me, after Dana spent most of the day avoiding me. However, Dana Quittner did not respond in a good faith manner, and she boldly lied to me about activities Grossmont personnel had engaged in. Dana Quittner actually insisted that no resources or college personnel were involved in any way with the debate setup and preparation. That's so dishonest it's laughable! Grossmont employee, Henry Migala spent the whole day preparing the facility for the debate and making other debate arrangements; and he undoubtedly had help from many other Grossmont College district employees. Henry Migala was still hard at work at 8:00pm (supervising the arrest of Joe Ryan). Does Henry Migala work for free? Did the Chamber bring its own lighting system for the building? Who handled their debate facility application? The law says the college district may not use any resources to support partisan activity; so it's pretty obvious why Dana Quittner has to lie like a rug about the college districts role in the debate preparation. You would think you were dealing with a member of the San Diego media, but sadly, our government lies to us without shame too. Here's the pertinent text of the legal advisory that the chancelor's office sent to community college superintendents and presidents from an attorney working for the state (Steven Bruckman).

Use of District Resources for Partisan Purposes

The use of District resources to support or oppose ballot measures or candidates is restricted. The fundamental reason for the restriction is that public money may not be used for partisan activities. Put another way, resources that have been obtained for the district's support for all taxpayers must not be used "to take sides". Therefore, district employee time, equipment, supplies, or other public resources may not be used in advocating for either side of a ballot measure or to support or defeat any candidate. Legal Advisory 04-05, California Community Colleges chancellors' office.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Should Bush lawyers be disbarred?

Bush Lawyers' Disbarment Sought
Huffington Post
May 18, 2009 AP

WASHINGTON — A coalition of liberal groups filed petitions Monday seeking disbarment of Bush administration attorneys linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees.

Complaints were filed against 12 individuals, including former attorneys general John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, said a member of the groups. The complaints filed with bar associations in the District of Columbia and four states _ New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania _ say their licenses should be revoked for "moral turpitude."

"These lawyers misused their license to practice law to provide legal cover for the war crime of torture," said Kevin Zeese, executive director of VotersForPeace.US and a board member with VelvetRevolution.US, the two groups leading the effort.

Memos by the Bush Justice Department contended that waterboarding _ a form of simulated drowning _ as well as sleep deprivation and other extreme techniques were legal under U.S. and international law.

The other attorneys who are targets of the campaign are:

_ John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury, who worked in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel

_ Ex-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith

_ Former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington

_ Pentagon lawyer William Haynes

_ Former deputy White House counsel Timothy Flanigan

_ and Alice Fisher, former director of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Have CTA lawyers threatened Google about my blog?

Peg Myers is facing an election in May as President of Chula Vista Educators.

I woke up this morning and found all the posts missing from my San Diego Education Report Blog.

Who could have done it?

My prime suspect is the last person who visited my most recent post. This person visited at 12:21 a.m. Interestingly, this person was using the same computer as the anonymous person who posted this comment just a few days ago:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for the perseverance of the attorneys in Shinoff's firm...some day this crazy nonsensical web site will come down!

The post on my blog that apparently triggered the erasure of my blog was about the deposition of Chula Vista Educators president Peg Myers.

A witness told me that Peg Myers used the word "crazy" to refer to me. Putting all the information together, I am suspecting Peg Myers, who is facing an election in May if she is to continue as President of Chula Vista Educators. It's perfectly understandable that wouldn't want her deposition to be exposed during the campaign.

I also know that California Teachers Association protects sitting presidents of CTA locals, and that CTA information has previously disappeared from my website.

This is the information I have about the anonymous visitor:

IP Address
Cox Communications
United States
Chula Vista
Time of Visit Mar 1 2009 12:21:31 am
Visit Length 10 minutes 6 seconds
Page Views 2
Time Zone UTC-8:00

UPDATE: Further research supports my conclusion. This person visited every single page of Peg Myers' deposition on SAN DIEGO EDUCATION REPORT WEBSITE, and also this page, which contains part of Robin Donlan's deposition transcript. Donlan and Myers were members of the "Castle Park Five."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Federal judge pleads guilty to lying to investigators

Federal judge pleads guilty before start of trial
The Associated Press
February 23, 2009

A federal judge pleaded guilty Monday to lying to investigators by denying he sexually abused his secretary in exchange for prosecutors dropping five sex-crime charges alleging he groped the secretary and another female court employee.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent, the first federal judge charged with a sex crime, also retired, effective immediately, avoiding possible impeachment by Congress.

Kent's guilty plea to obstruction of justice came as jury selection for his trial was to begin...

Kent, 59, had been facing six charges – five related to federal sex crimes and the obstruction charge, a felony that alone carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pa. judges accused of jailing kids for cash
Writers Michael Rubinkam And Maryclaire Dale,
Associated Press Writers
Feb. 11, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conahan, 56, has remained silent about the case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A green light from Google: I'm no longer blocked from Blogger dashboard

My exile from my Blogger dashboard has ended. For some reason, Blogger has suddenly allowed me to see my dashboard and to post on all my blogs.

The last couple of posts on this blog were NOT posted from Blogger. I had to find a way to post without having access to my dashboard, so I used Google documents' program (I think it's called "writely"), and I obviously had a bit of trouble with spacing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pellicano went to jail, but what about the attorneys he worked for? Wikipedia...Telephone voice recordings of [Nicole] Kidman speaking to [Tom] Cruise were found when authorities first raided Pellicano's offices in 2002. The tapes were allegedly made in 2001, shortly after Kidman and former husband Tom Cruise announced they were separating. Cruise used lawyer Dennis Wasser to negotiate his separation, and Wasser regularly retained Pellicano's services. Although he has not been charged in the case, Wasser has been told by the FBI he is a "person of interest." Prominent Hollywood attorney Bertram Fields, a long-time client of Pellicano (and lawyer for Tom Cruise), has repeatedly been connected to the ongoing federal wiretapping investigation in the press because of allegations that his celebrity clients have benefited from the former PI's alleged illegal wiretaps
directed against members of the media and prominent critics...Variety reported in 2003 that [Sylvestor] Stallone was questioned by the FBI when it was revealed the actor's phone may have been illegally tapped by Pellicano, who was working at the time for a client of Fields. Former Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch had filed a civil lawsuit against Pellicano on May 28, 2004, alleging that he was
part of a harassment campaign which included illegal wiretapping and a 2002 death threat. While investigating the former PI and his clients
for an article she was writing, Busch's windshield was smashed and
decorated with a dead fish, a rose, and a note which read "stop."

On a separate note, the lawyers who are suing me for defamation, Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz, seem to be having a bit of trouble responding to the Form Interrogatories I sent them.  Attorney Ray Artiano, who signed the firm's response, had a problem with the question about surveillance: he skipped the question entirely. 

Did Peregrine's lawyers advise on how to get away with fraud? Peregrine executive pleads guilty to wrongdoing San Diego Union-Tribune  January 26, 2009  SAN DIEGO – Jeremy Crook, who once headed the European operations of San Diego's Peregrine Systems, pleaded guilty Monday to wire fraud during the government's ongoing prosecution of executives from the once high-flying software company...The company collapsed in 2002 after its fraudulent financial reports came to light...He faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Two defendants remain in the case: ex-general counsel Richard Nelson and Eric Deller, who succeeded Nelson in that role after he was indicted. Their trial is scheduled to begin March 3.

In December, former Peregrine chief executive Stephen Gardner was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison... Prosecutors said that Gardner and 17 other Peregrine executives systematically overstated revenue by millions of dollars from 1999 to 2001, ensuring that the value of the company's stock would climb...