Monday, June 25, 2012

Birther Gary Kreep pays to hoodwink voters, then denies being elected by uninformed voters

How much more proof do we need that judges should be appointed, not elected? We now have a judge who got elected by deceptive campaign tactics. How can we expect him to uphold the law?

Gary Kreep paid to fool voters, then denied that his win was a result of uninformed electorate

ELECTION: Kreep says right-wing views won't affect rulings as judge
June 23, 2012

Voters in San Diego County appear to have elected a conservative activist lawyer to a judgeship with the San Diego Superior Court.

Gary Kreep, 61 ---- known for taking on right-wing causes ---- said Friday that his views will not color his decisions on the bench.

According to the unofficial tally, Kreep surpassed his opponent, veteran prosecutor Garland Peed, by 1,702 votes in a judicial contest in which more than 406,000 ballots were cast. Kreep garnered 50.21 percent of the votes to Peed's 49.79 percent.

The result caught political observers by surprise, because prosecutors tend to be shoo-in candidates in judicial races....

Kreep says he used old-fashioned methods ---- shoe leather and slate mailers ---- to reach out to voters. He even ended up on a slate mailer urging voters to back Obama...

He credits grass-roots supporters, robo-calls, endorsements and slate mailers in a campaign he said he financed with about $55,000 of his own money.

As for those slate mailers, in an effort to reach out to Democratic voters, it turned out he bought into one with an Obama endorsement. It was especially ironic because, as an attorney, Kreep has worked on a couple of federal civil suits challenging Obama's eligibility to be president based on his birthplace.

Dismissing criticism

The San Diego County Bar Association rated Kreep as "lacking qualifications" to become a judge, a rating Kreep disputed as a decision rooted in politics.

He dismissed criticisms by people who said his apparent win is the result of an uninformed electorate.

"That implies that the voters are too stupid to know who they are voting for. That is an elitist, obnoxious view," Kreep said...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jacques Rivera, Man Who Spent 21 Years In Prison On Wrongful Conviction, Sues Chicago Police

Jacques Rivera, Man Who Spent 21 Years In Prison On Wrongful Conviction, Sues Chicago Police
Huffington Post

Jacques Rivera, 47, was released from prison last fall.

A Chicago man who served 21 years in prison on a murder charge for which he was later exonerated filed suit Thursday against the city of Chicago and its police department.

Attorneys representing Jacques Rivera, 47, claim that Chicago police falsified evidence and manipulated a witness before their client was convicted in 1988 of fatally shooting Felix Valentin, a gang member, and sentenced to serve 80 years in a maximum security prison.

Locke Bowman, an attorney whose firm is representing Rivera, said his client "suffered a grave injustice at the hands of Chicago police" and deserves to be compensated for it, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Last fall, the purported crime's only eyewitness recanted his testimony that identified Rivera as the killer. The charges were dropped and Rivera was, essentially, a free man again. The witness, Orlando Lopez, was 12 years old at the time of the alleged crime.

Bowman further described such behavior leading to wrongful convictions as "a pattern with the Chicago Police Department," NBC Chicago reports.

"The Police Department has never investigated any of these cases or disciplined an officer despite clear, egregious misconduct in many of these cases," Bowman said, according to NBC. "That's simply unacceptable."

Rivera's case was the subject of over a decade of work by the Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions.

When Rivera, a former Latin King, was released from prison last October, he said he planned to work with inner-city youth. But HuffPost Chicago blogger David Protess, president of the Chicago Innocence Project, reports that Rivera has struggled to get on his feet since his release.

Specifically, he's been unable to attain the $199,150 in financial restitution he is seeking under Illinois law because Cook County prosecutors have called on Rivera to further prove his innocence -- even after being exonerated.

The strange loophole is the subject of a bill proposed by state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago).

"I'm not really free yet. At 47, I live with my mother to make ends meet and I can't afford a vehicle to get to a job or the events I've been asked to speak at," Rivera told Protess last month. "Prosecutors are doing everything they can to prevent me from living my life."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Melissa Lewis Joins Stutz Artiano's Employment Practice

Here's my question: if my website has damaged Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz law firm's business so much that they felt they had to sue me for defamation, then why does it seem that Stutz is constantly adding more lawyers? How did Stutz calculate that it has suffered significant damage from my website and blogs?


Lewis Joins Stutz Artiano's Employment Practice
June 4, 2012

Melissa A. Lewis has joined the law firm of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz APC as an Associate. Ms. Lewis graduated Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Summa Cum Laude, Valedictorian. She is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University and Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, graduating with honors. Ms. Lewis joins the Employment Practice Group at Stutz Artiano, representing employers in all aspects of the employment relationship, including litigation, administrative hearings, advisory, development of policies and procedures, preparation of handbooks, employee and supervisor training and conducting internal investigations.

Discovery suddenly stayed in Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz defamation suit against this blogger

See all posts re Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz v. Maura Larkins

I got a minute order from the San Diego Superior Court in the mail today. The timing is very, very strange. The last hearing in the case was March 9, 2012--two months and three weeks ago. My discussion with Commander Darin Fotheringham in the Santa Barbara Sheriff's office two days ago is the only event that I can connect even remotely to this bolt out of the blue.

June 1, 2012

Commander Darin Fotheringham
Office of the Sheriff of Santa Barbara

Dear Commander Fotheringham:

I was amused that on the very day I contacted you about my subpoena for business records from the Sheriff of Santa Barbara showing that Deputy Michael Carlson and his sister Robin Donlan involved Chula Vista Elementary School District in criminal actions, Judge Judith Hayes suspended all discovery in the case at issue.

My, my. The timing is fascinating. No papers had been filed asking that discovery be stayed. In fact, no papers had been filed in this case for two months.

I bow to your amazing—what shall I call it?—luck, perhaps?


Maura Larkins

Note: I tried to fax the above letter to the fax number Commander Fotheringham gave me on May 30, 2012 for faxing the subpoena to him. My fax machine dialed the number, then the call was picked up. Next I heard a raspberry sound, and soon a man was telling me that if I'd like to make a call, I should hang up and dial again. I guess the guys who work for the Sheriff of Santa Barbara like to have fun. They seem to be really funny guys.

I think that it is highly unlikely that Commander Fotheringham or Sheriff Bill Brown contacted Judge Hayes. Here's the scenario I came up with for what most likely happened:

Commander Fotheringham may have talked to Michael Carlson. Michael Carlson went into cover-up mode (again). Carlson seems to have no remorse at all, not even for causing problems for the Sheriff of Santa Barbara. My guess is he thinks of himself as a victim. He has never indicated any regret for all the problems his actions caused to me, to my school district (including $100,000s in legal fees to defend Carlson's sister and others), and to the children in my school.

I imagine Michael Carlson would have called his attorney, Deborah Garvin, after Commander Fotheringham spoke to him. And perhaps his sister, Robin Donlan, who turned his misdemeanor into a huge mess for Chula Vista Elementary School District.

Deborah Garvin and Robin Donlan would probably each have contacted Dan Shinoff of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, with whom they worked in the earlier case involving Carlson.

And that's where the chain of likely events gets murky for me. What happened next???? I'm simply unable to conjure an explanation for what could have happened.

The minute order I received from Judge Hayes says that discovery is stayed.

But actually it's a lot more complicated. Hayes also finally made a decision about two of the three March 9, 2012 motions. After almost three months of silence, she finally denied my motion to set aside the summary adjudication, even though I was able to provide documentary evidence proving that the decision was deeply flawed.

For the past two months and three weeks she pretended that discovery was open--even gave us a discovery cut-off date--but obviously it was never really open, since the summary adjudication was never set aside. I suspected that I would be shut down the minute I started discovery, so I gave myself a long vacation (including a month in Washington DC) and waited as long as possible to start discovery.

Judge Hayes is still delaying (until August 27, 2012) her decision on Stutz' motion to strike my answer. There is absolutely no case law to support such a decision in a case with a history like this one. San Diego County Office of Education has also refused to allow discovery in this case. It even hired Stutz law firm to make sure Diane Crosier didn't have to take a deposition or produce documents. I recently filed a public records request to at least get the records.

Friday, June 1, 2012

VISTA: Students get a taste of justice

See all posts re Judge Richard Cline.

VISTA: Students get a taste of justice
August 03, 2011
North County Times

Twenty-six middle school students got a taste of justice at the Vista Courthouse Tuesday through a program that introduces them to the legal system.

One student defended herself against charges of theft, and was ultimately led away in handcuffs for drug possession. Another student, her alleged accomplice, sat silent on the advice of his attorneys. The accuser was reprimanded by the judge for name-calling on the witness stand.

The gifted and talented students, whom their instructor, Gregg Primeaux, called "future leaders of the community," were role-playing a trial in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Richard Cline, a co-founder of the civics curriculum, "On My Honor."

"I learned a lot about how the court works," said Miranda Colvin, 12, the seventh-grader from Aviara Oaks Middle School who played the defendant. "It was really fun because I got to put on handcuffs."

The program began in 1999 with a fourth-grade field trip to the courts, and expanded into a series of regionwide events, including "Youth in Court Day" and, more recently, the week-long summer symposium for gifted students. The programs are sponsored jointly by the San Diego Superior Court, the North County Bar Association, Cal State San Marcos, and local schools.

Cline said he developed the curriculum to supplement dwindling civics education, and counterbalance what he considers the poor depiction of judicial proceedings on television.

"It teaches students factual information about the (legal) process by participating in an active trial," Cline said. "And hopefully it teaches them respect for the law."

During the summer program, gifted students in grades 5-9 prepare a case with attorneys and judges, investigate case studies using technology labs, present legal arguments, debate complex issues, select jury members, explore rights and responsibilities as citizens, and take a tour of the court facilities.

"We wanted to bring a higher critical thinking opportunity for them during the summer, within the courts," Primeaux said, adding that the program aims to both cultivate legal literacy and inspire future legal professionals.

During the mock trial, a student, Emily, faced theft charges for allegedly stealing $200 of charitable donations from a teacher's desk during lunch hour. Fellow students testified that they suspected her of taking the cash, noting that they saw her in the classroom and watched her buy a new iPod.

However, they acknowledged they never saw her steal the money, and school administrators admitted that while they found the new iPod in her backpack, she told them she earned the money through odd jobs.

Throughout the mock trial, Cline offered judicial guidance on examining the evidence, and at one time reproached a witness, Colleen, for calling Emily a "liar and a loser" on the stand.

A dozen student jurors then weighed the testimony and declared Emily not guilty. In a final twist, however, Cline announced that a court search of Emily's backpack turned up a white, powdery substance found to be methamphetamine, and a student actor playing bailiff escorted her out of court in handcuffs...

[Maura Larkins comment: This seemed to be a real exercise in critical thinking--until that "final twist". Shame on the adults for pulling that parlor trick. The students were deprived of the full understanding of how inexact our justice system is.]

California courts agency called dysfunctional

California courts agency called dysfunctional
May 30, 2012
Associated Press

A blistering new report quietly released over the Memorial Day Weekend called for the overhaul of California's Administrative Office of the Courts, which it described as dysfunctional, secretive and top-heavy with overpaid executives.

The report was prepared by a committee of state judges appointed last year by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to investigate claims the administrative arm of the courts had grown too large and costly amid severe budget cuts. The chief justice released the nearly 300-page report late Friday night. The report chided the AOC for claiming in February that it employed "more than 750" when it concluded that the AOC has grown from 430 workers in 2002 to more than 1,100 last year with hundreds earning six figure salaries amid a supposed hiring freeze. AOC managers conceded they got around the hiring freeze by employing temporary and contract workers.

The report also said the AOC appeared guilty of violating its own work rules by allowing some workers to telecommute from long distances, including one attorney who works from Switzerland.

The report criticized the agency for a lack of transparency.

"The AOC's reporting of staffing levels has been misleading, leading to mistrust of the AOC," the report said. "Disingenuously suggesting that AOC staffing levels have been reduced in response to branch-wide budget and staffing cuts has led to further mistrust and cynicism."

The report calls for staffing cuts to fewer than 700 employees and for the agency's headquarter to be moved from San Francisco to Sacramento.

""The organization needs to be right-sized," the report concluded.

The release of the report also comes amid Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to cut $544 million from the third branch's budget.

In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, the chief justice said the report will be considered next month by the Judicial Council, an appointed body that oversees the AOC. She said the report was a look at the past and didn't consider the AOC's current plans to grapple with deep budget cuts. She also defended the public release of the document, saying she released it as soon as she received it.

One of the agency's chief critics, the Alliance of California Judges, applauded the findings.

"The nearly 300-page report is an A-to-Z indictment of an out of control organization," the group wrote in an email Monday alerting media and others to the report's release. "It is an absolute `must read' for everyone concerned about the functionality and credibility of our judicial branch." The group called for even more staff cuts.