Sunday, April 6, 2014

Is the public served when attorneys and litigants do favors for judges? Let's take the politics out of choosing judges

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

Electing judges is a bad idea, but appointing judges is almost as bad. Why not create a pool of highly-rated attorneys, created by the Bar Association (we don't want to eliminate politics completely, right?), and then use a lottery to choose judges from that pool as positions become available?

Seriously, why not? The only reason not to do this is to keep politics in the courtroom.

But for now, we're stuck with judicial elections in San Diego. Let's choose the best candidates. Federal prosecutor Carla Keehn is running against Judge Lisa Schall in June 2014.


The Divide
American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
Matt Taibbi and Molly Crabapple
April 6, 2014

...On how he discovered 'the divide'

I was covering these gigantic Wall Street white-collar-criminal scandals, and I became interested in the concept of why nobody was going to jail, why we didn't have criminal prosecutions. And then it occurred to me that it's impossible to really talk about the gravity of that problem unless you know who is going to jail in the United States, and how those people go to jail and how that works.

What I ended up finding is that it's incredibly easy for people who don't have money to go to jail for just about anything. There's almost an inverse relationship between the ease with which you can put a poor person in jail for, say, welfare fraud, and the difficulty that prosecutors face when they try to put someone from a too-big-to-fail bank in jail for a more serious kind of fraud.

On media coverage of white-collar crime

Over time I think a kind of Stockholm Syndrome develops, it's kind of the same thing that happens with campaign reporters and candidates: You start to sort of sympathize with the people you cover in this weird subterranean, psychological way.

'A Very Sordid Story'

Matt Taibbi On The Fairfax Financial Case

In this audio clip, NPR's Kelly McEvers asks Matt Taibbi about the most salacious case in his book, The Divide. Taibbi tells and the short-sellers who Fairfax alleges took revenge when a deal didn't go through as expected. The company sued in 2006.

Taibbi says it's a great example of the judicial divide between the rich and poor. It's easy to think hedge fund managers can't be criminals, he says, because they're often seen as polite and refined.

"[But] in many cases, they're really not," Taibbi says. "I mean, in this case, they're just as streety and gross as any other kind of criminal."

I think what ends up happening is these stories get written about, but they get written without outrage, or without the right tone, and they are also not written for the right audiences. They're written for Wall Street audiences who want to find out how this lawsuit turned out. They may not want to see those people thrown in jail, they just might be interested in seeing how far the government is willing to go this week in putting white-collar offenders in jail.

On comparing banks and people

The HSBC case was . This is a bank that admitted to washing over $850 million for a pair of Central and South American drug cartels. They admit to this behavior, they pay a fine, no individual has to do a day in jail. All I really wanted to say was, here are our actors at the very top of our illegal narcotics business who are getting a walk from the government, a complete and total walk ...

I went to court that day, I asked around and said, "What's the dumbest drug case you saw today?" I found an attorney who was willing to put me in touch with a number of people who had been busted and thrown in jail for having a joint in their pocket...

Retired Judge Linda Quinn is working with school attorney Dan Shinoff
of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz on a fundraiser for Judge Lisa Schall.

See all posts re Judge Lisa Schall.

See all posts re Judge Gary Kreep.

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