UPDATE: Real pitchforks in Richmond
02/10/09 4:18 PM EST
The letter below was delivered to members of the Virginia General Assembly by an ad hoc group that calls itself The Pitchfork Rebellion - which is opposed to the reappointment of two Circuit Court judges. The group stormed down to Richmond today with real pitchforks.
To Whom It May Concern:This letter is to convey our serious concerns about the process by which judges are selected in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the condition of our judiciary.We are a group of citizens from across the Commonwealth of Virginia. We have come together to oppose the re-appointment of Judge Finch to the Fairfax County Circuit Court and Judge Hauler to the Chesterfield Country Circuit Court.As dutiful citizens, we have attempted to follow this process as closely as possible as well as actively and meaningfully participate in the process. However, we have been, for the most part, shut out of the process and deliberately silenced. We decry Judge Hauler’s attempt to quell public opposition to his re-appointment by means of a $5.35M lawsuit against his former clerk and his recent written threat to sue his neighbor Brenda Stewart, who has also spoken out publically against him. We are gravely concerned that Judge Finch apparently lied to the Courts of Justice Committee during his second judicial interview on January 10, 2009 when asked about the landmark school re-districting case Pascale et al vs. Fairfax County School Board.When questioned about this important case by Senator Cuccinelli, Judge Finch said he was unprepared to hear the case at trial. However, Judge Finch told the legislators the reason was that he had been assigned to the case only ten minutes before trial as an excuse. However, the official record of action in this case clearly shows Judge Finch was assigned the case three full weeks before trial and had ample opportunity to review the case before trial.We’ve enclosed an audio CD of Judge Finch’s second judicial interview in which you will hear judge Finch make that assertion as well as the official record of action. We applaud Senator Martin, Senator Cuccinelli and Senator Marsden for taking the citizen complaints against these judges seriously and acting responsibly.We denounce Delegate Vivian Watts, who chaired the second judicial interview of Judge Finch, for refusing to allow a private citizen to read the one page statement of an indigent man named Wesley Smith, who alleged that Judge Finch violated his Constitutional rights and deprived him of all the elements of a fair trial. When the private citizen persisted and again asked to speak, Delegate Watts only allowed her 30 seconds to read the statement, interrupted her several times and did not let her finish.We are very disappointed the local Chesterfield delegation completely ignored Judge Hauler’s serious problems on and off the bench and decided in favor of politics as usual and endorsed Judge Hauler. This is an abject dereliction of duty and a serious breach of the public trust. We hope that when additional information about Judge Hauler’s record becomes available this week, that the Chesterfield delegation will re-examine their position and vote responsibly in the full committee vote.We believe a strong and independent judiciary is indispensible to the rule of law. We are governed by the principle that all should be treated fairly in the courtroom. We adhere to the great philosopher Plato’s dictum that justice is giving every man his due. The absence of justice is the unenlightened darkness of a cave. We are contacting you today to petition that you not re-reappoint Judge Finch and Judge Hauler to judicial office.
While the Pitchfork Rebellion of 1685 was unsuccessful, we are better organized and have a very powerful weapon: the truth. Ours is a peaceful struggle to ensure that our jurists obey the laws of the Commonwealth, uphold and defend the Constitution and firmly adhere to the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court. And if our judges fail to do so, our elected officials ought to hold them accountable.The pitchfork in the famous 1930 American painting “American Gothic” represents hard work. We represent hardworking ordinary Virginians from across the state who rely on our judiciary and who, frankly, deserve better than Judge Finch and Judge Hauler. The pitchfork itself is often used to remove manure from the barns, turn over the soil and uproot weeds from the earth. Today, we call upon you, our elected officials, to clean up the judiciary and weed out bad judges: exercise your legislative mandate by pitching Judge Finch and Judge Hauler.
Feb 10, 2009
This process in Virginia is so inherently flawed. We let the local legislators pretty much decide on each judge. Yet for the most part the local legislators are attorneys who practice before this particular judge and have a conflict of interests. In almost all cases, the local delegates vote in favor of a judge because they are afraid of the fallout to their legal careers if they oppose a judge.
Feb 11, 2009
Keep up the good work, Pitchfork Rebellion. Judges James Almand and Esther Wiggins-Lyles in Arlington, VA have arguaably participated in a lot of dubious decisions, some people would even call their behavior on the bench arrogant and skirting the letter and intent of the law itself. May all the citizens of Virginia be vigilant and bring bad Judges to account for their poor performance. Don't be bashful about demanding they be jettisoned from their benches. Expose their misdeeds. Make them accountable.
Feb 11, 2009
Hurray for the Pitchfork Rebellion! The judiciary system in Northern Virginia is corrupt to the core. Judges make rulings according to who has the most money, not who has the strongest case. Their decisions from the bench can have devestating ruselts, especially where they involve the custody of children.
Feb 12, 2009
Thank you CWES for pointing out Judge Almand and Judge Wiggins-Lyles. We are aware of a pattern of very bad decisions with both of them. Judge Joe Ellis and Judge Avelina Jacob also need to be pitched off the bench. This is only the beginning...
Feb 12, 2009
Thank you, Pitchfork Rebellion. I would be happy to go to Richmond with you, especailly when Wiggins-Lyle and Almand are up for reappointment.
Feb 15, 2009
The sad part is Finch and Hauler are not the exception. There are bad judges all over the commonwealth, but instead of trying to fix the problem, Chief Justice Hassell blocked the General Assembly from seeing their performance evaluations. What is he hiding? VA is one of only 2 states that appoints judges by the legislature. Because judges aren’t elected, they’re not accountable to the citizens. Complaints against judges—just like Finch--have been ignored for years. VA citizens have no voice except http://vacriminaljustice.webs.com/.
Mar 2, 2009
How do I find this group? James City County needs help
Mar 2, 2009
How can I join this group? The state motto is "Virginia is for lovers" not "Virginia is for liars, cheats and corrupt officials" Can you post contact information for them? Last month 200, this month 2,000 next month 2,000,000.
Mar 2, 2009
How do I make contact with this group? I have a judge to add to the list of problem judges. Does the Pitchfork Rebellion have a website?
Mar 20, 2009
god bless you all. i live in southwest va,and judicial and police corruption is rampent here.i live in smyth county and in the last two years weve had two police cheifs arrested, one for selling meth, pills and stolen guns. the other was arrested along with two of his deputies for the gang rape of a underage girl.the last two county deputies to hold the possition of head of the smyth county drug task force were caught stealing drugs from the county court house evidence storeroom.they were demoted to school resource officers, where they became assistant football coaches. as coaches they introduced their players to intravenious steriods.last year these two resigned from the force over drug allegations,but never charged. tey were the third and fourth resource officers to be fired in one year over drugs at the same school.one is serving time right now becuase the state police arrested him.another police cheif in the
Jul 24, 2009
Please read carefully this: "Final order. In a letter dated June 18, 2009, [XYZ], the Defendant, moved the Court, to quash and dismiss summons. The Court, AFTER FULL CONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER, DENIED the motion, WITHOUT ORAL HEARING....Entered on June 29, 2009. Judge David S.Schell [signed in ink]". Below in long hand: "WITHDRAWN as pleading filed is NOT a motion BUT ARE EXCEPTIONS to various PLEADING OF THE COURT. No action required. [signed in ink David S.Schell" My question: Did he "give full consideration of the matter" that did NOT exist? Obviously YES! Also,"exceptions to ...pleadings of the court"? The court issue orders NOT pleadings! Arrogance, corruption and incompetence at their best! Schell is a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge...
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/SharpSticks/UPDATE-Real-pitchforks-in-Richmond-39387947.html#ixzz0cbvqJAAe