No Judge who is corrupt, who condones corruption in others, can possibly remains on the Bench.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just seven federal judges have been formally disciplined in a decade, based on court statistics and documents:

Judging the judges
Does secret process let errant jurists get away with breaking the law?
Dec. 13, 2009, 5:31PM

Only seven judges in the last decade have faced formal disciplinary action as a result of the nation's secretive misconduct review process. In that same period, citizens filed more than 6,000 formal misconduct complaints, the Chronicle found.

Judicial misconduct rules say that when facts are reasonably in dispute, a chief circuit judge can form an investigating committee.

One federal judge got arrested for driving drunk while dressed in drag. Others stood accused of frequenting prostitutes, a strip club and a shady escort service; sexually assaulting female court employees; sucker-punching a stranger; or slapping a spouse.

Federal judges have made illegal campaign contributions, falsified court records, and illegally concealed cash gifts and gambling debts. Many more have engaged in unethical or irresponsible acts, according to an investigation by the Houston Chronicle of more than 3,000 judicial misconduct matters nationwide and analysis of related records over 10 years.
Most get away with it.
Only seven judges in the last decade have faced formal disciplinary action as a result of the nation's secretive misconduct review process. In that same period, citizens filed more than 6,000 formal misconduct complaints, the Chronicle found.

One judge was punished anonymously — shielded from shame by the same peers who voted for discipline.
Just two judges who admitted to breaking laws were recommended for the maximum punishment: impeachment and removal from office.

Most disciplinary reviews remain forever shrouded in secrecy to protect federal judges' privacy and ensure their reputations remain unsullied by scurrilous or absurd allegations from prisoners or disgruntled litigants.

“The federal judiciary takes its ethical responsibilities with the utmost seriousness,” said Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, a spokesman for the Judicial Conference of the United States in a statement to the Chronicle. “Every misconduct complaint is carefully reviewed and results in a public written order by a judge. Years of experience has shown that the overwhelming majority of misconduct complaints are from (unhappy) litigants. … Yet, when circumstances warrant, Circuit Judicial Councils have not been hesitant to impose a variety of public and private sanctions, as history has demonstrated.”
Other experts argue that disciplinary probes of high-profile or even criminal allegations should be more open for the sake of the public and the judges.
“Any type of misconduct impacts upon the integrity of judges and erodes public confidence in the federal judiciary,” said U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who has fought for years to improve judicial accountability.

Appointed for life
The nation's 1,700 full-time federal judges constitute a caste of elite jurists hand-picked for the difficult and sometimes dangerous job of enforcing our nation's laws and protecting our rights.
Appointed for life by U.S. presidents, district and circuit judges can be removed only by acts of Congress. Bankruptcy and magistrate judges serve limited terms but enjoy formidable power over life, liberty and the assets of others.

Yet, when it comes to misconduct reviews, federal judges privately judge themselves. At the pinnacle of the power structure stand chief circuit judges — a dozen men and women who quietly dismiss about 98 percent of the 700 complaints that arrive annually at regional U.S. courthouses scattered from San Francisco to New Orleans to Washington, D.C., the Chronicle found.
In 2006, a Supreme Court-appointed committee, formed in response to congressional complaints, released a report on the secret disciplinary system. The committee, led by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, found supervising judges handled run-of-the-mill matters well, but committed embarrassing errors in controversial cases.
Judges botched five of 17 high-profile reviews, the committee said, describing that “error rate” as “too high” and recommending standardized rules for disciplinary matters. In the aftermath, the Judicial Conference adopted the first national rules on handling complaints against federal judges and, for the first time, all circuit courts made complaint forms available on Web sites, Scirica noted.
Chief judges alone generally decide whether to conduct even a “limited review” — which usually involves reading case documents or sometimes asking a judge to respond. Rarely, those judges form committees to formally investigate — but findings are almost never revealed.
Russell Wheeler, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who helped research the Breyer committee report, told the Chronicle: “If there are credible public allegations that a judge has done something wrong, you ought to show the public you're dealing with it, either to establish the wrongdoing or to clear the name of the judge.”
Former U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent, of Galveston, was convicted of obstruction of justice this year after admitting he lied to judges who in 2007 secretly investigated allegations that he had molested female court employees. In March 2007, his former case manager, Cathy McBroom, filed a formal complaint accusing Kent of repeatedly trying to sexually assault her. But the 5th Circuit's judicial council first described the matter only as “sexual harassment” in a September 2007 reprimand.
The 5th Circuit has never released its investigative records. Ultimately, a criminal probe was launched, but only after the Chronicle documented McBroom's allegations and only after McBroom went to the FBI. Kent was subsequently impeached and imprisoned.
Other documents show Kent had drawn complaints about bias and bursts of temper that were quietly and anonymously handled years before his admitted alcohol, emotional and judgment problems landed him behind bars.
Even when criminal behavior is uncovered, some investigating judges have decided not to share it with the public or police.
In fact, the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section, whose prosecutors specialize in rare criminal allegations involving federal judges, has no public record to show whether any case has ever been referred to them as a result of a judicial disciplinary review, DOJ spokeswoman Laura Sweeney told the Chronicle.
A case in point
Few cases better illustrate the judges' insistence on secrecy than that of former Colorado Chief District Judge Edward Nottingham.
Records show that Nottingham faced at least seven formal complaints over the years, initially for abuse of power and bias, and later for potential criminal allegations. None resulted in formal disciplinary action or prosecution.
Yet in 2007 and 2008, enough had surfaced about Nottingham to prompt creation of two investigating committees, documents released by the Denver-based 10th Circuit show.
First, he was reported to have run up a $3,000 bar tab at a strip club and claimed he drank too much to remember doing it. A disabled woman alleged he'd threatened her over a handicapped parking spot. Later he was accused of frequenting prostitutes and an escort service, using his government-issued cell phone to make dates with call girls, and cruising porn sites on courthouse computers.
“This conduct, whether alleged or admitted, has brought disrepute to the judiciary. To contend otherwise is to declare that, ‘The King Can do No Wrong,' ” one of four complaints said.
The two committees submitted a secret report to the 10th Circuit judicial council on Oct. 8, 2008.
Two days later, a self-described prostitute filed another complaint, claiming Nottingham coached her “to lie to federal investigators” about having paid her “in exchange for sex.”
Abruptly, Nottingham resigned. He said his decision was “in the public interest and the interest of the federal judiciary.”
The misconduct complaints were dismissed as moot. The disciplinary system does not apply to ex-judges, and its findings and recommendations were never released to the public.
Nottingham, now an attorney in Colorado, did not respond to a request for comment.
“This is a democracy. People ought to know what public officials are doing — even those who have life tenure,” said Steven Lubet, a law professor at Northwestern University. “The public would be better served if the circuit councils and the chief judges provided more and better information.”
Most federal judicial misconduct complaints deserve dismissal. Unreadable rants regularly arrive from litigants or prisoners who misuse the process or fling outrageous claims.
Some involve alleged or perceived criminal behavior outside the courtroom — matters supervising judges are often reluctant to investigate.
In one complaint, U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa M. Smith, assigned to the Southern District of New York, stood accused of encouraging her nephew to cover up knowledge of a summer night's attack on teenage skinny-dipping girls — and hitting a distraught mother who questioned Smith about it, records show.
Smith was approached at a beach campfire by the woman, who swore at the judge and her family, and claimed they were lying to protect others who assaulted her daughters and stole their clothes.
Smith struck the woman and screamed: “You can't call me a (expletive) liar — I'm a U.S. magistrate judge,” a related civil lawsuit alleged.
The judge later denied she'd intentionally hit anyone, records show. “The plaintiff was screaming and yelling obscenities in front of the judge's children … and there was contact between the plaintiff and the judge, whether intentional or not, we'll never know,” Smith's attorney, Kevin Hulslander, told the Chronicle.
A ‘private dispute'
Judicial misconduct rules say that when facts are reasonably in dispute, a chief circuit judge can form an investigating committee. The chief circuit judge for the New York-based 2nd Circuit alone reviewed the complaint and dismissed it in 2007 as a “private dispute between private citizens, one of whom happens to be a judge.” He did not name the judge.
His order concluded that alleged illegal behavior should not automatically be classified as judicial misconduct, even if it involved a crime: “Categorization of an offense under state law is not a sufficient basis for a finding of misconduct,” wrote Dennis Jacobs, chief judge of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
In December 2008, a civil jury found Smith had committed battery, but awarded no damages.
In February 2009, a New York City bankruptcy judge, known for presiding over the breakup of Lehman Brothers, allegedly slapped his wife, who phoned 911, records show. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James M. Peck was arrested, and his wife was taken to a hospital. But charges were dropped after she decided not to cooperate. The judge's attorney described it as a “private matter” and got the record sealed. Peck's attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
The New York 2nd Circuit's chief judge did no public review of the matter.
In February 2008, Boston-based U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Somma, wearing a cocktail dress, was arrested after crashing his Mercedes-Benz into a pickup in New Hampshire. Somma later was convicted of drunken driving and, after taking six weeks of paid leave, resigned.
The judge did not respond to requests for comment.
It's unknown whether there was any formal disciplinary review.
Susan Goldberg, deputy circuit executive, told the Chronicle: “Information pertaining to the referenced matter is confidential.”
Sarah Hinman Ryan of the Albany Times Union contributed to this report.

Judge Grodner is up to be Re Appointed on December 14 2009

Re: the Honorable Chief Judge Teena Grodner
Judge Teena Grodner is up for reelection on Monday 12/14/09
Posted by: Judicial Activist ()
Date: December 12, 2009 09:53PM

The judicial interviews for the local Northern Virginia judges will be this Monday, Dec 14 from 5 pm - 9 pm in Fairfax. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD - ANYONE WITH INFORMATION ABOUT JUDGE GRODNER WHO WISHES TO SPEAK NEEDS TO BE PRESENT MONDAY, OTHERWISE THIS JUDGE WILL BE RE-APPOINTED!! The Judicial interviews will be held at the NVRC (Northern Virginia Regional Commission) building. The NVRC is on the 5th floor of 3060 Williams Drive Fairfax, VA. That building is South of Merrifield. The conference room is at the back of their offices. I am sure they will have someone at the front desk who will be checking people in. That person should be able to direct you to the room. The Google web site for the map is [] The Judicial interviews are scheduled from 5 PM to 9 PM. Plan to be there a little early.
Re: the Honorable Chief Judge Teena Grodner
Posted by: Ashley ()
Date: December 11, 2009 02:57PM
my sister was an amazing girl, my mother did raise myself and my older sister whom are both making great lives for ourselves. All of these awful comments, these people dont know my family, we loved Sydney, she did make a bad choice and the fact, most dont know, she did not first shoot heroin into herself, someone else did, that person is already DEAD from an overdose, the peole Sydney was with the night she died had hours to save her, they did NOTHING! They called our family and lied about who they were and where my sister was, we were on the other side of the country and could only beg these people to bring her to the hospital, TEN, count them, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, ten hours later they realized she was not okay and brought her to the hospital, but it was too late, she was brain dead and died shortly after. We have to live with those memories! Sydney, made the choice, when she was a child, and reality is that it could have been anyone child. NO ONE can watch their child 24/7.

Re: the Honorable Chief Judge Teena Grodner
Posted by: Ashley ()
Date: December 11, 2009 03:34PM
rehab or jail would have been better, 18 yes, but a child, as any adult knows, that is exactly what an 18year old is. My sister was ill, she did not deserve to die, she loved life, she made a big mistake when she was 16 and all it took was one time to become addicted, and although we are told not to do things, like drugs, speeding, smoking, they all kill, but im sure we have all done one of them before. My sister was so smart, in so many ways, she greaduated high school a year early, she was funny and soooo beautiful. She had the biggest heart and loved her highschool sweetheart so much that after him begging her time and time again she finally caved and tried heroin, which we know now he was already addicted too. NO ONE SANE wants this for someone, and all the horrible things people have wrote, you do not know my sister or my family. Evil comments are just that, and unless you have lived with an addict, you know NOTHING!!!
Re: the Honorable Chief Judge Teena Grodner
Posted by: Ashley ()
Date: December 11, 2009 03:47PM
She was on probation, she had a dirty pee test and the probation officer let her go! As oppose to do her job and lock her up. Fairfax County failed my sister. She should have been locked up and put in rehab, and given a chance. We her family were trying to get her help. We didnt know enough about the drug or the addiction. We still dont. She had us fooled, and I say she, but Sydney was no longer Sydney, she was a addict, the drug, is what spoke to us,that told us all was fine when in reality it was not. We loved her so much and we trusted her. And if it had been Sydney, trust would have been enough, with an addict it is hard to know when they are well or sick, this is a horrible way to lose someone. Sydney was loved by so many people. She did not want to be sick. She in 2 weeks of moving cross country had a job and had applied to UNLV. She had big hopes and dreams for life, she wanted to one day get married and be a mother, she wanted also so badly to be an auntie. Her life was cut short. Laws need to change, people who let hours pass without getting an overdosed person medical help need to be criminally charged. If the world and people were not so money hungry, drugs would go away.