J.A.I.L. News Journal
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Los Angeles, California                                               August 31, 2005
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www.SouthDakotaJudicialAccountability.org
 
Needed:
Straight-Forward Reporting
(By Ron Loeber - New York)

Dear Mr. Kranz: (dkranz@argusleader.com)
Columist for the Argus Leader Newspaper,
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
 
Without going into my personal motivations at this point in time, but as a firm supporter of J.A.I.L., I am delighted to see your newspaper taking an interest in J.A.I.L.  But I am less than delighted with the misinformation contained in your headline and news story.  If J.A.I.L. were to be passed today, no Judge could ever "...go to jail for handing down a court ruling in South Dakota that someone disagreed with...."  Allow me to explain.
 
The office of judge should be the most respected and esteemed position in our society - far above that of governors, presidents, emperors and kings.  There is a legitimate place in our society for judicial immunity.  If you take the time to read and analyze J.A.I.L., and think about it, J.A.I.L. recognizes and reinforces legitimate use of judicial immunity against "frivolous or harrassing" lawsuits, (see 3).  If J.A.I.L. were passed tomorrow in South Dakota, no judge could ever be imprisoned just because someone disagreed with a judge's decision.
 
Judges, just like you and me, are mere humans capable of innocent error.  That is why the appeals process exists.  J.A.I.L. does not change that process.  As a legal document, J.A.I.L. specifically and deliberately addresses "willful" violations of law.  Before anyone can bring a case against a judge to the Special Grand Jury for willful violations of law, he must first exhaust his legal remedy within the existing judicial system.
 
You wrote "At the center of their concern is a feeling that judges think they rise above the law in what the initiative's backers call a self-made doctrine of judicial immunity".  It isn't a "feeling."  It is a fact.  When Congress passed 42 USC 1983 which says "every person," it did not exempt judges from its mandate.  And there is no legislative history of any discussions of immunity for judges.  But try to sue a judge.  Better still, try to find a suit against a judge that wasn't dismissed by their black-robed brethren on the basis of judicial immunity.
 
Can you think of any reason why a man or woman, just because he or she is a judge, should be above the law?  Can you think of any reason why anyone should not be accountable for willful and/or malicious acts in office?
 
If you take the time to look at judicial conduct in your state, I'll bet you a cup of coffee it isn't a lot different than it is here in New York.  Start with your friends and neighbors.  Ask them the following question:  "Have you ever been in court, any court, for any reason, and when it was all over and you were alone in the parking lot... did you have the feeling... deep deep down inside... that something... just.... wasn't..... right?"  If you ask them slowly around here, nine times out of ten, they will finish the sentence for you.  That might be an interesting question for your Opinion Poll.
 
Every town and village judge in my state is required to attend a judicial training program every year.  In 2002 that training program included a section on judicial immunity.  Why does the state need to train judges on how to be immune?  Does that make any sense to you? 
 
We are talking about serious stuff.  As an example, in my state, the so-called law provides the authority for Child Protective Services to seize a child from its parents upon an allegation of child abuse.  The parents then have one year to disprove the allegation.  If they fail to do so within one year, the state may then put the child up for adoption.  How does one prove a negative?  To make matters worse, the Social Services Department is funded, in part, based upon how many children they seize. Seizing children is a profitable business. Does that make any sense at all to you? 
 
Let's go to something of even a more everyday occurrence.  Have you ever been in traffic court?  Who was the damaged party?  In my state, the state keeps all sorts of statistical records on the subject.  It's gotten so crazy that traffic tickets have become a significant part of "tax planning".  Look up Colonie, NY on your map.  It's not very big.  But one of its part-time judges was bragging to me that they had built Colonie into the fourth largest municipality in the state based upon the amount of cases processed each year, i.e., revenue flow.  It's almost a statewide contest with bragging rights.  Recently one of those part-time judges was disbarred for "conversion" of his clients' money.  He can no longer practice law because he is a crook.  Yet the law has no provision for his removal as a judge.   Does that make any sense to you? 
 
Two years ago I attended the dedication ceremony of the new wing at the Albany Law School.  I listened to Richard Wesley, Associate Justice of Court of Appeals (the highest court in New York) speak for an hour on the responsibility of the court to make new law consistent with current social and economic policy so that everyone may know which rights the court will recognize and protect.  Yes, you read it right.  Last year Justice Wesley was appointed by President Bush to the federal 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  Who knows where he will go from there?  Perhaps the Supreme Court?  I suggest you investigate his amazing ascendancy to power.
 
I'm confident you are familiar with the recent US Supreme Court Decision in Kelo v New London.  In that case another eastern judge just like Richard Wesley - David Souter from New Hampshire - authored the majority opinion.  Sandra Day O'Connor resigned from the Court a short time after authoring the minority dissent in which she said there is now "[n]othing to prevent the State from replacing...any farm with a factory."  The majority opinion in Kelo is nothing more than an expression of the "social and economic policy" of which Justice Wesley spoke.  Does any of that fulfill any degree of common sense to you?
 
In the economy as it exists today, every municipality is feeling the pinch.  And it's going to get worse.  Why should any municipality, under the mask of economic development, be allowed to take your homes or your farms and give it to a private developer just because they think it will increase their coffers? 
 
I don't know the judiciary in South Dakota as intimately as I know the judiciary in New York.  But I'm trying to learn.  If the people like Bill Stegmeier, who are putting a great deal of effort into gathering signatures to get J.A.I.L. on the ballot, are successful in their efforts, I hope to be able to come to your state and speak personally with you and people like you.  We are going to need straight-forward reporting of the facts by the media.  We are going to need the media to stimulate an honest public dialog among the people so they may exercise their suffrage with wisdom.
 
If we are going to maintain a government of the People, by the People, and for the People, instead of by and for the corporations, the People of South Dakota, if for no other reason, should pass J.A.I.L. for their own protection against being overrun and their destiny controlled by socialist judges of which I speak.
 
Ron Loeber
Valortoo@capital.net


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