J.A.I.L. News Journal
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Los Angeles, California                                           October 20, 2005
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www.SouthDakotaJudicialAccountability.org
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Eye-Witness to Judicial Abuse
in South Dakota
Mr. Barnett, of the South Dakota State Bar, Challenged to Debate
By David Estes, DEstes3584@aol.com
 
I for one would challenge the state bar of South Dakota
 to openly debate the issue of judicial misconduct.
Let's have an honest and fair debate and let the people
decide the issue. I think all I am trying to convey to you
is that the issue needs addressing openly and honestly.
                                                          -- David Estes
 
Mr. Dubow, CEO, Gannett Publishing
craig.dubow@gannett.com
 
cc: Mr.Arnold Garson, Manager, The Argus Leader
AGarson@ArgusLeader.com
 
Mr. Dubow:
I understand that you are the CEO of Gannett Publishing. I am writing to you to voice my concerns about an article and recent stories appearing in one of your subsidiaries called The Sioux Falls Argus Leader managed by a Mr. Arnold Garson.
 
The article in question was written by a Mr. Thomas Barnett of the South Dakota State Bar and originally appeared in the Rapid City Journal. The Argus Leader printed the letter on October 16th, 2005. The article itself was about an initiative being circulated in the state of South Dakota called the South Dakota Judicial Accountability Initiative which in a nutshell, calls for a system to monitor the conduct of Judicial authorities.
 
Normally I would not get upset at anyone's opinion about a political debate except in this case the claims made by Mr. Barnett who claims to be the executive director of the South Dakota State Bar were without merit. Indeed if Mr. Barnett was under oath he would be charged with perjury. Compounding this error is the fact that your newspaper allowed a reporter for the Argus Leader to print an article recently which mirrored the October 16th article by Mr. Barnett. Both articles were not accurate.
 
Mr. Dubow, there is a national problem with the misconduct of judges and abuse of power by those in the judicial system. I personally have seen the abuse. I was a police officer for twenty-five years and can recite some rather horrendous cases concerning judges.
 
The initiative in South Dakota is trying to address the problem of judicial misconduct. The judiciary governs itself which is unheard of. When abuse occurs, the judges are immune from any legal reprecussions. Government is accountable to the people. When accountability to the people ceases then we might as well appoint a king or a dictator to rule.
 
It seems to me that a person in your position who has the ability and responsibility to investigate wrong doing should not turn a deaf ear to those that are trying in their own way to correct a problem with our system of government. Judicial abuse needs to be examined and debated. To me your newspaper is not presenting fair and unbiased information. Instead it is slanting its coverage in favor of the State Bar and its members.
 
I for one would challenge the State Bar of South Dakota to openly debate the issue of judicial misconduct. Let's have an honest and fair debate and let the people decide the issue. I think all I am trying to convey to you is that the issue needs addressing openly and honestly. I hope that you take my opinion into account before any more misinformation is printed by one of your newspapers. Thank you for your time.
 
David Estes
Vashon WA
206.463.5494
DEstes3584@aol.com

 
Bill Stegmeier:
 
.... I don't know how long you have lived in South Dakota, but I lived there as a kid. The Deadwood Lead prostitution was in full swing. The judges, the sheriff and the police were all involved in a tolerance policy. I remember some years ago that a young prosecuting attorney finally had the balls to shut the whore houses down.
 
If anyone thinks that there is not a problem with judges, they only have to look at Deadwood and Lead to see what has happened in South Dakota in the past. When I got out of the army in 1966 I went looking for an apartment in Lead. I ran into the pine rooms. Was going to rent a room, but no one answered the door. My brother had a good time with that one at my expense. I didn't know it was a whore house. My brother caught the prosecuting attorney of Strugis coming out of one of the rooms. The prosecutor made a quick deal to leave my brother alone. (My brother was always getting into fights).
 
Anytime anyone tries to tell you that there has not been a problem with judges in South Dakota, give them my phone number. I will set them straight..
 
David Estes
DEstes3584@aol.com
 
 

 
David Estes,

Thanks for the great letter to Dubow.

The Argus Leader, as well as the Rapid City Journal, seems to have printed Barnett's rant as opinion, thereby relieving themselves from any due diligence in checking his veracity.

The good news is that we have been afforded an equal amount of ink by these newspapers to rebutt Barnett.

Check this coming Sunday's
www.ArgusLeader.com  (Click on "Letters")  for our rebuttal, which is below.  Hope they don't edit it.  I don't think they will, as they can see there is a chance for bickering, which they need to sell papers.   (Of course it's already obvious which horse is theirs.)
 
We, as Barnett, were limited to 500 words.  Gary Zerman and Ron Branson contributed, but the Argus doesn't print more than one person's name as author.
 
We are working on a great pot of SD Judicial Accountability stew.  In all fairness, someone should tell Barnett and his gang what spices we still plan to add!  (Hooters invented what they call "Three Mile Island" hot wings.  I invented what I call "Chernobyl Chicken"!  Barnett needs to know we carry our spices in our holsters.  Let's cook!)

Bill Stegmeier

SDJA@sd-jail4judges.org


Please read the Initiative, Mr. Barnett
  
By Bill Stegmeier, Treasurer,
South Dakota Judicial Accountability Committee
 
According to Tom Barnett, Executive Director of the State Bar of South Dakota, terrible things will happen if the South Dakota Judicial Accountability Amendment passes.
href="">http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051016/OPINION03/510160324/1006/ARCHIVE
 
His dire predictions revealed in his October 16th  Readers Forum article are comical.  It's apparent he didn't bother to actually read the Initiative before writing about it.
 
Barnett wildly claims the Initiative is an "attack" on the Legislature, judiciary, etc., and even law enforcement!   Not true.  The Initiative does however "attack" unlawful conduct of judges, should that occur.
 
Barnett claims the Initiative allows seating convicted drug dealers, child pornographers, etc., and even imprisoned felons on the special grand jury.
What is Barnett smoking?  First off, the Initiative prohibits "stacking" the jury, let alone with the miscreants Barnett envisions.  Secondly, the Initiative does not authorize the release of prisoners so they can serve on the jury.   Barnett either made that up or he was misinformed.  Here again, he should have read the initiative before writing about it.
 
The Initiative simply seeks to prevent judicial misconduct.
 
How many times have you heard the expression "No man is above the law"?
Barnett's article sidesteps the reality that judges are in fact above the law - even for malicious and corrupt acts - through their self-made power grab called "judicial immunity".
 
Visit: http://www.sd-jail4judges.org - click "Judicial
Immunity".   Learn the truth about what our judiciary has become.
 
Barnett claims that the "Proponents admit South Dakota does not have problems with its judges."  Well who really knows?  Fact is the SD judiciary remains a mystery.  Try to find information on how to file a complaint of misconduct against a judge.  Call up your local Clerk of Courts.  Chances are they won't know.  Search the website of the South Dakota Unified Judicial System.  Nope, nothing there either.  It's like they don't want anyone filing a complaint.
 
Barnett is satisfied that here in South Dakota, "Ethical violations by a judge are investigated by the Judicial Qualifications Commission".  (Good luck finding these guys!)  If you do find them, you will see that this group is comprised mostly of judges and lawyers.  Hey, wait a minute.  That's like giving a group of inmates badges, and telling them they're now guards!
 
Mr. Barnett says the people can just vote out a bad judge.  Now that's comforting, but it doesn't solve the problem.  Voting a bad judge out provides no immediate remedy to an individual harmed by a judge's judicial misconduct.  Furthermore, how would the voters ever learn about a "bad judge", considering the secretive complaint and review process that is presently in place?
 
Barnett quips "Criminals don't need more rights".  Fine.  The Initiative
doesn't give them any more.  Barnett really should read it.
 
Clearly there is need for judicial accountability reform here in
South Dakota, as well the rest of the country.
 
Read the Initiative at http://www.SouthDakotaJudicialAccountability.org.
You'll be one step ahead of Mr. Barnett.


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