is a threat to justice everywhere.
—The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"In a government by the people and for the people, it
is to the people that accountability must be
enforced." So says JAIL4Judges, a national grassroots
organization seeking to restore accountability by the
It is no secret to anyone who has had contact with
them that the courts of this country and their
officers are saturated with corruption. Anyone
expecting to get justice there is destined for a
Michael Fox, a commissioner in Butler County, Ohio,
wrote of some of his county's court system in 2003:
"The Domestic Relations and Juvenile Courts of Butler
County foster a culture of secrecy, fear and judicial
abuse that violates the most fundamental and sacred
rights guaranteed by our nation's Constitution—the
right of due process of its laws. Those who are most
directly affected by decisions of these
courts—parties to the actions—are routinely excluded
from court proceedings and deliberations, told to
wait outside the hearing room in a hallway while
their lives, personal property, children and homes
are divided up by strangers.
"The world of juvenile and domestic relations is a
secret world where the courts treat public scrutiny
with open contempt and hostility. The pretense for
this secrecy is to protect families from embarrassing
disclosures about their personal and private lives.
The real function, however, is to protect the court
from public scrutiny."
Judge Barbara Gorman of Montgomery County, Ohio, went
to the heart of the issue. She said: "Public trust
depends on the openness and accountability of courts
and their proceedings. Access serves as a check
against misconduct, ineptitude, and corruption in
criminal trials and promotes public confidence that
justice is being fairly administered by judges and
prosecutors. Institutional integrity is at risk
whenever openness yields to secrecy, no matter how
Dr. Les Sachs, writer, journalist and expert on legal
corruption in this country, commented: "The reality
is that the United States of America, which proclaims
itself the ‘land of freedom,' has the most dishonest,
dangerous and crooked legal system of any developed
nation. Legal corruption is covering America like a
In Winnebago County, if you want a record of your
court proceeding, you must hire a court stenographer,
at an extremely high cost for the average citizen;
the system does not provide it. And don't even try to
get a copy of the rules of the court, it is top
JAIL4Judges is fighting back. This coming fall, in
South Dakota, it will launch a ballot initiative
aimed at curbing judicial abuse of the doctrine of
so-called "judicial immunity." The initiative will be
presented for ballot positions in all the other
states as well. The people have had enough.
JAIL4Judges seeks to stop deliberate violation of the
law; fraud or conspiracy; intentional violation of
due process; disregard of material facts; judicial
acts without jurisdiction; blocking the lawful
conclusion of a case; and any deliberate violation of
state or federal Constitutions.
Just how accountable is the civil justice system
today? What protections do consumers have against
unethical lawyers? Take a look at a few statistics.
According to the American Bar Association, 121,000
complaints were filed against the nation's 1.2
million lawyers in 2002. Of those complaints, only
3.5 percent resulted in formal discipline, and only 1
percent led to disbarment. Some 96.5 percent of these
121,000 complaints ended with NO discipline or
informal slaps on the wrist in the form of "private
One study, carried out in 50 states (including the
District of Columbia), showed that lawyers make up
about two-thirds of the panels adjudicating attorney
discipline complaints. The same study found that in
12 states, lawyers comprise 100 percent of the
A national survey by the Columbia Law School revealed
that two of every three Americans don't believe
lawyers are even "somewhat honest."
In 2003, a poll by CNN/USA Today/Gallup, found
84 percent of Americans do not believe lawyers have
"high ethical standards." The National Law Journal
reported 69 percent of Americans think that lawyers
are more focused on making money than on serving
And what about the judges? How does the public
perceive the civil justice system? A study made by
Justice at Stake asked, "How would you rate the job
being done by judges in your state?" The group
reported more than a third of those surveyed answered
"fair" or "poor."
The same study asked respondents how well the term
"independent" described their judges, they answered
"not too well" or "not well at all" in more than 34
percent of the cases.
Clearly the American legal system needs a good and
thorough housecleaning. As JAIL4Judges rightly
concludes, accountability is the only solution.
They propose, through their JAIL4Judges bill, to
establish special grand juries to weigh the evidence
in cases of complaint against a judge. Members of
these juries would be ordinary Americans who have no
links to other branches of government and are not
members of the Bar. They would function in a case
only after all other remedies have been exhausted.
These special grand juries would hold the power to
strip away judicial immunity from judges who are
targets of complaints of criminal acts, and they will
be able to investigate, indict and initiate criminal
prosecution of wayward judges.
These juries would be able to address such issues as
ignored laws, ignored evidence, eminent domain abuse,
confiscation of property without due process, probate
fraud, secret dockets, falsifying court records,
misapplication of law and other types of abuses.
That these conditions and abuses exist in Winnebago
County and northern Illinois is no secret. Many have
come to this newspaper with tales of mistreatment and
deception at the hands of local judicial circuits.
Ohio Commissioner Fox asks: "Where is the outrage?
The answer: The outrage is muted by an incestuous
network of insiders who are spared the crucible of
public scrutiny by a system that operates behind
locked doors, disciplined by a real fear of being
punished if the members ever break ranks and rail
against the injustice they see daily."
Lawyers in Winnebago County have told this newspaper
if they go against the system, the judges and other
lawyers will pound them in almost every subsequent
case, whenever the slightest opportunity exists.
Everyone gets in line, sooner or later.
It's up to us to change this shameful situation. For
more information about how to go about it, contact
From the Feb. 22-28, 2006, issue