March 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Indiana judge is removed from office for rude conduct, delayed dispositions and retaliation
By Debra Cassens Weiss
11 hours, 46 minutes ago
The Indiana Supreme Court has removed a Marion County judge from office for “significant judicial misconduct” but is allowing her to continue to practice law.
The court removed Judge Kimberly Brown after three special masters found she committed misconduct alleged in 46 of 47 counts, according to the supreme court opinion (PDF). The Indianapolis Star says Brown is only the third Indiana judge to be permanently banned from the bench in the last 20 years.
At first Brown argued she had bad staffers and had taken steps to correct the problems, but she later apologized and sought a 60-day suspension, according to the story by the Indianapolis Star.
Among the violations cited by the Indiana Supreme Court:
• Brown fired the chief bailiff, apparently because Brown believed that person was providing information to or filing a complaint with ethics regulators. Brown later suggested she fired the chief bailiff for job performance issues, but Brown was unable to be specific in her deposition.
• Brown delayed the release of 10 defendants by failing to complete paperwork and failing to properly train court staff. The delays ranged from one to 22 days. When other judges investigated the delayed releases, Brown sent “a discourteously phrased email.”
• Brown delayed rulings and failed to complete necessary paperwork. In one case, a defendant filed a petition for post-conviction relief in 2009, but the matter was never set for a hearing until a new judge took over in 2013. Brown also delayed carrying out orders of the appeals court. In one case, she failed to vacate a judgment of conviction after an appeals court reversed and remanded for a new trial in 2010. The omission was corrected when a new judge took over in 2013.
• Brown removed case files from file drawers and kept them in her locked office, making it difficult to find the files and delaying the processing of pleadings. She often blamed employees with the clerk’s office for missing files that were found in her own office. In one instance, she asked a deputy court clerk whether she blamed Brown for the missing files, and later banned the clerk from her courtroom.
• Brown had a policy of continuing bench trials if she believed they could not be completed by 4 p.m.
• Brown treated some lawyers in a “rude and discourteous manner.” In 2009 she asked supervisors to remove two public defenders from her court, saying they were “too adversarial,” “extremely litigious” and “not aiding in the movement of cases.” She called one lawyer a “moron” and another a “pain in the ass,” she “crassly remarked” about a deputy prosecutor’s weight, and she referred to a PD supervisor as “evil.”
• Brown treated some staff members “discourteously and with hostility,” favoring some staffers over others. She told favored employees that one worker “wears lesbianism on her sleeve,” one was “ghetto fabulous,” and others were mentally ill or in need of increased medication.
A concurring justice, Robert Rucker, said Brown’s misconduct amounted to mismanagement of judicial duties and inappropriate demeanor. He would have given Brown an immediate 60-day suspension without pay, followed by a one-year period of supervised probation. If she failed, she would be removed from office.
The appearance that his tears didn’t go for all the money driven kids,Fake tears–for his OWN kids & grandkids
February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment
DISCUSS: 33 9 !
For years, Ciavarella, a former Luzerne County Court judge, had defiantly fought charges that he took kickbacks to sentence thousands of young offenders to private juvenile detention centers.
During a moment of reflection while awaiting sentencing for corruption in 2011, Ciavarella broke down, imagining how his own grandchildren would perceive him.
“I would hope that they understand that their grandfather screwed up big-time,” he said, tears welling in his eyes. “And couldn’t be in their life because of it. Kind of tough, if what they get to know is that their grandfather was a scumbucket.”
The conviction of Ciavarella and his fellow Judge Michael T. Conahan ended an infamous chapter in Pennsylvania judicial history, one that led to a wave of changes in the juvenile justice system.
His emotional moment – a rarity for a man proud of his hardened persona – is an equally unrivaled moment, captured in Kids for Cash, a documentary on the scandal directed by Robert May, which will premiere Wednesday at the Kimmel Center. [Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia]
Ciavarella’s remarks come from one of more than a dozen original interviews in the film, offering a nuanced and detailed portrait of those caught up in the scandal that unraveled in 2008.
The film includes interviews with juvenile defendants and their parents; the cofounders of the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which worked on behalf of many defendants; Luzerne County’s chief public defender; a reporter from the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader; and the superintendent of the Wilkes-Barre School District.
But the biggest coup, May concedes, was persuading Ciavarella and Conahan to appear on camera.
Both spoke without telling their lawyers, May said – even as Ciavarella was mounting a defense in federal court, and as Conahan was working on a plea deal that ended with his being sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Ciavarella was eventually found guilty of racketeering as well and sentenced to 28 years in prison. He is serving his sentence in Illinois; Conahan is at a Florida prison.
At the time May approached them, around 2009, Ciavarella and Conahan had not been convicted, but they were publicly disgraced – accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars each from the developer of two private juvenile facilities, then concealing the payments in elaborate money-laundering schemes.
Ciavarella, who oversaw Luzerne County’s juvenile court, sent thousands of children to those facilities during his time on the bench, at a rate higher than any other juvenile court judge in the state.
Thus, the scandal became known as “Kids for Cash,” and public outrage swirled nationwide.
May’s approach to the judges was that the media coverage had been “one-sided,” he said in an interview. He told Ciavarella and Conahan that he wanted to hear their side of the story as well.
The result is a 102-minute film that crisscrosses between juveniles and judges – or, as May puts it, “victims and villains.”
Though many families express resentment about the way they were treated by Ciavarella, the former judge is generally unapologetic – accepting fault for concealing payments from the developer, but saying they had no impact on his sentencing decisions.
Conahan, too, says the only issue in his situation was accepting compensation as a judge.
But there are emotional moments for both in the film – Ciavarella while considering what his grandchildren will think, Conahan while discussing why he agreed to his plea deal.
May hopes that footage adds nuance to the overall story and provides audiences with a fuller perspective of all the characters involved.
Marsha Levick, cofounder of the Juvenile Law Center, who fought on behalf of defendants from Ciavarella’s courtroom, was uninspired by the former judges’ words.
She said the film simply demonstrated the continued need to pay great attention to juvenile justice.
“This is a system,” she said, “that can potentially affect all of our children.”
[from The Philadelphia Inquirer May 27, 2010:] http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20100527__Kids_for_cash__tapes_made_public.html?c=r
….a contractor who built the two juvenile detention centers – PA Child Care in Luzerne, and Western PA Child Care in Butler County – funneled more than $2.9 million to the judges between 2003 and 2006. ////
Prosecutors say Mericle paid $997,600 to Ciavarella in 2003 as a finder’s fee for getting him the contract to build the Luzerne detention center. They say Ciavarella told him to give the money to Powell, who in turn wired it in two chunks to the judges.
Thanks to the judges, prosecutors say, the detention centers got a steady flow of business – so Powell and his partner, Zappala, decided to build a second center in Western Pennsylvania. When Mericle won the contract for that facility, prosecutors say, he gave the judges an additional $1 million. The money was wired to a business the judges controlled, Pinnacle Group of Jupiter, Fla., in 2005.
In 2006, Mericle won a third contract, to put an expansion on the original juvenile jail – and the judges got an additional $150,000, prosecutors say.
A FATHER SO HEARTBROKEN ABOUT DAUGHTER BEING HELD AT HOSPITAL AGAINST HIS WILL THAT HE HAS DEFIED A JUDGE’S ORDER TO SPEAK OUT
February 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
A FATHER SO HEARTBROKEN ABOUT DAUGHTER BEING HELD AT HOSPITAL AGAINST HIS WILL THAT HE HAS DEFIED A JUDGE’S ORDER TO SPEAK OUT – HELP FREE JUSTINA!!!
02-18-2014 12:04 am – Liz Klimas – The Blaze
The last time Lou Pelletier spoke with his 15-year-old daughter was Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day. For this father of four, though, the day held a different meaning for his youngest valentine: It marked one year since she was taken and placed in a psychiatric ward against her parents’ will.
“We need help,” Lou Pelletier told TheBlaze in an exclusive interview, explaining why he made the decision to break a judge’s gag order and talk about the situation.
“I’m trying to save my daughter’s life,” he said.
“While still being able to live,” Jessica, one of Justina’s older sisters, added.
For more than a year, Justina Pelletier has been the center of a battle between her parents, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and Boston Children’s Hospital, and two controversial medical diagnoses. After her family began speaking out last November about their fight against these major institutions in court, they were placed under a gag order.
Justina’s parents, Linda and Lou, have been fighting against Boston Children’s Hospital and the state’s Department of Children and Families for more than a year, as they believe she needs to be treated for mitochondrial disorder, a diagnosis some doctors disagree with.
Beyond little snippets given outside of court on the many hearings they’ve had, little has been heard from the parents who believe their daughter has mitochondrial disease and the medical facility that says she doesn’t, saying it’s a psychosomatic disorder instead.
But now the Pelletiers are speaking out.
‘MY DAUGHTER IS ABOUT TO BE KIDNAPPED’
When the Pelletiers brought Justina to a Connecticut hospital in February 2013, she was suffering from the flu. As her sister Jessica explained it, people with mitochondrial disease are affected by illnesses, like the flu, in a more pronounced way.
Jessica, 25, is the second-oldest of the Pelletiers’ daughters and has mitochondrial disease herself. The disease can manifest itself in various ways, but at its root, results from a defect in the mitochondria, an organelle inside cells that produces energy. Jessica’s diagnosis was established medically through analysis of the cells of her muscle tissue.
In Justina’s case, a doctor evaluated her symptoms, considered her family history — mitochondrial disease can be inherited — and gave her a clinical diagnosis of the disorder. Under the care of physicians at Tufts Medical Center, Justina was treated for mitochondrial disease.
But when she got the flu and her parents were told she should be transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital, things changed.
As Lou Pelletier explained it, Justina was supposed to be transferred in an ambulance, for insurance purposes, to the Boston hospital, and brought through the emergency room but seen by a gastrointestinal doctor. Instead, upon arriving, he said she was stopped and evaluated by a neurologist, who, Pelletier said, didn’t look at her medical history or contact her other doctors. This doctor, according to Justina’s father, said he thought the illness was all in Justina’s head — that it was somatoform disorder.
The physicians at Boston Children’s Hospital disagreed with her diagnosis of mitochondrial disorder and wanted to take a different approach to her treatment. At first, Lou Pelletier said, “we were game to try a new approach.” But when the hospital laid out their plan to take Justina off all of her mitochondrial and pain medication, her parents balked.
That was Feb. 13, 2013. The next day — Valentine’s Day 2013 — Justina’s parents went to Boston Children’s Hospital with a couple of advocates intending to have her discharged and brought to Tufts. Instead, they were met with security guards and served a 51A, a report of alleged physical or emotional abuse.
Lou said when he saw security showing up, he called 911, thinking that things were not about to go in their favor.
“I told them ‘my daughter is about to be kidnapped by Boston Children’s Hospital,’” he said.
The Pelletiers were accused of overmedicalizing their daughter. Lou Pelletier pointed out that he doesn’t see how having a congenital band removed, her tonsils taken out, procedures to help her have bowel movements — a reoccurring issue for Justina — and following doctor’s orders for prescriptions for mitochondrial disease can be considered overmedicalizing.
Justina was transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Bader 5 psychiatric unit on April 9, 2013. There she was treated for somatoform disorder. According to a document from Boston Children’s given to the Pelletiers, Justina’s treatment included a “behavioral plan […] formulated with input from all relevant disciplines which will day schedule, feeding and functioning plans with a therapeutic approach.” Physical therapy was included as well.
Another measure on the “Guidelines for Care of Justina Pelletier” included that “no diagnostic tests and no new consultations are to be requested unless Justina develops a new or acute process as observed and assessed by the medical team.”
The Pelletier family isn’t necessarily alone in their experience with the hospital. After their case made national headlines, other families began speaking out about the hospital threatening to get DCF involved. Complaints that have been filed since against Bader 5 prompted the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to launch an investigation.
‘I WANT TO HAVE ALL MY GUNS BLAZING’
Lou Pelletier told TheBlaze he used to play “20 questions” on the phone to learn from Justina what was going on in the psych ward on the days they were scheduled to call. Justina also used to sneak little notes to her family in cards she wrote them.
Jessica Pelletier demonstrated how she would fold a flap in cards and write messages in small handwriting underneath. Lou Pelletier said if Justina got caught doing this “she would get tortured,” which he said the hospital called “behavioral modification.”
“That’s what Kim Jong Il’s doing in North Korea, behavior modification. … No, no, no, no. It’s torture,” he said.
The Pelletiers don’t get cards anymore. All they get from Justina now are 20 minutes on the phone every Tuesday, one-hour visits each Friday, and her bracelets, which show her preferences for the colors blue and green. Both Lou and Jessica Pelletier sported several of Justina’s beaded or artistically twisted rubber band bracelets on their wrists.
After several court dates, Justina was moved from Boston Children’s Hospital to another facility in Massachusetts. At the time, Lou Pelletier said “justice maybe prevailed.” But in the hearing following this decision two weeks later, things seemed more grim from the Pelletiers’ perspective. Lou Pelletier said it is not a medical facility. He said it’s a temporary place where she is being held until her treatment going forward can be agreed upon in court.
“Now we go back the 24th, a week from today, and I want to have all my guns blazing. We’re not going to make it much more,” Lou Pelletier said.
“Our family,” Jessica Pelletier said, “I don’t know how we survived this long.”
And they’re not just talking about the “heartbreak” of Justina. The yearlong fight to bring the decisions regarding her medical care back to her parents has taken a toll on the Pelletier family.
THE FAMILY NEEDS YOUR FINANCIAL HELP!
Financially, they’re trying to make ends meet with expensive legal fees. The Pelletiers have a PayPal account connected to http://www.freejustina.com for those wishing to donate to her family’s cause. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!
If the decisions regarding Justina’s care are returned to her parents, Lou thinks she needs total rehabilitation, saying that he worries her current state could be “irreversible.”
“She needs physical therapy. She needs to be back on the vitamin cocktail. She needs to be treated for the goddamn diagnosis she had from the beginning,” Lou said. ”I need to save my daughter. If we don’t do something, she is going to die.”
‘SHE NEEDS TO BE THIS COUNTRY’S HERO’
On the Glenn Beck Program Monday night, Lou Pelletier said he and his wife, Linda, continue telling Justina to hang in there.
“I never thought of all my daughters that she would be my hero,” Lou said on TheBlaze TV, telling Beck that he has been amazed by his daughter’s strength, even as he has seen her condition deteriorate. “She needs to be this country’s hero.”
– See more at: http://www.libertynewsonline.com/article_301_34867.php#sthash.81WM1tKz.dpuf
January 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Here is a man who authored and orchestrated every Civil Rights Act perpetrated by Judges and engineered Treason offenses violating every provision of the KU KLUX KLAN ACT of 1871 at an innocent man of color.
Alderman Edward Burke has utilized every member of the Democratic Party to help him frame an innocent man of impregnating a woman who was in fact impregnated by her natural biological father who was a Police Officer, this was the second daughter he impregnated;
Alderman Edward Burke used African American Judge R. Morgan Hamilton as she perjured and falsified court documents aided and abbeted in a criminal conspiracy as Burke had a CTA attorney in Ronald Bartkowicz manufactured a warrant against CTA employee Badge 26115 saying he was not an employee to prevent CTA from paying him back wages resulting from his work-related injury because members under the Daley administration stole his wages while off injured on duty;
Because R. Morgan Hamilton was a good servant for her Messiah in Ed Burke he made her a permanent Associate Judge never to be voted for retention on the bench.
William Stewart Boyd was perhaps the slickest deceptive manipulator ever to wear a robe negotiated an Associate judge position out of Edward Burke because he knew I never owed child support and was aware of all criminal acts of the parties who was responsible for framing me kept his mouth shut.
Alderman Edward Burke had appointed legal aid attorney who was the former Senior attorney in legal aid refused to provide me any legal representation saying their were too many judges involved, Burke assigned him to my case where he placed me in Contempt of Court for Allegedly owing child support.
Alderman Edward Burke had access to medical records of my families medical history where therapy was being provided had Donald Jonker to assist him the same DCFS attorney who was responsible helping him take an African American child from her mother.
Alderman Edward Burke orchestrated DCFS to manufacture abuse charges against myself as my daughters therapist (Marcia Ward) provided altered medical records impersonating a Doctor and not a therapist.
Alderman Edward Burke has made it his mission to destroy me and my family at all costs had my sick brother arrested and placed in Cook County jail because the United States Attorney refused to prosecute my brother for allegedly spitting on President Obama’s Secret Service, hew was transported to St. Bernard Hospital spent 2-3 weeks hospitalized, he was not out 3-4 days before he was arrested name placated all over the media.
Rosemary Higgins was in Juvenile court where DCFS lodged bogus charges against my mother for child Lock-out which was not true a lot of irregularities had took place in that case but Judge Higgins ignored them never provided her with a court order, as for myself I had been before her Aunt Lauretta Higgins who refused to address the wrongful Acts of Perjury Fraud etc., Judge Higgins said she had no jurisdiction., the matter was appealed before the 1st Division where her husband Warren D. Wolfson was the Judge Denying every motion presented before the courts.
Rosemary Higgins became the Judge in my brothers case had him locked up for 6 months behind a cell in prison on June 6, 11 two Doctors testified he was unfit to stand trial, initially Public defender was removed from the case, a Shelli Blair (Air Head Public Defender) was assigned when I suggested that a Motion be filed substituting Judges Monday June 10, 2013, her reply, you guys had a lot of bad luck with judges or misfortunes but I assure you she is not with Warren D. Wolfson anymore, my reply, don’t care.
Tuesday June 11, 2013, Theresa Nelson was back on the case, the States Attorney was arguing my brother was unfit for trial mentally, but the Public Defender was arguing he was fit; needless to say Judge Higgins agreed with the States Attorney finding him unfit mentally very smart but the Doctors testimony was to compelling.
Under the present administration of Democrats with the Political Machine they find ways to oppress people of color by whatever means necessary so as to generate revenue for all white attorneys as blacks and Hispanics are used as a means of income for Terrorist running the City.
No white person under any magnitude is subjected to this level of Terrorist treatment in this city.
APPEAL TO THE ILLINOIS APPELLATE COURT
6.) That because Craig Fulton never legally owned the property but has been very successful with incredible support induced reliance on a number of entities could not access the authority of a licensed and bonded locksmith, to enter the residence had the Sheriff to act outside their jurisdiction by committing a felony (breaking and entering into a home);
December 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
2013: St. Clair County drug scandal – deaths, addictions and convictions
Shocking is an understatement, but it’s one way to describe a drug scandal that rocked the St. Clair County Courthouse in 2013.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook was arrested by federal agents on May 23 at the Belleville residence of his customary drug dealer. Cook, who had presided over criminal cases including drug felonies and murders, quickly resigned, sought treatment out of state and pleaded guilty in federal court on Nov. 8 to possessing heroin while in possession of firearms.
Cook’s arrest came two months after the death of his friend and colleague, Associate Judge Joe Christ. Cook found Christ’s body on March 10, in the Pike County hunting lodge of Cook’s father, Belleville lawyer Bruce Cook.
At the time of his death, the public was informed by St. Clair County officials that Christ, a long time prosecutor for the State’s Attorney’s office who had only been a judge for less than two weeks, died of natural causes. The public was informed months later by Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty that Christ died of cocaine intoxification.
Cook’s plea agreement with federal prosecutors recommends an 18-month sentence, three years of supervised release and a fine within guidelines. His sentencing will take place on Jan. 17. In the meantime, prosecutors on Dec. 13 filed a presentence investigation report under seal.
The agreement requires Cook to forfeit all of his weapons and ammunition, which, according to a three-page list, includes 13 shotguns, 10 rifles and 10 other firearms, as well as plenty of rounds, shells and cartridges.
In connection with Cook’s arrest, the feds also took down Cook’s supplier Sean McGilvery of Belleville. He pleaded guilty Oct. 17 to conspiring to distribute heroin. In his stipulation, McGilvery said that Cook would “pick up amounts of heroin on an almost daily basis” from his residence. He will be sentenced Jan. 23 and faces 10 years to life.
The feds separately arrested St. Clair County probation officer James Fogarty in May, after showing him text messages that implicated him as Christ’s cocaine dealer. He pleaded guilty Nov. 6 to supplying cocaine to Christ and awaits sentencing Feb. 28.
According to an FBI agent’s affidavit, Fogarty said he “did a line” with Cook and Christ and sold them a split “eight ball” of cocaine for $140 each the day before the judges went to the Pike County lodge in March. Fogarty also told the agent that the men used drugs together on multiple occasions, including golf outings, at a hunting cabin and at his Belleville residence, according to the affidavit.
Fogarty’s plea agreement calls for a five-year sentence, without extra years that federal prosecutors could recommend if they proved his crime resulted in death.
“On your best day I can give you probation,” said U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan to Fogarty. “On your worst day I can give you 30 years in the penitentiary.”
He also said, “If your involvement was such that it resulted in death or bodily harm to anyone, I won’t accept the agreement.”
Two major players in the distribution conspiracy were arrested in January, pleaded guilty in August and were sentenced in December.
Agents arrested Deborah Perkins, who ran her home at 20 Kassing Drive in Fairview Heights as a drug market, after a confidential source told them she would step off a bus in St. Louis with a load of heroin.
Feds also indicted her son, Douglas Oliver, and Eric Beckley of Centreville, as dealers under her direction.
Perkins distributed locally through Oliver, McGilvery and Beckley. Beckley pleaded guilty on Oct. 31, and awaits sentencing in March.
At sentencing on Dec. 5, Perkins and Oliver faced not only U.S. District Judge David Herndon, but also the mothers and 12 other relatives of Jessie Williams and Jennifer Herling, whose deaths resulted from their crimes.
Jenny Thomason, mother of Williams, said, “They dumped my daughter’s body.”
“They show no remorse for their actions,” Thomason said. “Because of their actions I will never get to see my daughter again. I’ll never hold her in my arms one last time.”
Chris Keel, mother of Herling, said, “I don’t see my daughter’s death as an accident.”
“Deep in my heart I know they murdered my daughter. If we robbed a bank and somebody got killed, we would all be in trouble. It was her house. It was her that went and got the drugs. It was her that gave the drugs to her son.”
Oliver accepted a 30-year sentence for selling heroin. Perkins was sentenced to 27 years for her role in the conspiracy.
Whether the drug investigation is wrapped up or ongoing remains an open question.
Oliver dropped a clue that an investigation of St. Clair County corruption continues. He told Herndon that he is cooperating with St. Clair County authorities.
Prosecutor Robert Garrison at the sentencing hearing apparently hadn’t expected him to reveal his cooperation. Garrison rose and told Herndon that because Oliver had made the statement in open court, he would confirm it.
U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton has indicted dozens of drug defendants this year without indicating whether he caught them in the same investigation that caught Cook.
One such connection popped up from the mass on Oct. 18, when Augustus Stacker of Belleville pleaded guilty of cocaine distribution.
He and the government stipulated that he supplied cocaine to Fogarty, and that one of their transactions was audio recorded on May 23.
The stipulation suggested that the investigation continues, by declaring that Stacker bought cocaine from “persons in the Southern District of Illinois.”
Another sign of ongoing investigation appeared in a detention order that Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams signed for Beckley.
Williams afforded him “reasonable opportunity for private consultation with counsel,” which a defendant would not normally need after pleading guilty.
Williams wrote that by court order or on request of a government attorney, Beckley’s prison warden must deliver him to a U.S. marshal “for the purpose of an appearance in connection with a court proceeding.”
By coincidence or not, two men in the mass of defendants pleaded guilty on Oct. 31.
Michael Scott Jr. stipulated that he sold an ounce of cocaine to a confidential informant for $1,400, on July 2 in Washington Park.
Deanthony Tillman stipulated that he sold two grams of crack to a confidential informant for $200, on June 27 in East St. Louis.
What kind of fallout has resulted from the scandal?
On Oct. 2, Circuit Judge Robert Haida ordered a new trial for murder suspect William Cosby, who was convicted by jurors on April 23.
Cosby won a new trial after trying to remove public defender Charles Baricevic, son of Chief Judge John Baricevic, from his case for failing to argue that the drug addiction of Cook corrupted his trial.
Cosby filed a pro se motion to withdraw Baricevic on Aug. 22, writing that his attorney “steadfastly refuses” to raise issues Cosby wanted to raise.
Cosby wrote that the issues concerned Cook’s “conduct, demeanor, impatience and obvious drug problem while presiding over this case.”
He wrote that he would raise more issues after receiving a transcript.
Cosby apparently didn’t know that his message had finally gotten through.
On Aug. 16, Baricevic had amended Cosby’s motion for a new trial to argue that Cook could not have conducted a fair trial.
Baricevic wrote that “criminal activity may have occurred during the course of trial.”
Haida denied Cosby’s motion to withdraw Baricevic on Aug. 27, and Baricevic represented Cosby at a hearing on Sept. 18.
Baricevic followed with a brief on Oct. 1, writing that the state was both an investigator of a sitting judge and a party to that judge’s bench.
“It defeats the purpose of a fair trial for one party to litigation to be privy to that information and not another, particularly when the unknowing party is the defendant to a first degree murder charge,” Baricevic wrote.
“The defendant cannot point to a specific instance when Judge Cook was on drugs. The defendant is neither an expert nor familiar with addicts.”
On Oct. 30, Haida granted a new trial to murder suspect Gregory Muse, who challenged his conviction by a jury in Cook’s court.
Cook presided over Muse’s trial on March 12 and 13, two and three days after he found the dead body of Christ in the Cook family hunting lodge near Pittsfield.
Public defender Erin Conner moved for a new trial for Muse in April. In August, Conner amended Muse’s motion to claim Cook’s addiction tainted the trial.
She argued that State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly should have disclosed to Muse that federal prosecutors were investigating Cook.
Conner also argued that Kelly should have filed motions to continue the trial and substitute another judge for Cook.
In September, assistant state’s attorney Deborah Phillips answered that Conner didn’t identify any error that Cook committed.
She wrote that disclosure might have compromised the investigation.
In response, Conner wrote that the state may not withhold material evidence without violating due process.
“Cook had slurred speech during the reading of the jury instructions,” Conner wrote.
“Had Defendant known that Cook’s capacity was in question, Defendant would have moved to substitute Cook.”
Drug testing for some – but not the judiciary
St. Clair County employees can expect random drug tests under a policy the county board adopted on Sept. 30.
County board members approved a policy which makes testing mandatory for employees and optional for themselves, citing a precedent (Chandler v. Miller) that lifts politicians above suspicion.
The old policy was just three sentences long, the new one is 17 pages. The policy does not encompass the judiciary.
“Random tests shall be unannounced and conducted at various times during the year,” the new policy provides.
A new employee must pass a test before starting work, and a current employee must pass one before moving up to a managerial position.
The policy also authorizes the county to test any employee for probable cause.
While the judiciary is exempt from mandatory drug testing, some judges have expressed a willingness to submit to voluntary testing and reveal results to the public, including the two candidates running for former Judge Cook’s seat – Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn, a Republican, and Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf.
(Steve Korris contributed to this report).
More Stories by Ann Maher
- Lewis Brisbois continues growth in Edwardsville office
- Franklin and McGonigle join HeplerBroom as associates
- Attorneys in Lightspeed case appeal Murphy sanctions
- Simmons gets into newspaper business with purchase of Today’s Advantage
- Nussbaumer joins Williams Venker & Sanders asbestos team
- HeplerBroom attorney named Missouri ‘Super Lawyer Top 50′
- McGlynn and Rudolf to seek Cook’s seat in ’14 election; Candidates favor drug testing
- Magee named in ‘Top 50′ St. Louis ‘Super Lawyers’
- Wells makes presentations at ISBA event
- Eight Sandberg Phoenix attorneys selected as ‘Top Rated Lawyers’
December 20, 2013 § Leave a comment
Bar To Their Re-election?
8 Judges Rated Poorly By 2 Or More Lawyer Groups
More than a quarter of the 261 full circuit judges in Cook County–72 in all–could lose their jobs on Nov. 3.
Every six years, county judges must come up for retention and get 60 percent “yes” votes from voters to keep their jobs. In addition, 44 lawyers are running for 25 vacancies on the bench.
Eight of those up for retention were “not recommended” by two or more bar groups, which rate the judges before the election. They include:
– Judge Susan J. McDunn, who ordered a rare hearing for an uncontested adoption by a same-sex couple.
“Why are we doing something differently because the adopting parents are gay and lesbian couples?” asked adoption attorney Rick Lifshitz, who has followed the case.
McDunn said she could not comment on a pending case.
– Judge Jeffrey Lawrence has made inappropriate comments to women attorneys who practice before him in divorce court, according to the Chicago Council of Lawyers.
Lawrence denies that. “I am a respecter of women,” he said. “My wife is an accomplished hospital administrator.”
– Judge Edna Turkington “exhibits on occasion a wholly inadequate grasp of the legal issues before her” according to the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Turkington declined to comment.
– Judge Llwellyn “Lynn” Greene-Thapedi “can be indecisive and inconsistent in her rulings,” the Chicago Council of Lawyers said in its evaluation. “Fully half of the lawyers we interviewed who have appeared before Judge Greene-Thapedi in her current assignment recommended against retention.”
Greene-Thapedi declined to comment.
– Judge Leida J. Gonzalez Santiago had only seven years’ experience practicing law when she was slated for her seat by her husband, Miguel Santiago, a former alderman being tried in federal court on ghost payrolling charges.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Chicago Bar Association said Gonzalez Santiago, who sits in divorce court, has little grasp of the law. She declined to comment.
The other three who received “not recommended” ratings from two or more groups are Judge William D. O’Neal, who sits in the Markham suburban court, Criminal Court Judge Janice R. McGaughey and Judge Dorothy F. Jones, the only judge who refused to participate in any bar group’s evaluation process.
Leaders of the city’s legal community urge voters not to take a “throw the bums out” approach to judges because “some of the best and the brightest” are on the ballot, said Chicago Bar Association President Leonard J. Schrager.
Presiding judges found “highly recommended” by some bar groups for cleaning up some troubled courts include Nancy Sidote Salyers at juvenile court; Timothy C. Evans at divorce court; and Patrick McGann at traffic court.
Eight bar groups unanimously found 63 of the 72 judges running for retention recommended.
In an effort to boost voter interest in the often-ignored judicial retention elections, the Chicago Bar Association is printing up 300,000 copies of its judicial evaluations to pass out to voters before the election, Schrager said.
December 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
For many of us, the only image we have of a judge comes from movies or TV shows. For the next four nights, we’re going to show you a lot of them by asking a simple question: Who is judging the judges? You might be surprised. Our joint WGN investigation with the Medill Watchdogs of Northwestern exposes where the majority of least qualified judges are coming from.
For the first time ever, as the curtain draws back allowing cameras in Illinois to peek into some courtrooms, viewers are getting a glimpse at the absolute power behind the robe. Cameras have yet to be allowed in Cook County and unless you are before a judge, you probably can’t name any of the 400-plus judges or which ones you voted for in the last election.
Two decades ago, the leaders in Springfield tried to fix the problem of too many unknown judges by breaking up the massive list into smaller bite-sized subcircuits. It seemed like a win-win, these subcircuits. Neighbors could meet the judicial candidates because they lived there. The winning judge would be from their community bringing more minorities to the bench. In Cook County, that even meant Republicans. A good idea with good intentions, but like the old proverb says, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
When asked what he thought of subcircuits, Anton Valukas, a lawyer and Chairman of Jenner & Block said, “I think they’re terrible.”
Nearly 30 years ago, Valukas as U.S. Attorney oversaw the prosecution of one of the largest court scandals in the United States: Operation Greylord. Charges of bribery, fixing a murder case, even a wiretap in a judge’s chamber led to 92 indictments including the conviction of 15 judges. According to Valukas, “All of a sudden everybody got religion, as they say in the trade. So I would say corruption is not the issue right now.”
Instead, Valukas says the problem is weak judges created by the subcircuit system.
“The issue right now is competence and the fact that you continue to have politics involved in this process always opens the door to the potential of corruption in the future. So why have a system that does that?” he says.
He added that unlike judges who run countywide, the candidates who run for one of the 15 smaller subcircuit seats rarely face tough challengers. Most are always backed by the Democratic Party, they rarely have to prove their judicial chops to win.
“I think it probably has not been the best way to improve the quality of our judiciary,” said Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin. Suffredin is also the attorney for the Chicago Bar Association, a group that rates the qualifications of judicial candidates. “I think if you look at the judges who have had problems in the last 20 years, a greater percentage of them have been elected from the subcircuits than have been elected countywide. I think those who are elected countywide are vetted in a much different way. It’s a tougher race to run. I mean this is a huge county. And they have to present their credentials to a lot of different people,” said Suffredin.
Like the Chicago Bar Association, a host of other legal watchdogs judge the judges on integrity, legal knowledge, temperament, and even punctuality. We checked the rankings and last year, a half-dozen judges elected to the bench failed to win the approval of three or more groups and five of those were subcircuit judges.
According to Suffredin, “I think what they do is create an artificial world in which people run. One of the things we see is that the candidates who run in the subcircuits in a greater proportion choose not to be evaluated by the Bar Association, choose not to present their credentials to a broader group of citizens to determine why they would be good judges or bad judges.” In other words, they’re avoiding being judged.
Newly-elected Judge Daniel Degnan from the 3rd subcircuit didn’t bother to submit his qualifications. His dad was a top strategist for Mayor Daley. Prior to Election Day; one by one all his opponents dropped out, including a sitting judge. Degnan waltzed unopposed to the bench. Judge Kimberly Lewis was never vetted failing to submit her credentials to any legal watchdog. She beat out a sitting judge ranked qualified.
In 2010, four judges failed to win approval, three of them from subcircuits. In 2008, six out of seven judges not recommended came out of the subcircuit. And in 2006, five out of six judges were also from a subcircuit which raises the question, who’s judging the judges? According to Valukas, “No one! In the subcircuits even fewer than no one if that’s possible. You’re talking about in the subcircuits the likelihood of the person who is judging the judges and most likely to make the decision who’s going to be elected judge is some political boss.”
Take the case of Judge Leida Gonzalez-Santiago. She benefited from the subcircuit law which you recall encouraged neighborhood diversity. She was the first Hispanic woman elected to the bench even though the Tribune reported a Hispanic Bar Association called her unqualified. Yet she won with the backing of House Speaker Mike Madigan and her own husband, a state representative. And once a judge is elected, it’s pretty much a job for life no matter how competent. Six years later, she won again even after a lawyers group blasted her for putting kids at risk during custody battle cases.
Valukas called it, “A crisis in your world. They’re before a judicial system asking somebody to make a decision on something that could be incredibly important to them. Anything from a divorce case, a child custody case to a property damage case you name it and they are before someone who may not even know the rudiments of the law and whose temperament maybe an absolute disaster. That’s not a way you have a system.”
None of the judges we identified returned our phone calls. The issue of qualification is only one subject we examined. Tomorrow we’ll look at how a system designed to bring minorities to the bench is being abused.
For more information, log on to the Medill Watchdog website.