Saturday, October 08, 2005
Why judges are held in such low esteem: Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a member of the Judicial Council which rules on cases of misconduct by judges, demonstrates why too many judges can't be trusted with power. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about Judge Kozinski, I'm talking about district court Judge Manuel Real first and foremost and
Judges Arthur L. Alarcon, Andrew J. Kleinfeld, M. Margaret McKeown, William A. Fletcher and a few district judges by the last names of EZRA, LEVI, McNAMEE and STRAND secondarily. (Judge WINMILL is not incompetent, but appears to be one of those with bureaucratic inclinations that always want more "study".)
If you want to get really outraged, you should click the first link, and start with Page 6 of the document and Kozinski's dissent. The majority ruling is impossible to understand because it provides little background on the case. Kozinski's dissent, however, is informative.
To summarize the case, Judge Real -- a federal judge -- had a defendent come before him by the name of Deborah Canter. Canter was pled guilty to loan fraud and making false statements. Real sentenced her to probation.
Nothing wrong yet.
About the same time Canter was going through a divorce with her husband Gary. The house the two lived in was owned by a trust created by Gary's parents. Gary paid rent to the trust the entire time the couple lived there. When Gary moved out, Deborah continued to live there -- but stopped paying rent. At this same time she filed for bankruptcy. The trust went to court to get her evicted, but Judge Real, being the nice guy that he is, pulled the bankruptcy case out of state court and issued an injunction to prevent Deborah Canter's eviction.
Slight problem. Judge Real has no authority to do any of that. You see, Deborah Canter's lawyer didn't make any motions to the court requesting such a move. Real just took it upon himself to "just do it." When the trust's lawyers tried to get the injunction lifted, they were confronted by "god" Real who answers to no one and is all powerful.
THE COURT: Defendants' motion to dismiss is denied, and the motion for lifting of the stay is denied -- I'm sorry. The motion to dismiss is granted with ten days to amend.
MR. KATZ: And the motion to lift the stay is denied?
THE COURT: Denied; that's right.
MR. KATZ: May I ask the reasons, your Honor?
THE COURT: Just because I said it, Counsel.
When all was said and done, Canter lived in the house for three years rent free thanks to Judge Real, at an estimated cost to the trust of $35,000 -- that's just rent, it doesn't include the lawyers' fees accumulated as they tried to get justice.
I especially liked this bit from Judge Kozinski:
To this day, I am unaware of any conceivable legal basis the district judge might have had for enjoining the state court judgment and keeping the debtor in the Highland Avenue property at the expense of the Trust. Throughout these lengthy proceedings, the judge has offered nothing at all to justify his actions -- not a case, not a statute, not a bankruptcy treatise, not a law review article, not a student note, not even a blawg.
A "blawg" is a "blog" written by lawyers.
I mentioned a slew of other judges at the start of this post who should be removed from the federal bench. All of those judges are entrusted with policing misconduct among their bretheren. In this case, they chose to look the other way by exonerating Judge Real.
None of them can be trusted and they should be removed from the bench. Read Kozinski's dissent and you will see that there is no excuse for these judges' failure to act.
Judge Real should go to prison for what he has done -- it's worse than stealing because he did it under color of authority.
If this made the newspaper, you can be sure that there would be an uproar -- unfortunately it's probably not nearly "sexy" enough. It should be. When you hear complaints about the bad-mouthing of judges, remember that it's because judges too often bring it upon themselves.