Legal Activists' News & Views
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Talk about dangers to elections during Chillicothe stop
09-17-10 -- When brothers Laird and Robin Monahan became upset about January's U.S. Supreme Court ruling granting additional campaign rights to corporations, they decided to do something about it. . . . Laird, 70, and Robin, 67, decided they would walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to bring others to their cause.
"It drives us to this irrational act of two old geezers walking across the United States," said Robin, as the brothers rested in Chillicothe on Thursday night. . . . The brothers said the 5-4 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision will give corporations too much influence over elections in the U.S. The decision ruled corporations and unions could not be prohibited from campaign expenditures. It allows large corporations and unions to spend practically limitless amounts of money on financing elections for candidates they support.
A Rochester author exposes the shocking shortcomings of our legal system-and gets national attention for it.
12-21-09 -- After a few years had passed, friends and family began to wonder. . . . "When are you going to finish your book?" they would ask. . . . Amy Bach, a lawyer and journalist living in Rochester. . . . It was an understandable question. Bach, who is 41, had begun her field reporting on the justice system in the United States in 2001. Funded in part by fellowships, she kept digging deeper and deeper as the years went by. Interviews piled on interviews; the stacks of notes got higher and higher. . . . Along the way, she learned discouraging and appalling facts. For lots of reasons, including lack of money and lack of political will, average citizens sometimes lose their basic rights when they're accused of crimes or are the victims of crimes. . . . "You don't want ordinary people to suffer day in and day out because of failures of the system," Bach says. She was onto something important, so she knew she would finish the book. "But I wanted to get it right," she adds. . . . And so she did. Encouraged by her husband and others, Bach has produced a compelling book that has drawn national media attention. . . . Published in September by Macmillan's Metropolitan Books, Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court tells its stories through the eyes of people caught up in, and sometimes ground down by, the judicial system. . . . In the process it questions some of our basic assumptions about the law.
By a MetNews Staff Writer, Metropolitan News-Enterprise
12-21-09 -- These days you can find just about anything online for free. No-cost maps, music, movies and books are all at the fingertips of the average Internet user. . . . But Leslie Graves, president of the Madison, Wis.-based Lucy Burns Institute, says she noticed that “there wasn’t much information freely available on the Internet” about the nation’s courts and judges. . . . She recalls trying to find information about several federal bankruptcy judges, only to find that profiles about these federal judges were not included on the Federal Judicial Center website. The same was true about federal magistrate judges. . . . “I figure[d] that lots of people would be interested in information about judges, when judges are in the news or are ruling on a case of interest,” she says. . . . And so she came up with Judgepedia.com, a user-generated encyclopedia about America’s courts and judges, which is sponsored by her organization—a nonprofit named for the co-founder of the National Woman’s Party, which identifies the compilation and creation of public resources to increase accessibility to public records as its mission. . . . “My hope was that a fair, neutral online resource about judges and courts be built—much in the same way that Ballotpedia strives to be that resource for ballot measures and WikiFOIA for state sunshine laws,” Graves said, referring to the other two sites her group runs. . . . Judgepedia has articles about all 338 state supreme court justices and courts, and more than 900 state intermediate appellate judges in the 40-some states that have an intermediate appellate court system, including California, Graves says. . . . “I thought a wiki format would be ideal since it makes it so easy to expand, improve and enrich information over time,” she explains. “It also allows co-creation and collaboration on articles, which can take the edge of any bias anyone might bring to the table.”
Full Disclosure Network® Exclusive Video (8 min)
12-14-09 -- Full Disclosure Network®, known as "the news behind the news", has compiled an online eight minute video news report, that captured irate citizens testifying at a State Legislative hearing held on December 8, 2009. The hearing was intended to focus on "Improving Government" but instead, the video reveals growing unrest among citizens over government corruption, and in particular, Judicial corruption. Watch the 8 minute video here http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Blogs/82.php . . . Legislators and government staff comprised the hearing panel membership, and the discussion was centered on issues relating to the budgeting process. Citizens expressed frustration with the Legislators not addressing court and corruption issues. Many people testifying cited State Senate Bill SBX2 11 that granted retroactive immunity from criminal and civil prosecution for Judges, Court and (county) government officials who participated in the gift of illegal public funds to Judges as well as the Richard I. Fine contempt of court case of prominent Anti-Trust Attorney Fine who is in L.A. County Central Men's Jail since March 4, 2009, following his attempt to disqualify Judge David Yaffe who failed to disclose illegal payments from L A County, a party to the case. http://www.fulldisclosure.net/
12-14-09 -- The Kansas Attorney General's Office has filed a lawsuit against a Derby woman, claiming she gives legal advice even though she is not a lawyer. . . . Joan Heffington runs the Association for Honest Attorneys and has a Web site. . . . Assistant Attorney General Tai Vokins filed suit against Heffington and her association last week in Sedgwick County District Court. . . . "I think it's funny you should ask about that," Heffington said. "After all the lawsuits I file, you never call about those. But one is filed against me and you call." . . . Those lawsuits are the reason for the action by the Attorney General's Office. . . . Vokins claims in his petition that Heffington has helped laypeople file lawsuits and complaints in federal court against the Kansas district court and state agencies, and that she has sent demand letters to private businesses. . . . The lawsuit contends that Heffington practices law without a license.
Click for: Association for Honest Attorneys
Group claims Bander Law Firm took money without solving home problems.
12-13-09 -- Dozens of homeowners claim they paid for loan litigation services with Los Angeles-based Bander Law Firm and never saw any legal action taken in their cases, causing some homes to foreclose. . . . The homeowners gathered Saturday for a news conference inside a Glendale Days Inn Motel banquet hall, where several signs calling for attorney Joel Bander’s disbarment lined on the walls. . . . Daniel De Leon said he paid the law firm $12,000 to sue his bank to lower mortgage payments on his Hesperia home. . . . But he claims the law firm never gave him updates on the status of his case until it was too late and his home was in foreclosure. . . . “What we wanted them to do is not what they are doing,” De Leon said. . . . He said he wants his money back. . . . Other homeowners at the news conference called on attorneys who are suing the law firm to give them advice on their next move. . . . “You guys have been cheated in the worst way that I could possibly imagine,” attorney Anne Singer said. “Going to a lawyer, asking for help and not only having your money being taken away from you, but many of you losing your homes, and from what I understand some of you have been put in bankruptcy without your knowledge.”
2-26-09 -- In the small town of Coldwater, Miss., a group of racially diverse protesters marched up and down a road in the cool, morning breeze on Feb. 14, demanding colorblind justice and change. . . . They want Municipal Court Judge Kenneth Stockton and prosecutor Elizabeth Paige McDowell out. They want a new Board of Aldermen and a replacement for four-term Mayor Jessie J. Edwards, an African American whom they accuse of mistreating Coldwater residents. . . . As motorists zoomed passed the spectacle on Highway 51, several honked their horn to indicate support for the 25 people calling for change and holding placards with slogans such as “United for Change,” “In God We Trust,” and “Yes We Can,” President Barack Obama’s mantra. . . . Their cry for change was first heard in the town of 1,700 residents — 70 percent of whom are African Americans — after day care owner Carolyn McDale was convicted in municipal court for assaulting one of her clients last October. . . . McDale, who is African American, is appealing the case. In the meantime, she collected 600 signatures on a petition to remove the judge and prosecutor, both of whom are white. . . . “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we have a lot of issues in this town,” said McDale, who organized the rally to call attention to what she refers to as a “broken” judicial system, an “abusive” police department, and an “insensitive” mayor. . . . Lillie Merriweather was the second name on the petition. She joined the rally to support McDale’s call for change. “I’m here for a change,” said the 40-year resident of Coldwater. “We need equality and justice.”
8-15-08 -- The government watchdog group Common Cause of Rhode Island weighed in this week in favor of maintaining public access to the letters that are submitted to the Judicial Nominating Commission about finalists for state judgeships. . . . The commission, which recommends finalists for all state judgeships, wants to keep those letters secret, and it has asked Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch to confirm its interpretation of the Access to Public Records Act. . . . The commission asked for Lynch’s opinion following an inquiry by The Providence Journal, which is seeking access to letters either for or against eight finalists for a Superior Court vacancy.
7-6-09 -- UPDATE: Texans For Public Justice incorrectly reported that Justice Scott Brister failed to itemize $6,805 in reimbursements that he received from his campaign account in late 2003. Justice Brister did in fact itemize those reimbursements on a separate Texas Ethics Commission form designated for that purpose. This post has been updated to reflect that. . . . A new study of political expenditures by the Texas Supreme Court’s nine sitting justices found evidence that two additional court members may have violated campaign laws that prohibit politicians from tapping political funds for their personal use. Texans For Public Justice’s new report, Supreme Spending: Political Expenditures by Texas’ High-Court Justices, analyzes the $6.9 million in political funds that the court’s nine current justices spent between January 2001 and July 2007. . . . Supreme Spending found that Justice Dale Wainwright, who was elected to the high court in November 2002, reported spending more than $7,000 in political funds to pay rent and utilities in conjunction with an apparent 2003 residence he maintained at the Gables at Town Lake, a luxury apartment development in Austin. Texas election law expressly prohibits judges from paying living expenses out of political funds. . . . Austin-based Texas Watch filed complaints in January urging the Texas Ethics Commission to determine if three other justices tapped political funds for their personal use. Disclosures filed by Justices Paul Green, Nathan Hecht and David Medina raise disturbing questions about whether these officials used political funds to pay their personal travel expenses.
http://www.tpj.org/reports/supremespending/index (For full report)
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