An investigation into judicial misconduct reveals disturbing questions about just how fair our court system is — and that authorities are doing little to address the problem.
By Peter S. Green and John Mazor for The Contently Foundation
When Margaret Besen, a 51-year-old nurse from East Northport,Long Island, filed for divorce from her husband in March of 2010, she had every reason to believe that justice was on her side.
Judge William Kent’s preliminary ruling seemed like a first step toward reasonable compromise. Margaret and Stuart Besen, who agreed their marriage was beyond repair, would remain in the house, a tan four-bedroom Craftsman in suburban Suffolk County, living in separate rooms — and keeping away from each other — while sharing custody until a resolution could be reached.
But within weeks, the situation deteriorated. Stuart Besen, a politically connected attorney for the town of Huntington, had an anger problem, Margaret told authorities. The couple’s screaming matches left Margaret feeling intimidated and their children — a daughter, 11, and son, 7 — terrified, she said. So in August of that year she obtained an order of protection prohibiting Stuart from harassing her. Three weeks later, Stuart entered Margaret’s bedroom and hovered over her as she slept, she told police. They arrested him for violating the order, reporting that Stuart had stared down at Margaret with his arms folded on three consecutive nights. She got temporary possession of the family home.
But in the years that followed, Margaret Besen’s hopes for an equitable settlement dwindled as she battled a series of harsh and hard-to-explain decisions against her. Though she could never prove anything, she suspected that the scales had tipped for reasons unrelated to the evidence in her case. If true, she faced what experts say is one of the most troubling threats to our nation’s system of justice: judges, who, through incompetence, bias or outright corruption, prevent the wronged from getting a fair hearing in our courts.
“The decorum and bias and the perfectly unethical behavior of the judges is really rampant,” said Amanda Lundergan, a defense attorney in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, who confronted a nest of judicial conflicts in her state’s rapid-fire foreclosure rulings — dubbed the “rocket-docket” — following the housing market collapse. “It’s judicial bullying.” read more…. https://medium.com/@ContentlyOrg/judging-the-judges-8f4bd85bc2e5#.4mbegue72
Also posted on the Guardian –
Corrupt justice: what happens when judges’ bias taints a case?
Divorced mother Margaret Besen tells her five-year struggle to get justice, just one story in the hundreds of judicial transgressions across the US revealed in a Guardian and Contently Foundation for Investigative Reporting collaboration
Desperate times require desperate measures. One strategy for getting a Judge off your case after complaints to the Presiding Judge, Executive of the Court, Local Representatives, Board of Supervisors, Judicial Council have failed…get a committee together….find other litigants….get louder…..protest outside the court house….make a case for Judicial Bias….misconduct….get in the newspaper….file recusal…..keep protesting…..file recall documents which the Judge must respond to….file a recusal….see the Judge squirm and remove themselves….may take a while….
What really happens when you complain about a Judge
a. Judges are held accountable for their offences, biases, and failures to follow rules of court violating the US Constitution.
b. the Judicial Council dismisses the complaints (after hundreds of complaints about a single Judge some most argredous cases like Judges giving custody to Rapists and Registered Child Sex offenders) or slaps the occasional hand of a Judge causing momentary embarrassment.
c. retaliation against the litigant.
The analysis shows that a dozen of these commissions collectively dismissed out of hand 90% of the complaints filed during the last five years, tossing 33,613 of 37,216 grievances without conducting any substantive inquiry. When they did take a look – 3,693 times between 2010 and 2014 – investigators found wrongdoing almost half the time, issuing disciplinary actions in 1,751 cases, about 47%.
The actions taken ranged from a letter of warning to censure, a formal sanction that indicates a judge is guilty of misconduct but does not merit suspension or removal.
Actually removing a judge was a rarity. Just 19 jurists in 12 states were ordered off the bench for malfeasance, which is about three per decade for each state. And even that result is becoming less common, with only one removal in 2014 and three in 2013 among all 12 states.
The states examined – California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Georgia and South Carolina – were chosen because they comprise a representative sample from different populations and areas of the country and because they had matching data for the years 2010 through 2014.
California, which created the first judicial disciplinary body in the country in 1960, had a dismissal rate of 98%. It did not suspend or remove a single judge in 2013 or 2014 and acted just once over the last five years, removing a sitting judge in 2012. Colorado’s lone judicial action since 2010 was a suspension in 2013. Texas has not removed a judge in five years, though it has suspended 23 for varying lengths of time.
One discouraging factor is the secrecy under which these commissions operate. Allegations against a judge are commonly kept confidential unless a sanction of some kind is imposed. New York’s CJC, for example, is prevented by law from disclosing whether anyone has complained about a judge, discussing specific allegations, revealing what evidence might have been presented or what steps, if any, it took to investigative. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/18/judge-bias-corrupts-court-cases?CMP=share_btn_fb
Recalls and Impeachments are the only way….send a Judge to jail!
Kids for Cash Judge goes down. If you don’t know this story, it gives us hope that the public will come to know the corruption and injustice Children face at the hands of Judges in the US. We look forward to more Judges going to Jail, impeachment and recalls!