National Forum On Judicial Accountability
This message appeals to the interest of Americans in good government. It relates to the devastation heaped on a lawyer for her apparently minor role in pursuing criminal racketeering charges against one or more judges in Maricopa County, Arizona. Her loss of dignity, stability, and personal support is substantially detailed by an online op-ed titled “Maricopa County, AZ Seat to Unprecedented Judicial Corruption”.
Most adults probably have at least some interest in good government. Of course many could care less about the plight of a lawyer, even one with seemingly good intentions, or the prospect of judicial corruption. Ironically, the relative ease with which America’s judiciary can devastate private lawyers, prosecutors, and judges for challenging judicial integrity, reflects a threat to good government in America.
No level or quality of education, experience, responsibility, success, or accolades guarantees a lawyer or judge will not be abruptly excluded from his or her profession; deemed unfit for challenging the integrity of one or more judges. All humans are fallible, but it seems the rigors of becoming and certainly excelling as a lawyer or judge should expose whatever unfitness there is for the task. Yet the arguable best and brightest of America’s legal and judicial systems may be portrayed as taking leave of their senses should any of them harshly assess a judge.
It should be baffling that someone fit to impact life, liberty, and property as lawyers and judges do, may be inclined but considered unfit to critique the profession of which he or she is part. The paradox should have at least civic minded Americans wondering who sets and what are the criteria for levying credible charges against judges as an ethics or criminal matter.
Unfortunately major media relies on American government more than it should for sifting between credible and unreliable judicial critics. But responsible monitoring of America’s judiciary need not take endless combing of alternative media outlets. If enough Americans helped (in a small or big way) ensure legal process is not abused to discredit judicial critics, American government could not easily dictate which of them are or are not legitimate. It is largely if not primarily the proverbial blind eye towards professional discipline and other prosecutions of judicial watchdogs and whistleblowers giving carte blanche to judicial misconduct.
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For whatever reason and whether petty or gross, corruption in the judiciary ensures that corruption remains beyond the law in every other field of government and economic activity in which it may have taken root. Indeed, without an independent judiciary, graft effectively becomes the new ‘rule of law’.
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So judicial watchdogs and whistleblowers (i.e. people attempting to expose judicial misconduct or corruption) help preserve good government, including but not limited to fair and impartial court proceedings.
Some non-lawyers detect judicial misdeeds as proficiently as some lawyers and judges. Hence reasonable minds may not agree on the essentialness of formal legal training in formulating valid charges of judicial misconduct or corruption. In any event, if such charges are to proceed, some form of prosecutor (administrative and/or criminal) must advance them on behalf of appropriate government bodies.
Undoubtedly at times the suspension or disbarment of a prosecutor corresponds with good government. But the absence of buffers between prosecutors and the judicial systems (with their agencies for lawyer discipline) from which prosecuted judges hail, leaves prosecutors unduly vulnerable to retaliatory professional discipline. A grassroots judicial reform organization, National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc. (NJCDLP), addressed this chilling reality years before TI.
In 2005, NJCDLP proposed federal judicial whistleblower protection dubbed "The Weinstock Act" (TWA). A sister organization known as POPULAR (Power Over Poverty Under Laws of America Restored) later adopted TWA and made it part of a white paper titled “Protecting Judicial Whistleblowers in the War on Poverty”. Another NJCDLP offshoot, National Forum On Judicial Accountability (NFOJA), joined POPULAR's quest for federal judicial whistleblower protection and nationalized regulation of lawyer speech rights. NFOJA also promotes model legislation that would empower randomly selected, trained private citizen to oversee state judicial disciplinary processes.
To learn more about NJCDLP and all its projects, please visit www.njcdlp.org
Thank you NFOJA member M. Lanson for sharing this message about beautiful people. Hopefully it helps all of us understand that working to protect private sector lawyers, prosecutors, and judges who choose to be part of combating abuses of America's legal system, in addition to pursuing other worthwile legal/judicial system reforms, is NOT an expression of preference for legal professionals over non-lawyers.
O.K. Patrice, now we're getting somewhere. You acknowledge applying your instincts, insights, and expertise as an engineer in evaluating the legal system. Yet it seems to insult you for me to even suggest I have different, relevant instincts, insights, and expertise based on being a civil trial lawyer and legal/judicial reform activist for nearly 30 years. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I see your resistance to NFOJA consistent with me attempting to build a skyscraper or a bridge without consulting you or any engineer and then wondering why my structure collapsed.
Do you think we've had enough roundtable discussions? It seems we haven't had enough or those participating are just talking past each other. I'm not sure what it takes to solve the problem despite my "so-above-(everybody) experience". It seems Rebecca could help given her expertise, but she's done with roundtable discussions.
I'll close by emphasizing that NFOJA and its sister organizations are not refusing to assist you and others by offering solutions that you and/or others don't want to accept.
I would gladly have round table discussions about issues that were not so grave. It is hard for me to be at a table discussing the crimes I see so many Americans forced to endure. We need stringent consequences for these evildoers. When I see countless children facing trauma from the greedy (a__holes) it breaks my heart. My anger keeps me from weeping daily over the pain these families endure.
I embrace my anger for the innocent victims of the legal system.
So pardon my intensity and my impatience. I'm fed up with what the attorneys have created for the public citizen.
Rebecca, again I say:
Certainly we don't imagine that America's legal and/or judicial system will undergo major reform without extensive analysis among lawyers, judges, public policy thought leaders, legislators, litigants, and other civic minded citizens. No other grassroots organization has been more successful in facilitating related dialogue than NFOJA. We welcome all those who join the effort with an open mind.
/s/ Zena Crenshaw-Logal,
In disciplining meritorious and correct judges and lawyers who are critics of the judiciary and/or legal system, those doing so violate the free speech and free press if not the right to petition clauses of the First Amendment and in the course of doing that violate the very oath they took to defend and uphold the Constitution.