Tuesday, February 18, 2014

JUDGING OUR JUDGES

JUDGING OUR JUDGES
and applying
6 COMMON SENSE SOLUTIONS


Many new Judges were sworn in after the KIDS FOR CASH travesty. The focus here is on the "new team" in place and whether or not trust is returning. 

But as far as integrity in the court room and the fair rendering of decisions... I have heard no scandalous talk. A very auspicious sign. Like a good referee, the best ones are the ones you don't notice. I believe the same principle applies here. The Judges have carried out their duties with little fan fare... and in the wake of KIDS FOR CASH... I would give the new team of judges a solid grade "A" grade.


Even still, this doesn't mean a Judge won't make a deal with the devil, be corrupted, and have this corruption hang like fog in the court room. Please give serious thought to my suggestions.


Judges have very little accountability. I believe it is imperative that they there be some evaluation process. 
 
1) A "black box" (with camera and video) should be installed in EVERY court room and Magistrate's office so Judges/Magistrates are accountable for their comportment and so decisions can be evaluated. The "good" judges should be clamoring for this!

2) Accreditation needs to be addressed. Accreditation is generally a voluntary program where an independent body evaluates a school or business entity. At Harris Corp where I worked an accreditation named ISO 2000 was in place. This gave confidence to government vendors that Harris Corp was using best practices.

Is there an accreditation system for the Judiciary?
If not, why not?
And why not start one?

The "SYSTEM" failed in KIDS FOR CASH. Playing musical chairs with the judges does not address how - with an unchanged system - that something similar could not occur again.


3) A Measuring system could be included as part of the accreditation process. Does a certain Magistrate rule in favor of police officers 95% of the time? Statistical outliers like this are symptomatic of bias. The numbers tell the story


4) All contributions of value (campaign or otherwise) sent by lawyers and others in the legal profession to the Judges should be prominently disclosed. Nobody should be forced to go in front of a Judge who received money from the opposing counsel. It is insane!


5) Judges should not be elected by the people. This is a farce. People have no way of authentically knowing the candidates. It has come down to "He who has the most cash wins." Having cash and posting thousands of signs has NOTHING to do with court room integrity. This sham need to be replaced by voters who are in more than skin deep.  

Proposal (Three distinct voting bodies)

1) A committee of Luzerne County bar members
2) The Luzerne County Council
3) An informed delegate group from the citizenry.

A) This would provide a more balanced and informed evaluation.
B) Money would not be hemorrhaged on TV ads, billboards, and signs on every corner.
C) The playing field would be evened as money would not always win. 


6) Drug tests and mental health checks need to be mandatory.

One may snicker at the "mental health" aspect... but a few years ago I went in front of someone who was in full blown dementia. This person was ranting and raving and turning red. I withdrew the case for the sake of his health. It was very frightening scene. The defendant and I worked something out because it was obvious to both of us that what happened wasn't fair.

Drug tests need to be given just like they are across the board in almost every line of work. The "big laugh" is when someone implies that the black robes mysteriously provide immunity from drug and alcohol abuse. Anybody knows that addiction plays no favorites. 

Plus... what exactly is a Judge? A Judge is a lawyer who got votes. Usually they got votes because the are wealthier than the next guy. The point here is we put Judges on pedestals but they are as vulnerable as the rest of us. 


Others contributing to the cause at court house:
Acting Court Administrator
Michael A. Shucosky
Deputy Administrator
Peter J. Adonizio
Special Court Administrator
Kathleen L. Hubbard