Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Louisiana: most corrupt state in the US?

with 8 comments

Could be:

LA judges

Vernon Valentine Palmer, a law professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, could not understand how justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court could routinely hear cases involving people who had given them campaign contributions. It seemed to him a raw and simple conflict of interest.

So he wrote polite letters to each of the seven justices, urging them to adopt a rule that would make disqualification mandatory in those cases.

Six months passed without a single response, and he wrote again. “I used seven more stamps,” he said, “and I still got no reply.”

Professor Palmer is a senior member of the Tulane law faculty and the director of its European legal studies program. He is not an expert on judicial ethics, but he knows a thing or two about the rule of law.

Peeved, he decided to take a closer look at the Louisiana Supreme Court. He recruited John Levendis, an economics professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, to help with the statistics, along with a half-dozen law students to crunch numbers and code cases. Their conclusions, to be published next month in The Tulane Law Review, are not pretty.

In nearly half of the cases they reviewed, over a 14-year period ended in 2006, a litigant or lawyer had contributed to at least one justice, sometimes recently and sometimes long before. On average, justices voted in favor of their contributors 65 percent of the time, and two of the justices did so 80 percent of the time.

The conventional response to such findings is that they do not prove much.

Judges do not change their votes in response to contributions, the argument goes. Rather, contributors support judges whose legal philosophies they find congenial and, incidentally, sometimes benefit when their judges apply those philosophies in a principled and consistent way that just happens to benefit them.

You may think that is a distinction without a difference, which is why you do not teach judicial ethics.

Professor Palmer was, in any event, able to address that objection by asking several additional questions.

He looked first at cases in which no one involved in the lawsuit had ever made a contribution, before or after the suit was filed, to establish a baseline. Some judges tended to vote for plaintiffs, others for defendants.

Justice John L. Weimer, for instance, was slightly pro-defendant in cases where neither side had given him contributions, voting for plaintiffs 47 percent of the time. But in cases where he received money from the defense side (or more money from the defense when both sides gave money), he voted for the plaintiffs only 25 percent of the time. In cases where the money from the plaintiffs’ side dominated, on the other hand, he voted for the plaintiffs 90 percent of the time. That is quite a swing.

“It is the donation, not the underlying philosophical orientation, that appears to account for the voting outcome,” Professor Palmer said.

Larger contributions had larger effects, the study found. Justice Catherine D. Kimball was 30 percent more likely to vote for a defendant with each additional $1,000 donation. The effect was even more pronounced for Justice Weimer, who was 300 percent more likely to do so.

“The greater the size of the contribution,” Professor Palmer said, “the greater the odds of favorable outcomes.”

A similar study of the Ohio Supreme Court conducted by The New York Times in 2006 continues to echo in that state. It appeared about a year after an appeals court there threw out a $212 million jury verdict in a case involving a business dispute between two companies, and it caused the lawyers on the losing side to take a look at who had contributed to the campaign of the judge who wrote the decision. It turned out that the judge, William G. Batchelder, had received a lot of money from Robert Meyerson, the chief executive of the company on the winning side, the Telxon Corporation.

The lawyers for the company on the losing side, Smart Media, asked for a rehearing and got one, sort of. In November, a substitute panel of appeals court judges refused to undo the earlier decision, saying there was no procedure to allow that. Judge Robert Nader, dissenting, could barely contain his disbelief, saying the initial decision was infected by “approximately $1 million in contributions from a very financially interested individual” to Judge Batchelder, a Republican, and to the local Republican Party.

This was, Judge Nader wrote, “a classic scenario giving rise to every nuance of political influence in our courts which calls for self-disqualification.”

The case is now before the Ohio Supreme Court. Mr. Meyerson, the executive, has given money to two of its justices as well.

A couple of weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court said the Constitution had nothing to say about the way New York elects its judges. But several justices went out of their way to question the practice of electing judges. Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer said, for instance, that campaign fund-raising in judicial elections might be at odds “with the perception and the reality of judicial independence and judicial excellence.”

But you do not have to do away with elections and or even fund-raising to make a drastic improvement in the quality of justice in state courts around the nation. All you need to do is listen to Professor Palmer. If a judge has taken money from a litigant or a lawyer, Professor Palmer says, the judge has no business ruling on that person’s case.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Business, Government

8 Responses

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  1. I disagree with you. New Mexico is the most corrupt state in the Union with 34 corrupt towns. In fact the Justice Department has thought of cleaning up the state several times. I live in the number one most corrupt small town of its size in the entire country whereas 90 percent of its government is into extortion, fraud and bribes in both its city and county government as I am a former officer of two different courts as will as a special police officer.

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    Eagle Ashcroft

    22 July 2008 at 3:28 pm

  2. Interesting. I looked for information and immediately found this article. Any other articles you might reference?

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    22 July 2008 at 4:16 pm

  3. My fiancée is currently serving a ten-year sentence at the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, LA. We are currently going through the legal process to “quash” the 1997 conviction, for which he was only recently sentenced (December 10, 2008), on the grounds that the sentence was imposed after an unreasonable delay to the tune of eight years.

    My fiancée recently served an 11-year sentence in Federal Prison for an armed robbery in which he was an accessory in 1999. Upon sentencing, the court factored Hicks’ prior armed robbery offense (committed in Louisiana in 1997) in their points system to come to the decision to impose an 11-year sentence. With knowledge of a detainer for the incomplete jail sentence he left behind in Louisiana, Hicks tried several times, once per year, to reach out to the State of Louisiana by mail in an effort to make amends for the crime he committed and in an attempt to request that this matter be placed on the trial calendar pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1381. In his letters, Hicks requested a temporary change of custody or furlough to return to Louisiana, to go before a judge for sentencing, and motion for a concurrent sentence. Of the several letters submitted, the judge only responded to one in which he denied the request.

    At sentencing on December 10th, Judge Benjamin Jones presided. Hicks’ family members were present a cohesive sentencing package was submitted to the judge prior to the sentencing date in which the judge admitted to have in hand. The judge was also presented with letters from several member of Hicks’ family, a letter from Hicks himself, as well as a compelling letter from Hicks’ fiancée. Hicks addressed the judge with a heartfelt apology for the crime and proclaimed his rehabilitation. Hicks’ brother addressed the court in an imploration for mercy and a second chance via a suspended or concurrent sentence. In spite of all of the mitigating factors in his favor, an expression of his remorse, and proof of his rehabilitation, Hicks’ was sentenced to serve 10-years in Louisiana State Prison. The judge expressed in OPEN COURT that he personally knew “victims” who were in the bank on the day of the robbery and are still haunted by fear. Lest I forget to mention that NO ONE was shot or hurt and he didn’t get away with the money. The judge also continued advising Hick NOT to try and appeal his decision because it would be sent back to him and he’d readily deny the appeal. He added that my fiancée “Could not come from California and cause problems in ‘his state'”.

    Hicks and I have worked incessantly sifting through Louisiana laws and statutes and found that Louisiana had NO RIGHT to extradict him because of the unreasonable delay in sentencing – 8 years. As a result of Louisiana not acting on the detainer, he was not allowed to enroll in any programs or get into the half-way house or release program. The court should be divested of their jurisdiction to sentence him AT ALL. Hicks has suffered from an unreasonable, purposeful, and oppressive delay in sentencing at the hands of the 4th Judicial District Court. We file the motion on January 26th and we subsequently received a February 10th court date. Just one day prior to the commencement of the court date, the judge DENIED the motion and decided not to hear the case WITHOUT reviewing anything. But due to emphatic persuasion by our lawyer citing the validity of our claims, the judge reviewed the case law and found obvious validity in the motion and agreed to hear the case on March 18th. From that point until now, the function of the court system has been unprofessional and absurd – to say the least.

    First, at the March 18th court date, the District Attorney (DA) showed up an hour and a half late, claiming to have “allegedly” mixed up the dates. He said he “thought the date was for May 15th” and, thus, was not prepared to present his case. I find this to be seriously sloppy lawyering and quite incredulous since the dates don’t remotely resemble one another: March 18th and May 15th – a Wednesday and a Friday. In spite of the DA’s admission of negligence, the judge granted a continuance and set a date for April 22nd. When he should have found the DA in contempt but Jones CLEARLY does not want to allow justice for my fiancee as he has done EVERYTHING possible to prolong his stay. On April 22nd, court transportation simply didn’t pick Hicks up from Winn Correctional Center to appear in court. When Hicks was moved from Forcht-Wade to Winn just two weeks ago, I contacted the DA’s office MYSELF and notified them of the move in an effort to circumvent this very occurrence.

    It exceeds probability or coincidence that the grounds in which the DA has continued this case fall in line PRECISELY with the peremptory grounds/limits provided in the Louisiana Code of Procedure Article 1602 which states:

    Peremptory grounds: A continuance shall be granted if at the time a case is to be tried, the party applying for the continuance shows that he has been unable, with the exercise of due diligence, to obtain evidence material to his case; or that a material witness has absented himself without the contrivance of the party applying for the continuance.

    (a) Although the grounds for continuance enumerated in this article are well recognized, they may be waived by laches.

    (b) A party applying for a continuance, although entitled to a reasonable delay and opportunity to procure his witnesses, must show due diligence.

    (c) See, also, comments under Art. 1601, supra

    So here we have it: the DA “mistakenly” mixes up the dates and, consequently, is unprepared and unable to obtain evidentiary material for his case AND court transportation just doesn’t pick Hicks up so he, being the material witness to testify of prejudice imposed upon him as a result of the detainer, is absent allegedly without the contrivance of the DA and the case is, again, postponed. If I’m not mistaken, the motion for continuance may be denied due to the negligence in the observance of duty or, more specifically, the undue delay in asserting Hicks’ legal right to a speedy trial (stated in Part A of the Louisiana Code of Procedure Article 1602). The DA openly NEGLECTED observance of his calendar in “mixing up” dissimilar dates and also NEGLECTED to send transportation to procure Hicks’ presence in court with full knowledge of his whereabouts AND THE JUDGE IS ALLOWING ALL OF THIS!!!!

    I know that, in the eyes of the courts, my fiancée is considered to be a “criminal” but HE IS entitled to due process, which he is NOT getting. Neither Hicks, myself, nor the rest of his family are taking this matter lightly and neither should those appointed and expected to uphold the law and impose justice. We have had nothing short of a cascade of unjust issues surface with the Louisiana’s legal practices since he was extradited to Louisiana in November causing us to become extremely frustrated and aggravated.

    Adding insult to injury, just one month prior to my fiancees’ extradition to Louisiana, a major scandal was brewing in Louisiana’s criminal justice system. Since 1994, Chief Judge Edward Dufresne has been handling the appeals of indigent Louisiana convicts who had to file their own briefs. Last year, the aid Dufresne had assigned to handle those appeals committed suicide. According to his suicide note, Jarrold Peterson killed himself in part because of the guilt he faced over what he had been asked to do as part of his job. Peterson sent a posthumous letter to Louisiana’s Judiciary Commission with a damning allegation. He said Dufresne had instructed him to deny every appeal not prepared by an attorney. Peterson said he was instructed to write up and file the denials without every showing the appeals to the judges. Peteson handled about 2,400 such cases in the 13 years he was in charge of them.

    What kind of s**t is this?? I’m not going to allow my fiancée to be unjustly treated or let them get away with wrecking his chances of starting over. Someone has to ring the alarm on these people. They DISGUST ME!!

    Candace Kimble

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    Candace

    28 April 2009 at 9:31 am

  4. Judicial misconduct is a way of life in a lot of court cases. If you are Pro Se in a case like we are, your chances to win are nill to none. My husband and I sued 9 defendant’s, including Judge Wayne Mallia of the Galveston 405th for 14th amendment rights deprivations(Due Process). We paid our attorney 21,000 even after we got stole out, I mean sold out. Anyway the Judge has ordered us to sign an illegal settlement agreement and accept 40,000 even though we never saw or agreed to the settlement docs. He allowed the attorney’s to sign and file an invalid Rule 11 agreement that we were not aware of. The original suit was about a 2000 discharged mortgage debt that they continue to attempt to collect. Being forced to sign will put the discharged debt back on us, its in the illegal settlement agreement, unheard of ?
    We filed a Civil Rights Complaint under 42 USC 1983, which allows a Judge and private parties (Attorney’s) to be sued for conspiring to violate a persons constitutional and civil rights. The suit was filed in the Houston Federal Court in 2010, Jan. 28th. Most of our stamped file records were altered and manipulated by the clerks and who ever. Judge Nancy Atlas was requested by us to investigate along with David Bradley, Clerk of Court. She wrote in her denied order that an over worked employee misplaced our records in someone elses file. She then dismissed our suit. We appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where Jerrold Peterson committed Suicide, because for over 13 years he was told to stamp denied on every Pro Se appeal that came threw the door.
    So this happens all the time in Courts around the Country. News out lets are reluctant to report such abuse on most judges. These are the same Judges that send our sons, daughtres, husbands, bothers, love ones to prison and yet their hands are not clean. It’s called the “GAME”, either you play or pay, if you are an attorney or have other ties to the court you risk your lively hood. GOD is saying let my people go. The bible say ” Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed….). Justice should be changed to Justhem. Justice should roll down like a snow ball rolling down a snow covered hill, spring up like a lily in the valley, but dont get weary in well doing, for in due season if we faint not we shall reap. God is the Final Authority. Google”Zombie Debt Refuse To Die” or Prince Ella Green

    Like

    Prince Ella Green

    9 July 2010 at 12:03 pm

  5. I am creating an organization called justice denied ,I had enough ,Let’s demand justice ,Louisiana is the most corrupted state in justice ,I will get justice and want settle for nothing less,I will contact IRS in the morning and get tax id for Justice Denied .I was held on probation hold 6 mths illegally beaten ,medicine withheld was on 80mg prednisone daily ,Judge was forced to rule in my favor ,did not want to,atty filed lawsuits late caused all to be dismissed ,had to get appeal atty’s out of Florida, put false charge against me to make me back off,now on 24 hr oygen,chemo.etc.due to what they done.Judges have asst.them,da’s,disciplinary board,i’m just amazed ,how far these people would go.Please email me you brief story.In Louisiana ,if any of rights been violated ,you are a family member ,Let’s get justice.
    Mariejusticeedeniedunites@gmx.com ,need Asap, I am filing end of next month,each case will be filed ,, Yes :;God is my guide and strengths , united we can stand,we have a legion of angeles in our defense.

    Minister Reed

    Like

    MarieReed

    19 August 2012 at 9:11 pm

  6. email correction;
    MarieJusticedeniedunites@gmx.com

    Like

    MarieReed

    19 August 2012 at 9:14 pm

  7. you think you`ve read it all way until you hear my story when the bible states woe unto you lawyers and judges in the end of time what is really amazing is the truth has no audience, but a liar has all the seats
    in the church of listeners I wonder why?

    Like

    Robert Williamson

    29 August 2014 at 9:14 am

  8. So true!!! @Robert

    Like

    Candace Kimble

    18 December 2014 at 3:28 pm


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