|Thanks to Gordon MacLean:
In February 2002 The
Albany TIMES UNION ran a series of five editorials on the subject
Judicial Accountability Within The State of New York
It is journalism at its best! The five articles cover just one state in
the US, and what you will read in these articles will make your hair stand
on end; not just so much because of what is happening in the State of New
York but also because of the sheer size of the problem.
Abuse of power, torts, creative and capricious interpretation of
the law, self-serving bias, sentencing people to jail without due
process...the list goes on, and it is an escalating problem with no relief
The largest number of infractions is being committed at a very
disproportionately large rate by the judges with an education as legal
professionals, while the articles report that most judges have no legal
education at all, but we should obviously not hold that against the
latter. They appear on average to be far more honest than their highly
educated colleagues, although their larger number makes up for their
underachievement in the field of justice abuse.
Moreover, they seem to be far less able to protect themselves
against being taken to account for abuse of their judiciary power than
their more highly educated brethren and sisters are.
Of the 3,346 judges in New York state, approximately 2,200 are
part-time town and village justices, and only 400 of them are lawyers.
Thus, it might seem only natural that the bulk of complaints would be
filed against these lower-level jurists. While that is generally true,
it's far from the whole picture. In 2000, for example, the state
Commission on Judicial Conduct received 346 complaints against lower
level judges, investigated 133 of them and recommended disciplinary
action in 69 cases.
At the same time, the number of complaints lodged against the 341
state Supreme Court justices, all of whom are lawyers and serve full
time, totaled 253. The high number of complaints at both the lower and
upper end of the judicial system is both revealing and disconcerting.
While only 133 of the complaints lodged against part-time justices
warranted full investigation, for example, roughly half of those
resulted in disciplinary action. By comparison, while only 26 of the 253
complaints against Supreme Court justices were investigated, 17 of them,
or far more than half, resulted in formal measures ranging from
admonition to censure to removal from office.
What about corresponding articles in all of the other states? What
about Canada? It is not that we don't have
problems like that in Canada. What
about any other of the developed nations? Is the situation in New York
State the worst, the best or just average with respect to what the justice
system in the "free" West has to offer?
As the last article in the series concludes:
An end to secrecy and leniency [when judges are being taken to
account], plus an emphasis on accountability that's the formula for
Justice equal justice demands no less.
Why should that cry for equal and equitable justice be voiced only in
the State of New York?
Here are the links to the series in the The Albany TIMES UNION:
When it comes to being held accountable, judges are an insulated breed
in New York
First published: Sunday, February 3, 2002
Sometimes the biggest impediment to a fair trial can be the judge
First published: Monday, February 4, 2002
Judges often receive leniency for outrageous personal behavior
First published: Tuesday, February 5, 2002
Starving The Watchdog
Budget cutbacks are hampering the effectiveness of a judicial oversight
First published: Wednesday, February 6, 2002
The Need For Reform
New York should have a more open process for disciplining judges
First published: Thursday, February 7, 2002
Thanks to Gordon, a PDF file containing the texts of all five of the
articles can be made available if that should be necessary.
The White Rose
Thoughts are Free