Flirting with dementia while sitting on the bench

Posted on April 9, 2014


“Do you have anything to add?”

We’re going a bit off the reservation today because we think it is important that Courthouse News gets a new judge to hear their case. As has been widely reported, the ninth circuit reversed a decision to dismiss a lawsuit against Michael Planet of the Ventura County Courts for his decision to keep new litigation under wraps for over a month so that his people have the ability to pre-process cases. Ventura uses one of the least effective and efficient case management systems in the country, the California Case Management System. Yes, that half billion dollar albatross developed by the Administrative Office of the Courts whose overseers, the litigation management committee (link) is currently shelling out some major trial court cash to defend Michael Planet’s decision to abridge the freedom of the press.

The reasons we suggest a new judge to hear this case are numerous. If you are a criminal defendant with a case before ninety year old federal judge Manual Real, these six words at the top of the page are what you are going to hear before he passes down a judgement, usually without the benefit of evaluating oral argument. According to articles across the internet from attorneys and litigants alike, he’s going to read this judgement from a piece of paper prepared by a law clerk. He generally (and unambiguously) sides with the government and prosecutors alike. His reversal rate on appeal is ten times that of any federal judge in the entire country. Even if Courthouse News ever sees a fair trial on the merits of their case, they will be into their attorneys for tens of thousands of dollars in needless legal fees caused by cognitive disconnect and a trust in ones’ handlers.

Federal judges have an awesome benefit of a lifetime appointment and it takes an act of congress to remove a federal judge. Of course, sometimes those lifetime appointments, much like the near lifetime appointments of certain assigned judges like our friend Jack Halpin in Shasta County has real consequences. A staggering 35% of people over the age of 60 years will suffer from dementia in their lifetime. That dear readers means that one out of three of you that makes it past 60 years of age will suffer from this incurable affliction. By many accounts, our own Jack Halpin who had a virtual lifetime appointment to the Shasta county bench courtesy of consecutive chief justices also suffered from dementia.

So it comes to us as no surprise that the Judicial Council’s litigation management committee would put their full faith and credit (and your trial courts cash) into a judge that can be easily manipulated because he is clearly showing signs of dementia. I mean, what law clerk drafting judgments for someone in an effort to cover up for their affliction wouldn’t be swayed by a future job prospect? There is no law against it and it happens far more often than we would wish to admit. Due to the independence of a trial judges courtroom, other judges might not be inclined to point out that there might be a problem because one out of three of them will also be afflicted by dementia some time in their own post sixty year old lifetimes. Appellate courts are a different animal altogether. Justices of the appellate courts routinely interact with their colleagues to come to a mutual decision and will often encourage their dementia afflicted colleagues to retire. Appellate justices are often the only thing that stands between a litigant and a bogus judgment that was produced by those who are propping up a dementia afflicted judge.

The ninth circuits reversal, one of many against judge Manual Real was clearly warranted. However, as to the real pain for courthouse news, that process is about to begin.

Related Articles:

World Health Organization on dementia (link)

Judge Real – Wikipedia (link)

Judge Real and the surreal case against Alex Sanchez (link)

C-Span – Judge Real’s 2006 impeachment inquiry (link) 1 hr 51 mins

Judge Real’s rulings favored companies in which he owned stock (link)

Real Trouble (ABA Journal) 

Courthouse News – Courthouse News Wins First Amendment Battle in 9th Circuit