Nobody is above the law.
Well, except sometimes, when you’re a California judge.
We generally make it a point to shy away legal cases and focus on what is wrong with the judicial branch. Mostly what is wrong with the judicial branch can be found in San Francisco. However……sometimes we see a series of incidents where evidence shows ample reason to believe that a crime has been committed and thus the public trust in the judicial branch as an institution is undermined by the actions of court officials.
Things like a pattern of court record destruction and court record falsifications fall high on our exceptions list. We mention them and then we move on. Today is one of those days.
When we look at how other states handle judicial crimes, we see grand juries convened and indictments passed down. Sometimes we see judges in other states go to prison. Yet we really haven’t seen that in California because what California has to protect the public trust is a political exoneration committee that is occasionally leveraged as a weapon against those who speak out and generally want the judicial branch to do the right thing.
These folks are called the Commission on Judicial Performance.
If you’re a member of the “in crowd” at 455 golden gate you can rest assured you will never appear before the commission. There’s a number of ways to become a member of the in crowd as well. The most interesting of which runs along the lines of extortion. You’re a judicial official that has done something highly questionable and you get an incentive to join the team and exalt the virtues of our fine leadership and turning a blind-eye to… well…. everything questionable.
After all, someone turned a blind eye to your indiscretion and might have memorialized it with a William C Vickrey leadership in judicial administration award. In turn, you’re asked to simply overlook something insignificant like a price tag that is two hundred times what it should have cost to deliver ccms to the courts. Or a courtroom remodeling job that costs two to four times what it should have cost. Or reclassifying court records after the fact that were intentionally shredded to avoid subpoenas or audits.
All of this servers to greatly undermine the credibility of the leadership circle that sits in the star chamber, the commission on judicial performance and by extension, the judicial branch as a whole. Yet there are hundreds and hundreds of judges statewide that practice impeccable ethics and make our system work for the common man.
It’s a cozy relationship and frankly, it fools no one inside the branch though many of us do not discuss it because it is a breach of ethics to discuss what might be pending or impending litigation. It fools everyone outside the branch because the “they could never do such a thing because they stand for justice” belief is factored in.
Except when it isn’t.
For quite awhile now we’ve been keeping our eye upon the Marin County Courts due to the many indiscretions that have happened under that Frank Lloyd Wright designed roof and frankly, have observed disturbing patterns and all-too-cozy relationships. These relationships have served to severely undermine the public trust in the Marin County courts.
Sadly, in the ongoing saga of all that is wrong with this courthouse we add another and it is termed evidence tampering. Codified in Government Code section 6200, CA Penal Code sections 182 and 96.5, RICO, 18 U.S. Code 1512 we find this pattern of lawlessness, overly cozy relationships with law firms and a marked lack of accountability appalling.
We also concur with the recommended solution set forth in the below complaint and believe that a few public officials in Marin county should be removed from office.