Saturday, April 28, 2012

When Media Protects a Bad Judge

Not exactly sure how long media has been "declining" to identify judges who make bad, to lethal rulings, (see but am sure those judges are pretty happy about it. Particularly in an election year.

The Fourth Estate has a duty to the public to change the way judges are covered.  The public cannot be expected to make wise voting choices if the so-called "Watch dog press" remains a lap dog.

For a brief list of some judges enjoying the benefits of media blessed anonymity see the "Archives" section of

As the voting public deserves better, voters could write letters to editors requesting better coverage.  Particularly in Family Court.  The nation's largest, busiest court, most used, most often - for the longest period of time, court.

Judging Judges

Dear America, Is Anyone paying attention? How about Judge Gregory Pollack? Voters? These are the people we selected. Lets get busy. There's a lot of doing that needs to be undone.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More on those state, sweet rides

Top manager resigns amid probe of idle state vehicles
By Andrew McIntosh
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009

A top Department of General Services manager resigned and a Department of Transportation employee was reassigned Tuesday as the Schwarzenegger administration reacted to an investigation by The Bee that found officials spent $5.5 million on new vehicles this year but left many idle and gathering dust for months.

Kathleen Webb, a Department of General Services deputy director who oversaw the state's vehicle fleet, offered to resign during a probe into the purchase of $1.2 million worth of hybrid Toyota Priuses, said Erin Shaw, a spokeswoman for the State and Consumer Services Agency, which oversees the General Services department.

"Her resignation, effective Oct. 31, was accepted," Shaw said.

Webb, who was appointed by the Schwarzenegger administration on June 12, 2008, earned $106,800 a year.

The Bee reported that the Priuses sat parked on the roof of the state garage for months, even as legislators nearby slashed state spending, cut state worker pay and eliminated key public services after tax revenue plunged and they needed to balance the budget.

In a related move, Mark DeSio, a spokesman for Caltrans, confirmed that an agency employee had been reassigned. It was part of a personnel action launched in connection with a number of truck purchases made earlier this year, including a flurry on June 30 – the last day of the state's fiscal year.

DeSio said that because of state personnel and privacy rules, he could not name the employee, give details about the reassignment or say why the employee had been disciplined.

The actions came late Tuesday, after Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said at a morning news briefing that officials were investigating vehicle purchases that The Bee had highlighted and would act, if warranted.

"We want to make sure that taxpayers' dollars are being used effectively," McLear said.

The Bee reported Monday that General Services and Caltrans spent more than $5.5 million on new trucks and cars earlier this year but left many idle.

Thirty-seven of the 50 Prius hybrids that General Services bought in February had no committed buyers among other departments at the time. They're now being converted into plug-in electric vehicles as part of a pilot project – with more public money.

The Bee also reported that Caltrans bought dozens more trucks while it still had pickups and larger trucks parked in its yard that it had purchased in 2006, 2007 and 2008, some with extended warranties ticking away. Those vehicles are sitting idle in Caltrans yards beneath or beside Highway 50, awaiting final assembly.

Monday night, Dale E. Bonner, secretary of the state's Business, Transportation & Housing Agency, sent a letter urging Caltrans Director Randell Iwasaki and his officials to cut spending and "wisely" buy only items "critical to the health and safety of Californians."

"Given the impact of the recession on the California economy, and the continuing strain on the state's budget, it is very important that every employee in our organization share responsibility for preserving resources, spending wisely, and incurring expenses solely on things that are critical to the health and safety of Californians," Bonner wrote.

Fred Aguiar, head of the State and Consumer Services Agency, also blasted his Department of General Services for spending the $1.2 million on the Priuses and letting them sit for months.

"The fact that the Department of General Services purchased fifty Priuses and let them sit longer than necessary is completely and totally unacceptable. As soon as agency became aware that those cars were sitting unused, I immediately ordered the department to put them into circulation," Aguiar said in a statement.

Acting General Services Director Ron Diedrich, asked to comment on Aguiar's remarks, said he agreed, adding: "The taxpayers of California expect more from government, and I will work to ensure that they get it."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Media Prohibiting Judicial Transparency

Although a number of in print and television reports have covered the murder of toddler Cole Frazier, not a single editor or producer chose to reveal the name of the judge who signed the order resulting in the police taking Cole Frazier from his mother, Candice Dempsey, and delivering the toddler over to his father, Timothy Frazier, who had earlier agreed to supervised visitation, in a custody matter.

Timothy Frazier instead, manufactured a story and obtained an "Emergency Protective Order" to win temporary custody. Shortly after Timothy Frazier shot their son, Cole Fraizer and them himself.

As this nightmare began with a judicial order, journalism anyone?

The signing judge was Judge John David, "Jack" Seay. Judge Seay can be found on and case info at

The question of Why the fourth estate is depriving voters of critical information remains unanswered.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mississippi Judge Bobby DeLaughter Admits He Lied to FBI

Mississippi judge Bobby DeLaughter pleads guilty to lying to FBI agent

Miss. — Mississippi judge Bobby DeLaughter pleaded guilty to an obstruction of justice charge after lying to an FBI agent during an investigation into corruption.

In return for DeLaughter admitting guilt, conspiracy and mail fraud charges were dropped by prosecutors.

Previously, DeLaughter had been accused of giving an unfair advantage to former attorney Richard Richard "Dickie" Scruggs; who won millions from asbestos lawsuits.

(Scruggs, father and son, are in prison.)

Prosecutors recommended an 18-month prison sentence for Delaughter.

To make a report on other judges, see or,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Ohio's Significant Report

Between Ohio judges steering cases towards the favored few, Ohio's Divorce Court problems mirror California's.

Including, as noted in the report:

The high-court's performance review recommended more than 90 improvements and labeled 28 of them as "critical" enough to demand immediate action. Many of the concerns dealt with problems first disclosed in a series of stories published in The Plain Dealer.

In March, the newspaper reported that Domestic Relations Judge James Celebrezze steered hundreds of thousands of dollars of work to his longtime friend Mark Dottore, who charged $225 an hour to handle assets in divorce cases.

The newspaper also found that Celebrezze and his daughter, Leslie Ann, who replaced him on the bench after he retired in December 2008, used teams of special masters to mediate divorce cases rather than doing the work themselves.

Scanned from a handout January 29, 2008. Domestic Relations Judge Leslie Ann Celebrezze

In their 91-page report, Supreme Court investigators seized on the questionable practices.

When appointing receivers, their report noted, a judge must do so impartially and on the basis of merit, while avoiding favoritism and unnecessary appointments. The fees, they added, must be "reasonable, fair and affordable."

They went on to caution that, with few exceptions, a judge has no authority to appoint special masters to perform what essentially is the judge's job."

The difference between Ohio and California is the difference between night and day.

Where Ohio first admitted, then chooses to squarely face the problems judges cause, California judges from the top down, will not.

Although Chief Justice Ronald George "invited the public to apply" to the Elkins Task Force, tellingly, not a single member of the public was selected to serve.

The task force instead, is replete with some of the very people the public clearly does not accept as credible, including San Diego's member, Judge Lorna Alksne.

The Elkins Task Force which held promise, quickly deteriorated after those selected were first chosen, and second, began missing meetings.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sheriff's Sweet Ride

When it comes to gouging the public, the hits just keep coming.

The Sheriff's Sweet Rides

One of the $32,000-plus Dodge Chargers recently purchased by the Sheriff's Department for upper-level administrators sits in the agency's parking garage.
By WILL CARLESS Voice Staff Writer

Friday, April 4, 2008 | At least four upper-level administrators at the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, including Deputy Sheriff Bill Gore, currently drive top-of-the-range Dodge Chargers, cars that cost San Diego taxpayers between $32,615 and $35,459 apiece.

The Chargers are equipped with powerful V-8 "Hemi" engines and feature leather seats. They're part of a fleet of vehicles the Sheriff's Department provides for mid- and upper- level managers from the sheriff himself to the department's information technology chief information officer. The current fleet cost taxpayers almost $780,000.

At a time when many local law enforcement agencies are cutting back on costs across the board, good government advocates questioned the provision of take-home cars to administrators, who are not on patrol or working on investigations, and the purchase of expensive, non fuel-efficient vehicles.

"Why do those employees need county owned-cars, and why such expensive cars?" said Bob Stern, president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies, and a former attorney for the state Fair Political Practices Commission. "It comes down to the appropriate use of taxpayer money at a time of belt-tightening."

All Sheriff's Department vehicles, including those driven by office workers and lawyers, are also fitted with license plates known in law enforcement circles as "undercover plates," rather than the standard California Exempt plates, leaving them indistinguishable from non-government vehicles. That policy is defended by Gore, but California law provides for the use of unmarked plates only by officers involved with investigations. The department's policy is also at odds with other local California law enforcement agencies.

Gore said the Sheriff's Department purchased the $32,000-plus Dodge Chargers for the managers as part of a deal that included buying five Chargers for the department's patrol fleet. He said the Chargers were purchased so he and some of his managers could try out the vehicles to see if they would make good patrol cars.
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They've since decided that the cars are not ideally suited for patrol use.

The V-8 version of the Charger retails at more than $10,000 more than the standard V-6 model. Gore said the decision to buy the more powerful, better-equipped model was up to Sheriff Bill Kolender.

"We don't get the cheapest cars we can get, that's a decision made by the sheriff. That's not the way he operates -- that's not the way he treats his senior management," Gore said.

The practice of providing take-home vehicles to mid- and upper-level administrators at the Sheriff's Department has irked managers in other county departments for decades. With the exception of the District Attorney's Office, the county only provides vehicles or a vehicle allowance to department heads.

The Sheriff's Department provides a range of different vehicles for its administrative staff, Gore said. Most employees drive Ford Five Hundreds, which cost the department about $24,500. Gore said some employees -- those who are on-call or who work in the field -- can take their cars home and drive them to and from work, but that the extent to which the cars can be used outside of strictly driving to official engagements depends on each position.

The Sheriff's Department's policy of providing vehicles to administrators and managers also goes beyond what is offered at other county departments and has been a bone of contention at the county for decades. In other county departments, take-home vehicles or car allowances are rare and are usually only offered to department heads.

Gore said the Sheriff's Department has concluded that it's more cost-effective to provide employees with cars than to pay staff mileage rates. That's something the Sheriff's Department will be re-assessing this year, he said.

But Stern scoffed at the idea that providing take-home cars is cheaper for taxpayers.

"I can't believe that's the case. This is a perk, it's a way to recruit people," Stern said. "If you're going to give them a car, give them a Prius, not a gas-guzzling $35,000 car."

A 2007 Dodge Charger gets an average of 15 miles per gallon, according to a government fuel economy website. A 2007 Prius gets 46 mpg, and a 2007 Ford Taurus, the workhorse of many law enforcement agencies, gets 20 mpg.

Officials at other sheriff's departments and police departments around the state expressed amusement and sometimes shock when told about the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's new Dodge Chargers.

"I think that's a ridiculous car for law enforcement officers," said Ugo "Butch" Arnoldi, a senior lieutenant at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. "I don't think that would be the best vehicle for an administrator, let me put it that way."

Arnoldi, who has been a law enforcement officer for 35 years, said there are other vehicles, like the Ford Crown Victoria, which are far more fuel-efficient and much better value for law enforcement use.

All the sheriff's vehicles also feature the undercover plates. Because government agencies do not pay registration fees on their vehicles, they are normally required to fit those vehicles with licenses that read "California Exempt."

The exempt plates are a signal to taxpayers that the vehicle is paid for out of tax dollars, said David Kline, a spokesman for the California Taxpayers' Association. The plates allow the public to ensure the vehicles are being used in a suitable way, he said, that government employees aren't speeding at 100 miles per hour or using their vehicles to travel to Disneyland on the weekend.

"It's a more efficient and cheaper way than painting every car with a government insignia of letting people know how their tax dollars are being spent," Kline said.

A section of the California Vehicle Code makes an exception for law enforcement vehicles "assigned to persons responsible for investigating actual or suspected violations of the law." For those vehicles, the DMV will provide license plates that look just like normal plates, so law enforcement officers retain their anonymity out in the field. Those are the plates that the San Diego Sheriff's Department puts on all its vehicles.

Gore said each vehicle the Sheriff's Department buys is passed around the department from detectives to administrators, to lawyers to undercover cops. He said because the department doesn't know who might be driving the vehicles at any given time, it has a policy of providing all the cars with the undercover plates. That's standard at most California law enforcement agencies, he said.

But that's not the case at the San Diego Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the San Francisco Police Department or the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department, among others. Officials at all these agencies said the undercover plates are only issued to police officers who need to operate incognito, including undercover officers or wardens at county jails who do not want their identity to be known by inmates who might see them park their car.

"It's standard operating procedure, when a car comes in for a chief, a captain or a lieutenant, unless they're in an undercover assignment, they don't get undercover plates," said John Alley, deputy director of the San Diego Police Department's Fleet Services Division.

Stern said there are other reasons why the Sheriff's Department doesn't want its vehicles to have California Exempt license plates that distinguish them as taxpayer-bought vehicles.

"If they're taking the car up to Yosemite, people aren't looking at the car saying 'Hey, why's that car in Yosemite?' " Stern said.

Please contact Will Carless directly with your thoughts, ideas, personal stories or tips. Or send a letter to the editor.