Tag Archives: Equal Protection Under The Law

OPINION: When The Doors To Justice Are Closed – Where Do You Go?

 

When the doors of justice are closed to you because of your race, it is painful, to say the least. And, when wrongdoing by officers of the court, such as judges and attorneys, is ignored, the sorrow of not being equal in your own country is without measure.

There are codified rules which are in place, which the courts are obligated to follow, but, there is a slight problem, if you are a Black person in Arizona, those rules do not seem to apply, and the wrongdoing is upheld in each and every venue. Of course, the purpose of having a Justice Court is vague, but rights are being denied to American citizens and Justice Court should be abolished. It’s employees act as if they are playing a game and many of them are unqualified and without proper knowledge as to the rules of court. And, unfortunately, the Office for Administration of the Courts does not even care that the Rules of Court are not followed in Justice Court, at least when it comes to a Black person. If they do not follow the rules of court, that office does not bother to really look into the issues, and those Justice Court employees are allowed to continue to run a court despite their failure to adhere to the Arizona Rules of court.

Another example, if a judge does something which violates  rules of conduct the judicial canons, one must take the matter to The Arizona Judicial Commission. In one case, a Judge named Adam Watters,  refused to seal medical records, stating that the court does not do such things, when, in fact, they do. And failure to do so is a violation of federal law, Arizona law and Arizona rules as well. However, the commission decided to give him a pass, even though he had been reprimanded before for wearing a judge’s robe in an ad when he ran for political office. They could reprimand him for wearing a robe, but not for violating the privacy of an American citizen? The medical information is now public record as the Superior Court law clerk used it in his so-called ruling.

Then there is Justice Susan  Bacal, who refused to recuse herself, for whatever reason, even though the party asserted that there had been prior contact with the party which was negative. And, in the opinion of the party, she exhibited a bias towards the party in favor of the White attorney. In fact, when the party appeared before her, after having filed an answer complaining as to the fact that the attorney had filed a pleading which was indeed based upon a false premise at no point other than for identification on the record, did the  judge address the party who responded in writing – in fact the party need not have even shown up as she was treated as if she were invisible. The judge ruled that the issue was “moot” without addressing the fact that the attorney had filed a false pleading, for which she should have been sanctioned. It appears as if the case remained under her supervision in order to enable Blythe Edmondson to prevail on behalf of her client … no matter what. For later, even the funds for the bond were released prior to exhaustion of appeals, which is also a violation of the rules of court. It is the opinion of this writer that the case was steered to Bacal for obvious reasons. Bacal  This writer wonders if the attorney and the judge are acquainted outside of the court. Apparently the Judicial Commission feels as if all of this is perfectly okay.

In Pima County Superior court, Judge Metcalf allowed a law student to respond to an appeal, and did so without the attorney for the opposing party even having entered an appearance, or pay the required fees. In fact, the ruling came down before the time for the opposing party to pay the fees had even expired! What was the rush? Did the attorney get a favor from the court or the student? It just so happens that the student is a law student at which the attorney still participates as a mentor. Did they have any contact? One may never know. But it is odd that an appeal was put on an illegal “fast track” in total contradiction to the normal pace of an appeal from Justice Court.

And then, there is the State Bar of Arizona, where, if you are a Black person who complains, an attorney can get away not only with violations of the ethical rules, but can lie to the investigator and be supported with full knowledge of the lies which are told. It appears as if the State Bar of Arizona is merely a clique of attorneys who are policing themselves while abusing their discretion when it come to Black complainants. (According Alberto Rodriguez of the State Bar Communications Department, the investigations department does not have any investigators who identify themselves as being Black or African-American.) Matt McGregor did not even afford the complaining party with the opportunity to provide clarifying or contradictory information which might have refuted what the attorney had stated in their response. Mr. McGregor did not even share the responses of the attorney until he wrote he “final” review. It appeared to the party that he had made up his mind prior to doing any investigation, and if he did not afford the party an opportunity to refute what Edmondson had stated, then he would not be bound by the truth of the matter at all, but could take the word of the attorney since it was the only word he had. Of course you can appeal it, but the Chief Bar Counsel, Maret Vessala will only support what the investigator, (Matt McGregor), stated, and in fact twist and distort issues in order to do so. Ms. Vessala, who has been with the bar for about twenty years, has a history with the complaining party, and once allowed attorneys to collude to prosecute another  individual without suffering any consequences, despite proof of their wrong-doing. One example of her non-factual attempt to support the attorney  is the fact that the party asserted that judge Pro Tem did not rule upon her counterclaim, while Edmondson falsely asserted that he had done so. (The employees, including Judge Watters, appear to have done everything that they could do to stop the default judgment of the counterclaim.) They insisted that he did issue a ruling, when he did not, and despite the fact that Edmondson admitted in open court that she did not reply, Vessala and McGregor insisted that he she did reply, but without stating when or where. But, because Edmondson asserted that she did reply, and, that the judge had ruled upon it, they attempted to misconstrue the record in order to support her false statements. They seemed hell-bent upon convincing themselves, because that is what they did in the end – convince themselves that the attorney must be telling the truth – because, after all, she is White, and the party making the allegations was Black. Surely the Black person must be either lying, or confused, or just not bright enough to understand simple language, let alone a court proceeding. (What they failed to realize or even check into was the fact that the party was a bona fide paralegal, who graduated with honors from a highly accredited program and nationally recognized as being one of the best programs in the state.)  There is much more which they allowed to go unpunished and unchecked, and this particular attorney is being allowed to roam the halls of justice without even so much as a slap on the wrist while she engages in behavior that is contrary to the ethical rules of the State Bar. But, she is White and the complaining party is Black. One is not left with any other reasonable conclusion than to believe that there is indeed motivation based upon race, especially after presenting on numerous occasions conduct for which their should be penalized.

So when the doors of justice refuse to open, what does one do? One continues to fight and soldiers on until the truth is known far and wide. One takes it to the next level, federal court. One takes it to the press. One does not accept being treated as less than. One does not accept their constitutional rights being violated or ignored. One does not waive their constitutional rights to equal protection under the law. One fights until they win and equal justice is achieved.

https://tucson.com/news/local/steller-column-judges-question-hiring-of-pima-court-official-linked/article_7b638840-bf23-5b91-9e65-e248e66dcc47.html

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Opinion: When Justice Takes A Holiday

 

Every American citizen believes, (or wants to believe), that when it is time for their day in court, they will receive fair and equitable treatment. After all, even Jeffery Dahmer received a fair trial. However, if you are a person of color, your hopes are dashed, because some within the system see it as an opportunity to take ‘ a day off’ from the rules of justice, even the laws.  You walk in hopeful … you walk out disappointed, and, in some cases, hurt.  It seems as if  people of color are not considered equal and entitled to equal protection under the law. That’s when one loses their center of gravity, because all you ever believed in turns out to be a fantasy. Even though the reality was not ever addressed to you, you still bought it, because no one ever told you that it was not intended for you.

This does not just happen in criminal court, but it happens in civil court as well. Every person in the room, comes equipped with their own personal biases and stereotypes. And, in most cases, (not all), that includes the opposing attorney and the judge. You can be right, but no one hears your words, no one reads what you have written. Your skin tone speaks for you, and you are immediately dismissed.

If you quote a statute, you are ignored, because, after all, you are not even supposed to be able to read. If you represent yourself on something as small as a landlord/tenant dispute, if the opposing party is represented by an attorney, then a possible friendship or ‘professional loyalty‘ comes into play, and your standing is immediately diminished.  Indeed, there are fair judges within a county, but they are few and far between. And, one does breathe a sigh of relief when one encounters that rare, fair and unbiased judge. And that old saying about the person who represents themselves has a fool for a client is one which may have been created to keep attorneys with their jobs.

Many may not remember the Eddie Murphy skit about how things are different between the majority and minorities. Sure it was over-the-top comedy, but in some ways, in the American judicial system, it seems to ring very true.

But you stand there anyway, presenting your case, hoping that your words are at least heard and understood. You don’t give up, you present your evidence, only to soon learn that ‘your’ evidence does not matter. You may as well have presented a ‘kite’, because essentially, at the end, you feel that what was figuratively said to you was to “go fly a kite” . Once away from the court, you can not help but feel violated, cheated and hurt.  It is as if someone picked you up and shook you like a rag doll.

But what can be done?  One thing that can be done is to vote. Read up on the reviews of a judge and vote judges with poor reviews out of that position.  So many people just vote ‘yes’ on all of the judges, and that is a mistake. Take the time to research. Your vote counts and it is important that you exercise your personal responsibility to be a well-informed voter.

On paper, the American justice system is the best in the world.  And every single American is entitled to access to the fair and unbiased system which is not only on paper, but in the hearts and minds of all Americans.  It is instilled in our minds practically as soon as we can read and understand. It’s literally a promise. So, it is we, the American people, who have to hold that system to its word.

It should be the goal of everyone in this country to make certain that justice never, ever takes a holiday. It is not just people of color who suffer as a result, it’s America.

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/eddie-murphy-1984-snl-skit-white-privilege-article-1.2409222

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/07/20/why-the-u-s-court-system-is-criminally-unjust/?noredirect=on

https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/01/american-justice-system-broken/https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/01/american-justice-system-broken/

 

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Filed under Injustice, Law & Justice, Opinion, Politics, Radar Opinion