Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Travelogue of Corrupt Judges

When I first considered writing a blog about my experiences in Alabama courts, I thought it would focus only on judicial corruption at the state level.

Never did I think it would focus on prosecutorial corruption at the federal level. Never did I think it would have connections to broader, more national issues. Never did I think I would see evidence in my own case of selective prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), a subject that now is the focus of a Congressional investigation.

But your humble blogger has learned that blogs can morph. And so Legal Schnauzer has come to focus on multiple topics--judicial corruption and prosecutorial corruption, wrongdoing in Alabama's judicial branch and its connections to Alabama's executive branch.

I was fighting a bogus lawsuit for about a year and half, paying lawyers almost $12,000, before I realized that J. Michael Joiner, a circuit judge in Shelby County, Alabama, was cheating me blind. Enough strange rulings came down--and I received enough nonsensical answers from my lawyers--that I was motivated to spend hours and hours at the Jefferson County Law Library, learning the law that applied to my case.

Finally, I realized that the judge was crooked, and my own lawyers had to know it. But it was clear my lawyers were more interested in gaining favor with a judge in Alabama's wealthiest county than they were in fulfilling their duty under the law to represent their client honestly and zealously. And I suspect they are hardly the only lawyers who would stand by silently in the face of blatant judicial wrongdoing.

But you know what? At the time it dawned on me that I was being cheated, I thought this must be an isolated case. I thought I was just unlucky; it didn't occur to me that judicial corruption was widespread, that people all over the country were routinely being cheated. But again, research showed me an unpleasant truth: Judicial corruption is a coast-to-coast problem.

And then, early this year, I became aware of the controversial firings of eight U.S. attorneys in the Bush Department of Justice (DOJ). Before long, the DOJ scandal expanded, and evidence surfaced that the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was politically motivated. Alabama remained on center stage when U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) helped initiate a Congressional investigation into selective prosecution by the DOJ.

I learned to look at state-level judicial corruption through the lens of the evolving federal scandal. And the ties between the two became clear. Corruption cases tend to involve money, mail, telephones, computers. That's why corruption cases--even those that involve a mayor, a governor, a state judge--usually end up in federal court.

So let's take a broader look at judicial corruption. After all, the problem goes way beyond my case.

And let's take a federal perspective with us. While states have judicial oversight groups--Alabama's is called the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission--they are notoriously weak. The only way to solve the problem of judicial corruption is through federal law enforcement.

We will start our travelogue of judicial corruption close to home--in the Deep South.

1 comment:

lilhippie said...

I know the feeling of corrupt judges and lawyers.I was cheated out of my childrens life due to my ex husbands family having lawyers, judges, and police officers for friends. I was not even living in the state of Alabama at the time, and my ex told the judge that I abandoned my childre with him and that I did not return. He lied cause my children were with me . Then he decided to pick them up for visitation, and thats the day he destroyed my childrens and my lifer. I did not get to see them anymore after that and it almost killed me. I recently found them but they are adults now, and my daughter blames me and wants nothing to do with me. It breaks my heart that I lost that precious time with them.I was a good mother and I loved them with all of my heart. He did not even have a job to support them and he lived with his sister. I had a job and a nice home, but they granted him custody under the grounds that I abandoned the kids. We were in Georgia, not Alabama, and I did not EVER abandon them. I found out that all the papers pertaining to the case have mysteriously disappeared, and no one is willing to help me to prove the facts to my daughter. Sadly enough, I lost out on her childhood and I guess now I will lose out on the rest of her life. My son remembers some, he does not blame me. He loves me.If I was ever asked to speak up in public about the corruptness that goes on, I surely would.