Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Obama Department Of Justice Finally Takes A Stand, By Cracking Down on Traffic-Ticket Fraud In Philly

If  you asked average Americans to describe President Barack Obama's philosophy on justice issues, you probably would be greeted with blank stares.

That would happen partly because many average Americans don't keep up with justice issues. But it also would happen, in part, because Obama has taken precious few strong stands on fundamental matters of right and wrong. In fact, the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ), under Attorney General Eric Holder, is known mostly for having amoeba-like qualities--it's a shapeless blob that doesn't stand for much of anything. And Holder is making a strong case for himself as the most ineffectual attorney general in U.S. history.

But a breaking story out of Philadelphia has provided insights into what we might call "The Obama Doctrine" on justice issues, and here it is:

"We won't do a thing about cases involving war crimes, financial fraud, or prosecutorial misconduct. But, by God, we are going to make the world safe from traffic-ticket scofflaws."

That seems to be the take-home lesson from last week's report that nine current or former traffic-court judges in Philadelphia have been indicted for conspiracy and fraud, involving a widespread scheme to fix traffic tickets for those who are well connected. A court clerk and two businessmen also were indicted. Here is a description of the charges, from a report at philly.com:

The charges, outlined in a 77-count indictment, described "a well-understood conspiracy of silence" that created two distinct courts: one where typical citizens paid for their infractions, and a second where offenders with the right connections won acquittals or saw their fines or cases disappear. . . .

The indictment alleged that a practice was more the rule than the exception--judges or their assistants shredding documents, shifting cases to friendly judges, and hiding behind code words. Instead of bluntly asking a colleague to quash a ticket, judges allegedly asked for "consideration" on certain cases and then watched them disappear. 
Consideration, the indictment said, was reserved for friends and relatives, ward leaders, and contractors or merchants who could trade favors of their own. Requests came by phone, in person, and in notes dropped in a box at a local bar.

A reasonable citizen might ask, "Why is this a federal matter?" Public-corruption cases almost always involve the use of federal wires or mail systems, and often include the exchange of money, so that gives the DOJ jurisdiction.

Perhaps the bigger question is this: Why did the Obama Justice Department spend three years investigating traffic tickets in Philadelphia while it has ignored far more serious wrongdoing around the country?

Let's consider just a few of the stories we've reported here at Legal Schnauzer:

* Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman sits in a Louisiana federal prison because of bribery charges that were brought almost one full year after the statute of limitations had expired. The prosecution team, led by Bush-era U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, engaged in rampant misconduct; powerful evidence points to juror misconduct; and U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller gave jury instructions that did not match the applicable law.

* Mississippi lawyer Paul Minor and former state judge John Whitfield sit in federal prisons because U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate gave jury instructions on honest-services fraud that did not come close to matching the actual law. Another former state judge, Wes Teel, has been released after serving his sentence for a crime he did not commit.

* Bonnie Cahalane, a Clanton, Alabama, resident, recently spent almost five months in jail because of an alleged debt connected to her divorce case. Alabama law plainly states that a litigant is not subject to contempt of court or imprisonment because of a property-related debt from the dissolution of a marriage. Chilton County Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds threw Ms. Cahalane in jail anyway and has unlawfully forced her to place her house for sale.

* Sherry Rollins, a Birmingham resident, and her two daughters have spent more than seven years under an unlawful divorce judgment issued by Shelby County Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson. The order wildly favors Ted Rollins, the CEO of Campus Crest Communities and Ms. Rollins' former husband. Ted Rollins also just happens to belong to one of the nation's wealthiest families, the folks behind Orkin Pest Control. Sherry Rollins initiated divorce proceedings in Greenville, South Carolina, where the family lived, and the case was litigated there for three years. Ted Rollins somehow got the venue changed when it appeared he was going to receive unfavorable outcomes in Greenville. Crowson took the case, even though black-letter law shows he had no jurisdiction.

* U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr. granted summary judgment in my employment lawsuit against the University of Alabama System, even though I was not allowed to conduct any discovery. Black-letter federal law says summary judgment cannot be considered, much less granted, when the opposing party has not been allowed to conduct adequate discovery. Acker flagrantly violated his oath to uphold the law by denying the right to conduct discovery that would prove my case.

Three of the cases noted above originated in federal courts, so the DOJ clearly has jurisdiction to investigate those matters. The two others--the Cahalane and Rollins cases--involve state-court public corruption and probable use of federal mails or wires, which also would invoke federal jurisdiction.

All five cases involve wrongdoing that is far more serious than that alleged in Philadelphia. But has the Obama DOJ looked at any of these cases? We've seen no sign of it. And those are only a few such cases that we've raised here--on one blog, in one state.

To be clear, we are all for nailing corrupt traffic-court judges. Those are publicly funded positions, and they should not be sullied by bribery and fraud. But the Obama DOJ would be taken much more seriously if it addressed corruption across the board, especially in cases that involve serious abuses of the public trust.

How flimsy is the Philadelphia case? Two of the indicted judges are charged with fixing one traffic ticket each.

Can we all say, "Good grief"?

Meanwhile, Mark Fuller, Henry Wingate, Sibley Reynolds, Al Crowson, William Acker Jr., and countless other judicial thugs continue to serve.

We are glad to see the Obama DOJ has awakened to the problem of courtroom corruption. But the Philadelphia story appears to be a classic case of worrying about the wart on your butt while your pants are on fire.


Bo said...

Glad to see Eric Holder has his priorities in order. God, is he worthless!

Anonymous said...

Traffic court judges are corrupt, but all other judges are squeaky clean? Does the Obama crowd seriously want us to believe that?

Spasmoda said...

The article at philly.com portrays working stiffs as the ones who benefited from this corrupt system. I find that hard to believe. You mean to tell me that lawyers at some of the big firms in downtown Philly didn't get their tickets quashed?

Anonymous said...

Our tax dollars at work. It took the DOJ three years to figure out this traffic ticket scam.

Anonymous said...

As for drones killing civilians . . . ah, that's not a problem.

Anonymous said...

Would by chance the DUI rackets be included in this? Should be!

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:50--

You ask a great question. My guess is that DUIs are handled in a different court. DUIs, in most jurisdictions, are a criminal matter--at least, that is my understanding.

I have no doubt, however, that many drunk drivers around the country get off if they have the right connections.

Anonymous said...

Heck, these judges don't even have to be lawyers. I guess a potted plant could sit on that bench?

Anonymous said...

What's with Mike Hubbard announcing a bill that would consolidate all law enforcement in Alabama? That reeks of NWO! I've voted republican my entire life and never will again! These Alabama republicans are a scam on the people!

TLR said...

I'm betting Main Justice doesn't even know about this case. Probably just something the local USA felt passionate about--or more likely, the local USA thought it was an easy way to advance his or her career.

legalschnauzer said...

Good point, TLR. We certainly have seen here in AL that DOJ doesn't tend to provide much oversight over USAs in the field.

Anonymous said...

DUII is RICO, huge.

The "Professional Liability Fund" [PLF] not only pays for the lawyers and doctors who and whom are very sick in a disease of one sort or another ~~

But, ~~IT is of course the JUDICIAL and its' very deep pockets to live off the people, while the cult of robed tyrants hammering US with gavels, sanctions, etc, do whatever that can be gotten away with.

Ask the current "President" !! Not educated in law, no not by any stretch of an imagination.

What do we have in America?

FRAUD as our top and every rung on the ladder to the bottom.

We have a system of make believe "law," which is how the criminals get to lie, cheat, steal and kill, all that disobey ~~"laws"~~

~~Color that is~~Color of law overrides the U.S. Constitution.

DUII is the greatest racket and the Nazi court system loves to put slaves in their places - prison, ankle bracelet tracking devices that of course trade and exchange in the "judges'" portfolios. The Corrections Corporation of America, CCA, RICO of course.

There is an honest broker in the U.S. of A. as a "Judge."


"... The tide is turning: Judges are starting to rise against ObamaNazi Judges, who harass and intimidate with bogus sanctions attorneys who provide the courts with evidence of forgery in fraud in Obama’s IDs. Please, see below information on sanctions brought against patriots by judges in Nazi Germany, you will see the pattern ...

see FACEBOOK photo of Supreme Court Richard Sanders, from the State of Washington.

One out of how many, though!?

Eric Holder has given new meaning to the word FRAUD.

Redeye said...

Can we all say, "Good grief"?


jeffrey spruill said...

And Holder is making a strong case for himself as the most ineffectual attorney general in U.S. history.


At least the Bush/Rove DOJ stood for setting up those they perceived as their political enemies- however paranoid it was.


Anonymous said...

LS, there is far more money in working a deal on a DUI for the attorney and judges. Especially when they own the DUI school! Why throw people in jail and cost taxpayers money when they can make a killing and extort thousands from each individual?