|Sam Alito (right) with a fishing guide|
Every conservative justice on the U.S. Supreme Court is involved in a scandal of recent vintage, according to a report at The New Republic (TNR). Such a state of affairs does not seem to surprise longtime Alabama attorney Donald Watkins, who has almost 50 years of legal practice under his belt. In fact, Watkins writes in an item yesterday (6/25/23) at his Facebook page that he has seen judicial corruption up close for years, and he plans to write an article that explains how crookedness has become entrenched in America's judiciary, and why many prosecutors have taken a hands-off approach to wayward judges -- even though the problem is getting worse, not better.
That raises this question: If the nation's highest court is a cesspool of corruption, how bad are America's lower courts? Our answer -- based on personal experience or from reporting on the experiences of other litigants -- is that our courts at all levels (state, federal, trial, appellate) are bad, very bad. Best we can tell, they all need to be fumigated.
So, what is an American -- likely raised to believe judges are honorable, and courts are citadels of justice -- to do or think?
We don't know of an easy, or re-assuring, answer to that question, but we do know this: Neither the TNR report nor the Watkins Facebook post surprise us here at Legal Schnauzer. When it comes to the deplorable state of America's "justice system," the scales fell from our eyes years ago. When we started this blog in June 2007, the first post was about blatant judicial corruption we had experienced firsthand in the judicial hellhole of Shelby County, AL, just south of Birmingham. Our blog recently passed its 16th anniversary, and our impression of America's courts has only gotten worse.
In fact, Mrs. Schnauzer and I currently are engaged in a federal case in the Western District of Missouri that is emitting the familiar foul odor of corruption. To be charitable (for now), we will say the court has issued a number of "peculiar" rulings -- and by peculiar, we mean rulings that appear to fall well outside the facts and law that are supposed to govern the case.
We recently uncovered evidence that Judge M. Douglas Harpool never should have taken the case because he was disqualified from the outset -- and he proceeded to issue rulings in favor of the party at the heart of the grounds for his disqualification. If we are on target about that, and I'm quite sure that we are, it means all of his rulings in the case -- many of which, surprise, surprise, have gone against us -- are due to be vacated as void. (See Liljeberg v. Health Services Acquisition Corp, 486 US 847 - Supreme Court, 1988).
Were not talking about a run-of-the mill case here. It involves serious constitutional issues of civil rights, invoking the First, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments. It involves a serious personal injury, requiring more than eight hours of trauma surgery, and countless hours of physical therapy, for repair. (Medical records indicate the primary plaintiff's life likely was in danger during a complex surgical procedure, which left plaintiff with a hospital bill of more than $80,000. Even with apparently top-notch care, plaintiff is looking at a best-case scenario where she will lose up to 25 percent use of a limb, not counting possible future complications. Despite all of that, we see signs that the plaintiff is, to put it bluntly, being screwed. (More about this case, and related issues, is coming in upcoming posts.)
How did our courts get so rotten? Let's start with insight from TNR, which presents evidence the rot starts at the top, with the nation's highest court. From a TNR newsletter, which notes that the magazine plans to enhance its coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court. Writes CEO and publisher Michael Caruso:
[Recent] shocking revelations about Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett mean that every single sitting conservative justice is now tainted by a financial scandal.
At this point, their collective lack of transparency and stubborn refusal to adopt a real code of ethics are just a blatant middle finger to ordinary Americans.
Three justices—Barrett and Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas—are involved in previously undisclosed real-estate scandals, selling properties to people who have had business before the court. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the court came after the dark-money group Judicial Crisis Network spent $10 million backing his nomination. Thomas is in a league of his own, scandal-wise, with more than two decades of financial ties to billionaire and Nazi-memorabilia collector Harlan Crow, who has had business before the court.
John Roberts, whose role as chief justice makes him the only member who can force transparency on the Supreme Court, has flat-out refused to do so. Could that be because he is also involved? Roberts oversaw cases involving multiple law firms that paid his wife for consulting services—to the tune of more than $10 million.
The conservative court has made a practice of cozying up to Republican donors and right-wing corporate interests, handing down rulings that have wreaked havoc on middle-class and working-class Americans, while sweeping these obvious conflicts of interests under the rug.
We believe, along with historic Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” The New Republic’s newly launched Supreme Court Watch is an important part of our mission to shine a spotlight on corruption and attempts to subvert democracy, and we are laser-focused on this month’s revelations and controversial opinions.
Donald Watkins has witnessed judicial sleaze from a front-row seat as a longtime attorney, and his recent Facebook post shows just how ugly and deep the sewage can get:
This ProPublica article on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito exposes another story on how the super-rich bribe Supreme Court justices. This article is about Justice Samuel Alito, who is Clarence Thomas' ideological twin in more ways than you can imagine. You should read the article.The Supreme Court votes of Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito can be bought all day long with free and unreported trips on private jets and luxury vacations at exotic ports of call. As far as these justices are concerned, "justice" in the Supreme Court can be fairly administered in your favor, if you reward them for a favorable outcome with free trips, luxury vacations, and other acts of personal hospitality. Their so-called "judicial philosophy" merely serves as a pretext and cover for their selfish acts of bribery.Political "whoring" within the ranks of federal and state judges has been around for a long-time. All judges know about it. Most judges tolerate it by looking the other way and pretending that it does not exist. I was first exposed to this "whoring" in the 1970s. The scheme at that time, which excluded black attorneys and judges in Alabama, involved the practice of allowing the state and federal judges to win large sums of money from lawyers with cases pending before them in illegal poker games at local country clubs. The luxury hunting and fishing trips and vacations emerged as a form of bribery during the 1990s and still occurs regularly in Alabama.Unannounced "scholarships," consulting contracts, and other massive financial perks for the children and relatives of judges came into vogue in the 2000s.The list of acts for bribing federal and state judges is as long as your imagination.No acts of bribery shock me anymore. "Whoring" among federal and state judges is growing, not diminishing.The federal government used to prosecute crooked federal judges, but they stopped that practice years ago. I will explain why in an upcoming article.