This is the underlying story of how judges taking illegal county and court payments and county supervisors making such payments to increase their own salaries corrupted the California judicial system.
California’s Judges Are the Highest Paid State Judges in the U.S.
California Superior Court judges can earn $186,000 per year in state salary plus state benefits before receiving “Supplemental Judicial Benefits” under the formula of Govt. Code 68203.
Superior Court [Trial Court] judges in Los Angeles County currently earn as high as $379,604 in total annual wages [$310, 268 –regular pay; $69,336- other pay] and $51,116 in total annual retirement and health cost in a regular pay range classification of $189,041 according to the Office of the State Controller Government Compensation in California 2015.
Why Does LA County Pay “Supplemental Judicial Benefits”?
In 1988, LA County Supervisors justified the payments stating they were necessary to “attract and retain qualified people to serve as judges on the LA Superior Court.”
This reason was reiterated 20 years later in Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles, 167 Cal.App.4th 630 (2008) Review Denied 12/23/2008 [Sturgeon I] in which the Court stated at page 638 in relevant part:
“here there can be little doubt the benefits that the county provides its judges enhance the recruitment and retention of judges who serve in Los Angeles. Indeed, in support of its motion for summary judgment, the county relied upon a 1988 report on judicial compensation that found judicial salaries were not by themselves sufficient incentive to retain or recruit judges in the Los Angeles area.” (Emphasis added.)
On its face, such explanation doesn’t make sense. Paying a sitting judge a “supplemental benefit” will not retain him in office as he/she must face an election to retain his/her judicial office. It will not recruit a judge as the judge is already in office.
Nor does it appear that over time the “Supplemental Judicial Benefits” attracted more successful, experienced private lawyers to apply to be politically appointed for judgeships or to run for judgeships more than the usual government lawyers such as deputy district attorneys, deputy public defenders, county counsels and state employees.
Could the Real Answer for “Supplemental Judicial Benefits” Be the Salary of the LA County Supervisors Is Determined by the Salary of the Superior Court judges?
Article II, Section 4 of the LA County Charter states in relevant part:
“They [Board of Supervisors] shall each receive as compensation for their services a salary, payable monthly from the County Treasury, which shall be the same as that now or hereafter prescribed by law for a judge of the Superior Court in and for the County of Los Angeles, except that retirement benefits shall be those now or hereafter provided by law for officers and employees of the County of Los Angeles.” (Emphasis added.)
Article II, Section 4 demonstrates it is in the interest of each member of the LA Board of Supervisors to pay the Superior Judges more money so they can pay themselves more money.
LA County Paid Approximately $400 Million to Judges and Simultaneously Raised the Supervisors Salaries.
The result was LA County paid the approximate 430 LA County Superior Court judges approximately $400 million in “Supplemental Judicial Benefits” since the mid 1980s. This resulted in pay raises for the LA County Supervisors “claimed under law”, irrespective of the constitutionality or legality of the law.
LA County’s $400 Million Represented Most of the County Money Paid to 90% of California’s Approximate 1,600 Superior Court Judges.
A Report Prepared by the Administrative Office of the Courts, Judicial Council of California: Historical Analysis of Disparities in Judicial Benefits: Report to the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, the Assembly Committee on Budget, and the Senate and Assembly Committees on Judiciary, (Dec. 15, 2009), Appendix D Supplemental Judicial Benefits in FY 2007-2008 showed approximately 90% of California’s approximate 1,600 Superior Court judges received supplemental benefits.
837 judges received supplemental benefits from 11 counties. 334 judges received supplemental benefits from counties and courts for a total of 1,129. 334 judges received supplemental benefits from only courts. 151 did not receive any supplemental benefits from 23 counties.
High cost of living counties which did not pay benefits were Marin and Santa Barbara counties.
Total statewide supplemental benefits paid were $33,602,542, with county supplemental benefits being $30,388,289 and court benefits being 3,214,253.
LA County [436 judges] was the highest county with $23,482,932. Orange County [112 judges] was second with $2,436,000. San Bernardino County [78 judges] was third with $1,280,175. Santa Clara County [79 judges] was fourth with $1,181,531. San Francisco County [51 judges] was fifth with $409,831. Riverside County [64 judges] was sixth with $401, 865.
San Diego Court [130 judges] was the highest court with $1,916,803.
In Contrast to LA County, Supervisor Salaries in Orange, Santa Clara and San Bernardino Counties Are Not Linked to Judge’s Salaries.
Orange County Supervisors are paid $145,000 per year with a $9,180 car allowance and the best health and retirement benefits in the county. Santa Clara County Supervisors are paid $149,364.63 per year, $4,800.00 in other pay and approximately $80,000.00 in benefits for a total of approximately $233,000.00. San Bernardino County Supervisors are paid the average of Orange, Riverside and San Diego County Supervisors excluding benefits including retirement.
“Supplemental Judicial Benefits” Were Judged Unconstitutional and Legislated to be Criminal
Sturgeon I held the payments unconstitutional stating at page 635:
“Section 19, article VI of the California Constitution requires that the Legislature “prescribe compensation for judges of courts of record.” The duty to prescribe judicial compensation is not delegable. Thus the practice of the County of Los Angeles (the county) of providing Los Angeles County superior court judges with employment benefits, in addition to the compensation prescribed by the Legislature, is not permissible.” (Emphasis added.)
In response to Sturgeon I, the California Legislature gave the judges and the County supervisors retroactive immunity from criminal prosecution, civil liability and disciplinary action under SBX 11, Section 5, enacted 2/20/2009, effective 5/20/2009.
SBX 2 11 Section 5 stated:
“SEC. 5. Notwithstanding any other law, no governmental entity, or officer or employee of a governmental entity, shall incur any liability or be subject to prosecution or disciplinary action because of benefits provided to a judge under the official action of a governmental entity prior to the effective date of this act on the ground that those benefits were not authorized under law.” (Emphasis added.)
In addition, Section 2 of SBX 2 11 codified as Govt. Code 68220 (a) allowed the counties to keep paying the sitting judges the monies they paid them on July 1, 2008 “on the same terms and conditions as were in effect on that date.”
This provision was held to be constitutional as an interim revenue measure in Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles, 191 Cal.App.4th 344 (2011) [Sturgeon II] in which the Court affirmed Sturgeon I. The Court concluded that since judicial compensation is a state and not a county responsibility, it expected the Legislature to adopt a uniform statewide system of judicial compensation.
This did not occur. In Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles, 242 Cal.App.4th 1437 (2015) [Sturgeon III], the Court extended the payments to all judges sitting in a court in which judges received county payments on July 1, 2008 stating at 1450 in relevant part:
“The bottom line: Section 68220 subdivision (a) plainly requires any county paying its judges supplemental benefits as of July 1, 2008 to continue to pay its judges supplemental benefits, including all judges who took office after July 1, 2008—albeit subject to the right of the county in the first two sentences of subdivision (b) to terminate those benefits after specified notice. The county has no choice and no discretion to “fix” judicial compensation, which has thus been prescribed by the Legislature. The opt-out provisions of the first two sentences of subdivision (b) provide the only choice a county has in that situation, and even then there’s no fixing of compensation, just a choice to pay the prescribed amount or not to pay any supplemental compensation at all. The last sentence of subdivision (b) is unconstitutional surplusage.” (Emphasis added.)
The Court in Sturgeon III again called for the Legislature to solve the problem and referenced the Daily Kos article Fine, End California’s Judicial Corruption Now; Stop 2015–16 Illegal Budget Payments to Judges! (June 1, 2015) < http://dailykos.com/story/2015/06/02/1389761/-End-California-s-Judicial-Corruption> [as of Aug. 25, 2015].)
Supplemental Judicial Benefits Are Still Unlawful
LA County increased its payments from $46,436 per judge in 2007 [approximately 21% of their State salary of $172,000] as shown in Sturgeon I to $57,000.00 per judge [approximately 31.44% of their State salary] in 2013 and at present as shown in Sturgeon III.
The Orange County Budget for the FY 2008-2009- 081 Trial Costs did not show any payments of “supplemental judicial benefits” to Superior Court judges.
In contrast, Report Prepared by the Administrative Office of the Courts, Judicial Council of California: Historical Analysis of Disparities in Judicial Benefits: Report to the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, the Assembly Committee on Budget, and the Senate and Assembly Committees on Judiciary, (Dec. 15, 2009), Appendix D Supplemental Judicial Benefits in FY 2007-2008, page12 showed Orange County $2,436,000 in Supplemental Judicial Benefits.
The Orange County Budget for the FY 2015-2016- 081 Trial Costs showed “$1,825,700 for Supplemental Judicial Benefits”. The Orange County Budget for the FY 2016-2017- 081 Trial Costs showed “$1,763,835 for Supplemental Judicial Benefits”
Santa Clara Judicial Benefits for FY 2016-2017 were not found in FY 2016-2017 Budget.
Riverside, San Bernardino and Yolo Counties removed Supplemental Judicial Benefits.
For almost 30 years, the California judicial system has been corrupted by county supervisors who wanted to enhance their salaries by paying unlawful “Supplemental Judicial Benefits” to judges, and judges who accepted such payments from counties and courts knowing such were both unlawful and criminal as shown by Sturgeon I and SBX 2 11, Section 5.
$400 Million of taxpayer monies which could have been used for hospitals, infrastructure and benefitting society was wasted and is still being wasted on this unlawful conduct.
Citizens’ constitutional rights were violated in every case from family law to dependency to criminal to probate to eminent domain. In essence, every case in which the county was a party or had an interest in the outcome of the case was corrupted.
Now it is time to pressure the Legislature to repeal California Govt. Code Section 68220 (a) and (b), pressure the county supervisors to end the “Supplemental Judicial Benefits”, and pressure the courts to end the extra payments to judges.
We demand the county supervisors notify the judges and the Administrative Director of the Courts the county payments to the judges are “terminated in 180 days” pursuant to Californiia Govt. Code Section 68220 (b). Enough demands will result in the removal of the county payments and the end of this part of “judicial Corruption”.
END THE CORRUPTION and TAKE BACK OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM!
The California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal justices and Superior Court judges at all times knew, and know at present, 90% of California’s judges sit on cases in which they are disqualified under law because the county which gave them a criminal payment: (1) appears before them as a party; (2) appears as a witness; or (3) has an interest. Examples of the cases are: (1) child custody and family law cases; (2) class action cases; (3) conservator and elder cases; (4) constitutional cases; (5) contract cases; (6) criminal cases; (7) death, estate, and probate cases; (8) eminent domain cases; (9) environmental cases; (10) personal injury cases; (11) property cases; (12) regulation cases; (13) tax cases; (14) traffic cases; (15) trust cases; and (16) zoning cases, amongst others.
Watch how this judicial corruption affects you. http://www.campaignforjudicialintegrity.org/#!vote-for-justice-videos/c6yn
The California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal justices and Superiror Court judges know: (1) that Section 5 of SBX 2 11 made California the most corrupt judicial system in the U.S., if not the world; (2) that California is the only state where a law gives judges immunity from criminal prosecution for taking illegal payments [bribes] from parties [counties] appearing before them in cases; (3) that they were perpetuating the corruption when they upheld unconstitutional and unlawful decisions affecting our rights by 90% of California’s judges who unlawfully did not disclose their crimes or their legislative immunity to the litigants; (4) that they were perpetuating the corruption when they refused to require the DAs to prosecute the 90% of California’s judges and recover the illegal payments from counties plus 20% penalty which the 90% of California’s judges received after the effective date of SBX 2 11; (5) that they needlessly ruined peoples’ lives to perpetuate California’s judicial corruption; (6) that their actions mandate their removal because they: (a) violated the U.S. and California Constitutions and laws; (b) engaged in “misconduct in office”; and (c) engaged in “conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute”.
The U.S. and California Constitutions and laws are clear:
(1) U.S. Constitution, Article 6, Clause 2 states: “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”
(2) California Constitution Article 4, Section 18 (d) states in relevant part: “State officers elected on a statewide basis, members of the State Board of Equalization, and judges of state courts are subject to impeachment for misconduct in office.”
(3) California Constitution Article 6, Section 18 (d) (2) states in relevant part: “(d) Except as provided in subdivision (f), the Commission on Judicial Performance may …. (2) censure a judge or former judge or remove a judge for action occurring not more than 6 years prior to the commencement of the judge’s current term or of the former judge’s last term that constitutes willful misconduct in office, persistent failure or inability to perform the judge’s duties, ……. or conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute”.
(4) California Code of Civil Procedure Section 170.1(a)(6)(A)(iii) states: “A judge shall be disqualified if any one or more of the following are true: A person aware of the facts might reasonably entertain a doubt that the judge would be able to be impartial.”
(5) California Code of Judicial Ethics, Cannon 2 A states in relevant part: “A judge shall respect and comply with the law* and shall act at all times in amanner that promotes public confidence in the integrity* and impartiality* of the judiciary.”
(6) California Code of Judicial Ethics, Cannon 3 E states: “(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which disqualification is required by law.*(2) In all trial court proceedings, a judge shall disclose on the record as follows: (a) Information relevant to disqualification A judge shall disclose information that is reasonably relevant to the question of disqualification under Code of Civil Procedure section 170.1, even if the judge believes there is no actual basis for disqualification.(b)Campaign contributions in trial court elections.”
(7) California Code of Judicial Ethics, Cannon 4D(1) states in relevant part: “(1) A judge shall not engage in financial and business dealings that (a) may reasonably be perceived to exploit the judge’s judicial position, or (b) involve the judge in frequent transactions or continuing business relationships with lawyers or other persons likely to appear before the court on which the judge serves.”
(8) California Code of Judicial Ethics, Cannon 6A states in relevant part: “Anyone who is an officer of the state judicial system and who performs judicial functions, ….. is a judge within the meaning of this code. All judges shall comply with this code except as provided below.”
None of the 90% of California’s judges disclosed the illegal payments from the county, the retroactive immunity under Section 5 of SBX 2 11 and the current crime of taking the payments to litigants before them. The lawyers in the cases before such judges also concealed this information. Together, the 90% of California’s judges and lawyers deprived the party before the judge of the opportunity to present evidence to obtain a fair trial before an unbiased judge.
This action of concealment is known as an “extrinsic fraud upon the court” and makes judgments void. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 473 (d) states in relevant part: “(d) The court ….. may, on motion of either party after notice to the other party, set aside any void judgment or order.”
Today, these illegal county payments to 90% of California’s judges still occur at the rate of approximately $30 million a year and still are not being disclosed to the parties appearing before the judges.
Today the California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal justices are still perpetrating the corruption.
No California Supreme Court or Court of Appeal justice or Superior Court judge: (1) ended the corruption; (2) ordered the county payments to the 90% of California’s judges stopped knowing that it is illegal [a bribe] for a judge to take a payment from a party appearing in a case before him/her; or (3) required the DAs to prosecute the 90% of California’s judges and recover the illegal payments plus a 20% penalty as mandated under law both before and after the passage of Section 5 of SBX 2 11.
U.S. JUDGES’ INTEGRITY IS HELD IN LOW ESTEEM
The December 5-8, 2013, Gallup Honesty and Ethics Survey rated judges “honesty and ethics” at 53% for the combined categories of “very low” through “average”, at 35% for the category of “high”, and at only 10% for the category of “very high”.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
You do not receive due process or a fair trial in any case in which the judge received a payment from a party to the case or an entity that will benefit from the judge’s decision (“bribe”) because the judge is biased against you and in favor of the party or entity that bribed him/her.
This occurs, whether the case be a traffic ticket, a divorce, child custody, child support, foster care, guardianship, conservatorship, a problem with a county, a criminal case where the county district attorney is the prosecutor, or any case where any amount of an award will go to a county that paid a state judge.
When the judge has been “bribed”, under the law the judge cannot sit on your case.
JUDICIAL CORRUPTION VIOLATES OUR RIGHTS WHEN WE APPEAR IN ANY COURT
Over 90% of California’s judges received approximately $400 Million of illegal payments [“bribes”] from 34 counties which were parties to cases before them since the mid 1980’s. These payments violate the U.S. and California Constitutions, the federal and California laws and our rights to access to the court, due process and a fair trial when we appear in any court. (See “Payments” and “Counties Affected”)
The judges did not report or pay taxes on all or part of this illegal income causing the loss millions in U.S. and state taxes on approximatel $100 million of illegal income.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS did not, and do not, prosecute the judges despite complaints to do such.
JUDICIAL CORRUPTION CONTROLS THE JUDICIAL SYSTEMS
In 2009, the California Legislature enacted, and the Governor signed, SBX 2 11. Section 5 of SBX 2 11 gave retroactive immunity from California criminal prosecution, civil liability and disciplinary action to the judges, county supervisors, governments and government employees involved in the illegal county payments to judges. Section 5 of SBX 2 11 established and confirmed: (1) that the county payments to the judges were “criminal” and “bribes”; and (2) that the judges who received the county payments and those who made the payments to judges were “criminals” by giving them retroactive immunity from criminal prosecution. This subverted the U.S. judicial system through U.S. judges illegally protecting the California judges. (See “Justice Denied”)
JUDICIAL CORRUPTION VIOLATES THE JUDGE’S OATH OF OFFICE AND REQUIRES THE JUDGE’S REMOVAL FROM OFFICE
SBX 2 11 passed each chamber of the California Legislature by over a 2/3 vote, effectively “impeaching” and “convicting” the judges who received the county payments of “Misconduct in Office” under California Constitution, Article 4, Section 18, which required the judges’ removal from office. SBX 2 11 did not remove these judges from office. California judges commit “Misconduct in Office” by taking “criminal” payments and violating their oath to uphold the U.S. and California Constitutions and laws each day they remain in office. Further, they commited fraud when taking the oath, without intending to perform the duties of upholding the Constitution and law.
Enacting Section 5 of SBX 2 11, the California Legislators and Governor each violated the federal criminal law of Misprision of Felony (18 U.S.C. Section 4) by concealing and not reporting the judges’ violation of the federal criminal law of the intangible right to honest services (18 U.S.C. Section 1346) and each violated his/her oath of office.
The U.S. Supreme Court held in Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 18 (1958): ” No state legislator or executive or judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his undertaking to support it.” (See “What You Can Do!”)
U.S. JUDGES DESTROYED OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND THE U.S. JUDICIAL SYSTEM BY PROTECTING CALIFORNIA ‘S JUDGES
U.S. judges knew of the California judges’ criminal activity through the enactment of SBX 2 11, its citation in briefs before them and because California judges were appointed to the U.S. District Courts in California and the 9th Circuit. U.S. judges through the U.S. Supreme Court violated constitutional precedent by refusing to disqualify the California judges from cases and violated the federal criminal law of Misprision of Felony by concealing the criminal acts and refusing to report the California judges for violating 18 U.S.C. Section 1346. U.S. judges’ actions protecting California’s judges destroyed our constitutional rights to access to the courts, due process and a fair trial and the U.S. judicial system. (See “Justice Denied”)
CITIZENS AND OFFICIALS WHO DO NOTHING TO ERADICATE JUDICIAL CORRUPTION ACTUALLY SUPPORT JUDICIAL CORRUPTION
“The only thing for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.” – Edmond Burke. The evil of judicial corruption will continue to prevail as long as good people continue to do nothing.
WE ACT NOW TO ERADICATE JUDICIAL CORRUPTION, REGAIN OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND RESTORE OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM
We “exercise our rights and vote for justice.” We make eradicating judicial corruption the highest legislative and election priority. We do this by petitioning our government to pass the Fine Amendment to SBX 2 11 and to take other actions. (See “What You Can Do!” )
WE DEMAND CANDIDATES SEEKING ANY ELECTED PUBLIC OFFICE TAKE THE CFJI’S PLEDGE TO ERADICATE JUDICIAL CORRUPTION:
“Eradicating judicial corruption is the highest priority for an elected official. If elected to the government office of ________________, I pledge to eradicate judicial corruption, ensure judicial integrity and restore our rights to access to the courts, due process and a fair trial as required under the Constitution, the law and the Rule of Law. I will sponsor and support legislation, executive orders and all remedies at the local, state and federal levels to eradicate judicial corruption and accomplish these results for my Constituents.” (“Take Action Now!”)
WE WILL ERADICATE JUDICIAL CORRUPTION, REGAIN OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND RESTORE OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEMS
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
If you are an intelligent, dedicated citizen and voter who wants to remove the “evil”, stop the “insanity”, eradicate judicial corruption, regain our constitutional rights and restore our judicial systems, please take 2 minutes to join the Campaign for Judicial Integrity. Please proceed to “How You Do It! or click on Take Action Now”
Richard I. Fine, Ph.D.
Founder and Chairman
Campaign for Judicial Integrity
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