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Washington State’s Commission on Judicial Conduct – Prime example that moral inbreeding is as dangerous as biological inbreeding!

Richard A. Posner is Circuit Judge, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. In his book, The Problematics of Moral and Legal Theory, Posner writes “Moral inbreeding may be as dangerous as biological inbreeding”, Pg 68. On Friday the Commission on Judicial Conduct (CJC) had their quarterly get-together at the SeaTac Radisson, which I attended. From what I heard at this “meeting of the minds” Posner is right on the mark. The lawyers and the judges, and those appointed by the lawyers and judges, that comprise the CJC are prime examples of “moral inbreeding”, or the blind leading the blind.

At the meeting J. Reiko Callner told the commission members that she has been asked, by a number of the offspring of the inbred, to speak about “ethical” issues and how to deal with pro se litigants. J. Reiko Callner, executive director of the CJC, is the individual who “dismisses” complaints about judges without an investigation. In other words, J. Reiko Callner, by dismissing grievances filed against judges is her self-vindication that her “lectures on judicial ethics” has done its job.

When we, “members of the public,” were invited to comment, I asked the commission what they plan to do about the growing anger citizens have with judges and lawyers who use the courts to commit crimes against citizens. The Commission’s chair, Michael J. Pontarolo, Attorney Member, said that they “do the best they can” and will “try to do better”. Hmmmmm. It all sounds like “it is your tough luck so too bad.”

Another “member of the public”, Arthur West, complimented the Commission in how efficient they were in keeping their “docket” clear. By dismissing nearly 99.9% of the complaints they don’t need to spend money on “investigations” into the allegations of judicial misconduct.

In fact, only 4 judges have been sanctioned out of about 400 complaints filed in 2014 …

  • Seattle Municipal Court Judge Fred Bonner stipulated that he violated Canon 1, Rules 1.1 and 1.2, of the Code of Judicial Conduct by receiving a public benefit to which he was not entitled. For over ten years, Judge Bonner received a monthly discounted parking rate under the City of Seattle’s ride-share program, even though he knew or should have known his actions of only occasionally sharing his commute did not qualify him for that reduced rate. The Commission censured former Judge Bonner and he agreed to pay full restitution to the City of Seattle within one year.
  • Seattle Municipal Court Judge C. Kimi Kondo stipulated that she violated Canon 1, Rules 1.1 and 1.2, and Canon 2, Rules 2.2 and 2.9, of the Code of Judicial Conduct by engaging in ex parte communications with a prosecutor and, by acting on that ex parte communication, creating the appearance of partiality in a criminal case . A prosecutor sent an unsolicited, private email to Judge Kondo asking about a lawyer who was scheduled to appear before the judge. The prosecutor said the lawyer was needed as a witness in another pending criminal case and may be avoiding service of a subpoena. Judge Kondo responded to that email and continued the unrelated case in front of her without a basis to do so other than to require that lawyer to appear in court. This created the appearance of partiality toward the prosecution. Judge Kondo cooperated with the Commission’s proceeding, and has had no prior discipline during her twenty-five years on the bench. Judge Kondo was admonished.
  • part time judge Holly Johnson stipulated that the Department of Employment Security determined she under-reported, on 20 occasions, the income she earned as a pro tem judge for King County District Court and Federal Way Municipal Court, and thereby collected unemployment benefits to which she was not entitled. The Department determined Respondent knowingly withheld material facts to obtain benefits to which she was not entitled and was at fault in causing the overpayment, which is considered fraud. Respondent agreed that if this matter were to proceed to a hearing the Commission could find, based upon the foregoing stipulated facts that Respondent violated Canon 1, Rules 1.1 and 1.2, of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Commission found the Code was violated as described, and Respondent stipulated to the imposition of a censure and agreed never to seek or serve in judicial office without first securing permission of the Commission.
  • Tacoma Municipal Court Judge David B. Ladenburg stipulated that he violated Canon 1 (Rules 1.1 and 1.2), and Canon 2 (Rules 2.2, 2.3 and 2.5(A)) of the Code of Judicial Conduct by requiring a criminal defendant appearing in his court wearing a fedora, which the defendant explained was worn as part of his Jewish faith, to bring to his next hearing evidence or information supporting his claim that he wore that particular head covering for religious purposes. Judge Ladenburg also indicated that if the defendant failed to bring the information, he would have the hat removed. He continued to demand proof of the religious basis for the choice of headwear at the next two hearings. Respondent’s conduct contravened well-settled principles of First Amendment law and infringed upon an individual’s fundamental right to religious freedom. Judge Ladenburg had previously been admonished by the Commission for requiring a woman wearing a religious head covering to remove it or leave his courtroom. (See CJC No. 4939-F-130.) The Commission reprimanded Judge Ladenburg.
  • … parking spaces, ex parte communication, under reporting of income, and wearing a hat … were the highlights of the commissions “oversight” of our judges. What about “perjury, subornation of perjury, falsifying documents, ignoring evidence, kidnapping – under the guise of child protective services, murder – under the guise of guardianship, … you know, the things that affect lives!!!

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