Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To the Connecticut Program Review Committee:

To the Connecticut Program Review Committee:

I have been informed by individuals inside and outside of the system about alleged rampant wrongdoing, lawbreaking, taxpayer defrauding, and complete abuse of the public.

Will you get back to me to talk about scheduling a hearing and/or getting information on our accusations?

Does the Connecticut Judicial Branch's charter allow for "Deputy" directors? If not our taxpayers being bilked approximately 36 x $100,000? Is this just the tip of the iceberg?

Are judicial branch higher ups allowed to place personal charges on company credit cards where the Judicial Worker's Union pick up the tab for this embezzlement? Are managers trying to get higher pay for certain individuals as a "bribe"?

Are job descriptions changed and positions just made up to accommodate "important people", their families, and their friends?

Has any case been resolved in the favor of the complainant heard by the CHRO, even one? What does that show about checks and balances in Connecticut?

Are court cases being rigged, is evidence being tampered with, evidence being manufactured and destroyed, and our courts being used as a retaliation tool? Are cases being rigged to prevent the State of Connecticut and officials from being sued and criminally prosecuted?

If you legislators sent this email are representing the people, not just each other, are you willing to hear evidence or tell me where evidence and testimony might be heard for some action and investigations to occur on these matters?

-Steven G. Erickson

This open email to you is being posted at:

The above email was sent to:
John.A.Kissel@cga.ct.gov, Mary.Mushinsky@cga.ct.gov, Maynard@senatedems.ct.gov, MaryAnn.Carson@housegop.ct.gov, Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov, DeFronzo@senatedems.ct.gov, Fonfara@senatedems.ct.gov, Scott.Frantz@cga.ct.gov, Marilyn.Giuliano@housegop.ct.gov, Anthony.Guglielmo@cga.ct.gov, Brendan.Sharkey@cga.ct.gov, Diana.Urban@cga.ct.gov

[more information]

Judicial Branch employees speak out [here]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ex-judges’ immunity claims attacked

Legal scholars want fed judge to nix Conahan and Ciavarella claim of immunity from class action lawsuit.

By Terrie Morgan-Besecker tmorgan@timesleader.com
Law & Order Reporter Pennsylvania, Sept. 23, 2009

SCRANTON – A group of 19 former judges and legal scholars concerned about protecting the integrity of the judicial system have filed court papers opposing efforts by former Luzerne County judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella to have themselves dismissed from a class action lawsuit.

The group, which consists of several former high-ranking judges in the state and federal court systems, filed court documents Tuesday that urge a federal judge to reject Conahan’s and Ciavarella’s claims that they are protected from liability by judicial immunity. To grant the judges that protection would make a “mockery” of the legal doctrine, the group says, and destroy the public’s trust in the legal system.

“Application of immunity to judges who admitted under oath to engaging in a criminal scheme for years would indeed be monstrous,” attorney Sara B. Richman, who filed the brief on behalf of the legal scholars, says in court papers. “To find immunity would denigrate the respect of the public for the judiciary, which is dependent upon judges making decisions based on the law and the facts, rather than personal, corrupt motives.”

The legal brief supports a separate court action filed by the Juvenile Law Center that asks a judge to deny Conahan’s and Ciavarella’s motion to dismiss them from a class-action suit filed by the JLC. That suit alleges Conahan and Ciavarella wrongly incarcerated hundreds of juveniles as part of a scheme that netted the ex-judges $2.8 million in improper payments.

The JLC’s legal position focuses on the argument that the actions the ex-judges took were administrative, not judicial, and therefore do not qualify them for judicial immunity.

The legal scholars, who are not otherwise involved in the case, are more interested in ensuring the intent of the judicial immunity doctrine – which they say is to protect judges from liability for doing their jobs righteously – is not expanded to protect jurists who use their position to commit crimes.

Abraham Gafni, a Villanova University law professor who is among those who filed the legal brief, said he decided to get involved because it’s crucial to set limits on how far judicial immunity can be stretched.

“There was a sense of perversion of the legal doctrine of judicial immunity, that it was being applied where it was never intended to be applied,” said Gafni, a former court of common pleas judge. “Judicial immunity is not meant to protect judges who are admittedly engaging in criminal activity.”

Conahan and Ciavarella pleaded guilty in February to corruption charges, but they withdrew the plea in August after a judge rejected the terms of the deal.

On Sept. 9 a federal grand jury issued a 48-count indictment against the men, accusing them of improperly taking payments in exchange for judicial rulings that benefited the construction and operation of two juvenile detention centers that were utilized by the county.

Federal prosecutors allege Conahan closed down the county’s facility in 2002 to pave the way for the centers. Ciavarella then ensured the facilities maintained a high occupancy rate by incarcerating juveniles even when probation department officials recommended against detention.

In their brief, the legal scholars concede that the doctrine of judicial immunity must be broadly interpreted to protect judges from frivolous lawsuits filed by disgruntled plaintiffs.

That’s based on the assumption that judges are acting in the interest of the public, however. That’s clearly not the case with Conahan and Ciavarella, they say.

“For Conahan and Ciavarella to argue their admitted criminal conduct was in the public interest makes a mockery of the necessary doctrine of judicial immunity,” the brief says. “It is hard to imagine conduct less deserving of immunity protection than the wholesale sale of children into detention.”

Circle F Justice

Connecticut's Probate Court Reform: Some Say There's A Lot More To Do

By JOSEPH A. O'BRIEN Special to The Courant

September 27, 2009

A lack of formal education in the law never stopped anyone from running for judge of probate in Connecticut — until now.

Under the probate court reform and consolidation legislation approved by the General Assembly this past week, the number of probate courts in the state will be reduced from 117 to 54. And, as of Jan. 5, 2011, those seeking election to a probate judgeship must be a lawyer and a member of the Connecticut bar.

"It's a historic day in the state of Connecticut," state Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, said Thursday, when the Senate adopted the measure 33-2 and sent it to Gov. M. Jodi Rell for her signature. The House had approved its final version of the new law Wednesday.

Connecticut's probate court system has been politically immune to significant change since 1850, the first year judges of probate were chosen by voters. Probate judges are the only judges in Connecticut still elected to office and whose candidacies are determined at the local level. Judges of Connecticut's Superior, Appellate and Supreme courts are nominated by the governor and approved by the legislature.

The present reform effort was thrust upon Democratic and Republican leaders because of the growing fiscal crisis in the probate court system, which has operated at a deficit since fiscal 2004-05. The system is projected to end this fiscal year $4.1 million in the red.

"With all due respect to the historic and fundamental role of probate courts in Connecticut, it became readily apparent in recent years that the system could not continue unaltered," Doyle said. "First of all, its financial underpinnings were unsustainable, and secondly, our increasingly complicated culture demands a more sophisticated approach to the resolution of traditional probate matters."

Under the new law, probate judges — who will be required to work an average of only 20 hours a week although the courts will be open 40 hours — will earn an annual salary between $66,051 and $110,085. The actual amount will be determined by the probate district's population and estimated work load.

Although the reform measure stirred little opposition in either chamber, some feel the law stops short of the most significant changes necessary.

Thompson Probate Judge Kathleen J. Murphy, a member of the probate redistricting commission led by state Rep. Robert D. Godfrey, questioned provisions that would allow most probate judges after the 2010 election to collect the maximum $110,085 salary, plus insurance and benefits, while being required to work an average of 20 hours a week. Murphy said that provision is inconsistent with rules that require state employees to work a minimum of 20 hours a week in order to receive health insurance.

Under the new law, probate judges will be allowed to continue working in a private law practice. All other Connecticut judges are prohibited from having a law practice, Murphy said, and must work 40 hours a week.

Murphy recommended that probate judges be barred from private practice and that they be required to work 40 hours.

Although the new law reduces the number of courts, it allows for the appointment of probate magistrate judges, a new position that will pay $50 an hour, to handle any overbooked probate dockets, Murphy said. Judges who lose their courts in the consolidation could conceivably be named a magistrate, she said.

Yale law Professor John H. Langbein, who has testified before the state legislature about the need for probate reform, said the legislation falls well short of meaningful reform.

Langbein said state lawmakers are politically unwilling to adopt the reforms needed in Connecticut's probate courts. Langbein has previously recommended that Connecticut follow the lead of other states and bar probate judges from practicing law.

"This just smells of favoritism," Langbein said. "To allow a judge to maintain a private practice of law is to invite a serious structural conflict of interest."

"This is astonishing. Connecticut probably has the finest state court system in the country," Langbein said. "The judges are high caliber. The system is merit based. They have excellent people. No scandals." It's "as good a system" as anywhere in the country, he said.

But the state's probate system is "one of the very worst systems in the country," Langbein said.

Conflicts of interest are rampant in Connecticut's probate courts, he said. "Private lawyers who know what's wrong are largely silent" because they fear that antagonizing a judge could adversely affect their practice.

Langbein said the new law is "the minimum they can get away with" in light of deficits. "They are trying to keep as much of this corrupt system as they can," Langbein said.

There are also those in the General Assembly who are not happy with the legislation.

Sen. Andrew Roraback tried unsuccessfully last week to force the creation of a 55th probate district by carving Torrington and Goshen out of their proposed district, which will also include Winchester, New Hartford, Colebrook, Hartland and Barkhamsted.

Roraback took exception to Langbein's assessment of Connecticut's probate system.

"That's an overstatement and an affront to the hundreds of honest and decent people" working within the probate system, Roraback said.

Connecticut probate "is an evolving system," Roraback said.

"We're likely going to take a deep breath," he said. "It will take a couple of years to digest this."

Murphy said she believes public awareness regarding probate issues needs to be raised.

"The more light that shines on the issue, the better," Murphy said. "It needs to happen for the probate court system; it needs to happen for the people of Connecticut."

Vincent Russo, legislative liaison for probate court Administrator Paul J. Knierim — whose office helped the legislature make the changes necessary to keep the probate court system solvent — said more improvements are planned, but not at the level of those just adopted into law. For example, the 54 new court districts have yet to be named, and the staffing and equipment needs, not to mention the locations, are as yet undecided.

The state office of fiscal analysis estimates the savings to the probate court administration fund resulting from the changes to be $4 million in fiscal 2011 and nearly $8 million annually thereafter.

In June, the legislature approved spending $5 million this year and $11.25 million next year from the general fund to keep the probate courts solvent pending consolidation. The amount each town is required to spend in support of probate court services should decrease because they will be drawn from a larger pool.

Comments so far:

Move the ct probate courts to the ct superior. Close down the office of the probate court administrator that alone will save the state over $4,000,000. The probate court administrator%u2019s office is useless.

Judge Knierim makes over 150,000 per year plus perks and he calls this reform, Shame on you Judge. Quote from Judge Knierim "My charge is to find common ground and build consensus among all who will be affected,'' Knierim said.

http://blogs.courant.com/rick_green/2008/08/give-simsbury-probate-judge-pa.html It appears that all who will be affected are the probate judges, looks like Judge Knierim does not believe the people of Connecticut are part of all %u201Cwho will be affected%u201D Maybe it%u2019s time for Judge Knierim to head back to Simsbury and run that probate court full time, He is way over his head in this job.

This quote is from the Probate court administrator Judge Paul Knierim %u201CThe probate system is a crucial safety net for Connecticut families,%u201D said Judge Knierim. %u201CThey count on its services during some of the most stressful moments of their lives. We must not let them down.%u201D http://www.ctprobatejudges.org/article4.html. Well Judge,you have let a lot of families down under your watch as probate court administrator.

You have a probate judge working under you that has been sited for violating professional conduct by the State Wide Grievance Committee, You have other Probate Judges that just simply do not know the law or totally disregard it. But then again the probate court administrator%u2019s office runs just the same as the probate courts do, wrong answers, unreturned calls and so on. Judge Knierim what you should have done was lead by example but then again I guess you did, you are a probate judge. The Judges that I speak of that don%u2019t know the probate laws are attorneys, so you can%u2019t blame that one on the non attorney probate judges.

lookingout4U (09/27/2009, 11:19 AM )

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What Whistleblower Protection?

Connecticut has a commission on human rights called the CHRO [webpage]

Whistleblower Retaliation Decisions [list]

* * * *

To Governor Rell and Attorney General Richard “Dick” Blumenthal:

Text sent to them by email:

I was poking around the CHRO website and am posting this email to you [here].

I was looking at the whistleblower hearing decisions. If Connecticut had a legitimate body to make complaints to, do you think we would find at least one case where the complainer was heard and got justice? Can you name even one?

Can you say “Crapulent Justice”?

Can you say “Connecticut Crapulent Government”?

-Steven G. Erickson

The above emailed to:
governor.rell@ct.gov, attorney.general@po.state.ct.us

* * * *


Monday, September 07, 2009

worst insurance companies

The above title was the subject line of an email sent to me containing the below link: