Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Evidence of San Francisco Superior Court Judge Corruption

On October 29, 2010 in a article, Ulmer vs. Nava and the Independence of the Court, a former Vice President of the State Bar of California Peter Keane unleashed a huge red flag on what was happening in the San Francisco Superior Court system among judges.  The article was about Judge Richard B. Ulmer, a 30 year Partner attorney with Latham & Watkins LLP who was up against Michael Nava to retain his bench. The article described that the entire San Francisco judicial community was up in arms about the judicial election.

Judge Ulmer had recently been elected to the bench by Governor Schwarzenegger but his seat was being challenged, most likely due to his being a Republican in a liberal town.  Not only was he being challenged as a Republican, mind you, but as a highly political man who lacked sound judge skills as stated in my former post Judge Ulmer Whitewashed My Evidence!  Didn't Care!.   In my post I stated my experience was that Judge Ulmer played politics with an attorney and overlooked and whitewashed my evidence against a defendant in a restraining order hearing.  As a result I endorsed Michael Nava on this blog.

The race is tight and the media hardly covered it, except for a few very appalled members of the legal community including Peter Keane. A San Francisco Chronicle writer Susan Gluss (see Partisan Politics Threatens Judicial Freedom also made mention in her column of the problems arising in the judicial system due to elections.

Here are a few insightful quotes from their articles about the Ulmer vs. Nava tight race:

Peter Keane's comments:
"First, put aside whether you favor incumbent Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer or challenger Michael Nava. Whoever the voters choose is qualified and will be a fine, capable judge. I voted for Ulmer in the primary. But then I switched to Nava because I became appalled by the borderline ethical (if not downright unethical) campaign tactics by San Francisco judges to elect Ulmer. 
With lockstep unanimity, the judges of the San Francisco Superior Court have savaged the democratic process and cheapened the important principle of protecting the independence of the judiciary. To their personal discredit, they have done this out of a self-serving fear that potential competitors will run against them and that the voters might legitimately and democratically decide that others are better qualified to serve.

One shabby illustration of their disgraceful actions should suffice.

I am a former president of the Bar Association of San Francisco. Last summer, all former bar presidents and I received a cryptic e-mail from Presiding Judge James McBride speaking for the entire court. It urgently summoned us to a meeting in the conference room of a prominent downtown law firm for the evening of July 7. When I responded asking what was up, I was ominously informed with a clear sense of hush-hush secrecy that "independence of the judiciary" was at stake.

At the meeting, McBride and a delegation of other judges, announced that they spoke for all of the judges of the San Francisco Superior Court. They proclaimed that a Nava victory would be the destruction of judicial independence in San Francisco.

They prophesized this Apocalypse with all of the Jeremiah-like intensity of Dick Cheney somberly forecasting weapons of mass destructions and mushroom clouds unless drastic action was taken
But that was not the most distressing part of the meeting. The bar presidents were then given marching orders by the judges to raise $350,000 to defeat Nava.Peter Keane, Former VP of State Bar of California
"The perils of these expensive, politicized judicial contests are underscored by a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice. The report shows the extent that politics and special interests are infecting judicial races - and the resulting threat to judicial independence and impartiality." - Susan Gluss, San Francisco Chronicle

This is flat out evidence from insiders that judges in San Francisco have been corrupted by the election politics of the system!  Let there be no mistake, judges are often highly political in the court room.  Consequently, judicial decisions are not always based on the law, especially when a judge has much discretion.  Politics often involves an attorney a judge prefers that has nothing to do with the plaintiff or defendants.  What this all means is that if you hire an attorney the judge doesn't like having a history with, you will most likely lose your case in San Francisco.

I imagine with such a strong backing of the entire San Francisco judicial community, Judge Ulmer will retain his seat (**update** has retained his seat). Michael Nava would have been the people's judge.  How sad.