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Don't ask-don't tell. Kids for Cash, a Judge's money-making scheme

posted Jan 30, 2010, 12:04 PM by Nancy Swan   [ updated Jan 30, 2010, 2:17 PM by Thomas Swan ]
By Nancy Swan

Re: "Court: Conduct board must turn over Conahan complaint" and "Justices, Divided, Rule JCB Must Turn Over Conahan Complaint."

U.S. courts belong to the people, not to an exclusive body of judges. Perhaps judges have forgotten that they are paid public servants and therefore answerable and accountable to us, the people, especially if they fail to obey the law and ethical standards. 

Judges are required by their Judicial Code to adhere a higher standard of conduct. 
Unfortunately, too many judges define "higher" to mean a "double" standard of law and ethics.  The overwhelming failure of the judicial complaint process is why the judicial community has shrouded its failures behind the black robes of secrecy.  As a result of the secrecy,  judicial oversight commissions serve to protect judges instead of policing them.
According to HALT 2009 Judicial Report Card Pennsylvania scored a C- in transparency and a D in gift restrictions, making it appear that justice can be bought.   But this is a national problem and the Penn. Case for Kids case makes it evident that its time to fix it.
  • If complaints at issue were dismissed, the complaint review process failed and the review board process should be investigated by an impartial body of citizens.
  • The State high court should also check conflicts of interest of the Judicial Conduct Board that failed to act appropriately on the complaints against Conahan. 
  • The public should demand that lawmakers require that judicial complaints are transparent.  Hiding judicial complaints from the public serves only to protect judges rather than police them.

The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance dismissed my complaints in 2000 without an investigation, then threatened me to keep my mouth shut about my discovery.  I didn't.   Defying a court order, I published in a letter to the editor which sparked a high profile federal judicial bribery investigation in 2002.  That investigation led to the conviction of my former attorney, Paul Minor, and judge, John Whitfield in 2007.   

Shortly after my complaints had been dismissed, I discovered that mother of Minor's law partner was serving on the Commission.  I wrote a letter of appeal.  She resigned from the Commission.  Secrecy allowed the Commission to hide their conflicts of interest,  failure to investigate complaints and failure to resolve problems with the state judiciary.  Secrecy allowed bad judges to stay on the bench. 

But why would I complain about my own attorney and judge?  The answer is the story behind Toxic Justice.