If you are a regular follower of this site, you know that our Institute and fellow advocates of government accountability have remained unable to obtain the necessary investigations of judicial/lawyer misconduct and family law reform. It is a trillion dollar industry controlling our courts much like the tobacco, energy and drug companies control our elected officials.
But the time for surrender and depression is over, we get it now, the ones we entrusted to deliver “justice for all” have made it clear they could care less about our grievances. Just don’t acknowledge us, and the misconduct simply did not occur. But this neglect of our complaints will no longer be tolerated. A citizen occupied commission is being organized to act in place of the official ones dominated by lawyers and violators.
Dubbed the Independent Misconduct Commission, we are looking for conscientious citizens willing to serve on our board of directors. We are also looking for contributors, writers and researchers on a voluntary basis until sufficient donations and investments can be obtained. That means we need fundraisers as well. Meetings will be conducted by teleconference or Skype with assignments by electronic means and phone.
The idea here is to act as a substitute for the corrupted commissions and committees. We will monitor judicial commissions across the states and deliver counter-reports where required for a more appropriate penalty which we will share with that commission and media. For those complaints that are wrongfully neglected, we will issue our own “reprimands,” “public censures” and “removal recommendations.” Our ever expanding website (to be developed soon) will catalogue all our reports and shared over the internet.
The myth that widespread corruption in our courts is nonexistent may easily be debunked by citing major joint investigations such as Operation Greylord in Chicago. 17 judges, 48 lawyers, 10 deputy sheriffs, 8 policemen, 8 court officials and one elected official were indicted. Nearly all were convicted. The young lawyer secured by the FBI to gather evidence in that Operation was advised that he might never practice law as a result. I incurred that very punishment for my whistle blowing and reform activity, hence my resolve to make this independent commission a reality.
An independent citizen commission is further justified by recent reports such as those in New York and California showing that as little as 10 % of all complaints are even investigated by the official judicial commissions. Our third branch of government cannot immunize itself from accountability in this manner. The number of judges convicted in federal court of bribes, extortion, racketeering and fixing custody cases is unprecedented. That fact alone justifies checks and balancing of their self-regulated operation. To that end, a sampling of documented cases is now in order.
New York Chief Judge Sol Wachtler was sent to federal prison for secretly harassing his mistress and her daughter for a bribe. He directed paid court staff to harm the lawyer who was helping her expose him. In his book, After the Madness, Wachtler rationalized that judges are taught to think as gods. Contrary to that status, my custody judge was banned from the bench after admitting to sexual abuse of his handicapped, five-year old niece, In re Bryan Hedges, 20 NY3d 677 (2013). Unlike priests and other sexual predators, that judge was never prosecuted criminally.
Brooklyn divorce judge, Gerald Garson, was also sent to federal prison after FBI agents proved that he had accepted a bribe to fix a custody case in favor of a father. He was released early after numerous Garson colleagues submitted good references. Now what does that say about setting an example and any genuine concern for fairness and justice? In upstate, New York, another judge tried the same thing in favor of a mother. New York Supreme Court Judge Thomas Spargo was convicted for seeking a $10,000 bribe. He needed it for lawyer fees to defend earlier misconduct charges.
In the “Kids for Cash” scandal, two Pennsylvania judges were sent to federal prison for accepting bribes from detention center contractors. 4,000 juvenile convictions had to be overturned by the state’s Supreme Court which had its own justices mired in scandals. One juvenile victim committed suicide, and his mom chastised these judges at their sentencing. one co-defendant judge ordered evaluations to be conducted by a relative who raked in over $1 million as a result.
A married Michigan judge, Wade McCree, presided over a child support case while getting the mom pregnant and putting an unknowing dad on a support monitor. He was removed from the bench, but the dad’s lawsuit was turned down by the U.S. Supreme Court due to judge immunity. Can it be that judge adultery in chambers with an active litigant is now a protected judicial act? What other “acts” are judge-immune?
In Watertown, New York, a state court judge, James McClusky, sentenced a school employee convicted of sexually abusing a 14 year old student to probation, no jail time, while good fathers are being sentenced to six month jail terms in the same court for failing to pay child support bills. Victim supporters collected over 70,000 signatures in a petition to remove McClusky, but months later, that judge remains on the bench and the state judicial conduct commission has taken no action.
Finally, we bring you a shocker from Utica, New York. City Judge Gerald Popeo was merely censured in 2015 by the same judicial commission despite a hearing judge who found that he had made racist jokes to an African-American attorney. Asked whether the attorney knew what downstate blacks called upstate blacks, Judge Popeo got no answer. He then stated, “country niggers.” He targeted a former African-American commissioner causing a suicide attempt in the city lock-up.
Gerald Popeo was found guilty of numerous ethics violations. He threatened to come off the bench to wipe a smirk off a litigant’s face. He jailed men for contempt in violation of their rights. And because he was never removed, Popeo was assigned to my family court matters in 2018 (as a city judge), resulting in a near fatal outcome. How is such violent, racist and unethical conduct appropriate for family court where domestic violence and debtor prisons are common? Popeo was brought up on complaints of racism and bias against this judicial whistle blower but, to date, nothing has come of it. With an independent commission, we would have countered the public censure with a report publicly demanding Popeo’s removal and disbarment.
Such egregious misconduct is not limited to state judges. In United States v Cossey, 632 F.3d 82 (2nd Cir. 2011), a federal judge issued a six-year sentence for a non-violent offense with the kind of omnipotence that would make anyone cringe. Judge Gary Sharpe announced a gene to explain criminal behavior, one that would be not be discovered for another fifty years: “It is a gene you were born with. And it’s not a gene you can get rid of,” he emphasized to the defendant while condemning the psychiatric profession for its own opinions that were “all over the board.”
Reversing this decision, a federal appeals court unanimously found that Sharpe’s brand of justice “seriously affected the fairness, integrity and public reputation of judicial proceedings.” In a rare move, it referred the case to another judge on remand. Such gross misconduct conflicted with the rationale for granting life tenure to federal jurists. Recourse is limited to the illusory process of impeachment where only one judge in our history was removed for non-criminal behavior.
This sort of “Hitleresque” mindset must be rooted out for the evil that it is with congressional hearings. In countless family court cases, records are falsified and misconduct is concealed or disregarded to protect judicial reputation. Judges are widely deemed to be beyond reproach. Tragedies have therefore resulted from oversight failures and a lack of criminal prosecutions involving human rights violations under federal law such as the ones cited above. Five cases highlight the horrific consequences to parents, families and law enforcement over the past decade:
On September 28, 2009, police Investigator Joseph Longo was ordered to pay $1,800 in monthly child support. He answered the same day with a murder- suicide leaving four children without parents. Even the district attorney could not predict this. A $2 million recovery was based on a zone of danger created by city officials as opposed to family court, Pearce v Longo, 766 F. Supp. 2d 367 (2011) LaDuca, Rage built Longo to murder-suicide, Observer Dispatch, 12/30/09.
On June 15, 2011, a father and war veteran, Thomas Ball, burned himself alive on the steps of a family court to protest years of abuse and separation from his children. It stemmed from a single incident of slapping his daughter, and he left behind a manifesto on how to firebomb courts. Even after such a horrific death, the ex-wife stubbornly defended herself by complaining that her children’s dad failed to comply with court counselling. This is how demented the process has become, see Mark Arsenault, Dad leaves clues to his desperation, Boston Globe, July 10, 2011.
On April 4, 2015, Walter Scott, an unarmed father was shot dead five times in the back by a traffic cop while fleeing a support warrant. The shocking murder was videoed by a concealed bystander. Contrary to national hype focused on racism, the victim’s funeral pastor blamed it on draconian child support confinements. Many concluded that the state was now killing for money given the revolving door outcomes. In vain, two reporters warned of this trend, see Robles and Dewan, Skip child support. Go to jail. Lose job. Repeat. New York Times, 4/15/15 at pg. 1.
On July 30, 2018, a physical therapist with a practice in Manhattan fatally shot his ex-wife, their 6-year old son and current wife in his Astoria (Queens) home. It became the final edict in a protracted custody battle fueled by judicial war games. After a failed Go-Fund-Me effort to pay his lawyer fees, in a page titled “Child Kidnapping,” the abused dad, James Shield, explained, “I had the perfect life a few years ago but it has spiraled out of control,” Moore, Musemeci and Sheehy, Custody battle led dad to family murder suicide, New York Post, July 31, 2018.
And so the carnage continues, this time in Philadelphia where a mother showed her dissatisfaction during a domestic dispute over child support by purchasing a gun and killing the father and their two infant children the next day. It occurred on October 15, 2019 and the mother, Damyrra Jones, survived her suicide attempt only to be arrested on multiple counts of murder.
Less transparent are the countless cases swarming beneath these five which can easily explode. Their cause is wrongfully blamed on the parents. The public is duped into believing that an adversarial process yields truth and justice in our courts. That may be true in other forms of litigation, but when children are taken hostage by untethered lawyers, the opposite is true here. Parents commit perjury on an artificial premise that they are protecting their offspring. Sparks convert to forest fires, children emulate the dysfunction, and the perpetrators profit.
If you would like to do something meaningful about this growing, silent epidemic, support our Independent Misconduct Commission. Make government accountability real from the people who entrusted our government officials with the greatest of duties. E-mail me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our PRI office at (315) 380-3420.