Monday, January 10, 2005

Have Morals, get transferred out

...

Those within the judicial and law enforcement system risk losing their jobs or being transferred out for exposing corruption, streamlining, and actually acting in the public’s best interest, not selfish interests and for revenue collection.

Citizens speaking out about corruption, poor policies, rogue members, and being screwed over by law enforcement and/or in the courts face harassment, arrests, prison, and/or other retaliation.

I assume the rest of the country operates similar to the way Connecticut does, but hasn’t gone down as far a path of self-destruction and sleaze.

Both the Judiciary and Law Enforcement top brass are notified of any proposed legislation regarding law enforcement and the courts through liaisons, and these liaisons let elected officials know whether or not they have permission to legislate regarding the police or the courts. What!!!???

So, who is really in charge, and does it even resemble the ideals of a Democratic Republic?
-Steven G. Erickson

Judge's Transfer Seen As A Loss For Juveniles
Award-Winning Jurist's Move To Civil Court Is Questioned

January 9, 2005 By ALAINE GRIFFIN, Hartford Courant Staff Writer

Superior Court Judge Carmen L. Lopez has earned a reputation as an advocate for children and an outspoken critic of flaws in the juvenile justice system, and is one of the state's few Latino judges.

Now, child advocates and members of the Latino community are questioning her transfer from the child protection session of juvenile court in Middletown to the civil division in Superior Court in New Haven. The move comes as Lopez's reappointment to the bench is up for consideration by the legislature's judiciary committee.

Lopez's supporters are wondering why a veteran child-protection judge hailed nationally for her ability to combine legal expertise with her professional interest in juvenile justice is no longer handling the state's most serious family cases.

"Judge Lopez has been one of the few judges that has dedicated her life to the juvenile court," Robert Francis, director of the Regional Youth/Adult Substance Abuse Project in Bridgeport, said.

"Often, we get judges who are there for short periods of time. To lose a judge with her experience in this area is quite sad."

Lopez was one of four judges reassigned in October "to meet the needs of the various courts," Chief Court Administrator Joseph H. Pellegrino said in a written statement.

She has been serving in New Haven since then.

"Judicial assignments are made on an annual basis," Pellegrino said.

"However, interim assignment changes are made when necessary. The judicial branch does not comment on the reason for an individual judge's assignment or reassignment."

But supporters say they want to know that reason.

In letter-writing campaigns and through mass e-mail messaging, Lopez's supporters are urging people to write to Pellegrino demanding answers about the transfer. So far, the transfer has been the subject of an article in the weekly Connecticut Law Tribune, and in a Dec. 10 editorial, Cablevision urged the judicial branch to put Lopez back in her old job.

"Kids who wind up in child protection courts desperately need the expertise, to say nothing of the kind heart, of a judge like Carmen Lopez. She should be allowed to serve them again," the editorial said.

At the Capitol on Wednesday, supporters plan to speak for Lopez's reappointment during a public hearing before the judiciary committee and they say they will also question the transfer.

Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the judiciary committee, said the committee has asked the judicial branch to explain Lopez's transfer.

"While we're reluctant to get involved in internal judicial matters, we think in this case it's worth finding out what the story is," Lawlor said.

"The circumstances surrounding the transfer are not clear to me at all. If it was because of any kind of misconduct, that's something we would want to know."

Wednesday's hearing will give all parties - including Lopez - a chance to speak, although Lawlor said the committee will probably steer discussion away from Lopez's transfer and toward her work as a judge. The committee would question a judge's reappointment if there is "clear evidence of some type of misconduct" or "some extraordinary examples" of bad courtroom behavior, he said.

When asked if he had concerns about Lopez's transfer, Lawlor said judges in Connecticut don't typically spend a long time in one particular court.

"I think one of the good things about that is it keeps judges from getting entrenched in any one court," Lawlor said.

Messages left for Lopez at Superior Court in New Haven were not returned this week, but Lopez told the Law Tribune she was never given an explanation for the transfer.

The Law Tribune reported that she has retained a lawyer, David S. Golub of Stamford, but Lopez would not say whether she is contemplating legal action, the Law Tribune said. Golub did not return telephone messages.

In 1996, then-Gov. John G. Rowland picked Lopez to be a judge. Since that time, she has presided over criminal, child protection and juvenile delinquency cases in the judicial districts of Waterbury, New Haven and Bridgeport.

She has worked in Middletown's child protection session since February 2001.Lopez organized the 2000 American Bar Association Juvenile Court Day, a gathering of community leaders who created strategies for enhancing the judicial system's ability to serve court-involved youths and prevent recidivism.

She also represented Connecticut in the federally funded Alternative Services for Court-Involved Girls Project, a national project that examines the lives of at-risk girls and young women.

Lopez, who has received awards for her work in juvenile courts, is on the board of trustees for the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges, although it is not clear if her status there will change because of the transfer.

"People are really outraged and think it's a real shame that a person with such a stellar reputation on juvenile matters is not serving in juvenile court," Juan Figueroa, an attorney and longtime friend of Lopez, said.

"The transfer doesn't make any sense."

Figueroa said many judges don't consider the child protection session a steppingstone in their legal career but Lopez wanted to be there.

"It's a real shame her talents aren't being used," he said.

Francis said the judicial branch's lack of an explanation for the transfer has left some to speculate what prompted the move.

Some believe it's in retaliation for her controversial support of legislation that would open juvenile court records and proceedings to the public. Such legislation was proposed last year and died in committee, but it might be reintroduced this year.

Others say the transfer is a response to her recent clash with the state Department of Children and Families.

Lopez leveled harsh criticism at the agency in August, accusing a social worker of intentionally falsifying facts in a child abuse case.

She found that the social worker attempted to build a strong case for abuse by ignoring information that the child's injuries may have been accidental.

In a strongly worded ruling, Lopez said the case was "an appalling combination of arrogance and ineptitude" by DCF and its removal of the child from the family home caused senseless trauma.

"But, we're guessing about the reasons," Francis said.

"And it's the secrecy of the judicial department that's kind of upsetting here."

Pellegrino said the recent controversies involving Lopez played no part in her transfer.

"This decision had absolutely nothing to do with either of those scenarios," Pellegrino said.

"We do not base these decisions on rulings made by our judges or on positions they may take on issues of public policy. To allege that this decision is because of a ruling or an opinion flies in the face of judicial independence, which we strongly support."

Staff Writer Colin Poitras contributed to this report.

The above came from the Hartford Courant website.

Fair use of copyrighted material

* * * *

My email to incoming Gov. Rell of Connecticut regarding Rowland and corruption

How can there not still be sleaze in the Connecticut Governor’s Office, if former Rowland aids are answering Rell’s phones? (post)

Telling your Attorney to go fuck himself- PRICELESS

A Justice System really has to be corrupt and out of hand for something to actually change

The Death of Shame in America
(O'Reilly of the O'Reilly Factor, Fox News, asks Gov. John G. Rowland to resign Dec. 2003)

* * * *

Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?
(post contains pictures of young adults brutalized by police, and picture of a 1978 Chevrolet Corvette and one of the houses I fixed up from a boarded up condition)

Are their unnamed factions in the US, similar to the KKK?

With rogue judges and their minions, police officers, do we really live in a Democracy? (post)

This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

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