A recent complaint filed with the US Attorney by Joseph Zernik, Ph.D., on behalf of imprisoned former attorney Richard Fine highlights how the irregularities in court records and public access to those records may be at the root of much judicial misconduct. When the public cannot be sure of who was involved in a decision, what the decision was, and what evidence and testimony were considered, the entire legal system loses all appearance of justice. Zernik alleges that this is exactly what has happened to Richard Fine and outlines such problems with records he has inspected or attempted to obtain himself. Without easy public access to accurate records, the courts cannot be trusted.
On July 8, 2010, Joseph Zernik, Ph.D.  filed a complaint with Andre Birotte Jr. of the US Attorney Office on behalf of American political prisoner Richard Fine. Fine has been imprisoned for nearly a year and a half as apparent retaliation for his challenging of the corrupt Los Angeles Superior Court and its illegal practice of receiving payments from the County of Los Angeles that appears to have influenced the outcomes in many cases heard by the judges receiving these payments.
The complaint refers to the Marina v LA County (BS109420) civil case which has been used as a vehicle to imprison Richard Fine with the excuse of a “contempt of court” order. Yet the Court refuses to allow citizens to review relevant records in this case that should be accessible to the general public. Consequently, there are questions as to whether required documents even exist.
In Marina v LA County (BS109420) – Ancillary proceedings on contempt under Petition for Injunction at the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles – as detailed in instant complaint no warrant, no judgment, no conviction and no sentencing were ever entered in the case for the arrest or imprisonment of Richard Fine.
The complaint alleges that Judge David Yaffe, Presiding Judge Charles McCoy, Sheriff LeRoy Baca, Clerk John Clarke, and Attorney Frederic Bennett have conspired to deprive Richard Fine of his civil rights and to falsely imprison him on fraudulent orders of the court. The specific allegations include:
- public corruption
- wire/fax fraud
- honest services fraud
- obstruction of justice
- retaliating against a witness, victim, or informant
- tampering with a witness, victim, or informant
- mail fraud
The complaint also includes links to documentation of other fraudulent imprisonment cases in Los Angeles.
Dr. Zernik has also filed complaints and reports with the United Nations regarding their review of human rights abuses in the United States.
Zernik’s Human Right Alert Website
Zernik’s Humans Right Alert  website features a growing list of findings of problems with corruption, fraudulent records, records tampering, and judicial misconduct going all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The site is certainly worth reading for anybody interested in how corrupt, abusive, and lawless American courts have become in recent years.
Records Fraud and Secrecy Are Enablers of Judicial Abuse
Zernik’s contention for the cause of many of the cases discussed on his site is that public records fraud and secrecy is being systematically used to cause the deprivations of rights, false arrest, and imprisonment of at least many tens of thousands of Americans while covering up the responsibility for these actions.
His reasoning is that the transition to digital records has been mismanaged by US courts and government agencies to deny access to the public and to hide the authenticity of records, thereby allowing fraudulent records to be entered into digital systems in which the public has no ability to detect the fraud and may not even have the ability to view the records at all. As one of many examples of this, he cites how the records show that the arrest warrant for Richard Fine was issued by the Municipal Court of San Pedro. That might sound fine until one realizes that there is no such court, there hasn’t been such a court in about a decade, and the LA Sheriff’s Department arrest of Richard Fine occurred at a different court that was not in San Pedro.
Attorney Fine was arrested, as reported by media, in the Central District Courthouse, in downtown City of Los Angeles. However, the Sheriff’s Department insisted on publishing online false records that purported that Attorney Fine was arrested and booked by the non-existent Municipal Court of the City of San Pedro. At the same time, the Sheriff’s Department refused to allow access to the arrest and booking records of Attorney Fine, in disregard of California Public Records Act.
We checked and found that it does appear Zernik is right about the arrest booking location according to the LA Sheriff’s Inmate Information Center .
Zernik’s Personal Court Experiences
We’ve noticed that proponents of judicial reform generally had to experience how bad the courts are personally before they realized how urgently reforms are needed. Zernik’s gripes with American courts appear to stem from his own personal bad experiences with the Los Angeles Superior Court  including his own court records being inaccessible to him. If you’ve ever tried to use the Los Angeles Superior Court website, you quickly find that you can get no information about cases unless you’re willing to pay them to search for a case. As Zernik points out, by making court records unavailable or difficult to access, the government is enabling fraud by making it costly for parties presented with legitimate-looking “court orders” to verify their authenticity.
It may be hard for the inexperienced typical citizen who has never set foot in a court to appreciate just how abusive American courts have become. Zernik’s complaints may not appear credible to such people. Yet when such people later find themselves involved with these courts, it quickly becomes apparent that the phrase “justice is blind” (which is used to imply impartiality) might be short for “justice is blind, deaf, dumb, and stupid” given what really happens. Others may find “justice is blind greed” might be more accurate given the propensity for many judges to reach decisions based more upon their financial or other personal interests than upon the law or the evidence.
American Increasingly Distrustful of Courts For Solid Reasons
Even if Zernik is somehow mistaken in some of his accusations, it is clear he is right that many American court systems work poorly, unfairly, and in secrecy. This appears to be the case at every level of the court system. But it is probably most commonly seen in courts that get little public and media attention and therefore escape the safeguard of public scrutiny.
The family law and juvenile courts in general probably deserve the highest amount of criticisms. Even seemingly simple matters of required record keeping are resulting in cover-ups . They also appear to operate as a cartel with divorce industry professionals intent on bilking the family fortunes from parents who find themselves in a family law court and government social services agencies that are intent on funding themselves by removing children from their parents to get federal Title IV-D payments.
Juvenile court cases are routinely closed to the public. This readily enables severe abuses of justice as happened to thousands of children in Pennsylvania who were deprived of their rights and falsely imprisoned in private jails so judges could earn kickbacks . While “officers of the court” (i.e. attorneys) who witnessed these perversions of justice should have reported them, they did not. It is not in their financial or personal interests to report a judge for a crime when the attorney will have to appear in front of the judge again and could be ruled against, fined, or even imprisoned by that judge as retaliation. Such judges have too much power given the far too little oversight and accountability they have.
In family law courts, frequently case files are sealed and/or portions of files are conveniently “lost” in cases in which there is apparent judicial bias and misconduct. One wonders if the court clerks are there to serve the public or to serve abusive judges by helping them to cover up their misconduct.
Civil courts and criminal courts are also prone to misconduct and injustice. The wrongful imprisonment of Richard Fine stems out of a civil case. The recent case of Tonya Craft  highlights how even a criminal court judge can stack the deck against an innocent person in an attempt to railroad the accused in collusion with abusive law enforcement and prosecution. Fortunately there was a jury that was wise enough to keep this abused mother from being imprisoned for many more years.
The nation’s courts have become a disgrace and a barrier to justice from the local to national levels. It is understandable that an increasing number of citizens have zero faith in the courts and the government as obvious well-publicized cases of misconduct and abuse continue unabated and they or people they know are experiencing judicial misconduct themselves. Even a well-connected famous and reputable person like Richard Fine cannot get fair treatment under the law from any court in the United States. It has become clear to many that justice will not be served if it is not in the financial interests of judges to do so. This is exactly why today’s American courts appear to be thoroughly corrupt at every level.