Tag Archives: Superior Court

Where’s the Watchdog in this Arrangement?

Call me cynical, but how this differs from foxes guarding hens, I can’t fathom:

Scott Walker proposal would put Supreme Court in charge of Judicial Commission

And despite risking the sting of disdain from my relatively new state mates (I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 13 years, but not nearly long enough to be considered a true Wisconsinite, never mind that a great-grandmother was born and grew up here and her father, my great-great-grandfather is buried here), I’m sticking my foot in it by pointing to my former host state of California as an excellent model for all states’ judicial oversight/disciplinary bodies, even though it didn’t start out that way.

Initially, the California Commission on Judicial Performance had a majority membership of judges and was under the authority of the state’s Supreme Court.

The commission, the first in the country, was created in 1961 with a nine-member membership of five judges, two lawyers and two members of the public and powers to investigate allegations of judicial misconduct. While the commission could recommend the removal or other discipline of a judge, the Supreme Court had the final say on any such recommendation. Also, commission proceedings leading to its recommendations were held in secret.

Two decades ago, the commission underwent some radical changes. Voters approved a statewide proposition that increased commission membership to 11 of three judges, two lawyers and six public members. Other changes mandated “open hearings in all cases involving formal charges, the amendment conferred the authority for censure and removal determinations upon the commission, rather than the Supreme Court, and transferred the authority for promulgating rules governing the commission from the Judicial Council [which is chaired by the state’s Chief Justice] to the commission.”

Another plus is that commission appointments was not a monopoly held by any one person or body. Of the current 11 members, three were appointed by the state Supreme Court,  four by the governor, two by the state Assembly speaker and two by the state Senate Rules Committee.

I don’t know specifics, but during my time with the Los Angeles Superior Court from 1991-2002, my understanding was that the number of investigations increased, commission proceedings were reported in the news media, the commission took more disciplinary actions and public confidence in the commission increased significantly.

Given that experience, Wisconsin would do well to adopt something similar, although in the current climate of consolidating power and control at the center, that is about as likely as foxes being great hen house cops.

How great it would be if that other would-be watchdog, the news media, would point that out.



Court TV Reporter Makes it Big

Another famous face from the O.J. Simpson trial was on TV tonight — totally unrelated to the trial of the 20th year anniversary of it.

Terry Moran, who was identified as living in Paris, reported from Paris on the unbelievably horrendous Charlie Hebdo massacre.

ABC News photo

Terry covered the ’95 Simpson trial, and several other high-profile cases while I was the Los Angeles Superior Court’s information officer, for the cable television network Court TV, now named truTV. In 1997, following the Simpson civil trial, in which the jury decided on a $33 million judgment against Simpson, Moran moved to ABC where he held a variety of positions, including anchoring the World News Tonight and Nightline before becoming the network’s chief foreign correspondent.

Way to go, Terry!

Old Names in the News — Must be the 20th Anniversary

We’ve already seen news that 20 years after the media Klieg lights turned O.J. Simpson trial participants and some in their own ranks into stars, that the trial judge, Lance Ito, and doyenne of high-profile trial reporters, Linda Deutsch, are retiring — Ito after 27 years on the bench, 25 as a Superior Court judge,  Getty Images/AP

Deutsch after 50 years in journalism, 48 with The Associated PressMurder Trial Continues For Phil SpectorPool/Getty Images

Next up is former part-time Simpson defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, Alan Dershowitz, gestures during his press conference in Kiev on April 11, 2011. Ukraine's ex-president Leonid Kuchma hired Alan Dershowitz, a star US lawyer, who worked on the O.J. Simpson trial to act as an advisor in his defence against charges over the murder of a reporter. AFP PHOTO/GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images) GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

who’s angrily denying allegations of inappropriate and illegal behavior. Prominent Lawyer Alan Dershowitz Denies Underage Sex Claims

And 2nd-in-command prosecutor on the case, Christopher Darden, Christopher-Dardenwho says in  this interview after keeping a relatively low profile over the past couple of decades that he’s angry, too, or in his words, he’s “Now ‘Pissed Off’ Over the Outcome of the Trial.” Now?



Will Court Closure = Street Justice?

This is a sad state of affairs and represents a huge step backwards in an already downward spiraling California justice system, thanks to an unrelenting funding axe.

Rationing Justice: Closing LA ‘Gang Court’ Sets Up Vicious Spiral

My hat’s off to the judges and court administrators of the Superior Court in Los Angeles for keeping things going as well as they have in a decade-plus of bone-hacking budget cuts.

Rising From Broadus to Dogg to Lion

What a difference a couple of decades make.

I remember this gangly defendant on trial charged with attempted murder.

In truth, he was riding in a car with someone else who shot and wounded another man in the all-too-frequent gang-style drive by shootings in Los Angeles. (In California, just being a passenger in a car from which anyone in the car shoots and wounds or kills someone is treated by the law the same as the actual shooter.)

At that time I served as the public information officer for the Los Angeles Superior Court. This attempted-murder trial didn’t attract the attention the trial judge anticipated, in no small part because of another trial that was in progress on another floor of the Superior Court’s Criminal Courts Building. That was a murder trial in which the defendant’s celebrity was far greater.

That defendant was former college and professional football star, turned movie actor and television as pitchman, O.J. Simpson.

At the time, the attempted-murder trial defendant’s star was still rising. He had already changed his name from Calvin Broadus, which was on the criminal complaint, to Snoop Doggy Dogg.

He, like Simpson, was acquitted.

Unlike Simpson, he changed his name again, and yet again, first to just Snoop Dogg, then to Snoop Lion.

Also, unlike Simpson, he is not serving time in prison.

And, although he’s still big in the gangsta-rap racket, his image and reputation have been cleaning up nicely.