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Thread: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    I am with you Bombersquadron6. I only wish we could hold Article III judges more accountable. However, the Founding Fathers did not set things up that way. Basically, all you can do if you think an Article III judge acted improperly is appeal the decision or seek his or her impeachment before the full US Senate! Put another way, the Founding Fathers thought that these jobs were so significant that they were to be given the same importance, from a constitutional perspective, as the President's job and the jobs of the members of Congress. We could debate this all day long, but the bottom line is that if you want another way of dealing with federal judges who you belive have acted improperly, then you would have to amend the Constitution itself.

    I hate to say it, but the Founding Fathers were probably right. It would be better to have a bad apple here or there in the federal judiciary than have a group of judges who were subjected to the beck and call of others. Do you realize it would be easier to remove the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs from his job than a federal judge from his or her job? This is the way James Madison and company set it up because they thought that these jobs were among the most important in the federal government. This is why I advocate that the best way to make sure we have federal judges who act and rule appropriately is to require that they undergo and pass psychological testing . This should be done because they are people who just cannot handle all the power and trappings that come with the position and those should be weeded out in the selection process.

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    Senior Member bombsquadron6's Avatar
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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Dear Sensible, It is not necessary to explain the intent of the Founding Fathers, nor why they designed the federal judiciary to be lifelong appointments. I know how government is supposed to work and am quite knowledgeable about the constitution and the three branches of government. I spent two years in federal court in a labor law case and watched as the federal district court judge ignored established labor law, made up his own legal standards that had no basis in law and granted summary judgement to the transit company while denying us discovery and all due process. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision despite the clear violations committed by the district court judge. They protect one another. We filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). It ws denied. This particular district court judge was a well known friend of a prominent Senator from Utah who helped obtain a 480 million dollar full funding grant agreement for the transit district we had sued. Had we won the case as we should have, the transit company would have been ineligible for this federal grant money since they were not in compliance with federal labor law as mandated by federal statute. In retrospect, we should have known that this judge would never issue a ruling that his friend, the Senator, would not like. This particular Senator had, at the time, incredible power and influence in the nominations of judges to the federal bench and it was well known that the district court judge was on the fast track to the Supreme Court in part because of his close association with this Senator. You can connect the dots, Sensible. Don't think for one minute that I am naive or uneducated about the judicial system. But we did something that few people who are shafted in court do. We documented everything, filed judicial misconduct complaints against all the judges involved and sent the material to many, many members of Congress as well as numerous other including the judicial councils of both the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court as well as Justice Breyer who oversees the Tenth Circuit and Chief Justice Roberts. (The district court judge resigned shortly after.) I made sure they understood that I would use this case to argue against a salary increase until administrative steps are taken to hold rogue judges accountable. While they cannot be removed from office they can certainly be held accountable for their behavior. The current system requires a complaintant to file misconduct complaints with the Circuit Court Judicial Council. The Council is made up of judges who all know the judge being complained about. As you know, they rarely find any merit with these complaints, effectively shielding the judge from accountbility. In our case, the district court judge was often a visiting judge on Tenth Circuit panels, meaning he was likely personal friends with the judges reviewing the misconduct complaints. Obviously, the judicial system should not allow this sort of conflict of interest and it can be remedied by administative means. How about a judicial council made up of law professors or members of the bar who do not know the judge who is complained about? There are lots of relatively easy fixes that would make for a much more level playing field but you do not seem to advocate any of them. You just take the position that there will always be a few bad apples so just give the judiciary a big pay raise and be done with it. Well, I grew up in a family that taught me to always have integrity and fight for justice. My experience in federal court was shocking and my cause now is to try to prevent this from happening to others. You are very angry that I would try to stand in the way of a huge raise for the judiciary. Well, that judiciary works for me and every other law abiding taxpaying American. It does not work for Exxon or Ford or any other big corporation. Perhaps, when the judiciary finds its moral compass, we will give them a raise.

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    Senior Member bombsquadron6's Avatar
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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Dear Sensible, As a post script to my previous message I would like to remind you of something that every military man and woman well knows. In the services, misconduct is dealt with swiftly and severely. There are no passes and they will be held accountable, sometimes, for things they had little control over. They accept this and serve to the best of their ability for low pay. Federal judges should be no less accountable than those in the military.

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    The problem is, these boards of judicial misconduct have very limited power. About all they can do under the constitution is bar a judge from hearing cases. They cannot even suspend the judge from receiving his or her pay. Nothing can be done about this. Even if Congress were to pass a law imposing more serious sanctions, absent evidence of a crime, I can assure you it would be declared unconstitutional.

    My suggestion here is, if you have true evidence of corruption, then push for criminal charges. Bribery is a crime by all federal officials. Other than that, about all you can do is appeal.

    I am empathetic with you for having lost such a big case. This is one of the problems with the job of being a judge, however. One side has to win, and the other has to lose. The losing side is almost always unhappy. Now, that is not to say that you were not treated unfairly. My problem with really commenting on your case in particular is that there are always two sides to every lawsuit, and I would have to hear the other side's arguments and positions to give you an opinion. No need to go there with this thread, because your case sounds highly complicated and without really researching the facts and law and hearing from all sides I am not in a position to take a position.

    You ask why I feel the way I do about the judge's pay issue. There are a number of reasons. One is that I do not look at it so much as giving them a raise as in making reparations from many years of de facto pay cuts. No one in the private sector gets the paltry precentage annual increases the judges have been getting. No company would stay in business for very long if it gave its most senior people pay "raises" less than the amount of inflation 16 years in a row. Second, do you realize that the way the system is set up has resulted in thousands of people in the federal trial system to likewise end up with de factor pay cuts? You see, there is a thing in the federal system called pay caps. They apply to Federal Public Defenders, Assist. U.S. Attorneys, DOJ attorneys and others. When these judges get only a 1.5% raise, guess what happens? Everyone else who is at the cap gets a similar paltry raise because Congress has linked the two pay increases. So you may not realize it, but when you advocate a continuation of the current policy of very low annual increases which is less than the amount of inflation, that indirectly hurts many other federal workers.

    I have many close friends who are still with the U.S. Attorney and are really suffering financially because of thes pay system Congress has implemented. I am amazed at the dedication of many of those public servants -- a number of them are among the best trial lawyers you have ever seen. Some spend their days slaving over very, very important legal cases -- the sort of case only the most senior trial attorney in major lawfirms handle. And frankly, since they try more cases than private practicioners, they are better trial lawyers than most in private practice. Yet here we have a system that doesn't even give these dedicated individuals annual raises equal to the amount of inflation. Some of these prosecutors are handling cases aganist violent criminals and organized crime bosses, and are risking their personal safety by seeking their imprisonment. Others are handling cases against major corporations and their CEOs who can afford to hire the best legal talent money can buy (e.g., the Enron defendants). The only way to stop shafting these career federal attorneys is to stop shafting the judges -- as a practical manner it is the only approach that will work because Congress would never allow a system where capped out prosecutors and public defenders got better raises than the judges.

    So, I go back to my original premise: there are a lot of folks working for the federal government who are getting maltreatment in terms of annual pay increases. I agree with you totally; if the military is not getting the worst treatment of employee groups, it is sure close to it. This is all brought about by Congress' inability to manage. Congress only reacts, it is not proactive. That is why we have the oil crisis and the huge budget deficits. Do you realize next year Congress will give a $600 million subsidy to European countries for biofuels refined in the U.S.? How idiotic. Its almost as crazy as borrowing money from the Saudis, the Chinese and Japanese to pay tax rebates. You can look at example after example after example where Congress wastes money that could be used far more wisely.

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    Senior Member bombsquadron6's Avatar
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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Dear Sensible, You say that all that can be done to federal judges who commit misconduct is to bar them from hearing cases. Well, that is something that could and should be done. But when judicial councils routinely find no merit in misconduct complaints regardless of the facts, they are encouraging misconduct. Councils should be made up of people from the legal community who are not within the courts. They would find some of these complaints certainly do have merit. Publish the names of the judge and the findings and you would go a long way to stop this sort of thing. These judges are all very ambitious and want to move up the judicial food chain. The dishonest or incompetent ones would quickly be identified and subject to public criticism. In our case, the district court judge who resigned likely knew that he would never move up since this case is well known among the Senate Judiciary. The Senator I spoke of has written me four letters. Although the letters are polite it is obvious he is very angry at me. But never has he or anyone else said that I am wrong or that our charges were frivolous. I can take the heat and will not back down. Work for a better judiciary and then ask for a raise.

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Bombsquadron6 - You say that judicial councils routinely fnid no merit in misconduct complaints. Well, I have seen at least one where they have found merit (e.g., the judge accused of sexual harrassment, mentioned in my earlier post). Not only that, this judge was moved to another city and the council's findings were repeatedly published on the front page of a major newspaper. Since each case is so unique, it is probably hard to say that the councils just whitewashed the allegations.

    Not all these judges are as ambitious as you say. Some just want to serve the public. For example, there is one in Houston who was managing partner of one of the nation's largest lawfirms (700+ attorneys). He stepped down to take the postion of district court judge. We estimate he had to have taken at least an $800K annual pay cut (he is an example of the ultra rich who take the job because they do not need money). My hat's off to the gentleman; when he is not hearing cases he is active in his church and goes on prison visitations as part of his church's ministry.

    My point is, be careful about using too broad a brush in painting the federal judiciary. I do not know all the facts about your case, but it is clear that you feel mistreated by the system. Perhaps your feeling are righteous. Nonetheless, what I do know is this. I do not care if you are dealing with soldiers, pastors, lawyers, doctors, judges, engineers or indian chiefs. Any time you deal with a group of human beings numbering in the thousands, there will very likely be a few who are corrupt or unethical. That is just the nature of things. We live in an imperfect world. Nontheless, my experience has been that, the vast majority of the men and women who serve on the federal bench are extremely ethical. That said, I am sure that there are a few who are not, just as I am sure there are soldiers, pastors, doctors, etc. who are not.

    God bless and I wish you all the best.

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    Senior Member bombsquadron6's Avatar
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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    Dear Sensible, After going to great lengths to make an argument I find that I have been labeled as rude and insensitive. Interestingly, the writer of that comment misspelled my screen name exactly as you have. I now have all these red dots next to my name, suggesting that I am a troublemaker. Oh well, once again, I will let the readers judge for themselves. Do one favor for me though. Go back to the judicial misconduct complaints that I cited to and read the last page of the second complaint (Tenth Circuit panel). I will not try to defend my reputation against anonymous people who leave comments on these blogs. But I will continue to seek justice.

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party!" Famous words were never truer than today. It appears that many of the US are not happy with the government as it stands. As it is written inthe US Constitution, let us all join together to protest this outrage! Rise up and request a New Congress by the way our fore fathers described. Hold the Continental Congress. they need not be the ones we hold in office now, just a representative of the majority inthe States. Let them Found the new government as it was to be, remove those that are oppressive, undesireable, or immoral in their respective offices. Let us Once and FOR ALL determine what is morally right.

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    That quote goes back a long way and I had to laugh when I read it. My father used to say it. Any you are right. Truer words were never spoken. The government of this nation has lost its way. Both parties are controlled by ideologues. The American middle class, at least those I am associated with, desperately want their country back. I am hopeful about this upcoming election but perhaps I am just being a Pollyanna. As for the posts on this thread, at the risk of being tedious, I will renew a call for that middle class to demand better treatment and pay for a deserving military and no pay raise for a judiciary that is unwilling to reform itself. I have clearly infuriated some members of that judiciary but taking a stand and speaking out is a right this country guarantees.

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    Re: Judicial Salary Increase v. Military Salary Increase

    I, too, am hopeful that our government realigns its priorities. Who knows? Maybe it will happen.

    On the issue of the judicial pay "raise," that is certainly your right to hold your view. However, please call it what it really is: you favor imposing annual de facto pay cuts to the federal judiciary (i.e., "raises" substantially less than the amount of inflation). This has been what has gone on now for 16 years in a row. And, unfortunately, it has indirectly resulted in a large number of other capped out federal workers also receiving de facto pay cuts (e.g., federal prosecutors, DOJ civil attorneys, federal public defenders).

    Best of luck, Sensible

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