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The decay of American Jurisprudence

As a ProPer litigant, I’ve learned a great deal about evaluating the quality, performance, and integrity of jurists, not by considering their public awards and accolades, but by reading their cases returned on appeal.   While I’m sure there are many traits that define a fair and just jurist, I’ve learn one valuable trait that is increasingly becoming absent from too many present on the bench.   A fair judge will decide every case as if they expect it to be subject to judicial review tomorrow.   They will decide every case with the same authority and discretion, knowing that if subjected to peer review, their decision would stand as proper and upheld.   This trait was common among jurist 20 years ago, this generation jurist is a different animal.


In the past, most jurists would be loath to have their decision returned, with instruction, horrified to have their decision, challenged and rejected by their peers.   Today’s judges have discovered that an error, even a deliberate error, which isn’t really an error, is not only forgivable and accepted, it goes ignored.   These jurist know that even the most simple “error”, the kind that is so obvious, that the even a legal neophyte could only assume that such fundamental “error” could never be a mistake, will never result in any significant retribution.   The law is complicated, and its interpretation is subject to human error, and being human, a fair jurist can be forgiven, given the fact that such mistake is in deed, an error.   Deliberate errors,  however, should never be forgiven given its expense on society, both to the litigant, and the appellate courts.


To illustrate this point, consider the case of Michael McCartin, Orange County Superior Court Judge, and son and descendent of a well respected jurist long retired and expired.   In an example of exactly how far fruit can fall from its tree, McCartin Jr. was admonished by an appellate court for knowingly and deliberately denying a litigant of custody of his child, despite a previous judgement ordering such, and federal laws protecting returning service members who proudly serve their country in military service.   In a scathing decision, the appellate panel determined that the jurist knew his decision was flawed, but rendered it regardless.   In the end, with virtual impunity, he was moved from family to small claims, to minimize potential damage to the community.


Next case in point, Charles Margines, Orange County Superior Court Judge, and Assistant Presiding Judge.   In a case he inherited from another unjust jurist, Francisco Firmat, in which the then retired judge Firmat exercised jurisdiction beyond his authority, upon receiving the case, judge Margines acknowledged the void characteristic of Firmat’s decision, then proceeded to edit the record in an attempt to convert a void judgement, to that of an enforceable judgement.   Judges enjoy wide discretion when modifying orders with errors, especially if the order contains an error that is clerical in nature, but when the court clearly exceeds it subject matter jurisdiction, the order is deemed void, not merely voidable.   In a case involving one of the largest Christian organizations in the world, TBN, judge Margines noted the fact that the previous order was void, yet continued to edit the record and render it just.   In their decision, the appellate court admonished the judge they quoted from transcript, his acknowledgement that the decision before him was void, yet he modified the order and declared its revision enforceable.


My next example is personal.   Commissioner Carmen Luege, claiming over 20 years legal experience as both a prosecutor, and jurist, having claimed to receive numerous awards and accolades, in a simple unlawful detainer proceeding, denied a litigant access to her property, despite the fact she was the only name on title.   In a proceeding that was clearly summary in nature, Ms. Luege rendered a decision in favor of the defendant, despite placing him under arrest, immediately following the hearing, for felony drug sales, committed in the very house the owner seeked his removal from, determining the defendant had a life estate.   Certainly she knew her venue lacked subject matter jurisdiction to make such determination, especially since issues of title are barred by statute in civil limited, UD hearings, and she based this decision on a document, that by her own admission, was a copy, challenged by an opposing witness, three times, as an obvious fake, and she failed to enter a copy of such forgery into court records.  This case pending.


The sad fact is that judges like these, are becoming all too common.   In the case of Carmen Luege, when judges use the authority of the submission ruling, not to avoid the ire of an angry litigant, but to render decisions they know are wrong, with the sole intention of avoiding deliberate, obvious, peer observation.  It’s disgusting, unfortunately, I don’t see any relief, anytime soon.