OPINION: The heightened pleading standard established in 2009 is based on faulty propositions. Arthur H. Bryant, The National Law Journal


National Law Journal
http://www.nationallawjournal.com/printerfriendly/id=1202758245088

‘Iqbal’ Brings Seven Years of Bad Luck for Plaintiffs

OPINION: The heightened pleading standard established in 2009 is based on faulty propositions.
Arthur H. Bryant, The National Law Journal
May 23, 2016

The seventh anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal was May 18. It’s a date that should live in infamy.
A 5-4 decision, Iqbal ignored reality — and the fact that truth is stranger than fiction. It flouted the process for amending the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. And it particularly limited access to justice for civil rights, employment discrimination and individual plaintiffs.
Seventy years before Iqbal, in 1938, the Federal Rules were adopted to get rid of “fact” pleading, which the rule-makers thought “led to wasteful disputes about distinctions that … were arbitrary or metaphysical, too often cutting off adjudication on the merits.” Under the new Rule 8, to start a lawsuit, the plaintiff had to file a complaint with “a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief.”
As the court later explained in Conley v. Gibson, the complaint did not have to “set out the facts in detail.” It just had to give the defendant “fair notice of what the plaintiff’s claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” A motion to dismiss would only be granted if “it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Then, the plaintiff could take discovery, to find out what the defendant and other relevant people knew and when they knew it. After that, the court would determine whether there was sufficient proof to require a trial.
In Iqbal, the court rejected a complaint alleging that high-level U.S. officials had a Pakistani Muslim and thousands of other Arab men illegally arrested and detained after the 9/11 attacks because of “their race, religion, and national origin … and not because of any evidence” of their “involvement in supporting terrorist activity.”
To do so, the court changed the rules. It held that, from now on, to “survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Dismissal no longer turned on whether the complaint provided “fair notice” to the defendant; it turned on whether the claim was “plausible on its face.” How were judges to determine that? By drawing on their “judicial experience and common sense.”
Motions to dismiss were immediately filed throughout the federal courts. Judges’ and lawyers’ workloads increased enormously. The lower courts and lawyers are still struggling to figure out how the new system is supposed to work — and, if they can, make it fair.
For three reasons, however, it’s become increasingly clear that Iqbal was a mistake.
First, whatever one thinks about the allegations in the case, the Iqbal pleading standard is based on a proposition — allegations probably aren’t true if they’re not plausible on their face — that is false. Reality keeps teaching us that. None of us, including federal judges using their “judicial experience and common sense,” would have believed that any of the following was plausible a few years ago:
• Donald Trump would be the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president of the United States of America.
• A prominent candidate for president would propose banning all Muslims from entering America or call women “fat pigs,” “dogs” and “disgusting animals.”
• Same-sex marriage would be legal nationwide.
• The U.S. government would obtain and be able to search virtually all Ameri­cans’ phone records.
• Olympic champion Bruce Jenner would become a woman, Caitlyn Jenner.
• Federal, state and local governments would battle over what kind of bathroom people such as Caitlyn Jenner could use.
Similar implausible things happen every day.
Second, Iqbal effectively rewrote the Federal Rules without following the legally established rules for amending them. Under the Rules Enabling Act, before rules are changed, detailed procedures must be followed involving the Advisory Committees to the U.S. Judicial Con­ference’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure; the Standing Committee itself; notice to and comment from lawyers, judges and the public; the U.S. Judicial Conference; the Supreme Court; and Congress — so the changes are fully considered and fair.
In 2002, the court unanimously rejected a company’s plea for a heightened pleading standard in employment discrimination cases, saying that result “must be obtained by the process of amending the Federal Rules, and not judicial interpretation.” It should have said that in Iqbal, too.
Third, Iqbal is especially harmful to civil rights, employment discrimination and individual plaintiffs. Last year, the most comprehensive study of Iqbal’s effects, “Measuring the Impact of Plausi­bility Pleading,” was published in the Virginia Law Review. It found that Iqbal increased dismissals of most cases by 10 percent, but employment discrimination and civil rights cases much more (16 percent and 19 percent, respectively). Cases filed by individuals were also dismissed far more often (18 percent), but not cases filed by corporations.
In theory, this could mean that only bad cases were dismissed more promptly. But, if that were true, a higher percentage of the cases remaining in court would succeed. They didn’t. These plaintiffs were just disproportionately denied a chance to prove their claims.
The high court should reverse the Iqbal decision. Whether cases proceed should turn on the facts and the law, not on whether judges think the allegations are plausible.
Arthur H. Bryant is the chairman of Public Justice, a national public interest law firm dedicated to advancing and preserving access to justice. His practice focuses on consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, environmental protection, and corporate and government accountability.

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Judge Says FBI’s Hacking Tool Deployed In Child Porn Investigation Is An Illegal Search

Judge Says FBI’s Hacking Tool Deployed In Child Porn Investigation Is An Illegal Search

http://abovethelaw.com/2016/04/judge-says-fbis-hacking-tool-deployed-in-child-porn-investigation-is-an-illegal-search/

The judicial system doesn’t seem to have a problem with the FBI acting as admins for child porn sites while conducting investigations. After all, judges have seen worse. They’ve OK’ed the FBI’s hiring of a “heroin-addicted prostitute” to seduce an investigation target into selling drugs to undercover agents. Judges have, for the most part, allowed the ATF to bust people for robbing fake drug houses containing zero drugs — even when the actual robbery has never taken place. Judges have also found nothing wrong with law enforcement creating its own “pedophilic organization,” recruiting members and encouraging them to create child pornography.
So, when the FBI ran a child porn site for two weeks last year, its position as a child porn middleman was never considered to be a problem. The “network investigative technique” (NIT) it used to obtain identifying information about anonymous site visitors and their computer hardware, however, has resulted in a few problems for the agency.
While the FBI has been able to fend off one defendant’s attempt to suppress evidence out in Washington, it has just seen its evidence disappear in another case related to its NIT and the “PlayPen” child porn site it seized (and ran) last year.
What troubles the court isn’t the FBI acting as a child porn conduit in exchange for unmasking Tor users. What bothers the court is the reach of its NIT, which extends far outside the jurisdiction of the magistrate judge who granted the FBI’s search warrants. This decision benefits defendant Alex Levin of Massachusetts directly. But it could also pay off for Jay Michaud in Washington.
The warrants were issued in Virginia, which is where the seized server resided during the FBI’s spyware-based investigation. Levin, like Michaud, does not reside in the district where the warrant was issued (Virginia – Eastern District) and where the search was supposed to be undertaken. As Judge William Young explains, the FBI’s failure to restrict itself to the location where the NIT warrants were issued makes them worthless pieces of paper outside of that district. (via Chris Soghoian)

The government argues for a liberal construction of Rule 41(b) that would authorize the type of search that occurred here pursuant to the NIT Warrant. See Gov’t’s Resp. 18-20. Specifically, it argues that subsections (1), (2), and (4) of Rule 41(b) are each sufficient to support the magistrate judge’s issuance of the NIT Warrant. Id. This Court is unpersuaded by the government’s arguments. Because the NIT Warrant purported to authorize a search of property located outside the Eastern District of Virginia, and because none of the exceptions to the general territorial limitation of Rule 41(b)(1) applies, the Court holds that the magistrate judge lacked authority under Rule 41(b) to issue the NIT Warrant.

The government deployed some spectacular theories in its effort to salvage these warrants, but the court is having none of it.

The government advances two distinct lines of argument as to why Rule 41(b)(1) authorizes the NIT Warrant. One is that all of the property that was searched pursuant to the NIT Warrant was actually located within the Eastern District of Virginia, where the magistrate judge sat: since Levin — as a user of Website A — “retrieved the NIT from a server in the Eastern District of Virginia, and the NIT sent [Levin’s] network information back to a server in that district,” the government argues the search it conducted pursuant to the NIT Warrant properly can be understood as occurring within the Eastern District of Virginia. Gov’t’s Resp. 20. This is nothing but a strained, after-the-fact rationalization.

As the government attempts to portray it, the search was wholly contained in Virginia because the NIT was distributed by the seized server in the FBI’s control. But, as the judge notes, the searchitself — via the NIT — did not occur in Virginia. The NIT may have originated there, but without grabbing info and data from Levin’s computer in Massachusetts, the FBI would have nothing to use against the defendant.

That the Website A server is located in the Eastern District of Virginia is, for purposes of Rule 41(b)(1), immaterial, since it is not the server itself from which the relevant information was sought.

And, according to Judge Young, that’s exactly what the FBI has now: nothing.

The Court concludes that the violation at issue here is distinct from the technical Rule 41 violations that have been deemed insufficient to warrant suppression in past cases, and, in any event, Levin was prejudiced by the violation. Moreover, the Court holds that the good-faith exception is inapplicable because the warrant at issue here was void ab initio.

The judge has more to say about the FBI’s last ditch attempt to have the “good faith exception” salvage its invalid searches.

Even were the Court to hold that the good-faith exception could apply to circumstances involving a search pursuant to a warrant issued without jurisdiction, it would decline to rule such exception applicable here. For one, it was not objectively reasonable for law enforcement — particularly “a veteran FBI agent with 19 years of federal law enforcement experience[,]” Gov’t’s Resp. 7-8 — to believe that the NIT Warrant was properly issued considering the plain mandate of Rule 41(b).

The court doesn’t have a problem with NITs or the FBI’s decision to spend two weeks operating a seized child porn server. But it does have a problem with the government getting warrants signed in one jurisdiction and using them everywhere but.
The decision here could call into question other such warrants used extraterritorially, like the DEA’s dozens of wiretap warrants obtained in California but used to eavesdrop on targets located on the other side of the country. And it may help Jay Michaud in his case, seeing as he resides a few thousand miles away from where the search was supposedly performed.

Biologist Explains: “THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, induces tumor cell ‘suicide’ while leaving healthy cells alone”

Biologist explains how marijuana causes tumor cells to commit suicide
Cannabis

(NaturalNews) The therapeutic potential of cannabis appears limitless, extending far beyond just relieving nausea or pain in the terminally ill. Christina Sanchez, a molecular biologist from Compultense University in Madrid, Spain, has been studying the molecular activity of cannabinoids for more than 10 years, and during this time she and her colleagues have learned that tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, induces tumor cell “suicide” while leaving healthy cells alone.

This amazing discovery was somewhat unexpected, as Sanchez and her team had initially been studying brain cancer cells for the purpose of better understanding how they function. But in the process, they observed that, when exposed to THC, tumoral cells not only ceased to multiply and proliferate but also destroyed themselves, both in lab tests and animal trials. Sanchez first reported on this back in 1998, publishing a paper on the anti-cancer effects of THC in the European biochemistry journal FEBS Letters.

“In the early 1960s, Raphael Mechoulam from the Hebrew University in Israel categorized the main compound in marijuana producing the psychoactive effects that we all know,” explained Sanchez during an interview with Cannabis Planet. “After the discovery of this compound that is called THC, it was pretty obvious that this compound had to be acting on the cells, on our organism, through a molecular mechanism.”

Sanchez expounds upon this and much more in a five-minute video segment available here:
Vimeo.com.

Human body designed to utilize cannabis compounds, research finds

Later research in the 1980s revealed that the human body contains two specific targets for THC: an endogenous framework that processes THC and other cannabinoids, known as the endocannabinoid system, and various cannabinoid receptors throughout the body that utilize them. Together, these two natural systems allow the body to benefit from the cannabinoids found in cannabis, some of which aren’t found anywhere else in nature.

“The endocannabinoids, together with the receptors and the enzymes that synthesize, that produce, the endocannabinoids and that degrade the endocannabinoids, are what we call the endocannabinoid system,” added Sanchez. “And we now know that the endocannabinoid system regulates a lot of biological functions: appetite, food intake, motor behavior, reproduction, and many, many other functions. And that’s why the plant has such a wide therapeutic potential.”

“Phoenix Tears” cannabis oil is already curing people of cancer

When inhaled or consumed, cannabis cannabinoids are incorporated into the body’s natural endocannabinoid system, binding to cannabinoid receptors in the same way as endogenous cannabinoids. The effects of this in terms of cancer, as demonstrated in animal models of both breast and brain cancers, is that tumor cells are thrust into a state of apoptosis, meaning they self-destruct.

“Cells can die in different ways, and after cannabinoid treatment, they were dying in the clean way — they were committing suicide,” revealed Sanchez. One of the advantages of cannabinoids… is that they target, specifically, the tumor cells. They don’t have any toxic effect on normal, non-tumoral cells. And this is an advantage with respect to standard chemotherapy, which targets basically everything.”

What Sanchez is describing here sounds a lot like what Canadian researcher and innovator Rick Simpson has been doing with his “Phoenix Tears” cannabis oil, which has reportedly cured many people of cancer over the years without harming them like chemotherapy and radiation do.

You can learn more about Phoenix Tears here:
PhoenixTears.ca.

“I cannot understand why in the U.S. cannabis is under Schedule I, because it is pretty obvious, not only from our work, but from the work of many other researchers, that the plant has very wide therapeutic potential,” emphasized Sanchez.

Sources:

http://vimeo.com

http://scholar.qsensei.com

http://phoenixtears.ca

2016 STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH P. THOMPSON SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA January 27, 2016, 11 a.m. House Chambers, State Capitol

016 STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS
THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH P. THOMPSON
SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA
January 27, 2016, 11 a.m.
House Chambers, State Capitol

Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, President Pro Tem Shafer, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, members of the General Assembly, my fellow judges and my fellow Georgians:
Good morning. Thank you for this annual tradition of inviting the Chief Justice to report on the State of Georgia’s Judiciary. Thanks in large part to your support and the support of our governor, as we move into 2016, I am pleased to tell you that your judicial branch of government is not only steady and secure, it is dynamic; it has momentum; and it is moving forward into the 21st century with a vitality and a commitment to meeting the inevitable changes before us.
Our mission remains the same: To protect individual rights and liberties, to uphold and interpret the rule of law, and to provide a forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes that is fair, impartial, and accessible to all.
Our judges are committed to these principles. Each day, throughout this state, they put on their black robes; they take their seat on the courtroom bench; and they work tirelessly to ensure that all citizens who come before them get justice.


Our Judicial Council is the policy-making body of the state’s judicial branch. It is made up of competent, committed leaders elected by their fellow judges and representing all classes of court. They are assisted by an Administrative Office of the Courts, which is under a new director – Cynthia Clanton – and has a renewed focus as an agency that serves judges and courts throughout Georgia.
A number of our judges have made the trip to be here today. Our judges are here today because the relationship we have with you is important. We share with you the same goal of serving the citizens of this great state. We could not do our work without your help and that of our governor.
On behalf of all of the judges, let me say we are extremely grateful to you members of the General Assembly for your judicial compensation appropriation last year.


Today I want to talk to you about Georgia’s 21st century courts – our vision for the future, the road we must travel to get there, and the accomplishments we have already achieved.
It has been said that, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Since a new state Constitution took effect in 1983, our population has nearly doubled to a little over 10 million, making us the 8th most populous state in the country. We are among the fastest growing states in the nation, and in less than four years, our population is projected to exceed 12 million.
Because it is good for our economy, we welcome that growth. Today, Georgia ranks
among states with the highest number of Fortune 500 companies, 20 of which have their global headquarters here; we have 72 four-year colleges and universities; we have the world’s busiest airport and we have two deep-water ports. Georgia is a gateway to the South, and for a growing number of people and businesses from around the world, it is a gateway to this country.
All of this growth produces litigation – increasingly complex litigation – and just as our state must prepare for this growth by ensuring we have enough roads and modes of transportation, enough doctors and hospitals, and enough power to reach people throughout the state, our courts also must be equipped and modernized for the 21st
century.
While our population has nearly doubled since 1983, the number of Georgia judges has
grown only 16 percent. We must work together to ensure that our judicial system has enough judges, staff and resources in the 21st century to fulfill the mission and constitutional duties our forefathers assigned to us.
A healthy, vibrant judiciary is absolutely critical to the economic development of our state. Thanks to many leaders in the judiciary, as well as to our partnership with the governor and to you in the legislature, we are well on our way to building a court system for the 21st century.


This time next year, with your support, we will have put into place an historic shift in the types of cases handled by the Georgia Supreme Court – the highest court in the state – and by the Court of Appeals – our intermediate appellate court. Thanks to Governor Deal’s Georgia Appellate Jurisdiction Review Commission, this realignment will bring the Supreme Court of Georgia in line with other state Supreme Courts, which handle only the most critical cases that potentially change the law. Serving on the Commission are two of my colleagues – Justice David Nahmias and Justice Keith Blackwell – as well as two judges from the Court of Appeals – Chief
Judge Sara Doyle and Judge Stephen Dillard.
I thank you, Justices and Judges, for your leadership.
Under the Georgia Constitution, Supreme Court justices collectively decide every case that comes before us. Currently the state’s highest court hears divorce and alimony cases; we hear cases involving wills; we hear cases involving titles to land; and we hear disputes over boundary lines.
But the Governor’s Commission, and a number of reports by other commissions and
committees issued since 1983, have recommended that such cases should be heard by our intermediate appeals court, not by our highest court.
Both of our courts are among the busiest in the nation. But unlike the Supreme Court, which sits as a full court with all seven justices participating in, and deciding, every case, the Court of Appeals sits in panels of three. With your approval last year of three new Court of Appeals judges, that court will now have five panels, so it will have the capacity to consider five times as many cases as the Supreme Court.
Modernization of the Supreme Court makes sense. In a 19th century court system, when
most of the wealth was tied up in land, maybe title to land cases were the most important. Maybe they had the greatest implications for the public at large. But as we move into the 21st century, that is no longer true.
In answer to questions such as who owns a strip of land, what does a will mean, and who should prevail in a divorce settlement or an alimony dispute, most judicial systems believe that three judges are enough to provide the parties with a full and fair consideration of their appeal. It no longer makes sense to have seven – or nine – justices collectively review these types of cases.
There is no doubt these cases will be in good hands with the Court of Appeals.
Let me emphasize that all these cases the Commission recommended shifting to the Court of Appeals are critically important to the parties involved.
Let me also emphasize that the purpose of this historic change is not to lessen the burden on the Supreme Court. Rather, the intent is to free up the state’s highest court to devote more time and energy to the most complex and the most difficult cases that have the greatest implications for the law and society at large.
We will therefore retain jurisdiction of constitutional challenges to the laws you enact, questions from the federal courts seeking authoritative rulings on Georgia law, election contests, murder and death penalty cases, and cases in which the Court of Appeals judges are equally divided.
Significantly, we want to be able to accept more of what we call “certiorari” cases
which are appeals of decisions by the Court of Appeals. The number of petitions filed in this category during the first quarter of the new docket year is nearly 14 percent higher this year over last. Yet due to the amount of appeals the law now requires us to take, we have had to reject the majority of the petitions for certiorari that we receive.
These cases are often the most complex – and the most consequential. They involve
issues of great importance to the legal system and the State as a whole. Or they involve an area of law that has become inconsistent and needs clarification.
Businesses and citizens need to know what the law allows them to do and what it does
not allow them to do. It is our job at the highest court to reduce any uncertainty and bring consistency and clarity to the law.
Under the Commission’s recommendations, our 21st century Georgia Supreme Court will
be able to accept more of these important appeals.


As we move into the 21st century, plans are being discussed to build the first state Judicial Building in Georgia’s history that will be dedicated solely to the judiciary. We are grateful for the Governor’s leadership on this. The building that now houses the state’s highest court and the Court of Appeals was built in 1954 when Herman Tallmadge was governor. Back then, it made sense to combine the state judicial branch with part of the executive branch, by locating the Law Department in the same building.
But the world has changed since 1954, and the building we now occupy was not designed with visitors in mind. It was not designed with technology in mind. And it surely was not designed with security in mind. Indeed, it was designed to interconnect with neighboring buildings that housed other branches of government.
A proper Judicial Building is about more than bricks and mortar. Outside, this building will symbolize for generations to come the place where people will go to get final resolution of civil wrongs and injustices; where the government will go to safeguard its prosecution of criminals; and where defendants will go to appeal convictions and sentences to prison for life.
Inside such a building, the courtroom will reinforce the reality that what goes on here is serious and solemn; it is a place of great purpose, in the words of a federal judge. The parties and the lawyers will understand they are all on equal footing, because they are equal under the law.
There is a majesty about the law that gets played out in the courtroom. It is a hallowed place because it is where the truth must be told and where justice is born. The courtroom represents our democracy at its very best.
No, this building is not just about bricks and mortar. Rather it is a place that will house Georgia’s highest court where fairness, impartiality, and justice will reign for future generations.


We are no longer living in a 1950s Georgia. The courts of the 21st century must be
equipped to handle an increasingly diverse population. Living today in metropolitan Atlanta alone are more than 700,000 people who were born outside the United States. According to the Chamber of Commerce, today some 70 countries have a presence in Atlanta, in the form of a consulate or trade office. We must be ready to help resolve the disputes of international businesses that are increasingly locating in our state and capital. Our 21st century courts must be open, transparent and accessible to all. Our citizens’ confidence in their judicial system depends on it. We must be armed with qualified, certified interpreters, promote arbitration as an alternative to costly, courtroom-bound litigation, ensure that all those who cannot afford lawyers have an avenue toward justice, and be constantly updating technology with the aim of improving our courts’ efficiency while saving literally millions of dollars. For all of this, we need your help.


When I first became a judge, we had no email, no cell phones, no Internet. People didn’t Twitter or text, or post things on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. The most modern equipment we had was a mimeograph machine.
This past year, by Supreme Court order, we created for the first time a governance
structure to bring our use of technology into the 21st century. Chaired by my colleague Justice Harold Melton, and co-chaired by Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson, this permanent Judicial Council Standing Committee on Technology will lead the judicial branch by providing guidance and oversight of its technology initiatives.
Our courts on their own are rapidly moving away from paper documents into the digital age. At the Supreme Court, lawyers must now electronically file all cases. This past year, we successfully launched the next phase by working with trial courts to begin transmitting their entire court record to us electronically. The Court of Appeals also now requires the e-filing of applications to appeal, and this year, will join the Supreme Court in accepting electronic trial records.

Our goal is to develop a uniform statewide electronic filing and retrieval system so that lawyers and others throughout the judiciary can file and access data the easiest way possible.
Using a single portal, attorneys will be able to file documents with trial courts and appellate courts – and retrieve them from any court in the state. This is the system advocated by our partner, President Bob Kaufman of the State Bar of Georgia, and by attorneys throughout the state.
Such a system will not only make our courts more efficient at huge savings, but it will make Georgia safer. When our trial judges conduct bond hearings, for example, they often lack critical information about the person before them. They usually have reports about any former convictions, but they may not have information about cases pending against the defendant in other courts. The technology exists now to ensure that they do.
Also on the horizon is the expanded use of videoconferencing – another electronic
improvement that will save money and protect citizens’ lives. After a conviction and sentence to prison, post-trial hearings require courts to send security teams to pick up the prisoner and bring him to court. Without encroaching on the constitutional right of confrontation, we could videoconference the inmate’s testimony from his prison cell. Again, the technology already exists.
Our Committee on Technology will be at the forefront of guiding our courts into the 21st century.


As Georgia grows, it grows more diverse.
Our Georgia courts are required by the federal government to provide language services free of charge to litigants and witnesses, not only in criminal cases but in civil cases as well.
Even for fluent English speakers, the judicial system can be confusing and unwelcoming.
My vision for Georgia’s judiciary in the 21st century is that every court, in every city and every county in Georgia, will have the capacity of serving all litigants, speaking any language, regardless of national origin, from the moment they enter the courthouse until the moment they leave. That means that on court websites, signs and forms will be available in multiple languages, that all court staff will have the tools they need to assist any customers, and that court proceedings will have instant access to the interpreters of the languages they need.
Chief Magistrate Kristina Blum of the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court has been
working hard to ensure access to justice for all those who come to her court, most of whom are representing themselves.
Recently her court created brochures that provide guidance for civil trials, family
violence matters, warrant applications, garnishments, and landlord-tenant disputes. These brochures provide basic information about each proceeding – what to expect and how best to present their case in court.
Judge Blum, who is in line to be president of the Council of Magistrate Judges and is a member of our Judicial Council, has had the brochures translated into Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. Such non-legalese forms and tutorial videos that our citizens can understand go a long way toward building trust in the judicial system, and in our entire government.
The Supreme Court Commission on Interpreters, chaired by Justice Keith Blackwell, is
making significant strides in ensuring that our courts uphold the standards of due process. With the help of Commission member Jana Edmondson-Cooper, an energetic attorney with the Georgia Legal Services Program, the Commission is working around the state to educate judges,court administrators and lawyers on the judiciary’s responsibilities in providing language assistance.
The essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. Our justice system is the envy of other countries because it is open and fair to everyone seeking justice. By helping those who have not yet mastered English, we reinforce the message that the doors to the best justice system in the world are open to everyone.
Our law demands it. Our Constitution demands it.


The courts of the 21st century will symbolize a new era. A turning point in our history occurred when we realized there was a smarter way to handle criminals.
Six years ago, my colleague and then Chief Justice Carol Hunstein accompanied
Representative Wendell Willard to Alabama to explore how that state was reforming its criminal justice system. Back in Georgia, Governor Deal seized the reins, brought together the three branches of government, and through extraordinary leadership, has made criminal justice reform a reality. Georgia is now a model for the nation.
Today, following an explosive growth in our prison population that doubled between
1990 and 2011 and caused corrections costs to top one billion dollars a year, last year our prison population was the lowest it has been in 10 years. Our recidivism rate is the lowest it’s been in three decades. And we have turned back the tide of rising costs.
For the last five years, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform – created by the governor and your legislation – has been busy transforming our criminal justice system into one that does a better job of protecting public safety while holding non-violent offenders accountable and saving millions in taxpayer dollars. I am extremely grateful to this Council and commend the steady leadership of co-chairs Judge Michael Boggs of the Court of Appeals and Thomas Worthy of the State Bar of Georgia.
Throughout this historic reform, Georgia’s trial court judges have been in the trenches.
Our number one goal in criminal justice reform is to better protect the safety of our citizens.
Central to that goal is the development of our specialty courts – what some call accountability courts.
These courts have a proven track record of reducing recidivism rates and keeping our
citizens safe. Nationwide, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain free of arrest two years after completing the program, and the most conservative analyses show that drug courts reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options. Last year, these courts helped save Georgia more than $51 million in prison costs.
From the beginning, you in the legislature have steadfastly supported the growth in these courts, most recently appropriating more than $19 million for the current fiscal year.
Georgia now has 131 of these courts, which include drug courts, DUI courts, juvenile and adult mental health courts, and veterans courts. Today, only two judicial circuits in the state do not yet have a specialty court, and both are in the early stages of discussing the possibility of starting one. In addition to those already involved, last year alone, we added nearly 3500 new participants to these courts.
Behind that number are individual tales of lives changed and in some cases, lives saved.
Our judges, who see so much failure, take pride in these success stories. And so should you.

Chief Judge Richard Slaby of the Richmond County State Court, speaks with great pride of Judge David Watkins and the specialty courts that have grown under Judge Watkins’ direction. Today the recidivism rate among the Augusta participants is less than 10 percent.
The judges who run these courts are committed and deserve our thanks. We are grateful to leaders like Judge Slaby, who is President-Elect of the Council of State Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council; to Judge Stephen Goss of the Dougherty Superior Court, whose mental health court has been recognized as one of the best mental health courts in our country; to Chief Judge Brenda Weaver, President of the Council of Superior Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council. Judge Weaver of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit serves on the Council of
Accountability Court Judges of Georgia, which you created last year by statute. Its purpose is to improve the quality of our specialty courts through proven standards and practices, and it is chaired by Superior Court Judge Jason Deal of Hall County. Judge Deal’s dedication to the specialty court model in his community, and his guidance and encouragement to programs throughout the state, are described as invaluable by those who work with him.


We may not have a unified court system in Georgia. But we have judges unified in their commitment to our courts. Among our one thousand four hundred and fifty judges, Georgia has many fine leaders. I’ve told you about a number of them today. In closing, I want to mention two more.
When the United States Supreme Court issued its historic decision last year on same-sex marriage, our Council of Probate Court Judges led the way toward compliance. Three months before the ruling was issued, the judges met privately at the behest of the Council’s then president, Judge Chase Daughtrey of Cook County, and his successor, Judge Don Wilkes of Emanuel County. Together, they determined that regardless of what the Supreme Court decided, they would follow the law. Both Governor Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens also publicly announced they would respect the court’s decision, despite tremendous pressure to do otherwise.
These men are all great leaders who spared our state the turmoil other states endured. The bottom line is this: In Georgia, we may like the law, we may not like the law, but we follow the law.


The day-to-day business of the Georgia courts rarely makes the news. Rather judges,
their staff and clerks spend their days devoted to understanding the law, tediously pushing cases through to resolution, committed to ferreting out the truth and making the right decision. It is not easy, and they must often stand alone, knowing that when they sentence someone to prison, many lives hang in the balance between justice and mercy.
So I thank all of our leaders, and I thank all of our judges who are leading our courts into the 21st century.
May God bless them. May God bless you. And may God bless all the people of Georgia.
Thank you.

Bar Groups See Threat from Nonlawyers

The American Lawyer
http://www.americanlawyer.com/printerfriendly/id=1202748892813
from: The American Lawyer

At ABA Meeting, Bar Groups See Threat from Nonlawyers

Susan Beck, The Am Law Daily

February 4, 2016


(Stanford Law School Professor Deborah Rhode criticized the opposition to Resolution 105, which some fear could lead to more non-lawyers providing legal services.
Photo: Jason Doiy/The Recorder)

A modest proposal that hints at opening the door to nonlawyers providing simple legal services faces a tough fight at the American Bar Association’s midyear meetings, which are currently underway in San Diego.

The ABA’s Litigation Section, as well as the bar associations of Illinois, Nevada, New York, New Jersey and Texas, are all on record opposing Resolution 105, which was submitted by the Commission on the Future of Legal Services and five other ABA divisions. The commission was formed in August 2014 by then-incoming ABA president William Hubbard, who has been vocal about the need to improve access to justice. Under the leadership of former Northrop Grumman Corporation lawyer Judy Perry Martinez, the commission has explored new ways to improve the delivery of civil legal services to the public, especially to those who can’t afford a lawyer or are confused by the legal system.

While the 30-member commission has considered many possible solutions—from technological innovations to allowing nonlawyers to provide limited legal services—Resolution 105 doesn’t propose any specific changes to the status quo. Instead, it asks the ABA to adopt “Model Regulatory Objectives for the Provision of Legal Services” that are guided by such benign principles as protection of the public and meaningful access to justice. It also urges each state’s highest court to be guided by these objectives if it is considering new rules to allow activity by “nontraditional legal service providers.”

While the resolution doesn’t advocate for such changes, the mere mention of “nontraditional legal service providers” raises hackles for some in the ABA. The Texas state bar board, for example, has asked Texas delegates to withhold their support for Resolution 105. State bar president-elect Frank Stevenson II of Locke Lord said the board opposes the proposal because it seems to presume there’s a place for nonlawyers to provide legal services. He added that Texas’ chief justice has already set up a commission to study how lawyers can reach more of the public, and his group wants to wait for that group to finish its work.

“Our position shouldn’t be interpreted as rigidly opposed to innovation in the provision of legal services,” Stevenson said. But he added, “We feel lawyers are not fungible with nonlawyers.”

The New Jersey State Bar Association’s board of trustees voted unanimously to oppose the resolution, also because it envisions new categories of legal service providers. The ABA’s Litigation Section voted 17-8 against it.

Philadelphia lawyer Lawrence Fox of Drinker Biddle & Reath, who has long crusaded against allowing nonlawyers to provide legal services, sent a Jan. 29 email to all delegates with the subject line “Save Our Profession.” He implored them to reject Resolution 105: “If we are going to show leadership, it ought to be in opposing the unauthorized practice of law, wherever it rears its ugly head,” he wrote.

The resolution does have some organized support, including from the South Carolina Bar Association, the ABA’s Business Law Section, the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Washington State Bar Association. (In Washington state, licensed nonlawyers already provide some legal services.)

ABA President Paulette Brown declined to comment on the resolution or the work of the commission.

The commission will hold a roundtable discussion in San Diego on Saturday and will meet again on Sunday. The ABA’s House of Delegates will consider the resolution on Monday.

A simple majority vote is needed to adopt a resolution. The ABA has 560 delegates, but it’s not clear how many will be present Monday.

Over the past year and a half, the Commission on the Future of Legal Services has sought new ideas to improve the public’s access to legal solutions. In May of last year it held a National Summit on Innovation in Legal Services at Stanford Law School that drew 200 participants, including 12 state court chief justices, the CEO of LegalZoom, a Microsoft Corp. in-house lawyer and numerous academics.

The following month, in a podcast on the Legal Talk Network, commission chairman Martinez sounded optimistic that the profession might change. “There’s room in this space to think differently about how we provide legal services,” she said. “This has the potential for sea change.”

Some of the profession’s rules, she said, serve as barriers that don’t protect the public. “We’re making sure that lawyers understand what services aren’t needed to be delivered by a lawyer and can in fact be delivered by somebody else.”

Martinez also noted that some lawyers might have trouble adjusting to a new model: “[There] will be some pain for those not alert and ready for change.”

Martinez could not be reached for comment.

The United Kingdom has already allowed some of the changes that are being fought over in the United States. In 2007 it passed the Legal Services Act, which permits so-called alternative business structures in the practice of law. The U.K. law breaks down many of the barriers that prevented nonlawyers from providing legal services or supplying capital to legal service providers.

Stanford Law School professor Deborah Rhode, who co-chaired last year’s summit and who directs the Center on the Legal Profession at Stanford University, called the May gathering an “extraordinary show of support for innovation” by ABA leadership. Four past, current and future ABA presidents attended, she noted.

“The major challenge for the ABA is how to get the rank and file behind some of these innovative initiatives,” she said. “A lot of lawyers feel very threatened.”

Rhode criticized the organized opposition against Resolution 105. “It’s such a mindless reflexive response,” she said. “This [change] is coming whether the bar likes it or not. Sticking their heads in the sand and trying to block even such an unobjectionable compromise position [in Resolution 105] seems a step in the wrong direction.”

She added, “This is why I titled my book ‘The Trouble with Lawyers,’” referring to her 2015 book critiquing the profession.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say that everyone who has concerns is sticking their heads in the sand,” said Locke Lord’s Stevenson, the Texas bar president. “A lot of criticism has been very nuanced and raises some issues that need to be addressed.”

SHEEPLE AWAKEN!!!

Once Upon a Time…. I Thought the Worst We Had To Face Was Foreclosure Hell, I WAS WRONG!

Posted on  

Ya know, I used to think that Foreclosure Hell was the worst thing we in this Country had to face.  Wow, Was I Wrong!

I didn’t realize that just like in Japan, they will cook us to death with radiation, and not even bother to tell us.  I have condemned the Japanese for nuking the world and not telling us the truth about it, but fuck me, this country is doing the same thing.

While most people go about their daily business, they never think about the fact, that a pleasure of getting rained on is killing them.  We are the walking dead, and being asleep to the fact is just fucking us up more.

I would apologize for my slang, no, crude language, but something needs to wake these sleeping zombies up!

So, they are not only going to take every house they can get their grimy paws on, but they are going to continue the slow kill of humankind from the planet.  

It is not the kids growing up now that will suffer so much, it is like the butterfly test in Fukushima.  It is the children’s children that will be riddled with deformities. 

No matter what they try to tell us, we cannot be stupid, and believe that radiation is ok.  The thought of believing that, well, it is, stupid.  The sheeple that make up this country now, is amazing.  If the government says the radiation is not hurting us, we’ll just believe them.  Because the government says so?  Yall need to get out from under the rock, and out of the sun, cause damn!  You been drinking too much water with fluoride in it, for too long, and it has made you dumb!  I take that back, it has made you dumber than dirt!

For years, they have been doing things with the weather, with our food, with our prescriptions, our health!  They have taken healthy human beings and turned them into out of shape, fat slugs that have lives that are meant for cattle.  Chemtrails is no lie either.  What about HARP?  I guess that you also believe that 911 was not an inside job.

No, I am not a conspiracy theorist, I believe in taking what is put before me, studying it, seeing it for what it is, listening to scientists, listening to experts, and deducing my own opinion.  You see, we woke up.  We quit drinking the tap water.  We quit watching the regular news.  The news media is brainwashing you sheeple, which is not hard for them to do.

Terrorists are here, they are going to get you, so we have to militarize the Police forces.  These false flag shootings, are to outrage you sheeple, so that you will agree that guns are bad, and they can confiscate our guns.  We are told that our rights have to be taken, so that we can be protected from the terrorists, etc.,

If you are so blind you cannot see your nose on your face, you will not notice that Fannie Mae, and the banks are throwing our elderly out on the street.  Right now, in Goodyear, Arizona, an 83 year old woman and her 86 year old husband are being thrown out of their home.  No one cares.  In Colorado Springs, CO, an 82 year old woman is being thrown out of her home.  No one cares.

What the hell is wrong with you sheeple?  It’s not you, so it is Ok?  The Bank With the Most Homes in the End Wins, Get Used to It!!!

Sheeple Awaken!

Neil Garfield Telling It As It Is…”Bullying As An Acceptable Way of Life – Covered By A Corporate Shell Game!

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