Friday, May 15, 2015

Elaine Howle and California State Auditor Office Ignore Judicial Branch Improper Governmental Activities

California Courts Use Traffic Courts to Prey on the Poor, Generate Income Through Fines, Interest, Penalties

Hon. Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye - Sacramento Federal Court Eastern District of California – United States Courts, US District Court Sacramento, Judge William B. Shubb, Judge Edmund F. Brennan, Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr, Judge Carolyn K. Delaney, Judge Morrison C. England Jr, Judge Gregory G. Hollows, Judge John A. Mendez, Judge Kendall J. Newman, Judge Troy L. Nunley, Judge Allison Claire, Judge Dale A. Drozd, Judge Lawrence K. Karlton, Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, United States Attorney Benjamin Wagner,
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is responsible for
oversight and accountability of California courts.
In 2011, California State Auditor Elaine Howle orchestrated the passage of Assembly Bill 1102, which modified several Government Code sections. The law gave the auditor's office authority over the Judicial Branch of government and provided Whistleblower Protection Act coverage to court employees. 

The bill also classified any violation of California Rules of Court as an improper governmental activity, a category of government employee misconduct that includes corruption, malfeasance, bribery, theft of government property, fraud, coercion, willful omission to perform duty, and similar types of misconduct.

A new report by the East Bay Express weekly reveals that Superior Courts in California generate income by preying on the poor.
"Statewide data that Bay Area legal aid and civil rights organizations recently compiled and analyzed — along with detailed accounts from people saddled with insurmountable traffic violation debts — demonstrate that municipal courts and aggressive debt collectors in California routinely trap low-income people in poverty with exorbitant fines. Minor traffic offenses that once cost $100 now cost roughly $500, which people living paycheck to paycheck can't afford.
And when defendants miss a single payment or court date, the fines increase exponentially — and their driver's licenses are suspended. In those cases, the courts also frequently block defendants from having a trial unless they post full bail, which means innocent people or those with extenuating life circumstances often can't even present their cases to a judge.
Over the past eight years, there have been 4.2 million cases in which the state suspended driver's licenses because of people's failure to appear or pay fines in court, according to the East Bay Community Law Center, a nonprofit that provides legal services to defendants in traffic court. That means an estimated 17 percent of adults in California currently have suspended licenses for missing a hearing or payment deadline.
The injustice of traffic courts — which also rule on a wide range of municipal infractions, such as littering or failing to pay public transit fare — is exacerbated by the fact that judges routinely issue the harshest punishments allowed, far beyond the minimum sentences outlined in state law.
In addition, judicial officers routinely fail to take advantage of the wide discretion they have to consider people's ability to pay fines. And with court and other government budgets heavily dependent on these fines and fees, judges have increasingly felt pressured to raise revenues on the backs of poor people."
To read the full article at East Bay Express, click here. A similar scheme, which court reform advocates allege amounts to a criminal racketeering organization, was uncovered by Sacramento Family Court News, an online, nonprofit news organization. Click here to read the SFCN report.

In her role as Supreme Court Chief Justice and Judicial Council Chair, Tani Cantil-Sakauye is responsible for the oversight and accountability of California Courts. Cantil-Sakauye has been linked to a number of court scandals in California, including retaliation against whistleblowers and a case fixing scam uncovered by the FBI in Orange County. For a catalog of the allegations against the chief justice, click here.