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Richard I. Fine's Judicial Lynching in California
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, ccun.org, April 19, 2010
The Law Offices of Richard I. Fine & Associates
(richardfinelaw.com) web site says he established the firm in 1974. His
credentials include a Doctor of Law from the University of Chicago, a
Ph.D. in International Law from the London School of Economics, a
Certificate from the Hague Academy of International Law, among his many
other awards, including Lawyer of the Decades 1976 - 2006.
also been widely published in legal journals with regard to antitrust,
comparative and international law. Fine's resume is long and impressive.
Before entering private practice, he "founded and was chief of the
first municipal antitrust division in the United States, for the City of
Los Angeles." He was also Special Counsel to the Government Efficiency
Committee of the LA City Council, and a member of the US Department of
Justice Antitrust Division.
In addition, he practiced law in
London and with another firm before establishing his own. He was also
Norway's Southern California Consul General.
Background on Fine's
Detailed information can be found on Home (Free Richard
fine)....(sites.google.com/site/freerichardfine/Home), established by his
friends and associates seeking justice in return for Fine's years of
public service as a taxpayer-advocate attorney.
From the early
1990s until his illegal disbarment and March 4, 2009 jailing, Fine
challenged and corrected state corruption, returning about "$350 million
to California taxpayers which state, county and municipal governments
(unlawfully took from) 'special funds' and 'trust funds' in a series of
taxpayer cases filed in federal" and state courts, specifically:
-- $6 million returned to the Tidelands Trust Fund (TTF) in Malibu Video,
et al. v. Wilson, et al.;
-- in other cases against California
cities and ports, another $350 million prevented from being unlawfully
spent from TTF;
-- the class action Lido v. State of California
returned funds not paid to small and minority businesses during
California's budget crises;
-- in Shinkle, et al. v. City of Los
Angeles, Fine got the city to change its "sewer service charges"
calculation method, saving residents "tens of millions of dollars"
-- in Amjadi and LACAOEHS v. LA Board of Supervisors, et
al., LA County had to establish a special environmental inspection fee
fund from wrongfully deposited funds in its General Fund; also freeze its
environmental inspections fees until an initial $11 million deposit was
spent, as well as deposit about $40 million annually into a "special fund"
for environmental inspection fees; and
-- many other legal
victories against corrupt state officials saving California taxpayers
about "$1 billion," illegally "enrich(ing) developers, and blatantly
trampl(ing) the people's rights;" Fine calls it "a true story....wrapped
up in one man's personal nightmare."
Overall, he stopped
"Twenty-Six Years of California's Annual Budget Crisis," and was the first
lawyer to "Challenge, In Court, The Unconstitutional Payments Given By Los
Angeles County (Supervisors) To The Los Angeles County Superior Court
Judges," over $300 million since the late 1980s.
Over the same
period, these "judges decided cases and made orders in favor of the County
to the exclusion of the opposing parties in cases before them." For
example, from 2005 - 2007, no one won a case against the county in courts
presided over by LA Superior Court judges. Over many years, as a result,
Californians were swindled out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and
most troubling of all, county judges knew "taking payments from LA County
was unconstitutional," in violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics and
Political Reform Act for not disclosing them.
The same practice
was common around the state, but not like in LA County, where state
legislators exempted judges and county supervisors from prosecution.
For his many years of crime fighting, Fine was charged with "contempt of
court" and "moral turpitude," disbarred by California's Supreme Court and
jailed by Superior Court Judge David Yaffe "in retaliation for bringing
the cases and exposing the unconstitutional payments," ones later held to
Fine's case is currently before the US
Supreme Court. The California Bar waived its right to respond, meaning his
appeal is unopposed. Also in his favor was a late 2009 decision in
Sturgeon v. LA County (brought by Judicial Watch) deciding that county
payments to judges are illegal.
Yet, with the help of California
Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George, state-paid lobbyists got
legislators to pass "a midnight bill" (SBX2-11) at the peak of last year's
budget crisis, changing the law to make the payments appear legally
authorized to continue, besides giving everyone involved retroactive
immunity from criminal prosecution.
Note: immunity is never given
when no crime was committed.
The latest on SBX2-11 immunity is
that it's not in the "official Code" like the rest of the bill, Fine's
friends and associates asking, "Why are they hiding this pardon of over
Ten Million Felonies from the public." They further say the bill "is an ex
post facto law. Its immunity provisions will ultimately be repealed," so
complicit judges aren't off the hook.
As of mid-April, 2010, Fine
remains in LA County Men's Central Jail, the "worst jail in the United
States," according to an ACLU investigation and report
(aclu.org/prisoners-rights/aclu-releases-report) calling it "nightmarish"
because of severe overcrowding (with over 20,000 detainees), violence, and
overall conditions causing serious mental illness.
Fine is held in
solitary confinement under horrendous conditions to punish him - with no
fresh air, bright all-night overhead lighting, and no pen and paper to
petition a higher court, a right ever serial killers get. Also, reporters
(at least until now) were denied permission to interview him. He's not
allowed to post bond or get a hearing, and is ordered to stay in jail
until he relents and withdraws his charges.
In a Full
Disclosure.net April 7, 2010 interview, Fine states:
"This is the beginning of what happens when you
lose a democracy. There is absolutely no question I'm a political
prisoner," held without bail, without trial, and with every state appeal
denied. The issue is "a straight out-an-out abuse of power, and I'm the
person who went in and called them on it....This is the biggest judicial
scandal and judicial bribery scheme in American history. My being in jail
for (over a year) should show you that no one is immune from this abuse of
Fine's case exposes the dark underside of
California politics and appalling level of official malfeasance, involving
greedy developers, corrupt LA County Supervisors and judges, the state
Supreme Court, its Bar Association, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals,
co-conspiring to protect ongoing criminality and punish anyone challenging
On April 9, Contra Costa Times writer Troy Anderson headlined,
"Supreme Court to hear Fine case," quoting Brooklyn Law School Professor
Jayne Ressler, an expert in "coercive confinement" saying:
fact the Supreme Court is involved in any way is a big deal. It certainly
speaks volumes to the importance of this case, and it's quite intriguing."
At issue is Fine's "coercive confinement," but he also hopes
California corruption will be addressed. The issue of judges' pay is
currently before the California Supreme Court, but given how judges and
legislators conspire, it'll likely go nowhere to let illegal behavior
The state Supreme Court disbarred Fine. Superior Court
Judge David Yaffe jailed him for allegedly practicing law while being
inactive and refusing to answer questions about his assets to pay
court-ordered attorney fees in connection with a Marina del Rey case.
The US Supreme Court will hear his case on April 23. It gets thousands of
applications annually, but considers about 80 or 90 at most. His appeal
cites the precedent of a Los Angeles newspaper reporter jailed in 1972, in
contempt, for refusing to divulge sources relating to the Charles Manson
case. After six weeks in confinement, the US Supreme Court ordered him
released while his case was considered by the 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals. "Lower courts later determined that lengthy confinements for
contempt" are to punish in violation of "legal limits on punitive
sentences for contempt."
The US Supreme Court has the final say.
Meanwhile, at age 70 and in deteriorating health, Fine remains
incarcerated, his freedom very much in jeopardy.
Also at issue is
due process and judicial fairness, fast disappearing in America and denied
anyone challenging corrupt power and privilege effectively. Fine did it
courageously and expertly. He's now paying the price.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at:
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