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"Three Strikes:" Not Enough, Too Much

Ironically, this "three-strike" provision is weaker than the consequences set out in current statutes. Simultaneously, it's much more ominous: even if a judge is found innocent or a complaint against him or her is deemed frivolous, the language of the amendment means that they get a "strike" just for being called before the Special Grand Jury. In other words, the judge could be accused and found innocent three times - and still lose his or her job.

Our response:

Paragraph 1(d) defines "Strike" as "An adverse immunity decision or a criminal conviction against a judge." In neither of those conditions is a judge "found innocent" nor a complaint "deemed frivolous." "Just for being called before the Special Grand Jury" is NOT a strike.

What the Club appears to be saying above is that a particular judge may be complained against before the Special Grand Jury, and after the SGJ hears his defense and views the evidence from the record, finds him culpable for the alleged violations, and decides that a "strike" has occurred, i.e.,  an "adverse immunity decision," was reached. The complainant subsequently pursues a civil action against the defendant-judge; the defendant prevails in the civil case, and this scenario is repeated in three separate unrelated instances, in which event he would "still lose his or her job" even though "found innocent three times."

Despite the likelihood of such a scenario occurring, we address their concern. Herein is the administrative penalties of Amendment E. Everyone who acquires an occupation under a boss is subject to the boss' rules. Amendment E establishes the People's rules of which the three-strikes rule is a part.

The following is a very real experience that happens to many. A person buys auto insurance from a certain company. Thereafter, while on the road, his car gets rear-ended through no fault of his own. An accident has occurred, albeit the insured is found not at fault. A similar incident of rear-ending occurs in which the insured again is found not at fault; then followed by a third incident of rear-ending in which the insured again is not a fault. The insurance company exercises its judgment and cancels his auto insurance policy. The Club appears to be asking "Why would the company do that if he was not at fault?"

Not to be speaking on behalf of the fictitious insurance company, we can offer a couple valid reasons: (a) There appears to be a proven propensity for the insured to be accident-prone --a poor risk-- and even though he may not have been found at fault, given time he is likely to be involved with an uninsured motorist and suffer injury such as serious whiplash or broken collar-bone, and wind up in the hospital with permanent injuries for which the insured's company would have to pick up the bill. Could anyone logically blame this insurance company for not wanting to incur this risk? (I have talked with a person to whom this scenario actually happened.)

(b) A man gets a job at a grocery store. Repeatedly he finds himself engaged in confrontations with customers and fellow employees due to no fault of his own. His boss eventually arrives at the conclusion that it would be better for his business' reputation not to retain this man on his payroll. Would we find fault with this entrepreneur in discharging this employee?

Making application to the argument of the No-On-E Club regarding Amendment E, should not society be able to have a process by which it may rid itself of judges who are repeatedly incurring liability lawsuits even if they may prevail? In Los Angeles County there was a judge whose court demeanor was so embarrassing that the Commission on Judicial Performance came down on him because of his repeated acts of embarrassment to the judicial system. A disciplinary hearing was set to determine whether he should be removed as a judge. Two weeks prior to that hearing, the judge voluntarily agreed to an irrevocable resignation from the bench to which he can never be reinstated.

Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides "Judges should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all their activities." [Emphasis added]. Judges, who bring the appearance of impropriety to the judicial profession when they repeatedly embarrass the judicial system by incurring three strikes under the provisions of Amendment E, are properly removed from the bench on that basis, benefiting both the system and the public.


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