Part 1 of 3          Part 2 of 3          Part 3 of 3

© 2005 Chuck Klein

Part 1 of 3

It has been said that a government career is comprised of four distinct phases: Idealism, Pragmatism, Ambition and Corruption. For some the slide takes decades, others a significantly shorter period.

Recently, a mix of these types, in the name of safety (Idealism), but in the Pragmatism of reality (increasing government revenues), have invented the Stop-Light camera. This unmanned device photographs the license plate of a vehicle that runs a red light. The government then mails a ticket to the person to whom the plate is registered - regardless of who's actually driving. Up until now a police officer, to get a conviction, had to "place you behind the wheel" at the time of this criminal offense. To get around this sticky issue, the government has classified stop-light-camera violations as a civil infraction and thus no jail time or "points" are attached to your driving record should you be caught by the camera. Therefore, the only penalty is monetary.

A civil crime requires a significantly lower standard of proof, i.e., only a preponderance of the evidence and not beyond-the-reasonable-doubt requirement of a criminal matter. In other words, they don't have to prove - beyond- a-reasonable-doubt - that you were driving the car, just the preponderance of the evidence that you were most likely the driver of the vehicle. Think the O.J. case, where he was found not guilty in criminal court, but found responsible in the civil suit filed by the victim's family and had to pay big money. In the stop-light-camera incident, for all intents and purposes, the burden of proof will be on you to prove that you were NOT driving the vehicle, i.e., to beat the rap you'll have to produce the actual driver or evidence that you couldn't have been the driver.

THE BEST OF CHUCK KLEINPerhaps, we can apply this same analogy to those who make the laws. Local, state and federal statutes against corruption, such as lying, cheating and stealing, should be amended to create a Civil Crime of Corruption. Therefore, instead of expending huge resources to prove a criminal corruption case against a government official to the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard, we create the Civil Crime of Corruption. This new crime would, as in the stop-light-camera, require a much lower level of proof. Of course, those found guilty of the Civil Crime of Corruption can't be jailed, but we can fine them and prevent them from ever receiving government funds (employment, grants, etc.) again.

To facilitate catching these violators we, the people, need a "stop-light-camera," to wit:

1) All elected and politically appointed officials shall be required to post on the Web their tax return and that of their spouses, if filing separately, while they are in office and for three years thereafter.

2) All elected and politically appointed officials shall be required to post on the Web a daily account of where they were and who they were with.

3) Those charged under the Civil Crime of Corruption shall be required to submit to a polygraph test (lie detector tests have not generally been allowed in criminal proceedings, but are acceptable in civil cases).

4) Establish an Investigative Reporter....  

Part 2 of 3

Last week proposed a new standard for dealing with corruption of elected and appointed government officials: The Civil Crime of Corruption. Today, in order to detect such activity with the lowest possibility of contamination; a watchdog organization, the Board of Licensed Investigative Reporters (BLIR), is hereby tendered.

Much has been written about allowing reporters to enjoy the privilege of shielding their confidential sources. However, unlike police, clergy and doctors, reporters are not licensed and thus have no one to answer to should they abuse this privilege. Therefore, the BLIR should be formed to license and monitor these special reporters, who must comply with the following privileges, immunities and rules:

1) In addition to other investigations, each licensee is obligated to investigate corruption of elected and appointed officials at all level of government;

2) All reporters licensed under BLIR shall have the unrestricted right to withhold confidential sources from anyone - except information relating to a future event that will cause death or great bodily harm to others;

3) Because we are dealing with corruption, these licensed reporters shall come under the same The Civil Crime of Corruption rules as elected and appointed government officials as laid out in last weeks blog (Government Corruption with Solutions Part I);

4) Licensed reporters, or their employers, shall pay a set yearly fee for these privileges;

5) All licensed investigative reporters and their employers shall be immune from liable and slander judgements when acting within the scope of their duties.

Of course, there will always be the temptation to abuse this power for political and/or monetary gains, thus BLIR shall be made up of the most honored and trustworthy American citizens: Retired Police Officers. The following criteria for members of the Board of Licensed Investigative Reporters shall apply:

1) Officers must be retired with 15 or more years as a full-time certified police officer;

2) They shall have not less than five years at the rank Detective;

3) Their pay shall come exclusively from membership dues of the BLIR;

4) They shall be term limited to eight years;

5) The officers, in addition to their investigative duties, shall also issue periodic public reports on each licensed investigative reporter.

Yeah, I know this might seem extreme, but hey, we have to do something. My guess is, after a few years of this, the amount of corruption will be significantly reduced and the problem of downsizing the BLIR bureaucracy will become the problem. Next week, Making Judges accountable?


Part 3 of 3

There is a serious problem at the trial level of the judicial system. This problem stems, not so much from corruption in the common sense, but from arrogance - of a usurpation of power - of ignoring a constitutional mandate. The problem is in the form of a practice that has grown among the judiciary to reserve, exclusively to a trial judge, the power of judging the law.

Judges, officiate in criminal jury trials for the primary purpose of ensuring a fair trial. They are referees or umpires whose duties lie in making sure the playing field is level - not to pass judgement. Judgements are reserved to the jury. Juries decide facts, and when appropriate, judge the law as well.

The 6th Amendment to the U.S. constitution states, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury...." It doesn't say by a judge; it specifies an IMPARTIAL jury. A government employee, using his or her powerful position to 'charge' or 'instruct' a jury, is violating the 6th, 9th and 10th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. A jury that has been subjected to this usurpation of power is no longer impartial - it has been influenced to the judge's uncontested bias.

Our Constitution, our rule-of-law, was written by laymen for laymen. No where in its articles or amendments is the judicial branch empowered to TELL a jury anything, much less how to apply a law. Some states, in open confrontation to the Constitution, have even gone so far as to require jurors to report fellow jurors who refuse to follow the law as directed by a Judge!

During jury selection the prosecutor, or the judge, will always ask prospective jurors, "Will you swear to follow the judges instructions and apply the law as he gives it to you?" Those answering in the negative or with words to the effect: "I agree to follow all instructions, laws, rules and statutes if these instructions, laws, rules, and statutes are not in conflict with this state or our Federal Constitution," will be summarily dismissed.

Most first day jurors are required to view a very professionally produced 18 minute video tape: "CALLED TO SERVICE," a Federal Judicial Center Production. During which, the narrator says:

* "The accused's right to trial by jury is protected by the U.S. Constitution's Article III and the 7th Amendment." [There is no mention of the 6th Amendment.]

* "Judges decides all questions of law." [This is an assumed power - in direct violation of the 6th, 9th and 10th Amendments. When practiced, this is indicative of prime facie judicial misconduct.]

* "The jury is a panel that is made up of impartial jurors." [It is not possible to expect jurors to be impartial if the judge forces them to accept his opinion of the law.]

* "If anything is in conflict with what the judge says, jurors must follow the instructions of the Judge." [This is the scariest statement, i.e., if the facts of the case are clear to the jury that 'A' did it, but the judge instructs the jury to find that 'B' is the guilty party, are the jurors obligated to do so?]

* "During the judges charge or instructions to the jury, the judge will explain the law that you must follow." [That's because the judge doesn't think you're intelligent enough to figure out what the law says nor will he allow the representative attorneys to explain it to you.]

SOLUTIONS. See the following:
1) Creation of the Civil Crime of Corruption law which lowers the standard of proof required to reign in corrupt public officials. Please see Government Corruption and Solutions (Parts I and II)

2) There is a nationwide move, J.A.I.L., to make judges more accountable for judicial misconduct. Please visit their web site: JAIL 4 JUDGES for additional information;

3) A full expose' on the subject: A Dirty Little Judicial Secret