An inspector general for the Judiciary is needed

On December 6, 2017, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who at the time was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to provide an Inspector General for the Judicial Branch and for other purposes.  The short title of the "Act" was to be cited as the Judicial Transparency and Ethics Enhancement Act of 2017.  The bill was designed to correct some very seriously evident dysfunction in how federal judges are monitored and dealt with in the context of judicial malfeasance issues.

Senator Grassley's bill called for an inspector general to perform an independent investigation of alleged misconduct within the Judicial Branch; to conduct and supervise audits and investigations; to prevent and detect waste, fraud, and abuse; and to recommend changes in laws or regulations governing the Judicial Branch.  The bill called for the inspector general to be appointed by the chief justice of the United States after consultation with the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and the House speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives.  The bill appeared to be a no-brainer for enactment into law, but it wasn't to be. 

It didn't take long for obstructive forces to come into play in order to protect the status quo process, which we all know really isn't fair, doesn't work, and is designed to conceal judicial malfeasance. 

I have known about judicial malfeasance for a long time and have called for creation of an independent inspector general to investigate allegations of misconduct against federal judges.  

Judge Richard A. Posner, a highly distinguished retired judge from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, has publicly stated that America has a "very bad" judicial system, and even further stated, "We have a very crappy judicial system ... that contaminates much of government." 

While the federal Judiciary would like to portray a façade that its judges are beyond reproach and that everything is on the up and up, the evidence overwhelmingly dispels that false notion, and we as a society need to wake up and smell the coffee.  Indeed, case-fixing is alive and well in the American courts.

With all of the well-documented historical evidence of judicial malfeasance issues in the Judiciary, one would reasonably wonder — why, then, wasn't the Grassley bill enacted into law?  To answer this question, one need only turn to the letter written by James C. Duff, who at the time was director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, to then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley on January 22, 2018, with outmoded gratuitous statements about how the so-called Judicial Conference's Judicial Conduct and Disability Committee functions "efficiently and effectively" and that the "structure provides for an investigatory process" as to the alleged wrong-doing, and a diatribe about how the current process plays out and should remain intact.  Duff went on to state that the imposition of an inspector general's investigatory powers and procedures is "unnecessary."

The statements by James C. Duff were utter poppycock at best.  The evidence overwhelmingly shows that there are many corrupt federal judges who go undisciplined and remain on the bench.  Duff's letter neglected to mention that most complaints against federal judges are dismissed outright.  In 2015, there were 1,214 complaints filed against federal judges.  Only four were referred to a special investigative committee, and not a single one of them resulted in remedial action against the judge.  The problem is so rampant that even the attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, is believed to protect corrupt activities by federal judges.

We cannot as a society have a "very bad" judicial system" that "contaminates much of government," as was publicly stated by Judge Posner, and we cannot have thousands of U.S. judges who break laws or oaths and yet remain on the bench, as reported by Reuters.  The fact that the director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, James C. Duff, pushed so hard to prevent the enactment of Senator Grassley's bill for the creation of a much-needed inspector general for the judicial branch is cause for alarm.

Senator Grassley obviously was on to something when he introduced his bill for an inspector general.  Unfortunately, the forces of corruption came into play, and won the day, at that time.  It is now time for the forces of righteousness to come into play and win the day, by putting into place an inspector general who will actually perform independent investigations of alleged misconduct within the Judicial Branch in a legitimate fashion rather than the illegitimate process that has been going on as embraced by James C. Duff in the derailment of Senator Grassley's bill.  For until that happens, Lady Justice will be weeping under her blindfold. 

Photo credit: J.-H. Janßen GNU Free Documentation License.

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