:Sending off brief, impersonal form letters offering no explanation for the CJP’s decisions, holding private meetings and closing off information access certainly does not inspire public trust and leaves the average citizen wondering why the need for secrecy, more characteristic of authoritarian regimes.”________________________________________________________
It’s understandable the CJP would not take action on many of the complaints that it receives. In numerous cases, although the litigants are clearly not happy with the judges’ decisions, not enough evidence points to judicial misconduct.
In other cases, the judge made legal errors. In most situations, legal error is not misconduct unless it involves “bad faith, bias, abuse of authority, disregard for fundamental rights, intentional disregard of the law or any purpose other than the faithful discharge of judicial duty” as established in the California Supreme Court’s 1999 ruling in the Oberholzer v. CJP case.
Unfortunately, the only option for cases involving legal error is to appeal the trial court’s ruling. Appeals are expensive and enormously time-consuming.
While a CJP investigation may not have been warranted in my case, it seems to me the CJP owes it to the public to briefly explain why the commission chooses not to take further action on complaints.
Subsequently, I found out from my state senator’s office that the CJP’s meetings are neither open to the public nor subject to the California Public Records Act, Brown Act or Freedom of Information Act.
Not even the CJP clerical staff is allowed to attend during deliberations.
Why is the commission operating in such a secretive fashion? Isn’t the commission supposed to be serving the public?
The CJP’s website home page states, “The commission’s mandate is to protect the public, enforce rigorous standards of judicial conduct and maintain public confidence in the integrity and independence of the judicial system.”
What inspires public confidence in a democratic system is openness and transparency. Sending off brief, impersonal form letters offering no explanation for the CJP’s decisions, holding private meetings and closing off information access certainly does not inspire public trust and leaves the average citizen wondering why the need for secrecy, more characteristic of authoritarian regimes.
Surely, we can and must do better than this.