Zwartz Talk

California Appeals Court Finds A Judge’s Religious Bias is not Grounds to Disqualify Judge



Gentiles Only

California Appeals Court Affirms Judge’s  Right to  Exclude Attorneys Who Do Not Believe in Jesus

by Scott Zwartz
June 27, 2015

.    This article updates the one from yesterday, June 26, 2015, If You Reject Jesus, California Judge Rejects You.

.    It turns out that the appeals court had issued a decision to go with its ruling, (2015-6-26 Turner Decision), but it had not been sent to everyone who had asked for notifications. As a result, Zwartz Talk did not know that the court had expressed an opinion on whether a judge may impose a religious test upon people and attorneys who appear before him.

.    After reading HELP’s Petition setting forth Judge Torribio’s assertion that he had a constitutional right to bar attorneys who reject Jesus Christ, the Presiding Appellate Justice Turner (who has a vested interest in this case) did write an opinion.

.     The only words in 2015-6-26 Turner Decision which addressed whether Judge Torribio could use a religious test were:

Petitioner also fails to show that the disqualification statement disclosed adequate legal grounds for disqualification.

.      This sentence in Justice Turner’s Decision means that the appeals court found that nothing in Judge Torribio’s behavior  was inappropriate.  By necessity that means the appeals court found that excluding an attorney from a sidebar because he would  “refuse Jesus Christ” is acceptable in California courts.   Under the trial court’s the Jesus Test, Justice Turner of the Appeals court has approved  Judge Torribio’s excluding an attorney from a sidebar while the judge examines the Jewish attorney’s confidential papers.

.     The crucial element was Judge Torribio’s adoption of Frank Angel’s position.  Judge Torribio not only had an opportunity to make certain no religiosity was interjected into the court proceedings, but also had the duty to disavow the “refuse Jesus Christ” statement. Code of Judicial Ethics, 3(d)(2)  If Judge Torribio had not literally asserted his constitutional right to religiously discriminate against Jews and others who would “refuse Jesus,” then this issue would never have gone anywhere.  Likewise, Justice Turner closed his eyes to the Code of Judicial Ethics.

The Appeals Court Cites Three Cases

.     1. People v Guerra discusses whether a judge, who makes some harsh comment and then immediately assures the party that he will receive a fair trial despite the judge’s momentary anger at the attorney, may be disqualify after the trial, which defendant lost.  Thus, Guerra is the opposite of the Judge Torribio situation.  The judge in Guerra went out of his way to make certain people understood that he would be impartial.  (“Ultimately, the trial judge reiterated he could give defendant a fair trial and assured counsel he would disqualify himself if he found himself “compromising” defendant’s right to a fair jury trial.”  Guerra @ 1110).  In contrast, Judge Torribio asserted a constitutional right to exclude attorneys who refuse Jesus.

.     HELP, however, was not involved in the first hearing which involved SaveHywd, and hence HELP, had no standing to object Frank Angel’s statement or to Judge Torribio’s illicit sidebar.

.     In Guerra the defendant had waited until after trial before deciding to complain.  HELP  did not wait until after any trial or any motion before complaining. Not only did HELP promptly complain when it saw Judge Torribio was treating it unfairly, but nothing was likely to occur in the case for several months as the petitioners were waiting for the City of Los Angeles to issue a new Draft EIR for a Hollywood Community Plan Update. To date (July 7 2015), the City has issued nothing.  If the City should issue a DEIR today, petitioners have sixty (60) days until September 7, 2015 to respond. The only thing pending is HELP’s 2014 Objections to the City’s Failure to provide an October 2014 Return, and that is one of HELP’s matters which Judge Torribio would not address.

.   HELP sought to disqualify Judge Torribio as soon as it had reasonable grounds to conclude that Judge Torribio was treating HELP unfairly because its Jewish attorney did not accept Jesus Christ.  As the only party which was not still in the appeals court due to the City’s appealing one of Judge Goodman’s order, HELP was the only Petitioner in the trial court.  Nonetheless, Judge Torribio was moving ahead with the trial court case with the other petitioners, but he was excluding HELP from participation.  When HELP realized that it was being excluded, it promptly filed a Statement of Disqualification.

.    2. PBA v KPOD recites the same procedure which HELP itself had set forth in its Petition about timeliness. Justice Turner gives no fact to support that the  idea that HELP was untimely.

.     3. Moutlon v Colombo supports HELP, but in the perverse judicial world where the victim finds himself being victimized a second time by the very institution that is supposed to protect him, Justice Turner’s Decision turns the world upside down.

.     The judge in Moulton told the jury a brief history of constitutional law and reminded jurors how important it was to he an open-mind and not pre-judge people. After losing at trial, the Colombos said the judge was being anti-Italian. The Moulton Court said:

The [trial] court illustrated the need for impartiality by noting that the jurors’ “mindset” should start with both parties on “a level playing field.” To illustrate the inappropriateness of jurors coming to their task with predetermined stereotypes, the court cautioned them not to base their decision on preconceived ideas such as a bias against district because it was a public entity or against owners because they have Italian surnames. The point made to the jurors was important, and the illustrations were appropriate to the case.  (Moutlon v Colombo, p 1219)

.    Judge Torribio, in contrast, adopted the notion that Jews are troublemakers because they reject Jesus Christ, and thus, he has a constitutional right to protect his courtroom from Jews.

.       It is ironic that the Appeals Court seizes upon a case which warns against predetermined stereotypes in order to sanctify Judge Torribio’s  Belief in Jesus Christ religious test.

.    edited 7-7-15 @12:56 PDT

Update August 12, 2015

On August 12, 2015 in case number S227630, the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutional right of California judges and justices to discriminate against Jews and others who “would refuse Jesus Christ.”


One comment on “California Appeals Court Finds A Judge’s Religious Bias is not Grounds to Disqualify Judge

  1. DavidCayJohnston

    You link to the final decision, but do not post any of the briefs, which would be crucial to understand just what was said and the context. Please post the briefs so readers can understand the full nature of this decision.


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