What the Ninth Circuit Judges Did Not Tell Us About Corruption
in the California Court System
by Scott Zwartz — October 18, 2015
As readers of Zwartz Talk know, in January 2015, Judges Kim Wardlaw, Alex Kozinski, and William Fletcher of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals accused the California judges and justices of maintaining a judicial system where attorney misconduct was epidemic. See http://lat.ms/1znOjpN January 31, 2015 LA Times, U.S. Judges See ‘Epidemic’ of Prosecutorial Misconduct in State, by Maura Dolan
Although the three judges did discuss the prosecutorial misconduct in the Baca Case, they did not go into detail about the mechanism of the epidemic of attorney misconduct. This article will explain one way in which California judges and justices not only turn a blind eye to serious ethical and legal transgressions by attorneys whom they favor, but also the extent to which the judges and justices are willing to actively corrupt the legal system in order to make their friends wealthy while framing innocent people.
Justice Paul Turner and His Undisclosed
Ex Parte Communications
“Ex parte” is legalese which means that the judge is having communications with only one party. One attorney very belatedly disclosed one particularly egregious ex parte communication between Justice Paul Turner and the law offices of Frank Angel. The ex parte communication was on December 18, 2014, but no one told the injured party, SaveHywd, and its attorney, until the following September 21, 2015.
Our focus will not be on the failure of the attorney, Frank Angel, to disclose, but rather upon the failure of Justice Turner to disclose the secret conversation, which the Court itself had initiated with Angel Law.
Following is a pertinent section of the May 29, 2015 declaration by Jessica Cheng, describing the undisclosed ex parte communication. The conversation was highly prejudicial to SaveHywd as Angel Law was not in fact the attorney for SaveHywd and SaveHywd had not terminated Mr. MacNaughton. To the contrary, on February 14, 2014, SaveHywd had terminated Frank Angel and Jessica Cheng. The Cheng declaration was not written until her last day as an employee of Angel Law and long the Supreme Court had ruled on the matter.
I received a phone call from the Clerk of the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Five. The reason for this call was because of the confusion caused by a letter filed by Mr. MacNaughton on December 17, 2014, in which Mr. Mac Naughton claimed that SaveHollywood.Org would not be filing a respondent’ s brief — a claim made without authorization from or even consultation with SaveHollywood.Org. Because of this letter, the clerk was unsure if our Respon-dent’s Brief for SaveHollywood.Org could be filed. I explained that Mr. Mac Naughton refused to accept that he had been terminated by SaveHoll-ywood.Org and that a motion for sanctions had been filed against him in the trial court. Cheng May 29, 2015 Declaration about December 18, 2014 ex parte conversation between Angel law and Justice Turner’s office
The portions in bold highlight the extraordinarily prejudicial (and false) information which was conveyed to Justice Turner on December 18, 2014. The reality was that on February 14, 2014, SaveHywd had terminated Frank Angel and Jessica Cheng due to extreme misconduct. 2014-2-14 SaveHyd’s Letter firing Angel Law
The next day, Justice Turner issues the following order: “A dispute exists as to who represents plaintiff, SAVEHOLLYWOOD.ORG. Within 5 days of the filing date of this order, plaintiff is file declarations identifying who it wishes to act as its counsel.” 2014-12-19 Turner Order Justice Turner’s office tells SaveHywd that the plaintiff, SaveHywd, must directly communicate with him without its attorney Richard MacNaughton’s making any reply.
One should notice that Justice Turner’s office does not mention the ex parte conversation with Angel Law. Justice Turner’s office then directs SaveHywd to submit only a couple lines identifying its attorney and that if Mr. MacNaughton submits anything, it probably will not be read. SaveHywd discloses this conversation Justice Turner’s office at its first opportunity.
SaveHywd submits a two page declaration by a member of its Legal Committee and nothing from its attorney in line with the express instructions for Justice Tuner’s office. Frank Angel, on the other hand, submits his own attorney statement, saying that he is SaveHywd’s attorney and he adds about 100 additional pages.
Upon his receipt of the 2 page declaration from SaveHywd and 100 pages from Frank Angel, Justice Turner provides neither SaveHywd nor Attorney MacNaughton any opportunity to respond. Justice Turner fails to disclose the ex parte contact, which his office had initiated with Angel Law.
Rather, on the morning of December 26, 2014 Justice Turner issues an order stating, “The court finds the law firm of Angel Law is the only firm authorized to represent plaintiff, SaveHollywood.Org. Mr. MacNaughton is to file no further papers as counsel for SaveHollywood.Org.” 2014-12-26 Turner Order re SaveHywd
Once again Justice Turner fails to disclose the highly prejudicial ex parte communication between his office and Angel Law. After learning, many months later, about the prejudicial ex parte conversation Angel Law had with Justice Turner’s Office, one can see that Justice Turner manipulated the operation of Division Five so that he himself without the input of Attorney MacNaughton or any other justice so that he could remove Attorney MacNaughton on December 26th. If Justice Turner had desired to ascertain the truth, he would have made a motion and provided SaveHywd and Attorney Mac Naughton an opportunity to respond. Then, he would have been faced with the trial court judge’s September 2014 order confirming that Mr. MacNaughton and not Frank Angel represented Petitioner SaveHywd. He would have had to contend with the fact that Frank Angel had been fired and that when he was retained to assist Attorney MacNaughton, his contract expressly excluded any appellate work, but that SaveHywd had retained Mr. MacNaughton for all representation including any legal work at the appellate level.
Following December 26, 2014 Order, SaveHywd submits its objections to its being deprived of its attorney. On December 31, 2014, Justice Turner rejects SaveHywd’s Objections, stating:
“The request of SaveHollywood.Org., People For Liveable Communities, to file objections to this court’s December 26, 2014 order is denied. It may appear only through counsel. (Rowland v. Cal. Men’s Colony, Unit II Men’s Advisory Council (1993) 505 U.S. 194, 202; Licht v. America West (In re America West Airlines) (9th Cir. 1994) 40 F.3d 1058, 1059; Harrison v. Wahatoyas, LLC (10th Cir. 2001) 253 F.3d 552, 556; see Merco Constr. Engineers, Inc. v. Superior Court (1978) 21 Cal.3d 724, 730; J.W. v. Superior Court (1993) 17 Cal.App.4th 958, 966.) 2014-12-31 Turner Order
Once again, Justice Turner fails to disclose the prejudicial ex parte communication between his office and Angel Law. Ironically, after issuing the order that SaveHywd itself had to communicate with him without its attorney, Justice Turner rejects SaveHywd’s Objections because an organization may be represented only by it attorney.The rule of law changes according to Justice Turner’s whims.
After SaveHywd then has its attorneys (MacNaughton and Pilot) submit their objections and seek a stay of the December 26, 2014 Order, Justice Turner denies the request for a Stay and passes up another opportunity to disclose the ex parte communication which had lead to his December 19, 2014 order that SaveHywd communicate directly with him without its attorney submitting anything. 2015-1-8 Turner Denies Stay
Since Justice Turner’s office had initiated the ex parte communication with Angel Law and Justice Turner could now see the nature and extent of the harm which that undisclosed ex parte communication was causing, Justice Turner alone was in a position to rectify the misconduct. He refused to do so.
On January 16, 2015, the three justice panel of Turner, Mosk, and Kriegler also denied SaveHywd’s and MacNaughton’s Request for a Stay. None of the three justice disclosed the court’s ex parte communication with Angel Law. Perhaps, they believed it would be too embarrassing to admit at that late date that Justice Turner had initiated this entire fiasco by his initial failure to disclose the highly prejudicial conversation with Angel Law.
After all, Angel Law is not disclosing the illicit conversation, SaveHywd and MacNaughton do not know about it, and the three justices certainly are not going to disclose the conversation. It is far better to deprive SaveHywd of its counsel of choice and ignore the fact that Frank Angel actually represented the non-party corporation. If that information came to light, then one would have to investigate why Judge Goodman had authorized Frank Angel, who was entitled to zero attorney fees in the Hollywood Community Plan litigation, to collect $250,000.00 in attorney fees from the City.
Too much extortion, too much deceit, too much of a cover-up was in progress for any of the justices to risk the unraveling of any of the judicial misdeeds.
After SaveHywd petitioned the Supreme Court for review, the Chief Justice denied the petition without disclosing the ex parte communications. As this article focuses on Justice Turner’s persistent corruption of the judiciary, we shall not speculate on what the Chief Justice knew about the ex parte communication when denying the Petition
Hard As it Is to Believe, Justice Turner still Refuse
To Admit the Ex Parte Communication
On September 9, 2015, Justice Turner issues a tentative order on a subsequent appellate case B263181, stating that his December 26, 2014 order from the other appellate case is controlling. One has to wonder at the hubris of a Justice who would revive his prior transgression as a basis to do more favors for Frank Angel. However, on September 9, 2015, Justice Turner knew about his secret ex parte communication with Angel Law. Justice Turner was the person who made his illicit conversation with Angel Law pertinent by bringing an order from a different case into the present case.
On September 21, 2015, Frank Angel files a letter brief with Division 5 with Ms. Cheng’s May 29, 2015 declaration attached.
At the October 5, 2015 hearing before Justices Turner and Kriegler, both of who had failed to disclose the ex parte conversation back in December 2014, Justices Turner and Kriegler remained silent about the disclosure in Jessica Cheng’s declaration. Why?
(1) Perhaps, they did not read the Cheng declaration and they did not know that the cat was out of the bag?
(2) Perhaps, the esteemed justices believed that it was best for them to continue to act as if the ex parte communication did not occur?
[Justice Lamar Baker was also at the October 5, 2015 hearing. As he was appointed to the 2nd District on May 5, 2015, he could not have personal knowledge of the prior judicial misconduct.]
Epidemic of Misconduct Means
That This is not an Isolated Case
“Epidemic” means “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is in a far better position than Zwartz Talk to know if the judicial mistake is occasional or widespread.
The Back Story of These Foul Deeds
For readers who do not know the back story, here is a brief version. After Attorney Frank Angel had betrayed his client, SaveHywd, for whom he had hired to a CEQA consultant to work at the express direction of SaveHywd’s lead attorney who had been retained to handle the entire litigation from trial court, appellate court and supreme court, Judge Goodman turned a blind eye to Frank Angel’s treacherous behavior so that the City of Los Angeles would have no choice but to give Frank Angel hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees on the Hollywood Community Plan litigation. Frank Angel collected $250,000.00. Judge Goodman had approved this payment of $1/4 million knowing that Frank Angel represented a non-party corporation. On September 18, 2014, which was months after Frank Angel had collect his $250,000.00, Judge Goodman stated on the record that Frank Angel did not represent SaveHywd, but in stead he represented the corporation. When Frank Angel asked Judge Goodman to make him SaveHywd’s attorney, Judge Goodman refuse.
It appears that Judge Goodman was only going to go so far in catering to Frank Angel. Although we do not know Judge Goodman’s sentiments, he may have believed that Frank Angel should have been contended with the $1/4 Million. Interestingly, when Justice Turner’s office had its December 2014 improper communications with Frank Angel, Judge Goodman was sitting on special assignment at Division 5 with Justice Turner. Whether Judge Goodman was aware of what Justice Turner was doing or had any opportunity to inform Justice Turner that Frank Angel represented the corporation and not SaveHywd is unknown.
With full knowledge that no one had appealed Judge Goodman’s September 2014 Minute Order that MacNaughton was Petitioner SaveHywd’s attorney and that Frank Angel was not its attorney, Justice Turner overruled Judge Goodman’s determination and order Attorney MacNaughton to pay Frank Angel $9,000.00 for his relying on Judge Goodman’s order. Justice Turner’s conduct falls outside the bounds of his judicial immunity since he lacked jurisdiction to supersede Judge Goodman’s September 2014 Minute Order. Also, Justice Turner’s threats to disbar and bankrupt SaveHywd’s co-counsel, Edward Pilot, unless he abandoned his client was outside the limits of judicial immunity.
Subsequently, Justice Turner along with trial court Judge John Torribio (Dept G – Norwalk) awarded Frank Angel about $100,000.00 in additional attorney fees. All told, it looks like the honorable judges and justices are ginned up to shove almost $400,000.00 towards Frank Angel for his illicit behavior.
How Have Society Been Harmed?
Frank Angel and his cohorts support are greatly increasing the population density in Hollywood, while SaveHywd and its attorney, Attorney MacNaughton, asserted that the City needed to study the CEQA Alternative that Hollywood could continue to lose population and the City needed to study the harmful impacts on Hollywoodians of more densification, e.g. projects such as the Millennium Earthquake Towers (whose EIR Judge James Chalfant subsequently rejected). SaveHywd and MacNaughton were not arguing that The City was obligated to adopt a DownSizing-DownZoning Alternative, but rather that the environmental laws of California [CEQA] required the City to present the all facts to the public.
Since 1990, Hollywood had been losing population and since 2001 Councilmember and now Mayor Eric Garcetti had been falsely telling everyone that Hollywood was gaining population. Hollywood’s population in 1990 had been about 214,000 people. By 2000, it had fallen to about 210,800 people and by year 2010, the US Census said that Hollywood’s population was only 198228 people. Thus, there was an unbroken decline in population, which meant that the City was under an affirmative duty to study the Quality of Life in Hollywood if that pattern continued.
Because Judge Goodman had reviewed the data on Hollywood’s population turned, much of it provided by SaveHywd, HELP and Attorney MacNaughton, his statement of decision said that the Update to the Hollywood Community Plan was based on “fatally flawed data” and “wishful thinking” which “subverted the law.”
Frank Angel, however, had told Judge Goodman that it was reasonable to expect Hollywood’s population to swell to 400,000 by year 2030. That was diametrically opposed to the facts and he endorsed Smart Planning, i.e. the further densification of Hollywood with massive projects along Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. Frank Angel also made certain that there was no timely update to the Hollywood Community Plan which permitted all these super-dense projects such as 8150 Sunset Boulevard (which the courts recently rejected) and Palladium move forward. [As of May 26, 2017, there still is no new update to the Hollywood Community Plan, and scuttlebutt has it that none will be released until Turner and Torribio have jailed Attorney MacNaughton for coercive confinement.]
One can see why it was paramount for Justice Paul Turner to get rid of Attorney MacNaughton by hook or crook, and crook was the method selected. If the public learned about the DownSizing DownZoning Alternative, that would allow people to stop the Manhattanization of Hollywood with all the billions of dollars of corruptionism which that entailed.
Judicial corruptors like Paul Turner take a heavy toll on our entire society. It is not the few thousand dollars which are directed to the their cohorts which harm society, but rather it is the massive attack on the public’s right to know. There never has been a public discussion of Quality of Life in Los Angeles and how to plan for a Hollywood which pays attention to the needs of its citizens. Instead Justice Paul Turner and Judge John Torribio along with Frank Angel have paved the way for Los Angeles’s decline into one of the least desirable places in the country for the middle class. For example, Los Angeles’ 2016 traffic congestion ranks as the worst in the world and the city is again insolvent.
The attack on the poor has been “evil.” Yes, the Garcetti campaign to destroy the homes of poor people has aggrandized the homeless problem, while hundreds of millions of tax dollars are diverted into the pockets of Garcetti’s developer cronies. The infrastructure has crumbled and the new middle class, The Millennials who have reached child rearing age (24 to 34 year olds), are deserting Los Angeles for cities with better governments, better schools, better residential neighborhoods and better jobs.
Power corrupts and unrestained judicial power corrupts the most. Corrptionism, however destroys. When the judiciary’s sole concern is the care and feeding of the illicit whims of judges, society itself will fall.
The Ninth Circuit spoke too softly when it said the California judiciary turns a blind eye to misdeeds. It should had admitted that the California judges are the “ring leaders” of the epidemic of misconduct.
edits 11-7-15, 9-10-16, 5-25-2017