Is Psychiatry Taking Down Our Justice System?
“Only a few years ago, a cop who was in the same 81st Precinct I started in, Adrian Schoolcraft, was actually taken to a psych ward and handcuffed to a gurney for six days after he tried to complain about corruption – they wanted him to keep to a quota of summonses, and he wasn’t complying. No one would have believed him except he hid a tape recorder in his room, and recorded them making their demands. Now he’s like me, an outcast.” Frank Serpico
IS A JUDGE WHO ENFORCES DEADLINES MENTALLY ILL?
1. UNPRECEDENTED ATTACK ON A FEDERAL DISTRICT JUDGE
An independent federal district judge may one day be your ultimate line of defense against state government actions taking away your children, your liberties, or even your life. Online journalism has been exploding with reports of state court judges who are openly maintaining dual systems of justice, one for the wealthy and connected and one for the rest of us. [Source; Source; Source. ] When state court judges deny hearings, refuse to hear evidence, deny the right to cross examine and the right to jury trial, they also violate federal due process rights. Yet growing numbers of citizens find no relief in federal court either, ostensibly due to federal appeal court judge-made doctrines such as Rooker-Feldman, the Younger abstention doctrine, and the domestic relations exception to federal diversity jurisdiction.
Widget not in any sidebars
Getting our rights vindicated by a truly independent federal judge just got a lot harder on 8/14/17 when Sixth Circuit federal appeal Judge Anthony J. Scirica, chair of the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States, aka the “Review Committee”, approved a formal reprimand and “misconduct” finding against federal district judge John R. Adams of Ohio’s Northern District, sitting in Akron, Ohio. Judge Adams is not accused of financial or sexual improprieties, or incompetence. Judge Adams’ only ostensible offenses seem to consist of enforcing a court deadline, then refusing to submit to a psychiatric evaluation for having done so. A “special committee” of unnamed judges, headed by Northern District Judge Danny Boggs, is choosing to ignore two reports they already have from board certified psychiatrists indicating that Judge Adams has no mental health issues. But the “special committee” insists that they will consider only opinions from their own, specially selected psychiatrist, an individual whose identity has not been publicly revealed. Judge Scirica sees no problem with this approach. Scirica even suggests that forced psychiatric evaluations could be justified against all federal employees, rejecting the argument from Judge Adams’ attorneys that the Fourth Amendment protects privacy rights. Scirica found those rights outweighed by “special governmental need . . . for psychiatric . . testing”. [Id. p. 24]
On the other hand, Judge Scirica had been quite concerned in 2009 about privacy rights for 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski following an L.A. Times exposé of Kozinski’s “vast” cache of publicly accessible pornography during an obscenity trial – United States v. Isaacs – over which Kozinski had been presiding. [p. 10] During his review of Kozinski’s disciplinary proceedings, Scirica cited depictions found on Kozinski’s computer which Kozinski had testified he found “funny”. They included a photo of naked women ‘on all fours painted to look like cows’, ‘a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal’, and ‘a graphic step-by-step pictorial in which a woman is seen shaving her pubic hair’. [Id.p. 4.] Once Kozinski admitted to possessing this and other pornography, apologized for the embarrassment to the federal judiciary, removed himself from the obscenity trial, claimed he had intended the material to remain secret, and fully “cooperated”, Scirica issued no reprimand, only an “admonishment”, characterizing Kozinski’s conduct as merely “judicially imprudent” due to “carelessness in failing to safeguard his sphere of privacy”. [Id. P. 11] Scirica is not known to have ever considered the issue of psychiatric evaluation for Kozinski.
The only misconduct charges known to have been leveled against Judge Adams began in February, 2013 within days of Judge Adams’ having enforced a court-ordered deadline against one of the Northern District’s federal magistrates. Judge Adams had had no history of ethics violations either as a state court judge, as an attorney, or as a prosecutor during his 20 years prior to President Bush’s 2003 appointment of Adams to the federal bench. Nor during his subsequent 14 years as a federal judge. Nor has Judge Adams’ mental health ever before been challenged. A few months after they had begun their investigation, Boggs’ “special committee” switched course from their original February, 2013 focus on Judge Adams’ enforcement of the deadline and began demanding a psychiatric evaluation -but only by a psychiatrist of their choosing. Faced with Boggs’ committee’s refusal to consider the two psychiatric opinions Judge Adams and his attorneys had already given them and the spurning of other efforts to cooperate, Judge Adams and his attorneys refused to participate in a third evaluation. Boggs’ committee then latched on to Judge Adams’s refusal, labeling it “misconduct”. Scirica’s opinion agreed.
Judge Boggs’ “special committee” then utilized the “misconduct” finding it had generated to recommend that many of Judge Adams’ cases be taken away from him. Even so, one of his attackers testified during an April, 2015 proceeding that Judge Adams is “a very bright judge. He writes very good opinions”. (9/14/17 Complaint, parag. 43) The judge is also a law professor, and has been designated some 77 times to sit as an appeal court judge. Scirica’s Review Committee did reverse the Boggs committee’s recommendation that would have effectively removed Judge Adams from the bench. But Scirica’s reversal on this point was only a temporary reprieve. Scirica’s August, 2017 “review committee” decision authorized Boggs’ “special committee” to continue its “investigation” for at least another two years. That ruling also contained the threat that failure to submit to the specially selected psychiatrist would result in Judge Adams’ de facto removal from the bench, without going through impeachment procedures long believed by legal scholars to be required by the Constitution. At some point, someone on the 6th Circuit Judicial Council revealed the Boggs’ committee’s true agenda, which Scirica did not touch:
‘[s]hould Judge Adams refuse to undergo a mental-health evaluation by a psychiatrist chosen by the Special Investigating Committee, the Judicial Council intends to request that Judge Adams voluntarily retire.’ [Id. parag. 50]
And that would be voluntary?
II. THE ACTUAL ACCUSATIONS – DOING ONE’S JOB TOO WELL?
No specific, legally justifiable reasons have ever been given for the claims from Boggs’ “special committee” that Judge Adams is mentally disabled, but there have been incidents, many trivial, some in dispute or resurrected from 5+ years earlier, which are claimed to have annoyed the other judges:
A. Ordering Staff to Meet Deadlines – Does following the money suggest why that was a problem?
According to court documents, relations between Judge Adams and some of the federal judges and magistrates in the Akron federal courthouse had been “chilly”, allegedly since at least 2008 when they refused to consider his choice for hiring a magistrate. But the immediately triggering event occurred in early February, 2013, when Judge Adams issued a “show cause” order requiring one of the magistrates to explain missing a deadline Judge Adams had imposed in a Social Security case in which the claimant had been waiting some 5 ½ years for a decision.
When Judge Adams issued the February, 2013 “show cause” order, it could have theoretically resulted in contempt of court if ignored. However, the magistrate explained to Judge Adams’ office that there had been a clerical error, spent some extra time to make his deadline, and resolved the matter quickly. Judge Adams accepted the magistrate’s explanations. The magistrate faced no hearing or sanctions and the matter was dropped and sealed within 48 hours. The order had never been public to begin with. The “special committee” swung into action against Judge Adams within weeks, if not days.
Judge Adams’ Social Security deadline order is not claimed to have been unlawful, just “improper” – whatever that means. Boggs and Scirica call it “misconduct”. Or was the alleged “misconduct” just for refusing to submit to their psychiatric evaluation? Sometimes the reasoning is hard to decipher. None of the other judges requires magistrates to be on time with their reports. Did they therefore “reason” that there must be something psychiatrically wrong with Judge Adams?
What was the real problem – Cui bono? When drastic measures are taken over basically nothing, the question must always be “Who benefits?” The problem not discussed in the corporate media or the judicial opinions covering Judge Adams is that his concerns for injured, usually impoverished Social Security claimants, stepped on some sensitive toes. The attacks on Judge Adams may in fact be about maximizing attorneys’ fees. Social Security claimants’ attorneys are paid based on a percentage of the back pay, not on the monthly award going forward. The longer the delay in completing the case, the greater the back pay amount and the bigger the payday for the attorney. Even Judge Adams’ accusers admit that in the Northern District of Ohio, as elsewhere, Social Security claimants are disabled citizens who have had to wait many years for their cases to be decided. It appears that when Judge Adams started issuing scheduling orders to the magistrates, the other judges became shamed into doing likewise. Except that their orders were merely “precatory” – advisory. A suggestion only. It appears that having an enforceable deadline could interfere with the collegial atmosphere some of the judges in the Northern District claim to have, and might have upset some of the claimants’ attorneys.
Was the attack on Judge Adams an instance of disgruntled Social Security lawyers miffed at not receiving a larger payday? Did any of them even formally complain? How was it a concern of independent judges whether or not they were losing the attorneys’ good-will? Or was there more to their wrath? Although the proceedings against Judge Adams are supposed to be for the benefit of the public, the public will have no input by means of jury trial because Judge Adams, like most of us, is not being allowed that element of due process. He may also not even be allowed the right to a public hearing. Questions on this and other issues have been put to Judge Adams’ attorneys during research for this article, but to date have not been answered. Judges are very limited in the degree to which they can respond publicly to misconduct allegations.
B. Judge Adams had been objecting to some of the court’s questionable spending at taxpayer expense.
As stated in court filings, Judge Adams:
“spoke out about the fact that the District Court was spending thousands of dollars to purchase iPads for judges and other court staff while simultaneously threatening cutbacks and furloughs for essential staff, such as probation officers. He questioned the need for a magistrate judge in Akron, a position costing hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. He also questioned reimbursing judges for travel expenses incurred attending ceremonial portrait unveilings of their colleagues.” [parag. 11]
Since his concerns about government waste fell on deaf ears, Judge Adams drastically reduced the number of meetings he attended in which he would have no voice. One online commenter, an apparent insider aware of the group dynamics there in the Northern District, gave his/her anonymous slant on the reasons an independent-minded judge would be unwilling to participate. Referring to the other judges and attorneys as a “wolf pack”, the commenter explains:
“The votes of the pack are already determined. Why devote energy in a process that has already been decided by pack leader(s) and the other wolves are their [sic] just to howl their collective approval.”
But Boggs’ “special committee” deemed that Judge Adams’ limited participation in such meetings means he is rude, not social enough, and therefore “mentally ill”. To bolster the rudeness argument, the “special committee” managed to round up witnesses who cited instances in which Judge Adams had allegedly been irritated with others, had bumped into another judge on a track, and blocked a person who had illegally parked in his space. (Other judges annoyed by motorists’ conduct have been known to have them brought before them in hand-cuffs.) Judge Scirica faulted Judge Adams for not having remembered all these trivia from years earlier in the same way as had the witnesses against him. [p. 20]
Judge Scirica suggests in a couple of places in his decision that Judge Adams’ concerns about mis-spending of tax dollars were not expressed with enough secrecy, apparently by not going through what Scirica considered the correct channels – or that Adams’ concerns might constitute “interference with internal functions of the court”. [Id.p. 36] Scirica never explains how the public good is served by hiding the details of how their tax money is being spent. Perhaps no explanation is needed as most of the public do not read these decisions.
C. Is there a cleansing of the federal judiciary being beta tested on us?
Another federal judge with special concern for disadvantaged litigants, Justice Richard Posner from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, was eased out of office – or pushed – in early September of this year, about a month after Scirica’s decision in the Adams case. Long known for his criticism of the U.S. Supreme Court [‘It’s not a real court,’ said Posner in a 2014 interview. ‘It’s a political court.’] http://chicagolawbulletin.com/, Posner suddenly announced his retirement, explaining:
‘I’m not taking senior status; my departure is total.’ [https://abovethelaw.com/2017/]
Posner had found himself in a very lonely position:
‘I was not getting along with the other judges because I was (and am) very concerned about how the court treats pro se litigants, who I believe deserve a better shake’. [https://abovethelaw.com/2017/]
In 2015 Posner wrote a scathing opinion exposing the gross insensitivity of a trial court judge who openly ridiculed a speech impaired pro se litigant who had been doing her best to overcome her disability and nervousness while she presented a case to a jury.
Often called the 10th U.S. Supreme Court justice due to the influence of his well-reasoned opinions, the 78-year-old Posner, apparently still as sharp as ever, disclosed his feelings of being helpless to improve the lot of pro se litigants, and the futility of staying on at the court:
‘I had zero support from the other judges; I was a voice crying in the wilderness.’ https://abovethelaw.com/2017/
Was Justice Posner being subjected to similar pressures as those Judge Adams is now? Like Judge Adams, would Judge Posner, had he not retired, also have been accused of not being “social” enough with the other judges – maybe subjected to a psychiatric evaluation for being outspoken? Although Judge Adams is over a dozen years younger than Posner, Ohio’s Northern District “special committee” through Chief Justice of the Sixth Circuit R. Guy Cole, have been pressuring him to retire. [Parag. 50]
Judge Adams and his defending attorneys at Judicial Watch, however, are not caving in to the pressure from other judges and have mounted their own offensive. On 9/14/17 they filed suit in District Court in Washington, D.C. exposing in detail the Constitutional crisis that has been unleashed by the judges sitting on the “special committee” in Akron and the Sixth Circuit Judicial Council.
About the author: An inactive attorney who practiced over 30 years in the courts of Oklahoma and Ohio, Katherine Hine is now with WLJA radio and Hidden Truth Revealed at BlogTalkRadio hosting bi-monthly broadcasts exposing the illegalities of forced psychiatry and the consequences of our current lack of judicial accountability. She continues to serve as executive director of the Ross County Network for Children in Ohio and chapter co-president of the Ohio branch of FCLU [Families Civil Liberties Union]. In 2008-2009 Hine was instrumental in utilizing citizen initiative to rid the City of Chillicothe, Ohio of its traffic cameras. She has authored articles critical of forced psychiatry: One Flew Out of the New Cuckoo’s Nest: Forced Psychiatry in Ohio – Instrument of Political Repression? and Forced Psychiatry in Ohio Part Two: “Treatment” or “Lifelong Punishment,” a book review: GUARDIANSHIP: How Judges and Lawyers Steal Your Money and one article addressing retaliation against mandated reporters: Expose: The Failure of Family Courts to Protect Children. She can be reached at [email protected].
Top Illustration: Alexander Barsky