fbpx

A Must for Judicial Reform! LA Superior Courts Need to Provide Audio Recordings or Court Reporters for Litigants

LA RECALLS-In at least two appearances in front of Judge Michael Convey, he continued to state on the record (only in my case) that anyone audio recording the proceedings would be held in contempt. 

I thought it was quite odd and believe the threat was directed at me -- as though I would be stupid enough to record a judge in his courtroom. The odd thing was, the proceedings were already being recorded as I brought in a court reporter due to my distrust of him, so why the concern that his tone would be recorded?  

This made me think: Why can’t a public proceeding be recorded? And why did I have to pay to bring in a reporter? The answer? Supposedly the County no longer had money to provide reporters in civil cases. We know the County has plenty of money for the issues that are important to them, but apparently monitoring judges is clearly not one of them. Even Mr. Dresser from the CJP at his appearance at the 2019 Audit hearing, stated that he too thought reporters should be brought back since that was the only way to truly investigate judges. The irony is, I sent motions and transcripts to the CJP when I filed my complaint against Judge Paul Bacigalupo on July 9, 2018, and they did not even respond to me. As we all know, the CJP issue has little to do with transcripts but what’s happening in our courtrooms all over California should be recorded for appeal purposes -- and to let the judges know they are being watched. 

Why is the burden on a litigant to provide proof of what is taking place in LA Superior Court? Most self-represented litigants can’t afford to pay those fees and one cannot rely on the Minute Orders. Judge Convey started to bring in reporters only after I filed a Motion to Disqualify him in June 2019. Prior to that, I spent over $3,000 on reporters just in appearances alone. Defense counsel wanted their carriers’ money in their own pockets, so they never once arranged to have a reporter. 

I can’t even begin to stress upon you how important it is to have your proceedings recorded. There are even appellate judges who will deny your appeal because there are no transcripts.   

I was told by a friend who appeared in Federal Court that there is an audio recording of his proceedings. I do not know if this is true in all Federal courtrooms but why not have it in every courtroom in LA Superior Court? Just imagine if judges knew that their tone was being recorded and that every word they spoke could come back to haunt them -- many of them might change their ways. I can assure you, Judge Bacigalupo would have thought twice before yelling at me the first time I appeared before him and at another appearance when he reduced my case to a case about a “terrifying family of deer” -- as though a home renovated without permits, a carbon monoxide detector and County inspections, is something to mock.  

I recall when I sent a letter to Supervising Judge Cotton about Bacigalupo’s conduct and his insane sanctions (that I referenced in my last article), Judge Cotton blew off my complaint but even he acknowledged that tone is not reflected in a transcript.    

Los Angeles County has the money, so why not do it? They could pay the judges a little less and use the extra money for court reporters. If they won’t provide court reporters, why not install audio equipment in every court? How many times do we call a credit card company, a bank, Amazon or PayPal and are told that our calls are being recorded? These tapes are archived. I know this because I was impersonated at my bank by a corporate landlord and the bank kept the calls for years. 

If proceedings are taped, when a litigant or counsel wants or needs the transcript, they can purchase it from the court or a court reporting company. The courts could even implement a small fee just like they do for e-filing. This can easily be done. Why would the CJP, the CJA or the Senate Judiciary Committee not make this a priority? This is not an archaic concept. We can send people to the moon, so why can’t we install audio equipment in courtrooms? Is this intentional? If those in power want to change public opinion, they must use their power to implement change.  

This is just another step in the Judicial Reform that we at LARecalls are determined to implement. We must police these judges, or we will never see change. People can protest and send angry emails complaining about their cases, but to get the reform we need, there must also be workable ideas and a way to implement change or we will be forced to live with the status quo. 

I agree with Richard Lee Abrams comment to my first article when he stated that the courts have deputies to protect the judges as their rulings are so outrageous, but I think it’s also to protect litigants from each other. We litigants need to be protected as well from biased and angry judges who ignore Rules of Court, decades of precedent, and who berate and humiliate us self-represented litigants simply because we want to be made whole and for those that harmed us to be held accountable. 

Alert: The judicial primaries are just around the corner, March 3, 2020 (see above). This is an amazing opportunity to get real reform. Not only is Alison Mackenzie on this list but I noticed that both Judge Elizabeth Lippitt and Judge Virginia Keeny are up for reelection as well. I personally experienced the wrath of Lippitt on my first day in court and due to Keeny’s horrible reputation, I filed a peremptory challenge on her after Bacigalupo went off to the CJA. These judges also need to be removed from the bench. 

To all the lawyers with aspirations of being a judge - this is your time! Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.  

 If you truly want change and new judges join or recall efforts and contact us at [email protected].

 

(Shelly Hart prevailed in one of the largest settlements in CA and quite possibly the nation as a self-represented litigant. She is uniquely qualified to write on this topic and is one of the handful of individuals who is heading up LARecalls, the recall of several LA Superior Court judges. You can contact her at [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

 

 

 

GUN CONTROL - As California tries to crack down on crime, it secured a sizable victory for its strict gun control laws on Tuesday. 

Read more ...

CALIFORNIA POLITICS - During the most recent legislative session in California, at least three senators on powerful environmental and finance committees derived significant income from fossil fuel companies, according to financial disclosures obtained by Capital & Main.

Read more ...

Thank you, America, for always keeping California in your thoughts.

Read more ...

COMMENTARY - With this month’s U.N. climate conference failing to achieve key agreements that will limit global heating to the crucial 1.5° C goal, it’s vital that California step up our climate leadership. 

Read more ...

EDUCATION POLITICS  - Then-Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature overhauled California’s public school financing in 2013 with the stated goal of closing the “achievement gap” separating poor and English-learner students from more privileged children.

Read more ...

ENVIRONMENT WATCH - Deep in the oil fields of western Kern County, a little northwest of the century-old town of McKittrick, hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil and wastewater filled with toxic chemicals have been seeping out of the ground for two years, in an area where companies operate hundreds of wells.

Read more ...

CALIFORNIA WATCH - When it comes to California departures, I have no problem with the number of Californians moving out.

Read more ...

JOB FORCE - Officially, California has 1.4 million unemployed residents, but a new study that takes into account people who can’t find jobs that pay above poverty level says the number of “functionally unemployed” is three times higher at 4.8 million.

Read more ...

CALIF JOB FORECAST - Each month, federal and state officials release employment data for the preceding month, basically telling us how many Californians are employed and how many aren’t.

Read more ...

POLITICS - “I just took [my son] to our local Walgreens to buy him a toy. While there, a man shoved past me so firmly that he sent me into the shelving. Then he proceeded to fill a brown paper bag with Halloween candy and waltzed out of the store. This is one of five Walgreens stores in SF that will be closing in the next two months, in part because of rampant theft. And our city leaders all keep insisting crime is down.”

Read more ...

HOUSING CRISIS - The California Apartment Association, the landlord lobbying group, is one of the most powerful organizations in California.

Read more ...

CLIMATE WATCH - Nations convening at the United Nations climate conference pledged today to end the sale of new gasoline-powered cars in major markets by 2035 and globally by 2040, mirroring California’s plans. 

Read more ...

REDISTRICTING - A congressional map that splits Long Beach into two.

Read more ...

STATE OF THE UNIONS - Shirley Reyes tucked herself next to her 17-year-old son on the couch, peppering him with questions about unions as he googled the cost and benefits of collective bargaining on his phone.

Read more ...

CLIMATE CHANGE - Officials warn that next year’s cuts in water supply could go even deeper as severe drought grips nearly 90% of California.

Read more ...