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Here is a complaint I filed with the New Hampshire (USA) Committee on Judicial Conduct. The complaint was eventually denied upon the denial of wrong doing by the administrative judges of the Family and Superior Courts. Don't you think ALL the judges (marital masters in this case) should have recused themselves? Pretty obvious, eh? Well, they didn't/don't.
"All that is necessary for evil to succeed, is for good men to do nothing." Sir Edmund Burke
"Let our children judge us for the fight we engage in on their behalf." Ulf Andersson
On Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 2:48 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Recusal, or the judge's act of disqualifying himself or herself from presiding over a proceeding, is based on the Maxim that judges are charged with a duty of impartiality in administering justice.
ATTACHMENT TO GRIEVANCE COVER SHEET
COMPLAINT OF PAUL M. CLEMENTS
This complaint is filed against all justices of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, all judges and marital masters, and (under Supreme Court Rule 40 (2) defining “judges”), all court stenographers or reporters, clerks of court or deputy clerks, registers of probate or deputy registers, and any person performing the duties of a clerk or register, who have received payments from, or filled out and/or filed time sheets requesting payment for time spent on child support cases, in the period extending from 1987 to the present.
This complaint is intended to apply to all courts and personnel involved with the hearing of child support cases, creation of rules and regulations concerning such courts, and oversight of such courts
NOTE: Documents in support of this complaint have previously been submitted to the Executive Secretary of the Committee on Judicial Conduct. Said documents include transcript of testimony by the chief staff attorney for the Office of Child Support Enforcement Services (OCSES) (of DHHS), Charlotte Guyer, and a copy of an agreement between the DHHS/OCSES and the courts (signed by Chief Justice David Brock),entitled: “Cooperative Agreement”
Violation #1: Canon #1, Code of Judicial Conduct, as adopted by the NH Supreme Court, Effective Oct. 1, 2001
Failure to uphold the integrity and independence of the court. The agreement cited
above creates a symbiotic relationship between the courts and the child support collection agency.
It provides for payments to the court for hearing child support cases, from an agency which receives federal incentive payments for collecting child support. Certainly not an arrangement indicative of an independent court. Furthermore, those payments can easily be interpreted as a bribe, thereby negating in the public mind the integrity of the court.
Violation #2: Canon #2
Failure to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.
No reasonable person could fail to interpret the acceptance of funds from a party to the action before the court as a blatant conflict of interest, and an encouragement to the court to decide in favor of the payor agency. The impropriety of requesting or accepting those funds is obvious to any reasonable person.
Violation #3: Canon #2
Failure to respect and comply with the law. Article 37 of the Bill of Rights, of the NH state constitution, entitled “SEPARATION OF POWERS”, mandates that “the three essential powers, the legislative, executive, and judicial ought to be kept as separate from, and independent of each other as the nature of a free government will admit.” Since the DHHS/OCSES is an executive branch office, the acceptance of payments from the agency by the courts is a direct violation of Constitutional law, laws which all jurists are sworn to uphold.
Violation #4: Canon #2
Conveying the impression that others are in a position to influence the judge.
Any reasonable person, knowing that the courts were accepting payments from an agency which presents itself as a party to the case, would assume that those payments are intended to influence the court’s decisions in favor of the agency making the payments. That assumption is supported by the fact that judicial decisions rarely conflict with the wishes of the child support collection agency.
Violation #5: Canon #
Membership in an organization which practices invidious discrimination.
By entering into this agreement with the child support collection agency, the court has become a
partner of the agency, sharing in the profits which accrue from such collections. Increasing the amount of collections becomes a mutual goal, as profits to both agencies increases. The invidious discrimination of the agency is clearly seen in collection efforts such as, “wanted posters” which only feature male parents, advertising which presumes that only male parents are negligent in their support obligations, outreach efforts intended to recruit even more recipient mothers, and a failure to enforce support obligations against non-custodial mothers.
Violation #6: Canon #3
Hearing matters in which disqualification is required. Obviously, disqualification (recusal) is required in any case where the judge has an economic interest. Since all judges (marital masters) hearing child support cases must file time sheets with the child support collection agency, they cannot deny awareness that the agency is providing additional funding to the courts. Since the agency presents itself as a party to the action before the court, it is, therefore a conflict of interest for the judge to hear the case. Judges (marital masters) are required to disqualify themselves whenever a conflict of interest is apparent. The known discriminatory nature of the agency (see #5) with which the courts enjoy this symbiotic arrangement is further cause for disqualification. No disqualification for any of the above reasons is ever known to have occurred.
Violation #7, Canon #3
Failure to be faithful to the law. The law requires that the courts maintain the maximum distance from the other two branches of government. Entering into a symbiotic agreement with an Executive branch agency violates the NH State Constitution (Bill of Rights, Art. 37). Accepting payments from a party to an action before the court makes the courts guilty of accepting a bribe, a felony. Since all court rules have the force and effect of law, and failure to report other judges for such violations is a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 3 (D)(1), such failure to report is also a violation of law.
Violation #8, Canon #3
Failure to resist being swayed by partisan interests. Entering into, and continuing, the symbiotic agreement with the child support collection agency is a deliberate action, presumably taken with a great deal of planning and editing of the agreement. Filling out time sheets for the purpose of receiving payments from the agency is also a deliberate, knowing act. Furthermore, the historic record of ruling in favor of the agency indicates that the courts are knowingly acting in the interest of one party to the action before the courts. Only rarely will the court find a custodial parent in contempt of visitation orders, although such complaints are plentiful. However, finding a NON custodial parent (father, usually) in contempt for failure to pay support, often with no regard for his ability to do so, or for circumstances beyond his control, is a foregone conclusion. No reasonable person, with sufficient knowledge of the facts, could deny that the courts ROUTINELY decide in the interest of the child support collection agency.
Violation #9, Canon #3
Failure to perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice. Again, judges & marital masters rarely find a custodial parent (mother, usually) in contempt for violating visitation orders, or other orders of the court. Non-custodial parents (fathers, usually) are frequently found in contempt, and incarcerated, for failure to pay court ordered support. Verbal motions from the custodial parent are frequently granted, while properly filed motions from the non-custodial parent are often ignored or denied. Testimony of custodial parents is accepted at face value, while contrary documentation presented by the non-custodial father is often refused or ignored. Despite decades of research on the value of fathers to children and the benefits of a presumption of shared physical custody as being “in the best interest of the child, the parents, the courts and society in general” (National Probate Judges College in conjunction with Boston Univ. School of Law), judges and marital masters continue to award sole physical custody to the mother at a rate exceeding 85% of cases.
Violation #10, Canon #3
Failure to dispose of judicial matters fairly. See above #9.
Violation #11, Canon #3
Failure of supervisory judges to take reasonable measures to assure proper performance of judicial responsibilities. The Supreme Court is responsible for oversight of all inferior courts, and is thus culpable for all the violations delineated in this complaint. Furthermore, the Supreme Court is a signatory to the unconstitutional agreement between the courts and the child support collection agency. They have, in fact, CREATED the conflict of interest and bribery which that agreement promotes, and continue to allow it to exist. The Superior courts are responsible for the marital masters, and must signify approval of their decisions. They are therefore responsible for violations delineated by this complaint. Furthermore, the Superior courts, in their responsibility for the marital masters, are also responsible for submitting the time sheets requesting payment by the agency. They therefore aid and abet the bribery, conflict of interest, and violation of law. In support of the partnership, the symbiotic relationship, between the courts and the support collection agency, both the Supreme Court and the Superior courts ignore the bias and discrimination against fathers which results from the efforts to maximize collections and thus profits, to both parties to the agreement.
Violation #12, Canon #3
Failure to inform the committee on judicial conduct of violations of the code of ethics. Had any judge or marital master come forward with any of the complaints set forth herein, this complaint would not have been necessary. Marital masters, and supervisory judges in the Superior court, having filled out, collected, filed, or passed onto the support collection agency, time sheets requesting payment from the agency cannot logically deny knowledge of the agreement. As attorneys and judges, and members of the NH Bar, they cannot logically deny knowing that such an agreement is a violation of law and the Code of Ethics. Therefore, any judge, Supreme Court included, who has failed to report such violations is, ipso facto, guilty of violating this section of the Code of Ethics.
Violation #13, Canon #3
Failure to disqualify one’s self in proceedings in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned. What reasonable person would not question the impartiality of a judge or marital master known to be accepting payments from an agency which presents itself as a party to the action before the court? Even if such presentation was not legally valid, the frequency with which the child support collection agency appears in court, and the courts’ record of deciding in favor of the agency, leads reasonable citizens to assume a partiality toward the agency. Knowledge of payments made to the courts by the agency reinforces that assumption. Yet disqualification of a judge or marital master based on the existence of this agreement, with all of its’ ramifications, is unheard of.
Violation #14, Canon #3
Failure to disqualify one’s self in proceedings in which (the judge or marital master) has a financial interest. Since all judges and marital masters request and receive funds from the child support collection agency for time spent on hearing child support cases, their financial interest in those cases is obvious. Such funding is in addition to judicial salaries appropriated by the legislature, and represents a “windfall” to the courts. A reasonable person might expect that efforts would be taken to maximize that windfall; efforts which jeopardize the rights of an individual to due process and equal protection under the law. Yet, the complainant knows of not one case in the past decade where the payments to the court from the support collection agency were cited as a reason for disqualification by a judge or marital master.
Violation #15, Canon 4
Failure to file public reports of compensation other than judicial salary. Judicial salaries are paid from monies appropriated for that purpose by the legislature, or accrued to the courts by the payment of fees. Any monies requested from, and paid by, another agency cannot be considered judicial salary. Judges and Marital Masters are therefore required by the code of ethics to report payments from another agency. Although the courts’ general budget lists “payments from another agency”, the individual judges and marital masters are not publicly reporting the amounts they request and receive from the support collection agency. At present, those payments equal or exceed two million dollars per year. A substantial reason to expect bias and discrimination, and a major reason for questioning a judges’ or marital masters’ impartiality.
It should be noted by the committee that funds paid to the courts by the child support collection agency originate from the federal government. We expect the courts defense of this complaint will reference that fact. However, the federal government does not pay the courts directly. The monies are paid to the child support collection agency, which, in turn, disburses the money to the courts. The arrangement is analogous to a workman who is paid by his employer, with money the employer got from a customer. The workman’s first loyalty is to the employer who signs his paycheck. In the case of the agreement between the courts and the child support collection agency, it’s the agency which signs the checks, and therefore the agency to whom the courts owe primary loyalty.
I hereby swear or affirm, under the penalties of perjury, that the information contained in this grievance is true to the best of my knowledge.
Paul M. Clements
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