Monthly Archives: April 2008

The Agenda of Family Law in the United States (hidden in plain sight)

          What is the purpose of mandatory child support payments?  What do mandatory child support payments have to do with widespread domestic violence arrests?  What is the role of social workers (e.g. Guardians ad Litem) who promote adversarial situations between parties by (consistently) choosing to side with the parent accused of abuse?  Why is the role of contempt of court expanding in Family Law Courts?

 

          The case of Michael Jergins in Williamson County is still ALMOST unique.  He is the only judge I have ever encountered in the United States who consistently imposes sanctions for CONTEMPT for speech and thought crimes, crimes of merely truthful and sincere communication.  And I know of no two people who have been more severely punished for such conduct than I and Rhonda Moe (IIO Malmquist).  Judge Michael Jergins sentenced Rhonda Moe to four months in jail for giving her twelve-year old son a tape recorder to catch a certain Guardian ad Litem (Laurie J. Nowlin) in lies, and that certain Guardian ad Litem (Laurie J. Nowlin) sought contempt charges against Moe, which Judge Jergins granted. 

 

Judge Jergins and Laurie J. Nowlin less directly but equally effectively prosecuted me for speech and thought crimes including attending my (then) ten year old son’s scout meetings, attending lunch at his school (where I was a volunteer instructor in several subjects, Spanish, History, Geography), and discussing his level of contentment with him.  As a direct result, I did not see my son for two years (June 2003-June 2005, and not much contact even afterwards, since June 2005—until the past year anyhow).  It was Judge Michael Jergins, not alone by any means, but more than anyone else, who convinced me to fight forever and a day to reform the Family Code systems in place in Texas and elsewhere by abolishing them.  After all, in 1787-1792, when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were adopted, marriage was ONLY understood as a religious sacrament, and was therefore completely outside the realm of the government to regulate, and completely within the protection for religious freedom and freedom of association protected by the First and Ninth Amendments.

 

Now, unfortunately, I have just recently witnessed a Judge in Pasco County, Florida, threatening to terminate a fine mother’s parental rights for engaging in “inappropriate speech” in the presence of her beautiful, 8 year old daughter.  The “speech” in this case was not even TO her daughter, but in the front seat to another adult when her daughter was sitting in the back seat.  The “inappropriate speech” in question in this case was particularly interesting to me: the mother was telling a friend that she was going to make every effort to get her daughter’s social worker fired for incompetence, laziness, and lying.  And the Pasco County Judge in question considers this an act evidence of “extreme hostility” and uncooperativeness.  Oh yes, I forgot, we are in the Honorable Maoist People’s Republic of Amerika, where challenging a governmental employee charged with the duty of taking your children away from you so that the state government can charge the federal government exorbitant fees for providing “services” would indeed be an affront to the government.

 

But I digress, the first questions had to do with the general purpose of mandatory child support payments, a widespread cancer of (mostly frivolous) prosecutions for domestic violence, and the generally expanding realm of contempt of court.  To my mind, it is simple and direct: the government, even those whose political roots are in the so-called “Family Friendly” Christian right, such as Texas Attorney-General Greg Abbott, have decided to destroy the nuclear family, to atomize individuals, to promote domestic discord and residential instability, to decrease the effective autonomy created by ownership of private property, and to maximize the degree to which the individual either “owes” or believes he owes all of his happiness to (1) the government, (2) the large corporations who provide most of the employment in this country, but (3) especially the judges and judiciary and their cohort who are the least democratic and most authoritarian component of society. 

 

I charge that even the real corporate purpose of the social welfare system in the United States is this same agenda of destroying the family, private property, and the constitutional state.  I charge that the family court system, especially the mandatory wealth transfers implicit or explicit in child support payments, have no economic utility except to isolate individuals from each other and create adversarial positions in society.  Marriage has become a system of welfare by fiat in lieu of its former economic role as builder of private estates by contract.  There are probate and inheritance law parallels to this Family Code analysis, but I will reserve that for a future post.  In the meantime, I say it is time to wake up and smell the corpses of liberty, freedom, and justice, to bury the deceased and see them reborn for a new generation dedicated truth, justice, and freedom for all.

 

It is time for Americans to revolt against the dictatorial, communistic tyranny of Family Law Courts and wipe them off the face of the map, restoring the individual freedoms originally embodied in the First and Ninth Amendments to the Constitution. 

“We have a highly politicized criminal justice system” (New York Times)

April 23, 2008
American Exception

Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations’

 

 

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.

The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. (That number excludes hundreds of thousands of people held in administrative detention, most of them in China’s extrajudicial system of re-education through labor, which often singles out political activists who have not committed crimes.)

San Marino, with a population of about 30,000, is at the end of the long list of 218 countries compiled by the center. It has a single prisoner.

The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)

The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63.

The median among all nations is about 125, roughly a sixth of the American rate.

There is little question that the high incarceration rate here has helped drive down crime, though there is debate about how much.

Criminologists and legal experts here and abroad point to a tangle of factors to explain America’s extraordinary incarceration rate: higher levels of violent crime, harsher sentencing laws, a legacy of racial turmoil, a special fervor in combating illegal drugs, the American temperament, and the lack of a social safety net. Even democracy plays a role, as judges — many of whom are elected, another American anomaly — yield to populist demands for tough justice.

Whatever the reason, the gap between American justice and that of the rest of the world is enormous and growing.

It used to be that Europeans came to the United States to study its prison systems. They came away impressed.

“In no country is criminal justice administered with more mildness than in the United States,” Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American penitentiaries in 1831, wrote in “Democracy in America.”

No more.

“Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror,” James Q. Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. “Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons.”

Prison sentences here have become “vastly harsher than in any other country to which the United States would ordinarily be compared,” Michael H. Tonry, a leading authority on crime policy, wrote in “The Handbook of Crime and Punishment.”

Indeed, said Vivien Stern, a research fellow at the prison studies center in London, the American incarceration rate has made the United States “a rogue state, a country that has made a decision not to follow what is a normal Western approach.”

The spike in American incarceration rates is quite recent. From 1925 to 1975, the rate remained stable, around 110 people in prison per 100,000 people. It shot up with the movement to get tough on crime in the late 1970s. (These numbers exclude people held in jails, as comprehensive information on prisoners held in state and local jails was not collected until relatively recently.)

The nation’s relatively high violent crime rate, partly driven by the much easier availability of guns here, helps explain the number of people in American prisons.

“The assault rate in New York and London is not that much different,” said Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group. “But if you look at the murder rate, particularly with firearms, it’s much higher.”

Despite the recent decline in the murder rate in the United States, it is still about four times that of many nations in Western Europe.

But that is only a partial explanation. The United States, in fact, has relatively low rates of nonviolent crime. It has lower burglary and robbery rates than Australia, Canada and England.

People who commit nonviolent crimes in the rest of the world are less likely to receive prison time and certainly less likely to receive long sentences. The United States is, for instance, the only advanced country that incarcerates people for minor property crimes like passing bad checks, Mr. Whitman wrote.

Efforts to combat illegal drugs play a major role in explaining long prison sentences in the United States as well. In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.

Those figures have drawn contempt from European critics. “The U.S. pursues the war on drugs with an ignorant fanaticism,” said Ms. Stern of King’s College.

Many American prosecutors, on the other hand, say that locking up people involved in the drug trade is imperative, as it helps thwart demand for illegal drugs and drives down other kinds of crime. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, for instance, has fought hard to prevent the early release of people in federal prison on crack cocaine offenses, saying that many of them “are among the most serious and violent offenders.”

Still, it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes American prison policy. Indeed, the mere number of sentences imposed here would not place the United States at the top of the incarceration lists. If lists were compiled based on annual admissions to prison per capita, several European countries would outpace the United States. But American prison stays are much longer, so the total incarceration rate is higher.

Burglars in the United States serve an average of 16 months in prison, according to Mr. Mauer, compared with 5 months in Canada and 7 months in England.

Many specialists dismissed race as an important distinguishing factor in the American prison rate. It is true that blacks are much more likely to be imprisoned than other groups in the United States, but that is not a particularly distinctive phenomenon. Minorities in Canada, Britain and Australia are also disproportionately represented in those nation’s prisons, and the ratios are similar to or larger than those in the United States.

Some scholars have found that English-speaking nations have higher prison rates.

“Although it is not at all clear what it is about Anglo-Saxon culture that makes predominantly English-speaking countries especially punitive, they are,” Mr. Tonry wrote last year in “Crime, Punishment and Politics in Comparative Perspective.”

“It could be related to economies that are more capitalistic and political cultures that are less social democratic than those of most European countries,” Mr. Tonry wrote. “Or it could have something to do with the Protestant religions with strong Calvinist overtones that were long influential.”

The American character — self-reliant, independent, judgmental — also plays a role.

“America is a comparatively tough place, which puts a strong emphasis on individual responsibility,” Mr. Whitman of Yale wrote. “That attitude has shown up in the American criminal justice of the last 30 years.”

French-speaking countries, by contrast, have “comparatively mild penal policies,” Mr. Tonry wrote.

Of course, sentencing policies within the United States are not monolithic, and national comparisons can be misleading.

“Minnesota looks more like Sweden than like Texas,” said Mr. Mauer of the Sentencing Project. (Sweden imprisons about 80 people per 100,000 of population; Minnesota, about 300; and Texas, almost 1,000. Maine has the lowest incarceration rate in the United States, at 273; and Louisiana the highest, at 1,138.)

Whatever the reasons, there is little dispute that America’s exceptional incarceration rate has had an impact on crime.

“As one might expect, a good case can be made that fewer Americans are now being victimized” thanks to the tougher crime policies, Paul G. Cassell, an authority on sentencing and a former federal judge, wrote in The Stanford Law Review.

From 1981 to 1996, according to Justice Department statistics, the risk of punishment rose in the United States and fell in England. The crime rates predictably moved in the opposite directions, falling in the United States and rising in England.

“These figures,” Mr. Cassell wrote, “should give one pause before too quickly concluding that European sentences are appropriate.”

Other commentators were more definitive. “The simple truth is that imprisonment works,” wrote Kent Scheidegger and Michael Rushford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in The Stanford Law and Policy Review. “Locking up criminals for longer periods reduces the level of crime. The benefits of doing so far offset the costs.”

There is a counterexample, however, to the north. “Rises and falls in Canada’s crime rate have closely paralleled America’s for 40 years,” Mr. Tonry wrote last year. “But its imprisonment rate has remained stable.”

Several specialists here and abroad pointed to a surprising explanation for the high incarceration rate in the United States: democracy.

Most state court judges and prosecutors in the United States are elected and are therefore sensitive to a public that is, according to opinion polls, generally in favor of tough crime policies. In the rest of the world, criminal justice professionals tend to be civil servants who are insulated from popular demands for tough sentencing.

Mr. Whitman, who has studied Tocqueville’s work on American penitentiaries, was asked what accounted for America’s booming prison population.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the answer is democracy — just what Tocqueville was talking about,” he said. “We have a highly politicized criminal justice system.”

Is there ANYTHING unusual about the Death Penalty? (NY Times Article)

April 23, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

Cruel and Unusual History

 

 

THE Supreme Court concluded last week, in a 7-2 ruling, that Kentucky’s three-drug method of execution by lethal injection does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts cited a Supreme Court principle from a ruling in 1890 that defines cruelty as limited to punishments that “involve torture or a lingering death.”

But the court was wrong in the 19th century, an error that has infected its jurisprudence for more than 100 years. In this nation’s landmark capital punishment cases, the resultant executions were anything but free from torture and prolonged deaths.

The first of those landmark cases, the 1879 case of Wilkerson v. Utah, was cited by Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion in the Kentucky case. The court “had no difficulty concluding that death by firing squad” did not amount to cruel and unusual punishment, Justice Thomas wrote.

Wallace Wilkerson might have begged to differ. Once the Supreme Court affirmed Utah’s right to eradicate him by rifle, Wilkerson was let into a jailyard where he declined to be blindfolded. A sheriff gave the command to fire and Wilkerson braced for the barrage. He moved just enough for the bullets to strike his arm and torso but not his heart.

“My God!” Wilkerson shrieked. “My God! They have missed!” More than 27 minutes passed as Wilkerson bled to death in front of astonished witnesses and a helpless doctor.

Just 11 years later, the Supreme Court heard the case of William Kemmler, who had been sentenced to death by electric chair in New York. The court, in affirming the state’s right to execute Kemmler, ruled that electrocution reduced substantial risks of pain or “a lingering death” when compared to executions by hanging. Kemmler, had he lived through the ensuing execution (and he nearly did), might too have disagreed.

After a thousand volts of current struck Kemmler on Aug. 6, 1890, the smell of burnt flesh permeated the room. He was still breathing. Saliva dripped from his mouth and down his beard as he gasped for air. Nauseated witnesses and a tearful sheriff fled the room as Kemmler’s coat burst into flames.

Another surge was applied, but minutes passed as the current built to a lethal voltage. Some witnesses thought Kemmler was about to regain consciousness, but eight long minutes later, he was pronounced dead.

Perhaps the most egregious case came to the court more than 50 years later. “Lucky” Willie Francis, as the press called him, was a stuttering 17-year-old from St. Martinville, La. In 1946, he walked away from the electric chair known as “Gruesome Gertie” when two executioners (an inmate and a guard) from the state penitentiary at Angola botched the wiring of the chair.

When the switch was thrown, Francis strained against the straps and began rocking and sliding in the chair, pleading with the sheriff and the executioners to halt the proceedings. “I am n-n-not dying!” he screamed. Gov. Jimmie Davis ordered Francis returned to the chair six days later.

Francis’ lawyers obtained a stay, and the case reached the Supreme Court. Justice Felix Frankfurter defined the teenager’s ordeal as an “innocent misadventure.” In the decision, Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber, the court held that “accidents happen for which no man is to blame,” and that such “an accident, with no suggestion of malevolence” did not violate the Constitution.

Fewer than 24 hours before Francis’ second scheduled execution, his lawyers tried to bring the case before the Supreme Court again. They had obtained affidavits from witnesses stating that the two executioners from Angola were, as one of the witnesses put it, “so drunk it would have been impossible for them to have known what they were doing.” Although the court rejected this last-minute appeal, it noted the “grave nature of the new allegations” and encouraged the lawyers to pursue the matter in state court first, as required by law.

Willie Francis was executed the next morning. Because his case never made it back to the Supreme Court, the ruling lingers, influencing the decisions of today’s justices. In his majority opinion last week, Chief Justice Roberts called Louisiana’s first attempt at executing Francis an “isolated mishap” that “while regrettable, does not suggest cruelty.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing separately, also mentioned the Francis case: “No one suggested that Louisiana was required to implement additional safeguards or alternative procedures in order to reduce the risk of a second malfunction.” In fact, Louisiana did just that. Two weeks after the botched execution of Willie Francis, its Legislature required that the operator of the electric chair “shall be a competent electrician who shall not have been previously convicted of a felony.” This law would have prohibited both executioners from participating in Francis’ failed execution.

The court’s majority opinion in the Willie Francis case acknowledged, “The traditional humanity of modern Anglo-American law forbids the infliction of unnecessary pain in the execution of the death sentence.” Yet the Supreme Court continues to flout that standard.

In its ruling last week, the court once more ignored the consequences of its rulings for men like Wallace Wilkerson, William Kemmler and Willie Francis. The justices cited and applied Wilkerson’s and Kemmler’s cases as if their executions went off without a hitch.

And 60 years after two drunken executioners disregarded the tortured screams of a teenage boy named Willie Francis, the Supreme Court continues to do so.

Gilbert King is the author of “The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder and the Search for Justice in the American South.”

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            I read the op-ed piece from today’s New York Times with some sad bemusement.  So many so-called Civil-Libertarians in the United States waste so much time and ink writing about the Death Penalty.  I suppose it shocks the conscience of Americans that 50% of the death row inmates in Illinois were probably innocent about ten years ago when Governor Thompson commuted all death-penalty sentences to life.  But should it really shock the conscience of Americans only in death penalty cases?  One can only presume that Judges, Juries, and Prosecutors in death penalty cases are all aware that there is no more extreme punishment possible than death, but the stories from death penalty trials all over the country show that these trials are all mockeries of justice, inattention, and down-right nonchalance.

          So why do we care so much about the death penalty itself?  It’s the so-called system of criminal justice that’s hopelessly broken.  It’s the 99.99% of all cases which do NOT involve the death penalty that should really shock the conscience because, in a relative sense, the Judges, Prosecutors, and Juries in NON-death penalty cases clearly are even more nonchalant than they are when capital punishment is involved.  Prosecutors and judges talk about handing out 20-99 year sentences without a single thought of the cost/benefit to society of crime and punishment.  They are all just there on an assembly line, processing the meat and packing it out for storage in the cooler.  Believe me, I’ve been there and seen that.  I would ten thousand times rather die than spend 20 years in jail—what would be left of life when I got out?  But that’s what my good friend Moshe Leichner is facing, and he spent a cool million on his legal defense team, and they never once explained to him that they Federal government would have to prove that he lied and that people believed his lies and relied on those lies before he could be convicted of fraud.

          The police and jailers do their robotic and automaton jobs, and community colleges advertise that young people should “join the fast growing correctional services industry”.  Real, True Civil Libertarians should give up on the death penalty.  Real, True Murderers like Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy are hard men to cry for.  Real, True Civil Libertarians should cry for the fact that nobody has ever even asked the question of what percentage of the 99.99% of non-death penalty sentences are born by innocent people, or people who were “guilty” of unconstitutional crimes or unconstitutional prosecutions.  My own personal and admittedly not-very scientific pole in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center convinced me that, giving prosecutors all reasonable doubts, 85-90% of the people in Federal Custody are (1) neither a past, present, nor future danger to society, (2) wouldn’t hurt a flea (and never did in the past), (3) are either factually innocent of the crimes charged (about 40-50%) or were convicted of crimes which were defined unconstitutionally (35%) or else convicted by an incredibly unconstitutional process (50-60% again) or (obviously) some combination of one or more of these categories.

 

          THAT, my friends and fellow Americans, is the real tragedy.  There’s no money to be made off the death penalty—that’s why it’s so rare.  There’s LOTS of money to be made in the Federal-to-State Welfare (“revenue sharing”) program, and that’s why so many people are in jail.  The jails need to be torn down or converted into museums, housing projects, summer camps, warehouses, or factories.  Probably the ONLY penalty that should be preserved is in fact the death penalty, and juries should be very carefully instructed in the law and cost-benefits of convicting an innocent person. 

 

If juries were fully informed and judges were fair, (neither of which condition obtains today) then the death penalty could probably be imposed on the worst of all criminals (the Jeffrey Dahmers and Ted Bundys of the world—or perhaps the Bushes and the Cheneys), but all financial crimes should be resolved financially with careful accounting, and should create nothing more nor less than crushing debt and tracing of lost or stolen funds to avoid money laundering.  All victimless crimes should be abolished.  Breach of Public trust should probably be the highest of all crimes.  Domestic violence crimes should be given careful scrutiny, and should never be allowed to create litigation advantage in civil divorce or custody cases except in cases of real and genuine injury (smashed heads, broken bones, but not “I was so scared”). 

 

No punishment should ever be imposed except by a jury, and juries should be given free reign over the law and conscience of society.  Judges would then need to be truly master referees of trials and legal educators of juries, only this and nothing more.  Then American might have a chance of being the “land of the free and the home of the brave again”—only this and nothing more will ever suffice—to the cruel and unusual practice of imprisoning more than 1% of our population, we must say “quoth the raven, nevermore.”  The spectre watching over us today is too horrible, to loathsome—that people are led and taught to be afraid of crime and criminals, when what they need to be afraid of is the government.

NANCY’S BEEN IN JAIL FOR TWO MONTHS NOW…..February 19-April 19, 2008 (And the Beat Goes On….)

What is the meaning of purpose of “law?”  If a law does not “establish justice, insure domestic Tranquity, provide for the common defence, to promote the general Welfare, and secure teh Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”, then I submit that law should be scrapped.  Unfortunately, most of the laws by and under which people are incarcerated in these modern and recent United States are neither just, nor likely to insure domestic peace (except through fear and all necessarily attendant hatred and loathing of “terrifying” [i.e. terrorist] authority), nor do most criminal laws do anything to promote the general welfare in any way shape or form.  I have supported Nancy Jo Grant for a long time because I support her cause, “Jail-for-Judges.”  It’s not that I’m a great fan of the popular initiative, legislative or constitutional amendment proposed by Ron Branson which bears that name.  It’s just that I know, as does Nancy Jo Grant, that if there’s one law that could be enacted (and enforced) in this country that WOULD (re-)establish justice and promote the general welfare, it would be a law that would diminish the ever-growing power of what was once called “The least dangerous branch” of government, which has now become the MOST dangerous. 

The judiciary, as it exists in most states and even under Articles I and III of the U.S. Constitution today, is dangerous because there are no effective “checks and balances” on what Judges do or say or how they interpret the law and State and Federal Constitutions.  Judges seem to have been set loose, since the 1950s at least, to go on an arbitrary and capricious rampage through the United States, imprisoning more of the North American population (U.S. and Mexican citizens, in particular), than any country in the world, including Post-Maoist Corporate-Communist China.

Nancy Jo Grant is just one of the latest victim of this arbitary and capricious rampage of authoritarian, which is a mild way of saying “dictatorial” and “tyrannical” perversion of justice.  But the simple truth is that many of us now believe that a higher percentage of judges sitting on the bench deserve to be incarcerated for a long time in jail than the percentage of people actually currently sitting in jail deserve their long sentences.  Nancy Jo Grant’s Jail-for-Judges is only an unincorporated Political Action Committee dedicated to one single cause: the promotion of Ron Branson’s legislative and popular initiative/constitutional amendment, which has been put to the electoral test in exactly one state so far (South Dakota) where it failed miserably—possibly due to voter fraud but also, possibly, due to the fact that most people just have no idea how bad the modern American judiciary and “justice” system have become. 

For that reason, as of today, April 19, 2008, Gary Woodroffe and I have agreed finally that we will honor Nancy best, and protest the injustices done to her most effectively, by incorporating Florida Jail-for-Judges as a private corporation, possibly with 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Status, and we will go our separate ways from the Jail-for-Judges PAC, trying to engage in educational and research purposes which will benefit both the general cause of changing the system and the cause of helping individual victims of injustice, including Nancy Jo Grant but also the tens of thousands in as bad or worse situations across Florida and the United States.  We will incorporate as “Florida Jail-for-Judges” because, honestly Gary and I just happen to know lots of Judges who deserve to be in jail or a “correctional camp facility” as the concentration camps of modern North America are widely becoming known.  At the top of my list remains, and will for a very long time, Judge Michael Jergins of Williamson County, Texas, but he just happens to be the arbitrary and capricious constitutional freedom hating criminal I have known the best and the longest.  I happen to know that DeSoto County Judge Parker was and remains at the top of Nancy’s list.

After two months, and every Tuesday and 19th of the month that goes by, I think more and more about what could possibly be the meaning of Nancy’s Arrest on February 19, 2008, and my arrest on December 8-9, 2007, and five years of  bluster and threats against Montana State Senator Jerry O’Neil, and Robert Deardorff’s problems in Indiana.  The only possible conclusion is that “law is politics” and “politics is law” now and forever.  This is perhaps not an earthshattering conclusion—politics, after all, is the means of MAKING law and “law” is the means of implementing political decisions.  But I suppose one naively imagines that in between the making of law and the changing of law, there is “Justice” in the even-handed application of law.  But this is preposterous: there are no three people more different than Jerry O’Neil, Nancy Jo Grant, and myself.  Nobody that I know of hates Nancy Jo Grant except maybe the DeSoto County, Florida, Judges and Prosecutors whom she has criticized relentlessly for twenty years, and Nancy is in jail awaiting what COULD be a final revocation of her probation, which COULD mean that she would be sentenced to serve out the full fifteen years which she was “awarded” for the heinous crime of trying to give hope to hopeless prisoners in an unjust “criminal justice” system.  In a separate “thread” on this blog, I raised the case of another person convicted of unauthorized practice of law: Ronald Lais of California.  Widespread opinion seems to be that Mr. Lais was not well-liked, but he apparently committed no “crimes” except for incompetence at his chosen profession: parents lost custody of their children, spouses lost property in divorces.  But if every LICENSED attorney with a similar record were prosecuted—there would be NO LICENSED ATTORNEYS LEFT (anywhere).  Admittedly, Nancy Jo Grant does not have a lot of released prisoners or other “litigation wins” to her name.  Senator Jerry O’Neil seems to have had a very smooth run in his career as an Advocate & Counselor.   If he has suffered any major losses on behalf of those he has served, I am not aware of them, although he doesn’t seem to have won any of his “larger issue” (i.e. civil rights) cases, at least not recently—but then, neither have I!  My own record includes a fairly typically mixed bag of wins, draws, and losses (at least until VERY recently, when everything has pretty much been running on the loss side…).  But the simple truth is that good lawyers and good pro se litigators CAN lose cases, and success cannot be the standard for judging “good” vs. “evil.”  Nancy Jo Grant’s heart and soul were both innocent and pure, and whatever she did she did not do for gain, and indeed, her “victim impact” score on her Presentence Report was “Zero” (that’s O, the placeholding number half-way between -1 and +1).  With “no injury” and “no victim impact”, there should be no crime but, OH, I almost forgot, I was once indicted for misstating two digits of my social security number on an application for a non-interest-bearing checking account at Wells Fargo Bank, which incorrect number Wells Fargo never noticed.  “Victimless” criminals inhabit the federal and state prisons by the thousands upon tens of thousands, and careers can be ruined by “victimless” crimes such as I was accused of, which neither gain for their perpetrator’s any ill-gotten gain nor cause any loss or injury of any kind to a victim, real or hypothetical.  But Nancy’s case—Nancy’s REAL crime—my several cases and my REAL crime—Jerry O’Neil’s several cases and his REAL contempt of court—are that we actually dared to THINK—and challenge the system, and those in charge of the system, to FOLLOW the law as written—not as typically applied, but as written, according to our interpretation of the meaning of the letter and spirit of the law as written.  Our interpretation, between Jerry O’Neil, Nancy Grant, and me, myself, and I, is remarkably consistent, for three such different tremendously people from such tremendously different backgrounds.

In any event, cannot think of anything worse that’s ever happened to me on the first day I met someone.   I never met anyone just to have them die or get hit by a car or anything—immediately.   But what happened on February 19, 2008, when I met Nancy Jo Grant for the first time in Arcadia, De Soto County, Florida, is that she was taken away from me in handcuffs and the backseat of “law enforcement” vehicle and I haven’t seen her since. 

Gary Woodroffe, Nancy’s second-in-command in Florida Jail-for-Judges, had picked me up at the Tampa Airport the night before, and taken me to Sarasota where I spent the night.  Then we went to Arcadia and met Nancy and her Florida attorney Any Mooney for breakfast.  I also met Molly Bowen there.  Andy and I went to the DeSoto County Court and after a five minute hearing, at which Nancy’s alleged violation of probation was set for hearing on May 8, we thought she had effectively “dodged the bullet.”  So Nancy and I went out to her ranch, I met her horses and cows and one of her human tenants or caretakers, and we started talking about the future and what to do next.  We shared stories and generally spent some time getting to know each other, as friends who’ve been corresponding by e-mail and talking by telephone for half a year, but never met, would normally need to do.  Then we went back to her husband’s dental office back in town (by then it was around noon), and there was a DeSoto County Deputy Sheriff there, and Nancy was arrested.  I was devastated and immediately got on the telephone to Andy Mooney and Montgomery Blair Sibley, Nancy’s pro bono lawyer in Washington, D.C.. 

Since that terrible Tuesday, Nancy has (as far as I know or understand) been in continuous solitary confinement, only able to talk to her immediate family and her lawyers with one possible exception (Sherree Lowe, the former director of Florida Jail-for-Judges—but I don’t know how she got to talk to Nancy).   Nancy has been in solitary confinement for one single reason: she won’t surrender her rights to talk to other prisoners—and her jailers feel that they cannot risk the revolution that might happen if the wonderful, warm, articulate and insightful Nancy Jo Grant were allowed to talk to other victims of DeSoto County and Floridian injustice.

As I’ve written, during my month and a three weeks in jail I met many wonderful people, my friendship for whom has changed my life, among them Moshe Leichner, a brilliant man first falsely and maliciously prosecuted and then wrongfully imprisoned for fraud, who ranks among the greatest gentleman and intellects I have ever met, and Vance Fecteau, a man framed and falsely imprisoned by the hideously illegal and unconstitutional “War on Drugs” whose personality and talents go so far beyond the average or mundane, and whose contributions, I’m willing to predict, to REAL criminal justice and social reform, if he is released in a timely manner, will be as great as his contributions to the life and soul of his fellow prisoners “on the inside.” 

But Nancy is deprived of all human contact, and I fear for her mental health under such circumstances.  Misery, they say, loves company, and schadenfreud, as ignoble as it may be on the outside, is a comforting tool and perhaps one of the key tools to survival “on the inside.”

Nancy of course, is a political prisoner—even more clearly than I was.  She has been falsely and maliciously prosecuted with unauthorized practice of law, but what this really means is that Nancy has been CORRECTLY charged and FALSELY IMPRISONED with speaking her mind, embarrassing the public officials of her county and Florida generally, and above all of helping her fellow man, especially those who are hated, rejected, and despised, men and women of sorrow who are acquainted with grief.

At Palm Sunday Services at the Cathedral of St. Peter, this past Sunday, the sequence hymn was called “Golgotha”.   The Fourth and Fifth Verses are worthy of quotation here:

“HUMANKIND REPEATS GOLGOTHA EVERY DAY; GOD GETS GAGGED WHILE FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS TURN AWAY.  PROFIT THREATENS PEACE ON EARTH, GREED TO HUNGER GIVES NEW BIRTH AS THE WORLD REPEATS GOLGOTHA EVERY DAY.”

“JESUS, LAY YOUR BODY IN THIS SAD EARTH’S GRAVE; ONLY ONE WHO SUFFERS CAN PRESUME TO SAVE.  END HYPOCRISY AND LIES, THROUGH OUR APATHY ARISE, BRING US THE SALVATION WHICH OUR SPIRITS CRAVE.”

NANCY JO GRANT is a political prisoner for attacking the hypocrisy and lies of the so called Criminal Justice System in Florida, and now she is herself a prisoner, subject to the worst abuses of that system.  NANCY JO GRANT attacked the hypocritical lawyers and judges who are the modern equivalent of the Pharisees and Saducees of Jesus’ Time on Earth.

The licensing of attorneys has resulted in a catastrophic perversion of the American legal system—only the most abject servants of judges’ arbitrary and capricious whims can survive as lawyers.  I felt this when I first saw my own career threatened by the insane wild-eyed stare of Judge James R. Nowlin in Austin, when he looked so aghast that anyone of my background and education was not willing to bow down as a good elite club-member should.   Judge James R. Nowlin was probably as horrified by me as I was by him, and that’s when everything started falling apart in my life (1997).  I tried always to do the honorable thing, to put honor and integrity before all else, and Judge James R. Nowlin made sure that I sank to the bottom of the heap for my transgressions, and he manipulated and ordered others to do his dirtiest work for him.  Judge Nowlin’s behavior, at the time, seemed to me unprecedented.  It now seems to me to be typical of the American legal system, and so much worse has been done to others than has ever been done to me, that I should, I suppose, feel very lucky and fortunate indeed.  I have ONLY spent 54 recent days in jail, and before that I only had ever spent a week, one three day weekend of that in solitary confinement—and look at what Nancy has gone through and is continuing to go through.  I am so ashamed of the government of my corrupt, oppressive, heartless, brainless, wicked country (because one cannot absolve the sleepwalking people of fault when they avert their eyes to make sure they do not see the rats gnawing on the corpse of Ladies Liberty and Justice in all of the downtown Judicial Centers all over the country).

Now Nancy’s attorney Montgomery Blair Sibley is under attack—on March 7, 2008, he was ordered suspended within 30 days.  His offense, as plain as day, is to have dared to call certain judges and justices of the United States traitors for having abandonned and subverted the Constitution of the United States.  Montgomery Blair Sibley is guilty, in short, of  MOST impolitic affronts to the Court….he was, surely, insane, deranged, and demented for having said that for a Judge or Justice of the United States to subvert the Constitution was treason, and to have said so in Court was surely “contemptible,” was it not?   But if no one says the Emperor has no clothes, does that make him any less naked?

I am very sorry for Nancy Jo Grant and Montgomery Blair Sibley.  I cry for my beloved country that it seems so far from God, so close to a United States which is merely a fictitious memory of dreams and ideals which have in fact been subverted and abandonned.

Judges are no longer honest and trustworthy.   My great-grandfather was a judge in Louisiana back in the Huey Long era.  According to family legend he had a lettered plaque in his private chambers that read, “Dead Lawyers Lie Still”, so apparently things weren’t that much better 70 or 80 years ago, but my grandmother remembered and often retold the stories of men, black and white, who came up to her father “Judge Benny” on the streets and shook his hand, saying “God Bless you Judge Benny—don’t you remember me? You spared me from hangin’?”

How many Judges today remember that the quality of mercy is not strained?  How many realize that State & Corporate Profits and Private Corporate Greed should always take a remote back seat to the fundamental individual human rights and liberties guaranteed to us by the Constitution?

What has become of all the Writs?

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

NANCY JO GRANT, Petitioner, 

vs.

VERNON L. KEEN, Sheriff, DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office and Director, DeSoto County Department of Corrections and WALTER A. MCNEIL, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections,Respondents.

____________________________________________________________________________________________/

Case No.:2:08-cv-154-FtM-34DNF

 

 

PETITIONERS MOTION FOR WRIT of PROCEDENDUM AD JUSTICIUM
       Blackstone described this writ as follows: “A writ ofprocedendum ad justicium issues out of the court of chancery, when judges of any subordinate court do delay the parties; for that they will not give judgment either on one side or the other, when they ought to do so. In this case a writ of procedendo shall be awarded, commanding them in the King’s name to proceed to judgment; but without specifying any particular judgment.” 3 Blackstone Commentaries, §109.  Here, this Court under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. §1651(a), has authority to issue a writ of procedendum ad justicium. (“The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress the usages and principles of law.”). That writ should be directed to Magistrate-Judge to issue his Report and Recommendation in this matter forthwith. 

      Petitioner NANCY JO GRANT, by and through her undersigned counsel move this Court for a Writ of Procedendum Ad Justicium  and for grounds in support state: Petitioner has been incarcerated since February 19, 2008 – Fifty One (51) days. Though fully briefed since March 31, 2008, the Magistrate-Judge has not ruled upon the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.

      WHEREFORE, Petitioner requests that (i) this Court enter an order directing Respondent, VERNON L. KEEN, Sheriff, DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office and Director, DeSoto County Department of Corrections to immediately release her from custody pending resolution of the Petition for Habeas Corpus or, alternatively (ii) issue its writ directing the Magistrate-Judge to issue his Report and Recommendation in this matter forthwith. 

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the foregoing was served by CM/ECF to: Michele Taylor, Assistant Attorney General, Concourse Center 4, 3507 E. Frontage Road, Suite 200, Tampa, Florida 33607-7013 this April 10, 2008.

MONTGOMERY BLAIR SIBLEY Attorney for Petitioner 50 West Montgomery Avenue, Suite B-4 Rockville, Maryland 20850 Voice/Fax: (202) 478-0371 Email: mbsibley@civilforfeiture.com

 

 

Petition to Abolish the State Authorized Monopoly on Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression known in most states as the State Bar: No Prison for Thought Crimes or Discussion of the Law, Ever!

A DECLARATION OF LEGAL INDEPENDENCE

*(A Petition to Abolish the Monopoly of Free Expression &

the Right to Petition for Redress of Grievances now claimed and held by

“The Bar” in Each State in the United States)

 

1.                  I am domiciled in the state of ___________, in the town or city of ___________, with U.S. Postal Service zip code ____________. 

2.                  I am over the age of 18 years_________.   I am under the age of 18 years______.

3.                  I support the deregulation of the practice of law, and freedom of speech for all.

4.                  I oppose the idea that only members of the bar can express authoritative opinions regarding the meaning or content of the law.

5.                  I oppose, and advocate the repeal, of any and all state laws or regulations, whether passed by the state legislature, adopted by any court operating within my state, or by any entity calling itself “the Bar” of my state, which restricts the ability of me, my friends, or my neighbors to argue and advocate on behalf of each other, and in so doing be accorded equal dignity by the judges and personnel of the courts, to any court or administrative agency, or to the state legislature or city councils any interpretation or application of the law which affects us in the conduct of our daily personal or business lives.

6.                  I especially oppose, and therefore advocate the repeal, of any and all state laws or regulations which make it a crime or a “contempt of court” punishable by any fine or imprisonment or loss of other constitutionally protected right, for any person to speak and advocate his own personal interpretation of the law, or to communicate his or her spoken or written knowledge or interpretation of the law to any other person.

7.                  I believe that the “Practice of Law” cannot be licensed or monopolized, and that all such licenses or monopolies are antithetical to the express intention, letter, and spirit of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

8.                  In particular, I oppose all laws, customs, practices, or policies which mandate or tend to coerce the “integration” of the licensing of attorneys between a “Bar Association” and the Supreme Court (or any inferior courts) of any state or of the United States.

9.                  Judges must NEVER be given control over allocating the right to petition or speak freely concerning the law; this is not only a state-sponsored monopoly over a constitutionally secured right, the control that judges exercise over the licensing of attorneys and advocates is a logical inconsistency and conflict of interest which tends to diminish or defeat the very purpose of the legal system as a truth-finding, truth-vindicating process.

10.              I believe that, even at its best, the licensing of attorneys and monopoly maintained by “the bar” favors and protects only the mediocre, the conformist, and the unimaginative members of the profession of advocacy or legal scholarship.

11.              At its worst, the licensing of attorneys creates and fosters cronyism and corrupt favoritism between lawyers and judges, protects the truly lazy and incompetent members of the profession by insulating them from meaningful competition, and allows a tyranny of local minorities to emerge whereby lawyers, sheriffs, deputies, and policemen, judges, clerks, court reporters, and all other court personnel form cliques which favor themselves and their friends, and the wealthiest and “highest bidders” among clients, or those most politically “acceptable” to the “in crowd”, to the end that justice is everywhere sold and nowhere applied in a fair or evenhanded manner.

12.              I also support the abolition of the state bar monopoly on the licensing of attorneys because I believe in free enterprise, freedom of self-determination, and freedom of contract, and because many good people, most famously, and recently, Nancy Jo Grant, have been wrongfully and unjustly convicted and imprisoned or fined for the unauthorized practice of law; I oppose all prosecution of all persons for the unauthorized practice of law, and advocate freedom and a complete release from legal liability or stigma of conviction of any kind for Nancy Jo Grant of Arcadia, Florida.

13.              I support the Constitution of the United States of America and demand that all city, county, state, and federal officials (judicial, legislative, and executive) respect and afford strict enforcement of all personal and individual rights guaranteed by the same.

14.              I wish to contribute the amount of __________ to a campaign to abolish the bar, remove all legal obstacles to freedom of expression and the right to freely petition for redress of grievances.

15.              I have knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily signed this Petition on the _____ day of the month of _______, 20___.

 

 

Print your name below your signature here;_____________________________________

Address:_________________________________________________________(optional)

City & State of Residence___________________________________________(required)

 

 

Can we use your name publicly in our lists of supporters for this petition? ____yes___no

 

I am registered to vote and do regularly vote in my home _____city, _____state, and ____county elections .

 

Please mail completed & Signed Petition, preferably signed in BLUE INK, to:

Charles Edward Lincoln

325 Moorings Cove Drive

Tarpon Springs, Florida 34689

and feel free to drop an electronic e-mail by posting a comment here, on this blog, as well!

California Ex-Lawyer Sentenced to Jail (A California UPL Case)

My thanks and appreciation to Dr. George Leef for pointing this case out to me.  This is the first I’ve read of it, but Dr. Leef wrote (in response to my challenge to find out whether Nancy was the first person ever sent to jail for unauthorized practice of law by a jury): 

“There is such a case. Ronald Lais was convicted in California and sentenced to a term (more than ten years, as I recall) in Folsom prison. The name of the case is Lais v. Barber. The last I heard, Mr. Lais was appealing his conviction to an appellate court.”

The reaction to this post has been very dramatic and interesting.  So much, in fact, that I think I may delete any reference to Lais from this Blog, because it is becoming a major destraction.  Apparently, many people felt “ill-served” by Lais (both when he was a lawyer and after he was disbarred).  One commentator described him as a “wacky old coot….a stupid bomb.”  Another wrote that “the state couldn’t go after him for anything” except unauthorized practice of law, but that he was REALLY a bad guy, and a “bully….” which is not exactly a criminal offense, as defective a personality as the word undoubtedly reflects.  But it seems that the flurry of dispute about Lais is becoming a side show distracting from my real point: IS IT LEGITIMATE TO PROSECUTE ANYONE FOR VIOLATING A STATE-SPONSORED MONOPOLY ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH?  If we asked the question: can any state impose a monopoly on religious worship, the answer would clearly be “no.”  If a State were to pass judgment on who can be a Catholic or Episcopal Priest or a Baptist Pastor, everyone would immediately recognize that licensing would run afoul of the First Amendment.  It doesn’t matter if even 1% of all Catholic Priests in history have buggered little boys (and I’m sure it’s not even 1/10 of 1% in fact), that’s no grounds or legal justification for letting the State determine “fitness” to be a Catholic Priest.  And what if the Baptists got control of the Government and wanted to declare that any Priest, whether Irish Catholic or English Episcopalian, who had ever touched Champagne, Scotch whiskey, or Sherry, was forever banned from the pulpit and altar?  We understand (most of us) that it would simply be an OUTRAGE for the State to interfere in the licensing of the preaching of the Gospel or the interpretation of the Torah or the Koran or the teachings of Buddha.  So WHY do we allow licensing for the other prong of the First Amendment, namely Freedom of Speech regarding the meaning or interpretation or application of the law?  And the right to petition for redress of grievances?  And why do we entrust to JUDGES (who must decide the disputes raised by various legal interpretations and applications, or the grievances raised in various petitions) to be the ones who make the decision regarding licensing or disbarment of attorneys? 

Ronald Lais may have been a fool, a buffoon, or just plain lazy and incompetent, but I for one know not dozens but well over a hundred truly lazy, incompetent AND SIMULTANEOUSLY FOOLISH AN STUPID lawyers (and that’s just me personally—I have heard stories regarding THOUSANDS of lazy, incompetent, stupid lawyers—never mind the corrupt and dishonest ones—and they all still HAVE their licenses). 

So it may be time to bury the whole Ronald Lais controversy, because it is very different from my own personal history, from Nancy Grant’s history, and from Montgomery Sibley’s or Jack Thompson’s history.  

For one thing, according to one commentator below, Mr. Lais had a BENCH rather than a jury trial to insulate himself from wrath.  It should be noted that Nancy Jo Grant’s pre-sentencing report listed her victim impact level as ZERO.  That’s right ZERO.  But apparently, according to what I’m reading from the reaction of people in California, Ronald Lais was NO Nancy Jo Grant.  I don’t know of a single soul who would ever speak a single word against Nancy, except for the prosecutors and judges against whom she has been fighting for decades, but at least half a dozen people have so far written against Ronald Lais.  But I think that the difference between Nancy Jo Grant and Ronald Lais proves the stupidity and futility of prosecutions for unauthorized practice of law.  Ronald Lais, if the people who have commented are correct, was a genuine crook.  Genuine crooks, scammers, and scheisters can be prosecuted under the fraud and consumer protection laws whether they are licensed attorneys or not.  In fact, I would argue that the lawyer’s monopoly protects the practice of law from greater scrutiny by careful consumers than individual attorneys would otherwise warrant.  Ronald Lais was a licensed attorney, possibly, and based on what I’ve read even PROBABLY, a very BAD attorney.  In a free market—he would be exposed and would fail—because there would be free competition.  In a world where high school students were educated in the law before turning 18, consumers would be more savvy and sophisticated regarding the competence of lawyers.  That is the world I want.  Modern American High Schools teach NOTHING but social conformity and socio-cultural incompetence.  Every high school student should graduate with the equivalent of a 1L education in the law—1L from Harvard or Yale—in every high school in the United States, and this should probably be a prerequisite for voting.  But that’s probably best reserved for a topic in another post later.

So inconclusion, it sounds to me as though this Ronald Lais may have actually gone to jail for a lot more than “merely” unauthorized practice of law—it sounds like the State may have had a lot of other things against him, but regardless, the stupidity of confusing licensing a monopoly with any guarantee of honesty reemphasizes the need for reform and restoration of the Free Enterprise System with regard to Freedom of Speech.  The comments suggesting that Ronal Lais, whether a licensed attorney or not, may have been engaged in some of the worst abuses of the legal profession.  So the world is a complex place: non-elite, non-attorney criminals will always outnumber the elite, licensed criminals who put Nancy Jo Grant in Jail.  However, it is extremely and catastrophically wrong to put people in jail for thinking, writing, and speaking, when what they are merely doing is competing with a State-Authorized Monopoly….and I have to admit I just don’t know that much about Ronald Lais’ case and case history.  And I personally believe that MOST people in Jail in the United States don’t actually belong there…..but since I don’t know their history, who knows?  Maybe Ronald Lais would be one of the few that does…..

Metropolitan News-Enterprise 

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 

Ex-Lawyer Faces Sentencing for Unauthorized Practice 

By a MetNews Staff Writer

A former attorney who now bills himself as a legal consultant faces sentencing Friday in Orange Superior Court on 25 felony counts of practicing without a license.

Ronald Lais, 63, was convicted on 25 of what were originally 29 counts last July. Judge William R. Froeberg heard the case without a jury and will preside over the sentencing.

Froberg rejected Lais’ contention that his involvement in child custody and other family law matters does not constitute the practice of law, since he was merely assisting and advising other lawyers.

  The verdict “was not a close call,” the judge said in announcing the verdict, finding that Lais continued to practice law while he was out of custody and awaiting trial and that he took “the lion’s share” of fees earned by the attorneys he was allegedly assisting.

  Lais practiced law in Orange County for a number of years, but resigned from the State Bar with charges pending in 2001. A Western State University law graduate admitted in 1976, Lais received a 90-day suspension in 1999 and a two-year suspension in 2000.

The suspensions were for ethical violations involving multiple clients, including failing to return unearned fees, failing to report sanctions, and attempting to mislead sheriff’s deputies who were trying to enforce an order granting custody to the ex-spouse of Lais’ client by presenting them with a superseded former order granting custody to the client.

The State Bar reported that at the time of his resignation, Lais faced 43 disciplinary counts in eight separate cases. “For the most part, the allegations charge failure to perform legal services competently or refund unearned fees and numerous instances of moral turpitude,” the State Bar reported on its Web site.

Lais told the MetNews yesterday that he has not practiced law since resigning, but is “an international child custody and divorce expert and consultant” who has worked in 40 countries and “in almost every state” in the United States. “I’ve never had any problems anywhere except Orange County, California,” he said.

The only jurisdiction in which he can now practice law, he said, is India. While non-citizens of that country normally cannot get licenses, Lais said, he was able to do so in 1999 through the aid of a politically connected individual whom he had assisted in a custody matter.

His conviction, Lais said, is the result of “a general disagreement about what I can do and what I can’t do” as a consultant/expert. He declined to predict what might happen on Friday, but said he was hopeful the judge, whom he praised as a fair-minded individual, would be willing to consider more than the “snippet” of evidence that was presented at the trial.

Lais also hinted at an appellate strategy, calling the unauthorized practice statute “vague and ambiguous,” and adding that it is unfair that “if a layperson does the same thing, it’s a misdemeanor, and if a resigned lawyer does it, it’s a felony.”

The ex-lawyer added that he was offered an opportunity to resolve the case with a misdemeanor plea if he would pay restitution and close down his business, which he conducts under the name Child Custody Legal Network. He turned it down as “a matter of principle,” he said, because it “would have prevented him from working at what I do best.”  

Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company