Bad Lawyer, Bad Lawyer!!!

An attorney who handled one of my people, disbarred, he stole $50,000.00 from one of my people. Bad Lawyer, Bad Lawyer!!

IN THE MATTER OF RICHARD V. MERRITT
Date: January 29, 2018
Docket Number: S18Y0387
Disbarred.
Used to work in the Georgia Attorney General’s Office as a prosecutor. Now he is the criminal. He voluntarily surrendered his license to the Bar, violation of Rule 1.15(I) is disbarment for first offense.
——————-

IN THE MATTER OF SAM LOUIS LEVINE
Date: March 5, 2018
Docket Number: S18Y0348
Disbarred.
————

IN THE MATTER OF CHRISTOPHER AARON CORLEY
Date: March 5, 2018
Docket Number: S18Y0350
Suspended two years or longer depending upon how long his probation for wife beating lasts.
—————

IN THE MATTER OF ANDRE KEITH SANDERS
Date: March 5, 2018
Docket Number: S18Y0383
Five year suspension, with conditions that Florida Bar must reinstate before GA will reinstate.
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IN THE MATTER OF WALTER LINTON MOORE
Date: March 5, 2018
Docket Number: S18Y0559
Disbarred for viiolations of Bar Rules: 1.2, 1.3, 1.4,1.5, 1.16, 3.2 and 9.3,
with multiple violations of 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, and 9.3.
——————
IN THE MATTER OF NATALIE DAWN MAYS
Date: February 19, 2018
Docket Number: S18Y0315
Disbarred. Violations of Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, and 3.2
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IN THE MATTER OF DONALD EDWARD SMART
Date: February 19, 2018
Docket Number: S18Y0511
Review panel reprimand for violations
of Rules 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4.
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IN THE MATTER OF ADAM LORENZO SMITH
Date: February 5, 2018
Docket Number: S18Y0484
Disbarred.
Pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, to the offense of conspiracy to commit bribery. Thereby, violated Rule 8.4 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.
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IN THE MATTER OF RICKY W. MORRIS, JR.
Date: January 29, 2018
Docket Number: S17Y1329
Disbarred. After court hearing, the Assistant District Attorney, heard Morris, Jr. in the bathroom talking on the phone, attempting to buy drugs. When appeared at court following morning, seemed to be under the influence of controlled substance. Court requested a drug test which was declined, threatened the ADA with bodily harm. He was charged with Felony Intimidation of a Court Officer and Felony Terroristic Threats for threatening the ADA. Ended up pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and simple assault. Violations of Rules 1.2,(a), 1.3, 1.4, 1.16(d), 3.5(d), 4.1(a), 7.3(d), and 84(a)(4) of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.
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IN THE MATTER OF CLARENCE R. JOHNSON, JR.
Date: January 29, 2018
Docket Number: S17Y1918
Six months suspension
————————
IN THE MATTER OF CAMERON SHAHAB
Date: January 29, 2018
Docket Number: S17Y2016
Disbarred for violations of 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 3.2, 8.4(a)(4).
———————-

If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.

277 U.S. 438 (1928)

OLMSTEAD ET AL.
v.
UNITED STATES.
GREEN ET AL.
v.
SAME.
McINNIS
v.
SAME.

Nos. 493, 532 and 533.Supreme Court of United States.

Argued February 20, 21, 1928.Decided June 4, 1928.CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

439*439 Mr. John F. Dore, with whom Messrs. F.C. Reagan and J.L. Finch were on the brief, for petitioners in No. 493.

Mr. Frank R. Jeffery, for petitioner in No. 533, and some of the petitioners in No. 532.

Messrs. Arthur E. Griffin, George F. Vanderveer, and Samuel B. Bassett, on a brief for petitioners in No. 532.

Mr. Michael J. Doherty, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, with whom Solicitor General Mitchell was on the brief, for the United States.

Messrs. Otto B. Rupp, Charles M. Bracelen, Robert H. Strahan, and Clarence B. Randall on behalf of The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, American Telephone and Telegraph Company, United States Independent Telephone Association, and the Tri-State Telephone and Telegraph Company, as amici curiae, filed a brief by special leave of Court.

455*455 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.

These cases are here by certiorari from the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 19 F. (2d) 842 and 850. The petition in No. 493 was filed August 30, 1927; in Nos. 532 and 533, September 9, 1927. They were granted with the distinct limitation that the hearing should be confined to the single question whether the use of evidence of private telephone conversations between the defendants and others, intercepted by means of wire tapping, amounted to a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

The petitioners were convicted in the District Court for the Western District of Washington of a conspiracy to violate the National Prohibition Act by unlawfully possessing, transporting and importing intoxicating liquors and maintaining nuisances, and by selling intoxicating liquors. Seventy-two others in addition to the petitioners were indicted. Some were not apprehended, some were acquitted and others pleaded guilty.

The evidence in the records discloses a conspiracy of amazing magnitude to import, possess and sell liquor unlawfully. 456*456 It involved the employment of not less than fifty persons, of two seagoing vessels for the transportation of liquor to British Columbia, of smaller vessels for coastwise transportation to the State of Washington, the purchase and use of a ranch beyond the suburban limits of Seattle, with a large underground cache for storage and a number of smaller caches in that city, the maintenance of a central office manned with operators, the employment of executives, salesmen, deliverymen, dispatchers, scouts, bookkeepers, collectors and an attorney. In a bad month sales amounted to $176,000; the aggregate for a year must have exceeded two millions of dollars.

Olmstead was the leading conspirator and the general manager of the business. He made a contribution of $10,000 to the capital; eleven others contributed $1,000 each. The profits were divided one-half to Olmstead and the remainder to the other eleven. Of the several offices in Seattle the chief one was in a large office building. In this there were three telephones on three different lines. There were telephones in an office of the manager in his own home, at the homes of his associates, and at other places in the city. Communication was had frequently with Vancouver, British Columbia. Times were fixed for the deliveries of the “stuff,” to places along Puget Sound near Seattle and from there the liquor was removed and deposited in the caches already referred to. One of the chief men was always on duty at the main office to receive orders by telephones and to direct their filling by a corps of men stationed in another room — the “bull pen.” The call numbers of the telephones were given to those known to be likely customers. At times the sales amounted to 200 cases of liquor per day.

The information which led to the discovery of the conspiracy and its nature and extent was largely obtained by intercepting messages on the telephones of the conspirators by four federal prohibition officers. Small 457*457 wires were inserted along the ordinary telephone wires from the residences of four of the petitioners and those leading from the chief office. The insertions were made without trespass upon any property of the defendants. They were made in the basement of the large office building. The taps from house lines were made in the streets near the houses.

The gathering of evidence continued for many months. Conversations of the conspirators of which refreshing stenographic notes were currently made, were testified to by the government witnesses. They revealed the large business transactions of the partners and their subordinates. Men at the wires heard the orders given for liquor by customers and the acceptances; they became auditors of the conversations between the partners. All this disclosed the conspiracy charged in the indictment. Many of the intercepted conversations were not merely reports but parts of the criminal acts. The evidence also disclosed the difficulties to which the conspirators were subjected, the reported news of the capture of vessels, the arrest of their men and the seizure of cases of liquor in garages and other places. It showed the dealing by Olmstead, the chief conspirator, with members of the Seattle police, the messages to them which secured the release of arrested members of the conspiracy, and also direct promises to officers of payments as soon as opportunity offered.

The Fourth Amendment provides — “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” And the Fifth: “No person . . . shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself.”

458*458 It will be helpful to consider the chief cases in this Court which bear upon the construction of these Amendments.

Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, was an information filed by the District Attorney in the federal court in a cause of seizure and forfeiture against thirty-five cases of plate glass, which charged that the owner and importer, with intent to defraud the revenue, made an entry of the imported merchandise by means of a fraudulent or false invoice. It became important to show the quantity and value of glass contained in twenty-nine cases previously imported. The fifth section of the Act of June 22, 1874, provided that in cases not criminal under the revenue laws, the United States Attorney, whenever he thought an invoice, belonging to the defendant, would tend to prove any allegation made by the United States, might by a written motion describing the invoice and setting forth the allegation which he expected to prove, secure a notice from the court to the defendant to produce the invoice, and if the defendant refused to produce it, the allegations stated in the motion should be taken as confessed, but if produced, the United States Attorney should be permitted, under the direction of the court, to make an examination of the invoice, and might offer the same in evidence. This Act had succeeded the Act of 1867, which provided that in such cases the District Judge, on affidavit of any person interested, might issue a warrant to the marshal to enter the premises where the invoice was and take possession of it and hold it subject to the order of the judge. This had been preceded by the Act of 1863 of a similar tenor, except that it directed the warrant to the collector instead of the marshal. The United States Attorney followed the Act of 1874 and compelled the production of the invoice.

The court held the Act of 1874 repugnant to the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. As to the Fourth Amendment, Justice Bradley said (page 621):

459*459 “But, in regard to the Fourth Amendment, it is contended that, whatever might have been alleged against the constitutionality of the acts of 1863 and 1867, that of 1874, under which the order in the present case was made, is free from constitutional objection because it does not authorize the search and seizure of books and papers, but only requires the defendant or claimant to produce them. That is so; but it declares that if he does not produce them, the allegations which it is affirmed they will prove shall be taken as confessed. This is tantamount to compelling their production; for the prosecuting attorney will always be sure to state the evidence expected to be derived from them as strongly as the case will admit of. It is true that certain aggravating incidents of actual search and seizure, such as forcible entry into a man’s house and searching amongst his papers, are wanting, and to this extent the proceeding under the Act of 1874 is a mitigation of that which was authorized by the former acts; but it accomplishes the substantial object of those acts in forcing from a party evidence against himself. It is our opinion, therefore, that a compulsory production of a man’s private papers to establish a criminal charge against him, or to forfeit his property, is within the scope of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, in all cases in which a search and seizure would be; because it is a material ingredient, and effects the sole object and purpose of search and seizure.”

Concurring, Mr. Justice Miller and Chief Justice Waite said that they did not think the machinery used to get this evidence amounted to a search and seizure, but they agreed that the Fifth Amendment had been violated.

The statute provided an official demand for the production of a paper or document by the defendant for official search and use as evidence on penalty that by refusal he should be conclusively held to admit the incriminating 460*460 character of the document as charged. It was certainly no straining of the language to construe the search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to include such official procedure.

The next case, and perhaps the most important, is Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, — a conviction for using the mails to transmit coupons or tickets in a lottery enterprise. The defendant was arrested by a police officer without a warrant. After his arrest other police officers and the United States marshal went to his house, got the key from a neighbor, entered the defendant’s room and searched it, and took possession of various papers and articles. Neither the marshal nor the police officers had a search warrant. The defendant filed a petition in court asking the return of all his property. The court ordered the return of everything not pertinent to the charge, but denied return of relevant evidence. After the jury was sworn, the defendant again made objection, and on introduction of the papers contended that the search without warrant was a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments and they were therefore inadmissible. This court held that such taking of papers by an official of the United States, acting under color of his office, was in violation of the constitutional rights of the defendant, and upon making seasonable application he was entitled to have them restored, and that by permitting their use upon the trial, the trial court erred.

The opinion cited with approval language of Mr. Justice Field in Ex parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727, 733, saying that the Fourth Amendment as a principle of protection was applicable to sealed letters and packages in the mail and that, consistently with it, such matter could only be opened and examined upon warrants issued on oath or affirmation particularly describing the thing to be seized.

In Silverthorne Lumber Company v. United States, 251 U.S. 385, the defendants were arrested at their homes and 461*461 detained in custody. While so detained, representatives of the Government without authority went to the office of their company and seized all the books, papers and documents found there. An application for return of the things was opposed by the District Attorney, who produced a subpoena for certain documents relating to the charge in the indictment then on file. The court said:

“Thus the case is not that of knowledge acquired through the wrongful act of a stranger, but it must be assumed that the Government planned or at all events ratified the whole performance.”

And it held that the illegal character of the original seizure characterized the entire proceeding and under the Weeks case the seized papers must be restored.

In Amos v. United States, 255 U.S. 313, the defendant was convicted of concealing whiskey on which the tax had not been paid. At the trial he presented a petition asking that private property seized in a search of his house and store “within his curtilage,” without warrant should be returned. This was denied. A woman, who claimed to be his wife, was told by the revenue officers that they had come to search the premises for violation of the revenue law. She opened the door; they entered and found whiskey. Further searches in the house disclosed more. It was held that this action constituted a violation of the Fourth Amendment, and that the denial of the motion to restore the whiskey and to exclude the testimony was error.

In Gouled v. The United States, 255 U.S. 298, the facts were these: Gouled and two others were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. One pleaded guilty and another was acquitted. Gouled prosecuted error. The matter was presented here on questions propounded by the lower court. The first related to the admission in evidence of a paper surreptitiously taken from the office of the defendant by one acting under the direction 462*462 of an officer of the Intelligence Department of the Army of the United States. Gouled was suspected of the crime. A private in the U.S. Army, pretending to make a friendly call on him, gained admission to his office and in his absence, without warrant of any character, seized and carried away several documents. One of these belonging to Gouled, was delivered to the United States Attorney and by him introduced in evidence. When produced, it was a surprise to the defendant. He had had no opportunity to make a previous motion to secure a return of it. The paper had no pecuniary value, but was relevant to the issue made on the trial. Admission of the paper was considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Agnello v. United States, 269 U.S. 20, held that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments were violated by admission in evidence of contraband narcotics found in defendant’s house, several blocks distant from the place of arrest, after his arrest, and seized there without a warrant. Under such circumstances the seizure could not be justified as incidental to the arrest.

There is no room in the present case for applying the Fifth Amendment unless the Fourth Amendment was first violated. There was no evidence of compulsion to induce the defendants to talk over their many telephones. They were continually and voluntarily transacting business without knowledge of the interception. Our consideration must be confined to the Fourth Amendment.

The striking outcome of the Weeks case and those which followed it was the sweeping declaration that the Fourth Amendment, although not referring to or limiting the use of evidence in courts, really forbade its introduction if obtained by government officers through a violation of the Amendment. Theretofore many had supposed that under the ordinary common law rules, if the tendered evidence was pertinent, the method of obtaining it was 463*463 unimportant. This was held by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in Commonwealth v. Dana, 2 Metcalf, 329, 337. There it was ruled that the only remedy open to a defendant whose rights under a state constitutional equivalent of the Fourth Amendment had been invaded was by suit and judgment for damages, as Lord Camden held in Entick v. Carrington, 19 Howell State Trials, 1029. Mr. Justice Bradley made effective use of this case in Boyd v. United States. But in the Weeks case, and those which followed, this Court decided with great emphasis, and established as the law for the federal courts, that the protection of the Fourth Amendment would be much impaired unless it was held that not only was the official violator of the rights under the Amendment subject to action at the suit of the injured defendant, but also that the evidence thereby obtained could not be received.

The well known historical purpose of the Fourth Amendment, directed against general warrants and writs of assistance, was to prevent the use of governmental force to search a man’s house, his person, his papers and his effects; and to prevent their seizure against his will. This phase of the misuse of governmental power of compulsion is the emphasis of the opinion of the Court in the Boyd case. This appears too in the Weeks case, in the Silverthorne case and in the Amos case.

Gouled v. United States carried the inhibition against unreasonable searches and seizures to the extreme limit. Its authority is not to be enlarged by implication and must be confined to the precise state of facts disclosed by the record. A representative of the Intelligence Department of the Army, having by stealth obtained admission to the defendant’s office, seized and carried away certain private papers valuable for evidential purposes. This was held an unreasonable search and seizure within the Fourth Amendment. A stealthy entrance in such circumstances 464*464 became the equivalent to an entry by force. There was actual entrance into the private quarters of defendant and the taking away of something tangible. Here we have testimony only of voluntary conversations secretly overheard.

The Amendment itself shows that the search is to be of material things — the person, the house, his papers or his effects. The description of the warrant necessary to make the proceeding lawful, is that it must specify the place to be searched and the person or things to be seized.

It is urged that the language of Mr. Justice Field in Ex parte Jackson, already quoted, offers an analogy to the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment in respect of wire tapping. But the analogy fails. The Fourth Amendment may have proper application to a sealed letter in the mail because of the constitutional provision for the Postoffice Department and the relations between the Government and those who pay to secure protection of their sealed letters. See Revised Statutes, §§ 3978 to 3988, whereby Congress monopolizes the carriage of letters and excludes from that business everyone else, and § 3929 which forbids any postmaster or other person to open any letter not addressed to himself. It is plainly within the words of the Amendment to say that the unlawful rifling by a government agent of a sealed letter is a search and seizure of the sender’s papers or effects. The letter is a paper, an effect, and in the custody of a Government that forbids carriage except under its protection.

The United States takes no such care of telegraph or telephone messages as of mailed sealed letters. The Amendment does not forbid what was done here. There was no searching. There was no seizure. The evidence was secured by the use of the sense of hearing and that only. There was no entry of the houses or offices of the defendants.

465*465 By the invention of the telephone, fifty years ago, and its application for the purpose of extending communications, one can talk with another at a far distant place. The language of the Amendment can not be extended and expanded to include telephone wires reaching to the whole world from the defendant’s house or office. The intervening wires are not part of his house or office any more than are the highways along which they are stretched.

This Court in Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 149, declared:

“The Fourth Amendment is to be construed in the light of what was deemed an unreasonable search and seizure when it was adopted and in a manner which will conserve public interests as well as the interests and rights of individual citizens.”

Justice Bradley in the Boyd case, and Justice Clark in the Gouled case, said that the Fifth Amendment and the Fourth Amendment were to be liberally construed to effect the purpose of the framers of the Constitution in the interest of liberty. But that can not justify enlargement of the language employed beyond the possible practical meaning of houses, persons, papers, and effects, or so to apply the words search and seizure as to forbid hearing or sight.

Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, held that the testimony of two officers of the law who trespassed on the defendant’s land, concealed themselves one hundred yards away from his house and saw him come out and hand a bottle of whiskey to another, was not inadmissible. While there was a trespass, there was no search of person, house, papers or effects. United States v. Lee, 274 U.S. 559, 563; Eversole v. State, 106 Tex. Cr. 567.

Congress may of course protect the secrecy of telephone messages by making them, when intercepted, inadmissible in evidence in federal criminal trials, by direct legislation, 466*466 and thus depart from the common law of evidence. But the courts may not adopt such a policy by attributing an enlarged and unusual meaning to the Fourth Amendment. The reasonable view is that one who installs in his house a telephone instrument with connecting wires intends to project his voice to those quite outside, and that the wires beyond his house and messages while passing over them are not within the protection of the Fourth Amendment. Here those who intercepted the projected voices were not in the house of either party to the conversation.

Neither the cases we have cited nor any of the many federal decisions brought to our attention hold the Fourth Amendment to have been violated as against a defendant unless there has been an official search and seizure of his person, or such a seizure of his papers or his tangible material effects, or an actual physical invasion of his house “or curtilage” for the purpose of making a seizure.

We think, therefore, that the wire tapping here disclosed did not amount to a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

What has been said disposes of the only question that comes within the terms of our order granting certiorari in these cases. But some of our number, departing from that order, have concluded that there is merit in the two-fold objection overruled in both courts below that evidence obtained through intercepting of telephone messages by government agents was inadmissible because the mode of obtaining it was unethical and a misdemeanor under the law of Washington. To avoid any misapprehension of our views of that objection we shall deal with it in both of its phases.

While a Territory, the English common law prevailed in Washington and thus continued after her admission in 1889. The rules of evidence in criminal cases in courts of the United States sitting there, consequently are those of the common law. United States v. Reid, 12 How. 361, 467*467 363, 366; Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263, 301; Rosen v. United States, 245 U.S. 467; Withaup v. United States, 127 Fed. 530, 534; Robinson v. United States, 292 Fed. 683, 685.

The common law rule is that the admissibility of evidence is not affected by the illegality of the means by which it was obtained. Professor Greenleaf in his work on evidence, vol. 1, 12th ed., by Redfield, § 254(a) says:

“It may be mentioned in this place, that though papers and other subjects of evidence may have been illegally taken from the possession of the party against whom they are offered, or otherwise unlawfully obtained, this is no valid objection to their admissibility, if they are pertinent to the issue. The court will not take notice how they were obtained, whether lawfully or unlawfully, nor will it form an issue, to determine that question.”

Mr. Jones in his work on the same subject refers to Mr. Greenleaf’s statement, and says:

“Where there is no violation of a constitutional guaranty, the verity of the above statement is absolute.” Vol. 5, § 2075, note 3.

The rule is supported by many English and American cases cited by Jones in vol. 5, § 2075, note 3, and § 2076, note 6; and by Wigmore, vol. 4, § 2183. It is recognized by this Court in Adams v. New York, 192 U.S. 585. The Weeks case, announced an exception to the common law rule by excluding all evidence in the procuring of which government officials took part by methods forbidden by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Many state courts do not follow the Weeks case. People v. Defore, 242 N.Y. 13. But those who do, treat it as an exception to the general common law rule and required by constitutional limitations. Hughes v. State, 145 Tenn. 544, 551, 566; State v. Wills, 91 W. Va. 659, 677; State v. Slamon, 73 Vt. 212, 214, 215; Gindrat v. People, 138 Ill. 103, 111; People v. Castree, 311 Ill. 392, 396, 397; State v. 468*468 Gardner, 77 Mont. 8, 21; State v. Fahn, 53 N. Dak. 203, 210. The common law rule must apply in the case at bar.

Nor can we, without the sanction of congressional enactment, subscribe to the suggestion that the courts have a discretion to exclude evidence, the admission of which is not unconstitutional, because unethically secured. This would be at variance with the common law doctrine generally supported by authority. There is no case that sustains, nor any recognized text book that gives color to such a view. Our general experience shows that much evidence has always been receivable although not obtained by conformity to the highest ethics. The history of criminal trials shows numerous cases of prosecutions of oath-bound conspiracies for murder, robbery, and other crimes, where officers of the law have disguised themselves and joined the organizations, taken the oaths and given themselves every appearance of active members engaged in the promotion of crime, for the purpose of securing evidence. Evidence secured by such means has always been received.

A standard which would forbid the reception of evidence if obtained by other than nice ethical conduct by government officials would make society suffer and give criminals greater immunity than has been known heretofore. In the absence of controlling legislation by Congress, those who realize the difficulties in bringing offenders to justice may well deem it wise that the exclusion of evidence should be confined to cases where rights under the Constitution would be violated by admitting it.

The statute of Washington, adopted in 1909, provides (Remington Compiled Statutes, 1922, § 2656-18) that:

“Every person . . . who shall intercept, read or in any manner interrupt or delay the sending of a message over any telegraph or telephone line . . . shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

469*469 This statute does not declare that evidence obtained by such interception shall be inadmissible, and by the common law, already referred to, it would not be. People v. McDonald, 177 App. Div. (N.Y.) 806. Whether the State of Washington may prosecute and punish federal officers violating this law and those whose messages were intercepted may sue them civilly is not before us. But clearly a statute, passed twenty years after the admission of the State into the Union can not affect the rules of evidence applicable in courts of the United States in criminal cases. Chief Justice Taney, in United States v. Reid, 12 How. 361, 363, construing the 34th section of the Judiciary Act, said:

“But it could not be supposed, without very plain words to show it, that Congress intended to give the states the power of prescribing the rules of evidence in trials for offenses against the United States. For this construction would place the criminal jurisprudence of one sovereignty under the control of another.” See also Withaup v. United States, 127 Fed. 530, 534.

The judgments of the Circuit Court of Appeals are affirmed. The mandates will go down forthwith under Rule 31.

Affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES:

My brother BRANDEIS has given this case so exhaustive an examination that I desire to add but a few words. While I do not deny it, I am not prepared to say that the penumbra of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments covers the defendant, although I fully agree that Courts are apt to err by sticking too closely to the words of a law where those words import a policy that goes beyond them. Gooch v. Oregon Short Line R.R. Co., 258 U.S. 22, 24. But I think, as MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS says, that apart from the Constitution the Government ought not to use 470*470 evidence obtained and only obtainable by a criminal act. There is no body of precedents by which we are bound, and which confines us to logical deduction from established rules. Therefore we must consider the two objects of desire, both of which we cannot have, and make up our minds which to choose. It is desirable that criminals should be detected, and to that end that all available evidence should be used. It also is desirable that the Government should not itself foster and pay for other crimes, when they are the means by which the evidence is to be obtained. If it pays its officers for having got evidence by crime I do not see why it may not as well pay them for getting it in the same way, and I can attach no importance to protestations of disapproval if it knowingly accepts and pays and announces that in the future it will pay for the fruits. We have to chose, and for my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the Government should play an ignoble part.

For those who agree with me, no distinction can be taken between the Government as prosecutor and the Government as judge. If the existing code does not permit district attorneys to have a hand in such dirty business it does not permit the judge to allow such iniquities to succeed. See Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385. And if all that I have said so far be accepted it makes no difference that in this case wire tapping is made a crime by the law of the State, not by the law of the United States. It is true that a State cannot make rules of evidence for Courts of the United States, but the State has authority over the conduct in question, and I hardly think that the United States would appear to greater advantage when paying for an odious crime against State law than when inciting to the disregard of its own. I am aware of the often repeated statement that in a criminal proceeding the Court will not take notice of the manner in which papers offered in evidence have been 471*471 obtained. But that somewhat rudimentary mode of disposing of the question has been overthrown by Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383 and the cases that have followed it. I have said that we are free to choose between two principles of policy. But if we are to confine ourselves to precedent and logic the reason for excluding evidence obtained by violating the Constitution seems to me logically to lead to excluding evidence obtained by a crime of the officers of the law.

MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS, dissenting.

The defendants were convicted of conspiring to violate the National Prohibition Act. Before any of the persons now charged had been arrested or indicted, the telephones by means of which they habitually communicated with one another and with others had been tapped by federal officers. To this end, a lineman of long experience in wire-tapping was employed, on behalf of the Government and at its expense. He tapped eight telephones, some in the homes of the persons charged, some in their offices. Acting on behalf of the Government and in their official capacity, at least six other prohibition agents listened over the tapped wires and reported the messages taken. Their operations extended over a period of nearly five months. The type-written record of the notes of conversations overheard occupies 775 typewritten pages. By objections seasonably made and persistently renewed, the defendants objected to the admission of the evidence obtained by wire-tapping, on the ground that the Government’s wire-tapping constituted an unreasonable search and seizure, in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and that the use as evidence of the conversations overheard compelled the defendants to be witnesses against themselves, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The Government makes no attempt to defend the methods employed by its officers. Indeed, it concedes 472*472 that if wire-tapping can be deemed a search and seizure within the Fourth Amendment, such wire-tapping as was practiced in the case at bar was an unreasonable search and seizure, and that the evidence thus obtained was inadmissible. But it relies on the language of the Amendment; and it claims that the protection given thereby cannot properly be held to include a telephone conversation.

“We must never forget,” said Mr. Chief Justice Marshall in McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 407, “that it is a constitution we are expounding.” Since then, this Court has repeatedly sustained the exercise of power by Congress, under various clauses of that instrument, over objects of which the Fathers could not have dreamed. See Pensacola Telegraph Co. v. Western Union Telegraph Co., 96 U.S. 1, 9; Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. North Dakota, 250 U.S. 135; Dakota Central Telephone Co. v. South Dakota, 250 U.S. 163; Brooks v. United States, 267 U.S. 432. We have likewise held that general limitations on the powers of Government, like those embodied in the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, do not forbid the United States or the States from meeting modern conditions by regulations which “a century ago, or even half a century ago, probably would have been rejected as arbitrary and oppressive.” Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365, 387; Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200. Clauses guaranteeing to the individual protection against specific abuses of power, must have a similar capacity of adaptation to a changing world. It was with reference to such a clause that this Court said in Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349, 373: “Legislation, both statutory and constitutional, is enacted, it is true, from an experience of evils, but its general language should not, therefore, be necessarily confined to the form that evil had theretofore taken. Time works changes, brings into existence new conditions 473*473 and purposes. Therefore a principle to be vital must be capable of wider application than the mischief which gave it birth. This is peculiarly true of constitutions. They are not ephemeral enactments, designed to meet passing occasions. They are, to use the words of Chief Justice Marshall `designed to approach immortality as nearly as human institutions can approach it.’ The future is their care and provision for events of good and bad tendencies of which no prophecy can be made. In the application of a constitution, therefore, our contemplation cannot be only of what has been but of what may be. Under any other rule a constitution would indeed be as easy of application as it would be deficient in efficacy and power. Its general principles would have little value and be converted by precedent into impotent and lifeless formulas. Rights declared in words might be lost in reality.”

When the Fourth and Fifth Amendments were adopted, “the form that evil had theretofore taken,” had been necessarily simple. Force and violence were then the only means known to man by which a Government could directly effect self-incrimination. It could compel the individual to testify — a compulsion effected, if need be, by torture. It could secure possession of his papers and other articles incident to his private life — a seizure effected, if need be, by breaking and entry. Protection against such invasion of “the sanctities of a man’s home and the privacies of life” was provided in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments by specific language. Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630. But “time works changes, brings into existence new conditions and purposes.” Subtler and more far-reaching means of invading privacy have become available to the Government. Discovery and invention have made it possible for the Government, by means far more effective than stretching upon the rack, to obtain disclosure in court of what is whispered in the closet.

474*474 Moreover, “in the application of a constitution, our contemplation cannot be only of what has been but of what may be.” The progress of science in furnishing the Government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wire-tapping. Ways may some day be developed by which the Government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home. Advances in the psychic and related sciences may bring means of exploring unexpressed beliefs, thoughts and emotions. “That places the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer” was said by James Otis of much lesser intrusions than these.[1] To Lord Camden, a far slighter intrusions seemed “subversive of all the comforts of society.”[2] Can it be that the Constitution affords no protection against such invasions of individual security?

A sufficient answer is found in Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 627-630, a case that will be remembered as long as civil liberty lives in the United States. This Court there reviewed the history that lay behind the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. We said with reference to Lord Camden’s judgment in Entick v. Carrington, 19 Howell’s State Trials, 1030: “The principles laid down in this opinion affect the very essence of constitutional liberty and security. They reach farther than the concrete form of the case there before the court, with its adventitious circumstances; they apply to all invasions on the part of the Government and its employes of the sanctities of a man’s home and the privacies of life. It is not the breaking of his doors, and the rummaging of his drawers, that constitutes the essence of the offence; but it is the invasion of his indefeasible right of personal security, 475*475 personal liberty and private property, where that right has never been forfeited by his conviction of some public offence, — it is the invasion of this sacred right which underlies and constitutes the essence of Lord Camden’s judgment. Breaking into a house and opening boxes and drawers are circumstances of aggravation; but any forcible and compulsory extortion of a man’s own testimony or of his private papers to be used as evidence of a crime or to forfeit his goods, is within the condemnation of that judgment. In this regard the Fourth and Fifth Amendments run almost into each other.”[3]

In Ex parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727, it was held that a sealed letter entrusted to the mail is protected by the Amendments. The mail is a public service furnished by the Government. The telephone is a public service furnished by its authority. There is, in essence, no difference between the sealed letter and the private telephone message. As Judge Rudkin said below: “True the one is visible, the other invisible; the one is tangible, the other intangible; the one is sealed and the other unsealed, but these are distinctions without a difference.” The evil incident to invasion of the privacy of the telephone is far greater than that involved in tampering with the mails. Whenever a telephone line is tapped, the privacy of the persons at both ends of the line is invaded and all conversations 476*476 between them upon any subject, and although proper, confidential and privileged, may be overheard. Moreover, the tapping of one man’s telephone line involves the tapping of the telephone of every other person whom he may call or who may call him. As a means of espionage, writs of assistance and general warrants are but puny instruments of tyranny and oppression when compared with wire-tapping.

Time and again, this Court in giving effect to the principle underlying the Fourth Amendment, has refused to place an unduly literal construction upon it. This was notably illustrated in the Boyd case itself. Taking language in its ordinary meaning, there is no “search” or “seizure” when a defendant is required to produce a document in the orderly process of a court’s procedure. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” would not be violated, under any ordinary construction of language, by compelling obedience to a subpoena. But this Court holds the evidence inadmissible simply because the information leading to the issue of the subpoena has been unlawfully secured. Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385. Literally, there is no “search” or “seizure” when a friendly visitor abstracts papers from an office; yet we held in Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298, that evidence so obtained could not be used. No court which looked at the words of the Amendment rather than at its underlying purpose would hold, as this Court did in Ex parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727, 733, that its protection extended to letters in the mails. The provision against self-incrimination in the Fifth Amendment has been given an equally broad construction. The language is: “No person. . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Yet we have held, not only that the 477*477 protection of the Amendment extends to a witness before a grand jury, although he has not been charged with crime, Counselman v. Hitchcock, 142 U.S. 547, 562, 586. but that: “It applies alike to civil and criminal proceedings, wherever the answer might tend to subject to criminal responsibility him who gives it. The privilege protects a mere witness as fully as it does one who is also a party defendant.” McCarthy v. Arndstein, 266 U.S. 34, 40. The narrow language of the Amendment has been consistently construed in the light of its object, “to insure that a person should not be compelled, when acting as a witness in any investigation, to give testimony which might tend to show that he himself had committed a crime. The privilege is limited to criminal matters, but it is as broad as the mischief against which it seeks to guard.” Counselman v. Hitchcock, supra, p. 562.

Decisions of this Court applying the principle of the Boyd case have settled these things. Unjustified search and seizure violates the Fourth Amendment, whatever the character of the paper;[4] whether the paper when taken by the federal officers was in the home,[5] in an office[6] or elsewhere;[7] whether the taking was effected by force,[8] by 478*478 fraud,[9] or in the orderly process of a court’s procedure.[10] From these decisions, it follows necessarily that the Amendment is violated by the officer’s reading the paper without a physical seizure, without his even touching it; and that use, in any criminal proceeding, of the contents of the paper so examined — as where they are testified to by a federal officer who thus saw the document or where, through knowledge so obtained, a copy has been procured elsewhere[11] — any such use constitutes a violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The protection guaranteed by the Amendments is much broader in scope. The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the Government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment. And the use, as evidence 479*479 in a criminal proceeding, of facts ascertained by such intrusion must be deemed a violation of the Fifth.

Applying to the Fourth and Fifth Amendments the established rule of construction, the defendants’ objections to the evidence obtained by wire-tapping must, in my opinion, be sustained. It is, of course, immaterial where the physical connection with the telephone wires leading into the defendants’ premises was made. And it is also immaterial that the intrusion was in aid of law enforcement. Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.[12]

Independently of the constitutional question, I am of opinion that the judgment should be reversed. By the laws of Washington, wire-tapping is a crime.[13] Pierce’s 480*480 Code, 1921, § 8976(18). To prove its case, the Government was obliged to lay bare the crimes committed by its officers on its behalf. A federal court should not permit such a prosecution to continue. Compare Harkin v. Brundage, 276 U.S. 36, id. 604.

481*481 The situation in the case at bar differs widely from that presented in Burdeau v. McDowell, 256 U.S. 465. There, only a single lot of papers was involved. They had been obtained by a private detective while acting on behalf of a private party; without the knowledge of any federal official; long before anyone had thought of instituting a 482*482 federal prosecution. Here, the evidence obtained by crime was obtained at the Government’s expense, by its officers, while acting on its behalf; the officers who committed these crimes are the same officers who were charged with the enforcement of the Prohibition Act; the crimes of these officers were committed for the purpose of securing evidence with which to obtain an indictment and to secure a conviction. The evidence so obtained constitutes the warp and woof of the Government’s case. The aggregate of the Government evidence occupies 306 pages of the printed record. More than 210 of them are filled by recitals of the details of the wire-tapping and of facts ascertained thereby.[14] There is literally no other evidence of guilt on the part of some of the defendants except that illegally obtained by these officers. As to nearly all the defendants (except those who admitted guilt), the evidence relied upon to secure a conviction consisted mainly of that which these officers had so obtained by violating the state law.

As Judge Rudkin said below: “Here we are concerned with neither eavesdroppers nor thieves. Nor are we concerned with the acts of private individuals. . . . We are concerned only with the acts of federal agents whose powers are limited and controlled by the Constitution of the United States.” The Eighteenth Amendment has not in terms empowered Congress to authorize anyone to violate the criminal laws of a State. And Congress has never purported to do so. Compare Maryland v. Soper, 270 U.S. 9. The terms of appointment of federal prohibition agents do not purport to confer upon them authority to violate any criminal law. Their superior officer, the Secretary of the Treasury, has not instructed them to commit 483*483 crime on behalf of the United States. It may be assumed that the Attorney General of the United States did not give any such instruction.[15]

When these unlawful acts were committed, they were crimes only of the officers individually. The Government was innocent, in legal contemplation; for no federal official is authorized to commit a crime on its behalf. When the Government, having full knowledge, sought, through the Department of Justice, to avail itself of the fruits of these acts in order to accomplish its own ends, it assumed moral responsibility for the officers’ crimes. Compare The Paquete Habana, 189 U.S. 453, 465; O’Reilly deCamara v. Brooke, 209 U.S. 45, 52; Dodge v. United States, 272 U.S. 530, 532; Gambino v. United States, 275 U.S. 310. And if this Court should permit the Government, by means of its officers’ crimes, to effect its purpose of punishing the defendants, there would seem to be present all the elements of a ratification. If so, the Government itself would become a lawbreaker.

Will this Court by sustaining the judgment below sanction such conduct on the part of the Executive? The governing principle has long been settled. It is that a court will not redress a wrong when he who invokes its aid has unclean hands.[16] The maxim of unclean hands comes 484*484 from courts of equity.[17] But the principle prevails also in courts of law. Its common application is in civil actions between private parties. Where the Government is the actor, the reasons for applying it are even more persuasive. Where the remedies invoked are those of the criminal law, the reasons are compelling.[18]

The door of a court is not barred because the plaintiff has committed a crime. The confirmed criminal is as much entitled to redress as his most virtuous fellow citizen; no record of crime, however long, makes one an outlaw. The court’s aid is denied only when he who seeks it has violated the law in connection with the very transaction as to which he seeks legal redress.[19] Then aid is denied despite the defendant’s wrong. It is denied in order to maintain respect for law; in order is to promote confidence in the administration of justice; in order to preserve the judicial process from contamination. The rule is one, not of action, but of inaction. It is sometimes 485*485 spoken of as a rule of substantive law. But it extends to matters of procedure as well.[20] A defense may be waived. It is waived when not pleaded. But the objection that the plaintiff comes with unclean hands will be taken by the court itself.[21] It will be taken despite the wish to the contrary of all the parties to the litigation. The court protects itself.

Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperilled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face.

MR. JUSTICE BUTLER, dissenting.

I sincerely regret that I cannot support the opinion and judgments of the Court in these cases.

486*486 The order allowing the writs of certiorari operated to limit arguments of counsel to the constitutional question. I do not participate in the controversy that has arisen here as to whether the evidence was inadmissible because the mode of obtaining it was unethical and a misdemeanor under state law. I prefer to say nothing concerning those questions because they are not within the jurisdiction taken by the order.

The Court is required to construe the provision of the Fourth Amendment that declares: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” The Fifth Amendment prevents the use of evidence obtained through searches and seizures in violation of the rights of the accused protected by the Fourth Amendment.

The single question for consideration is this: May the Government, consistently with that clause, have its officers whenever they see fit, tap wires, listen to, take down and report, the private messages and conversations transmitted by telephones?

The United States maintains that “The `wire tapping’ operations of the federal prohibition agents were not a `search and seizure’ in violation of the security of the `persons, houses, papers and effects’ of the petitioners in the constitutional sense or within the intendment of the Fourth Amendment.” The Court, adhering to and reiterating the principles laid down and applied in prior decisions[*] construing the search and seizure clause, in substance adopts the contention of the Government.

The question at issue depends upon a just appreciation of the facts.

487*487 Telephones are used generally for transmission of messages concerning official, social, business and personal affairs including communications that are private and privileged — those between physician and patient, lawyer and client, parent and child, husband and wife. The contracts between telephone companies and users contemplate the private use of the facilities employed in the service. The communications belong to the parties between whom they pass. During their transmission the exclusive use of the wire belongs to the persons served by it. Wire tapping involves interference with the wire while being used. Tapping the wires and listening in by the officers literally constituted a search for evidence. As the communications passed, they were heard and taken down.

In Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, there was no “search or seizure” within the literal or ordinary meaning of the words, nor was Boyd — if these constitutional provisions were read strictly according to the letter — compelled in a “criminal case” to be a “witness” against himself. The statute, there held unconstitutional because repugnant to the search and seizure clause, merely authorized judgment for sums claimed by the Government on account of revenue if the defendant failed to produce his books, invoices and papers. The principle of that case has been followed, developed and applied in this and many other courts. And it is in harmony with the rule of liberal construction that always has been applied to provisions of the Constitution safeguarding personal rights (Byars v. United States, 273 U.S. 28, 32), as well as to those granting governmental powers. McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 404, 406, 407, 421. Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 153, 176. Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264. Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52.

This Court has always construed the Constitution in the light of the principles upon which it was founded. 488*488 The direct operation or literal meaning of the words used do not measure the purpose or scope of its provisions. Under the principles established and applied by this Court, the Fourth Amendment safeguards against all evils that are like and equivalent to those embraced within the ordinary meaning of its words. That construction is consonant with sound reason and in full accord with the course of decisions since McCulloch v. Maryland. That is the principle directly applied in the Boyd case.

When the facts in these cases are truly estimated, a fair application of that principle decides the constitutional question in favor of the petitioners. With great deference, I think they should be given a new trial.

MR. JUSTICE STONE, dissenting.

I concur in the opinions of MR. JUSTICE HOLMES and MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS. I agree also with that of MR. JUSTICE BUTLER so far as it deals with the merits. The effect of the order granting certiorari was to limit the argument to a single question, but I do not understand that it restrains the Court from a consideration of any question which we find to be presented by the record, for, under Jud. Code, § 240(a), this Court determines a case here on certiorari “with the same power and authority, and with like effect, as if the cause had been brought [here] by unrestricted writ of error or appeal.”

[1] Otis’ Argument against Writs of Assistance. See Tudor, James Otis, p. 66; John Adams, Works, Vol. II, p. 524; Minot, Continuation of the History of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. II, p. 95.

[2] Entick v. Carrington, 19 Howell’s State Trials, 1030, 1066.

[3] In Interstate Commerce Commission v. Brimson, 154 U.S. 447, 479, the statement made in the Boyd case was repeated; and the Court quoted the statement of Mr. Justice Field in In re Pacific Railway Commission, 32 Fed. 241, 250: “Of all the rights of the citizen, few are of greater importance or more essential to his peace and happiness than the right of personal security, and that involves, not merely protection of his person from assault, but exemption of his private affairs, books, and papers, from the inspection and scrutiny of others. Without the enjoyment of this right, all others would lose half their value.” The Boyd case has been recently reaffirmed in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385, in Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298, and in Byars v. United States, 273 U.S. 28.

[4] Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298.

[5] Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383; Amos v. United States, 255 U.S. 313; Agnello v. United States, 269 U.S. 20; Byars v. United States, 273 U.S. 28.

[6] Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616; Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 70; Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385; Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298; Marron v. United States, 275 U.S. 192.

[7] Ex parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727, 733; Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 156; Gambino v. United States, 275 U.S. 310.

[8] Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383; Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385; Amos v. United States, 255 U.S. 313; Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 156; Agnello v. United States, 269 U.S. 20; Gambino v. United States, 275 U.S. 310.

[9] Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298.

[10] Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616; Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 70. See Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298; Byars v. United States, 273 U.S. 28; Marron v. United States, 275 U.S. 192.

[11] Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385. Compare Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298, 307. In Stroud v. United States, 251 U.S. 15, and Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, the letter and articles admitted were not obtained by unlawful search and seizure. They were voluntary dilosures by the defendant. Compare Smith v. United States, 2 F. (2d) 715; United States v. Lee, 274 U.S. 559.

[12] The point is thus stated by counsel for the telephone companies, who have filed a brief as amici curiae: “Criminals will not escape detection and conviction merely because evidence obtained by tapping wires of a public telephone system is inadmissible, if it should be so held; but, in any event, it is better that a few criminals escape than that the privacies of life of all the people be exposed to the agents of the government, who will act at their own discretion, the honest and the dishonest, unauthorized and unrestrained by the courts. Legislation making wire tapping a crime will not suffice if the courts nevertheless hold the evidence to be lawful.”

[13] In the following states it is a criminal offense to intercept a message sent by telegraph and/or telephone: Alabama, Code, 1923, § 5256; Arizona, Revised Statutes, 1913, Penal Code, § 692; Arkansas, Crawford & Moses Digest, 1921, § 10246; California, Deering’s Penal Code, 1927, § 640; Colorado, Compiled Laws, 1921, § 6969; Connecticut, General Statutes, 1918, § 6292; Idaho, Compiled Statutes, 1919, §§ 8574, 8586; Illinois, Revised Statutes, 1927, c. 134, § 21; Iowa, Code, 1927, § 13121; Kansas, Revised Statutes, 1923, c. 17, § 1908; Michigan, Compiled Laws, 1915, § 15403; Montana, Penal Code, 1921, § 11518; Nebraska, Compiled Statutes, 1922, § 7115; Nevada, Revised Laws, 1912, §§ 4608, 6572(18); New York, Consolidated Laws, c. 40, § 1423(6); North Dakota, Compiled Laws, 1913, § 10231; Ohio, Page’s General Code, 1926, § 13402; Oklahoma, Session Laws, 1923, c. 46; Oregon, Olson’s Laws, 1920, § 2265; South Dakota, Revised Code, 1919, § 4312; Tennessee, Shannon’s Code, 1919, §§ 1839, 1840; Utah, Compiled Laws, 1917, § 8433; Virginia, Code, 1924, § 4477(2), (3); Washington, Pierce’s Code, 1921, § 8976(18); Wisconsin, Statutes, 1927, § 348.37; Wyoming, Compiled Statutes, 1920, § 7148. Compare State v. Behringer, 19 Ariz. 502; State v. Nordskog, 76 Wash. 472.

In the following states it is a criminal offense for a company engaged in the transmission of messages by telegraph and/or telephone, or its employees, or, in many instances, persons conniving with them, to disclose or to assist in the disclosure of any message: Alabama, Code, 1923, §§ 5543, 5545; Arizona, Revised Statutes, 1913, Penal Code, §§ 621, 623, 691; Arkansas, Crawford & Moses Digest, 1921, § 10250; California, Deering’s Penal Code, 1927, §§ 619, 621, 639, 641; Colorado, Compiled Laws, 1921, §§ 6966, 6968, 6970; Connecticut, General Statutes, 1918, § 6292; Florida, Revised General Statutes, 1920, §§ 5754, 5755; Idaho, Compiled Statutes, 1919, §§ 8568, 8570; Illinois, Revised Statutes, 1927, c. 134, §§ 7, 7a; Indiana, Burns’ Revised Statutes, 1926, § 2862; Iowa, Code, 1924, § 8305; Louisiana, Acts, 1918, c. 134, p. 228; Maine, Revised Statutes, 1916, c. 60, § 24; Maryland, Bagby’s Code, 1926, § 489; Michigan, Compiled Statutes, 1915, § 15104; Minnesota, General Statutes, 1923, §§ 10423, 10424; Mississippi, Hemingway’s Code, 1927, § 1174; Missouri, Revised Statutes, 1919, § 3605; Montana, Penal Code, 1921, § 11494; Nebraska, Compiled Statutes, 1922, § 7088; Nevada, Revised Laws, 1912, §§ 4603, 4605, 4609, 4631; New Jersey, Compiled Statutes, 1910, p. 5319; New York, Consolidated Laws, c. 40, §§ 552, 553; North Carolina, Consolidated Statutes, 1919, §§ 4497, 4498, 4499; North Dakota, Compiled Laws, 1913, § 10078; Ohio, Page’s General Code, 1926, § 13388, 13419; Oklahoma, Session Laws, 1923, c. 46; Oregon, Olson’s Laws, 1920, §§ 2260, 2266; Pennsylvania, Statutes, 1920, §§ 6306, 6308, 6309; Rhode Island, General Laws, 1923, § 6104; South Dakota, Revised Code, 1919, §§ 4346, 9801; Tennessee, Shannon’s Code, 1919, §§ 1837, 1838; Utah, Compiled Laws, 1917, §§ 8403, 8405, 8434; Washington, Pierce’s Code, 1921, §§ 8982, 8983, Wisconsin, Statutes, 1927, § 348.36.

The Alaskan Penal Code, Act of March 3, 1899, c. 429, 30 Stat. 1253, 1278, provides that “if any officer, agent, operator, clerk, or employee of any telegraph company, or any other person, shall wilfully divulge to any other person than the party from whom the same was received, or to whom the same was addressed, or his agent or attorney, any message received or sent, or intended to be sent, over any telegraph line, or the contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of such message, or any part thereof,. . . the person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars or imprisonment not to exceed one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.”

The Act of October 29, 1918, c. 197, 40 Stat. 1017, provided: “That whoever during the period of governmental operation of the telephone and telegraph systems of the United States . . . shall, without authority and without the knowledge and consent of the other users thereof, except as may be necessary for operation of the service, tap any telegraph or telephone line, or wilfully interfere with the operation of such telephone and telegraph systems or with the transmission of any telephone or telegraph message, or with the delivery of any such message, or whoever being employed in any such telephone or telegraph service shall divulge the contents of any such telephone or telegraph message to any person not duly authorized to receive the same, shall be fined not exceeding $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.”

The Radio Act, February 23, 1927, c. 169, § 27, 44 Stat. 1162, 1172, provides that “no person not being authorized by the sender shall intercept any message and divulge or publish the contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of such intercepted message to any person.”

[14] The above figures relate to Case No. 493. In Nos. 532-533, the Government evidence fills 278 pages, of which 140 are recitals of the evidence obtained by wire-tapping.

[15] According to the Government’s brief, p. 41, “The Prohibition Unit of the Treasury disclaims it [wire-tapping] and the Department of Justice has frowned on it.” See also “Prohibition Enforcement,” 69th Congress, 2d Session, Senate Doc. No. 198, pp. IV, V, 13, 15, referred to Committee, January 25, 1927; also Same, Part 2.

[16] See Hannay v. Eve, 3 Cranch, 242, 247; Bank of the United States v. Owens, 2 Pet. 527, 538; Bartle v. Coleman, 4 Pet. 184, 188; Kennett v. Chambers, 14 How. 38, 52; Marshall v. Baltimore & Ohio R.R. Co., 16 How. 314, 334; Tool Co. v. Norris, 2 Wall 45, 54; The Ouachita Cotton, 6 Wall. 521, 532; Coppell v. Hall, 7 Wall. 542; Forsyth v. Woods, 11 Wall. 484, 486; Hanauer v. Doane, 12 Wall. 342, 349; Trist v. Child, 21 Wall. 441, 448; Meguire v. Corwine, 101 U.S. 108, 111; Oscanyan v. Arms Co., 103 U.S. 261; Irwin v. Williar, 110 U.S. 499, 510; Woodstock Iron Co. v. Richmond & Danville Extension Co., 129 U.S. 643; Gibbs v. Consolidated Gas Co., 130 U.S. 396, 411; Embrey v. Jemison, 131 U.S. 336, 348; West v. Camden, 135 U.S. 507, 521; McMullen v. Hoffman, 174 U.S. 639, 654; Hazelton v. Sheckells, 202 U.S. 71; Crocker v. United States, 240 U.S. 74, 78. Compare Holman v. Johnson, 1 Cowp. 341.

[17] See Creath’s Administrator v. Sims, 5 How. 192, 204; Kennett v. Chambers, 14 How. 38, 49; Randall v. Howard, 2 Black, 585, 586; Wheeler v. Sage, 1 Wall. 518, 530; Dent v. Ferguson, 132 U.S. 50, 64; Pope Manufacturing Co. v. Gormully, 144 U.S. 224, 236; Miller v. Ammon, 145 U.S. 421, 425; Hazelton v. Sheckells, 202 U.S. 71, 79. Compare International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215, 245.

[18] Compare State v. Simmons, 39 Kan. 262, 264-265; State v. Miller, 44 Mo. App. 159, 163-164; In re Robinson, 29 Neb. 135; Harris v. State, 15 Tex. App. 629, 634-635, 639.

[19] See Armstrong v. Toler, 11 Wheat. 258; Brooks v. Martin, 2 Wall. 70; Planters’ Bank v. Union Bank, 16 Wall. 483, 499-500; Houston & Texas Central R.R. Co. v. Texas, 177 U.S. 66, 99; Bothwell v. Buckbee, Mears Co., 275 U.S. 274.

[20] See Lutton v. Benin, 11 Mod. 50; Barlow v. Hall, 2 Anst. 461; Wells v. Gurney, 8 Barn. & Cress. 769; Ilsley v. Nichols, 12 Pick. 270; Carpenter v. Spooner, 2 Sandf. 717; Metcalf v. Clark, 41 Barb. 45; Williams ads. Reed, 29 N.J.L. 385; Hill v. Goodrich, 32 Conn. 588; Townsend v. Smith, 47 Wis. 623; Blandin v. Ostrander, 239 Fed. 700; Harkin v. Brundage, 276 U.S. 36, id., 604.

[21] Coppell v. Hall, 7 Wall. 542, 558; Oscanyan v. Arms Co., 103 U.S. 261, 267; Higgins v. McCrea, 116 U.S. 671, 685. Compare Evans v. Richardson, 3 Mer. 469; Norman v. Cole, 3 Esp. 253; Northwestern Salt Co. v. Electrolytic Alkali Co., [1913] 3 K.B. 422.

[*] Ex parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727. Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616. Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383. Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385. Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298. Amos v. United States, 255 U.S. 313.

 

Emails reveal judge coached district attorney on prosecuting Fannin Focus publisher

August 4th, 2016 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News Read Time: 5 mins.

Fannin Focus Publisher Mark Thomason, who was arrested…

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee dropped…

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Document: Weaver emails

Emails from Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver to District Attorney Alison Sosebee.

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. — A judge coached a prosecutor to arrest a local reporter, emails show.

Communications obtained through an open records request reveal Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver gave District Attorney Alison Sosebee advice about prosecuting the publisher of the Fannin Focus newspaper, as well as his lawyer.

Weaver sent Sosebee a state code section that could be used against the publisher, Mark Thomason, and his attorney, Russell Stookey. Weaver also told Sosebee how to cross examine some potential witnesses in the case.

The advice came after Thomason tried to see the cash flow for Weaver’s publicly funded bank account. Sosebee presented a case to a grand jury, which on June 24 indicted Thomason and Stookey on charges of identity fraud and attempt to commit identity fraud for their efforts to access documents pretaining to Weaver’s operating account. The grand jury also indicted Thomason on a count of making false statements, in reference to a records request he filed.

The emails obtained this week provide a behind-the-scenes account of how the judge and prosecutor worked together in the case against Thomason and Stookey. They also reveal the nature of the relationship between Weaver and Sosebee, who once worked for the judge and her husband.

“For the DA to take this without much of an investigation and turn it into a criminal indictment is really disturbing,” said Bob Rubin, president of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “It certainly gives the appearance that the DA was doing the judge’s bidding.”

Thomason’s indictment in late June drew national media attention. First amendment organizations condemned the charges, saying Sosebee overstepped her authority in punishing a reporter for a records request. On July 18, at Weaver’s request, a judge granted a motion to not prosecute the case.

Since then, Thomason has filed a complaint against Weaver with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the organization that oversees misconduct by Georgia judges. Weaver is the chairwoman of that organization. Also, multiple sources say, the FBI is investigating the circumstances surrounding Thomason’s and Stookey’s arrests.

Stookey and Thomason said they plan to file civil lawsuits against Weaver, as well as Fannin County.

“They’ve gotten away with doing this kind of crap for years there,” Stookey said. “There is nobody in that crowd that is smart. It is absolutely the dumbest crowd that I have seen. Maybe they’ll learn from this.”

Roots of the case

The cases against Stookey and Thomason began last summer, when they sued a court reporter. In April 2015, Superior Court Judge Roger Bradley used a racial slur for African Americans from the bench. Thomason wrote that others in the room that day claimed sheriff’s deputies had also used the racial slur, though that did not appear in the court reporter’s transcript.

Thomason and Stookey sued for an audio recording of the hearing. A judge ruled against them, saying that the transcript seemed consistent with an audio recording of the hearing that she heard. The court reporter, Rhonda Stubblefield, then sued Thomason’s newspaper, the Fannin Focus, for $1.6 million. She later dropped the complaint.

Then, the two sides fought about attorneys’ fees. Stookey and Thomason said Stubblefield’s lawyer admitted that Weaver paid for Stubblefield’s legal defense with taxpayer money. Stubblefield is not a county employee, making the lawsuit a private case.

On June 1, Thomason issued subpoenas for access to Weaver’s operating account, which is funded by taxpayers in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties. On June 13, Thomason filed a records request for checks from Pickens County to Weaver’s account. He wrote in the request that he had reason to believe the checks had been cashed illegally.

That same day, emails show, Pickens County Commission Chairman Rob Jones forwarded Thomason’s request to Weaver. Weaver then forwarded it to Sosebee, as well as a district attorney’s office investigator.

On June 17, Weaver emailed Jones and carbon copied Sosebee, multiple sheriffs, a GBI agent and commission chairmen for other counties. She said she had already requested a criminal investigation against Thomason for the records request he sent.

“The allegations that I or anyone in my office have ‘illegally cashed checks’ are absolutely false,” Weaver wrote.

The next day, she sent emails to Sosebee’s personal account. Around 10 a.m., she told Sosebee that the key to the criminal case is Thomason’s statement in the records request that the checks had been cashed illegally. She also told Sosebee to question Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss about giving copies of checks to Thomason — which Thomason then used to subpoena her operating account.

Weaver added: “Stookey needs to be questioned about how he got (a copy of) the check and his continued efforts to get more checks.”

Later that day, Weaver’s law clerk sent her an email with a state code section about the proper process for getting bank account information through a subpoena. The clerk told Weaver that the person issuing the subpoena needs to alert the owner of the bank account.

Weaver forwarded the message to Sosebee, with a note: “Stookey was required to give me notice and did not.”

Stookey denied this, telling the Times Free Press that he called Weaver’s assistant when the subpoenas had been issued. He said he left a message and didn’t hear back from Weaver.

“I find it amazing that Judge Weaver has the audacity to use her judicial authority to direct her constituents how she wants things done,” Thomason said upon learning about the emails.

Sosebee and Weaver did not return calls or emails seeking comment for this story. The two have been close for years. In 2001, after she graduated from law school, Sosebee worked as Weaver’s law clerk. A year later, she began to practice law with Weaver’s husband, George Weaver. She ran for district attorney in 2012, and George Weaver donated $1,000 to her campaign.

“She’s clearly influencing the district attorney,” Stookey said of Brenda Weaver.

In one email, Brenda Weaver wrote that she had been in contact with a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent about Thomason and Stookey’s requests for bank account information. But on Wednesday, GBI Director of Public Affairs Scott Dutton said his office declined to look into the case because FBI agents are already investigating “the entire situation.”

Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2016/aug/04/emails-reveal-close-relationship-between-judg/379467/

The Republican presidential contender identifies 11 state and federal judges, but no litigators. Marcia Coyle, The National Law Journal


Photo: andykatz/iStockphoto.com
Trump Names 11 SCOTUS Picks, Bypassing Big Law
http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202757984757/Trump-Names-11-SCOTUS-Picks-Bypassing-Big-Law?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=ALL
The Republican presidential contender identifies 11 state and federal judges, but no litigators.
Marcia Coyle, The National Law Journal
May 18, 2016

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures while speaking to the press in New York City, after his five-state super Tuesday win. April 27 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures while speaking to the press in New York City, after his five-state super Tuesday win. April 27 2016.

Presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump’s list for potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees is heavy on federal appellate judges and former clerks for conservative justices and light on big names in politics and private practice.

Trump’s list of 11 potential nominees doesn’t include several conservative judges who have been on Supreme Court watch lists in the past, including U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Janice Rogers Brown, Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton and Fifth Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen.

Trump’s list, released Wednesday, doesn’t include any nonjudges. Other names floated in the past as possible nominees for a future Republican president included former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, now a partner at Bancroft, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Also not on the list: Trump’s sister, Third Circuit Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, although that was no surprise. Trump has praised his sister as “brilliant,” but said he wouldn’t consider nominating her to the Supreme Court because of the conflict of interest. He’s also said that the two share “different views.”

Related: Texas’ Most Prolific Judicial Tweeter Makes Trump’s Shortlist

Trump’s list drew praise and criticism depending on where the commentator sits on the political spectrum.

“The [Supreme] Court needs more justices who will base their decisions on the law, not politics, even under pressure, especially since the next president is likely to determine the direction of the court for a generation,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said.

“It is also heartening to see so many Midwesterners and state court judges on the list—they would bring a valuable perspective to the bench, particularly since they have already served on a court of last resort in their own states,” she added.

Miranda Blue of People for the American Way noted: “It looks like Trump has, true to his promise, picked potential justices who would advance the conservative efforts to skew the federal courts far to the right.”

Senate Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said in statement, “Mr. Trump has laid out an impressive list of highly qualified jurists, including Judge Colloton from Iowa, who understand and respect the fundamental principle that the role of the courts is limited and subject to the Constitution and the rule of law.”

So who made the list?

Steve Colloton
Judge Steven Colloton, 53, joined the Eighth Circuit in 2003. Colloton is a former clerk to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He was appointed by President George W. Bush. He previously served with independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
Before joining the appellate court, Colloton was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa.

Allison Eid
Colorado Supreme Court justice Allison Eid is a former Clarence Thomas clerk. She took her seat on the state high court in 2006, leaving her position on the faculty of the University of Colorado Law School, where she taught constitutional law, legislation, the law of politics, first-year torts and advanced torts.
Before teaching, she also practiced commercial and appellate litigation in the Denver office of Arnold & Porter.

Thomas Hardiman
Judge Thomas Hardiman, 50, who joined the Third Circuit in 2007 just 3 1/2 years after taking his seat as a district court judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Hardiman’s ruling that a jail policy of strip searching all arrestees does not violate the Fourth Amendment was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012. In 2013, he dissented from his court’s decision upholding under the Second Amendment New Jersey’s law requiring applicants for licenses to carry handguns in public to show “justifiable need.”
“Those who drafted and ratified the Second Amendment were undoubtedly aware that the right they were establishing carried a risk of misuse, and States have considerable latitude to regulate the exercise of the right in ways that will minimize that risk,” he wrote in Drake v. Filko. “But States may not seek to reduce the danger by curtailing the right itself.”

Related: Third Circuit Judge Among Trump’s Supreme Court Picks

And he also dissented in a 2013 decision holding that a public school violated the First Amendment by banning students from wearing bracelets inscribed with “I [love] boobies” sold by a breast cancer awareness group.

Raymond Gruender
Judge Raymond Gruender, 52, became U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri in 2001 and served in that position until his confirmation to the Eighth Circuit in 2004.
Gruender has written opinions holding that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 did not give female employees the right to insurance coverage for contraceptives used solely to prevent pregnancy.
He dissented from a panel ruling that upheld an injunction striking down a South Dakota law requiring abortion providers to inform patients that an “abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” When the case was heard en banc, Gruender, writing for the full court, upheld the law as constitutional on its face.

Raymond Kethledge
Judge Raymond Kethledge, 49, sits on the Sixth Circuit and is a former clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy. He joined the appellate court in 2008 after practicing law as a corporate attorney and former counsel to Ford Motor Co.

Joan Larsen
Trump’s list also names a number of state supreme court judges.
Joan Larsen was named to the Michigan Supreme Court by Gov. Rick Snyder in September 2015. Larsen is a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia. She worked in the George W. Bush Department of Justice in 2002-2003 and then joined the University of Michigan School of Law as an adjunct professor and special counsel to the dean.
When appointed to the state court, Larsen said she would be a “strict constructionist,” explaining, “I believe in enforcing the laws as written by the Legislature and signed by the governor. I don’t think judges are a policy-making branch of the government.”
In March, at a memorial for Scalia, Larsen recalled Scalia as a “fundamentally happy man” who would sing in his chambers and whistle in the corridors of the court. Larsen remembered one time when she made a mistake citing Webster’s Third New International Dictionary in a draft opinion.
Scalia, a critic of that tome, called her out. Larsen said she had used that edition because it was in the justice’s front office. Scalia said the dictionary had been put there as a “trap laid for the unwary.”

Thomas Lee
Trump also named a judge with a well-known pedigree in Washington legal circles. Thomas Rex Lee, son of former Solicitor General Rex Lee, joined the Utah Supreme Court in July 2010.
Lee is a former Clarence Thomas clerk who specialized in trademark litigation when in private practice. He served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Division of the U.S. Justice Department from 2004 to 2005.
Lee has been called a pioneer in “corpus linguistics” to determine ordinary meaning and has applied that in an opinion. He also has argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, representing Utah in Utah v. Evans, a 2002 challenge by the state to the Census Bureau’s use of “hot-deck” imputation, a statistical method.

William Pryor
Judge William Pryor of Alabama joined the Eleventh Circuit in 2004 despite considerable controversy over his nomination. He was criticized by Senate Democrats in the 108th Congress who called him an extremist for such statements as referring to the Supreme Court as “nine octogenarian lawyers” and saying that Roe v. Wade was the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.”
President George W. Bush installed Pryor using a recess appointment to bypass the regular Senate confirmation process. He received Senate confirmation on May 23, 2005, after Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, announced an agreement between seven Republican and seven Democratic U.S. senators, the so-called Gang of 14, to ensure an up-or-down vote on Pryor and other nominees.
On the bench, Pryor specially concurred in an unanimous panel decision enjoining the secretary of Health and Human Services from enforcing the contraception insurance mandate under the Affordable Care Act against Catholic television network EWTN. That case was one of the petitions pending in the high court until the justices ruling Monday in Zubik v. Burwell.
In 2009, Pryor led a unanimous panel upholding Georgia’s photo ID law as a voting requirement.

David Stras
Another former Clarence Thomas clerk on the list is Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice David Stras, 41. Stras joined that court in 2010. He taught at the University of Minnesota Law School for six years prior to his appointment.

Diane Sykes
Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Sykes, 58, of Wisconsin, is well-known in conservative circles and has been called by some liberal groups as the most conservative judge on Trump’s list. She is a former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Her more recent opinions include supporting a voter ID law and expanding the ability of religious objectors to limit their employees’ access to contraceptive insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. She also wrote an opinion in 2011 holding that the Second Amendment prohibited Chicago’s ban on firing ranges
Sykes spoke about her clerk-hiring practices at a conference in Milwaukee in 2014. “I don’t want to be fighting with someone all year,” Sykes said about hiring a clerk whose views are different than hers. “I don’t only hire Federalist Society members” as clerks, she said, but there has to be “some general philosophical fit.”

Don Willett
Another state supreme court justice is well-known to the Twitter community and someone who has actually criticized Donald Trump. Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, 49, worked on the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign and transition team. In the White House, Willett served as special assistant to the president and director of law and policy for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
In 2003, Willett returned to Texas to become state deputy attorney general for legal counsel in the office of newly elected Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, where he served until he was appointed to the state high civil court in 2005.
Circuit judges’ financial disclosure forms

We’ve compiled below some of the recent financial disclosure forms of judges on Trump’s shortlist:

Steven Colloton of Iowa: 2014 and 2015
Raymond Gruender of Missouri: 2014 and 2015
Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania: 2014 and 2015
Raymond Kethledge of Michigan: 2014 and 2015
William Pryor of Alabama: 2014 and 2015
Diane Sykes of Wisconsin: 2014 and 2015
Zoe Tillman contributed to this report.

Information That You Really Should Consider Reading…

Fukushima Documentary 2014 HD ☢ Nuclear Exodus: Pandora’s Promise Was A Lie

Summary: Following the unprecedented triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after Japan’s 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, a myriad of far reaching questions has arisen…
What’s the current state of the Fukushima nuclear reactors? How much radiation have they already released? What type of health impacts can we expect? Is our seafood supply safe? And what about the other 435 nuclear reactors around the world, 104 in the US alone – 22 of them the same exact design as those that exploded and melted down in Fukushima, are they safe?
Yet these are not easy questions to get answers to. The mainstream media and the internet are full of conflicting viewpoints & information. For example, UN scientists have already claimed that the health impacts of Fukushima will be negligible and statistically insignificant, which is parroted in CNN’s documentary “Pandora’s Promise”. However independent scientists tell a very different story; they project on the order of a million cancers within the next few decades in Japan alone.
So how does such a massive scientific discrepancy occur?
Nuclear Exodus explores the ties that inexorably bind the nuclear power industry to the military industrial complex, and how the lust for nuclear weapons causes governments to push nuclear power on their citizens, while covering up the true health effects of radiation exposure. It delves deep into the legacy & lessons of Chernobyl, nuclear waste management, nuclear terrorism, & solar flares which could potentially trigger hundreds of nuclear meltdowns across the world – threatening life on Earth as we know it.
But can human civilization truly generate the electricity it needs without nuclear power, especially while reducing our energy dependence on fossil fuels? How far have renewable technologies come in 2014 exactly? And if some cataclysmic disaster did threaten the world, would there be anyway to realistically protect life on Earth? Could Mars actually be a feasible back up planet anytime soon?
These questions and more are explored in great depth during Nuclear Exodus: Pandora’s Promise Was A Lie. (This is version 2.2, the most current and up to date version. It’s been tightened up with some important new facts, plus enhanced audio & visuals!)
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**This documentary is for educational purposes only. Contains scenes which some viewers may find very disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised. SpaceX, SolarCity, and Tesla Motors were not involved with the production of this documentary. This documentary was produced in accordance with fair use copyright law under US legal code Title 17 Chapter 1 §107 for educational, news, & non-profit purposes in order to promote the progress of science & useful arts.**
End
Fukushima Documentary 2014 HD ☢ Nuclear Exodus: Pandora’s Promise Was A Lie; via @AGreenRoad
http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2014/06/fukushima-documentary-2014-hd-nuclear.html

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Truth About Judges and Banks, and Why Foreclosure Hell Will Stay, Written by Darwin Bond Graham Great Story

Backing Banks Over Borrowers, California Judges Often Big Stakeholders in Same Banks

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 09:59

By Darwin BondGraham, Truthout | News Analysis
DARWIN BONDGRAHAM (Darwin BondGraham is a sociologist and journalist who covers political economy. He blogs at http://darwinbondgraham.blogspot.com and for washingtonspectator.org.)

http://truth-out.org/news/item/24400-alifornia-judges-ruling-in-favor-of-banks-over-borrowers-often-own-financial-stocks-and-bonds#.U65EgJjg51o.wordpress

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Sue your bank in California over a wrongful foreclosure, and the best you’re likely to get – if you have ironclad evidence that it broke the law – is a loan modification. That is, a “win” for the borrower usually means the bank keeps another customer and collects interest payments that are thousands of basis points above the level at which the bank is able to borrow from the Fed. Very often, however, homeowner lawsuits against the banks end in dismissal. In the parlance of the courts, the defendant’s demurrer is sustained. Judges in California’s superior courts often rule in favor of the banks, and the few lawsuits that filter up to the appeals courts and Supreme Court don’t fare any better.
Why do the banks keep winning in court against borrowers alleging wrongful foreclosure, fraud and other abuses? Many borrowers and their lawyers say there’s a judicial bias favoring the banks over homeowners, and that this bias is revealed by the economic position of the judges themselves. Most California judges are wealthy, and many of them hold significant investments in financial corporations and bonds, oftentimes even in the very same banks and mortgage lenders that have been sued by thousands of Californians over alleged fraud, deception and wrongful foreclosure.
Case in point: Baldwin v. Bank of America, a borrower lawsuit alleging wrongful foreclosure that battled all the way to the steps of California’s Supreme Court. In 2007, Marvin Baldwin borrowed half a million dollars from J&R Lending to purchase a small three-unit apartment building in Long Beach, California. It was the height of the real estate bubble. Things quickly fell apart, and Baldwin ran into financial troubles.
In 2009, Bank of America, which by this point had acquired Baldwin’s loan, notified him that he qualified for a federally sponsored HomeSaver Forbearance Program, a temporary bridge toward a permanent loan modification. Baldwin assumed that this was how the taxpayer-funded bank bailouts were translating into assistance for small landlords, so he cooperated with Bank of America and made payments under the program. But late in 2010, Bank of America recorded a notice of default against Baldwin’s loan. Things looked dire.
Then in October, two months after filing the notice of default, Bank of America spun around again and appeared to be offering Baldwin a rescue plan. Bank of America announced a national moratorium on foreclosures due to the bank’s acknowledgement of “irregularities” in its own internal processes. But then Bank of America reversed course yet again. In spite of announcing a moratorium on foreclosures – a moratorium stemming from the robo-signing scandal in which it was revealed Bank of America was routinely breaking the law – Marvin Baldwin’s home was suddenly sold at auction on December 8, 2010.
He filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and fraud and sought injunctive relief to save his property. Baldwin alleged in his lawsuit that Bank of America violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, which states, among other things, that a company cannot act in ways that would be likely to deceive a reasonable customer. The foreclosure “moratorium” Bank of America announced was one such deceptive practice because the bank lulled its borrowers into inaction, but then in fact continued to foreclose on properties and sell them, argued Baldwin and his lawyer. A year later, a trial court in Los Angeles sided with Bank of America, ruling the foreclosure and auction were perfectly legal, and that the bank’s actions weren’t deceptive.
Marvin Baldwin and his lawyer Lenore Albert appealed and argued their case before California’s 2nd District Appellate Court. They lost again. The court’s reasoning waded deep into gray areas, interpreting California’s business laws, fraud laws, and real estate laws liberally in the Bank of America’s favor.
Broad Pattern of Bias Seen
Plaintiffs’ attorneys see a broad pattern in California in which the judiciary has routinely sided with the banks, even when the law could be interpreted to prevent or reverse a foreclosure.
“They don’t want to be the judge that allows 40 million mortgages to go back to the borrowers,” said Patricia Rodriguez, a lawyer who has filed homeowner lawsuits against banks and mortgage servicers in multiple California superior courts. “They don’t want to possibly set a precedent.” A single ruling against Bank of America that reverses a foreclosure sale because the bank didn’t follow the letter of the law, for example, could spill over into thousands of other cases and potentially impact the profitability of the entire banking and loan servicing industry in Calfiornia, said Rodriguez.
“It was very clear that there is one form of justice for the small borrower and another form of justice for the moneyed interests,” said Donald Adams, a retired California attorney. “It pains me to say that, but having seen the real estate debacle and the judiciary’s protection of these fraudulent practices, I have reluctantly come to that conclusion.”
As to why the banks so often come out winners, some point to the economic interests of the judges. The average superior court judge in California is paid a salary of about $150,000, but many of the judges are appointed to the bench after years of lucrative private practice where they earned many times this amount of money. Most judges worked as lawyers at large law firms and boutique offices whose clients include major corporations, real estate companies, banks, and others that can pay top dollar. By the time they become judges, most of these lawyers have amassed considerable financial wealth, and like other members of the top 1% of income earners and wealth holders, most judges invest their fortunes in stocks and bonds. And after years of working for corporate clients, many judges have also been steeped in legal and social philosophies that favor the interests of the wealthy above those of consumers and debtors.
It’s impossible to really know why California’s judges have decided so many mortgage fraud and wrongful foreclosure cases in favor of the banks. Certainly it’s a mix of factors, including ideology, but also the existing structure of the legal system that favors wealthy defendants like the banks over isolated and indebted plaintiffs; the banks can afford the best lawyers to represent them, and the biggest banks spend several billion each year lobbying the legislatures of all 50 states and the federal government to shape laws and regulations in their favor. It’s an uneven playing field from the very start. But one possible way to gauge the possibility of bias in the legal system is to look at the economic interests of California’s judges. Unlike ideology, the material interests of the judiciary can be observed and measured. Through their ownership of bonds in financial and mortgage lending companies, many judges own senior claims on debt, debt that is directly tied to the loans of homeowners. Judges also own equity stakes in corporations, the value of which hinges very much on residential mortgage loans and loan-servicing activities.
For example, 42 of California’s 105 appeals court judges own stocks or bonds in financial companies. Seventeen of California’s appeals court judges own stock in Bank of America, while 10 own stock in Citibank, 6 in US Bank, 5 in JPMorgan Chase, and 4 in Wells Fargo. These judges own significant numbers of shares, on average amounting to about $10,000, but some California appeals court judges have revealed in their financial disclosure reports that they own perhaps as much as $1 million in stock in these banks.
The implication here is that many of California’s judges have a financial stake in the profitability of the largest mortgage servicers in the state, the same banks that have been brought before the courts in thousands of cases alleging wrongful foreclosure.
For example, in the Baldwin case, one of the appeals court judges who ruled in favor of Bank of America, Steven Suzukawa, owned as much as $100,000 in Bank of America stock, according to public records. Another of the judges on the three-judge appellate panel that heard the Baldwin case, Norman Epstein, owned as much as $10,000 in Bank of America stock. This was not disclosed, according to parties involved in the case. Under California’s judicial ethics standards, a judge owning more than $1,500 in stock of a company that is party to a lawsuit should recuse themselves from the case.
Baldwin fought on after the setback in the appeals court which was decided in February of this year, petitioning the Supreme Court of California to hear the case. California’s highest court refused to consider the lawsuit, dismissing the petition on May 21.
“I am a bit shocked at the failure to review such a new issue that affects thousands,” wrote Lenore Albert, Baldwin’s counsel, in an email.
One of the Supreme Court judges who was set to decide whether or not Baldwin would be heard had to recuse himself from even making that preliminary decision. Ming Chin, appointed to the California Supreme Court by former Governor Pete Wilson in 1996, disclosed as much as $100,000 worth of stock in Bank of America. Judge Chin also owns stock in Morgan Stanley, the investment bank that sold billions in mortgage-backed securities during the real estate bubble of the 2000s.
Majority of Justices Major Stakeholders in Banks
A majority of California’s Supreme Court justices own major stakes in the banks that service the majority of mortgage loans in the state. Justice Marvin Baxter owns shares of Wells Fargo Bank and Citibank. Justice Carol Corrigan owns shares of Citigroup and part of a business called Redwood Mortgage Investors, a private investment company that owns tens of millions of dollars worth of residential mortgage loans in California. Justice Joyce Kennard owns stock in JPMorgan Chase and Citibank. Justice Kathryn Werdegar owns as much as $1 million in Wells Fargo stock. That makes five of California’s seven Supreme Court justices major investors in the mortgage lending and loan servicing industries.
“I’m so frustrated,” said one lawyer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, about decisions of California’s judges. “I have my team putting together the wall of shame for the judges, how they’re not enforcing the law.”
The state courts, many of them, were individually biased against the consumers,” said retired attorney Don Adams. “The courts were not going to let individual borrowers escape mortgage payments, and were less concerned with stopping the fraudulent and predatory activities that got us into the mess in the first place.”
In 2009, Adams sued Countrywide on behalf of a client who sought to quiet title to their home after a tangled deal of loans involving Countrywide, Citibank, and Bank of America led Countrywide to wrongfully foreclose. Countrywide admitted to foreclosing “in error,” but a trial court found in favor of the bank, forcing the borrowers to sign a new loan agreement with Countrywide. Adams and his clients appealed the decision, but then lost before a panel of three judges in California’s Second Appellate District court. One of the judges, Arthur Gilbert, owned stock in Bank of America and Citibank. Another one of the judges, Kenneth Yegan, disclosed two loans for over $1 million he had taken from Countrywide.
According to Adams, the bias of the courts in favor of the banks existed long before the foreclosure crisis. “Had courts enforced the law against the lenders, the great recession did not have to occur,” he said. “Many of us were after the New Centurys, the Ameriquests, and Countrywides well before the collapse. Even after the economy imploded, most judges did their best to protect the business interests of the predatory lenders by cynically not wanting to let the consumers ‘off the hook’ without recognizing that borrowers would still have to pay a mortgage, but the lenders would have to unwind the loans and do it again. The courts felt that was too much for the fraudsters – and accordingly protected them.”

Good Ole Supreme Court of Georgia! Quite a Bit Different Than Their Yearly Address States They Feel!

http://law.justia.com/cases/georgia/supreme-court/2014/s14a0391.html

(It did not copy across very well, but click the link to get there from here).

In the Supreme Court of Georgia
Decided: July 11, 2014
S14A0391. MITCHELL et al. v. WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A. et al.

HUNSTEIN, Justice.
Appellants Richard and Deborah Mitchell appeal from the dismissal of
their lawsuit against Appellees Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Mortgage Electronic
Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), and their successors.1 We find that the
trial court properly granted Appellees’ motion to dismiss based on a bill of
peace, which barred Appellant Richard Mitchell from filing future lawsuits
without prior court approval. Therefore, we affirm.2

In November 2005, Richard Mitchell (“Mitchell”) obtained title to
property located at 455 St. Regis Drive, Alpharetta, Georgia, and executed a
security deed in favor of MERS, who subsequently assigned the security deed
1Appellants specifically named as defendants “any unknown heirs, devisees,
grantees, creditors, successors in interest, and other unknown persons, or unknown
spouses claiming by, through and under any of the . . . named defendants.”
2Appellants filed their appeal in the Court of Appeals, which transferred this
case to this Court because a substantive issue on appeal involved the legality or
propriety of an equitable bill of peace.

to Wells Fargo as trustee. The property was foreclosed upon after Appellants
became delinquent on their mortgage payments, and Wells Fargo purchased the
property at a foreclosure sale on February 3, 2009. Since that time, Appellants
admit that they have made numerous “dilatory filings,” proceeding pro se, in
state, federal, and bankruptcy courts.

In May 2010, Mitchell filed a complaint against Wells Fargo in Fulton
County Superior Court in case number 2010-CV-185623. Wells Fargo moved
to dismiss the complaint and moved for a bill of peace pursuant to OCGA § 23-
3-110 against Mitchell as a measure to end Mitchell’s “meritless filings” in state
court. On July 21, 2011, the trial court issued an order granting Wells Fargo’s
motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction because Mitchell had not properly
served Wells Fargo. The court also granted Wells Fargo’s motion for a bill of
peace, finding that the records of Fulton County courts reflected “nothing less
than repeated and contemptuous behavior in the courts of this State” and that the
lengthy history of filings in federal court showed a pattern of behavior by
Mitchell consistent with his state filings. The court concluded that pursuant to
OCGA § 23-3-110, “a bill of peace [was] warranted, in order to stop [Mitchell’s] abuse of the courts of Georgia.”   The court permanently enjoined Mitchell from filing any pleading or complaint related to the foreclosure and eviction from the property at issue for a period of five years unless Mitchell first received written approval from the court. The court continued that if Mitchell did file such a complaint, Wells Fargo was under no duty to respond, and the complaint or any pleading would be subject to dismissal immediately.  

Mitchell moved to set aside the order granting the bill of peace, which the court denied rally during a hearing on February 19, 2013.

3OCGA § 23-3-110 provides as follows:
(a) It being the interest of this state that there shall be an end of
litigation, equity will entertain a bill of peace:
(1) To confirm some right which has been previously satisfactorily
established by more than one legal trial and is likely to be litigated
again;
(2) To avoid a multiplicity of actions by establishing a right, in favor
of or against several persons, which is likely to be the subject of legal
controversy; or
(3) In other similar cases.
(b) As ancillary to this jurisdiction, equity will grant perpetual
injunctions.
4The court also ordered Mitchell to pay Wells Fargo $4,000 in attorney fees.
5At the time of the filing of this appeal, the trial court had not issued a written
order memorializing its oral ruling denying Mitchell’s motion to set aside.
3
Meanwhile, on May 24, 2012, Appellants, proceeding pro se, filed a
complaint to quiet title and for injunctive relief with regard to the property
against Appellees in Fulton County Superior Court in case number
2012-CV-215444. Wells Fargo moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing inter
alia that Mitchell had failed to receive prior written court approval in violation
of the bill of peace. Appellants did not respond. On October 18, 2012, the court
granted Wells Fargo’s motion to dismiss based on good cause, including the fact
that Mitchell was barred from filing the complaint pursuant to the bill of peace.
Thereafter, Appellants, represented by counsel, filed a motion to reconsider the
order dismissing their complaint, a motion to set aside the dismissal order, and
an emergency motion for stay of execution of writs of possession pending a
ruling on Appellants’ previously filed motions. On November 2, 2012, the court
denied all three of Appellants’ motions.
Appellants now appeal the dismissal of their complaint, contending that
because the court dismissed Mitchell’s complaint for lack of jurisdiction over
Wells Fargo in case number 2010-CV-185623, the court had no jurisdiction over
Wells Fargo to grant them the relief sought in the bill of peace. They assert that
because the court lacked jurisdiction over Wells Fargo, the bill of peace was
4
facially void and a nullity, and they may collaterally attack this void order in this
appeal. Appellants thus assert that the trial court erred in dismissing their
complaint in case number 2012-CV-215444 by relying on a void bill of peace.
Appellees respond that the bill of peace was not void because the court had
jurisdiction over Mitchell, and therefore, that the dismissal based on the bill of
peace was not in error.
We agree with Appellees. In case number 2010-CV-185623, Wells Fargo
made a special appearance and thereby consented to the court’s jurisdiction for
the limited purpose of filing its motion for a bill of peace, while at the same time
contesting the court’s personal jurisdiction over it with respect to Mitchell’s
complaint. Additionally, the court had personal jurisdiction over Mitchell, and
Appellants do not argue to the contrary. Therefore, the trial court had
jurisdiction to issue the bill of peace, and it is not void on its face.6 See Nally
v. Bartow County Grand Jurors, 280 Ga. 790 (1) (633 SE2d 337) (2006) (order
was not void where the appellant failed to show that the court lacked personal
or subject matter jurisdiction).
6We make no ruling on the propriety of the merits of the bill of peace.
Without any order setting aside the bill of peace or a reversal thereof on
appeal, it remains binding on Mitchell. Accordingly, we find that the court’s
dismissal of Appellants’ complaint in case number 2012-CV-215444 based on
Mitchell’s failure to comply with the bill of peace was proper. See Rolleston v.
Kennedy, 277 Ga. 541, 542 (591 SE2d 834) (2004) (summary dismissal of
complaint was correct due to a previously issued bill of peace, which enjoined
the plaintiff from claiming an adverse interest in certain property or filing any
lawsuit without prior written court approval).8
Judgment affirmed. All the Justices concur.
We note that the bill of peace names only Richard Mitchell. Deborah
Mitchell, however, makes no argument that the bill of peace does not apply to her as
well. In any event, we note that an injunction – which is like an equitable bill of
peace in many respects – binds not only the persons named in the injunction, but
“their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys,” as well as “those persons
in active concert or participation with them who receive notice of the order by
personal service or otherwise.” OCGA § 9-11-65 (d).
8Appellees’ motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is hereby denied.

ANYBODY CAN FORECLOSE ON YOU IN GEORGIA!

WTF?

The Georgia Supreme Court determined back when they made the ruling on the You case, that the foreclosing entity does not have to hold the Note, does not have to hold the security deed, and does not have to have an interest in the loan.’

It should not surprise anyone, they had been allowing it to go on for a long time.  Now, I am seeing the people who were foreclosed upon between 4 and 6 years ago, are being foreclosed upon again, but this time, by someone new, a different Lender, that never existed.  One day the real Lender will come, and they too will foreclose on the borrower.

Has everything gotten so bad, that the courts just don’t care?  What ever happened to contract law?  Are they going to allow all contracts to be violated by lenders, or just when it comes to real property?

I saw someone the other day, Bank of America had allegedly foreclosed upon the man.  Bank of America not only foreclosed, but evicted  the man as well.  Bank of Americas name is on the  Deed Under Power.  Bank of America swore under Oath that they were the current party with right to foreclose.  A month and a half later, US Bank sold the property to a third party, because they claim that they were the party with rights to the property.

So lets’s get this straight, when did Bank of America turn into US Bank?  There was nothing in the record showing Bank of America had any claim to the Note or Deed, nothing showing that Bank of America is anything to the loan.  The Deed Under Power of Sale, has Bank of America’s name on  it, with some of those squiggly marks that the foreclosing attorneys have been signing for years, to create a fictional assignment.  But… US Bank be damned, they were going to get some of that action.  So without any documentation recorded anywhere, of any kind, US Bank sold the property to a third party.

Good Ole DeKalb County!

 

http://biscuette.com/2012/07/16/fake-gregory-adams-debra-deberry-fun-new-characters-in-the-tragi-comedy-of-dekalb-county-government/#comment-2552

le biscuette Has It Right, Thank You For Your Truthful Rendition of DeKalb County, Georgia!!!

Fake Gregory Adams, Debra DeBerry Fun New Characters in the Tragi-comedy of Dekalb County Government

July 16, 2012

By 

Ah, Dekalb County, what a thriving bastion of the American spirit. We’ve been blessed with such American heroes as Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who proudly took to Libyan state television to decry US involvement in the movement against brutal dictator Moammar Gaddafi; there’s former Dekalb CEO Vernon Jones, for whom Dekalb taxpayers are on the hook for upwards of five million dollars in legal fees for a reverse discrimination lawsuit; we’ve got Dekalb school superintendent Crawford Lewis, indicted for operating a “crime ring” from his post. And these are just the most visible of our trusted public servants. Beneath the crusty surface of Dekalb County’s political life–embodied by McKinney, Jones, Lewis, and the like–is a colorful cast of crooks and con artists whose power to defraud derives from their elected or appointed post.

The July 31, 2012 political primary election has brought forth at least two fun new characters. And that’s sort of exciting, isn’t it? It’s like getting a new Angry Bird, or a zany addition to the cast of the Simpsons. It’s a fun addition to what is already a colorful and hilarious mix of deviants, a new car full of clowns to delight and entertain us as they bilk our precious tax dollars, and wreck our sacred institutions, for their own corrupt ends.

Let’s turn first to Debra DeBerry, who currently sits as the Clerk of Superior Court of Dekalb County. This is basically the person in charge of administering the functions of the highest county court, where death penalties can be issued, huge civil verdicts reached, marriages dissolved–basically, all the most important and consequential events that can happen in the life of a county. How did DeBerry become the Clerk? You’d assume she was elected, right? Nope. Or appointed by the governor, something to that effect? Not exactly. Deberry became Clerk in 2011 after the long-term Clerk, Linda Carter, resigned. No big deal, right? Well…

According to lawyers representing Linda Carter, Carter didn’t write her resignation letter. It was written by–guess who?–Debra DeBerry, signed by Carter, and then delivered to the governor’s office that very day by one of DeBerry’s subordinates. At the time, Carter was suffering from an Alzheimer’s-like mental illness. The kicker: not only did the DeBerry-drafted letter announce Carter’s resignation, it also named DeBerry as Carter’s replacement. Some coverage of the scandal below:

Now, of course, DeBerry denied wrongdoing. And apparently the lawsuit was settled before trial, so we’ll never know who was “right or wrong” here. But the entire situation smells incredibly nasty, doesn’t it?

Living Lies/Neil Garfield on Georgia

http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/wake-up-georgia-courts-are-opening-the-door-on-wrongful-foreclosure/

http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/wake-up-georgia-courts-are-opening-the-door-on-wrongful-foreclosure/

Wake Up Georgia: Courts Are Opening the Door on Wrongful Foreclosure

Posted on March 15, 2013 by Neil Garfield

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE IN GEORGIA

If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 (East Coast, including Georgia – the Atlanta Area) and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services.

The selection of an attorney is an important decision and should only be made after you have interviewed licensed attorneys familiar with investment banking, securities, property law, consumer law, mortgages, foreclosures, and collection procedures. This site is dedicated to providing those services directly or indirectly through attorneys seeking guidance or assistance in representing consumers and homeowners. We are available to any lawyer seeking assistance anywhere in the country, U.S. possessions and territories. Neil Garfield is a licensed member of the Florida Bar and is qualified to appear as an expert witness or litigator in in several states including the district of Columbia. The information on this blog is general information and should NEVER be considered to be advice on one specific case. Consultation with a licensed attorney is required in this highly complex field.

Editor’s Note: For years Georgia has been considered by most attorneys to be a “red” state that, along with states like Tennessee showed no mercy on borrowers because of the prejudgment that the foreclosure mess was the fault of borrowers. For years they have ignored the now obvious truth that the defective mortgages and wrongful foreclosures do make a difference.

Now, reflecting inquiries from Courts below who are studying the the issue instead of issuing orders based upon a knee-jerk response, the State has taken a decided turn toward the application of law over presumption and bias. There is even reason to believe that the door is open a crack for past wrongful foreclosures, as the Courts grapple with the fact that thousands of foreclosures were forced through the system by strangers to the transaction and thousands of wrongful foreclosure suits have been dismissed because of the assumption by judges that no bank would lie directly to the court. It was a big lie and apparently the banks were right in thinking there was little risk to them.

Look at Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law February/ March Issue for an article on “Foreclosure Law in the Wake of Recent Decisions on Residential Mortgage Loans: The Situation in Georgia” by Ashby Kent Fox, Shea Sullivan and Amanda Wilson. Our own lawyers have out in front on these issues for a couple of years but encountering a lot of resistance — although lately they are reporting that the Courts are listening more closely.

The Georgia Supreme Court has now weighed in (Reese v Provident) and decided quite obviously that something is rotten in Georgia. Focusing on Georgia’s foreclosure notice statute but actually speaking to the substantive defects in the mortgages and foreclosures, the majority held, as a matter of law, that

o.c.G.a. § 44-14- 162.2(a), requires the person or entity conducting a non-judicial foreclosure of a residential mortgage loan to provide the borrower/debtor with a written notice of the foreclosure sale that discloses not only “the name, address, and telephone number of the individual or entity who shall have full authority to negotiate, amend, and modify all terms of the mortgage with the debtor” (the language that appears in the statute), but also the identity of the “secured creditor” (not required by the statutory language, but which the majority inferred based on legislative intent). the majority further found that the failure to identify the “secured creditor” in the foreclosure notice renders the notice, and any subsequent foreclosure sale, invalid as a matter of law.

Once again I caution litigators that this will not dispose of your case permanently and that such rulings be used strategically so that you are not another hallway lawyer explaining how you were right but the judge ruled against you anyway. Notice provisions can be cured, non-existent transactions cannot be cured. Leading with the numbers (the money trail” and THEN using decisions like this to corroborate your argument will get you a lot more traction than leading with defective paperwork.

As I have said repeatedly, no judge, no matter how sympathetic to borrowers is going to give much relief when the borrower has admitted the debt, note, mortgage and default. These must be denied and lawyers should study up on the subject as to why they can and should be denied, and to persevere through discovery to show that the note, mortgage, default and even the debt have all been faked by strangers to the transaction.

Forcing the opposing side to show that they are a bona fide holder FOR VALUE will flush out the truth — that originator in nearly all cases was never the lender, creditor or even broker. They were simply paid naked nominees just like MERS, leaving no real party in interest on the note or mortgage, no consideration between the parties stated on the note and mortgage or notice of default, and no meeting of minds between the real lender (who is NOT in privity with the nominee lender) who, as an investor received a prospectus and Pooling and Servicing Agreement and advanced money under the mistaken belief they were buying bonds of an entity that either did not exist or was simply ignored by the investment banker and the other participants in the false securitization scheme that was used to cover-up a PONZI scheme.

Practice tips: DENY and DISCOVER. Ask for proof of payment and proof of loss. The assignments, the note and the mortgage are not proof of the debt, they are potentially evidence of the debt and the security agreement ONLY if the foundation is there (testimony by witness with personal knowledge, with exhibits of wire transfer receipts and wire transfer instructions, cancelled checks etc.) to show that the originator shown as payee and “Secured party” or “beneficiary” was lender of money.

Make them show that they booked the loan as a receivable with a reserve for default. Discover that they actually booked the transaction as a fee for service (shown on the income statement) and never entered it on their balance sheet.

And PLEASE study up on voir dire, objections and cross examination. If you are not quick and ready objections to leading questions and other issues might well be waived unless you interrupt the questioning as fast as you can stand up. If you study up on hearsay and the business records exception to hearsay you will discover that in practically no case were the business records qualified as exceptions to the hearsay rule. But if you don’t raise it, if you don’t have statutory and case law and even a memo on the subject the judge is going to rule against you. We are talking about good lawyering here and not bias amongst judges.