Why Jury Trials are Important to a Democratic Society
1. The American jury trial is a constitutional right. The founding fathers believed that the right to be tried by a jury of your peers was so important that it merited inclusion in the highest law of the land. Amendments 6 and 7 of the Bill of Rights contain this right:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
2. The jury trial is a vital part of America’s system of checks and balances.
“Checks and balances” means that the judicial branch of government is equal to the other two branches (executive and legislative) and the courts can overturn laws or acts of government that violate constitutional rights. Our system of checks and balances requires a strong judicial branch. A strong judicial branch requires a healthy jury trial option. Jury service is your chance to have a voice in the judicial branch of government.
3. The founding fathers included jury trials in the constitution because jury trials prevent tyranny.
The definition of tyranny is oppressive power exerted by the government. Tyranny also exists when absolute power is vested in a single ruler. Jury trials are the opposite of tyranny because the citizens on the jury are given the absolute power to make the final decision.
HERE’S THE PROBLEM
And yet with all of our constitutional protections, a Judge, alone or in concert with other parties can move to deny the jury the opportunity to hear your case OR FACTS YOU CONSIDER MATERIAL. The justification for this behavior is in itself a balancing act of not presenting to the jury actions or claims not supported by law, to maintain judicial efficiency and to make court time and jury time to those most deserving. This is a key role in our judicial system, is abused by Judges and otherwise not always done well. Our constitutional protections are compromised here.
Yesterday, the Oregon State Bar and Professional Liability Fund were successful in dismissing my defamation and other claims against Linda Marshall. Joel Christiansen and the Bar. The Bar maintained that they cannot be sued for refusing or failing to disbar attorneys engaged in unethical or criminal behavior. The Judge agreed. The problem with this agreement is that only some of the claims were associated with any connection to the Bar’s refusal to keep their members under control.
I want to acknowledge that I asked for a hearing reconsidering the matter because the temporary Judge, Skip Winters, is a partner in a law firm that represent the professional liability fund. And for some inexplicable reason the PLF is paying the legal fees of Marshall and Christiansen. Therefore, when the PLF prevails in a motion to dismiss they cut their costs of representation, potentially savings hundreds of thousands of dollars. To suggest that the Bar and PLF do not benefit from an insider, a business partner really, deciding the matter is of course ridiculous and something that a first grader would understand. To the court’s credit we were granted our motion for reconsideration. I was admittedly surprised when the Bar, the PLF and the Judge stated that technically there was no conflict. Skip Winters firm arguably bills $500,000 a year to the PLF. The PLF is owned by the Bar. The Bar and PLF are at risk. I cannot agree that even in a technical sense there was no conflict. Yikes.
Ultimately the Judge did not understand the Anti-Slapp laws and counsel for M&C, the PLF, took advantage of that. There is no mistaking the bias given to attorneys before a judge and Pro se litigant like myself. I am often surprises that attorneys cannot draw a line between advocacy and lying, but they can’t it seems.
In order to dismiss my case against M&C, the Judge weighed the evidence I have at this point. That was a logical thing to do but he applied a standard too strict for this motion to dismiss by the PLF since no discovery has permitted as yet. Recall that M&C were upset about this blog and that a few chapters presented one of my former employees in a less than favorable light. More importantly though it presented the evidence and what appears to be stalking and interference by a U.S. Senior Court Judge. And so the action taken by C&M were to disparage and discredit me. But they went too far.
The evidence I have today is that M&C contacted the deputy clerk of Robert E. Jones. Christiansen admitted that in a declaration provided in another court matter and Marshall admitted that in her response to my Bar complaint. They did not name the deputy clerk. It is undisputed that the Clerk took the information they provided and called the U.S. Marshal’s service, who then called my attorney and called me. The calls from the U.S. Marshal’s service was to determine if I was coming to down to Judge Jones’s life-time achievement award dinner and intended to cause him harm. I assured them that I was not. My attorney assured them I was not. Nonetheless, a blog post wishing the Judge well was used by C&M to defame me and to call upon Judge Jones to help them with their litigation before a different Judge.
Let me restate the key point here. C&M contacted the Judge Deputy, who they refused to name. We don’t know what was said. We do know law enforcement was called in to ensure the safety of the Judge. And…wait for it…I was put on a watch list so that every time I go into the Federal Courthouse, a public building, I am detained and asked what I’m doing there.
There are two logical conclusions that can be drawn from C&M’s contact. The first is that the deputy that as a result of the call she feared from the safety of Judge Jones. The second, is that this was not the first time they did this, either in this litigation or in the arbitration.
I would have been happy to provide more evidence at this stage, but it was unnecessary. I am entitled to inferences and conclusions favorable to my position because no discovery has been done. I did reach out to the deputy to see if I could get her statement on the call, but she refused to return my calls and emails. Moreover, the U.S. Marshal’s service called and told me to not reach out to them again. Thus I would conclude that the politics of litigation is alive and well or that the deputy is absolutely fearful of contact. Strike one for C&M, the PLF, the Bar. They accomplished the discrediting, which could not have been done without the defamation.
Marshall reached out to Judge Jones during the arbitration and encouraged the arbitrator to do so. My impression then was that action by Marshall would incense Judge Jones, that he would not want to be drawn into this passive aggressive middle school game and would be offended by the suggestion that he would. That’s the position I would have expected. And I am still waiting to see it.
For the record. Judge Jones handled a trial involving my company. We lost. But the Judge ran the trial very well and for the most parts have no complaints. I think the instructions to the jury foreclosed our counterclaims for damage the employee caused. That’s all. After the trial the Judge became an advocate to assist the other party to collect the judgment. At the same time I received an anonymous note that the former employee (also with the last name Jones) was an extended family member. In context the post trial advocacy makes no sense absent the family relationship. Once the potential family issue was raised, I took action and asked Judge Jones to recuse himself. He did, but angrily. A short time thereafter we paid the judgment. This was a jury trial. The jury decided and we complied.
When attorneys consistently reach out to Judges not otherwise involved in the litigation and attempt through that action to pursue back door influence, I’m given no choice but to interpret their behavior. If Judge Jones has been stalking me for years, contacting other Judges and exercising influence, shame on him. I doubt it is true. I doubt he would do that. But M&C believe it and reach out so I complain about it. And write about it.
I will interpret the granting of the motion to dismiss by Clackamas County Judges as an endorsement of Judge Jones and his son Judge Jones. I get it. But the further up the appeal chain this goes the greater the exposure. I am not afraid of that exposure. I do not appreciate being put on the watch list. I have done nothing wrong but talk about these issues. Perhaps that’s the price of free speech. And free speech must apply to comments on judicial decisions and judicial activity.
Until next time.