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You be the judge (Justice Denied? You Decide.)


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This story has several turns that are of interest. The parties in this story are irrelevant to the story. You are being asked to judge the judges. Let's start here...

 

You are a judge that owns a rental property. Your tenant asks you to provide her with a protective order against her ex boyfriend/husband. Is it appropriate to oblige her request? What do you do?

Edited by Domestic Violence by Proxy
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I would recuse myself and hand it off to a different judge.

I'm not sure but according to court documents filed by Attorney Parisa Naderi Herrin, it appears Paulding County Judge, Kenneth G. Vinson disagrees with you. See page 2 of this file.

 

In my opinion, it appears the mother and father had a race to the courthouse to be first to get a protective order against the other. The mother went to Judge Kenneth G. Vinson, according to Ms. Herrin, the mother's landlord. The the father, through his attorney, Parisa Naderi Herrin, went to Chief Judge Tonny S. Beavers. Ms. Herrin must be a good attorney because I've yet to find a case that she has lost in Chief Judge Beavers' court though admittedly I'm still auditing cases.

 

I've redacted the parties names because their conduct and claims against each other isn't exactly what is troubling here. To be cont'd

 

So if a judge fails to recuse himself in this instance what should be done about it? Doesn't the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct require the supervising judge to take action and notify the JQC? Was that done?

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What's the law and common practice in these cases? On the one hand, recusing oneself seems obvious. But, on the other hand, being judge means being able to separate personal opinions from a factual and logical evaluation of the facts of the case and the law and its implementation.

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This story has several turns that are of interest. The parties in this story are irrelevant to the story. You are being asked to judge the judges. Let's start here...

 

You are a judge that owns a rental property. Your tenant asks you to provide her with a protective order against her ex boyfriend/husband. Is it appropriate to oblige her request? What do you do?

Recuse yourself and send it to a different judge.

Edited by momof 3
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The idea that a renter might subsequently withhold rents - violate their contract - or that a judge might increase rents as form of compensation for consideration in legal actions - are all among the reasons that the landlord-lessee relationship is fraught with potential conflicts of interest.

 

This is not to say that this judge in this situation acted in any improper way but that the situation is one that raises the appearance of a conflict of interest.

 

Those in public office are cautioned to avoid actions that give the appearance of a conflict whether one exists or not. Indeed, avoiding the appearance of a conflict of interest is always the best way and the recommended way.

 

pubby

 

PS: This appearance of a conflict of interest is central to the DA - indictment issue over police because the DA depends on cooperation and good relations with the police to do his/her job. Because of the importance of the relationship between the police and the DA, district attorneys are loathe to call for, indict and prosecute police.

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What's the law and common practice in these cases? On the one hand, recusing oneself seems obvious. But, on the other hand, being judge means being able to separate personal opinions from a factual and logical evaluation of the facts of the case and the law and its implementation.

 

I think to avoid the appearance of impropriety, a judge should recuse himself. There are more than a handful of cases where judges actions are questionable and troubling. This case includes questionable actions by both judges. Inlight of all of the JQC investigations involving the third county judge, Osborne, I would think both Judge Beavers and Judge Vinson would find it in their best interest and that of the court not to draw attention to themselves. More to come...

 

Georgia Judicial Code of Conduct

 

Canon 2

 

B. Judges shall not allow their family, social, political or other relationships to influence their

judicial conduct or judgment. Judges shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the

private interests of the judge or others; nor should they convey or permit others to convey the

impression that they are in a special position to influence them. Judges should not testify

voluntarily as a character witness.

Commentary: Maintaining the prestige of judicial office is essential to a system of government in

which the judiciary functions independently of the executive and legislative branches. Respect

for the judicial office facilitates the orderly conduct of legitimate judicial functions. Judges

should distinguish between proper and improper use of the prestige of office in all of their

activities. For example, it would be improper for a judge to allude to his or her judgeship to gain

a personal advantage such as deferential treatment when stopped by a police officer for a traffic

offense. Similarly, judicial letterhead must not be used for conducting a judge's personal

business.

A judge must avoid lending the prestige of judicial office for the advancement of the private

interests of others. For example, a judge must not use the judge's position to gain advantage in a

civil suit involving a member of the judge's family. In contracts for publication of a judge's

writings, a judge should retain control over the advertising to avoid exploitation of the judge's

office. As to the acceptance of awards, see Section 4D(5)(a) and Commentary.

Although a judge should be sensitive to possible abuse of the prestige of office, a judge may,

based on the judge's personal knowledge, serve as a reference or provide a letter of

recommendation. However, a judge must not initiate the communication of information to a

sentencing judge or probation or corrections officer, but may provide to such person information

for the record in response to a formal request...

 

Edited by Domestic Violence by Proxy
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The case is a mess which I think is one of the reasons it wasn't chosen. Try to remember the focus is on the judges' performance not the parties.

In fairness to the mother the other document filings (redacted to protect identities) should be made available. According to the mother's documents, Judge Beavers turned over custody of the children to their father. Also according to the mother's documents, the father has had legal problems. Judge Beavers often appears extremely hesitant if not completely reluctant to award fathers custody, in my opinion. But this father won custody.

 

Keeping score, the mother got her landlord, Judge Vinson, to issue a "troubling" protective order.

 

The father through counsel, Parisa Naderi Herrin (who rarely if ever loses in Judge Beavers' court), got a protective order against the stepdad and mother.

 

The father's documents claim the mother is abusive but she had custody for years?

 

The mother's documents claim the father is a felon, but the father got Judge Vinson's "troubling" protective order overturned and gained custody through Judge Beavers Order? A judge who rarely awards custody to fathers?

I don't know if scapegoating of any of the parties is involved but it is common that protective orders are a tactical maneuver in custody and divorce.

DOMESTIC RESTRAINING ORDERS
In short, the burden of proof rests not on the complainant, but on the respondent to prove that the order should not be extended for a full year.
Concerns about widespread due process violations have been voiced in legal circles for at least 25 years.7

Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, admitted, “Everyone knows that restraining orders and orders to vacate are granted to virtually all who apply…In many cases, allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage.”8

In Connecticut, attorney Arnold Rutkin charged that many judges view temporary restraining orders as a “rubber-stamping exercise” and that subsequent hearings “are usually a sham.”9

In Missouri, a survey of judges and attorneys yielded many complaints of disregard for due process and noted that allegations of domestic violence were widely used as a “litigation strategy.” 10

In Illinois, an article in the state legal journal described legal allegations of abuse as “part of the gamesmanship of divorce.”11

In California, the State Bar admits it is concerned that protective orders are “almost routinely issued by the court in family law proceedings even when there is relatively meager evidence and usually without notice to the restrained person … it is troubling that they appear to be sought more and more frequently for retaliation and litigation purposes.”12
http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/VAWA-Restraining-Orders

 

Edited by Domestic Violence by Proxy
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The idea that a renter might subsequently withhold rents - violate their contract - or that a judge might increase rents as form of compensation for consideration in legal actions - are all among the reasons that the landlord-lessee relationship is fraught with potential conflicts of interest.

 

This is not to say that this judge in this situation acted in any improper way but that the situation is one that raises the appearance of a conflict of interest.

 

Those in public office are cautioned to avoid actions that give the appearance of a conflict whether one exists or not. Indeed, avoiding the appearance of a conflict of interest is always the best way and the recommended way.

 

pubby

 

PS: This appearance of a conflict of interest is central to the DA - indictment issue over police because the DA depends on cooperation and good relations with the police to do his/her job. Because of the importance of the relationship between the police and the DA, district attorneys are loathe to call for, indict and prosecute police.

 

Any public official that requires such notice of caution has no business holding public office. It's just that simple. You are held to a higher standard than the average citizen.

 

Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct

 

Canon 2A

Commentary: Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct

of judges. Judges must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. Judges must expect

to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. Judges must therefore accept restrictions on their

conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen, and they should do so

freely and willingly.

 

The prohibition against behaving with impropriety or the appearance of impropriety applies to

both the professional and personal conduct of a judge. Because it is not practicable to list all

prohibited acts, the proscription is necessarily cast in general terms that extend to conduct by

judges that is harmful although not specifically mentioned in the Code. Actual improprieties

under this standard include violations of law, court rules, or other specific provisions of this

Code. The test for appearance of impropriety is whether the conduct would create in reasonable

minds a perception that the judge's ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity,

impartiality and competence is impaired.

 

Edited by Domestic Violence by Proxy
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Another troubling thing about this case to me is the mother has been obstructed from "visiting" with the eldest child but it appears in these documents no therapy has been ordered by Judge Beavers. Is that because it will be determined at a future date? If so, is that pay to play law? She has to hire a lawyer to fight to see her son? Does she have to hire a therapist? Can she afford it? Is that in the best interests of the child? Is that family values? So many questions left unanswered but the mother is powerless to answer them because of the effective gag order put in place by Judge Beavers.

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Any public official that requires such notice of caution has no business holding public office. It's just that simple. You are held to a higher standard than the average citizen.

 

 

I didn't mean to imply that there is formal process of providing notice. I simply happened to have read about 15 years ago one of the training pieces that former Post commissioner Mike Pope had in hand that told all newly elected commissioners that not only should they avoid conflicts of interest, but even the mere appearance of a conflict. Certainly if that advice is good for a county commissioner, it is good for a judge. You're posting of the ethical standards is just the specific acknowledgment.

 

pubby

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I didn't mean to imply that there is formal process of providing notice. I simply happened to have read about 15 years ago one of the training pieces that former Post commissioner Mike Pope had in hand that told all newly elected commissioners that not only should they avoid conflicts of interest, but even the mere appearance of a conflict. Certainly if that advice is good for a county commissioner, it is good for a judge. You're posting of the ethical standards is just the specific acknowledgment.

 

pubby

 

The amazing thing to me is everyone believes in gov't transparency unless it's them. A particular Roy Barnes judicial appointment cautioned me to basically shut up (and presumably not put public record information in the public domain for scrutiny by the court of public opinion). This happened not long after he expressed his disapproval of the President of the United States from the bench. The way I see it, if you're doing the right thing it makes you look good and you have nothing to worry about. Therefore there is no reason to try to intimidate anyone from the bench.

Edited by Domestic Violence by Proxy
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