CONVERSATING ABOUT WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND!
Federal judges throughout Michigan and around the country have been increasingly slamming the doors to prisoners and citizens access to the courts. As appointed lifetime members of the bench, Federal Judges are supposed to be gatekeepers of the Constitution. Instead of allowing prisoners and citizens access through the courthouse doors for redress of a variety of civil rights issues, judges are shutting the gates and locking the doors of justice in staggering numbers It appears the courts are devoting most of their judicial resources to hearing immigration, terrorism and corporate cases.
When President Obama was campaigning for the presidency one of the many promises he made was to reform the Habeas Corpus laws. This has not been done and federal courts are increasingly violating the true spirit of the Constitutional protection as underscored by defiling the great writ. Because federal judges are lifetime appointees and are a law among themselves to which only the president can remove, prisoners and citizens alike have no legal recourse to curtail this sweeping judicial activism throughout the country.
Under the Federal Habeas Rule 4, when a prisoner files a habeas petition, a Federal Judge conducts an initial screening procedure to determine whether or not it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner (prisoner) is not entitled to relief. The Courts have forms that are available, but not mandatory, to present to the court. Many prisoners use these forms while others choose to present a typed petition which provides the basic information requested in the forms. The general rule is that dismissal in advance of the state’s answer is not the preferred course of action, and many federal courts have held – based on fairness and efficiency, that district courts only rarely should dismiss petitions for no jurisdictional reasons before hearing from state.
Under current practice of many federal district judges however, petitions are being dismissed with prejudice at alarming rates. This means that a prisoner cannot re-file and have issues heard at a later time even if no previous habeas petition was ever filed Judges are also refusing to grant a certificate of appeal ability which essentially throws up another barrier for a prisoner to seek appellate review of an erroneous decision by the district judge or legality of the state court or administrative decision. This practice is clearly unconstitutional in and of itself and perverts justice because it operates to bar federal review from arbitrary and capricious governmental conduct. Lest we forget how our forefathers struggled to free themselves from an oppressive, arbitrary, capricious and many cases, cruel rulership of the King of England whose citizens were at the mercy of without any opportunity for appeal, we should take notice that our freedoms are slowly being stripped away. In the absence of a “check” and “balance” system which was designed for this very reason, government official decisions are becoming more and more unchallengeable.
To illustrate how significant it is for citizens to have full access to the courts for redress of legitimate grievances and complaints against government conduct, we only need to look at how our newly elected Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has made efforts to undermine Michigan citizens popular vote approving medical marijuana As one East Lansing resident ask in an article of the Lansing State Journal, December 11, 2011, under, “Letters to the Editor”, “Why does the Attorney General Bill Schuette feel that his personal agenda outranks the populace of Michigan”? “Why does he insist that what was freely chosen by the citizens of Michigan should be ignored”? “Did I miss the day we all rescinded our vote that favored legalizing medical marijuana”? Or the day someone appointed our AG Dictator extraordinaire”? “And are we going to blithely ignore his assumption of the authority over the votes of our citizens”?
It is equally as import to have the opportunity for redress as it is to enter the courthouse doors. To have the court dismiss a petition or suit, without being heard on the merits, is nothing more than a meaningless ritual and hollow promise that the constitution guarantees. When Federal Judges as gatekeepers of the constitution use questionable reasons and excuses to dismiss habeas petitions with prejudice and bar review of those decisions, it’s time to stand up and take notice that something is seriously wrong with our system of justice. The NoFrillNews-Second Opinion would like to know your thoughts and feelings on this and welcome any input and suggestions of what we as a whole, can do to ensure Federal Judges are more accountable in their actions. This includes, but not limited to, any volunteers in the community who are interested in joining the NoFrillNews-Second Opinion in an effort to lobby against corrupt judges, prosecutors or other government officials whose conduct has overstepped their authority.
As the United States Supreme Court held at the turn of 19th century in Getting v Kansas City Stock Yards Co„, 183 ‘US 79, 84 (1901), “This is a government of laws and not of men, and there is no arbitrary power located in any individual or body of individuals”. Not one judge or appointed self-serving judges should be given free reign to impose their will and beliefs outside constitutional law.
@James Howard 2012
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