Viewpoint: Justice system both sadistic and silly

Viewpoint: Justice system both sadistic and silly

By Joe Baker

Justice system both sadistic and silly

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

Many of us are aware of the muddled mess our judicial system has become. Some recent cases point up just how absurd and corrupt it is.

A good example of corruption is a case in Cambridge, Mass. There a supreme court justice will hear a father’s petition to intervene in the case. The father was separated from his son as the result of a custody battle. They have been apart for six years without any evidentiary hearing ever taking place.

The father’s attorney commented: “There is ample evidence that insiders in the Middlesex Probate and Family Court have removed documents from his case file, falsified the case docket, refused to docket motions and hearings in the public record and withheld the public file for nine months.

“In addition, the court granted many restraining orders against the father without any legal grounds to do so and sometimes without any testimony from the complainant. All these things are illegal and mock justice. If a court can engage in this kind of behavior and get away with it, can anyone with a case in the Commonwealth believe he will get fair and impartial justice?” said the attorney.

A judge in the case ruled that some of the hearing tapes have been destroyed, even though the law forbids their destruction if any matter is pending or subject to appeal. Some of the destroyed tapes were those which were most altered.

The father alleges that a prominent domestic violence expert, named David Douglas, who conducts classes in domestic violence for the courts, is behind all the irregularities. Douglas became involved with the father’s ex-wife in 1989. The father divorced the woman in 1996 after a two-year custody fight. He was awarded joint custody of his son.

Several documents favorable to the father have disappeared from court files. One of these reports reportedly turned up in Douglas’ home with a portion changed. It later was “found” by the father’s ex-wife and docketed into the father’s court file.

Still worse, the father said that in July 1996 he was dragged from his car and beaten by two men who appeared to be police officers.

The father said he was threatened and told

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to stay away from court if he wanted to see his son again. Police could find no report of the incident.

The man’s son also was adversely affected, to the point where he requested placement in a state-operated facility. He said Douglas and his wife were verbally and emotionally abusive to him.

If this kind of thing is happening elsewhere, how likely is it that it is happening here? It can’t happen without complicity of the judges, however. Now for some on the silly side.

John Thoburn owns a golf driving range in Fairfax, Virginia. He has spent more than 45 days in Fairfax County Jail for contempt of court. And what dastardly deed did he perform? Why, he had the gall to plant shrubs on his golf range instead of trees. Worse, he not only planted shrubs and the wrong number of them, but he planted them in the wrong place!

The people involved in Thoburn’s jail stay are the county zoning administrator, the county attorney and a circuit judge. The county and Thoburn have been locked in a nine-year struggle over the conditions under which he could operate his driving range. The county imposed 25 such conditions.

Thoburn already had spent $125,000 installing more than 700 trees demanded by the county, plus landscaping and building berms. But he refused to spend another $30,000 to move some misplaced trees. So now he’s in jail until he sees things the county’s way.

The ridiculous thing is the county plans to build an interchange for the adjacent Dulles Toll Road in a few months and probably will bulldoze a good many of those same trees. There’s one more thing. Of course, it has nothing to do with the enforcement action. Two years ago, the county opened its own golf complex not far from Thoburn’s range. Did the county put in hundreds of trees, build berms and bar putting greens and miniature golf? Are you kidding?

Out in California in 1999, a guy named John Zentner noticed some frogs near a building site where he was working. Zentner thought he would move the little rascals to keep them safe. Big mistake! The frog police were soon on the scene.

It seems moving these red-necked, er, red-legged frogs and tadpoles—there were about 60 frogs—is a federal felony. No kidding! The frogs were classed as an endangered species, so you dare not mess with them in any way.

The U.S. Department of Frogs, I mean Justice, said Zentner deserved a 10-day jail term because moving frogs is serious business. Besides, he didn’t have a frog wrangler’s license. A local judge decided to go easy on Zentner. He only fined Zentner’s company $65,000 for the offense, plus a $10,000 personal fine for Zentner and 200 hours of community service.

“Any law that could put people in jail for gently moving some frogs is a load of bull…frogs,” said George Getz, press secretary of the Libertarian Party. “There’s no way you can kiss this frog of a law and turn it into a prince.”

Some other goofy laws: The feds declared the Delhi Sands Fly endangered. San Bernardino, Calif. had to spend $10 million to build a 10-acre fly preserve. In 1999, the feds demanded another 2,200 acres be reserved for the flies—the land is worth more than $200 million.

In Riverside, Calif., 77,000 acres were earmarked as a rat preserve to protect the kangaroo rat. Homeowners were told they’d be fined $100,000 if they cleared brush on their properties…habitat, don’t ya know. In 1993, the brush caught fire, and dozens of houses burned to the ground. The rats, apparently, made out just fine.

Down in Texas, the Fish and Wildlife Service told a 75-year-old woman she couldn’t develop her property because the golden-cheeked warbler might light on it one day. No matter the bird had never been seen there, just the possibility it might show up was enough to invoke the federal muscle. Her land was ruled “suitable habitat.” The result: The value of her property dropped 95 percent.

Here’s the capper, again from the edge of the country. They’re considering a new law in the Golden State. It was proposed by state Sen. Jack O’Connell. This deep-thinker noted there were many stray and abandoned cats and dogs and that these animals were costing the state a bundle annually.

So he proposed to make it illegal to own a cat or dog more than four months old unless you carry out his brilliant idea of having a microchip implanted in the animal. That way, if the animal wanders off, anyone who found it could use the chip to learn the owner’s name and address and other data.

“It will save money and help lost pets be reunited with their loving owners,” O’Connell said.

I’ve got an idea for this genius. Let’s equip him with a strategically placed corncob, well-soaked with turpentine. He’ll be able to climb any tree and catch any cat that’s out there. While we’re at it, there’s lots of missing kids every year. Why not put a microchip in the forehead of every kid between eight months and 17 years. Sounds good to me.

The sad thing is that our judges support and enforce this idiocy.

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