Olympia, WA (6-8-14) — Washington residents think the State’s justice system really blows. It has gotten so bad an overwhelming majority of the public feel it’s intrinsically unfair. Though most judges have never met a cop they didn’t like or a pro se litigant they do, there’s an uneasy epiphany in the State’s high court about the low esteem in which citizens hold our court system–a virtual cesspool of corruption, incompetence, and routinely turning a blind eye to perjury by public officials. If Benjamin Franklin’s concerns have come to pass, we have entered the land of oppression and gilded miscarriages of justice. (“When the people are afraid of the government, that’s tyranny. When the government is afraid of the people, that’s liberty!” -B. Franklin-)
Today, our courts have become mere extensions of a police state, a tool for state sponsored terrorism and oppression. But, not to worry, a meeting has been called to TALK about it. After all, the same justices set on sucking up to a system designed to threaten/intimidate the masses into submission will do the right thing, once they’ve been enlightened?–umm, Right!
Actually, even the U.S. Supreme Court, normally exceedingly deferential to the lower courts has said Washington’s suck–big time. (In Troxel v. Granville, calling the State’s predilections in custody disputes “…breathtaking in scope”!) Richard Fellows, the director of Media Island in Olympia and a father who was caught up in a custody/visitation dispute had a Minnesota judge opine (again, uncharacteristically berating another court) Washington’s court system appeared to be all about the money rather than the child’s best interests. Yeah, you heard that right. Even other courts think ours suck! In a conglomeration of mutual backscratching, this kind of castigation among sister courts is highly unusual. Space does not allow for the exceedingly long litany of examples.
You can throw in your 2 cents or just come for a dark comedy if you can make it to DSHS headquarters in Olympia this Monday (tomorrow) morning @ 8:30 am – noon. Cynthia DeLosTrinos (email@example.com) would like folks to ‘register’, so drop her a line or risk getting in without. The Law & Order (e.g. Agnew) crowd would like guns and public events attendees registered because both are equally dangerous. Whether the fear factor indicates we’re already free is anyone’s guess. Feel free to come.
Location: DSHS Headquarters Bldg @ 1115 Washington St, Olympia, WA.
Internet survey: Public says Justice System Unfair
by Brad Shannon
A public opinion survey done for Washington courts shows a sharp racial divide in public views of how fair the justice system is in the Evergreen State.
The report, which used an Internet-based survey of 1,500 residents in 2012, was done for the state Supreme Court’s Minority and Justice Commission and is scheduled for a public presentation and discussion Monday in Olympia.
Among the findings, the report shows more than 40 percent of the public does not think the justice system treats people “fairly and equally.” More than 65 percent of all respondents thought a black person would be more likely to be convicted of a crime he or she did not commit than a white person charged with the identical crime.
While just 11 percent of whites reported disrespectful treatment by police on at least one occasion, the figures show up to 62 percent of African-Americans reported a negative experience.
The survey also found Latinos report more “contentious contacts” with police and the courts than whites, but “somewhat fewer” than do blacks, while experiences of Asian-Americans are comparable to those of whites.
The sample was weighted to increase its match to the state’s population, according to the report. Researchers said group differences were noted only when the odds of them occurring by chance were less than 1 in 20.
“The report provides an excellent opportunity for us to continue our work toward enhancing confidence in our courts,” newly appointed state Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu, who is co-chairwoman of the Minority & Justice Commission with Justice Charles Johnson, said in a statement. “We look forward to working collaboratively with all of the other entities in our criminal justice system on improving the delivery of justice and addressing these findings on how the wider community experiences us.”
Monday’s session, which includes a forum with questions, runs from 8:30 a.m.-noon at the Department of Social and Health Services headquarters building, 1115 Washington St., Olympia. Attendees are asked to register by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“My guess is that it will be a lively conversation,’’ said Ed Prince, director of the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs, who was helping to organize the forum. “My hope is that a larger conversation about this gets started. The data don’t tell me anything I didn’t already know as far as perception.’’
Prince said he thinks the involvement of the high court can make a difference in broadening the discussion. The commission plans to report its findings to the nine-member state Supreme Court.
Uriel Iniguez, director of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs and a member of the justice commission, offered a similar assessment.
“To me this is nothing new. But how do we mainstream this issue so people are aware of it and what’s going on? We sometimes tend to isolate it, segregate it — (we say) it’s not my problem,” Iniquez said.
Iniquez said that getting people to acknowledge what the public perceptions are may lead to a better conversation and eventual changes in the system.
“These discussions are not easy — at times they bring out some hurtful feelings,” Iniquez said. “People jump to conclusions, ‘you’re calling me racist.’ No … this is what people are saying. It may not be reality, but it’s what they are saying, and we have to come to terms with it.”
The research was done by a team of investigators that included professor Jon Hurwitz of the University of Pittsburgh, professor Jeffery Mondak of the University of Illinois, and professor Mark Peffley of University of Kentucky.