Hudson's Election Guide, Part 1: Amendment E

While I’m primarily known in this area as an aging pseudo-hipster who delights in enjoying the classier elements of pop culture, I have a serious passion for low-brow, white trash television. I live for shows such as Cheaters, Cops (god, I was pissed when baseball preempted it the other night), Springer, and the infamous baby-daddy episodes of Maury.
One of my favorite shows of this type is Judge Judy. While there’s seemingly a thousand of these courtroom shows these days, Judge Judy is by far the best of the bunch. Despite her clichéd outbursts at the stupidity of her cases, unlike the other shows of her ilk she actually uses real law to make her decision.
What always makes me chuckle is that no matter how idiotic these people act, they walk out of the courtroom convinced that Judy is wrong. Ex-girlfriends still believe that the money they routinely handed their men should be considered loans; guys who crash their buddy’s car don’t think they are obligated to pay.
I’m not saying that what goes on in Judy’s courtroom is 100% real, but it does reflect real life. I’ll bet if you surveyed the prisoners in both the county jail and the penitentiary you’d find that nobody would admit that they broke the law…or deserved to sit in jail. It’s almost become a natural reaction to feel that your problems are always somebody else’s fault.
Granted, there are certainly people sitting in jail that don’t belong there. Our judicial system is not perfect. The rich have an advantage when it comes to a quality defense, and witnesses certainly don’t always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Many of these problems are taken care of through the appeal process, particularly if there are problems with the actions of the judge presiding over the case. Outdated or unpopular laws can also be revoked by our elected representatives in the legislature…or Congress, if it’s a matter of national consequence.
Despite these checks and balances, our jails are filled with deluded individuals convinced of their innocence, which is why Amendment E, the so-called “Jail 4 Judges” law, is such a scary proposition.
Under this proposal, a person unhappy with any actions of the judge can sue the individual. A special grand jury, whose members have complete civil and criminal immunity, can decide that any law in question is null and void. In fact, these special grand juries would basically create a fourth branch of government whose decisions takes precedence over our Supreme Court.
Think about that for a second. Imagine a jury filled with the likes of Leslie Unruh and Roger Hunt. Unlike a regular jury, they only need 7 of the 13 votes. It wouldn’t be a stretch to envision a state where seven people can completely rewrite our state’s laws.
Yet it’s not just judges who will be affected by this proposal. While supporters like to proclaim that “it only applies to judges”, the measure defines that term to include “all other persons claiming to be shielded by judicial immunity”. This can mean almost anybody with any sort of governing position, including (but not limited to) city councils, school boards, and licensing boards. Even jurors and witnesses fit under the judicial immunity category.
A few days ago, I asked one of our county commissioners about this amendment, and she shuddered at the thought of our state voting in this law. She also added that this proposal is retroactive. As Tim Gebhart from A Progressive on the Prairie explained to me yesterday, this means “someone convicted of a crime or even disciplined by a school board or other entity at any time in the last 5, 10…or even 50 years can ask the grand jury to sue the people who made the decision. Can you imagine how many people convicted of a crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony, will be interested in filing complaints asking to sue the judge who sentenced them?”
There are many more aspects of this proposal that I don’t have the time to go into at this time. I encourage everybody to check out Gebhart's research on not only the actual amendment but the background of the people involved. Do you realize that this is actually a failed California ballot initiative, and that South Dakota was chosen only because our smaller population makes us an easier battleground state? Or that if successful the supporters have plans to use us as a test case on a so-called anti-Communist bill that would outlaw property taxes, income taxes, “secular” public schools, and farm controls? These are just some of the highlights (or lowlights) that I discovered on Gebhart’s site. Trust me, you have to vote no on this law, as these people are scarier than anybody could possibly imagine.

Comments

Bonnie Russell said…
I wondered where you got your disinformation on www.AmendmentE.com right up until the time I read an attorney "explained" it all to you.

Did you not notice the actual Amendment refers to judges no less than thirty-five times? It's not about the board members who; surprise, get sued daily.

Too bad the attorney couldn't "explain" why South Dakota Supreme Court Judge Richard Sabers said the ballot language wasn't neutral.

Or how former Judge Andrew Napolitano said removing judicial immunity is the only answer.

Try reading the Amendment Sparky. It's about the judges, not school board members as "explained" by an attorney who wants to scare voters.

Wow did you ever get suckered. Maybe you ought to leave town. :D
Anonymous said…
I'm really confused about this issue. The ad they have on TV is ridiculous. Scott, you had better look into this thing yourself, I want several paragraphs on the subject in your blog to read this weekend.

THX Darling!
Scott said…
Bonnie, thank you for contributing a comment. However, you are wrong in concluding that I was "schooled" by an attorney and that was my sole source. I talked to many people of various occupations whose opinion I respected. I have also taken the time to read some of your people's promotional material. I came to the conclusion that this is an extremely dangerous piece of legislation.
Instead of criticizing my potential sources, why not use this space to truthfully explain the contents of this bill and why we need it? Throwing in the name of one judge who supposedly is in favor of your bill is not "proof" that the people would benefit from the passage of this proposal. I'll give you the space if that would please you.

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