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>COMPUTERS AND THE COURTS

May 16, 2008

>Below is a passage from a document that was scheduled to be filed with the U.S. District Court Friday, May 16, 2008. Filing is delayed per explicit Court Order not to file any documents with the Court.

1. Regarding Case Management Systems

Similar to voting machines, court case management systems can improve the administration of justice, or allow wholesale abuse of Due Process. Plaintiff hopes that this court take action not only for providing his own personal relief, but as an opportunity to review a “serious question” of public interest, which presented extraordinary circumstances. As a result of such review, this court may reach some opinions that would make substantial impact on the justice system in California and beyond.


Plaintiff believes that there is an urgent need for review of case management systems used in the courts, based on his findings with the limited data and resources available to him. Main areas that may need review and eventually new rules include:

  • a. Rules must be developed regarding the development and introduction of new systems.

Plaintiff believes that the introduction of Sustain in the LA Superior Court, over 20 years ago, was a major change in the Rules of Court. But there is no indication that it was treated that way. Likewise, there is no indication that the introduction of the new system, CCMS, by the California Judicial Council is treated as such (Docket #56). As an example – it is unreasonable that there is no reference at all to Sustain in the written Rules of Court of Los Angeles County, based on a word search.

The United States Rule Enabling Act 28 U.S.C. § 2071 says:

  • (b) Any rule prescribed by a court, other than the Supreme Court, under subsection (a) shall be prescribed only after giving appropriate public notice and an opportunity for comment.
    Such rule shall take effect upon the date specified by the prescribing court and shall have such effect on pending proceedings as the prescribing court may order.

No new case management system should be allowed before giving public notice and an opportunity for comment. However, when it comes to computer systems, public comment is incapacitated absent detailed information regarding system specifications. Therefore, rules must be developed regarding the method of presentation of such systems for public comment (similar to rules regarding presentation of building plans for public comment). The logic of the programming code may need to be reduced to a set of assertions in natural language. Moreover, in consultation with experts from the field of mathematics and logic, standardized presentations may be developed, and methods of certification, to ensure that such presentations in natural language are true and correct reflection of the code. In addition, it may be necessary to certify that the logic of the system is consistent with the legal code that is implemented in it. Mathematical and logical methods such as “formal verification” and “simulation verification” may be utilized.

  • b. State of the Art Security and Signage Measures Must be Implemented.

Based on the little that Plaintiff has learnt about the system, it is reasonable to assume that it was modified over the years, and that such modifications were not uniform in all locations of the Court. Any ad hoc changes in the system are a major risk to its integrity, and rules must be developed to safeguard the systems against such changes in the code.

The system as it is operated now implements User ID’s and passwords. But such are hidden from public view in the Audit Files. That is in violation of the law relative to implementation of electronic and digital signatures. Such laws as the United States E-sign Act of 2002 and the California regulations regarding electronic signatures mandate that wherever such signatures were traditionally open to public view – and they definitely were open to public view in traditional Books of Court – they must be made accessible for public inspection also in their digital permutation.

Digital signatures must be introduced such that electronic filing (such as in Pacer) or Minute Orders (such as in Sustain) are accompanied by the party’s or the judge’s and the clerk’s digital signature, respectively, where traditionally the “wet” hand-signature would be imprinted in a traditional Books of Court.

  • c. Lessons must be distilled from the traditional paper-based systems

It appears that with the computerized revolution, the traditional systems were discarded without giving them a second thought. Primary consideration should be given to strengthening the ministerial arm of the court, as a counter balance to the judicial, with highly educated and skilled clerks in key positions. The authorities of the judicial and the ministerial arms should be carefully prescribed and segregated, to generate appropriate checks and balances.

  • d. CMS’s Must be Utilized to Safeguard Due Process and to Monitor the Quality and Integrity of the Courts.

The significance of correct docketing must be emphasized, and the systems must not allow easy ways to bypass the menu-driven, rule-based docketing. Without accurate docketing, the system is useless. With accurate docketing the system can become a valuable instrument in safeguarding Due Process. The contribution of the ministerial staff in this process needs to be emphasized, and their personal accountability for each act of docketing, which must bear a personal digital signature that is easily visible.

2. The Common Feature – The Culture of Silence

The California Court of Appeal surely offered helpful advice when it stated that

  • “true remedy is in filing an appeal from order for appointment of receiver”.

But in fact one must deem the Justices of the California Court of Appeal, like the Judges of the LA Superior Court, in violation of the California Code of Ethics Canon 3D(1).

They all knew of the unethical conduct and the abuse perpetrated on Plaintiff by Judges of LA Superior Court, but none followed the Code, which is clear cut in its directive.

Canon 3D(1) says:

  • D. Disciplinary Responsibilities
    (1) Whenever a judge has reliable information that another judge has violated any provision of the Code of Judicial Ethics, the judge shall take or initiate appropriate corrective action, which may include reporting the violation to the appropriate authority.*

None of the judges involved took or initiated appropriate corrective action.

Plaintiff believes that best explanation for what takes place in the LA Superior Court is found in a paper by Erwin Chemerinsky -The Rampart Scandal and the Criminal Justice System in Los Angeles County Guild Practitioner, 121, 2000.

In it he states:

  • Police officers in the CRASH unit in the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department framed innocent individuals by planting evidence and committing perjury to gain convictions. Innocent men and women pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit and were convicted by juries because of the fabricated cases against them. Many individuals were subjected to excessive police force and suffered very serious injuries as a result.
    Any analysis of the Rampart Scandal must begin with an appreciation of the heinous nature of what the officers did. This is conduct associated with the most repressive dictators and police states. It occurred in Los Angeles….
    … the … report is lacking in the following ways:
    · First – it fails to identify the scope of the problem, and indeed, minimizes its scope and nature.
    · Second, the report fails to recognize that the central problem is the culture of Los Angeles Police Department… the “Code of Silence”..
    · Third – the …report fails to consider the need for structural reforms…
    · Fourth – the problems in the… disciplinary system are unduly minimized…”

Much of what is stated above is directly applicable to the LA Superior Court, in particular the statement regarding the “Culture of Silence”.

Chemerinsky concludes with a statement that is also applicable here:

  • “No single reform can be sufficient. Reform is not an event, but a process that will take many years to complete…”

in pro per

in LA

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