Justice Department warns local courts about illegal enforcement of fees and fines. ~ ABA Journal

I would have not needed nine pages and $2.5 million in grants to write that letter.
Dear Colleagues:

We’ve at the US Department of Justice (yes “Justice” is in our name) observed that many of your, particularly judges municipal and local JP courts have been violating the US Constitution US Supreme Court precedent (which given your position, you should already know) by incarcerating and/or extorting the indigent for fine money to fill your jurisdictions coffers, and doing so without proper legal, constitutional hearing, or providing legal counsel to the accused.


Outlined in items 1-7 are various precedents which we at the DOJ have become aware that you may be violating. Being a “judge” you can look up the case cites yourself. (Again something that you should already be aware of and know how to do.)

JUDGE You are FIRED - 2015-16Should we find any of you violating ANY of the aforementioned items, we will seek your indictment for federal civil rights and or other criminal violations, and if true billed, we will send an a US Marshal or other representative of the US Department of Justice to your court, home or anywhere else that you may found to arrest and incarcerate you. You will then face a jury of your peers, most; likely in the jurisdiction where you may have incarcerated various individuals in violation of their civil rights. We will also ask the IRS to investigate your tax affairs. We will also perp walk” you and send your mugshot to the local news media (Remember that if you happen to be an elected official)

We trust that you will adhere to cooperate with the preceding. (Or otherwise you can pack a toothbrush on your way to your court).

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter:

US Department of Justice

PS – You may want to review your previous cases and orders of incarceration BEFORE we at the DOJ get around to it, or you may find that toothbrush very handy in the federal pen.judge You Failed - CRBlog2016

See – $2.5 million and countless tree saves…… It’s just that simple

By TheHawk296 on 2016 03 14, 5:56 pm CDT

You can show your support by petitioning Congress to pass the “No Money Bail Act of 2016” here

By Aditi Juneja on 2016 03 15, 3:26 am CDT

Hey, Overland Park, Kansas Municipal Court–are you listening? I understand fines pay your salaries, but you should try not to be so obviously cozy with the prosecutors while illegally ripping off people who pass through your “fine” city.

By KS Attorney on 2016 03 15, 8:35 am CDT

I received a citation in Racine Wisconsin which clearly is a part of raising revenues…what was really weird about the citation is a sign representing Shultz running for some seat next to were I got the citation who also sent a letter looking for me to use them as a lawyer for the case

By Gary on 2016 03 15, 10:01 am CDT

I guess their all in on the scam in Racine Wisconsin

By Gary on 2016 03 15, 10:22 am CDT

The DOJ needs to also look into the rampant denial of all due process, basic civil and Constitutional Rights happening every day in our country’s broken and horribly corrupt “family” courts. Where made family judges assign small armies of a very small number of well connected attorneys and other “court appointed experts” onto cases for no good or valid reason other than to extort money from already suffering parents in well orchestrated “Kids for Cash” and “Pay Per View Parenting” programs which bankrupt the parents. The parents are then JAILED FOR NO CRIME, other than no being able to afford to pay these “experts” – many of whom bill tens of thousands for no work of any kind or to cover up abuse to profit from it. Effectively running illegal Debtor’s Prisons under the guise of “family” law. This happened to me and is happening to millions of parents across the country. This is the largest instance of state sponsored organized crime in this country and the power of social media is exposing it for what this really is across the country and internationally as well – the trafficking of children. http://www.divorcecorp.com

By Peter Szymonik on 2016 03 15, 12:13 pm CDT

In Connecticut, parents have been incarcerated for nonpayment of outrageous fees because they simply could no longer sustain the cost of court-appointed GALs, AMCs, and other court appointees. Parents who could no longer afford visitation (supervised or unsupervised) found themselves walking away from their cases because they could not sustain the high fees, risk of incarceration, or worse yet the emotional toll it took on them. The CT Family Courts in the past had provided little to no oversight of these runaway costs to parents. Rather, the Family Court too often acted as the collections agency to ensure the court appointees were paid. Several of these same parents were forced to liquidate their children’s college funds, undergo foreclosure, declare bankruptcy, or abandon their attempts for visitation – even when there was no willful violation . . . OTHER THAN BEING INDIGENT AND UNABLE TO AFFORD IT. The indigent continue to be a very vulnerable class whose constitutional rights are too frequently the first to be trampled. Let’s hope this DOJ letter sends a clear message to the courts.

By Maureen Martowska on 2016 03 15, 9:52 pm CDT

Family court is ABA created Co sumer fraud, racketeering and collusion which rides the backs of first time consumer families to bancrupt. Shame on the ABA, Shame on our government and politicians.

By Greg Roberts on 2016 03 16, 1:41 pm CDT

Yes, I agree that this is insane. I am legally disabled and have/had a IFP (Informa Pauperis) for Fee Waivers. After all my ADA rights were violated during my original case, I was told I should file a Fraud Upon the Courts (FUC), because the Fair Hearing Officer and Judges and Appellate Judges ignored all of my evidence etc. But the originating court refuses to docket my FUC and claims I have to pay the fee. I have repeatedly shown them that not only do I not need to pay a fee, but if I had this status to begin with, then it continues through on the case. I also filed a new IFP that the judge denied. This is corruption at it’s worst because this case is against the State of CT and it’s CT Department of Social Services. When will there be justice?

By Joan Teresa Kloth-Zanard on 2016 03 16, 5:53 pm CDT

The US Supreme Court has a waiver form passed by Congress used in Bankruptcy law called B281, but it is kept hidden in the Circuit Courts and is not in the Federal Rules of Civil Precedure, nor is it included in the USCode. Congress defined ANY DOMESTIC ORDER FALLS UNDER OBLIGATION AND IS NON DISCHARGEABLE IN BANKRUPTCY. IT SAYS NO FEES AND NO RULES OF COURT TO IF YOU ARE A “CHILD SUPPORT CREDITOR” The NAME is in abuse 9f justice and has deprived millions the right to proceed in state and federal courts. The “legal system” is a complete sham.

By Patricia Byers on 2016 03 17, 1:29 am CDT

Nice to see fellow ABA Journal readers who are sensitive to those most in need of legal representation when faced with unreasonable fines and fees. I am glad to see my colleagues considering the real dangers of this kind of abuse of distressed populations being preyed upon by their local governments. I am a former local government attorney and I am aware of how easy it is for local officials to slide down the slope to ever more Draconian measures to raise revenue. It is something of which all lawyers, within and outside of government, should be vigilant. Thank you for your thoughtful and respectful comments on this topic.

By Pierson v Post on 2016 03 18, 8:44 am CDT

To gild (tarnish?) the lilly (ragweed?) further: go into a state Circuit Court and, more particularly, in its Criminal Division in Miami (the county is called, “Miami-Dade”) and sit there quietly and watch some of the extremely (emphasized) young circuit judges and the way in which they run their courts: in Florida, the only requirement (it’s in the state’s Constitution) for being on the Circuit bench (it’s the trial court of general jurisdiction) is that one have been a member of The Florida Bar (mandatory: The Florida Supreme Court’s enforcement arm) for five years.

You’ll see judges who have essentially never practiced privately; couldn’t make it on their own; surely, have never tried a case to a jury; and are so imperious and dictatorial that you’d think that they think they’re using their mate’s (that’s how they got their seat on the bench in the first instance) platinum AmEx card to by a Prada bag at Nieman’s, or order lunch and a drink at Boulud’s. They’re scolds; they berate the defendants who appear before them on truly minor third-degree felonies (minor marijuana possession; theft of more than $300.00; technical probation violations, that sort of thing); and they run down the attorneys representing those people. They’re very, very casual about jailing people for non-payment of minor fines, costs of supervision, or responding to a bench warrant issued in the first place because the defendant was at a job interview or caring for a sick kid.

They’re haughty, inept, and sometimes simply vicious. There are plenty of lawyers who are offered adequate fees (for appearance in a state court) who simply refuse cases because being before these bench-brats is so terribly unpleasant.

Guess who suffers . . .

By Compurgator on 2016 03 18, 9:09 am CDT

A bit off topic as this involves the family court comments above: I always find it interesting when one disgruntled litigant who had a bad experience in a family court somewhere in the country sees an opportunity to completely trash the entire system, even if the article has absolutely nothing to do with family courts and family law, they will get all lawyerly, trying to sound like they know anything about what they are discussing. Please, tell me more about how the “system” is awful and took your kids away just because a) you decided to proceed without counsel, b) you relied upon overworked court appointed counsel or c) you did something so bad that your kids were taken away from you but you failed to own up to it because you are delusional and refuse to admit you did anything wrong.

After a decade of doing this sort of work I have realized that while injustice in family court may happen once in a while, the vast majority of disgruntled litigants have only themselves to blame.

By Dave the Family Lawyer on 2016 03 18, 9:53 am CDT

We don’t want poor people to have to pay anything, even if their actions are reprehensible or illegal. Vote Hilary 2016!

By Carrie on 2016 03 18, 10:02 am CDT

I have a better use for that $2.5 million – what about the illegal and unconstitutional actions of the executive branch and the head of it?? As this article says, the letter “pushes the boundaries.” It also sounds like this is payback for what happened in Ferguson and the three separate and extensive investigations, including the unnecessary involvement of eric holder, brought out the truth the executive branch didn’t want only after excessive violence and destruction had occurred. And one of the persons who encourage the destruction was not even charged with inciting a riot, while Donald trump was investigated because the democrat trespasser incited violence at his rally.

By Angry on 2016 03 18, 4:47 pm CDT

I’m not sure if this applies But my name is Nicholas Ortega jr. And I live in Las Vegas NV I’m 36 years old and Dont feel much like an adult. I’m not say that to be funny but I know behave much like an adult even though I try. it always seems like I can never have everything all together without losing something or forgetting one thing or another. I would also like to let you know that I’m ADHD if you know any adults with this you will understand the difficulty that someone like me has with work and everyday life. I set every bill I have on auto pay other wise everything I would pay I would be late. I don’t make much money just barely enough to pay my bills.

I was trying to buy a condo and I had a really hard time because of some traffic violations that were sent to collections. They had one for parking, another for driving without proof of insurance, another for my registration lapse two weeks. I wanted to see a judge but they told me I wouldn’t be able too. I have no options but to pay it in full because it went to collections. Each ticket is over a 1000 and up to 3000 One of them I would like to dispute because I don’t believe it is not Valid since I did have and had insurance. Here in Navara they you have to pay a fine of $300 if your insurance lapses. I had that happen to me once The day my insurance lapsed my insurance company called me to let me know. So I gave them my credit card information and told him to charge my account, was a six-month policy and I’ve gotten it was due . They told me I wouldn’t be able to do that. I had to go into an insurance office and get a new policy. the insurance person told me that they have a deal with Nevada DMV that the moment that your insurance lapses they have some electronic way of notifying the DMV. They told me there is no way of reversing that it’s automated and they’re forcing all the insurance companies to notify them electronically. I think that is robbery, it is most unfair thing I’ve ever heard of.

I’m not looking to get out of paying anything. I would just like a fair chance to pay what’s reasonable. In the fines are not reasonable.. I find it extremely humiliating that most of the working class gets huge fines on things such as traffic violations. While criminals get extremely reduced fines, more chances than I have fingers and toes count with. I only know this because I’ve sat waiting for the judge and seeing the clear difference that that someone who is a criminal get treated versus someone who has a job. Just because I have a job doesn’t mean that the judge should be more aggressive with me over for someone who doesn’t have a job and has drug charges or robbery charges.

By Nicholas Ortega Jr. on 2016 03 20, 3:33 am CDT

I love how the Juvenile Court judges in Virginia first find that a child support contemnor is indigent and appoints him an attorney, then finds him to be in contempt and jails him until he pukes up THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS that the Court has already recognized that he doesn’t have.

By Dave Briggman on 2016 03 20, 7:07 pm CDT

One thing no one has mentioned is the reason many of these fines and fees exist. Since funding for courts has been cut, many fees have been enacted to fund them. Those fees are imposed on people who are cited into court. In Arizona, the state legislature and many cities have created surcharges that fund police departments, prison construction and other things. With tax cuts there isn’t enough tax money to fund everything governments are required to do, so fees are being imposed on defendants to try and make up the shortfall. Perhaps we should find a fairer way to fund courts and other government services.

By TJ on 2016 03 21, 11:40 am CDT

Principle 7, page 8, of the DOJ letter (https://www.justice.gov/crt/file/832461/download) cautions courts against states using their staff and private contractors for illegal practices including self-serving revenue collection (public corruption.)

One example of such activity is Florida misusing the Welfare Reform Act by ignoring the federal definition of spousal support alimony (for a custodial parent) to receive, at the expense of the law abiding states, undeserved portions of the federal fund rewarding its collection, as well as fees for collecting it from alimony payers whose obligation is not spousal support.

I have asked federal authorities for an independent investigation of the resulting government program fraud documented by my blog http://borisbermesblog.wordpress.com but there has not even been an acknowledgement of my request.

If someone at ABA knows why, please tell me.

By Boris Bermes on 2016 03 22, 4:37 pm CDT

How about if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, so people who work 40 hours a week could support themselves and not be unable to pay fines, child support, penalties, and state fees? If it had kept up with inflation since 1967, it would be roughly $22.00 per hour.

Instead, the Waltons – owners of WalMart (the nation’s largest employer now) have a personal net worth of $45 Billion (with a “B”) and a full-time worker at WalMart with one dependant child earns so little that he/she qualifies for food stamps.

You want to sole this issue? Let’s start with the basics.


By David Perry Davis Esq on 2016 03 27, 1:34 pm CDT

Source: ABA Journal

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16 thoughts on “Justice Department warns local courts about illegal enforcement of fees and fines. ~ ABA Journal

  1. It also costs the wronged parent money to get the parent that breaks visitation or joint physical custody orders. Why should the person following following the orders have to pay the court just to give the other parent a slap on the wrist, and write more orders that are unenforceable unless that person spends more money to try and get the parent not following orders to follow them? And round and round we go.

    Liked by 4 people

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