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December 16, 2004

Commission on Tenure and Disability

515 Fifth Street

Building A, Room 312

Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Ms. Hudgins:

I am in receipt of your form complaint acknowledgement and disposition letters, both bearing today’s date. It was most kind of you to provide them to me so quickly, as requested, so that no time would be lost in making an application for reconsideration.

Your disposition letter is somewhat puzzling, since you had verbally informed me that the complaints, including the four additional supporting complaints filed by Israel Weinstock, Gary Zerman, George McDermott, and Elizabeth Pawlak, were dismissed “for insufficient cause to proceed,” which you identified as a ground separate and distinct from the complaints “raised matters of law exclusively with the jurisdiction of the Court and beyond the statutory authority of the Commission,” which you now indicate as the ground for dismissal. Would you kindly clarify this, Ms. Hudgins?

As stated, I hereby make this formal request for reconsideration of CJA’s Petition Complaint and its Supplemental Complaint, here attached together with the questionnaire exhibit and the decision on the NY judge referred to herein (the other exhibits are too voluminous and I am emailing them to you in two additional separate transmittals) on the following grounds:

Admittedly, the Commission members overlooked and did not review the exhibits documenting the allegations of serious misconduct that were attached to my supplemental complaint due to what you stated were technical difficulties in your downloading computer equipment.


The Commission members, also admittedly, did not take the time to read the linked materials on our website referred to in our supplemental complaint which included not only the Senate Judiciary Committee May 22, 2003 Public Hearing videotape which recorded Elena’s request to testify in opposition to President Bush’s nomination of Judge Wesley, but also the two June 28, 2004 sentencing transcripts, whose criminal ramifications are discussed in the link to “The Tale of Two Transcripts.”


The Commission failed to make appropriate criminal and disciplinary referrals to other public agencies charged with such duties, as to those matter of which it believes it lacks the jurisdiction even to investigate and take the disciplinary action of removal, sought by our complaint.
The Commission voted for dismissal based on six members participating, one of whom was not present at yesterday’s meeting, whom you refused to identify, as well as whether such person was a lawyer. You likewise refused to identify how much time was spent in deliberation on our complaints, which you had informed me yesterday was #4 on the Agenda, with the three complaints ahead of ours expected to consume “a substantial amount of time.”

It is noted that although I asked you to identify the legal authority for your refusal to answer these requests for information which is believed to be reasonable and proper for a publicly funded agency to supply to complainants who have expended hundreds of hours in the preparation of their complaints as a public service, you were unwilling to do so, stating only that the answers were “confidential.”

I am sure the Commission would not wish to be criticized for not taking their responsibility seriously, particularly considering the injury to the public by Judge Holeman’s continued tenure on the bench and will, accordingly, grant this reconsideration, setting the matter down for a special emergency meeting prior to its next meeting, which you advised is not until January 12, 2005, so that you can reassess the complaints in the light of the foregoing and protect our citizenry from the dangers of his continuing judicial misconduct in the interim, in accordance with its statutory mandate. At very least, it is incumbent on the Commission to make referrals to the DC Bar Counsel and to the US Attorney so that they can determine what enforcement proceedings may be appropriately commenced by such public bodies acting in the public interest.

Finally, I wish to bring to the Commission’s attention and transmit herewith a most timely decision in a case in point reported in the New York Times, dated December 11, 2004, by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, censuring an upstate City Court judge for two acts involving his misuse of his the power to jail. The available appellate process remedy notwithstanding, the NYS Commission did not decline jurisdiction because of the egregious nature of the judge’s conduct.

As egregious as the judge’s conduct was in that case, however, it pales by comparison with what Judge Holeman did in incarcerating Elena “forthwith” for six months based on the factual record before him. By the standard followed by the NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct, this Commission will be adjudged remiss and derelict in its duty to protect the public, if it does not take jurisdiction of our complaints against Judge Holeman. A full investigation of Judge Holeman’s behavior by this Commission will leave no doubt in its mind that he must be removed “forthwith.”

Again, Ms. Hudgins, we do thank you so very much for your courtesy and prompt attention.

United4Elena,

Doris L. Sassower, Director

Center for Judicial Accountability, Inc.
www.judgewatch.org
Doris L. Sassower
Director
Center for Judicial Accountability, Inc.


Attachment 1 Supplemental Complaint against Judge Holeman

Attachment 2 Sworn Answers to Senate Judiciary Bio Questionnaire

Attachment 3 New York Judge Censured by NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct


 

 

 

A TALE OF TWO TRANSCRIPTS:
Elena Sassower is sentenced to six months incarceration

Here accessible are two transcripts of the very same sentencing proceeding, herein referred to as the Transcript and the Amended Transcript

The Transcript consists of 22 pages, plus a certification at page 23, signed June 30, 2004.  The Amended Transcript consists of 24 pages, plus a new certification at page 25, signed on July 15, 2004.  No explanation was proffered for the rendition of an Amended Transcript or for the two completely new pages, 23 and 24, which were added thereto.  CJA's Director’s Legal Analysis  examines the two divergent transcripts of the same sentencing proceeding.

Related correspondence, also here accessible, shows that there would have been no “Amended Transcript,” but for CJA Director’s July 9, 2004 letter to the Supervisor of the DC Superior Court Transcription Office, requesting review of the audiotape.

This was followed up by CJA Director’s July 13, 2004 letter/motion request to DC Superior Court Chief Judge Rufus King III for review of the audiotape of the sentencing proceeding, due to the noted discrepancies and omissions. The Chief Judge denied the audiotape request by his July 14, 2004 letter to CJAs' Director,.

By a July 15, 2004 motion/letter, CJA's Director requested reconsideration of the Court's denial.

A July 20, 2004 FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) written motion request for the June 28, 2004 sentencing audiotape was also filed with the Court, which has never been answered or otherwise responded to. By letter dated August 4, 2004, postmarked August 6, 2004 (a Friday), the Chief Judge responded generally to the Director's prior correspondence by conspicuously avoiding any reference to the the subject of the audiotape.  The Chief Judge further advised that the Director’s future requests are to be submitted “by formal motion,” notwithstanding such procedure had not been theretofore required, no such objection having been made to the Director's July 13, 2004 letter/motion request.

 

THE TALE OF TWO TRANSCRIPTS: D.C. COURT TAMPERS WITH COURT TRANSCRIPTS
Westchester Crusader
September 16, 2004


 

UPDATE:   December 27, 2004

Washington, D.C., December 17, 2004

ELENA'S RELEASE – STILL NO CONFIRMED DATE

Wish we had better news to report as to a possible earlier release than the scheduled Christmas Day. Unfortunately, ignoring our ongoing efforts and protests, D.C. prison authorities have continued their pattern and practice, up to and including the present day, of deliberate obstruction and delay of Elena’s legal rights relating to her release from her present continued illegal incarceration. This, notwithstanding the prison's own investigator concluded in a written report that proper procedure had not been followed and that Elena was wrongfully deprived of her “good time” class credits and would have been legally entitled to release on December 7th but for the Jail’s non-compliance with its own published rules.  

By failure and refusal to follow those rules, DC prison authorities have kept her from having her appeals from her illegal detention adjudicated in a proper and timely manner. This was specifically mandated where prisoner Elena asserted that she has been retaliated against, threatened and intimidated for asserting her prisoners’ rights and subjected to attempted coercion to waive the prison’s liability for its deprivations of such rights.


Jail personnel have repeatedly informed us that she will not be released before she serves her full maximum six month sentence, “no exceptions.” Luckily, this sadistic intent may be thwarted because Christmas Day falls on a Saturday and the preceding day is considered a federal holiday, when we are told that the prison will be without the personnel to perform necessary processing of her release paperwork. No time off whatever is being given Elena for good behavior all these many months in jail.

The Jail has also denied the press its rightful access, wrongfully failing to respond to, and actually denying, requests for appointments for in-jail interviews of Elena. This plainly is calculated to prevent exposure of just how badly the DC jail treats its prisoners, especially one who is blowing the whistle on the Jail’s human rights violations.

As of now, we have been told not to count on Elena's release before Christmas Day!  We have also been   told that such can be anytime “up to 12 midnight of that day.” Presumably, the jail wants to keep her locked up until the very last moment so as to prevent her supporters from being on hand to give her the hero’s triumphal welcome she deserves for her principled defense of our Bill of Rights.


UPDATE   Washington, D.C., December 10, 2004

An American Abu Gharib

DC Warden denies imprisoned Hebrew religious school teacher, judicial reformer Elena Ruth Sassower promised December 7 release, after more than a month of unremitting "torture treatment,"all in violation of her 1st Amendment right to religious freedom, as well as her 5th and 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection of the law.

Elena Ruth Sassower, Cofounder and Coordinator of the Center for Judicial Accountability, Inc., (CJA) based in White Plains, NY, has been turned down today  by the Warden of the District of Columbia jail for early release promised for two vocational classes, which would have given her 18 days “good time credit.” That meant she would be coming home on December 7th, in time for her to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah - a Jewish holiday that celebrates religious freedom and freedom fighters -- rather than her scheduled date of December 25, Christmas Day.

 

 The Warden’s rejection of CJA's plea that he adhere to the promised December 7 release date was a severe blow not only to Elena Sassower and her family, but to the Jewish community of which she has been a vital part. For more than 15 years, as the Warden was told, Elena Sassower has been a Hebrew Religious School teacher, conducting weekly Sabbath, as well as the annual High Holy Day and other holiday services, at two New York Synagogues, representing more than 1300 Congregants. In a letter written to the Warden on December 6th, CJA’s Director, as well as Elena’s mother, Doris Sassower said, “The first night of Hanukkah, a holiday that has been celebrated by Jews the world over for more than 2300 years, is as important to Jews as Christmas Eve is to Christians.”

 

DC Warden Fred Figueroa conceded his refusal to let Elena go --after more than five months of time served on a conviction that was pending appeal -- did not rely on any legal opinion and cited no legal basis. The Warden claimed that a non-lawyer at the DC Department of Correction told him that he could not give Elena the credit because she had not "completed the courses." This ignored the fact that a prison investigator's memo explicitly admitted that "Inmate Sassower was removed from two academic programs in which she would have received 18 days good time credit if she would have been permitted to remain in class There is no supporting documentation to indicate otherwise due to actions not being supported by proper disciplinary procedure.” 

 

The Jail's refusal to allow Elena to complete her courses, from which she had been barred on August 31, 2004, was not only a violation of Elena’s First Amendment right to practice her religion, but of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment, as well, which required prior warning and opportunity for the prisoner to be heard before such disciplinary punishment was imposed.

 

Elena filed a grievance challenging her removal from the classes, as she had a right to do under prison procedure. When such was denied, she appealed it, as she had the further right to do. On November 12, the Jail suspended Elena's privileges, without notice or explanation, This included NO visits, NO outside phone calls, even  to her lawyers or lawyer-mother, NO library (limited as it was to only one hour a week), NO outside recreation (limited to one hour daily, Monday to Friday only), NO canteen, all of which disciplinary punishments were also wrongful for the same reason.

 

On November 15, 2004, Elena wrote to the Warden that she "was being subjected to retaliation, intimidation, and threats for a grievance pertaining to DDA-CTF's violations."

On November 22, Elena was led to believe that she had won her appeal, that her privileges would be reinstated, and that she might be released on December 7th, with her 18 days of "good time" credit. However, because the Jail had not processed the paper work, she was denied the promised privilege reinstatement, including a "not approved" pre-Thanksgiving Day visit by her attorney-mother and sister on November 22 and a press visit on November 29. 

On that date, she was told that for her to get the good time credit, she would have to sign a written memo that "she had been offered the opportunity to rejoin the class and refused to do so" (a totally false statement) and more importantly, waived her grievance. Elena states that she had simply asked for a copy of the memo before signing anything, so as to permit her to consult with her lawyers, which the prison repeatedly refused to let her do.

Since then, Elena's lawyers have repeatedly sought to meet with the Warden to discuss her December 7 release, as did Elena herself. These requests have all been cavalierly ignored. Said one of the lawyers on her legal team with the  law firm of Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck, "Ms. Sassower was clearly entitled to a timely decision on her appeal and her grivance, and should not have to waive her grievance in order to be awarded her good time credit."

Denial of canteen was especially punitive to Elena. This, because from the outset and for more than five months, she had been denied requested kosher food and could not eat the food provided to her.

 

From the outset, Elena was also denied access to a Rabbi or to the spiritual comfort of a synagogue service, even while the Jail has an in-house Reverend for non-Jewish prisoners and took those prisoners to Church who wished to attend Sunday worship services.

 

“The inhumanity and mental torture the Warden has inflicted and condoned is an American Abu Gharib. At very least and to avoid a charge of anti-Semitism,” said CJA Director Doris Sassower, "the Warden should have made the minimal restitution to Elena by granting her the 18 days of 'educational good time credit' so as to make the miracle of Hanukkah happen for Elena. Such would have permitted her to return home before the first night of the sacred Jewish festival of Hanukkah, celebrated by Jews the world over for more than  2300 years. Especially, as the Warden was told that was why she had taken the classes in the first place.”

 

Elena Sassower’s defense against her wrongful "Disruption of Congress" conviction is being handled pro bono by a team of respected D.C. law firms, led by world-renowned attorney Nat Lewin, who has successfully argued numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.


CJA's JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT COMPLAINTS AGAINST JUDGE HOLEMAN

TO BE RECONSIDERED THIS FRIDAY, JANUARY 28, 2005

The D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure met on January 12, 2005, when CJA's judicial misconduct complaints against Judge Holeman were again on its Agenda, following the granting of our request for reconsideration of the Commission's summary dismissal of its misconduct complaints against Judge Holeman (see story below). However, the Commission took no action, BUT, most unusually, placed it on the Agenda of a Special Meeting called for January 28, 2005. At that time, it will reconsider these complaints, wherein CJA calls for Judge Holeman's immediate suspension pending investigation by reason of the danger to society. CJA considers him "a menace on the bench," requiring his ultimate  removal. CJA's documented complaints and request for reconsideration of the Commission's summary dismissal are accessible from our website by scrolling down to Judicial Discipline and clicking on the documents listed. There's still time for CJA supporters to add their e-mailed letters of support, with ccs to CJA, to 'Cathaee.Hudgins@dc.gov' 

Mailing address of the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure is Building A, Room 312, 515 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 2001.


December 15th Meeting of the DC Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure (euphemism for judicial misconduct)

 

DENIED CJA’s Judicial Misconduct complaints, as set forth in its detailed and documented FREE ELENA PETITION against Judge Holeman, the very same day that CJA filed a Supplemental Judicial Misconduct Complaint documenting the fact that Judge Holeman perjured himself as to his credentials submitted by him to the Senate Committee voting on his confirmation.

CJA's call for his removal was bravely supported by three experienced litigators, as well as a media representative, who had witnessed the trial proceedings and been so appalled by Judge Holeman's arbitrary conduct that he presented to the Commission his personally prepared documentary videotapes, representing intensive, time-consuming work on his part.

In his hand-delivered letter to the Commission prior to its deliberation of CJA’s complaints against Judge Holeman, this media witness stated “Frankly, no amount of words can adequately describe the dishonor and diminishment of public confidence in our judicial system that this judge brought upon it.“

The Commission gave all these complaints, representing hundreds of hours of research and investigation, its usual peremptory short shrift, in one of its usual form letters taking "the easy-out" of summary dismissal to avoid its duty to address these facially meritorious complaints on their merits.


Initially, CJA was informed that the dismissal was on the ground that there was no jurisdiction because it found that there was “insufficient cause for the Commission to proceed” -- its shorthand for “the complaint lacks merit”)! After politely expressing our shock and incredulity as to such alleged basis for dismissal, we received from the Commission the very next day its December 16 form letter, which came up with a new and different ground, to wit, “after careful review and consideration, the Commission has dismissed the complaints because they raise matters of law exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Court and beyond the statutory authority of the Commission."

Of course, this is just boilerplate pretense, as anyone can see from reading CJA's Supplemental Complaint and the initial complaint, encompassed in CJA's Free Elena Petition, both online on our website.
 

So once again, we see yet another tax-funded judicial misconduct commission designed to police the judiciary and protect our citizenry from unfit judges proving itself unfit for its own job by covering up, rather than confronting, flagrant judicial misconduct -- a thesis CJA has proved out many times in countless other cases and as Elena so brilliantly reported in her seminal 1997 article “Without Merit: the Empty Promise of Judicial Discipline,” accessible on CJA’s homepage. 

CJA's request for reconsideration by the Commission, filed the very next day, is accessible from our website by scrolling down to Judicial Discipline and clicking on the documents listed.

An Open Letter from the Director

Procedural history since pro bono counsel took over the case

 

 

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