Judicial Corruption at its Finest

Reprimanded judge says presiding over his own divorce case for several months ‘made no difference’


Reprimanded last month for presiding over his own divorce case for four months after it was randomly assigned to his own court, a Texas judge told a local newspaper that doing so did no harm.

“This was my personal divorce,” said 383rd District Judge Mike Herrera to the El Paso Times on Tuesday, explaining that there was “no rush” to transfer the case to another judge because he and his wife were trying at the time to work things out.

Hence, “the fact that it was in this court made no difference. It stayed there,” Herrera said of the divorce case. “I wasn’t actively doing anything. Me and my former spouse were working on everything. She and I were working on everything carefully.”

The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct noted that Herrera had filed motions in the case while it was in his own court. The commission said that the judge “failed to comply with the law, demonstrated a lack of professional competence in the law, and engaged in willful and persistent conduct that was clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his judicial duties,” the newspaper reports.

In addition to reprimanding Herrera, the commission ordered him to get six hours of training.

2016 STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH P. THOMPSON SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA January 27, 2016, 11 a.m. House Chambers, State Capitol

016 STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS
THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH P. THOMPSON
SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA
January 27, 2016, 11 a.m.
House Chambers, State Capitol

Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, President Pro Tem Shafer, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, members of the General Assembly, my fellow judges and my fellow Georgians:
Good morning. Thank you for this annual tradition of inviting the Chief Justice to report on the State of Georgia’s Judiciary. Thanks in large part to your support and the support of our governor, as we move into 2016, I am pleased to tell you that your judicial branch of government is not only steady and secure, it is dynamic; it has momentum; and it is moving forward into the 21st century with a vitality and a commitment to meeting the inevitable changes before us.
Our mission remains the same: To protect individual rights and liberties, to uphold and interpret the rule of law, and to provide a forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes that is fair, impartial, and accessible to all.
Our judges are committed to these principles. Each day, throughout this state, they put on their black robes; they take their seat on the courtroom bench; and they work tirelessly to ensure that all citizens who come before them get justice.


Our Judicial Council is the policy-making body of the state’s judicial branch. It is made up of competent, committed leaders elected by their fellow judges and representing all classes of court. They are assisted by an Administrative Office of the Courts, which is under a new director – Cynthia Clanton – and has a renewed focus as an agency that serves judges and courts throughout Georgia.
A number of our judges have made the trip to be here today. Our judges are here today because the relationship we have with you is important. We share with you the same goal of serving the citizens of this great state. We could not do our work without your help and that of our governor.
On behalf of all of the judges, let me say we are extremely grateful to you members of the General Assembly for your judicial compensation appropriation last year.


Today I want to talk to you about Georgia’s 21st century courts – our vision for the future, the road we must travel to get there, and the accomplishments we have already achieved.
It has been said that, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Since a new state Constitution took effect in 1983, our population has nearly doubled to a little over 10 million, making us the 8th most populous state in the country. We are among the fastest growing states in the nation, and in less than four years, our population is projected to exceed 12 million.
Because it is good for our economy, we welcome that growth. Today, Georgia ranks
among states with the highest number of Fortune 500 companies, 20 of which have their global headquarters here; we have 72 four-year colleges and universities; we have the world’s busiest airport and we have two deep-water ports. Georgia is a gateway to the South, and for a growing number of people and businesses from around the world, it is a gateway to this country.
All of this growth produces litigation – increasingly complex litigation – and just as our state must prepare for this growth by ensuring we have enough roads and modes of transportation, enough doctors and hospitals, and enough power to reach people throughout the state, our courts also must be equipped and modernized for the 21st
century.
While our population has nearly doubled since 1983, the number of Georgia judges has
grown only 16 percent. We must work together to ensure that our judicial system has enough judges, staff and resources in the 21st century to fulfill the mission and constitutional duties our forefathers assigned to us.
A healthy, vibrant judiciary is absolutely critical to the economic development of our state. Thanks to many leaders in the judiciary, as well as to our partnership with the governor and to you in the legislature, we are well on our way to building a court system for the 21st century.


This time next year, with your support, we will have put into place an historic shift in the types of cases handled by the Georgia Supreme Court – the highest court in the state – and by the Court of Appeals – our intermediate appellate court. Thanks to Governor Deal’s Georgia Appellate Jurisdiction Review Commission, this realignment will bring the Supreme Court of Georgia in line with other state Supreme Courts, which handle only the most critical cases that potentially change the law. Serving on the Commission are two of my colleagues – Justice David Nahmias and Justice Keith Blackwell – as well as two judges from the Court of Appeals – Chief
Judge Sara Doyle and Judge Stephen Dillard.
I thank you, Justices and Judges, for your leadership.
Under the Georgia Constitution, Supreme Court justices collectively decide every case that comes before us. Currently the state’s highest court hears divorce and alimony cases; we hear cases involving wills; we hear cases involving titles to land; and we hear disputes over boundary lines.
But the Governor’s Commission, and a number of reports by other commissions and
committees issued since 1983, have recommended that such cases should be heard by our intermediate appeals court, not by our highest court.
Both of our courts are among the busiest in the nation. But unlike the Supreme Court, which sits as a full court with all seven justices participating in, and deciding, every case, the Court of Appeals sits in panels of three. With your approval last year of three new Court of Appeals judges, that court will now have five panels, so it will have the capacity to consider five times as many cases as the Supreme Court.
Modernization of the Supreme Court makes sense. In a 19th century court system, when
most of the wealth was tied up in land, maybe title to land cases were the most important. Maybe they had the greatest implications for the public at large. But as we move into the 21st century, that is no longer true.
In answer to questions such as who owns a strip of land, what does a will mean, and who should prevail in a divorce settlement or an alimony dispute, most judicial systems believe that three judges are enough to provide the parties with a full and fair consideration of their appeal. It no longer makes sense to have seven – or nine – justices collectively review these types of cases.
There is no doubt these cases will be in good hands with the Court of Appeals.
Let me emphasize that all these cases the Commission recommended shifting to the Court of Appeals are critically important to the parties involved.
Let me also emphasize that the purpose of this historic change is not to lessen the burden on the Supreme Court. Rather, the intent is to free up the state’s highest court to devote more time and energy to the most complex and the most difficult cases that have the greatest implications for the law and society at large.
We will therefore retain jurisdiction of constitutional challenges to the laws you enact, questions from the federal courts seeking authoritative rulings on Georgia law, election contests, murder and death penalty cases, and cases in which the Court of Appeals judges are equally divided.
Significantly, we want to be able to accept more of what we call “certiorari” cases
which are appeals of decisions by the Court of Appeals. The number of petitions filed in this category during the first quarter of the new docket year is nearly 14 percent higher this year over last. Yet due to the amount of appeals the law now requires us to take, we have had to reject the majority of the petitions for certiorari that we receive.
These cases are often the most complex – and the most consequential. They involve
issues of great importance to the legal system and the State as a whole. Or they involve an area of law that has become inconsistent and needs clarification.
Businesses and citizens need to know what the law allows them to do and what it does
not allow them to do. It is our job at the highest court to reduce any uncertainty and bring consistency and clarity to the law.
Under the Commission’s recommendations, our 21st century Georgia Supreme Court will
be able to accept more of these important appeals.


As we move into the 21st century, plans are being discussed to build the first state Judicial Building in Georgia’s history that will be dedicated solely to the judiciary. We are grateful for the Governor’s leadership on this. The building that now houses the state’s highest court and the Court of Appeals was built in 1954 when Herman Tallmadge was governor. Back then, it made sense to combine the state judicial branch with part of the executive branch, by locating the Law Department in the same building.
But the world has changed since 1954, and the building we now occupy was not designed with visitors in mind. It was not designed with technology in mind. And it surely was not designed with security in mind. Indeed, it was designed to interconnect with neighboring buildings that housed other branches of government.
A proper Judicial Building is about more than bricks and mortar. Outside, this building will symbolize for generations to come the place where people will go to get final resolution of civil wrongs and injustices; where the government will go to safeguard its prosecution of criminals; and where defendants will go to appeal convictions and sentences to prison for life.
Inside such a building, the courtroom will reinforce the reality that what goes on here is serious and solemn; it is a place of great purpose, in the words of a federal judge. The parties and the lawyers will understand they are all on equal footing, because they are equal under the law.
There is a majesty about the law that gets played out in the courtroom. It is a hallowed place because it is where the truth must be told and where justice is born. The courtroom represents our democracy at its very best.
No, this building is not just about bricks and mortar. Rather it is a place that will house Georgia’s highest court where fairness, impartiality, and justice will reign for future generations.


We are no longer living in a 1950s Georgia. The courts of the 21st century must be
equipped to handle an increasingly diverse population. Living today in metropolitan Atlanta alone are more than 700,000 people who were born outside the United States. According to the Chamber of Commerce, today some 70 countries have a presence in Atlanta, in the form of a consulate or trade office. We must be ready to help resolve the disputes of international businesses that are increasingly locating in our state and capital. Our 21st century courts must be open, transparent and accessible to all. Our citizens’ confidence in their judicial system depends on it. We must be armed with qualified, certified interpreters, promote arbitration as an alternative to costly, courtroom-bound litigation, ensure that all those who cannot afford lawyers have an avenue toward justice, and be constantly updating technology with the aim of improving our courts’ efficiency while saving literally millions of dollars. For all of this, we need your help.


When I first became a judge, we had no email, no cell phones, no Internet. People didn’t Twitter or text, or post things on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. The most modern equipment we had was a mimeograph machine.
This past year, by Supreme Court order, we created for the first time a governance
structure to bring our use of technology into the 21st century. Chaired by my colleague Justice Harold Melton, and co-chaired by Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson, this permanent Judicial Council Standing Committee on Technology will lead the judicial branch by providing guidance and oversight of its technology initiatives.
Our courts on their own are rapidly moving away from paper documents into the digital age. At the Supreme Court, lawyers must now electronically file all cases. This past year, we successfully launched the next phase by working with trial courts to begin transmitting their entire court record to us electronically. The Court of Appeals also now requires the e-filing of applications to appeal, and this year, will join the Supreme Court in accepting electronic trial records.

Our goal is to develop a uniform statewide electronic filing and retrieval system so that lawyers and others throughout the judiciary can file and access data the easiest way possible.
Using a single portal, attorneys will be able to file documents with trial courts and appellate courts – and retrieve them from any court in the state. This is the system advocated by our partner, President Bob Kaufman of the State Bar of Georgia, and by attorneys throughout the state.
Such a system will not only make our courts more efficient at huge savings, but it will make Georgia safer. When our trial judges conduct bond hearings, for example, they often lack critical information about the person before them. They usually have reports about any former convictions, but they may not have information about cases pending against the defendant in other courts. The technology exists now to ensure that they do.
Also on the horizon is the expanded use of videoconferencing – another electronic
improvement that will save money and protect citizens’ lives. After a conviction and sentence to prison, post-trial hearings require courts to send security teams to pick up the prisoner and bring him to court. Without encroaching on the constitutional right of confrontation, we could videoconference the inmate’s testimony from his prison cell. Again, the technology already exists.
Our Committee on Technology will be at the forefront of guiding our courts into the 21st century.


As Georgia grows, it grows more diverse.
Our Georgia courts are required by the federal government to provide language services free of charge to litigants and witnesses, not only in criminal cases but in civil cases as well.
Even for fluent English speakers, the judicial system can be confusing and unwelcoming.
My vision for Georgia’s judiciary in the 21st century is that every court, in every city and every county in Georgia, will have the capacity of serving all litigants, speaking any language, regardless of national origin, from the moment they enter the courthouse until the moment they leave. That means that on court websites, signs and forms will be available in multiple languages, that all court staff will have the tools they need to assist any customers, and that court proceedings will have instant access to the interpreters of the languages they need.
Chief Magistrate Kristina Blum of the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court has been
working hard to ensure access to justice for all those who come to her court, most of whom are representing themselves.
Recently her court created brochures that provide guidance for civil trials, family
violence matters, warrant applications, garnishments, and landlord-tenant disputes. These brochures provide basic information about each proceeding – what to expect and how best to present their case in court.
Judge Blum, who is in line to be president of the Council of Magistrate Judges and is a member of our Judicial Council, has had the brochures translated into Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. Such non-legalese forms and tutorial videos that our citizens can understand go a long way toward building trust in the judicial system, and in our entire government.
The Supreme Court Commission on Interpreters, chaired by Justice Keith Blackwell, is
making significant strides in ensuring that our courts uphold the standards of due process. With the help of Commission member Jana Edmondson-Cooper, an energetic attorney with the Georgia Legal Services Program, the Commission is working around the state to educate judges,court administrators and lawyers on the judiciary’s responsibilities in providing language assistance.
The essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. Our justice system is the envy of other countries because it is open and fair to everyone seeking justice. By helping those who have not yet mastered English, we reinforce the message that the doors to the best justice system in the world are open to everyone.
Our law demands it. Our Constitution demands it.


The courts of the 21st century will symbolize a new era. A turning point in our history occurred when we realized there was a smarter way to handle criminals.
Six years ago, my colleague and then Chief Justice Carol Hunstein accompanied
Representative Wendell Willard to Alabama to explore how that state was reforming its criminal justice system. Back in Georgia, Governor Deal seized the reins, brought together the three branches of government, and through extraordinary leadership, has made criminal justice reform a reality. Georgia is now a model for the nation.
Today, following an explosive growth in our prison population that doubled between
1990 and 2011 and caused corrections costs to top one billion dollars a year, last year our prison population was the lowest it has been in 10 years. Our recidivism rate is the lowest it’s been in three decades. And we have turned back the tide of rising costs.
For the last five years, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform – created by the governor and your legislation – has been busy transforming our criminal justice system into one that does a better job of protecting public safety while holding non-violent offenders accountable and saving millions in taxpayer dollars. I am extremely grateful to this Council and commend the steady leadership of co-chairs Judge Michael Boggs of the Court of Appeals and Thomas Worthy of the State Bar of Georgia.
Throughout this historic reform, Georgia’s trial court judges have been in the trenches.
Our number one goal in criminal justice reform is to better protect the safety of our citizens.
Central to that goal is the development of our specialty courts – what some call accountability courts.
These courts have a proven track record of reducing recidivism rates and keeping our
citizens safe. Nationwide, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain free of arrest two years after completing the program, and the most conservative analyses show that drug courts reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options. Last year, these courts helped save Georgia more than $51 million in prison costs.
From the beginning, you in the legislature have steadfastly supported the growth in these courts, most recently appropriating more than $19 million for the current fiscal year.
Georgia now has 131 of these courts, which include drug courts, DUI courts, juvenile and adult mental health courts, and veterans courts. Today, only two judicial circuits in the state do not yet have a specialty court, and both are in the early stages of discussing the possibility of starting one. In addition to those already involved, last year alone, we added nearly 3500 new participants to these courts.
Behind that number are individual tales of lives changed and in some cases, lives saved.
Our judges, who see so much failure, take pride in these success stories. And so should you.

Chief Judge Richard Slaby of the Richmond County State Court, speaks with great pride of Judge David Watkins and the specialty courts that have grown under Judge Watkins’ direction. Today the recidivism rate among the Augusta participants is less than 10 percent.
The judges who run these courts are committed and deserve our thanks. We are grateful to leaders like Judge Slaby, who is President-Elect of the Council of State Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council; to Judge Stephen Goss of the Dougherty Superior Court, whose mental health court has been recognized as one of the best mental health courts in our country; to Chief Judge Brenda Weaver, President of the Council of Superior Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council. Judge Weaver of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit serves on the Council of
Accountability Court Judges of Georgia, which you created last year by statute. Its purpose is to improve the quality of our specialty courts through proven standards and practices, and it is chaired by Superior Court Judge Jason Deal of Hall County. Judge Deal’s dedication to the specialty court model in his community, and his guidance and encouragement to programs throughout the state, are described as invaluable by those who work with him.


We may not have a unified court system in Georgia. But we have judges unified in their commitment to our courts. Among our one thousand four hundred and fifty judges, Georgia has many fine leaders. I’ve told you about a number of them today. In closing, I want to mention two more.
When the United States Supreme Court issued its historic decision last year on same-sex marriage, our Council of Probate Court Judges led the way toward compliance. Three months before the ruling was issued, the judges met privately at the behest of the Council’s then president, Judge Chase Daughtrey of Cook County, and his successor, Judge Don Wilkes of Emanuel County. Together, they determined that regardless of what the Supreme Court decided, they would follow the law. Both Governor Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens also publicly announced they would respect the court’s decision, despite tremendous pressure to do otherwise.
These men are all great leaders who spared our state the turmoil other states endured. The bottom line is this: In Georgia, we may like the law, we may not like the law, but we follow the law.


The day-to-day business of the Georgia courts rarely makes the news. Rather judges,
their staff and clerks spend their days devoted to understanding the law, tediously pushing cases through to resolution, committed to ferreting out the truth and making the right decision. It is not easy, and they must often stand alone, knowing that when they sentence someone to prison, many lives hang in the balance between justice and mercy.
So I thank all of our leaders, and I thank all of our judges who are leading our courts into the 21st century.
May God bless them. May God bless you. And may God bless all the people of Georgia.
Thank you.

Wells Fargo Agrees to pay $1.2 Billion (yes, with a B) to resolve claims by Justice Dept. & other federal agencies for the origination of “shoddy loans” insured by FHA


Compliance & Regulation
Why Wells Fargo Blinked in Its FHA Fight with the Government
Kate Berry
By Kate Berry
February 3, 2016
http://www.nationalmortgagenews.com/news/compliance-regulation/why-wells-fargo-blinked-in-its-fha-fight-with-the-government-1071213-1.html?utm_medium=email&ET=nationalmortgage:e4010451:a:&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=-feb%205%202016&st=email

The long arm of the government is tough to elude, even if you are the nation’s largest home lender.

Wells Fargo stunned the mortgage industry Wednesday by tentatively agreeing to pay $1.2 billion to resolve civil claims by the Justice Department and other federal agencies that it originated shoddy loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

The proposed settlement could prove a bellwether for other banks that have outstanding investigations of FHA loans including PNC Financial Services Group, Regions Financial and BB&T.

Wells had been the lone big bank holdout willing to go to trial as a potential test of the government’s pursuit of banks for violations of the False Claims Act. That Civil War-era law allows the government to collect triple damages for fraud against the government. The law also has been a lightning rod for banks, causing some to pull out of FHA lending entirely.

Some observers said they were surprised at the size of the deal. Wells had put up a fight, claiming it has always been a prudent and responsible FHA lender. But some observers said the risk to its reputation and the cost of continuing the litigation was just too great.

“Nobody’s put [the government] to the test like Wells,” said Allen Jones, an independent mortgage consultant who managed Bank of America’s FHA business from 2005 to 2009. “They definitely made a run like no one else has. But there comes a point in time where you add it up and have to quantify the downside risk.”

The $1.8 trillion-asset bank reached an “agreement in principle” on Monday to resolve the FHA claims but could not provide any additional details until the deal is finalized, said Catherine Pulley, a Wells spokeswoman.

The agreement is forcing Wells to shave $134 million, or three cents a share, off its previously reported net income for 2015, the bank said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Wells said its revised profit for 2015 is $22.9 billion, or $4.12 a share.

The San Francisco bank had to provide for an additional legal accrual because of the settlement, which increased its operating losses within noninterest expense by $200 million, the filing said.

The deal appears to provide Wells some future protections. It would resolve “other potential civil claims relating to the company’s FHA lending activities for other periods,” the filing said.

Prosecutors had alleged that Wells “engaged in a regular practice of reckless origination and underwriting of its retail FHA loans” from 2001 to 2010.

Theoretically lenders are required to indemnify FHA for loans that contain mistakes or are defective, essentially self-insuring the loan so taxpayers are not on the hook for potential losses. In this case, Wells not only failed to report material violations to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but HUD also paid insurance claims on thousands of defaulted loans that it later found had significant violations, the lawsuit alleged.

Last year the government added a Wells executive in charge of quality control, Kurt Lofrano, as a defendant to the lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2012. Lofrano was responsible for reporting loans with material defects to HUD, which oversees the FHA.

Prosecutors were preparing to use Wells’ own internal quality control reports to prove that executives knew some loans were of poor quality but did nothing about it. Wells failed to report the errors or change its practices because of pressure to fund more loans, the government claimed.

Patricia McCoy, a professor at Boston College Law School who specializes in banking law, said that because details of the settlement have not yet been released, there is no way to gauge the severity of Wells’ lending errors.

“Part of the problem is, there is a continuum of different types of conduct that would have led to a False Claims Act claim, and depending on the lender it could have been really bad, or a mixture with innocuous errors that slipped through,” McCoy said. “We don’t know where Wells Fargo fell along that continuum. At worst, it was a mix, some bad and probably a lot of innocuous errors.”

A bigger problem, McCoy said, is that the Justice Department has used the False Claims Act and its potential for treble damages for each violation as a tool to get banks to settle FHA violations. That threat has caused many to flee the program, she said.

“It’s a very heavy sledgehammer, and that’s not a constructive approach because in the course of underwriting innocent mistakes can happen and often they can be cured or fixed,” she said. “If the FHA is saying as a condition of a lender doing FHA loans, they have to be 100% perfect or else they are automatically going to face this threat of treble damages — that’s not a viable lending program.”

The Bank With the Most Homes in the End Wins!!!!!

The Daily Sheeple: “FUKUSHIMA? 10,000 DEAD SQUID WASH UP ON CHILE BEACH”


FUKUSHIMA? 10,000 DEAD SQUID WASH UP ON CHILE BEACH
JANUARY 18, 2016 | MELISSA DYKES | THE DAILY SHEEPLE | 4,008 VIEWS
http://www.thedailysheeple.com/fukushima-10000-dead-squid-wash-up-on-chile-beach_012016

It is being referred to as Cthulhu-geddon.
Squid have washed up on Santa Maria Island off Chile this week in what some have described as biblical proportions. Thousands of dead and dying squid are piled up on the shore. While some squid normally do wash up this time of year, it’s never been in this large of a quantity.

Exact reason for this die-off is unknown, but some experts claim it might be a sudden drop in oxygen content in the water or an increase in water temperatures. They just really don’t know.

Of course, just like all the other mass die-offs up and down the Pacific coast in recent years, no one in any official capacity is pointing to the Fukushima disaster, still dumping tons of radioactive water into the sea as it has been for the last half a decade now just across the globe from Chile.


Screenshot 2016-01-18 at 8.08.59 AM

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Melissa Dykes is a writer, researcher, and analyst for The Daily Sheeple and a co-creator of Truthstream Media with Aaron Dykes, a site that offers teleprompter-free, unscripted analysis of The Matrix we find ourselves living in. Melissa also co-founded Nutritional Anarchy with Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper, a site focused on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Wake the flock up!
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Agendas Acc0rding to the Federal Bar Association


I ran across this tonight, looking for something else, but it caught my eye and so I read it.
Knowing what I know about this country and being “awake”, I find the following pretty fucking interesting. What are your thoughts?:

FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION
2015-16 ISSUES AGENDA
http://www.fedbar.org/Advocacy/Issues-Agendas.aspx

Active Issues | Monitored Issues
ACTIVE LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

Independence of the Federal Judiciary

The Federal Bar Association reaffirms the importance of the independence of the judiciary, recognizing that judicial decisions are not immune from scrutiny, but are to be made solely on the basis of the law.

Funding for the Federal Courts

The Federal Bar Association supports adequate funding for the general and continuing operations of the federal courts, including an equitable level of rent and facilities expense consistent with actual costs, budgetary constraints, staffing needs and security considerations, to permit the courts to fulfill their constitutional and statutory responsibilities

Federal Judgeships and Caseloads

The Federal Bar Association supports the authorization and establishment of additional permanent and temporary federal judgeships, including bankruptcy judgeships, along with support personnel, as proposed by the Judicial Conference of the United States, when rising caseloads in the federal courts threaten the prompt delivery of justice. The Federal Bar Association also supports efforts to educate Congress, the legal profession and the general public about how the overwhelming case loads threaten the ability of the Third Branch of the federal government to function.

Federal Judicial Vacancies

The Federal Bar Association calls upon the President and Congress to act promptly and responsibly in nominating and confirming nominees to the federal appellate and district courts. The Federal Bar Association supports the development of strategies to reduce the time required to fill federal judicial vacancies.

Courthouse Security

The Federal Bar Association supports the adoption of adequate security measures to protect the federal judiciary, their families and court personnel in and outside the courthouse, while preserving meaningful public access to judicial proceedings.

Federal Judicial Pay

The Federal Bar Association support equitable compensation and regular periodic adjustments for the federal judiciary, as well as senior officials of the Executive Branch and Members of Congress, to promote the recruitment and retention of the highest quality public servants.

Respect for the Federal Courts

Declining public confidence in our courts undermines public respect for the courts and the legitimacy of their rulings. To counter that influence, the Federal Bar Association supports programming and other efforts to educate the public about the federal courts and the role they serve in assuring a just society.

Professionalism and Stature of Federal Attorneys

The Federal Bar Association supports and promotes efforts to improve the professionalism and stature of attorneys employed by the federal government, including: enhancements to the compensation packages of federal attorneys, including pay and retirement benefits, to assist in recruitment and retention; the expansion, consistent with applicable conflict of interest laws, of policies encouraging full participation of attorneys employed by the federal government in professional organizations and pro bono legal activities, including approval for use of administrative leave; enhanced federal funding for participation in continuing legal education and training programs, including paid tuition and administrative leave; and the establishment of programs for student loan deferral and repayment assistance for all federal attorneys, including federal law clerks, federal defenders and judge advocates of the Armed Forces, in support of recruitment and retention efforts.

Social Security Disability Appeals Backlog

The Federal Bar Association supports adequate funding and resources for the Social Security Administration to remove the significant backlog of disability benefit appeals awaiting adjudication and to assure the fair and timely administration of justice for all appellants.

Authority of Bankruptcy Judges in “Core Proceedings”

The Federal Bar Association supports amendment of bankruptcy law to expressly allow bankruptcy judges to issue proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law in core proceedings in which they are otherwise barred from entering final judgments under Article III of the United States Constitution.

Commission on Nazi-Confiscated Art Claims

The Federal Bar Association supports the Congressional creation of a commission to address identification and ownership issues related to Nazi-confiscated artworks, pursuant to the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, as signed by the United States and the international community.

Article I Immigration Court
The Federal Bar Association supports the transfer of responsibilities for the adjudication of immigration claims from the Executive Office of Immigration Review within the Department of Justice to a specialized Article I court, as established by Congress, for the adjudication of claims under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

Federal Criminal Sentencing
The Federal Bar Association supports efforts to advance fairness and consistency in federal sentencing, while preserving judicial independence and discretion to deal with the particular circumstances of individual cases.

Military Spouse Attorney Mobility
The Federal Bar Association supports state-level legal licensing accommodations, including bar admission without additional examination, for attorneys who are spouses of service members, i.e., members of the uniformed services of the United States as defined in 10 USC §101(a)(5), when: (1) those “military spouse attorneys” are present in a particular state, commonwealth, or territory of the United States or District of Columbia due to their service members’ military assignment; (2) they are graduates of accredited law schools; and (3) they are licensed attorneys in good standing in the bar of another state, commonwealth, or territory of the United States or District of Columbia.

Patent Litigation Reform
The Federal Bar Association supports legislation that curbs abusive patent litigation practices and other responsible measures to improve the quality and clarity of patents. The FBA opposes legislation that reduces judicial discretion in adjudicating patent actions or circumvents the Rules Enabling Act by mandating changes that depart from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in patent cases.

MONITORED LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

Courthouse Construction

The Federal Bar Association supports the full funding of courthouse construction proposed by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Cameras in the Courts

The Federal Bar Association encourages a discussion of the competing considerations vis-a-vis proposed legislation which would authorize federal judges, in their discretion, to permit photographing, electronic recording, broadcasting, and televising of federal court proceedings in appropriate circumstances.

Division of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Federal Bar Association opposes the division of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, consistent with its capacity to effectively and efficiently render justice.

Continuing Legal Education Funding for the Federal Judiciary

The Federal Bar Association supports the expansion of and enhancement of federal funding for continuing legal education and training programs for the federal judiciary.

Expansion of Federal Jurisdiction Over State and Local-Prosecuted Crimes

The Federal Bar Association advocates strict scrutiny of legislation proposing to grant original jurisdiction to federal authorities over crimes traditionally reserved to state and local prosecution.

Criminal Justice Act Panel Attorney Compensation

The Federal Bar Association supports Congressional funding to permit an increase in compensation rates for Criminal Justice Act panel attorneys.

National Security and Civil Liberties

The Federal Bar Association encourages the discussion of the competing considerations in the nation’s war against terror between the protection of civil liberties and the interests of national security.

Prevention of Epidemics and Civil Liberties

The Federal Bar Association encourages and contributes to a discussion of the competing considerations between governmental restrictions to guard against epidemics and pandemics and the preservation of individual rights, as well as the use of technology to ensure the continuance of participatory governance.

Safety of Administrative Judges

The Federal Bar Association supports the efforts by the Social Security Administration and the Executive Office of Immigration Review to take appropriate steps to ensure the security of their administrative law judges and immigration judges, and all others who participate in its proceedings.

Veteran Disability Claims Adjudication

The Federal Bar Association supports legislative and administrative improvements to the veterans disability claims process in the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to assure equitable and expeditious determinations.

Attorney Fee-Based Representation of Veterans

The Federal Bar Association supports proposals to expand the availability of fee-based representation of veterans in the disability claims process and to oppose any efforts to repeal the authority of attorney representation to veterans in the furtherance of such claims.

Frivolous Litigation

The Federal Bar Association opposes legislative proposals to eliminate judicial discretion in the imposition of sanctions for frivolous litigation, including proposals to revise Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by imposing mandatory sanctions and preventing a party from withdrawing challenged pleadings on a voluntary basis within a reasonable time.

Adopted by the Board of Directors
Federal Bar Association
July 10, 2015

The compass of FBA’s government relations program is its Issues Agenda, a roster of policy priorities to which the Association devotes its advocacy resources. The policy priorities embraced by the Issues Agenda are associated with active issues that concern the health and welfare of the federal judicial system and effective federal legal practice. For example, they concern the preservation of judicial independence, adequate funding and facilities for the federal courts, sufficient numbers of federal judgeships, equitable compensation for the federal judiciary, fairness and consistency in federal sentencing and a host of other matters

Former Top IAEA Official: Actually, Fukushima “is a catastrophe for every citizen of the world… radiation doesn’t recognize borders”

Former Top IAEA Official: Actually, Fukushima “is a catastrophe for every citizen of the world… radiation doesn’t recognize borders” — Dose from Fukushima fallout in Europe many times higher than California gov’t claimed for West Coast (VIDEO)

 
Published: October 5th, 2014 at 7:42 pm ET
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Interview with Olli Heinonen, former IAEA deputy director general, former Finland Reactor Laboratory senior officer and senior fellow at Harvard University (emphasis added): “[We] have a potential catastrophe on our hands… I think that when this thing is over — this is certainly a national catastrophe for Japan — but actually this a catastrophe for every citizen of the world… Russians, Americans, they are also subject radiation. The radiation doesn’t recognize borders… It looks to be a very dire situation.”

United Nations (pdf), 2014: Estimated doses in the first year following the [Fukushima] accident

> Italy — External exposure, inhalation and ingestion of 131I, 134Cs, 137Cs

  • 1-year-old: 180 microsieverts/year
  • Adult: 35 microsieverts/year
  • Very conservative assumptions were applied as the highest concentration values measured for each radionuclide in rainwater were used to calculate the dose from ingested water.

> Serbia — Effective doses from 131I concentrations in food, milk, air and rainwater

  • Adult estimated effective dose: 7.2 microsieverts/month
  • [Does NOT include: Inhaled 134Cs/137Cs; Ingested 134Cs/137Cs; External doses]

Nuclear Physics Workshop (pdf), Apr. 12, 2014: Data discussed in the present work includes the observations of Fukushima related radionuclides in… Italy… [transported] from Japan, across the Pacific and to Central Europe… Estimated committed doses for population related to the contributions of Fukushima fallout due to different pathways were at least one order of magnitude [i.e. around ten times] less of the limit of 1 [millisievert a year] even if the calculations are made using high conservative assumptions… caesium and iodine were found above their detection limits in all environmental samples, but well below levels of concern.

Dr. Steve Wing, Univ. of North Carolina epidemiologist: “What we know about radiation is any amount increases risk of cancer… [At Fukushima] there’s a spectrum of types of radiation being emitted… Risks to populations exposed will play out over the rest of their lives. Even after the radiation is gone, genetic damage could lead to cancer many years later.”

Watch the interview with the former IAEA deputy director here

National Geographic Tell Of Zombie Virus a Combo of Rabies and Ebola, or Other Mutant Virus

A dog with rabies.

A dog stricken with paralysis during late-stage rabies in an undated photo.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY BARBARA ANDREWS, CDC

Ker Than

for National Geographic News

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 27, 2010

In the zombie flicks 28 Days Later and I Am Legend, an unstoppable viral plague sweeps across humanity, transforming people into mindless monsters with cannibalistic tendencies.

Though dead humans can’t come back to life, certain viruses can induce such aggressive, zombie-like behavior, scientists say in the new National Geographic Channel documentary The Truth Behind Zombies, premiering Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society, which part-owns the National Geographic Channel.)

For instance, rabies—a viral disease that infects the central nervous system—can drive people to be violently mad, according to Samita Andreansky, a virologist at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine in Florida who also appears in the documentary.

Combine rabies with the ability of a flu virus to spread quickly through the air, and you might have the makings of a zombie apocalypse.

Rabies Virus Mutation Possible?

Unlike movie zombies, which become reanimated almost immediately after infection, the first signs a human has rabies—such as anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, and paralysis—don’t typically appear for ten days to a year, as the virus incubates inside the body.

Once rabies sets in, though, it’s fatal within a week if left untreated.

If the genetic code of the rabies virus experienced enough changes, or mutations, its incubation time could be reduced dramatically, scientists say.

Many viruses have naturally high mutation rates and constantly change as a means of evading or bypassing the defenses of their hosts.

There are various ways viral mutations can occur, for example through copying mistakes during gene replication or damage from ultraviolet light.

(Related: “New, Fast-Evolving Rabies Virus Found—and Spreading.”)

“If a rabies virus can mutate fast enough, it could cause infection within an hour or a few hours. That’s entirely plausible,” Andreansky said.

Airborne Rabies Would Create “Rage Virus”

But for the rabies virus to trigger a zombie pandemic like in the movies, it would also have to be much more contagious.

Humans typically catch rabies after being bitten by an infected animal, usually a dog—and the infection usually stops there.

Thanks to pet vaccinations, people rarely contract rabies in the United States today, and even fewer people die from the disease. For example, in 2008 only two cases of human rabies infection were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(See pictures of infectious animals in National Geographic magazine.)

A faster mode of transmission would be through the air, which is how the influenza virus spreads.

“All rabies has to do is go airborne, and you have the rage virus” like in28 Days Later, Max Mogk, head of the Zombie Research Society, says in the documentary. The international nonprofit is devoted to “raising the level of zombie scholarship in the Arts and Sciences,” according to their website.

To be transmitted by air, rabies would have to “borrow” traits from another virus, such as influenza.

Different forms, or strains, of the same virus can swap pieces of genetic code through processes called reassortment or recombination, saidElankumaran Subbiah, a virologist at Virginia Tech who was not involved in the documentary.

But unrelated viruses simply do not hybridize in nature, Subbiah told National Geographic News.

Likewise, it’s scientifically unheard of for two radically different viruses such as rabies and influenza to borrow traits, he said.

“They’re too different. They cannot share genetic information. Viruses assemble only parts that belong to them, and they don’t mix and match from different families.”

(Take a quiz on infectious diseases.)

Engineered Zombie Virus Possible?

It’s theoretically possible—though extremely difficult—to create a hybrid rabies-influenza virus using modern genetic-engineering techniques, the University of Miami’s Andreansky said.

“Sure, I could imagine a scenario where you mix rabies with a flu virus to get airborne transmission, a measles virus to get personality changes, the encephalitis virus to cook your brain with fever”—and thus increase aggression even further—”and throw in the ebola virus to cause you to bleed from your guts. Combine all these things, and you’ll [get] something like a zombie virus,” she said.

“But [nature] doesn’t allow all of these things to happen at the same time. … You’d most likely get a dead virus.”

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