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Mock Me

Mock Me

Much has been made of Donald Trump's mocking of the New York Times reporter. We have Police who shoot people who are deaf and a caregiver of an Autistic boy in Florida was shot despite him telling Officers that the boy had no gun and had a disability.

We ask a lot of Police to act in counsel when serving the mentally ill so instead of offering appropriate help they shoot and kill, but they do that regardless so there is little distinction about what defines a problem to the Police.

So if one survives to make it to court, the reality is that many disabled cannot afford a proper Defense Attorney so they are assigned (if lucky that) a Public Defender who will spend all of 20 minutes trying to find a way to plea bargain. And the same excessive fines and ultimate jail time as the same indigent individual who could not pay for an Attorney won't be able to pay the fines so they will be sent to jail instead which insures a life of further poverty and stratification from society as they now have the RED X mark on their "record."

And if you are really lucky you meet Donald Trump the Judicial version.

California judge who mocked blind man emblematic of failed traffic court system

Judge Taylor Culver is accused of ‘willful misconduct’ by the state’s commission on judicial performance, providing a rare window into how police agencies and courts use traffic courts to target low-income people

Sam Levin in Oakland, California
Associated Press
Thursday 20 October 2016

When Prentiss Mayo showed up to traffic court on 19 October 2015, he tried to explain that he was blind and that his impairment affected his case.

Judge Taylor Culver wasn’t having it.

“I don’t believe any of it,” Culver said repeatedly in his Oakland, California, courtroom before he ordered Mayo to pay a $221 fine on fare evasion charges. The case was quickly closed, but the judge’s dismissive remarks about Mayo’s blindness didn’t stop.

“Sit over there,” Culver said.

“Sit over where?” Mayo replied, confused.

Culver laughed. “Man, I like this. You really got style. It’s all lies. Sit over there on the right-hand side of the courtroom.”

Mayo, 34, was stunned to hear the mockery and asked again where he should go.

“You’ll find it,” Culver replied.

“I’ve never been so embarrassed in my whole life,” Mayo said in a recent interview, explaining that he lost his vision after a stabbing attack. “It just really felt like he denied my whole experience.”

This week, Culver, who some attorneys say is one of the cruelest traffic judges in the state, was accused of “willful misconduct” by the California commission on judicial performance. The case offers a rare window into the inner workings of the controversial traffic courts that have burdened low-income people with insurmountable debts for minor offenses.

The charges – which chronicle Culver’s “rude” and “harsh” treatment of defendants and “abuse of authority” – come at a time when advocates across the country have increasingly raised alarms about the way police agencies and courts try to collect revenue from marginalized communities through exorbitant fines and fees for low-level citations.

In Ferguson, Missouri, where reports on the mistreatment of black residents sparked national protests, municipal leaders have faced widespread criticism for issuing tens of thousands of warrants for minor offenses, trapping poor people in cycles of debt and poverty and disproportionately targeting minorities.
Analysis Ferguson reform to courts system could leave residents paying more
Council says it wants to stop fines being used as a source of revenue for the city, but new 15% rule means an extra $3m could be taken from residents already feeling ‘preyed upon’

Civil rights lawyers say the problem is just as bad in liberal California and that the Culver charges illustrate how traffic judges have wide discretion to abuse vulnerable defendants and order fines that can destroy people’s lives.

“He’s the worst I’ve ever been in front of,” said Osha Neumann, supervising attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center who represented Mayo in his 2015 case. “People were generally treated with almost a sneering contempt. [Culver] seemed like a person who was angry with the world ... and took it out on the people who appeared before him.”

Culver is facing 10 counts in the misconduct case, including charges that he is “unfit to serve” and that he is “prejudicial to the administration of justice”.

In one case, Culver screamed “Keep your mouth shut!” at a female defendant, according to the complaint. He then allegedly threatened to “fight” her, saying: “I wish I didn’t have this robe on. We would straighten it out.”

In another case, a man pleaded for leniency for running a red light and driving without a license, saying that he has a “big family” and couldn’t pay the $1,043 fine. Culver mocked him in his response, saying: “We’re not gonna let you break the law, walk out ’cause you made a bunch of kids.”

Culver told one man accused of “reversing his vehicle in an unsafe manner” that he “better be quiet”, adding: “Don’t make me put you through door number two.” This apparent threat to jail him was an “abuse” of power, the charges alleged.

When one woman tried to present photo evidence, the judge responded: “Ma’am, now you gonna keep runnin’ your mouth, I’m gonna have to call somebody to have this dealt with.”

The complaint also revealed that Culver repeatedly implied that police are always right and defendants are generally lying, regardless of evidence. That’s a problem that critics say is pervasive in traffic courts where, unlike criminal court, defendants do not have a right to a public defender.

In one dispute over a charge of failing to come to a full stop, Culver told a defendant: “I’m interested in why a cop would put his career on the line to lie about you.”

Culver also scolded an Asian woman for saying “sorry” in English when she had an interpreter: “Why you talking about ‘sorry’? You got an interpreter. Cut it out. Use the interpreter like I told you.”

When fines are more than $1,000, Culver has consistently refused to let defendants do community service instead of paying, regardless of their income, the charges said. One day in court, prior to arraignments, he told a group of defendants: “Don’t waste any time talking about your drama ’cause nobody in here cares about it. There’s nobody special in here but me.”

The judge is also accused of making inappropriate sexual remarks, allegedly talking about “kissing” staff and joking about his “ability to sustain an erection”.

Culver did not respond to requests for comment. His lawyer, Arthur Harris, told the Guardian that the judge “disputes the charges”, adding: “He looks forward to a full, fair and impartial hearing to respond to those allegations.”

Although Culver’s language may be unique, advocates said his actions reflect unfair policies that are common throughout the system.

“Taylor Culver said out loud what many judges are unfortunately putting into practice, which is: ‘The court needs money and therefore we don’t care whether you can afford to pay this ticket,’” said Elisa Della-Piana, legal director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, who has appeared before the judge.

The charges against Culver come more than a year after a local paper, the East Bay Express, published an investigation on the judge. “There are many courtrooms across California where there is no one watching,” Della-Piana added.

While consequences for one judge can have an impact, activists said the system should be overhauled so that the courts can no longer require low-income people to pay steep fines.

Last year, one report found that more than 4 million California residents have lost their driver’s licenses because they can’t afford to pay traffic fines and fees. The suspensions make it harder for many to find and maintain employment and keep up with daily responsibilities.

“It puts you in a spiral,” said Brandon Greene, staff attorney with East Bay Community Law Center. “They don’t have enough money, and they can’t pay the debt.”

Another recent study also found that the license suspensions are much more common in black and Latino neighborhoods and areas with high poverty rates.

Culver’s courtroom was often 90-95% people of color, Neumann said. Without a lawyer, few have a chance of winning a case in front of Culver, he added. “There was never any sympathy ... and it has genuinely devastating consequences.”

This post first appeared on Green Goddess VV, please read the originial post: here

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