In a report by the Center for Public Integrity, states were rated and ranked according to their levels of integrity. Several factors were used in determining each state’s overall grade. But only one factor actually affects people, although indirectly, on a daily basis—judicial accountability—and is perhaps the most important one. Since the judicial branch of government is the only one of the three branches that directly “serves” the people on a daily basis, it is the only one wherein having corruption or dysfunction can severely and negatively impact the average person. The map above reflects the overall integrity score. When ranking is recalculated based upon judicial accountability, the result literally yields a completely different picture, which is as follows with numeric scores shown:
Not bad...two-thirds of the nation is flunking.
Keep in mind that judicial accountability is not necessarily directly proportional to the amount of corruption in any given state’s court system nor does judicial accountability correspond one for one with the quality of that system, but there is definitely a correlation. States with the worst grades based strictly on judicial accountability certainly have the greatest possibility of having the most corrupt and the worst judicial systems—the lower the score, the more the door can be opened for greater corruption and lower quality.
Corruption as a whole is a difficult thing to uncover. It is also difficult to prevent. Until it hits them directly or indirectly, average Americans most likely do not believe they will ever be victimized by our wildly corrupt legal system. They view being struck with the legal system as an “other person’s disease.” This is not at all close to a valid belief.
In high profile cases involving Hillary Clinton, Mike Pompeo, Kamala Harris, James Comey, and many, many other well known and powerful individuals, ordinary people see these individuals’ criminal activities brought to light by the media but do not realize that the level of criminality extends far beyond the Washington, D.C., elites. Prosecutors, police, judges, and other members of the system commit crimes just as repugnant, just as big…..and just as easily overlooked and unpunished.
As we write about in our book Stack the Legal Odds in Your Favor, understand that the incidents of crime and corruption within our legal system that we hear about in the mainstream media are simply the ones being reported. It may very well be that these represent just the tip of the iceberg since others go undetected or just unreported.
Ranking state judiciaries in America based upon levels of corruption—or anything else—is not an easy thing to do. Keep in mind that using federal conviction data for cases of corruption may have more of an effect on percentages in states with smaller populations. A case involving a corruption ring of twelve people in Wyoming, for example, will have a much greater impact on the numbers than a similar case prosecuted in New York, which has a much larger population.
Perception-based surveys can be helpful if enough of the right people are polled. If someone (such as the author of this post) has been clearly victimized by the criminals running the world’s largest and most powerful crime syndicate, that is, the U.S. [in]justice system, and is asked about the experience, information gathered could help to identify the worst state judicial systems and the most corrupt. If people under age fifteen who have yet to experience the system, people who are part of it, and other similar individuals are polled, the data will obviously be significantly skewed away from realistic numbers.
One thing for certain is that American ingenuity is unmatched worldwide. In some states, California for one, judges often take out “loans” from financial institutions, frequently several times in a relatively short span. Not long afterward, these debts are magically paid in full by the payment fairies. These little monetary shell games are simply a fancy way of money laundering bribes from parties to certain lawsuits.
As one works one’s way towards the top of the food chain, the impact of corruption and lack of integrity becomes much greater. A criminal-judge who takes a bribe from a neighbor you may be fighting in a case regarding trimming part of your tree overhanging his property will have much less of an impact on people, perhaps only you, than a supreme court criminal-judge who decides a case that could impact the lives of millions of Americans.
The Framers had the right formula for setting up government: create it such that any particular branch will be restrained by the others. The only problem is that this kind of a design can, at best, keep under control the highest levels of government, which concern state or federal supreme courts. For the common person, there are no effective checks and balances at the lowest levels of the court system—which is where the overwhelming majority of interaction with it takes place and where corruption and dysfunction runs rampant and destroys lives.
From the perspective of our nationwide network, several states rank near the top of the list of worst judicial systems: Ohio, Washington, and the People’s Republic of Massachusetts are certainly among them. Based on this writer’s personal experience, which includes a judge secretively calling clear across the country to talk to opposing counsel, a case docket that was “engineered,” court rules of procedure and laws, both civil and criminal, that were broken by lawyers and judges, and much more, it’s hard to believe any state can overtake the Republic for first place.
Image and table data courtesy of The Center for Public Integrity