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Corruption Is Alive and Well in American Courts


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A judiciary without honesty has little chance of executing its moral and constitutional duties, no matter how many rules of ethics exist.  This is true in the United States, where the judiciary is afforded wide discretion.  Facts and laws require interpretation; justice and equity require judgment.  We count on honest judges to navigate our ship of justice through dangerous waters.  We expect judges to be honest because we establish institutions that incentivize honesty.  Despite the critical importance of maintaining judicial integrity, there is much to say about how commonplace corruption is in our courts.

Nationwide Protests and Demand for Institutional Reforms


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As many people are aware, there have been protests around the country as well as around the world after the brutal and senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25th, 2020.  As the saying goes, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back—after the million other straws underneath it.  The tumult and passion of the past several weeks have forced people to face the uncomfortable realities of our justice system.  These protests are like nothing the United States and the world have ever seen.  The last time anything close to what is currently transpiring happened in the United States was during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

States Potentially Having the Worst Judicial Systems


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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:

Three Strikes (and You're Out) Laws—Why These Laws Are Bad


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History

In the United States, habitual offender laws, commonly referred to as "three-strikes laws" were first implemented on March 7, 1994, and are part of the Department of Justice Anti-Violence Strategy.  These laws require two previous convictions in order to be applicable and sometimes make life in prison mandatory.  Twenty-eight states have some form of a three-strikes law.  Its purpose is to drastically increase the punishment of those convicted of more than two felonies, but, in some instances, convictions of more than just one criminal offense, not necessarily a felony, will still result in harsher penalties as it does in Washington, D.C.

Recklessly Driving Cop Got 41 Speeding and Red Light Tickets


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The car that got slapped with 63 tickets, including 34 speeding tickets and seven red light tickets, is parked in the foreground of the general mess at the 23rd station house in East Harlem.  Photo: Julianne Cuba

The fight to save our streets from recklessly driving cops now has a poster child.  Streetsblog’s ongoing investigation into police officers who repeatedly speed and run red lights unearthed a true sociopath in blue on Tuesday: An Upper East Side cop with 63 summonses—including 34 camera-issued speeding tickets and seven tickets issued for being caught on camera running a red light—since 2014.

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