Is Writ of Habeas Corpus obsolete?

The Liberals, who fret ceaselessly about the idea that if individuals who qualify can be secretly sequestered in Guantanimo then it won’t be long until American citizens will start disappearing, are in for a big adrenaline jolt if and when they learn the particulars of about attorney Richard Fine in Los Angeles.  If that case is ever reported in the New York Times, Time magazine, or the NBC Nightly News, the Liberals are not going to need a laxative for a month or more.

One of the basic precepts of Republican proselytizing and propagandizing is that the enemy (be they al Qadea or Democrats) are never right.   Therefore if the MSM ever report the case, it would be a tacit way of saying that the “Ducky Lucky” branch of the Democrats was right to be alarmed about the detentions in Gitmo.  If they can’t be right then the story is classified as a conspiracy theory generated by a bunch of hysterical enemy sympathizers and thus doesn’t qualify for use on Fox’s hilariously one-sided “fair and balanced” pseudojournalism satire programs. 

The idea that an American lawyer can be put in “coercive confinement” and left without recourse to the writ of <em>habeas corpus</em> might be a concept to discourage tourism in certain remote lands, but Americans are smugly reassure by Republican propagandists:  “It can’t happen here.”  Dick Cheney and Co. would never have done anything to endanger real Americans.

Attorney Richard Fine brought a lawsuit to the courts in Los Angeles for residents of an apartment house in Marina del Rey.  The unincorporated area of Los Angeles County is controlled by the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

Fine objected to the fact that the judge received monies from the county of Los Angeles and thus was open to conflict of interest factors which might affect the judge’s ability to remain unbiased about the case.  The money is a supplement added by the county of Los Angeles to the basic wage they receive from the US government for their services in the courts.  The extra money is justified by the assertion that they need the extra cash to live and work in the Los Angeles area. 

Perish the thought that the extra money could sway any judicial decisions in any case involving the county of Los Angeles.  If (hypothetically) such a case were to be put on the docket, the lawyer could ask the judge to recuse (step aside from the case) himself because of the conflict of interests. 

When a lawyer (Richard Fine) was faced with the necessity to ask a judge to do so for a case involving an apartment house in Marina del Rey, which is under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the judge refused the request to recuse.

One thing led to another and the lawyer was disbarred and held in contempt and placed in “coercive custody.”  In essence that meant that if he cried “Uncle!” and dropped the case, he would be free to leave jail and go home.

[Note:  Many of the links for any online material which would explain the lawyer’s plight will mostly lead to the one site  Leslie Dutton has been covering the story since the beginning.] 

This columnist has (because of doing some volunteer work for the Marina (del Rey, CA) Tenants Association), accepted collect calls from Mr. Fine, which were offered on the collect basis as originating from a prisoner in the Los Angeles County jail. 

Since the columnist has spoken to the prisoner at length, it became obvious that if a publication of the stature of (for instance) the New York Times were to do a story on Richard Fine, they most likely would assign a reporter who was also a lawyer, to cover the complex legal maneuvers necessitated by the case. 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff has not responded to the attorney’s attempt to be granted his write of habius corpus rights.    

A Los Angeles Time writer (somehow) gained access to the prisoner for an interview for a story. 

Leslie Dutton’s request to Sheriff Bocca for an interview has been denied.

(Wouldn’t the New York Time be anxious (if only on a sophomoric prank level) to do a story spotlighting the preferential treatment their West Coast colleagues were granted and that the TV show was denied?)  

Fine was disbarred and in March of 2009, was ordered to be put in a cell until he dropped his objections to the possibility that the pay bonus added by the County of Los Angeles, might have had an derogatory influence on the presiding judge.  In the meantime, in Sacramento, the state legislature passed (on an emergency priority basis) a law which (allegedly) granted retroactive immunity to the judges should any appearance of impropriety be raised.  Some information is available online by doing a Google search for “SBX 211.”  Or go to

The Los Angeles Newspaper, the Daily Journal, devoted to coverage of all news in their area about judicial issues, is monitoring the Richard Fine case and has posted some information on their blog.

Judicial Watch has covered the Fine case.

If Fine remains adamant and refused to recant and if the judge continues to keep Fine in jail, the case could  become a modern version of the Prisoner of Chillon story, which would, if it became widely reported in the pro-Liberal mainstream media (which presumably is relentless in their effort to find stories which will delight Democratic Party members and simultaneously infuriate Republicans) would cause a massive “see we tried to warn you” reaction from the Democrats who have continuously and strenuously objected to the Bush solution to “enemy combatants” as the start of an alarming trend. 

One other aspect of the continuing debate about the rights of prisoners, which seems to have also slipped below the nation’s journalistic radar screen is a recent trial balloon statement that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger casually mentioned recently was a possibility that it might save money to use prisons in Mexico to house Californians found guilty of crimes and worth of a jail sentence.   Why didn’t Fox or the pro-Liberal media mention this?  Is there any danger that any such efforts to outsource the detention of prisoners would have a downside?

On the other hand, wouldn’t Fox be delighted with the prospect of being able to cover the plight of any Democratic politician who might suffer the fate of a jail term that would be served south of the border?  Wouldn’t Fox relish the advantage that would arise should any Democratic politician facing such a fate and be reluctant to serve a jail term in Mexico?  Wouldn’t Fox assert that any such objections smacked of hypocrisy on the part of the Democrats?

Curiously, a Los Angeles Times gained access to the prisoner for a story, but reporter Leslie Dutton, of Full Disclosure, has been denied her request for a similar opportunity for an interview with the lawyer while he remains in custody.

Fine is approaching the first anniversary of the start of his period of “coercive confinement.”  He has submitted various legal motions including a petition to the Los Angeles County Sheriff asking for his writ of habius corpus rights.  Fine has received no reply.  It has been traditional under some obscure clause in a thing called the Magna Carta (from Great Britain!) for prisoners in the country which evolved from British colonies, to be entitled to such a reply.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah go cry on the King’s shoulder.)

In early 2009, the California legislature passed an emergency measure to retroactively cover the judges’ interests.  Unfortunately in the hast to pass the measure, a bit of a bit of “crack in the floor” unfortunate wording may have provided Fine with the basis for taking his particular case into “extra innings” (i.e. “all the way to the Supreme Court”).

Most county jails are used for periods of confinement of less than a year’s duration, and so the Fine team may now be pinning their hopes of release on a technicality that could work in the prisoner’s favor.  A question of basic rights may occur if Fine is transferred to a prison without any specific sentence time.

[Here, for any blogger or New York Times reporter, who is just starting to do some fact finding about this new aspect of the old “debtor’s prison” concept of confinement, are some links to some online material which might be of assistance in getting a handle on this complex legal issue.

Jan 2009 Victoria Kim story link

Kim jail interview link,0,206146.story

Leslie Dutton denied interview link

Link to story about L. A. judges pay]

[Note:  Yes the html is sloppy, but working on a portable laptop that’ running out of battery juice, in a public library does have its limitations.  Sorry!]

The Republican defenders of Freedom may well (and ironically) endorse “coercive confinement” for dissenters.  Isn’t it sad that “The Disappeared” may be a new aspect of life for those living in the Land of the Free?

In “The Prisoner of Chillon,” Lord Byron wrote:
“I learn’d to love despair.
And thus when they appear’d at last,
And all my bond aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage – and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home”

Now, the disk jockey will play Johnny Paycheck’s “11 Months and 29 Days,” the Kingston Trio’s “Everglades” and the thought of getting out of jail necessitates that the DJ also play David Allen Coe’s “You Don’t Have to Call Me ‘Darlin’,’ Darlin’.”  It’s time for us to go out for a breath of fresh air.  Have a “Stay down, Luke!” type week.


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