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A Veteran's Lament Part 1, -2 -4, -5
Critiques of the Judiciary
"Bad judges ... sentence people to 'death without prison' ... when they dismiss valid lawsuits."
-- C. W. Heckman

A Veteran's Lament, Part 3
A growing number of judicial critics have personally witnessed the arbitrary, malicious and even unlawful conduct of judges who are shielded from accountability by the doctrine of judicial immunity.  Among them is U.S. veteran Charles W. Heckman, who speaks out against judicial apologists such as University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Roosevelt, who has taken a stand to defend judges from critics who contend that they have usurped power beyond the boundary of their constitutional authority.  In Roosevelt's book and article in the Philadelphia Inquirer (referenced below), he supports the thesis that "judicial activism is largely a myth," and states: "Many of the people who criticize particular decisions as activist have a fairly transparent political agenda.  When they don't like the result, a decision is activist; when they do, the call for deference disappears."  Roosevelt's thesis is totally rejected by Heckman, a victim of judicial abuse, who demonstrates from his own experience with corrupt judges why it is flawed.

An Open Letter to Law Professor Kermit Roosevelt
December 6, 2006
Dear Professor Roosevelt:

You are wrong about your assessment of the current lawlessness on the bench. I have prepared a letter for the Inquirer as a response to your article. I am sure that your civil and human rights are respected. However, mine and those of millions of other Americans are not because judges selectively uphold the law. Because I served in Vietnam, I have had to pursue my career as a scientist entirely in foreign countries; and since I returned to the United States, I have been confronted by the reality of living in a completely lawless society thanks to the corruption of the courts.

What I say here as generalities, I can confirm in detail.

Charles W. Heckman, Dr. Sci.

Dear Editor:

In his defense of judges, Professor Kermit Roosevelt, III, has written an impassioned appeal for a society in which ordinary people are not permitted to voice their objections to the actions of people in authority. Having had reason to seek help from the courts many times, I understand that judges see their first duty as protecting the rights and privileges of a powerful, rich elite, of which Mr. Roosevelt is apparently a member. It is, therefore, only fitting that he rise to the defense of judges when they increasingly come under criticism for their arbitrary and capricious acts on the bench.

In fact, verbal and written criticism are the only recourses still available to the many victims of judicial malfeasance. Judges cannot be sued or called to account for their actions. Prosecutions for common crimes committed by judges are so rare that they become front-page stories.

As a result of the failure of the courts to take action, I have been denied all real employment opportunities for the 38 years since I received my honorable discharge from the United States Air Force — after more than two years of combat service in Vietnam. Mr. Roosevelt's university is one of many that will not employ a veteran in a position higher than janitor, and I can cite more violations of the law by employers against veterans than you could fit into one issue of your newspaper. Judges assist the criminals, not the veterans.

When Washington State Supreme Court Justice Bobbie Bridge was stopped by neighbors as she swerved down a residential street, sideswiping cars, her blood alcohol level was double the legal limit. Nevertheless, there was no prosecution for driving under the influence, no license suspension or any of the other unpleasantries that accompany drunk driving arrests. It was decided that missing a meeting of feminist lawyers was punishment enough.

After she returned to her duties, she temporarily disbarred a lawyer because more than five years earlier, he reported that a judge in Tacoma had plundered an estate he was responsible for and probably committed a major insurance fraud just before he took his place on the bench. It took five years for the Bar Association to get around to having that judge removed, during which time he was free to commit as many injustices as he wished from the bench. The lawyer who had reported him was then disbarred under Justice Bridge's signature for betraying the confidence of a client. However, the judge was never the lawyer's client.

Mr. Roosevelt brings up the Brown v. Board of Education decision as the one shining moment when the United States Supreme Court showed the courage to declare segregated schools to be unconstitutional in spite of the virulent opposition of racists. Like most elitists who cite this decision to justify arbitrary and capricious behavior by judges, he fails to mention that segregated schools were the project of another Supreme Court decision in the first place. Reading the text of Plessy v. Ferguson reveals that the justices at the time were such hard-core racists that they declared black Americans to be a lower form of life and used language reminiscent of the description of Jews by the Nazis. Plessy v. Ferguson is a prime example of Constitutional amendment by judges, as Sandra Day O'Connor and her ilk have long been advocating as a means of bringing the Constitution up to date.

The Fourteenth Amendment had been passed during the lifetime of the justices who decided Plessy, and it was clear that this amendment had been written primarily to give equal rights to the "freedmen." The justices, however, placed the fashionable racist sentiments of their elitist friends and associates above the letter of the law, and they created an educational system that robbed generations of black Americans of an equal chance to receive an education. The "separate-but-equal" schools approved of by the justices who wrote Plessy often lacked heating in the winter, text books, and teachers. That the Court finally corrected itself in the face of a public outcry for civil rights does not mitigate the crime it committed when its justices placed themselves above the law and robbed black Americans of their Fourteenth Amendment rights based on legalistic sophistry.

Today, judges deny litigants their legal, civil, and human rights on a daily basis. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, I found this out through personal experience. The veterans' benefits promised me when I accepted a commission in the Air Force in 1963 are now regarded by our politicians as nothing more than welfare payments, to be paid at the whim of hostile civil servants. Veterans who apply for these benefits are regarded as beggars by the bureaucrats who process the applications; and since they get to split up the money left in the budget at the end of the year as "merit bonuses," they try to pay as little of it as possible to the veterans. The courts have often been called upon to rectify the injustice and fulfill its contract with its veterans, but they have consistently failed to take any action and frequently have expressed hostility against veterans themselves.

The promise of preference in employment by the government has evolved into employment discrimination in the job market today. The courts have devised elaborate and obviously illegal schemes to deny veterans their Seventh Amendment right to trial by jury when they complain. That I am not the only one to experience employment discrimination at the hands of the Federal and state governments, as well as private employers, is clear from the fact that there will be about 230,000 veterans sleeping on the streets or in shelters tonight, according to Congress, primarily because their status as war veterans makes them highly undesirable to hiring officials whose families were privileged enough to use their influence to keep their children safe from the draft. Private groups working with the homeless and veterans' organizations estimate that the actual number of homeless veterans may be as high as 360,000, with 500,000 to 600,000 veterans becoming homeless at one time or another during the course of a single year.

The reason for these inequities is that judges arbitrarily decided during the 1970s that the Federal courts did not have jurisdiction to hear complaints filed by veterans whose rights had been violated. For employment disputes, the judges reasoned, only the United States Secretary of Labor had standing to file a lawsuit in behalf of a veteran, and everyone knew that he would never do this. In fact, the Department of Labor decided that only jobs paying less than $18,000 per year were "suitable for veterans." In 1978, this sum was raised to $25,000 per year. It was not until the 1990s that the General Accounting Office reported that this policy violated the clearly written intent of the law.

In 1994, Congress gave veterans the right to bring lawsuits on their own behalf against employers who discriminated against them. It also gave the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) the duty to protect veterans from discrimination by Federal agencies. In 1998, the Board was also given jurisdiction over veterans' preference violations. Since 1994, however, the MSPB has never provided relief for a veteran, and in 2006, it approved a scheme for agencies to avoid giving preference to veterans altogether. It has posted tracts denouncing veterans' preference on its website, and its own administrative law judges are selected without preference being given to applicants who are veterans.

Unfortunately for veterans, the only judicial review for decisions by the MSPB is provided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This court is the mother of corruption in the Federal government because it always rules in favor of the agency. Its judges have made names for themselves by taking junkets to scenic parts of the country for seminars and meetings, usually paid for by others. These judges permit every kind of agency corruption and take special pains to see to it that whistleblowers are dealt with harshly. Records compiled since the Whistleblower Protection Act was passed show that by 2002, this appeals court had ruled 122 times in favor of agencies and only once in favor of a whistleblower. A hard, cold look at what these judges have been doing would certainly earn most of them prison sentences, but the agencies that investigate and prosecute are also given favorable decisions by this court, so why replace the dishonest judges with honest ones when you can always win with the ones you have?

Veterans are not the only group kept impoverished and homeless through the actions and inactions of lawless judges. Breaking up families has also proved to be one of the most lucrative and dishonest forms of judicial activities. So has plundering property under bankruptcy laws, as the Tacoma judge had been doing. In Brooklyn, soliciting bribes was also a big business, as it had been in Cook County before the Greylord operation.

Defense of judges by persons who benefit from their lawlessness and dishonesty is understandable. Politicians and the agencies they control need to have protection from civil lawsuits. In the unlikely event that a government official is actually tried and convicted for corruption, he wants to be sure that the judge will send him to a minimum security prison, where boating, horseback riding, and golf courses are available and which allows him to go home on weekends. Public officials also want to be sure that they will continue receiving their pensions while incarcerated without any of it being used to repay the taxpayers for the losses and damages they caused while in office. Employees who dodged the draft and obtained seniority while the veterans were fighting in wars or national emergencies want to be sure that no judge forces them to work in the same place as a combat veteran, even though the law seems to give the veteran the right to a decent job for which he is well qualified. Businessmen who knowingly damage the health of a large number of their customers or employees need assurance that no lawsuit against them will ever succeed. Most important, lawyers want to know that the arbitrary and capricious actions of judges will continue to make the outcome of lawsuits fully unpredictable, regardless of the laws, facts, or precedents, so that the maximum number of cases will go all the way through the courts rather than being settled beforehand.

In today's courts, judges decide. It does not matter that the Sixth and Seventh Amendments of the Constitution require trial by jury. This is just one of the many civil rights that has been robbed from Americans by judges. In 1962, about 11.8 % of the lawsuits were decided by juries. Now that percentage is about 1.8%, and those cases are limited to those between prominent litigants with plenty of press coverage.

Lawyers know that the selection of the judge for their case is more important than the law or the facts. Litigants who cannot afford a lawyer and proceed pro se stand less chance of prevailing in court than they do of winning a lottery, regardless of how strong their cases are. Judges never let a jury even look at their evidence. A study in Iowa indicated that 70% of the citizens could not afford the services of a lawyer. No money, no lawyer; no lawyer, no civil rights!

Judges also back criminal activities by civil servants. Judge Bryan of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington wrote in a decision for my lawsuit against the State of Washington that public officials are protected from court action under the Federal racketeering (RICO) statutes because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

Appeals courts rubber stamp decisions of the lower courts, often without the judge even looking at the submissions. These decisions are marked non-precedential and not to be published. It is a one-time special interpretation of the law just for the litigants of that particular lawsuit. Be sure to find out whether the judge likes the color of your tie before stepping into his courtroom. During my experience as a pro se litigant, I have actually prevailed in a few cases, though with little real success in overcoming the fundamental problem of employment discrimination against me as a veteran of the Vietnam War. However, I can show incident after incident where judges rendered decisions clearly contrary to the law and published precedents, confident in the knowledge that appellate courts seldom review appeals and simply rubber stamp the actions of the lower court judge.

Bad decisions by judges destroy the lives of whole families. They sentence people to death without prison every day when they dismiss valid lawsuits. Their mistakes destroy careers, disgrace and financially ruin honest government employees who have reported gross waste or illegal acts by their supervisors, ruin the relationship between parents and their children, encourage endangerment to the public through pollution and contaminated products, reward the robbery of our natural resources, facilitate election fraud, subvert our culture and civilization, and always protect the rich and powerful against the poor and weak. It is not my purpose to disagree with these decisions but to point out that our Constitution does not permit judges to make these decisions at all. At the trial court level, making decisions is the job of juries and not of judges. At the higher levels, the decisions are supposed to be based on our written laws, including the Constitution and laws made by legislatures according to that Constitution.

The founding fathers were very distrustful of courts and judges, realizing that the judiciary is not restrained by checks and balances as much as the legislative and executive branches are. Even when judges start out as men and women of good character, their power corrupts them. Today, having swept aside the jury as a safeguard against undue bias and declaring themselves to have absolute immunity for all of their actions, even those that are malicious and corrupt, judges hold power that is absolute. Absolute power corrupts judges like it corrupts anyone else, and corrupt they are!

Sincerely yours,

Charles W. Heckman, Dr. Sci.
USAF Service, 1964-1968
Vietnam Service 1966-1968 (2 tours)

Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 28 OLC,
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w. Silver Star, etc.

  • Kermit Roosevelt, "Activist judges? Where?" The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 5, 2006, http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/editorial/16164901.htm, accessed 12/7/06.

  • Kermit Roosevelt, "The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions," Yale University Press, 2006.

Dr. Heckman's letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer was also circulated to the Internet through A Matter of Justice, http://www.amatterofjustice.org.  His latest book is, "Encyclopedia of South American Aquatic Insects: Odonata-Anisoptera," published by Springer Scientific Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 2006.  Heckman may be contacted at cwheckman@hotmail.com.  Kermit Roosevelt may be contacted at krooseve@law.upenn.edu.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.


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