VOICE OF JUSTICE
July 1997 Official Publication of JUSTICE FOR ALL Volume 5 Issue 7
"Justice will only be achieved when those who are not
injured by crime, feel as indignant as those who are."
-King Solomon 635-577 BC
I touched off some heated debate regarding the impeachment of federal judges, a few weeks ago. When I first mentioned that Republicans were exploring the possibility of impeaching judges who have violated their constitutional oath, liberal columnists from New York to San Francisco began wailing. One writer called me "power- mad", while a local editorial described me as "uninformed" and "embarrassing". Yet I find nothing embarrassing about trying to temper some members of our judiciary who wish to keep taking power away from American citizens.
Our Founding Fathers designed our Constitution with checks and balances and separation of powers. This was done so that no one branch of government could become all-powerful. However, over the years the federal judiciary has tipped the balance of power and become too authoritarian, exerting its will at random while frequently ignoring the will of the people. The least democratic branch of our government has become the most powerful.
Indeed, our Founding Fathers warned us about just such an occurrence. Thomas Jefferson noted that any power in government that is independent is also absolute. He also warned that an unaccountable judiciary could turn our country into an oligarchy, a government ruled by a few elite individuals. No official should be beyond the reach of the people. The true power in America should belong to Americans. Certain judges need this reminder.
Courts across the country are issuing decisions not based on law or fact, but instead based on specific political agendas. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a Colorado vote prohibiting preferential treatment for homosexuals. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "I think it no business of the courts (as opposed to the political branches) to take sides in this culture war... Striking [this vote] down is an act, not of judicial judgment, but of political will."
When the Supreme Court is busy exercising a political agenda, it sets a poor precedent for federal judges nationwide. Consequently, many of these judges begin to grow drunk on their own power. Why shouldn't the people have the right to impeach these out-of-control judges? After all, our Founding Fathers put impeachment in the Constitution as a tool to keep the judicial branch in check.
Many people in the liberal elite are terrified by this notion. They should be. The liberal agenda in this country has been defeated in election after election, leaving liberals to turn to the courts. There they have been able to impose their will on an unwilling majority. Obviously, equal rights protect those in the minority, but we must not confuse equal rights with equal powers. The minority should not be able to exercise control over the majority.
Some liberals claim that Republicans are on a witch-hunt; seeking to impeach every judge with whom we disagree. That is not true. We are targeting judges who have violated the Constitution and exceeded their constitutional authority. Republicans in Congress are proceeding cautiously and giving this matter the amount of time and consideration it deserves. We realize it is not something to be taken lightly.
The coming months will see this issue getting a lot of attention. Thus far, I'm proud to say that most of the feedback I've received from constituents has been positive. In spite of what might be said by liberals in the media, we will continue this fight to put Americans back in charge of this country.
Congressman Tom DeLay received his degree from the University Of Houston and served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1979 to 1984. He was elected to the US Congress in 1985 and is currently the House Majority Whip. His address is: Room 341, Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515.
From the President
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU SAY HMMMM.
Another episode in the continuing saga of Larry Don McQuay: On June 24 McQuay was convicted on 3 counts of indecency with a child; he was sentenced to three 20-year sentences to be served concurrently. After sentencing the judge looked at McQuay and said" I want you on the next bus out of here." Fortunately, that bus will be TDCJ bound. Recent legislation allows McQuay the opportunity to request surgical castration while he is incarcerated. Will he or won't he? One thing he certainly won't do is serve 20 years. McQuay will be mandatory released, due to the fact that the offense he was convicted of occurred in 1988. This is another example of why we need to retroactively repeal mandatory release laws. Justice for All is busy designing a "victim referral card" that we will present to the Houston Police Dept. The plan is for officers to distribute this card to victims and their families. Our goal is to design a card that provides a quick and thorough reference for victims of violent crime. JFA looks forward to working with HPD in this effort. JFA member Sam Eng has volunteered to print the first 10,000 cards. Sam's brother is slain Houston Police Office Randy Eng. If you would like to contribute please call Rick Lemmon at (713) 935-9300. Leave a message and he will return your phone call. Thank you Rick for all your hard work on this project.
JFA has been invited to participate in a joint effort with POMC to produce a video for "victim sensitivity training" for police officers. If you have had a negative experience with any constabulary, please share that experience with us so that we can help future victims.
This month is the one-year anniversary of the crash of TWA flight 800. Pam, Shannon, and Katie Lychner were on board. The Lychner sculpture, which celebrates the lives of Pam, Shannon, and Katie, will be unveiled on July 15th at 7:00 PM. This loving sculpture epitomizes dedication to family. Thank you to "the girls"' family and friends who worked so long and hard to make this a reality. In order to help, please consider a donation. Donations of $200.00 will receive a ceramic replica of the Lychner sculpture. Donations should be made payable to: Pam, Shannon, and Katie Lychner Fund and mailed to: Riverway Bank, c/o Sue Cook; P0 Box 56667; Houston, TX 77256.
See you next month,
by Susie Alverson, JFA Child Advocate
Donna Ringoringo - the lady with a strange name, an odd face and a different personality. Donna lived and died fighting injustices perpetrated on victims, by the Family Court judges, attorneys and court-appointed mental health professionals and ad litems. She was recently killed by a hit and run driver while walking to Austin to meet with legislators about the plight of women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
When I met Donna several years ago my first impression was that she was probably just another emotionally damaged victim of the Harris County Family courts, who had her own agenda and who was in great need of media attention. I was wrong. I soon discovered that Donna sincerely cared for other victims, especially the children. Many days she worked to near exhaustion trying to help victims of domestic violence replace possessions that were left behind with abusive husbands. She was brave enough to "take on" the politicians and those within the "system" who were involved with child abuse/domestic violence cases. She was selfless enough to starve and chain herself to the Harris County Family Law Center until she was taken to jail. She claimed that those whose care she was under treated her horribly there. She didn't want that publicized, though, "because that would take the focus away from the plight of victims".
Donna was devoutly religious, but not superficial and overpowering with her beliefs. During the time she was chained to the Family Law Center she told me that one of the former Family District Court judges, who had a poor reputation amongst some child advocates, had come by to visit her. My first question to her was, "Did you tell him how very wrong some of his rulings are, regarding child abuse cases"? Her reply was, "No, the judge is very sick. I just told him I would pray for him."
Donna told me that she had been brutally abused by her father, as a child. She grew up and married the only type man that she had ever been exposed to - another alleged abuser. This is why, I'm certain, Donna was slightly more extreme than most of the reformers I have come to know. Her intense ways made me nervous to be around her, I'm ashamed to say. As a victims rights advocate there is a fine balance between working within the system to correct the problems and speaking out against those who repeatedly stand in the way of the protection of victims. I don't have the guts to advocate the "Donna style", but as I continue to see those who are court appointed by our judges jeopardize abused children, I often think that my "sophisticated" efforts of working within the Family Courts to make changes are all in vain.
Donna's efforts to protect victims were most productive. Those within the system do fear that another Donna Ringoringo will emerge. Sad to say, that probably will not happen because she is irreplaceable. There will be other protesters who appear from time to time who are self-serving and who lack credibility, and some that are sincere, but will there be one who is selfless and gutsy, yet forgiving and so unbelievably dedicated? Don't think so. Ironically, the day of Donna's funeral, I was asked to monitor a child abuse case in Harris County, so I had to choose between attending Donna's funeral and going to court. I did what Donna would have wanted; I went to court. My involvement in the case obviously did little good since the judge returned the child to the mother and her boyfriend who had allegedly abused him, despite multiple bruises to validate the child's outcries, testimony from 2 HPD officers, etc. But I'll bet one of Donna Ringoringo's signs about the incompetent attorney ad litem who failed to advocate the child's wishes to stay with his father would have gotten some attention and perhaps would have made a difference!
We all should have been walking with Donna to Austin. May God bless her!
AN UPDATE ON THE EFFORT TO END
FEDERAL CONTROL OVER TEXAS PRISONS
Texas State Representative, District 130
State Senator J. E "Buster" Brown and I want to thank each of you again for your strong support for our lawsuit to end Federal Judge William Wayne Justice's control over the Texas prison system. There have been some encouraging developments you should know about.
On February 21, we took our case directly to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals since Judge Justice has refused to rule on our intervention. On March 21, the Court o Appeals ruled that our lawsuit will be "carried with the (Ruiz) case" at the Fifth Circuit and on to the U.S. Supreme Court. This exciting and powerful ruling means that we have successfully bypassed Judge Justice's blockade at the district court, and that the Fifth Circuit will probably grant our intervention. Oral arguments were heard on June 3, and the Court of Appeals can now rule at any time. We will have no advance warning on the Court's decision, which should occur before Labor Day, and almost certainly before Thanksgiving.
At a minimum our intervention will implement the new Prison Litigation Reform Act, which was co-authored by U.S. Senators Phil Graham and Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and Congressman Bill Archer, so that lawsuits like ours could terminate endless judicial control over state prisons. Comptroller John Sharp has estimated that Texas taxpayers would save at least $200 million in the first year, and $64 million each year thereafter, because the state could use at least 6,100 prison beds that are currently vacant because of the Ruiz court orders.
Your early support when our lawsuit was much more of a gamble will prove to be one of the decisive elements when Texas finally regains control of the state prison system. It is also possible that we could be responsible for restoring Texas' true Tenth Amendment sovereignty, as our Founding Fathers intended. Whether we achieve all or some of our goals., and even if we fall short, the immense benefits of the historic changes we could trigger are worthy of our best efforts. We are very grateful to you for your help.
JFA MEMBER'S MEETING:
May 1997 Guest Speaker
Dr. Joye Carter, Chief Medical Examiner, Harris County
By Kim Hall
Dr. Joye Carter was a wonderful speaker and educated JFA members on the duties of the Medical Examiner's office. Prior to assuming this position ten months ago, Dr. Carter served as Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia. Working in the Washington D.C. area was a challenge because although it is 10 times smaller then Harris county, their murder rate is twice as high. Dr. Carter has wanted to be a medical examiner since she was 14 years old. It takes a special person to do this work and she is an asset to the profession.
She explained the difference between Coroners and medical Examiners. Harris County does not have a Coroner. Coroners are elected by the public where Medical Examiners are appointed. In Harris County, the Medical Examiner is appointed by the Commissioners Court. Since our Medial Examiner isn't elected, she does not have to play the political games that other elected officials do.
The Harris County Medical Examiner's office has a total staff of 75 people with 6 physicians. They have plans to hire 3 more physicians in September which will bring them to full staff. They do over 100 cases each week (with 17-20 cases a day on weekends). Their priorities at the Medical Examiner's office are to do the children and homicide cases first before the other cases.
Prior to 1996 internal organs were not returned to the body. Now they are. Now organ and tissue donations must be approved by the families. However, the corneas can be removed without family consent. This is still legal. It is noted in the autopsy report if this is done so the family knows about it.
Death certificates in Harris County are not issued by the Medical Examiner's office. They are issued from the funeral home. In other states the Medical Examiner's office issues the death certificates. Dr. Carter is working to change this.
Dr. Carter has been involved with Victims Rights organizations in Washington so she is familiar with the need for compassion and respect when dealing with families. Let her know if you deal with someone in her office who is rude or not helpful. They have a high level of stress and tend to suffer burnout. Her staff will talk to families in person to go over the results of an autopsy if you so desire.
They offer tours of their facility to groups. Their facilities are modern and state of the art. If you are interested in a tour, please call the JFA office to sign up. If we get enough interest we will arrange one. Their office is located at 185 Old Spanish Trail, Houston, Texas 77054. The phone number is (713) 796-9292.
BUSH SIGNS LEGISLATION
CRACKING DOWN ON SEX OFFENDERS
Several important bills came out of the 75th Texas legislature and have been signed into law by Governor Bush.
A Plea for Help to Impeach
Tennessee Federal Judge John T. Nixon
by Charlene Hall
Daring the jury selection for the Timothy McVeigh trial, you heard much discussion of how the jurors had to be "death-qualified", meaning that they had to be willing to sentence someone to death in order to be chosen for that jury. If a prospective juror said that they were unwilling or unable to recommend the death penalty for McVeigh, they were disqualified. This is a requirement in any capital murder trial in which the death penalty is a possible outcome. Now, wouldn't you think that if you can't serve as a juror unless you can support the death penalty, the same reasoning would apply to judges? It doesn't.
Consider Federal Judge John T. Nixon, who not only does not support the death penalty, but does everything within his considerable power to delay or avoid it in cases that pass through his court. In the past three years, he has overturned death sentences in 100% of all capital cases heard in his court. Judge Nixon uses his own cases to set precedents for each other and if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds him in one of his reversals, the state of Tennessee will have the choice of retrying approximately 8,000 cases or setting thousands of criminals free.
Not only that, but Nixon has admitted in open court to receiving awards for his position against capital punishment. In 1984, the Nashville Association of Rabbis, Priests and Ministers presented Judge Nixon with an honor that read, in part, as follows: "Whereas, Judge Nixon has effectively stayed all executions in Tennessee pending resolution of prison conditions in his court; and has taken this action in addition to halting the execution of Ronald Harries in June, 1984; we affirm Judge Nixon courageous action and his genuine concern for the conditions of the men who are housed on death row at Tennessee State Prison. We urge him to continue his respect for the life of the condemned."
I'd like to ask the rabbis about their respect for the lives of those innocents who were brutally murdered.
Judge Nixon took an oath and stated that he would "faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all duties incumbent upon me as Judge of the Sixth U.S. District Court". It seems his impartiality has fallen by the wayside.
Judge Nixon also has refused a state motion to transfer an appeal to West Tennessee, stating it would be detrimental to the defendant. Consider these murderers who had the good fortune of having their cases fall into Judge Nixon's court.
Scariest of all, federal judgeships are a lifetime appointment. There is a large and organized effort in Tennessee to have Judge Nixon impeached. For more information, please visit the website of "Impeach Judge Nixon" at http://www.Rnet.net/impeach.
If you would like to help in their petition campaign, write to: Impeach Judge Nixon National Headquarters, Greenfield, TN 38230 or telephone (901)235-2409.
July 15, 1997: The dedication of the Lychner Sculpture, a memorial to Pam, Shannon, and Katie Lychner. The dedication starts at 7:00 p.m. and will be at the Spring Valley City Hall on Campbell Road. Please make every effort to attend this special tribute.
July 17, 1997: Maureen O'Boyle will re-run the program dedicated to Pam. This is the anniversary of the fatal crash of TWA flight 800.
July 22, 1997 There will be a pre-trial hearing for the killer of Debra Lynn Foo-Anaston, daughter of JFA member Richard Foo, in the 184th, Honorable Jan Krocker presiding. The Anastons had taken the killer into their home as an act of kindness and he re-paid that kindness by killing Debbie for a few hundred dollars and her car. The killer is charged with capital murder.
August 26, 1997 A pretrial hearing for the killer of Randy Eng, Harris County Sheriff's deputy, in Debbie Mantooth Stricklin' 5 Court. The trial will start in February, 1998.
September, 1997: The JFA annual fund-raiser has been postponed to September. Please call Dianne Clements at the JFA office if you can volunteer to help. We depend on these fundraisers for our operating expenses. We appreciate your support.
October, 1997: JFA is planning a huge "garage" sale for this month (it will be cooler) and we are collecting items NOW. Please bring items that you want to donate to the sale to the JUSTICE FOR ALL monthly members meeting. If you have large items, call the JFA office and we will arrange for a pick-up.
As Soon as Possible: Frank Parish needs feedback on an opinion out of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on whether the names of victims should be omitted from that Court's opinions, as suggested by Judge Baird. Judge Sharon Keller objected to that concept saying that the six murder victims were not simply "Victims A through F", but real people with real names, real pasts and real futures until their lives were ended in a vicious act. Please take a moment to send a short note to Frank Parish - he is gathering feedback to present to the Crime Victim's Committee of the State Bar. Please mail your letters to: Frank Parish, c/o P.O. Box 4118, Houston, Texas 77210.
Bryce Phlughault, one of the perpetrators in the Brenham Rape Case will be in court July 3, 1997 1:30 p.m. The family will definitely need your support. Let's show 'em some JFA numbers!
The killer of Michael Holley, boyfriend of JFA member Brenda Cheney, was convicted of capital murder and must serve at least 40 years. The killer's accomplice got 15 years on a PLEA BARGAIN and must serve at least half of that sentence. Congratulations to ADA Julian Ramirez for his compassion toward Brenda and your effectiveness in the prosecution of this case. And thank you, Judge Harmon. We appreciate all the hard work coming out of the Harris County DA's office and the District Courts.
A guest editorial by Dudley Sharp
This political cartoon appeared in the "Arizona Republic", a Phoenix, Arizona publication. It satirizes the
touching picture of the fireman who carried a dead child, Baylee Almon, out of the devastated Federal building
in Oklahoma City just after the bombing.
Not only is Steve Benson's editorial cartoon instinctively offensive, it reflects an intellect confused by such basic concepts as guilt and innocence and more profound ones such as evil and justice. The cartoon's message - the slaughter of the innocent is the moral equal of the execution of our worst human rights violators. Moral relativism hits a new low.
Many opponents of the death penalty equate execution and murder, believing that if two acts have the same ending or result. then those two acts are morally equivalent. Such a conclusion reveals a fundamental inability to make moral distinctions. For example is the legal taking of a car to satisfy a debt the same as auto theft? Both result in the loss of property. Are kidnapping and legal incarceration the same? Both result in imprisonment against one's will. Is killing in self-defense the same as capital murder? Both end in taking of human life. Are rape and making love the same? Both may result in sexual intercourse. Those capable of making moral distinctions find it easy to answer such questions with a resounding NO! Society has the moral right and duty to punish those who injure the innocent and also those who threaten the tranquility of a democratic state. Both the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court give us the legal right to execute under extremely restrictive circumstances. But, does the state have the moral right to punish with death?
The most common support for the death penalty derives from the belief in just punishment, a belief that often incorporates the concepts of just desserts, escalating punishments, retribution and the biblically inspired atonement. Just punishment is a gut feeling every bit as much as it is reasoned conclusion. There are crimes that call out for the death penalty. Incredible acts of evil, which cause so much horror and pain, deserve the ultimate sanction. Our criminal justice system puts that crucial decision in the hands of a jury or a judge. Their reasoned response may reflect the ultimate condemnation of society by imposing the death penalty. Theoretically, our criminal justice system will punish worse crimes with more severe sanctions, a concept with which all reasoned thinkers would concur. Horrendous criminals, such as pedophiles and serial rapists, certainly deserve life without parole. What of those pedophiles and rapists who also murder their victims? Would justice be served by giving the same sentence for a more severe crime? Logic and justice say "no". In those jurisdictions that have capital punishment, justice is denied in those instances where the crime reflects the worst human rights violations- capital murder- and the sentence is not death.
What of mercy? Aren't we compassionate enough to forego the ultimate sanction in all cases? The answer is clearly "yes". We have foregone executions in 99.92% of all murders since 1973. But, should we? There can be no mercy without justice. If all cases receive mercy then we set no standard for mercy or for justice, and we therefore have neither. Justice requires a balance - the ultimate sanction for the worst crime.
It is the goal of all good editorial cartoons to stimulate thought and dialogue. In the case of Steve Benson's subject work, he has certainly done that. But, so too would an editorial cartoon which presents the slaughter and torture of 6 million innocent Jews as the judicial hanging of the Nazis who worked so hard for the FINAL SOLUTION as moral equals. Drawing moral distinctions within our own lives is a critical part of our development as individuals and as a society. Is it too much to ask that editorial cartoonists think before they draw?
Editor's note: Furthermore, to promote his own political agenda without thought or conscience to the pain or suffering of the Oklahoma City Bombing victims, shows this cartoonists "true colors". Benson evidently is shortsighted in addition to being self-centered and mean-spirited. Benson's ladder of success has 168 rungs and he stomped on each and every one. I hope his dreams are haunted by the anguish he so thoughtlessly caused. Sleep well, you unfeeling maggot.
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