Just when the President of China visited Seattle and the Pope arrived in America the city of Seattle decided, at the last minute, to hold a hearing on Marie McDonnell’s long delay report entitled “City of Seattle Review of Mortgage Documents”, which the City paid McDonnell tax-payer funds to prepare. Seems to me the City didn’t want news regarding the study reported in the media. What do you think? You can watch the hearing discussing the audit by clicking here. Strange how its goes dead when a city auditor starts making mistakes. Tonight, Monday September 28, 2015, Kathleen McCarthy and I will talk about this on our show “Taking Back Our Country” on Hamilton Radio at 10:00 pm EST, 9:00 pm CST, 8:00 pm RMST, 7:00 pm PST and 1:00 pm HST. Tonight’s guest will be Marie McDonnell and the subject will be Seattle’s belatedly released “City of Seattle Review of Mortgage Documents”. The topics of our radio discussion will include: 1.) The Principles of Land Title, i.e. Chain of Title 2.) How MERS affects Chain of Title and destroys the integrity of Washington’s land title system 3.) Marie McDonnell’s experience with regard to auditing Seattle Land Records 4.) The reasons for Seattle’s delay in releasing Marie’s report until the day the President of China was scheduled to monopolize the new. 5.) What happened at the public hearing. You can watch most of the hearing (except those part the City apparently does not want you to hear, by clicking here.) 6.) … Continue Reading
Those who despair of Citizens United release of unlimited moneys into our political system should also consider the impact money has on the Judicial Department. The Judicial Department was originally designed to perpetuate the exercise of judicial power by way of a trial before two types of constitutional officers: judges and juries. Seeking to take control control of the judicial branch of government judges rationalized away the the role of juries. Next they disparaged the role of trials; arguing that a trial indicated a failure of judges to adequately incentivize settlements. Now we appear to have devolved into the era of judicial “monarchy”, where judges do pretty much what they want. The degeneration of the american empire’s legal system has been accompanied by litigation models which rely on the disparity of resources between the parties (not the facts or law of any specific case) as the primary basis for resolving cases. It is my observation that the “Scorched Earth” litigation model, named after General Sherman’s infamous military campaign, is used in virtually 100% of all foreclosure litigation. This model is based on the business premise that banks and servicers should spend whatever money is necessary to win so as to deter homeowners (and any potential lawyers who might be inclined to represent them) from challenging any foreclosure judicially. I have personally seen this multi-billion dollar industry spend more in litigation costs than the worth of the houses they are foreclosing on. I have been told by servicers’ lawyers that their … Continue Reading
On Gardening & Government, Part 5 The effort in knowing all the legal advocacy options can be greatly enhanced when you get front line insight from a seasoned foreclosure defense and family law attorney. Scott Stafne is a long time lawyer for the people who is in tune with gardening and the natural laws that support good government. Learn the difference between justice and paid advocacy, and what really happens in today’s court system from the experience and perspectives of Scott Stafne.
Note: I was elected recently to the position of “Church Advocate” for the Church of the Gardens. It is a new church, which hopes to join with other churches, in growing spiritual resistance to rampant materialism and the vast economic disparity of wealth and resources between the peoples and nations of the world. Church of the Gardens is different than many churches in that part of its mission and faith requires its members to become engaged politically, socially, and economically to achieve its spiritual and religious goals. Church of the Gardens is a 508(c)(1)(a) “Free Church.” It is not a 501(c)(3) organization. WHEN POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS FAIL US… Many people, including at least one candidate for President, acknowledge that our government is not working for most of us. When we look around it is difficult not to notice that millions of people have lost their homes to the banking-servicing industry based on documents which are well known to have been fabricated. Students and former students owe the same banking industry colossal debt which Congress has declared is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Millions of our citizens (mostly black and hispanic) are incarcerated, working more or less as slaves, for private prisons which have contracts with State and municipal governments guaranteeing to keep their facilities stocked with prisoners. The disparity of wealth and resources between the 1% and the 99%, as well as between the industrialized nations and poor nations, is grotesquely disproportionate to the point of being unconscionable. So how can those of us … Continue Reading
The 1% know the way to win cases in the american empire’s adversarial system of justice is to eliminate their opponent’s advocate. By doing so the 1% assure themselves that a judge will rely solely on the presentations of their well paid attorneys in resolving cases in their favor. There are numerous reasons America’s adversarial system is now dead for most of us. The primary one is the disparity of wealth between the 1% and the rest of us. For the most part only the wealthy can afford lawyers. And most lawyers (many of whom who have spent a fortune on their education and are struggling with large amounts of student debt) cannot afford or are not interested in representing clients who do not have the ability pay the exorbitant costs of litigation, along with lawyers’ sky high hourly fees. The courts have exacerbated the problem by requiring that only lawyers can appear before them as advocates. This judicially created monopoly, like all monopolies, starves competition and promotes only the interests who benefit when the people are not ably represented. The party line is that limiting advocacy only to lawyers, who have gone to law school or apprenticed for years, assures the competent representation essential for the adversary system to work. But there is little proof to back up this assertion. I know from my own experience as a lawyer that I have seen plenty of lay people who know more about specific areas of law than do most lawyers. … Continue Reading
World governments have inappropriately licensed God’s resources to corporations who inappropriately charge the people for them. The governments are not serving the people; only the 1% and themselves. This is inconsistent with God’s natural law. On Gardening & Government, Video 3.
Now is the time to support our fellow citizen, Ted Visner. We must face down the evil before us. It is time to take our country back from the empire which has stolen it.
Independence Day should not be celebrated because we, the people, are free. Most of us cannot afford to exercise our God given natural rights. Independence Day is notable because it reminds us that personal freedom remains a goal for humankind at the dawn of the twenty-first century; notwithstanding the efforts of our economic system to put a price on liberty. As we watch the fireworks which symbolize the Revolutionary War we should remember the Declaration of Independence did not announce an intent that all people in the colonies would be equal and free. Rather lives were sacrificed so those persons who would otherwise have control of the colonies, but for the King, could exercise governmental power as equals. Women and slaves were not considered equals in the Eighteenth Century. Before this nation’s Civil War, Frederick Douglass, a former slave, was asked to speak at an Independence Day celebration. Understandably, Douglass commented in 1852 that asking him to celebrate freedom while his own people were enslaved was “sacrilegious irony.” Douglass declared that to those who are not free this nation’s Independence Day celebrations “are a sham.” Today many concerned citizens feel the same way as Frederick Douglass. Our government tells us we are a free people, but only to the extent we can afford our liberties. Politicians claim to own and control God’s gifts to humankind for the purpose of enriching themselves and indebting us to those who by virtue of their wealth are truly free. We, the people of the … Continue Reading
Gardening and Government, Part II A quick look into the forces that shaped the definition of natural rights in the days of the American Revolution. Appeal to heaven, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson’s recognition of the garden as a spiritual vehicle are used for illustration. The Founders of the United States Constitution along in their effort to write out enduring protections of the rights of the people, emerge as the visionaries whose organic document, The US Constitution, still lives today in Washington State’s Constitution. Scott Stafne, lawyer and gardener takes us through the journey of understanding the origins of our rights and how they are easily violated today.
So I was on facebook this morning and I shared this picture. An apparently well intentioned member of the democratic party posted the following comment: “Better STOP hating and start being POSITIVE. Saying that neither the Demo nor the GOP can do anything for you, you are setting yourself to FAIL!!! Starting over from scratch is a lot harder than working from within!!!!” I responded: “David, I appreciate your comments. But I have heard them many times before in the 66 years of my existence. Wisdom instructs that working within the system for change has not worked. Continually voting for the lesser of two evils will always result in more evil.You may not appreciate this until you have observed the growth of evil over the course of a lifetime. I am now convinced we, the people, must with a devout and spiritual intention take back the reins of sovereignty from a system which exercises it only to benefit the 1%. We must weed both the Republican and Democratic parties from the garden of government so that we can nourish leaders who share goals of the people; not the goals of an out of hand empire which already has 6 1/2 times the military might of the rest rest of the world combined and still wants to spend virtually all of the people’s money on building a bigger and better war machine (rather than feeding and educating its people). David, my motivation is not hate (although I do feel anger and … Continue Reading
I drove to my office pretty early for a Saturday morning to do the Agenda 31 radio program from a comcast-internet connection, rather than the slower satellite connection at my home. It was not yet 8:00 am when I noticed I was following a 1957 Chevy Bel air into town. It turned left onto Olympic Avenue North, the main drag in Arlington, Washington. As I went to follow I noticed the barricade and sign that announced Arlington’s “Rain or Shine” classic car show. So instead of turning left I followed the roundabout to make a circle and turned right at the top. I travelled four blocks and turned right again, parking across the street from my office on Third Street. As I walked toward the Stafne Trumbull law firm and Olympic Avenue I recognised the excitement that frames the annual car show. People had set up chairs on the sidewalk outside our office and down the street so they could observe what was going on. I didn’t take much time to observe the event then as I wanted to some legal research about the “Guarantee Clause” before the show started. I enjoyed talking with Todd and Corey, the hosts of the Agenda 31 show. We talked about a wide range of topics. What I discovered from talking to these two articulate gentlemen, one in Davenport, Iowa and the other in Los Angeles, California, is just how deep the frustration is with America’s justice system. These well educated and prominent members … Continue Reading
Part 2 Video: Part 3 Video: Part 4 Video: Part 5 Video:
This is a redo of my last blog. The reason I am re-writing it is because the link at the bottom is an order from the United States Bankruptcy Court or the District Of Maryland (Baltimore Division) approving SPS purchase of the servicing rights I flew to Salt Lake City to take the deposition of the only witness Select Portfolio Servicing (SPS) intends to call at trial in an upcoming judicial foreclosure case in King County, Washington. The witness did not seem to know much about the facts. For example, the SPS witness (a lawyer) did not know SPS had purchased the “servicing rights” for my clients alleged “home loan” from a bankruptcy trustee for .077 of the unpaid principal plus all accounts receivable owe the note holder. That’s right the witness did not know SPS bought the servicing rights for less than a penny on the dollar or the terms regarding that purchase agreement. I have attached a link to the document below. Pay particular attention to paragraph 3.01 at page 5 of the agreement. If SPS, allegedly suing on behalf of the trust and its certificate holders, wins the case against this borrower the trust and the certificate holders likely will get little, if anything, out of the lawsuit. SPS will have paid less than $15,000 in order to go after a once middle class American to collect a $1,500,000 + “judicial jackpot”. SPS’ low cost stake in pursuing this once middle class citizen, and others like him, … Continue Reading
I went to an interesting “continuing legal education” seminar in Olympia, Washington a little more than two weeks ago. It was produced by “The Scrivener’s Quill, A Center for Lawyers and Literature”. It was called “Olympia and the Social Contract“. Michigan lawyer, Travis Marker, ably guided the attendees’ consideration and discussion about the “social compact” between a government and its citizens. I chose this particular seminar because after 66 years of life experience, most of which has been spent practicing law, I have doubts as to whether our government is sufficiently performing its part of the social compact to mandate my allegiance. The question is an important one to me as a lawyer because I have competing professional obligations to the sovereign; which means “the people”. Certainly, many benefits flow from a just society that attempts to preserve the rights of all through the creation of a social compact with its government. But just as surely the social compact which is intended to promote a just society is violated by a government, which claiming to act for all the people, acts for only the benefit of a few to the detriment of the many. The Scrivener’s Quill seminar reminded me that under the social compact theory of governance upon which our Constitution is based: the people are sovereign. The people only delegate their sovereignty to a government for the purposes of protecting each man’s natural rights. During the seminar Marker and the attendees discussed the writings of Rousseau, Hobbes, Mills, … Continue Reading
The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves is an ancient one. Reports and discussions describing the history of Memorial day in the United States suggests it evolved during and after the Civil War. The practice of devoting a day for decorating soldiers’ graves appears to have begun in the South; and was later copied in the North. There was no common agreement with regard to what day the soldiers should be honored. The practice of honoring soldiers killed by their countrymen in the Civil War war was not given a specific name and day until May 5, 1868 when General John A. Logan issued a proclamation calling for “Decoration Day” to be observed annually and nationwide. The call for local communities in the South and North to agree upon a common day for decorating the graves of all soldiers who died in the Civil War asked people to look beyond the reasons why the soldiers had fought that war in order to commemorate their deaths. “Memorial Day” was first used as a synonym for “Decoration Day” in 1882. But “Decoration Day” was not changed to “Memorial Day” officially until 1967. Funny, that I do not recall the official name change. 1967 was the year I graduated from high school in Bettendorf, Iowa. The United States was in the midst of the Vietnam War. Maybe the reason I cannot remember is because we, the people, had already changed the name before the government got around to memorializing it. Did you know the … Continue Reading
I bet Dottie is about as old in dog years as I am in human years. That’s comforting as I watch her run down the gravel road ahead of me. It was just a year or so ago when she was having trouble walking. The vet gave her pain pills and still she hobbled. And then suddenly, she was running again. Chasing chipmunks and deere. Its funny how life can be like that. Difficult, for a time. Then freeing. I have concluded Spring is my favorite season now, in my sixties. When I was younger I use to like summer best. I didn’t have to go to school. I loved shedding my clothes, basking in the sun and turning tan after my first sunburn. Summer was different for my generation. The ozone layer wasn’t gone and we weren’t taught the sun would give us skin cancer, and make us wrinkled when we got older. It was a different world. I am convinced that each person who lives a lifetime, not cut short, enters one world and leaves another awed by the differences. The reason I like Spring best now is because it is the season of beginnings. It is the season which shapes the rest of the year. I believe now is a good time to start reshaping our world. My partner and I, along with several friends, are planning and planting Wind and Water Gardens. Our goal is to feed many more people than ourselves. I want … Continue Reading
A co-worker and friend, Michael Fasset, wrote the following article “How One Divorce Changed Washington’s Constitution”. Michael is not a lawyer, but in my mind he knows Washington’s constitution and UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) better than many judges. Michael’s study of divorce reinforces what I said in my last April 28, 2015 blog; namely, that our founders intended to prohibit “power of sale” clauses and prevent nonjudical foreclosures. Here’s a copy of Michael’s research: How One Divorce Changed Washington’s Constitution by Michael Fasset Introduction Legislatures are often viewed as nearly omnipotent. The power of state legislatures in America is frequently described by courts as plenary; which means unqualified or absolute. Washington State Farm Bureau Federation v. Gregoire, 162 Wn. 2d 284, 290, 174 P.3d 1142 (2007). Courts practice a policy of presuming legislation as constitutional unless proven otherwise “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Island County v. State, 135 Wn. 2d 141,955 P.2d 377 (1998). But once upon a time, the People reminded their elected representatives it is the People, alone, and not the legislature, whose power is absolute. Doc Gets Divorced David Swinson Maynard, universally known as Doc, was Seattle’s first doctor, second lawyer, and a justice of the peace. It was Doc who proposed the city be named Seattle, after his friend the Duwamish Chief Si’ahl (more commonly Seattle). He was settled on 640 acres (1 square mile) of land in King County which would become his, at least temporarily, under the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. In other words, he was … Continue Reading
The United States Constitution is the Supreme law of the United States. Each of its fifty states also has its own constitution by which the government and officials of each state are governed. Under our traditions of government the meaning of the provisions of a constitution is determined by the judicial branch of government. Judges often interpret constitutional provisions differently. But most start their interpretation with the language of the constitution. I read an MSNBC article recently, which stated: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia took the stage at Southern Methodist University Monday night and argued the Constitution is “not a living document” and is “dead, dead, dead.” Justice Scalia discussed how children would visit the Supreme Court and refer to the Constitution as a “living document” but that the Constitution is, in fact, “dead.” A staunch conservative and “textualist,” Scalia believes the law must be taken literally and that the original meaning of the Constitution is the best way to interpret it. Regardless of whether one believes that a constitution is a “dead” document or “living organic law”, it is axiomatic that its interpretation must begin with the exact language of the constitution focused by the historical context in which it was written. Unfortunately, for us in the State of Washington judges appear not inclined to consider constitutional language or historical context when construing the nature and extent of judicial responsibilities. Here is a decision by Judge Trickey of Division 1 of the Washington Court of Appeals (who ran unopposed … Continue Reading
For the past few days I have thought about the phrase “conceived in liberty”. At first I thought it might have been used in the Declaration of Independence. I checked out that document. It was not there. Then I thought the phrase might be part of the pledge of allegiance. I checked. It wasn’t there. Finally, I googled the phrase “conceived in liberty”. Turns out it was used by Abraham Lincoln in the first line of the Gettysburg Address. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In his next sentence Lincoln states: “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” Our country, so conceived and dedicated, survived the civil war. Unfortunately, it appears not to have survived the sociopaths in the Republican and Democratic parties, who continue to serve only the needs of those who can afford to make hefty campaign contributions. I went to DePauw University, a small liberal arts college in Greencastle, Indiana from 1967 until 1971. I remember back then discussing in a classroom why liberty, without the economic resources to exercise it, was not freedom at all. The example which we discussed so many years ago was that a person’s right to travel was meaningless if he could not afford to travel. While I mentally understood the … Continue Reading
I have urged in a previous blog that Washingtonians should consider whether our court system is well served when judicial elections are not competitive. See my January 19, 2015 blog . I want to make this point again here and in coming articles so that each of you can make an informed choice about whether to vote for or against a sitting judge. As many of you know I have practiced law since 1974. My Dad and paternal Grandfather were both lawyers. Although I have practiced in many areas of the law I now devote much of my present practice to foreclosure defense. But I also litigate “land use” issues generally; particularly with regard to Washington’s Land Use Petition Act a/k/a LUPA. Since 2006 the Washington Court of Appeals has held that citizens waive claims for violations of their federal constitutional rights if they do not file a LUPA appeal within 21 days. Although Washington’s Supreme Court has been asked on several occasions to weigh in on this restriction on Washingtonians ability to assert their federal constitutional rights, Washington’s Supreme Court has repeatedly refused to to do so. Last week in a case I was handling for a church which claimed its federal rights had been violated by a “land use” decision by the city of Maryville, a judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington agreed with a previous ruling of the Chief Judge of the federal court’s Eastern district’s that longstanding Washington Court of Appeals precedent interpreting LUPA is contrary … Continue Reading
I received the following email from Westlaw today. ////////@thomsonreuters.com 11:57 AM (22 minutes ago) to me Dear Scott, Here is the on-line version of the Knecht case now available on Westlaw. Please let me know if you need anything else! Search: Knecht v. Fidelity Nat. Title Ins. Co. W.D.Wash. February 27, 2015 Slip Copy 2015 WL 1514911 Thank you for using WestlawNext. Sincerely, ///////// . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reference Attorney Thomson Reuters Phone: 800-REF-ATTY (733-2889) I still wonder how often West chooses not to report cases based on the alliances of its corporate parent? For those of you who do not subscribe to West (which is likely a majority of those persons not involved in the legal/judicial/corporate complex) you can find a copy of this decision on Google scholar by clicking on this link. It is also interesting to note that West does not, as is its usual practice, identify the lawyers who represented the parties regarding this motion. Hmmm….
I assume that in any line of work, there are work activities which are preferred more than others. I like writing briefs and taking depositions much more than I like defending depositions. On Tuesday I had to defend a deposition of a client against three lawyers, one of whom I consider particularly loathsome. As you might expect he represents Mortgage Electronic Systems a/k/a MERS, which I believe is designed to facilitate the redistribution of the wealth of America’s middle class to already wealthy elites. Now I want to make it clear that in this blog I am primarily stating my own observations and opinions pursuant to those rights I believe I have under the First Amendment. So now let’s return back to what happened at the deposition. At some point counsel for MERS made a point of stating that I had never won a motion against him. I wondered what he was talking about because less than a couple of months ago my office, in a brief I participated in writing, had clearly prevailed against MERS with regard to a motion he had brought. A copy of that decision against MERS, in which he was lead counsel, can be found at: Knecht v Fidelity National Title Insurance Company. After his strategic and dishonest attempt at an insult , I leaned back in my chair and looked hard at the MERS attorney questioning the witness. I do not recall having any animosity toward him as that is not a good trait for … Continue Reading
For years I’ve had this picture of me wedged in between two bluestones of stonehenge hanging in the pantry above the freezer across from shelves stacked with food and boxes of clutter accumulated throughout my lifetime. The picture would have stayed there, but for a conversation with a younger friend which wandered on to the topic of Stonehenge, which we each had visited; albeit decades apart. He wasn’t even born when I crawled up the rocks… By the time Brian got there, the stones were roped off. I guess nowadays people don’t even get close enough to touch the stones. How fast the world has changed! How quickly our spirits fly through this realm of consciousness! I remember back to the fifties and fishing with my Dad and brother. The fish were bigger then and much more numerous. And when my father was a boy in Minnesota very few species of fish and animals were endangered. But progress takes its toll. So back to the photograph. I took the picture out of the pantry to Michaels art supply to have it reframed. It is now hung in my office POD. The POD is where I sleep when “all-nighters” are required to get our briefs written, filed, and served. Back in the years when the picture was taken my “all nighters” involved sleepless nights of study or party; depending on the circumstances of the day. I can’t nor do I want to forsake my sleep anymore. I never thought then that I would … Continue Reading
This is an article about Democrat Senator Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens. If my blog makes you want to contact him, please do so. Here is his information. Hobbs, Steve (D) 239 John A. Cherberg Building (360) 786-7686 Senator Hobbs is indebted to a rather slimeball special interest group. Nonjudicial trustees who make money when they can nonjudicially foreclose on homes. Senator Hobbs, a democrat, has sponsored Senate Bill 5968 which has been written by special interests is intended to undo what few protections the people of Washington have left against illegal foreclosures. His justification for doing so: to correct mistakes the legislature previously made to protect homeowners from his wealthy supporters unabashed greed. The bill will be considered in committee on Wednesday. This is a bill which should be killed now. Please contact Seantor Hobb and your own legislators to lead them no this bill is “bad news”!! But the story doesn’t begin with Senator Hobbs. It begins in 1889 when Washington’s Constitution was written. This article by Brian Snure, A FREQUENT RECURRENCE TO FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES: INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, FREE GOVERNMENT, AND THE WASHINGTON STATE CONSTITUTION helps me explain. It is worth reading and you can do so by touching the previous link. Snure’s article discusses the legislative corruption which gave rise to Washington’s Constitution and how our founders separated Washington’s government into one which contained structural checks on the legislature’s power to interfere with those rights the Supreme Ruler of the Universe gave every individual. Snure writes: I. THE HISTORICAL AND … Continue Reading
Washington Senate Bill 5968, a bill proposed by special interests to make it easier for them to take your home without any responsibility for wrongful foreclosure, is scheduled for hearing next Wednesday at 1:30 before the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. Please attend. Unfortunately, it is all too likely this corrupt institution will give the banksters everything they want; notwithstanding our Constitution was intended to stop such special interest legislation. It is disheartening that such corruption flourishes in the state of Washington. Indeed, Washington’s Constitution was written so as to prohibit the Washington legislature from writing legislation to emasculate the superior courts’ subject matter jurisdiction in disputes involving the title and possession of land. Our constitution is written to protect individual rights from schemes like this by giving the superior courts enumerated, exclusive jurisdiction with regard to cases involving real property to the superior courts. But in one of the greatest mistakes ever made by Washington’s government, the court’s shirked off this responsibility; abdicating the protection of individual rights to the branch our founders always knew was the most corrupt. Washington’s citizens feared governmental tyranny, a tyranny they generally identified with the legislative branch. The settlers, who were primarily immigrants from other states, had extensive experience with and knowledge of legislative abuses.” In addition, Washington Territory itself experienced legislative abuses. In 1862-63, the legislature reportedly passed no general laws, but enacted more than 150 pieces of special legislation for the benefit of “private interests against the general welfare.” The … Continue Reading
You know that judge who just gave that slime-ball servicer your house? Or the one who decided what was best for your kids after never knowing them? Or the one who decided you don’t get a day in court? How qualified were they to be making those decisions? When citizens are forced to interact with their government it is most often through the judiciary. Yet it is my experience that most of us know relatively little about the people who have been elected to judge us and construe our laws. It is a fair question to ask whether the the judge that is going to preside, or has presided, over your case was well equipped by nature and temperment to do so? Because of Washington’s peculiar laws judges generally do not run in the general November elections where our Federal and State legislative and executive candidates compete for office. Most judgeships are decided in a primary election, where far fewer voters turn out and those that do are mainly partisans supporting one of the traditional political parties’ legislative or executive candidates. Significantly, most judgeships are decided in the August or September primary, rather than at the more well attended November election because if no one runs against the judge, the sitting judge is automatically elected. If a judge gets more than 50% of the vote that judge is also automatically elected. As you will see, this gives judges incredible job security at a time when many of us have none. … Continue Reading
It is understandable, although perhaps undesirable, that thousands of police officers go to New York to mourn the assassination of two of their own. The problem with their show of unity as a national interest group in today’s world is that it suggests these officers are separated from the local peoples they are expected to serve and protect. The open hostility of police against the mayor of New York for having previously criticized the use of an illegal choke hold which resulted in the death of a civilian, is and should be a grave concern to the vast majority of American citizens. This administration’s militarization of law enforcement in communities across the continent with weapons of war to be used against local people upon command betrays those covenants necessary for any legitimate claim to governance with the consent of the people. The Declaration of Independence documents a free peoples’ abhorrence of standing armies and mercenaries as a means of governance. Yet this appears to be the role our leaders have chosen for police. Although a biased media would have us believe that we are only dealing with issues of race; I think it more likely that the media is publicizing police violence (and immunity) as a way to let us all know we will not be free (or possibly even alive) if we do not acquiesce to their will or whim. Surely, both the police and their superiors must know that at some point immunity from injustice will be seen … Continue Reading
I had not expected when I was younger that some day I would be the oldest guy left working in an office of lawyers. Nor did I expect that this mere happenstance would force me to evaluate the wisdom, if any, I had accumulated over the soon to be sixty six years of my existence. I remember speaking with one of the young lawyers who works with me shortly after he was hired in the Spring of 2014. He told me he did not believe in “good and evil.” Given the area of law we work in this surprised me until I remembered back to when I was his age — mid twenties. I, too, back then was reluctant to define “evil” and give it a face. When I was younger I avoided having to confront the concept of evil by believing in the basic goodness which I thought, without the evidence of much experience, was “lowest common denominator” of beliefs upon which all humans, no matter our various races or cultures, could agree upon. I thought humanity’s appreciation for the sanctity of human life, the opportunity to love, and the the absence of cruelty were things we as a species could agree upon. Over time, both through my study of history and the observations of my lifetime I have come to the conclusion that evil does exist in this world and that it is imperative that it be recognized and called out. The young lawyer and I did not … Continue Reading
When I was younger I thought Thanksgiving was about being grateful for the things and people in my life. Today, at 65, I am still grateful for those things, but I most appreciate the “purpose” which now drives my life. I give thanks to God for leading me here; rather than to wealth and possessions. It should be obvious to all that 2014 has not been a good year for many people. While banks and corporations flourish, many of our neighbors go hungry and have become homeless. For way too many, 2014 has not been fun or full of abundance. This does not mean that Thanksgiving has lost its relevance. Last night I was chatting with a friend online. She explained that as a result of cancer treatments she was experiencing excruciating leg pain. I responded: I am sorry to hear you are not feeling well. I hope things improve soon. On TV tonight they talked about Justice Ginsburg and said she pulled an all-nighter writing a dissenting opinion. Living life is not always fun, but is always a great gift. She wrote back: “I agree … life is a gift. Have a great Thanksgiving and thank you for the chat.” The greatest gift life bestows is not possessions or happiness or people. It is consciousness. Being awake; being alive; being able to feel. I know from my own life that sometimes consciousness can hurt as a result of depression or pain to the point where it seems an anchor, … Continue Reading
I am thankful for those lies which illuminate the truth. I am grateful the evil which makes good evident. I am thankful for the age which makes sense of youth. I am grateful for those struggles, which reveal our purpose. I’m almost 66 years old now. I never truly contemplated the wisdom humans can acquire from age. A human grows from a single being, aware primarily of its own needs and wants, to a realization that we are a part of a greater whole, which also has it owns needs and aspires to a higher actualization. Too few of us understand that “aging” itself (much more than classrooms where young people instruct other young people) is the actual mechanism by which God intends we learn our collective “purpose.” While money may be for the unenlightened few the purpose to which they aspire, far more of us know that money can not be a purpose of our planet or the universe for it is not produced by God. I am blessed by being able to work with people who teach me new things every day; who remind me of beliefs which I once was certain were true; who restore my belief that humankind can evolve into a greater consciousness that understand that consciousness is the very essence of life. My purpose now, at almost 66 years of age in 2014, is to explain why we should no longer base our world on the notion humankind cannot progress without money incentivizing evolution … Continue Reading
The Washington Supreme Court has held the legislature in “contempt” for not complying with its decision in McCleary v State ordering the legislature to provide “ample funding” for the common schools. Michelle Darnell, a mother of three and a candidate for the Washington Senate in District 48 (the Bellevue area) calls the wrangling between the Court and the Legislature with regard to this matter “insanity”. She is right. It is my judgment, the Supreme Court is acting beyond its competence and authority in attempting to dictate school funding. The legislature would be well advised to call the Court’s bluff as the McCleary decision is poorly reasoned and attempts to give the judicial department final say with regard to our political process. Indeed, McCleary borders on being nonsensical when it is considered that a substantial number of the children within Washington’s borders are homeless and starving. They likely will not benefit from increasing the more than $12,000 per student which is already being spent on education. Indeed, many believe that it is only the corporations which are vying for these funds which will ultimately be benefitted. My experiences in the trenches on behalf of parents focuses my perspective. A few years ago the Seattle School Board closed a number of schools (some of which they subsequently opened at great cost) and assigned students to new schools. In a series of cases challenging these decisions I learned the school board’s process for making decisions was costly and unconstitutional. The Courts did not … Continue Reading
I worked on preparing a couple briefs this weekend. One of them dealt with article I, section 12 of the Washington Constitution. This Constitution provisions states: “No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.” Article I, section 12 of Washington’s constitution is different than the “special privileges and immunities” clause of the United States Constitution (and most State constitutions) because one of its purposes is protect Washington citizens from our state government providing special privileges and immunities to corporations. Its purpose, as a part of Washington’s Declaration of Rights, was to prevent all three branches of government from corruptly affording corporations and private persons special privileges and immunities which infringed on those citizens rights grounded in Washington’s Constitution. So as I was saying when I write my briefs I have to do research to document the assertions I make to the courts. At least that is what I was taught to do back in the early nineteen seventies. Oftentimes, however, I am not sure the courts consider these citations much as the superior courts now routinely refuse to provide any reasoning for their judgments and our courts of appeal decide over fifty per cent of their by way of non-precedential rulings. But getting back to the point, I was doing what I was taught to do, i.e. researching Article 1, section 12, when I came … Continue Reading
His friends called him Jimmie. As he sat down, gun in hand, his feelings were chaos. Anger, emptiness, sadness, shame. He raised his head; glanced at the sky then back to the crumpled foreclosure notice dropped beside him. Then he looked at the gun he held aimed at his face. For a moment he strained to look inside its barrel. A tear rolled slowly down his face. Jimmie knew he was about to break down in tears. He didn’t want that. He needed courage. So he quickly pulled the trigger and the bullet tore through his face ending his life because of he felt the shame of an illegal foreclosure. Even before his wife and three children held the memorial service, the servicer initiating the foreclosure cancelled the sale. Not out of any sympathy for the wife and children but to stop the family from filing any claim against the lending industry claiming the obviously illegal foreclosure proceedings were a proximate cause of Jimmie’s suicide. In almost every other area, people and business entities are liable for the damages their negligent or intentional conduct foreseeable causes others. In the past the Courts have provided an exception for the government; now they have extended the same immunity to the wealthy. It is a sad day for Washington. Doesn’t it make sense that our courts would want to ensure those claiming to own peoples’ homes as security perform nonjudicial foreclosures consistent with Washington law each time that industry attempts to take a … Continue Reading
For most of our history lawyers have thought of themselves as the unofficial fourth “arm” of the government. Hurst, pp. 598-601. This view is more understandable from lawyers’ past role as “trial advocates”; than from the present relationship between the bench and bar, which reduces the significance lawyers have with regard to the administration of justice. Under the law in effect in most colonies at the time our Constitution was written, lawyers were advocates who had the right to argue the merits of their client’s cases directly to a jury. Juries, not judges, had the right to decide most cases as they saw fit both with regard to the facts and law. “In 1789, juries occupied the principal place in the administration of justice. They were frequently in both criminal and civil cases the arbiters not only of fact but of law.” Galloway, at 399. The King’s denial of the right to a trial by jury was one of the reasons stated by the colonists in the Declaration of Independence justifying separation from England.
It has been said that one of the virtues of law is “predictability”. Through gardening I have observed that nature’s laws are far more predictable than those made by humans. If you nurture plants they will grow. As a lawyer I have observed that the consequences of following the laws made by humans are not predictable. Sometimes people will be punished if they do not follow the law. If you are rich, you will be likely be rewarded when you break laws that increase your profits. Especially, if you are former clients of the Attorney General deemed “too big to fail.” Nature is not always fair. But it is predictable and it is not corrupt.
I live on a mountaintop about an hour away from Seattle. I got out of bed instantly upon waking Friday morning, which occurred almost a half hour before my alarm was scheduled to sound. I immediately showered and put on the suit I had picked out the night before to wear during oral argument at 10:00 a.m.. It was not even 7:00 a.m. and I found myself fully groomed. I thought about whether I should just hang around for a while or leave. “Better early, than late,” I reasoned and drove down the winding gravel road and out the gate. To my surprise, there were hardly any cars until just before the city limits. I got to the Courthouse about 8:30 a.m. and hung out in the law library. I knew I was going to lose this summary judgment motion. Judge Linde had already dismissed my clients claims that the other defendants had not complied with Washington statutes while pursuing nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings. She had done this without affording my client (a borrower who simply wanted to insure he paid off the mortgage loan to the correct party) any opportunity to obtain discovery consistent with our court rules. This discovery ruling, holding a borrower was not entitled to discovery if s/he had knowledgeable foreclosure lawyer, was a “first”; not only in Washington, but the United States. Up until Judge Linde’s discovery rulings, all litigants in Washington had the right to obtain pre-trial discovery consistent with the rules. Why borrowers facing the financial … Continue Reading
This article is taken from one I blogged on July 15, 2012 when I was running for the Supreme Court of Washington. My platform at the time was the court’s weren’t working and there was a need for change. I think the need for change has grown even stronger since then. Now the whole country knows a majority of our land records are falsified, except for the courts. Something is wrong, when the courts can simply ignore the truth. Anyway, this is an article i wrote a couple years ago challenging the basis of judicial review. Courts should not be given such power unless they make more right decisions than wrong ones. Our’s don’t any more. * * * We are taught that our nation’s Constitution sets forth a government based on checks and balances. But the United States Supreme Court decided in Marbury v Madison that the judicial department gets the final say over what the Constitution means. Chief Justice Marshall wrote: “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.” But is it? The Constitution does not specifically say this. Marbury only decided this as precedent. Precedent can and should be overruled when it becomes harmful. My … Continue Reading
Life evolves. That is the order of things. There are individual changes. And there are societal changes. Monumental changes are not fully appreciated until they have occurred or are in their final stages. For example, smoking has been around since 5000 B.C. Indeed, smoking was pretty much an accepted social activity for much of my life. An old family picture I found demonstrates the magnitude of the change in our culture regarding smoking in the 65 years of my existence. This is my Dad and me. See the cigarette? This doesn’t happen as much in twenty-first century America. I remember that in the nineteen-seventies and eighties I would consume a pack or two of cigarettes while I took a deposition. That certainly does not happen now (both because I quit smoking in 1984 and because such conduct would no longer be tolerated.) Smoking is older than coinage and perhaps as old, or older than money itself. If people can come to a consensus that smoking should be deterred, can we not come to similar conclusions about our monetary systems and materialism generally? The peoples of the world can and should decide that the monetary system and materialism which it promotes has become more harmful to the whole of humanity than is warranted by the benefits it provides to a few. It is time to reflect with regard to whether money and materialism gets in the way of achieving those goals which are necessary for our planet’s survival and evolutionary growth. As we battle to … Continue Reading
It seems more than happenstance that I became aware of Bill Burke’s passing in time to attend his memorial this morning. Bill was William T. Burke and Professor William T. Burke and his school of Law and Marine Affairs at the University of Washington is the primary reason I wound up here in Washington State. Bill was a good friend, teacher, and mentor to many of his students, including me. The high regard for him and his family filled the University’s Urban Horticultural Center this morning. I was moved by the photos of him as he passed through his life. Our shared humanity is illuminated by the stages we all go through. It seemed that anyone who got to know Bill got to know him well. His humor was infectious. His passions numerous. His intellect was staggering. It is not an understatement to report that William T. Burke is one of the giants among those who have brought order to the oceans and been instrumental in the development of the law of the sea. As I drove to his memorial I thought about what Bill Burke had done with his life; he had contemplated and helped to initiate a new world order. He was proof that change can result from the passions of good people. His passing is eclipsed by his life and his work, which will continue to make a difference. #williamtburke #lawofthesea #universityofwashingtonlawandmarineaffairs
It is Tuesday evening; almost midnight. Already passed my “I need to get to sleep” time. I finished watering the garden, have finished the start of a “fire and brimstone” brief (they always get watered down some) And now I’m finishing the blog I started last night. So a lot of cool things happened last week. But the most touching occurred the Monday morning before yesterday. I drove down the mountain, parked my car, and entered the thrift shop next door to the ST office. I often say hi the owners of the neighboring thrift store on Mondays while I check out some of the treasures they have found over the weekend. That morning, Jeff says “Hey, Scott. I want you to look at something.” When Jeff or his wife, Becky, tell me they want me to see something, this immediately gets my attention. I smile and ask “what you got?” Jeff reaches behind the counter and shows me a piece of art he’s drawn. “I wanted you to have this”. As my eyes focus on the image it is clear that the picture was designed to tell a story. I am drawn into the etching. There is a short silence. Then Jeff begins to speak. He tells me the drawing began with the cross. And at that point I felt shivers. I remember him showing me the empty teller, the gavel banging into a toilet, and the money shooting into the air. I heard what he said, but was dumbstruck, … Continue Reading
Perhaps a lot of my views in my sixties come from the fact that I was told I was going to die in my forties and didn’t. It allowed me an early retirement and caused me to reflect about what mattered in my life while I expected to pass on. When I returned to working full time thereafter, I regained an appreciation for my profession, the practice of law, which grows stronger each day. I am acutely aware of the problems which our present day justice system causes for most Americans. In Washington State, for example, as far back as 2003 most people (approximately 85%) could not afford an attorney to help them with legal matters. “This is true even though legal problems often involve housing conditions, access to or conditions of employment or other basic human needs, and are almost always characterized as ‘important’ by the households themselves.” And 2003 was well before the foreclosure crisis started the evil of hundreds of thousands of Americans being forced from their homes. So what does the fact that access to lawyers for most people is almost non-existent mean in today’s world? Banks pay attorneys to have courts evict homeowners. Homeowners often don’t have the money to fight the banks so they represent themselves pro se. Most of the time the bank win, the pro se loses. Adding a lawyer to the equation really does not change much if it is the amount of money that determines the attorneys efforts with regards to … Continue Reading
I flew to Salt Lake City to take the deposition of the only witness Select Portfolio Servicing (SPS) intends to call at trial in an upcoming judicial foreclosure case in King County, Washington. The witness did not seem to know much about the facts. For example, the SPS witness (a lawyer) did not know SPS had purchased the “servicing rights” for my clients alleged “home loan” from a bankruptcy trustee for $0 .0077 on the dollar. That’s right the witness did not know SPS bought the servicing rights for less than a penny on the dollar or the terms regarding that purchase. And SPS’ lawyer would not let the witness testify about who would get to keep the money from the foreclosure sale and any deficiency judgment SPS obtained on behalf of a purported trustee for certificate holders against my client. But everyone knows what really happens. If SPS, allegedly suing on behalf of the trust and its certificate holders, wins the case the trust and the certificate holders likely will get little, if anything, out of the lawsuit. SPS will have paid less than $10,000 in order to go after a once middle class American to collect over a $1,000,000 “judicial jackpot”. SPS’ low cost stake in pursuing this once middle class citizen, and others like him, is the process which is slowly destroying the fabric of America and causing many to appropriately question the fairness of our courts. Does SPS pursuit of this man’s home seem equitable to you? … Continue Reading
The Webster-Merriam Dictionary defines the verb “corrupt” to mean: : to cause (someone or something) to become dishonest, immoral, etc. : to change (something) so that it is less pure or valuable : to change (a book, computer file, etc.) from the correct or original form It is a basic principle of Constitutional law that the legislative branch passes bills, which when approved by the Governor become statutes if consistent with the Constitutions of the United States and Washington. When private disputes arise to which a statute applied courts must apply the law to the facts before them. In many cases this will require a court to determine the meaning of a statute in order to apply the facts to the the private dispute they have been asked to resolve. Such was the situation when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was asked to apply the following provisions of the DTA to Travis and Danielle Mickelsons’ case against Chase Home Mortgage. The statute in question stated: (3) The trustee or successor trustee shall have no fiduciary duty or fiduciary obligation to the grantor or other persons having an interest in the property subject to the deed of trust. (4) The trustee or successor trustee has a duty of good faith to the borrower, beneficiary, and grantor. Although there is nothing ambiguous about the language “the successor trustee shall have no fiduciary duty or obligation … to persons having an interest in the property subject to the deed of trust”, three … Continue Reading
Even after the Revolutionary War started most colonists were not in favor of declaring complete independence from Great Britain. Notwithstanding initial battles with the British, most colonists believed some sort of governmental relationship with Great Britain was necessary for commerce and the social order. Public opinion changed in this regard only after King George III overreacted and ordered the Royal military to “crush” the colonists. It was only after British tyranny trampled on more of the Colonists that the people united to declare their independence. Most Americans today sense that something is terribly wrong in their country. Many want to blame each other; the “deadbeat debtor”; the homeless, the immigrants. The bickering goes on and on, while the banks through the governmental officials they own (or control) evict people from their homes producing waves of homeless refugees who seek to survive on our streets. The banks and the government the banks control tell us its getting better. It is not. It is getting worse. And tragically, maybe that will turn out to be a good thing historically. Because as the bankers take more homes; enslave more students; and violate more laws with impunity the tyranny which has become America will appear so evil that we, the people, will not tolerate the problem any longer. The problem is “money”. As the world has evolved what was once envisioned as a “medium of exchange” convenient for facilitating the exchange of labor and goods has become a commodity manipulated by sociopaths. Nowadays the manipulation of … Continue Reading
Like a sling shot, my mind has returned to reality after completing the two briefs which had to be filed today. I spent about three hours after Matt and Brian left Arlington to shuttle one of the briefs to the Court of Appeals in Seattle and Ashley e-filed the other in King County Superior Court alone in my office “recovering”. Yes, recovering is the right word to use upon completion of such a week long ordeal. As I stared blankly at my three computer screens and a long list of emails not yet read, I felt grateful to be part of the lawyers and staff who daily come to work to fight our David and Goliath battle against the banks, servicers, and government sponsored entities. I realized again how lucky we were to have found one another… Or, at least, how lucky I was to have found them. Together, we are learning and growing and becoming better at what we do, which is fighting those who have all the money and still want more. I spent some time watering the garden tonight. It has grown from five or six years ago when Jan started growing a few vegetables. Now there are several beds and a berm which runs along the driveway approaching the house. It has become an unusually beautiful place and I sense that it is a part of what I am meant to do. My sixties have turned out better than expected. I’ve spent this last part of my … Continue Reading
Larry’s birthday is over. I am still reflecting on my recent intuition that the “American Dream” has usually been more about “money” than “liberty”. There is a part of me that sincerely wants this observation not to be true. My own experience teaches that I must constantly reexamine my perceptions. For example, as a young man in the late sixties I wrote a thesis (which I still have stored away someplace) on why the federal government was better at protecting people’s rights than were state governments. While I think this observation might have been true at that time (during the Warren Court era), it certainly is wrong today. In the nineteen eighties and nineties state supreme courts began interpreting state constitutions in ways that frequently afforded greater protection of constitutional rights than Rehnquist and later Courts found were intended by the framers of the United States Constitution. Looking back, it is apparent why my hypothesis that the federal government would better protect citizen rights was proved wrong. The original seven articles of the United States Constitution seek to preserve liberties through a structure of checks and balances placed on the exercise of governmental power. As previously discussed in this blog these included a.) the separation of powers in the federal government; b.) a federalist government composed of dual and competing sovereigns; and by later amendment c.) oversight of the exercise of governmental powers by juries composed of citizens. The Declaration of Independence authored in 1776 proclaims all men have rights: … Continue Reading
LARRY’S BIRTHDAY It was Larry’s birthday. We were standing at the end of a long line to get into the Tulalip Buffet, which was where he had chosen to eat. I don’t like lines and was checking email on my phone, when this guy joined the end of the line. I don’t recall when I became aware that he and Larry were talking, but at some point I joined the conversation. The stranger was a Canadian. He had been born in the Philippines, but emigrated to Canada with his family as a boy. He lived mostly in Vancouver, BC now, but said he and his family had a house on the “res” here. I took that to mean the Tulalip Reservation. He owned residential rental properties in both Canada and the United States. His business was best in Marysville, Washington, he said, because of the higher percentage of renters in the population and the amount of rent he could charge them. His hair was black. He looked younger than both Larry and me. Turned out he was older than Larry. He liked the United States for many reasons. The one which struck me most was because in cities like New York and Las Vegas “the parties don’t start until Midnight”. I told him my “midnight party days” were over. And as we waited in the slow moving line our conversation evolved into what this pleasant Canadian Filipino gentleman liked about the United States and why its citizens should not talk … Continue Reading
The Webster-Merriam Dictionary defines the verb “corrupt” to mean: : to cause (someone or something) to become dishonest, immoral, etc. : to change (something) so that it is less pure or valuable : to change (a book, computer file, etc.) from the correct or original form Upon ratification of the Constitution, the States entered the Union “with their sovereignty intact.” Sovereignty means: “a country’s independent authority and the right to govern itself.” The United States Constitution divides authority between federal and state governments for the protection of individuals. Indeed, a principal benefit of our federalist system is a check on abuses of government against the liberty and property of citizens. The United States Constitution is a short document. Three of its seven articles are devoted to establishing the federal framework of our government. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution makes clear the purposes of our federal structure. It states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The powers afforded the federal government under the Constitution are defined and limited. In contrast, the powers reserved to the several States were intended to “extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” J. Madison, The Federalist No. 45, pp. 292-293 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961). “In the compound republic of America [both the federal and State republics] a … Continue Reading
Does the Separation of Powers continue to provide the checks and balances contemplated by our founders so as to protect this nation’s citizens from the federal government’s abuse of power? Are the powers of the federal government still separated? Has each branch of government simply been purchased by the wealthy, causing the branches to act together in a way our founding fathers would have found to be unacceptable? The Webster-Merriam Dictionary defines the verb “corrupt” to mean: : to cause (someone or something) to become dishonest, immoral, etc. : to change (something) so that it is less pure or valuable : to change (a book, computer file, etc.) from the correct or original form I read an interesting article sent to me by my law partner, Josh Trumbull. It is written by Y. Falkson and was posted on the zerohedge.com web site. It is titled “The Purchase of our Republic” The author suggests that each of the branches of our government has been purchased in such a way that the owners can orchestrate an abuse of federal governmental power to the detriment of the people. In my view, the government’s support of entities like Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, federal banks and servicers routine evictions of persons from their homes is an example of this abuse of power. Falkson makes his point and utilizes Constitutional history to support it: Acknowledging where we are as a country, it is often helpful to look to where we started for some perspective. Unsurprisingly, this type … Continue Reading
Has the Supreme Court corrupted American homeowners right to a jury trial against lenders and servicers in federal courts? The Webster-Merriam Dictionary defines the verb “corrupt” to mean: : to cause (someone or something) to become dishonest, immoral, etc. : to change (something) so that it is less pure or valuable : to change (a book, computer file, etc.) from the correct or original form When I grew up in Iowa in the mid twentieth century we learned in high school “civics” class that our freedoms were preserved through a number of Constitutional checks and balances designed to protect the people from the arbitrary exercise of governmental power. Two of the most basic checks on governmental power, i.e. “the separation of powers” in and “dual sovereignty” nature of our government, are derived directly from the governmental framework established by the Constitution. Shortly after it was ratified, the Constitution was amended by ratification of ten amendments, which are known as the Bill of Rights. The right to a jury of one’s peers was one of the basic structural provisions our founders enacted pursuant to the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment grants the right to trial by jury in criminal cases. The Seventh Amendment grants the right to trial by jury in civil cases.