Via the observant eye of SD War College comes word of an effort to JAIL the South Dakota judiciary. JAIL is the acronym of the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law, for which a petition (PDF format) is being ciruclated to place on the 2006 election ballot. All I can say is it looks a lot like the inmates trying to take over the asylum.
The proposal would add a 24-part section to the South Dakota Constitution. Basically, it would create a 13-member “Special Grand Jury” to hear complaints against judges. Naturally, “elected and appointed officials, members of the State Bar, judges (active or retired), judicial, prosecutorial and law enforcement personnel” are disqualified from serving on the grand jury. Additionally, “[a]ll allegations in the complaint shall be liberally construed in favor of the complainant” and the members of the grand jury “are not to be swayed by artful presentation by the judge.”
The grand jury can sanction judges or indict them. If a judge gets “three strikes” civilly, they are removed permanently from office and get half their retirement benefits. If a judge is indicted, the grand jury would appoint 12 “special trial jurors” and “a non-governmental special prosecutor and a judge with no more than four years on the bench” to try the case. If convicted, the jury would impose sentence on the judge. Of course, no judge brought before the “Special Grand Jury” or indicted by it can be defended at public expense or by any elected or appointed public counsel or reimbursed from public funds for any losses sustained in defending themselves. And since the judges are the source of the need for this entity, the grand jury is to be funded by a mandatory 1.9 percent deduction from all judicial salaries.
Finally, to make sure the proposed amendment doesn’t have to worry about the rest of the Constitution, it provides that no judge who would be subject to the “Special Grand Jury” (i.e., every judge in the state) has jurisidction to hear a challenge to JAIL and any such “pretended adjudication shall be null and void for all purposes” and provide a basis to file a complaint against that judge.
According to the sponsoring organization, the initiative is a grassroots campaign “designed to end the rampant and pervasive judicial corruption in the legal system of the United States,” which will occur only if the judiciary is made “answerable and accountable to an entity other than itself. The individual circulating the petition, who calls himself the “South Dakota JAILer-In-Chief,” appears to be having a skirmish with the Legislative Research Council over the language and form of the measure.
But if the special grand jury is going to be acting as a judge, why isn’t it subject to JAIL? And won’t it be interesting to look at the names of the people who sign the petition if and when it ultimately gets filed with the Secretary of State?
The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.