My last post on the South Dakota’s Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (J.A.I.L.) addressed the efforts of J.A.I.L.ers to claim the proposed constitutional amendment applies only to the judiciary. Today we’ll explore another of the arguments on this point made by “Barbie” of the national J.A.I.L. organization, specifically the contention that the amendment applies only to “officials authorized to make final rulings on constitutional questions.”
Her statement is proved false by Section 2 of the amendment, ironically the very section she relies upon in it. That section eliminates immunity for “any deliberate violation of law, fraud or conspiracy, intentional violation of due process of law, deliberate disregard of material facts, judicial acts without jurisdiction, blocking of a lawful conclusion of a case, or any deliberate violation of the Constitutions of South Dakota or the United States[.]” (Emphasis added).
Not only does this part of the proposal make no reference to “constitutional procedural issues,” that phrase does not appear anywhere in J.A.I.L. More important, anyone who can open a dictionary knows that “or” means the terms listed are in the alternative. Thus, the express language of section 2 doesn’t require a deliberate violation of the constitution or fraud for a complaint to be filed under J.A.I.L. Any one of the situations it contemplates is alone sufficient.
So, if someone doesn’t t like how the administrative law judge ruled in their unemployment compensation hearing, they can be hauled before the J.A.I.L. grand jury on the basis they deliberately disregarded what the claimant considered material facts. J.A.I.L.ers can do the same thing if a state or local licensing board imposes sanctions on them or revokes their license.
And what about “blocking” the lawful conclusion of a case? Section 1(a) of the amendment defines blocking as “[a]ny act that impedes the lawful conclusion of a case, to include unreasonable delay[.]” Under the plain language of that definition, a J.A.I.L.er could invoke the amendment if an agency engaged in a quasi-judicial function moves back the date of a hearing over the J.A.I.L.er’s objection. After all, the definition covers any act that impedes wrapping up the case.
Like so many other arguments it makes, the claim by J.A.I.L. that the amendment will apply only when constitutional matters are involved is invented out of whole cloth. While it can come into play if there is a deliberate violation of the state or federal constitution, that is only one of eight grounds a J.A.I.L.er can invoke to take matters into the hands of a J.A.I.L. “grand jury.”
The next installment is the last one (for the time being) on the contention that J.A.I.L. will only apply to the judiciary. It will address the “exhaustion of remedies” argument J.A.I.L.ers invoke.
[L]ies are like huge, gaudy vessels, the rafters of which are rotten and wormeaten, and those who embark in them are fated to be shipwrecked.