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Human Rights Alert

Digitally signed by Joseph Zernik DN: cn=Joseph Zernik, o, ou, email=jz12345@e arthlink.net, c=US Date: 2012.03.15 05:25:34 +02'00'

12-03-15 Widespread Corruption of the US Courts - Desired Corrective Actions (revised)
Submitted to the US House of Representative, Subcommittee on Judicial Reform Joseph Zernik, PhD

Review of the conduct of the US courts from coast to coast, shows that key to the widespread corruption is in the failure of the offices of the clerks of the US courts to safeguard the integrity of the records of the courts. The Salary Act of 1919, which removed the clerks from under authority of the US judges, was credited with repair of the widespread corruption of the US courts in the early 20th century. [1] Conditions, which prevail today in the US courts. are believed to be the outcome of two related processes of the second half of the 20th century: The implementation of fraudulent electronic record systems in the US courts, with no adequate oversight by the US congress, and The placement of the clerks of the US courts under the direct, full authority of the US judges.

Accordingly, the following corrective measures are proposed: 1. Procedures inherent to the design and operation of PACER and CM/ECF should be established by law Deficiencies, which were noted in PACER and CM/ECF are not inherent to digital systems. On the contrary, digital technologies could have provided court information systems that would have enhanced integrity and transparency of the court procedures, court records, and court actions. Implementation of PACER and CM/ECF should be recognized as an act of establishing novel court procedures. Therefore, their implementation should be established by law. Validation (functional logic verification) of such systems should be undertaken prior to their installation, in a manner that is both legally and publicly accountable, e.g., through agencies under control of the legislative branch. As part of validation, adequate security should be ascertained, to ensure that only authorized court personnel is permitted to conduct docket transactions. The identity and authority, as well as digital signatures of such persons should be publicly and unambiguously discernable. Accountability of the Clerks of the Court for integrity of electronic court records should be restored. 2. Valid authentication procedures and authentication records should be implemented As detailed above, the NEFs cannot possibly be deemed valid electronic authentication records, and the Electronic Document Stamp is implemented in a manner that prevents the People from integrity, or lack

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thereof, of US court records. A publicly recognized and publicly accessible form of valid digital signatures should be implemented instead. 3. Public access to judicial records, to inspect and copy, should be restored. Given that PACER is effectively the exclusive way provided by the US courts for public access, all court records should be publicly accessible online, pursuant to First Amendment, Due Process, and Public Trial rights. All authentication records should be publicly accessible as well. Such access should be denied only when explicitly stipulated by law or through fully documented sealing orders. 4. The public at large, and information systems professionals, should assume a civic duty in the ongoing monitoring of the integrity of the courts information systems. The common law right to inspect and to copy judicial records was reaffirmed by the US Supreme Court in Nixon v Warner Communications, Inc (1978) as inherent to the First Amendment. In doing so, the US Supreme Court said that the right was necessary for the public "to keep a watchful eye on government". Today, the public must keep a watchful eye particularly on the courts’ information systems. No other measures could substitute for public scrutiny of court records in safeguarding the integrity of the courts in the Digital Era. 5. US judges and clerks should be required to post financial disclosures on an annual basis. Given the serious concern of bribing of judges and clerks by corporate and other financial interests, judges and clerks should be required to post their financial disclosure on an annual basis. Similar measure were instituted in California for various elected public officials, and also for police officers of the under cover narcotics unit of the Los Angeles Police Department, given substantial concern regarding widespread public corruption. 6. Reform of the offices of the clerks of the US courts The US Congress should recognize the central role of the clerks of the US courts in the safeguard of the integrity of the courts and the justice system. The US Congress should consider the appointment of the Clerks of the US courts following confirmation hearings, similar to those of US judges. Likewise, when appropriate, the US Congress should impeach the clerks. 7. Restoration of public access to Federal Grand Juries Conditions, where US attorneys block public access to Federal Grand Juries, undermine the integrity of the courts, in particular, and government in general.
LINKS: [1] 02-00-00 Messinger, I Scott: Order in The Court - History of Clerks of United States Courts, Federal Judicial Center (2002) http://www.scribd.com/doc/34819774/ ###

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