Thursday, October 25, 2012

Judge, Jury and Executioner


You would think that when the United States Supreme Court rules unanimously in your favor that the issue is resolved. I was soon to find out that even the Supreme Court can only do so much when you're trying to fight City Hall.  The book Anatomy of Hustle:  Cable Comes to South Central L.A. details the story.

In the spring of 1986 the United States Supreme Court had ruled unanimously in the case of Preferred Communications, Inc. vs the City of Los Angeles as we sought to break the cable television monopoly.   The case was returned to the US District Court for final resolution. US District Court judge Consuelo Marshall would hold the case for six more years after the ruling and refused to allow a jury trial as is customary in such proceedings.

We knew when the case was originally filed, in 1983, with judge Marshall that she was good friends with Mayor Tom Bradley and his good friend Johnnie Cochran. . She dismissed the case in less than 45 days without allowing any evidence to be presented. I did not believe that she would have the audacity to ignore the ruling and intention of the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Marshall would establish a new judicial system that would allow her to become judge, jury and executioner in our case.. Her appointment by President Carter was done with the assistance and support of Mayor Tom Bradley and the Los Angeles Democratic Party machine, including Johnny Cochran.

They say that you can’t fight City Hall. What they mean is that you can’t win when the game is rigged. While we did not expect the politicians of City Hall to act in an independent or honest manner we certainly had an expectation that the federal courts would at least give us an impartial analysis of our case against the city of Los Angeles.  That impartiality certainly did not occur in the US District Court which is located two blocks from City Hall.

According to Wikipedia "the judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in open court". We not only did not receive a trial but all hearings were conducted secretly behind closed doors in the judge's chambers to limit the exposure to the general public.

By refusing to allow a jury trial the judge effectively became the jury. Clearly it was not a jury of our peers nor was the jury impartial. A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict (a finding of fact on a question) submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment.

While we spent five years in the discovery phase, in preparation for trial, the judge was fully aware that there never would be a trial and that the discovery phase was nothing more than another delaying tactic. Trial dates were set on several occasions but always changed at the request of the City.  The delaying tactic would effectively eliminate all competition within the cable television industry within the city of Los Angeles.

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