JIM SMITH'S CASE--MANCUS' LATEST REPORT
"[Observation: everytime I come up with something to justify returning gun to Mr. Smith, judge comes up with a reason not to do it--and he volunteers it and it comes from things he heard in other cases, not from this case, yet he insists he is neutral!]"
Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2002
Monday, I received a message from the Honorable David Flinn's clerk that
the hearing on Aug 8 would not be on the merits. Instead, it would deal
my request of the judge to please remove himself from the case [on
that he is not neutral] and for a continuance.
Mr. Smith, his parents, and I were in Judge Flinn's courtroom
timely. The Assist City Atty, Carol Victor was there, too.
Judge Flinn took the bench. He said he received and partly read my
30 letter to him, copy to Ms. Victor. Ms. Victor said she did not get
Judge described my letter as "inflammatory" [he never said that
"inflammatory" was wrong] and of the type that would tend to upset many
judges. He quoted accurately examples from the letter that he said were
"inflammatory". He also referenced some things in the letter that, to
were a "stretch" because they were out of context, etc. He repeatedly
insisted that he is, was, and remains totally objective and impartial;
therefore, he would not remove himself from the case due to anything
from the events at the July 10th hearing. He opined that the question
asked about his prior knowledge was a legitimate question which does
telegraph bias or lack of impartiality on his part. He insisted he has
Judge then said that does not settle the matter because my letter
was, and is, "inflammatory," which, he said, raises a separate
should he remove himself because the letter is "imflammatory"? Because
has serious issues with my style of advocacy? Becuase his thoughts of
style of advocacy, in the abstract, could slop over and penalize Mr.
His answer: No! Reasons: If I am "judge shopping" [e.g., trying to get
different judge by provoking him to remove himself for whatever reason]
would not go along with that because that would reward my disfavored
advocacy style and penalize Ms. Victor, who has done nothing wrong. He
indicated, vaguely, that, even though my letter was "inflammatory" he
remained neutral and can be and will be neutral toward the parties.
Judge then asked me for my input.
Ms. Victor stated that she did not know what we were talking about.
stated that she did not receive the copy of the letter to the judge
mailed to her, Mr.Smith and the judge on the same day. She confirmed
address I used was correct.
I told the judge that I mailed the same thing to him, Ms. Victor
Smith at the same time, with ample postage, with addresses checked for
accuracy; that I would not communicate with him in writing without
Ms. Victor and I certainly would not communicate with him and tell him
copied Ms. Victor without actually coping Ms. Victor. Judge said no one
accusing me of doing any of that.
I then moved on to respond to the judge's remarks. I told him I
respected his office, him personally and professionally, and my letter
sincerely complimented him in some respects; however, as I understand
law, there exists the following relevant grounds for his removal that
He seemed to agree with
that those are the relevant standards. I said as to No. I, he and I
disagree. As to Nos. 2-3, the judge is on his honor to blow the whistle
himself if, after examining his conscience, he thinks either of those
As to Nos. 2-3, since he said they do not apply, I take him at his word
he is sincere in his belief; however, Nos.4-5 remain. As to No. 4, I
it applies and he and I appear to disagree on that. As to No. 5, the
is that I, Mr. Smith and his parents, genuinely entertain what I
reasonable doubt that he really is impartial in this case.
- He has personal knowledge of disputed facts in
- Judge believes he is not impartial in this case;
entertains doubt as to his neutrality;
- Judge reasonably believes
others could reasonably entertain doubt as to whether he is impartial;
the interest of justice; and
- Others can, and do, subjectively
entertain doubt as to his lack of neutrality and that that doubt exists
sufficient measure per an objective standard.
Judge, by body language and statements, seemed to concur with this
analysis. He then said, given my remarks, the solution is simple: I
preemptory challenge of him under a different code section, which,
automatically disqualify him. He said I could do it then, orally, and
would honor it--no fuss.Quick. Done. Over.
I was surprised when he said that because I think that code section
no longer available because it would not be "timely". Ms. Victor stated
loud what I was thinking. [For the first time, Ms. Victor and I agreed
something.] Judge seemed surprised that she and I agreed and disagreed
him. Judge then backed off that idea.
I asked the judge this question: without waiving right to later
formal objection to him [which could force another judge to rule on the
objection,] was he and Ms. Victor willing to discuss a pragmatic
To put technical legal issues aside for while and try to resolve the
right then and there? He strongly encouraged that--said he and Ms.
tried that two times before I got involved.
I then discussed reasons why Ms. Victor should simply agree to
the pistol back to Mr. Smith without any prior restraint. I asked
she agrees to that would you go along with it? Judge said: yes!!!
seemed like he wanted to avoid having to decide this case.]
Does this suggest judge does not think Mr. Smith is a danger? Or is not
convinced that he is a danger?]
We discussed reasons for releasing the pistol for a little bit. I
pointed out that we are now 7 months post the December 18, 2001
Mr. Smith is still alive and does not need this gun to commit suicide!
into what Dr. Falls [Smith's mental health expert ] told me about
Judge's idea that once suicidal always suicidal is wrong; most true
"suicidals" have no long term future plans because they know they will
out soon; they do not put things in motion; Smith does not fit that
Smith is fighting for an intangible principle, out of deep conviction,
because he cares about the future and plans to live long enough so that
future is important to him.
Judge came back with: he is not a licensed mental health expert,
however, he has heard such experts say some "suicidals" are like what
Falls said but others are like peaks and valleys--their propensity for
suicide comes and goes, and that is something he has to consider about
Smith. [So, because of this, Mr. Smith's pistol should be destroyed?
not be infringed." was suppose to eliminate such considerations and
that all doubt be resolved in favor of individual liberty.]
[Observation: everytime I come up with something to justify
gun to Mr. Smith, judge comes up with a reason not to do it--and he
volunteers it and it comes from things he heard in other cases, not
this case, yet he insists he is neutral!]
Judge indicated he needed to wrap the hearing up because of another
case. People were coming into the courtroom, apparently for that case.
I told the judge the following:
Point No. 1: Since CA Gov. Grey Davis had gone on record
that the Leg had to implement his will and judges who did not implement
will would not get promoted and no judicial candidate who refused to
implement his will will get appointed to the bench, I was concerned
the judge being unduly influenced by Davis. I started getting into the
impropriety of Davis engaging in judicial intimidation/tampering. Judge
quickly started to scowl and looked somewhat angry/displeased. Judge
volunteered that Gov. Davis is a personal friend--the two are Regents
the Univ of CA and he sees/talks to Davis fairly regularly. Judge also
volunteered that he "agreed" with me that Davis' remarks were
[judge's words]. Judge said he hoped Davis did not mean what he said,
if he did, Davis was wrong. Judge volunteered that I need not worry
him being intimidated by Davis. Judge said he was "too old" to be
and was very content with staying where he is in the judicial
I asked judge: in light of your characterization of my letter to
being "inflammatory," please be totally candid with me: Can you be/will
be 100% neutral and objective toward Ms. Victor, myself and Mr. Smith?
insisted he could be and will be--that he is trained to be able to do
and will do that.
Judge said he has heard many [hundreds?] of gun
cases and sometimes he orders them returned and sometimes he orders
Judge volunteered: as of now, the only reason to destroy the gun is
this: Ms. Victor had one cop say under oath that Mr. Smith told him
was thinking about commiting suicide back on Dec 18, 2001. Judge said,
[parapharase] "But I have not heard Mr. Smith's case. And that was over
months ago. If the evidentiary hearing resumes, he will be most
in this: What is Mr. Smith's mental state now--date of that hearing? Is
Smith dangerous then? Would it be 'dangerous' to return the pistol to
Smith then?" Judge said he was of that mindset because that is what the
statute focuses on: "Would it be dangerous to return the pistol"?
Point No. 2: I suggested we schedule an evidentiary hearing for
half of Sept. Reason: Give Ms. Victor and I time to try to reach a
settlement; time to subpoena witnesses and for witnesses to clear their
calendars; maybe have a settlement conference with the judge or another
judge, etc. Also said I wanted the hearing to be on a Mon, Wed or
accommodate a prof expert, and would strongly prefer a day where we
for 4-6 hrs if necessary so the case does not get broken up in 1-2 hr
segments over multiple days.
Judge was 100% accommodating on all these requests.
Next hearing date: Sept 30 [suppose to be a Monday]; early
probability of being able to devote 5-6 hours to the case.
I asked judge if he would order that Ms. Victor have Mr. Smith's
Commander in court, empty, at the next evidentiary hearing? Ms. Victor
no--she did not want to touch it, handle it, be responsble for it. I
law enforcement officer could bring it and give it to the bailiff.
said we should discuss it and try to reach an agreement, and, if that
contact him and he would decide. [I want the pistol there so Mr.
firearm experts can evaluate it and state their opinion as to its
reasonable fair market value--in case Ms. Victor will not stipulate to
value. This is foundational to the 5th Amendment argument: want to
the gun for an alleged public purpose, fine--just pay Mr. Smith its
reasonable fair market vale, as commanded by the 5th Amend and its CA
In the alternative, judge understands I have not waived my right to
a formal objection to him remaining on the case.
Judge and I always spoke calmly and in low voices. No obvious
etc. [I was making a sustained effort to not throw one or more verbal
Hearing lasted about 20-30 minutes.
Afterwards, I approached Ms. Victor and asked her if she was
discuss settlement right then, outside. She said: no--she did not want
Mr. Smith and his parents ganging up on her! I said we would not do
just she and I could talk for a little bit. She said: no, she wanted to
the letters [one to judge/copy to her and separate one to her] before
talked. She said she would contact me after reading the letters.
As I walked freely in the court corridor I was pleased that I left
Flinn's courtroom a free man, not held in contempt, not on my way to
I still entertain serious doubts as to Judge Flinn's bias or lack
thereof. However, while that doubt is real, marshalling sufficient
to satisfy another judge that, per an "objective" test Judge Flinn is
could be difficult.
What is the best argument/hardest evidence that, objectively, Judge
Flinn is bias? Be specific. [Note: I do not have to prove actual bias,
that there is sufficient evidence, objectively, that a reasonable
with knowledge of these facts could entertain a reasonable doubt about
Flinn's bias or lack thereof.]
Please share your most candid comments. What do you suggest?
Not file a formal objection to judge? File a formal objection? Why?
As to Judge Flinn's characterization of my letter being
I recall that a local city councilmember described my proposed Bill of
Rights Day Resolution as being "inflammatory." When I discussed that
Aaron Zelman, Founder, Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership,
Zelman said, "He never said you were wrong!" True! Mr. Zelman also
[paraphrase] the Founders/Framers were "boners"; to the King, they are
assess--real bad assess who meant what they said, they made their
"inflammatory" Declarations stick--they would not compromise, but
politicians are too much into diluting the original Constitutional Rule
Well stated, Mr. Zelman!!!
Without meaning any offense and without being egotistical, I
judge, or anyone, would have a hard time proving that anything I said
letter to him or to Ms. Victor is objectively verifiably "wrong".
To return to our home page, click: