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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Is It Too Much To Ask That Employees Stop Altering Court Records?

Judge Accused of Altering Her Grandson's Court File, Calling Cop an "A$$#@!="
The Legal Intelligencer by Zack Needles July 1, 2009

See Related Story: "Confessions of a New York Court Reporter, Part 1"

PHILADELPHIA, PA - The Judicial Conduct Board announced Monday that it has filed a complaint with the Court of Judicial Discipline against a Bucks County magisterial district judge for allegedly altering official records and for "indecorous language and behavior toward a police officer." The board alleged that Judge Susan E. McEwen, of Magisterial District 07-1-06, inappropriately altered her grandson's court records by reducing his fine for an underage drinking citation. The board also alleged McEwen was verbally abusive to a police officer who was attempting to obtain an arrest warrant at 4 a.m.

ALTERED RECORDS

On the evening of Nov. 20, 2007, according to the board's complaint, Lower Southampton police officers responded to an anonymous phone complaint of an underage drinking party at McEwen's home in Feasterville, Pa. When the police arrived at the home, McEwen's grandson, Matthew Keller, answered and the police told him to get his grandmother, the complaint said.
When McEwen came to the door she appeared to have just awakened and said that she did not know about the underage drinking party in her home because she had been asleep, according to the complaint. McEwen then allowed the officers to enter her home and they cited 10 people, including Keller, for underage drinking, the complaint said. David W. Heckler, the county's president judge at the time, assigned all 10 cases to Magisterial District Judge Donald Nasshorn, of Magisterial District 07-2-07, the complaint said. On Jan. 9, 2008, according to the complaint, all of the defendants appeared before Nasshorn with their parents, except Keller, who was absent from the proceedings. Nasshorn found all 10 defendants guilty, the cases were adjudicated and the original files and paperwork were returned to McEwen's court, the complaint said. Keller was found guilty in absentia and was assessed a $300 fine plus $121.41 for court costs, according to the complaint. The complaint said that a payment determination hearing for Keller was scheduled for Feb. 26, 2008. On that date, the complaint said, McEwen brought Keller to her court offices and asked her acting court clerk administrator for her grandson's file so that she could reduce his fine. The administrator told McEwen that Keller's case belonged to Nasshorn, to which McEwen responded, "This is a case in my court," according to the complaint. The complaint alleged McEwen altered the file, changing the original $300 fine to $150. Keller paid $100 cash that day but failed to make the first $25 payment on March 26, 2008, the complaint said. On April 16, 2008, McEwen gave the administrator a check for the balance owed on the altered $150 fine and the administrator noted in computerized court records that the fine was paid in full, the complaint said. The board charged McEwen with violating the state constitution by "engaging in conduct that prejudices the proper administration of justice" and by "engaging in activity that brings the judicial office into disrepute." The board also charged McEwen with violating Rule 2A of the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges, which states that district judges "shall respect and comply with the law and shall conduct themselves at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary" and "shall not allow their family, social or other relationships to influence their judicial conduct or judgment." The board argued McEwen was also in violation of Rule 8A of the district judge rules, which requires district judges to recuse themselves from cases "in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

VERBAL ABUSE

In its complaint, the board also alleged that in the early morning of Sept. 23, 2008, several Warminster Township police officers responded to a domestic violence incident involving a man named Wuirman Hott and determined that an arrest warrant should be immediately obtained for Hott given his "lengthy prior criminal history, violent past, and unknown residence." Officer Brian Outland was assigned to obtain the arrest warrant from McEwen, who was the "on-call" district judge that day. Outland made arrangements to meet with McEwen, arriving at her court offices at about 4 a.m., the complaint said. When he got there, Outland gave one of McEwen's court clerks the information for the arrest warrant documents, which the clerk completed before McEwen arrived about 10 minutes later. According to the complaint, McEwen walked in and immediately approached Outland, pointing her finger in his face and screaming about how angry she was to have been called out at 4 a.m. for a warrant she did not think the police would immediately serve. According to the complaint, McEwen repeatedly called Outland a "bastard" and a "stupid asshole" McEwen was quoted in the complaint as saying, upon looking at the arrest warrant paperwork, "You asshole, I can't believe you called me out for this. I am going to require you to swear to this." The complaint alleged that even as Outland left the court offices, McEwen continued her rant, referring to the police as "stupid assholes" and saying, "I know how you police work," and "The warrant will still be sitting until the following afternoon without being served." In addition to the same two constitutional violations charged in connection with the alleged alteration of records, the board charged McEwen with violating Rule 3A of the district judge rules, which requires judges to "devote the time necessary for the prompt and proper disposition of the business of their office." McEwen was also charged with violating Rule 4C, which says district judges must be "patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom they deal in their official capacity."

CONSEQUENCES

James C. Schwartzman, an ethics and professional responsibility attorney from Stevens & Lee who practices in front of the Court of Judicial Discipline, said all of the charges against McEwen carry "potentially serious" consequences, especially those pertaining to the alleged alteration of records. "Removal from office, suspension, I'm sure are possibilities," he said. "If a lawyer in the disciplinary system that governs lawyers changed a record such as a pleading or something like that he would almost certainly face loss of license for a period of time, if not disbarment depending on the facts and circumstances." Robert L. Byer, a former judge of the Commonwealth Court and Court of Judicial Discipline who is now with Duane Morris, agreed, saying alteration of official records is a "very serious offense."

"As a matter of fact, I think that's criminal if it's true," he said. "That's the type of offense that could justify removing someone from the bench." Byer and Schwartzman both said that the alleged verbal abuse of a police officer is not to be taken lightly either. "It's not trivial because the last thing you want to do is tell a police officer 'You've got to wait until the morning,' or make the police officer reluctant to contact a judge at all to sign a warrant only to have the evidence disappear before the judge wakes up," Byer said, adding that this is particularly true when it comes to arrest warrants, for which time is of the essence. Schwartzman said misconduct in magisterial district court should be taken just as seriously as misconduct at any other judicial level. "That's the court most people come in contact with most often," Schwartzman said, adding that "most people form their impression of how the judicial system works" from their experiences with magisterial district court. McEwen's attorney, William I. Arbuckle III of the Mazza Law Group in State College, Pa., declined to comment beyond what was contained in a press release he issued Tuesday.  According to the press release, Bucks County President Judge Susan Devlin Scott entered an order Tuesday placing McEwen on temporary paid administrative leave. "Judge McEwen appreciates the courtesy shown to her by Judge Scott given her health and family situation," the press release said. The press release also said McEwen will file a formal response to the complaint "within the time allotted by the rules." Joseph A. Massa Jr., chief counsel of the board, declined to comment on the complaint, citing board policy, and Nasshorn declined to comment on the record.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Court employees will STOP altering documents and transcripts the minute one gets charged, convicted and sentenced for that crime!

I intend to submit proof to federal court relative to a proven altered court transcript and will watch to see the reaction of the judge to this activity.

I will certainly report the determination as soon as it happens...but it could be a few months because OCA is stalling my case for fear that I have information that will expose some very top judicial employees....in criminal and retaliatory actions.

The case is nearing the end...and OCA must deal with what I have...even if they decide against deposing me...which is very likely.

The story will relate the sad inside situation of a judicial system that NYC OCA officials... UNFORTUNATELY twisted into a startling mess of errors...using administrative judges and employees that were brought into the upstate courts by them while controlling their mission!

Anonymous said...

agree with the comment above that these Judicial Frauds will stop when the First One has to do the Perp Walk and taken out of their offices in handcuffs.

so many repeated examples in upstate columbia county alone one gentleman created a website called www.crookedcolumbiacounty.com which ran for several years and was recently disabled after the Feds who were told so much did nothing for years.

a father who served his country for 20 years with 10 yrs honorable service in the Navy and 10 years honorable service in the Coast Guard has had numerous records altered for many years now. one FBI agent was interested in 2005 but never followed up.

maybe that is why some people call them Fan Belt Inspectors? But in all fairness, this agent appeared to be competent and dedicated and likely was Ordered to stay away as looking at all that got swept under the carpet could likely have lead to the governor's office, cjc, some state senators and more.

no one will respect the system when judges and court personnel can get away with these acts. if it is truly simple clerical error that is fine, but often times not and just part of concerted plots and efforts.

Anonymous said...

If you file the complaint with the NYS CJC, you may as well forget about anything being done about it.

I filed charges with the CJC (yes, I have written of this before) that Suffolk County Court Judge James C Hudson caused the record to be altrered in a significant way.

During an exchange between the prosecution and a defense witness, it became very clear that the prosecutor was trying to get the witness to utter a statement that would be highly prejudical to the defendant. This matter had been discussed and ruled upon by this very same judge in pre-trial hearings.

This matter was addressed again when the prosecutor was clearly trying to get the witness to utter something about a random drug test the defendant allegedly skipped out on.

the defense lawyer objected several times.

there was a sidebar where it was said:

Judge: I know where you are going with this Mr.Timmons, and if you do so I am going to call a mistrial. You do so at your own peril.

The prosecutor replied: I understand your instructions, Judge, and I am going to do so anyway.

The defense attorney then asked the judge to caution his witness not to go where the prosecutor was clearly leading him. The prosecutor objected, and the judge sustained the objection.

Within a few minutes the prosecutor got the witness to utter: 'But I didn't know there was a drug test that night.'

I know this to be true because I read it on the daily sheets provided to the defense by the court reporter. I know this because I saw the back and forth beween the parties and it was clear what the issue was about.

I know this because I heard the end of the back and forth.

When I read the official transcript presented to the appellate court, that exchange between the judge and prosecutor was missing. The sentence where the witness uttered: :But I didn't know there was a drug test that night' was changed to: 'I KNEW there was a drug test that night.' Any casual reading of the transcript would tell anyone interested in the truth that the only words that could have been used in such an exchange had to be DIDN'T. Any casual reader of the transcript would suspect that the conversation offered to the appellate court was inconsistent with the tone and tenor of the exchanges.

that charge was only one of three charges against this same judge that went ignored by the CJC.

The defendant paid upwards of $20,000 for the record of the proceedings, and all he got was the version the court wanted him to have.

No one at CJC asked me for any proof I had. No one that spoke to me offered anything but their first name - not their surname or their position at CJC. Not even a phone number to call should I offer more information.

Trust me, that little episode in the courtroom swept throught the courthouse. The prosecutor openly defied a sitting judge in his own courtroom and the cowardly judge didn't have the onions to stand up to him, or more specific, to DA Tom Spota.

Nothing but a bunch of criminals in black robes and criminals with badges in their pockets pretending to be prosecutors and cops.

pete f.

Anonymous said...

Fan Belt Inspectors. I call them the Federal Bureau of Incompetence. Over-rated and over publicized.

At least an FBI agent agreed to talk to you. I have yet to hear from one.

A retired AUSA in that district told me the entire case would not be entertained by the Justice Department, and that was after he agreed the violations of law were very serious.

He said investigating police civil rights violations are difficult cases to prove, and the sentences don't carry enough time to make it worthwhile???? What about the innocent man in jail?

I guess one has to be a member of a minority group to get their attention so J.Edgar Hoover can rise from the dead with that sub-machine gun in his hands and make some more BS propaganda. Goebbels had nothing on the FBI.

what really infuriated me is that I believe I made the case for them. They could investigate and indict in a matter of a few weeks, if that. They never took the time to sit me down to ask me what I had.

Is it any wonder how 19 Al Qaeda terrorist were able to fly our own planes into our own buildings?

pete f

Anonymous said...

You can hand them all the hard, admissible evidence you want, but if it has to do with any judicial or court employee, they won't handle it. Neither will our esteemed AG.

They dismiss it with rationalization that it is part of the judicial process and they can't get involved.

The fact that a crime under the laws of the state has been committed, is of no importance.

It is absolutely unbelievable how these criminals who we pays the salaries, get away with thi.

Anonymous said...

The Courts are so out of control that it is hard for the average person to believe.
Rockland County is disaster in every way.
We have Judge Linda Christopher a complete incompetent with obvious disdain for men.Why is this women allowed to continue her rein of treachery and harm to children ?
Why does Judge William Sherwood continue to work at the court after he was roundly rejected as a supreme court judge by the people in an election ?
There is not a single doubt that this courthouse is a criminal enterprise.

Anonymous said...

One would think that in this modern day of advanced technology the stenographer's hyroglific (sic) notes would be backed up with video or audio tapes. I understand there is such a device built into the modern dictating machines. But stenographers are discouraged to turn the on.

In this day and age we can shoot a beam hundreds of miles into the sky and come back with thousands of phone conversations, and have them recorded for further investigation. But we can't place a recording device when a person's life could depend on as little as a misplaced comma.

We know the reason why this is allowed to happen. It happens because the judges want the option of changing the record when they make a mistake, or a prosecutor that is friendly to them needs it to be done.

When are we going to rise up in American and stop this?

Try being on the losing end of a altered trial record and have to go to jail because of it. Only thenm and only then can one realize the enormity of it all.


petef

Anonymous said...

I've seen stenographers use some mysterious system what they use a laptop for in addition to that machine. I don't know if they are typing directly into the laptop, or if it is recording and they also somehow translate, but it looks like it cuts out some of the work.

But this is just one of those mysteries of life.

Anonymous said...

I worked side by side with many court reporters for many years...and the truth is they are unneccessary, paid too much and promote thenmselves as having some unidentified genius talent. The second truth is that many boast inflated egos, but are average simple people with low self esteem ....that have a natural ability to learn short hand. Their job is nothing but a form of shorthand, that I used to amuse myself with in high school..if I only knew it would become an American iconic judicial position.

I had the FBI at my home in 2005also... and attempted to show them the altered transcript... I KNEW was such from my prior lenghty experience. I also had copious notes that I took from prior information that OCA was going to remove me using certain activity. The agent sat on my couch and when I directed him to the female agent at his side who was perusing the altered transcript (who agreed it appeared altered comparing it to the one that "I" ordered from the reporter directly, as opposed to the one the CSEA atty sent to me)... and he stiffly and coldly refused and stated ..."the federal judge in your case has to investigate that issue." The agent also refused to review the phone with the numerous out of area calls... every hour on the hour for months and the damage to my car that a female supervisor ordered and I was warned about the night before of her threat...that said someone should go and F up her car...which did happen...and various other crimes I had proof of regarding OCA.

The crimes and proof do not go away because the FBI chose to do nothing.... everyone who holds such..but remains and should remain in the hands of private individuals..... waiting to be revealed to whomever... in the future!

So if the FBI's job is to serve us relative to corrupton in government...why must I enlist a federal court judge..whom I have never met and maybe never will meet...and it is now 4 yrs later...to play detective to the crimes committed against me by the government agency of the Unified Court System?

Is a federal court judge permitted to investigate crimes of cases before him...or was I being had by the FBI? What do you say to such an agency and where do you go from there? Maybe a newly assigned agent could respond to this problem...I have no way of solving! Or maybe the head FBI agent and close friend of the female administrative judge nixed my multiple complaints that were thoroughly factually about my local court system... because I worked there and obtained them from that job and he knew they were true....you think?

As far as court reporters go..their job is too subjective to keep them employed. Who knows what they take down and if it is accurate, if they are clear headed that day, if they are not fearful of the powerful(and usually dirty) robe, if they are getting perks to alter their work...which I know they are..or if in fact they love the nasty influence they have over everyone.... because no one can determine what anyone of them writes!

They have egos like that of high powered elected officials...and like I said they are just ordinary common middle class neighbors...in love with the power of the judiciary that employs them to do the right thing. And are they doing the right thing....as we all seem to know...many times not. Now is the time to correct that, by eliminating these jobs that have no definable accuracy!

Anonymous said...

Since "court reporters are unnecessary" ever consider that if recorders were used, they would include every sneeze, cough, siren, door closing, throat-clearing, thereby omitting important testimony?

"Their job is nothing but a form of shorthand that I used to amuse myself in high school..."

For the record, the shorthand theory Court Reporters use is not given in high school. It's taught at Court Reporting schools and colleges that offer court reporting as a major, and is totally different from what you "amused yourself" with. I don't know what steno theory you "amused yourself with" but my guess is, it certainly wasn't the Court Reporting theory.

Court Reporting theory is totally based on the alaphabet/phoenetics and must be memorized. You may have worked "side by side with reporters" but did you ever talk to them about how they survived and toughed out Theory class?? How, with certain speeds, i.e. 150wpm, they'd hit a plateau, stuck on that speed for months - then finally break through?

Why didn't you become a Court Reporter so that you could read their notes, and thus know what they're writing about?? On the other hand, you probably couldn't-because most reporters have their own style of writing and unless you know and understand the Theory, naturally you have no clue as to what they're writing-unless the court has Real-Time and you can actually see on an overhead split screen both the Reporter's notes and his/her notes transcribed into English simultaneously.

Anonymous said...

I was once told Civil Rights Violations, attorneys do not handle that "there is no money in it".....so it seems if they want to
ditch your case they will send it to that classification knowing not many will help you....it is wonderful to know our court systems will malpractice a case knowing if you want justice
IT WILL COST YOU!

Anonymous said...

Of course court reporterI know your methods of reporting are foreign to everyone but you...and that is the poblem...you can and do change te notes to please the master judge you hold in some false esteem!
I amused myself with shorthand, absolutely..it was such a weird subject...and I do know from hearing from every reporter daily... how hard and fast they had to work to get to their form of self creation of the spoken legal word. You admit your words can only be read by you..which I know from years of watching departed reporters notes being impossible to translate...does that not tell you all something?

The notes of the courts conversations must be transparent and available to everyone at the time written or they will be altered through conversations with the judge in minutes. How that gets done is not my issue or problem..it is OCA'S and the legal entities.

As far as becoming a court reporter..no thanks...pencil pushing was enough of a drag to tolerate in order to proceed with court business. Never upgrading th real courtroom titles and adding tons of additional work evry year without reviewing or consolidating the methods or amounts of paperwor was a waste of time and taxpayer funds.The court supervisors were such uneducated hacks, that they hadno clue about courtroom work or operations to attempt to make them accurate for the 2000's.

As far as the reporters job is concerned...I stand by my remarks and whether or not you are happy about that is of no concern to me...I report what goes on in the courthouses and I specifically report to you what a court reporter did to me which was very detrimental to my life and ex-job!Very stupid for one of your own...wasn't it? It will be reported and the consequences will be felt.

What most people don't know about you is that youhave your own union that you pay for personally from your own pocket. You usethis protection to keep from losing your jobs to the nose blowing sounds of the tape recorder. You don't trust the very untrustworthy CSEA to protect you, because they will sell out their own mothers to shorten the amount of time they spend defending any person or ontract. CSEA BELIEVES THAT MORE TIME MEANS PLAY TIME!

Don't be mad reporter because you know what Ihave said is accurate...you just want to save your high paying job at any cost..even if you think mocking my assessment makes your point.

Your job is obsolete and the method is extremely questionable and all legal court people know this...it is the public who is unaware and whom I always direct my reporting to..not OCA employees...you are of no concern to me at all!

Anonymous said...

In Orange County they altered records to justify changing child custody from Victims of Domestic Violence to the abusers. In some cases Dr. Bert Pepper is been used to make up secret false diagnosis against the Mothers. This charlatan is been used in various courts through the Ninth Garbage Judicial Sewer District.

Anonymous said...

Why would a court reporter write on an expose corrupt courts blog to defend their job.... which is well known and written about on here often as one that alters the spoken word?
Was this person hoping that the facts about court reporters changing conversations as well as under oath testimony...would disappear if we knew they worked very hard in theory class...whatever that is....and not question their job as being vital to the citizens of this state...which it is not!
Oh my...OCA is a very troubled group thinking that entering a messy and testy battle ground here...would garner sympathy for the devil...lol.

Anonymous said...

The system is set up to screw you, suckers! They control the record. So you get screwed.

Anonymous said...

Not unless you can prove otherwise..and that proof is out there waiting for it's debut or debutt!

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2