III. Violations of Code of Judicial Conduct
After reviewing the Code of Judicial Conduct against both the pre-court and in-court conduct of JP Rogers, I first wonder is she is even aware of the Code and then if she recognizes her obligation to comply. What I saw and experienced in Sophia Johnson v. Sandra Miller was rife with violations of Canons and Rules by not only JP Rogers but staffers in her court. Examples are provided in the gray boxes following each Canon/Rule.
CANON 1 -- A JUDGE SHALL UPHOLD AND PROMOTE THE INDEPENDENCE, INTEGRITY, AND IMPARTIALITY OF THE JUDICIARY, AND SHALL AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY
Rule 1.1. Compliance with the Law – A judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Comment: For a discussion of the judge’s obligation when applying and interpreting the law, see Rule 2.2 and the related comment.
CANON 2 – A JUDGE SHALL PERFORM THE DUTIES OF JUDICIAL OFFICE IMPARTIALLY, COMPETENTLY AND DILIGENTLY.
Rule 2.2. Impartiality and Fairness – A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.
1. to ensure impartiality and fairness to all parties, a judge must be objective and open-minded. 2. Although each judge comes to the bench with a unique background and personal philosophy, a just must interpret and apply the law without regard to whether the judge approves or disapproves of the law in question.
3. A good faith error of fact or law does not violate this rule. However, a pattern of legal error or an intentional disregard of the law may constitute misconduct.
4. It is not a violation of this rule for a judge to make reasonable accommodations to ensure self-represented litigants the opportunity to have their matters fairly heard.
By adopting the role of advocate/apologist for Plaintiff Sophia Johnson, JP Rogers discarded any impartiality on January 14. Defending Sophia Johnson’s actions soon overlapped into defending her own actions to enable Sophia Johnson’s non-case and eventually resulted in the judge making false statements to defend her own actions and those of Plaintiff Sophia Johnson. (Section II-C, page 22).
From January 14 when the Plaintiff’s Petition (A) was submitted, JP Rogers refused to comply with ARS 12-1809 regarding harassment and the requirements. JP Rogers’ disapproval of the “series” requirement is obvious. The judge’s disapproval of that condition (at least when it applied to the friend of her Constable (Plaintiff Sophia Johnson) is the reason the judge signed the Notice of Hearing (B) that allowed the non-case to proceed.
Had JP Roger’s acceptance of Plaintiff Sophia Johnson’s Petition (A) and signing the Hearing Notice (B) been a good-faith error as described in Comment (3), my January 24 Motion to Dismiss (H) gave the judge the opportunity for correction. That the judge let the Plaintiff’s no-reason objection decide the matter (F) reveals that it was no “good faith error” at all but an intentional attempt to subvert justice and the law to “help” a friend of her Constable.
Under Comment (4), Arizona’s Canons would have enabled JP Rogers to make reasonable accommodation for the time lost in preparing my defense when the Constable’s Office removed the required Petition (A) from the papers served to me on January 14. JP Rogers refused to do so, AGAIN enabling Plaintiff’s objection (for no stated reason) to decide the matter.
That JP Rogers allowed and enabled her Constable to phone me while the case was active is an abomination and obviously improper, even to someone without legal education or background. Allowing her staffers to assist the Constable in covering up the Constable’s impropriety that in which she herself was complicit shows she had gone beyond the point of caring about impropriety or the appearance of impropriety. It’s obvious that the improprieties had accumulated beyond any defensible level; the primary concern by then was “keeping the lid on.”
RULE 2.3 Bias, Prejudice and Harassment –
(A) A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office, including administrative duties, without bias or prejudice.
(B) A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment including but not limited to bias, prejudice or harassment based upon race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, and shall not permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.
(C ) Not Applicable.
(D) The restrictions of paragraph (B) do not preclude judges or lawyers from making legitimate reference to the listed factors, or similar factors, when they are relevant to an issue in a proceeding.
The basis for the bias and prejudice I experienced is in the category of “including but not limited to.” It was “politics” of the “office politics” variety, whereby JP Rogers gave preferential treatment to friends of her newly-elected Constable Brandon Schmoll.
RULE 2.4. External Influences on Judicial Conduct
(A) A judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism.
(B) A judge shall not permit family, social, political, financial or other interests or relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment.
(C) A judge shall not convey or permit others to convey the impression that any person or organization is in a position to influence the judge.
Comment: An independent judiciary requires that judges decide cases according to the law and facts, without regard to whether particular laws or litigants are popular or unpopular with the public, the media, government officials or the judge’s friends or family. Confidence in the judiciary is eroded if judicial decision making is perceived to be subject to in appropriate outside influences.
Rule 2.4 Comment says it perfectly.
As a Democrat and a liberal, JP Rogers would have eagerly accepted the events described in Background (pages 8-11) by Anthony Miller, Sophia Johnson and the news media who dutifully and eagerly reported their spin of “angry and hateful tea partiers and right-wing extremists.” (Y, CC, W) These same tales fell like a house of cards when facts were substituted for exaggerated rhetoric (J, L, V, W, K). The “tea party/right-wing extremist” version enables JP Rogers to believe that she was doing more than just accommodating her Constable’s friends—the judge convinced herself that by her preferential treatment she was pursuing a noble-sounding purpose of preventing someone like myself who the judge had convinced herself had the goal of “chilling someone’s ability to participate in the political process.”
Had JP Rogers left politics and public clamor out of the matter as she should have, she would have decided based on the law (and nothing but the law).
An “independent judiciary” requires that the judiciary does the job assigned by the Constitution, AND ONLY THAT ROLE! Judges who “legislate from the bench” (by making up laws to produce a verdict compatible to their personal agenda) are taking on the role of the legislative branch. On behalf of the entire judicial branch, those judges forfeit that independence because legislators are partisan and by definition MUST listen to public opinion and public clamor—these activist judges like JP Rogers can’t have it both ways despite their insistence.
It’s important to recognize that JP Rogers limited her “legislation from the bench” to her tirade and didn’t issue the verdict in favor of the Plaintiff that the judge wanted so badly to issue was NOT because she realized her error and wanted to do the right thing. She retreated from the verdict only because she was faced with a Defendant who had researched the law, dispelled the hysterical claims of Plaintiff Sophia Johnson, and whom the judge thought might suspect malfeasance in the case.
Watching the Kyrene court proceedings CD leaves no doubt at all that she clearly resented my bringing facts, the law, and the Plaintiff’s non-compliance into my testimony.
RULE 2.6. Ensuring the Right to Be Heard
(A) A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law.
(B) A judge may encourage parties to a proceeding and their lawyers to settle matters in dispute, but shall not coerce any party into settlement.
1. The right to be heard is an essential component of a fair and impartial system of justice. Substantive rights of litigants can be protected only if procedures protecting the right to be heard are observed.
By signing the original Notice of Hearing on January 14 as well as her continued ignoring of the law by denying my Motion to Dismiss, JP Rogers insisted on taking my time, energy and resources to defend a non-case. She approved by “silence is consent” the Constable’s Office refusal to deliver the Petition, refused my Motion to Continue that would “refund” that lost time, and then upon requiring my court presence allows all sorts of interruptions to limit or stop my testimony. Service of the Notice of Hearing (B) on January 14 signed by JP Rogers herself gave me the right to be heard on the matter.
My contention has consistently been that the case should never have seen the inside of a courtroom and that Sophia Johnson’s Petition (A) should have been dismissed before even being assigned a case number and scheduling a hearing. Those who claim that Sophia Johnson also had “the right to be heard” should note the clause “…the right to be heard according to law” in 2.6 (A). The law decides who has the right to be heard, NOT JP Rogers based on whether the plaintiff is a friend of her court officer.
When passed by the legislature, ARS 12-1809-R decided the criteria upon which anti-harassment cases should be heard, and the vague and minimal claims on Plaintiff Johnson’s petition didn’t even come close to meeting them! JP Rogers should have challenged the claim and asked for proof but chose instead to schedule a hearing that wasted everyone’s time and insulted the integrity of the judiciary.
ARS 12-1809-R says that Plaintiff Sophia Johnson did NOT have the right to be heard. Whether or not JP Rogers approves of the provisions of 1809-R, the Canons require that she comply with them and she refused. It was the job of the legislature (and ONLY the legislature) to define the criteria. The law doesn’t allow her to make up new criteria when the plaintiff is a friend of her Constable or for whatever other reason JP Rogers chose to repeatedly flaunt the law in Sophia Johnson v. Sandra Miller.
It’s possible that the January 20 phone call from Constable Brandon Schmoll urging me to contact Sophia directly was an attempt by JP Rogers at “outside settlement” mentioned in Rule 2.6 (B) when she read on the Motion to Continue form (E) of the second “irregularity:” incomplete/improper service when the Petition (D) was omitted from the January 14 documents served to me.
If so, it was not only an attempt to manipulate justice, but it failed. Rather than allow another court staffer to join the “cover-up,” she should have jumped at the opportunity presented by my Motion to Dismiss on January 24, but she STILL resisted having her “error/accommodation” publicly exposed.
It might explain her obvious resentment of me that was evident from the moment court convened on January 25.
RULE 2.8. Decorum, Demeanor and Communication with Jurors.
(A) A judge shall require order and decorum in proceedings before the court.
(B) A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, court officials and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.
JP Rogers’ public rant at me (Defendant Sandra Miller) was a disgrace, pure and simple. There’s simply no excuse for it, especially after her berating me for her ersatz “laws” of “rude and uncivil language” and “chilling someone’s ability…”
Even before court convened, JP Rogers herself was guilty of every accusation she leveled at me. Her tirade served only to compound her offenses to her own “laws.”
Her tirade directed her resentment at the wrong person.
O I didn’t publicly brag at having used the court system and legal processes to get attention to my political agenda and “hurt feelings.” (J)
O I didn’t file a bogus case and then resisted the application and compliance with the law by objecting to motions that were legitimate and well-founded (F, I).
O I didn’t come to court with e-mails and flimsy reasons for labeling them “angry and hateful”(L-1, L-2, L-3) and trying to misrepresent them as “threatening.”
Those were actions by Plaintiff Sophia Johnson, and any public lambasting from a judge that was needed should have been directed at the Plaintiff.
Except that the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct frowns on judges’ behaving in such a disgraceful manner.
And the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct applies to public berating of any litigant, not just the ones JP Rogers doesn’t like, gets angry at, or resents.
It’s called “Equal Justice under the Law.”