J.A.I.L. ballot initiatives represent a movement that first emerged in California on the heels of judicial scandals that saw many judges and lawyers indicted for corrupt practices. There, as in other states, popular sentiment to implement measures for judicial reform had been building for decades. It culminated with the drafting of a legislative proposal by Ronald Branson, Member of California's 38th Assembly District Republican Central Committee, who also proposed that similar legislation be adopted for every state and the District of Columbia.
J.A.I.L. proposals would create special grand juries to investigate complaints against judges after other mechanisms of appeal have been exhausted. The grand juries would have the power to discipline judges by levying fines, removing them from the bench, and where appropriate, subjecting them to criminal proceedings before special trial juries. Under present law, the judiciary is entirely self-regulated, and this has led in many instances to intolerable abuses of judicial discretion that are protected by judicial immunity. These have involved conflict of interest, denial of due process, selective disregard of material evidence and other violations of individuals' constitutional rights, including arbitrary and unjustified fines, discouraging delays, sanctions, seizure of property and other assets, and detention.
United under the banner of "JAIL4Judges" is a broad coalition of citizens from all backgrounds, professions, and political persuasions who are dedicated to the mission of reforming the judiciary by means of J.A.I.L. ballot initiatives.
In a recent excercise of the initiative process, citizens of South Dakota have moved the state government to place their version of the J.A.I.L. proposal on the 2006 ballot for voter approval. In states where citizens are without benefit of the ballot initiative process, authorization by state legislators is required before a similar proposal can be placed on the ballot for voter approval. These two approaches define the course of action for citizens who are determined to work for judicial reform through ballot initiatives.
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