Occupy the Courts!
November 8, 2011

The impetus behind Occupy Wall Street is to bring together the 99% who do not own the world, and to provide a venue to address the greed and corruption which has brought America to its knees. By focusing the attention on Wall Street and the financial institutions, OWS may be missing a prime target for the corruption that has taken over our country — the courts.

Because of decisions rendered by our courts, millions of people are losing their homes. Because of decisions rendered by courts, families are being torn apart and children are being taken from their parents. Because of decisions rendered by courts, our elderly and disabled are losing all their rights and all access to their assets through guardianship proceedings which only stand to benefit attorneys and the guardians. These "civil" proceedings are shredding the most fundamental unit of our society, which is the family.

All of these issues are adjudicated by judges. California attorney Richard Fine attempted to address illegal payments received by State Superior court judges, via "special benefits" afforded the judges by California counties. For his groundbreaking work on this issue, he was rewarded with a year-and-a-half in jail.

Concerns have also been raised on the massive amounts of money being laundered by judges through their home loans, a revelation which demands further scrutiny as judges have been found to be systematically taking out loans far in excess of what they could reasonably pay back so rapidly on a judge's salary. The question that must be asked is, who is paying back these loans?

Both Fine’s work and the questions raised by judges' loans impel the question as to whether we have an impartial judiciary, or simply a crew of paid-off legal hit men masquerading in black robes.

A movement to expand the focus of OWS to include a general occupation of the courts could take several different manifestations. For example, on a designated day each week a local Occupy group could all enter a nearby courthouse and sit in on a certain department (if space permits!). Or, there could be a contingent of a local Occupy group which could make the courthouse its focal point and sit in on proceedings every day. Each Occupy group could come to its own determination as to how best to occupy the courthouses.

The seat of power is also occupied by the judges, not only by the financial institutions. If we are to truly take back our country, we must occupy the very places that those who have hijacked our democratic institutions now control.

Occupy the courts!

From: Janet Phelan, "Occupy the Courts!" Activist Post, November 8, 2011, http://www.activistpost.com/2011/11/occupy-courts.html, accessed 11/08/2011.  Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist.  She can be contacted at janetclairephelan@yahoo.com.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.


In 1911, when the membership of the House of Representatives was first set at 435,1 the U.S. population was about 125 million.  By 2010, the population had increased about 2-1/2 fold,2 thereby reducing individual citizen representation by that factor.  At the same time, the number of federal judges swelled.  In 2009, the Judicial Branch of government employed approximately 1,774 federal judges and magistrates in its district, appellate and bankruptcy courts,3 and a somewhat greater number elsewhere in the federal court system as tribunal and miscellaneous administrative law judges.3  The total number of federal judges is now about 6-3/4 times the size of the U.S. Congress (435 Representatives plus 100 Senators).4

Through its opinions, the federal courts have gradually usurped much of the power of Congress by virtue of its size and authority to interpret and apply the law.  Moreover, the courts have evolved into a quasi-imperial dynasty endowed with a self-declared immunity that provides near-absolute power and freedom from accountability for errors, bias and even malice in its rulings.  "Occupy the Courts" would remove the shield of immunity for judicial misconduct on the bench and reestablish accountability to the people the courts were intended to serve.  To this end, independent, special citizen grand juries with no connection to the judiciary would be established to hear complaints of judicial misconduct, and a similarly independent inspector general would be created to administer the process.5

Carl Bernofsky
January, 2012

  1. "The 1911 House reapportionment," Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives Art & History - Historical Highlights, http://artandhistory.house.gov/..., accessed 12/25/2011.

  2. "Demographics of the United States" (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States, accessed 12/25/2011.

  3. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Annual Report of the Director for Judicial Business of the US Courts, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_federal_judges_are_there_in_the_US, accessed 12/25/2011.

  4. Tulanelink is grateful to attorney Gary L. Zerman for pointing out this striking relationship.

  5. See also: South Dakota's Historic Judicial Reform Initiative.

  6. Occupy the Courts!  The organization Move to Amend designated Friday, January 20, 2012, as a national day of protest against the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case.  See: http://www.movetoamend.org, accessed 01/10/2012.