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Judge Jacqueline A. Connor retired on Thursday. Connor spoke with The Mirror at Urth Caffé on Main Street in Santa Monica about her career, flaws in the California legal system, and how she will continue her practice by becoming a mediator with a new goal of keeping people out of court.
Photo by Roger Morante
Judge Jacqueline A. Connor retired on Thursday. Connor spoke with The Mirror at Urth Caffé on Main Street in Santa Monica about her career, flaws in the California legal system, and how she will continue her practice by becoming a mediator with a new goal of keeping people out of court.

News, Santa Monica, Courts

Retiring California Judge Jacqueline A. Connor Exposes Flaws In Legal System

Posted Feb. 24, 2012, 12:50 am

Roger Morante / Sports Editor

Judge Jacqueline A. Connor was born in Michigan, but grew up in Japan of parents that met during the MacArthur reconstruction period in the late 1940-50s.

As a teenager, Connor returned to the United States and went to USC to study law eventually moving up the ranks to become a Superior Court judge in California.

In the late 1970s, Connor became part of the American legal system serving as a trial lawyer with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for a decade before she served as a Los Angeles Municipal Court judge for two years.

Connor initially became a trial lawyer because she didn’t see herself working with big firms and lawyers who seemed to be in constant cutthroat competition with each other. She found the people who worked in these firms “depressing,” and “working their butts off,” and “hating” their jobs.

Connor’s decision to become a trial lawyer and work with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office shaped the future of her career as a judge. She described being a trial lawyer as “a little performance and a little detective work.”

Working alongside people who were excited with their role in law afforded Connor the ability to advance her understanding of the practice of law and she soon became adept in understanding morality and in making the right decisions.

“These people were happy, funny, having fun with their job, and they liked what they were doing,” Connor said. “I thought to myself, this is for me, and so I went to start my dream job with a jury trial (even though) I had no idea what I was doing.”

Connor soon learned the ropes of the legal system, and said her time spent as a trial lawyer was “the best job in the world.” This career choice influenced her later decision to become a judge.

In 1988, Connor continued her rise in the legal system. She joined the Superior Court of California and was appointed by then California Governor George Deukmejian who was looking for “common sense” judges to be part of the Californian legal system.

Connor fit right in and served the public to the best of her abilities throughout the late ‘80s, ‘90s, and well into the early 21st century.

After working for 25 years as a judge, Connor retired yesterday, Feb. 23, but said she will continue her practice by becoming a mediator with a new goal of keeping people out of court.

“It seems to me that if you end up in court, you get in a lawsuit and it ends up lose-lose,” Connor said. “People are looking for deep pockets and are staying sick longer because they might get more money.”

The current system of Californian law is flawed, according to Connor. She said she is staying vigilant inside of the legal system by helping to redefine her position in the legal system as a mediator to prevent cases from going to trial.

“You never know what the jury is going to do,” she said. “Maybe they don’t like the way your eyebrows look or the car you drove in on, or you remind them of your brother-in-law. I think it (California Legal System) is a great system, but you never know what is going to make a difference.”

Connor plans to go beyond her role as a mediator and she will soon add classes to her agenda so she may teach others how to succeed in the current judicial system.

“There is a real problem with the integrity of the trial system and I wonder if it can survive,” she said. “You’ve got young people who are looking up everything, Googling things, and teaching themselves stuff. Some are interested in doing their best, they want to do the right thing, and they want to make sure that they are voting the right way. If a guy is a bad guy, they want to convict him, and if the guy is a good guy, they don’t.”

Connor added that many people don’t necessarily trust the lawyers that they have been given because trial work to them feels like a publicity stunt.

“There are rules about what you are allowed say and there are certain moves you can make and certain moves you can’t,” she said. “You don’t just walk in there and say this is what happened. It just doesn’t work that way.”

In the past, defense and prosecution lawyers had a good deal of control over the information that was presented inside of the courtroom and juries made due with what the prosecution and the defense handed them as factual evidence when making decisions in a case.

Today what’s happening with jurors is that many are Googling everything, and the parties trying the case have no idea what type of outside influence is impacting the decisions of the jury.

“It’s like this pernicious change in the collection of information that nobody has access to and no way to control it,” Connor said. “We tell the jurors that they can’t do that. It isn’t fair.”

But many of the jurors do it anyway.

Looking back at her time as a former referee in the judicial process, Connor explained the reasons why jurors shouldn’t have access to the current supply of online information available on the web as some may think that Googling somebody’s name for information or public records may help their decision making while being a juror.

“If you’re charged with running a red light or a burglary or whatever and you didn’t do it, they’re looking you up and checking you out,” Connor said. “(Maybe) they get a guy with a different name that sounds like you or maybe they find your rap sheet, they shouldn’t have that information.”

In a way it would seem that this easy access to information has made jurors even more determined to get it right if they think that the jury got it wrong. It makes jurors more intent on looking up stuff and getting their own information because they don’t trust lawyers or the judge.

Hearings may also take longer to become an actual trial due to economic factors that have led to deep cuts in the judicial sector in recent years.

“It used to be 70-80 percent of our legislators started out as lawyers and they kind of understood the legal system,” Connor said. “Now I think most of them are not. I think that is part of what is happening with the court budget.”

Initially the California legislative, executive, and judicial function were all supposed to be co-equal but recent cuts to the California budget has taken its toll on the judicial process exasperating things for people who attempt to have their cases solved in a courtroom.

“They (the legislative and executive branches) aren’t slashing the budget of the executive or legislative but they are squeezing the judicial side of it like it’s another DMV,” Connor said. “That’s a real problem. If you have a lawsuit and you can’t get into trial for a year or two years or you can’t even get on the system, where do you go? It’s going to shut down businesses. It’s going to shut down the ability for people to resolve disputes.”

Many cases last for years and even after a verdict, it is difficult to collect a settlement from the guilty party. Compounding the problem is the reality of jurors being able to “look up anything they want even though we tell them they can’t.”

Even with this obvious conundrum affecting the legal practice in California today, Connor is still hopeful for the future of law and seems to currently be doing her part in order to resolve disputes before they go to court.

“The world is changing really fast,” Connor said. “And it’s impacting some of our institutions in ways that no one could have anticipated.”

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Feb. 24, 2012, 11:27:43 am

Ensenada Al said...

The judiciary has lost one of its stars. Good thing this fine judge will still be involved in a meaningful way. Thank you Judge Connor for your years of service and your dedication to making the jury trial system work for everyone involved.

Feb. 24, 2012, 11:29:07 am

Kate Arnott said...

We need more retired Judges like Judge Connor to give back to the system . Its a personal decision but a good way to combine judicial experience and practical with assisting people who really need help at times.

Feb. 24, 2012, 1:06:49 pm

Gary Clouse said...

The judiciary's loss will be ADR's gain. I predict Judge Connor will be an excellent mediator in private practice.

Mar. 12, 2012, 6:04:53 am

Joseph Zernik,PhD, Human Rights Alert (NGO) said...

Jacqueline Connor was a key figure in the 2010 Human Rights Alert submission to the United Nations. Consequently, the official UN report noted: "Corruption of the courts and the legal profession in California". She is allegedly one of the leaders of the LA-JR (Los Angeles Judiciary Racket). LINKS: [1] 10-08-09 Complaint for Public Corruption and racketeering against Judge JACQUELINE CONNOR and Others at both the Civil and Criminal Divisions of the SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, County of Los Angeles [2] 10-04-19 Human Rights Alert (NG0) submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2010 Review (UPR) of Human Rights in the United States as incorporated into the UPR staff report, with reference to "corruption of the courts and the legal profession". [3] 12-01-03 The Los Angeles Superior Court - Widespread Corruption, Patronized by the US Government [4] 10-10-15 Proposed Organizational Chart of the LA-JR (alleged Los Angeles Judiciary Racket)

Aug. 21, 2012, 6:05:17 am

Joseph Zernik, PhD said...

Judge (ret) Jacqueline Connor was one of the leaders of the LA-JR (Los Angeles Judiciary Racket). Joseph Zernik, PhD Human Rights Alert __________ * The 2010 submission of Human Rights Alert to the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations, regarding the United States, was reviewed by the HRC professional staff and incorporated in the official HRC Professional Staff Report with a note referring to “corruption of the courts and the legal profession and discrimination by law enforcement in California.” _______________ Widespread Corruption of the Los Angeles Superior Court - presented in the 16th World Criminology Congress, Japan Today the LA-JR (Los Angeles Judiciary Racket) is primarily involved in financial institutions, real estate and foreclosure fraud. Close ties with Countrywide and Bank of America have been documented. Together with a matching presentation regarding corruption in the US courts, the key role of the courts in the financial crisis was highlighted. The US is in the midst of an unprecedented constitutional crisis, which undermines civil society and socio-economic development worldwide. [pics] Frederick Bennett John A Clarke Jacqueline Connor Court Counsel Clerk of the Court California Judge Kobe, Japan, August 8, 2011 - expanding on a submission, which was incorporate into the United Nations 2010 Human Rights Council report, Joseph Zernik, PhD, of Human Rights Alert (NGO) presented in the 16th World Criminology Congress evidence that the Los Angeles Superior Court has been operating as a crime organization - the LA-JR (Los Angeles Judiciary Racket) - for at least a couple of decades. [] The Los Angeles Superior Court: * Is the largest county court in the US (>400 judges), serving over 10 million residents * Was the center of the largest court corruption case in the history of the US - the [i]Rampart Scandal (1998-2000s) The presentation provided quotes from government, expert, and media reports regarding corruption of the Los Angeles court, as well as detailed evidence that LA-JR is patronized by both the US courts and the US Department of Justice. Such ties were best documented in the perversion of the habeas corpus of the former US prosecutor Richard Fine. He was falsely imprisoned for 18 months (2009-10) in solitary confinement, after exposing widespread corruption of judges of the Court, under fraudulent arrest and booking records. The records stated that he was arrested on location and by authority of the non-existent "Municipal Court of San Pedro". [[ii]] The presentation suggested that origins of current conditions in Los Angeles County are in the decade-long drug trafficking by federal agencies to Los Angeles County (~1982-1992), [[iii]] which left such agencies not ready, willing, able to address corruption of the California justice agencies. Regardless of recommendation by the Blue Ribbon Review Panel Report (2006) that external investigation of the Court be instituted, no such investigation has been conducted to this date. In the 80's and 90's the LA-JR was involved in control of drug markets and large-scale false imprisonment. Today, the LA-JR is primarily involved in financial institution, real estate and foreclosure fraud. Close ties were documented of the LA-JR, the Los Angeles-based Countrywide, and later Bank of America. [[iv]] Accordingly, Los Angeles County is one of the hardest hit areas under the current financial crisis. A proposed organizational chart of the LA-JR [[v]] suggested that key figures are: Court Counsel Frederick Bennett, who operates secretive corporations controlled by the LA-JR; Court Clerk John A Clarke, who oversees the large-scale fraud in court records, and California Judge Jacqueline Connor, who was central to the Rampart corruption scandal and its cover-up. Combined with matching presentation regarding corruption of the US courts, [[vi]] the role of the courts in the current financial crisis, the main subject of the World Criminology Congress was highlighted. The presentations proposed that the United States has entered an unprecedented constitutional crisis, in which the executive and the legislative branches are undermined by the judiciary. The crisis is highlighted by unprecedented deprivation of life, liberty and property with no due process of law. [[vii]] Recent conduct of the Supreme Court, which blocked access to the US courts in a wide range of cases, [[viii]] and immunity provided to financial institutions for large-scale criminality against the People in return for "settlements" paid to the US government, [[ix]] were compared to the Robber Baron Era, where the Robber Barons were immune from prosecution. Accordingly, it was proposed that the current financial crisis is unlikely to be alleviated unless corruption of the justice system in the United States is addressed, and that the United States faces an increasing risk of social unrest. Conditions in the United States were pointed out as central to destabilization of civil society and socio-economic development worldwide. LINKS [i] 11-08-01 Zernik, J: Los Angeles Superior Court - widespread corruption and refusal of US government to take action, 16th World Criminology Congress presentation 11-01-07 Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California: Widespread Public Corruption and Refusal of US Department of Justice to Take Action [ii] 11-04-23 Habeas Corpus in the United States - the case of Richard Isaac Fine [iii] 97-12-00 US Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, December 1997 Special Report: CIA Drug Trafficking to Los Angeles, California s [iv] 10-05-05 Countrywide, Bank of America [NYSE:BAC], and its President Brian Moynihan: Compilation of Records, Evidence of Racketeering 10-05-05 Chairs of US Congress Committees of the Judiciary and Banking are Requested to Join Senator Feinstein's Inquiries on Comptroller of the Currency 11-03-20 PRESS RELEASE: Lomas v Bank of America (KC059379) - Bank of America Continues Racketeering in the Los Angeles Superior Court- [v] 10-10-15 Proposed Organizational Chart of the LA-JR (alleged Los Angeles Judiciary Racket) [vi] 11-08-01 Zernik, J: Fraud and corruption in the US courts is tightly linked to failing banking regulation and the financial crisis, 16th World Criminology Congress presentation [vii] 11-06-14 Corruption of the Courts and Failing Banking Regulation in the United States: Dred Scott redux? [viii] 11-07-06 Chemerinsky, Erwin: the Supreme Court Closes the Door to Justice, Los Angeles Times [ix] 11-07-21 Banks to Pay $25 Billion Bribe for Immunity _Information Clearing House_ ICH

Nov. 3, 2012, 4:00:21 pm

cimmereo said...

"People are looking for deep pockets and are staying sick longer because they might get more money" Really?! It appears that Ms Connor thinks that all Plaintiffs fall into the Romney-defined 47%. Good riddance to Ms Connor.

Nov. 1, 2015, 1:19:38 am

Anonymous said...

I experienced Judge Connor as subtly but outrageously corrupted herself in a case I was involved in just over ten years ago. First of all, she was to be the Judge in our case as it stood ready for trial. However, she took it upon herself to have a "private meeting" in her office, with no court reporter or manner of documenting such meeting. An MSC / or so-called Mandatory Settlement Conference. Surely what would be said in that meeting with me and two attorneys would be noted to her as an "objective" Judge. This is a conflict of interest. A mediator or other should have conducted such a meeting. A judge friend of mine in Sacramento who assisted me with the manipulated outcome that followed said that Sac'to would not allow the same Judge for an impending trial to conduct an MSC. In addition, when this judge, along with two young anxious attorneys (anxious to settle when I wanted to proceed with trial) said to me, "...all my last TEN CASES WERE FOR THE DEFENDANT...IT'S A DIFFERENT WORLD NOW, SINCE 9/11, and so jurors are not awarding Plaintiffs their due as much because the suffering of 9/11 is small compared to many Plaintiff cases!" I asked Judge CONNOR to please show me her last ten cases... she was taken aback, apparently, that I should ask her, a Judge, to prove herself; I sensed something wasn't quite right. She leaned back in her chair and said, "..Oh they're back there somewhere on my computer!" SHE NEVER PRODUCED RECORDS OF HER CASES. I burst into tears and she coldly gave me Kleenex. The pressure mounted and I settled against my will. (Pressure to save money for the State...and pressure from the greedy attorneys who wanted their money as a surety NOW...not after a several-week trial with lack of surety of the outcome.) It still bothered me about Judge CONNOR avoiding showing me HER evidence of her manipulating statement that all her last ten cases went to the Defendant.... I was able to get the records. SHE LIED, BLATANTLY LIED. Her last ten cases which she stated to me in November of 2002 were thusly organized...I shall never forget: 5 for the Defendant, 4 for the Plaintiff, and 1 unresolved, needing a retrial or other resolution. I vowed to report Judge Jacqueline Connor; however, I was told by close friends that she'd probably get a slap on the wrist and that's it, why bother, the system, as she herself says, is "corrupted" much too much!! That fateful day of this Erin Brokovich type case, was not helped by this Judge. It was essentially Person against a corrupted Corporation, so by her pressuring settlement (and by other such psychological means as well), and accepting to seal the case, she deprived Society of knowledge of one of their People standing up for true justice against the PowersThatBe...which today is an even larger conflict. PLEASE READ NEXT POST FOR THE FINISH....

Nov. 1, 2015, 1:25:19 am

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION: Judge CONNOR stated that the suffering was great with the 9/11 event compared to the suffering of everyday Plaintiffs.... hence, juries are not awarding Plaintiffs their due. (I stated it in a reverse form, above!....writing this late at night!) PLEASE SEE REMAINING POSTs about this case..

Nov. 1, 2015, 1:29:49 am

Anonymous said...

There were others in this case, as well. Some Plaintiffs felt that this Judge Connor may have had ties to the Corporation, the Defendant...afterall a relative of one of the Owners had been on the LA City Council... and Ms. CONNOR's husband, or ex-husband to be, had been the Presiding Judge of LA County. Surely the City Council knew the Presiding Judge and his wife, Jacqueline CONNOR. It's certainly OK to KNOW people, but it's not OK to possibly side with the Defendant...not OK to press for Settlement when it was obvious the Plaintiff wanted Trial. This action of hers would not make a good MEDIATOR wherein it should be explored as to why a Complainant has deep emotion about Justice. CONNOR controlling and manipulating is not true mediation....nor is it fairness in the Legal System. Up to this unfortunate point, the attorneys had been decent; however, the young attorneys who were going to handle the trial of them...turned out to be corrupt and has since been disbarred! He was SO charming, a Korean who had come here to make it big. He wasn't quite so corrupt when I checked him out. A smooth operator. I was told by him that Judge Connor said I would "not be liked by the jury" - wow - and that Judge CONNOR didn't like me because I had called her Court to get an update on the case!! I guess FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND INFORMATION is not allowed in the Court system, either: my attorney (not the corrupt one, but the researcher on the case) told me to call!! I was very ACTIVE in this case. If the Clerk in the Courtroom didn't want me to call, she had a duty to say that respectfully to me!! It was likely a LIE...coming from either my corrupted Korean attorney or from the JUDGE herself. She was soooo nice to me after the settlement...urged me to "write that book" about the case...albeit somehow the Defense side got wind of my desire that way and penciled into the Settlement Agreement that I "couldn't talk about the case." GUILT GUILT wanting to save their so-called reputation... a case with at least thirty (30) violations of law and a slew of penalties. Over a hundred people had suffered at the hands of this Corporation, b.t.w. My experience was even more hellish because of an attorney appointing me as "leader" of the pack. For me alone, it was a Million Dollar case which settled for much less. I had been strong through the case until maybe a month before this showdown...and even then I was, with support from others. But the week before the Trial... My my, there was a flurry of pressure coming from all sides, with Judge JACQUELINE CONNOR not helping matters a bit.... After this onslaught, I wrote her a letter...but I never received a reply or even an acknowledgement. I pointed out some of the flaws , which she herself carried out, yet she describes the legal system's flaws in this article as if she was pristine in her practice and judgeship as she morphs into retirement, or did in 2012. And now she is a mediator. And, serendipity, I am a junior mediator - LACBA-trained.. I wonder if our paths will ever cross again. How could she so BLATANTLY LIE to me, a vulnerable Plaintiff, about her last TEN CASES being for the DEFENDANT... and she got caught when, in her private Chambers, I asked to see those cases and she wouldn't show me. But I caved in the face of other psychological pressures. Why didn't my attorneys ask for more than was offered in the Settlement? Why didn't I? It's amazing how all this mortal-mind pressure can tweak at your weaknesses. Why didn't the attorneys ask for more? (Likely because deals were made behind the scenes...after all, my young Korean attorney actually TOLD me he was having dinner and other meetings with opposing counsel! Looked fishy to me!) I have NEVER been so suddenly DEPRESSED in my life than after that hopeful case was dampened by the rush of Judge CONNOR on me. She was trying to minimize the case...if I didn't 'jump" to her gotcha rope, she still would have been our Judge...and would have likely interpreted law to "show me" that I should have settled. A famous case just before ours had that outcome... the famous Plaintiff and his counsel tried to "change judges", as they felt a "loose cannon" was judging the case.... She had urged settlement, so I heard, and of course she knew that the Plaintiff's attorneys had sought to get another judge, unsuccessfully. So, it was big news in Santa Monica and around: this famous Plaintiff got NOTHING, nada, in what sounded like at least a legit complaint about services and technology gone wrong.. So, that case was used to scare me into Settlement too.... I am posting this anonymously because of the nature of the case, it being sealed. But I think that Judge CONNOR will remember this case... it was during a tough time for her... a public separation from a well-known husband... soon after the Ramparts case... and her coming out with toughness to the several male attorneys in that courtroom that day.... ' Lots of HURRY UP, the JURY IS READY TO COME IN if you don't decide, etc., etc. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY TO ACHIEVE JUSTICE!! Good luck with Mediation, Ms. CONNOR....we were trained by LACBA to be VERY cognizant of the emotional states of the parties...and to acknowledge and clarify such, RESPECT such, not ignore such, especially in the beginning of a MEDIATION. A Settlement Conference is a type of Mediation, not a trial, surely, Ms. CONNOR. Your lack of respect for truthfulness and for my situation was---- APPALLING. =========== Serendipity additionally: I found this site quite by accident when googling for info about an LAPD officer who allegedly shot with his gun into an apartment at a beautiful complex I'm familiar with. In that search I found an article, also, about Judge CONNOR's ex-husband... which made me google for Ms. Connor herself: I hadn't said my say to and about her in the above case...but I have here (and may post in a message directly to her somehow). THERE IS NO JUSTICE WITHOUT TRUTH... AND THERE IS NO PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE -------------------

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