County faces wrongful arrest suit

Marin Independent Journal Wednesday, April 7, 1999

By Jane Futcher IJ Reporter

A former San Francisco attorney who was arrested at a "Meet Your Judges" night in October has filed a $10 million claim against Marin County charging that his civil rights were violated.

Kenneth J. Schmier wrote in his claim to the Board of Supervisors that he was deprived of his civil rights and "assaulted, battered, falsely arrested, falsely imprisoned, and defamed" by employees acting for the county and state.

Schmier and his brother Michael, an attorney who also attended the judges’ forum, have led a public crusade against California Courts Rule 977, a 1974 Supreme Court ruling that allows appellate court judges to withhold publication of their opinions.

Kenneth Schmier was asking a question about that ruling during the October meeting when Judge Stephen Graham ordered deputies to remove him. Schmier was charged with suspicion of resisting arrest and disturbing the peace, but Marin county district attorney’s office did not press charges against him.

"Our problem," Schmier said yesterday, "is that the courts are making laws up as they go along and not publishing them so no one can plan for any of the results. Law-abiding people are left open to booby traps."

Last month, Schmier asked the Marin Human Rights Commissions to investigate his treatment on judges’ night. The commission referred the case to its law enforcement committee.

Schmier’s claim against the county will be forwarded to the county counsel, which has 45 days to respond, according to Marie Green, a senior secretary for the Board of Superivisors.

As witnesses, Schmier named Supreme Court Associate Justice Katheryn Werdeger and First Appellate District Court Presiding Justice Paul Hearle. Both were among the 11 judges and commissioners who attended the public forum designed to warm relations between judges and the public.

Schmier said if he wins his claim, he will use the money to "restore the California judicial system accountable to the people."