Lawyer urges Marin human rights panel to probe arrest

Marin Independent Journal Wednesday, March 10,1999

By Jane Futcher IJ Reporter

A former San Francisco attorney implored the Marin County Human Rights Commission last night to investigate an incident in October in which he was arrested while asking a question at a public forum hosted by a panel of judges.

Kenneth J. Schmier was forcibly removed from the October forum, titled "Meet our Judges Night" while questioning justices, judges and commissioners about a controversial judicial issue regarding the nonpublication of state appellate court decisions.

Judge Stephen Graham ordered sheriff’s deputies to remove Schmier from the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium on Oct. 28, and later explained to the Independent Journal that Schmier was "disturbing the whole event" and "had his own agenda."

Schmier disagreed. "I was the victim of an assault and battery and a false arrest," he said. "The judge had no authority to order me arrested, and the county sheriff’s implemented that order." Schmier was released later that night and was never charged by the district attorney’s office.

"All of them (judges) had sufficient knowledge of the law of California to know that no criminal act had been committed," Schmier told the commission.

More disturbing, Schmier said, is the fact that 93 percent of California’s appellate court decisions are never published and cannot be cited as law.

"How can we be certain that judges are correctly and honestly stating the law if their decisions are not put out to the people for criticism?" Schmier asked the Marin Human Rights Commission in his letter of compliant.

California Appeals Court Justice Paul Haerle of Tiburon would not comment on Schmier’s behavior on Oct. 28, but said he does not see the nonpublication of most appellate court decisions as a threat to the legal system.

"If all the courts of this nation put into print all of their decisions, lawyers and courts would be drowning in paperwork," Hearle said. "How many sets of books in any law library can you have?"

Commission Chairwoman Mayne Hubert said Schmier’s compliant would be referred to the commission’s law enforcement committee foe consideration.