Well, as you probably know, Jesse Jackson has become the latest victim of the sex police. When he was about to be outed by the National Enquirer, he fessed up to having had an affair and an out-of-wedlock child.
There were howls of outrage: front-page headlines, calls for dat old debbil’s scalp, etc. Supporters were dismayed. Republicans were secretly delighted, correctly figuring it would knock him off stride just when he was preparing to lead the charge aimed at exposing further election crimes in Florida.
What a load of hypocritical crap. Frankly, I never much liked Jesse Jackson. I admired his ability to inspire, but thought Coleman Young got it about right when he said, “Jesse ain’t never run nothing but his mouth.” Yet now I have to rally to his defense.
When the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, the esteemed philosopher Sonny Eliot told me, “This is the first thing Clinton’s done that I understand.” He was kidding, but had a point. This may come as news to most columnists, but people are powerfully drawn to have sex; it is a prime biological drive far greater than the urge to steal elections or write editorials. Most people do it; most people have urges that are outside the officially sanctioned boundaries; nearly everybody lies about it.
Yes, it is not brilliant for a man of the cloth to father a so-called illegitimate baby, especially when Dad is a role model for black America, where out-of-wedlock babies are all too common. Yet as far as we know, Jackson has generously paid child support. And the mother wasn’t some 17-year-old intimidated by this great and powerful man. She is 39, and apparently quite happy with all this. Now, if I had anything to do with the Rainbow Coalition, I might challenge the $30,000 the lady was paid in moving expenses. If this was an improper use of money, that’s a separate issue.
Yet whatever happened there, it is hard to imagine it approached the corruption that is a fact of life among Michigan’s judiciary. Consider this: Judge Susan Chrzanowski, a 32-year-old member of a prominent Macomb County political family, has as much business being judge as I do running for pope. She had a torrid affair with Michael Fletcher, the Hazel Park scumbag lawyer who, in order to get his pregnant wife out of the way, executed her in August 1999, evidently moments after having sex with her, and not long, according to published accounts, after his last jam session with the judge.
Judge Susie’s bad taste in sex partners is none of our business. That she improperly steered thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded legal business to him, cases tried in her court, ought to result in her expulsion from the bench.
Matter of fact, she should be banned from practicing law. But guess what: The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission decided she didn’t deserve any punishment at all! Charles Levin, who heard the case, said, hey, the practice of “making assignments disproportionately to close personal friends … is still prevalent in some courts.”
Hope I can appeal my next speeding ticket to him. Years ago, the only time you heard complaints about the judiciary was when right-wingers attacked the Earl Warren Supreme Court for doing horrible things, such as ending school desegregation.
I got a rude awakening during the two Kevorkian trials in 1996, when appellate judges and the Michigan Supreme Court repeatedly interfered, in a blatant attempt to help the prosecution. Since then, the Free Press’s Brian Dickerson has done an admirable job of showing what politicized hacks the so-called state Supremes are.
Nevertheless, incumbents are almost always re-elected. Michigan designates them as “Justice of the Supreme Court” on the ballot, ensuring their staying in office.
Judicial arrogance is getting to be a considerable program. Virtually anyone who ever has been in Southfield District Judge Susan Moiseev’s courtroom has been appalled by her thoroughly nasty personality and contempt for lesser human beings.
Then there is Oakland Circuit Judge Alice Gilbert, an appalling creature who thinks she is the law. She decided she should take a monthlong Florida vacation in January. The rules say the chief judge has to approve vacation requests. She never even bothered to ask, and when Barry Howard got wind of it, he said no.
“In the past few years, you have taken five consecutive weeks of vacation. This has caused defendants to sit in jail, and created a general backlog of your caseload. It has also put unreasonable pressure on the chief judge and your colleagues to do your work.”
Gilbert didn’t care. She went anyway. On Dec. 26, she wrote him an insolent and arrogant letter. “The Supreme Court encourages judicial vacations,” she said, and since he wasn’t in the office, she figured she couldn’t ask.
True; Howard, that slacker, wasn’t in his office Christmas Day. But he says Gilbert was lying like a rug. “She never attempted to reach me to discuss this, and I was in town and available at all times,” he told the state court administrator.
Hers is a court that truly deserves contempt. What will happen to her? Absolutely nothing, the experts tell me.
This is a scandal far greater than semen stains. What do you think is a greater threat to democracy — a few politicians who have extramarital sex with women who want to have sex with them, or an arrogant, corrupt and out-of-control judiciary all but immune to checks and balances? Not that we should blow things out of proportion. After all, it isn’t like a bunch of arrogant judges stole the presidential election or something, is it? We better do something, comrades, and all suggestions are welcome.Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for the Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]