From: J M Coll
Sent: Mar 22, 2016 10:38 AM
To: "Mary.Ann Lynch"
Cc: Justice Andrew Mead , "Stephen D. Nelson Esq" , "Avery Day Esq." , Hank Fenton , Sen Burns , Beth Ashcroft , Barry Hobbins
Subject: Re: DOJ letter to State Judges re practices that run afoul of the US Constitution: 3-14-16
Mary Ann Lynch, Esq
Government and Media Counsel
Dear Ms Lynch,
Thanks for your prompt reply to my query about Maine courts' standing with regard to "practices which run afoul of the US Constitution", noted in the US DOJ letter of 3-14-16. I respect your professional belief that the DOJ letter was intended for all 49 US court systems - other than Maine's, which they did not included. I admire your loyalty to Maine, and your heartfelt belief that "Maine Courts are the way courts should be", to paraphrase a popular marketing slogan for Maine.
You and I had this conversation before, last Spring on the editorial pages of the Portland Press Herald. Your statement of rather similar beliefs was on the PPH editorial page on April 3, 2015; my reply was in a letter to the editor, dated April 16th, 2015, which I include herewith. The public comments that follow the letter are worth reading as well, as they express sentiments contrary to those you are expressing.
2015-04-16 Letter to the editor: More assurances on Maine’s court fees would be welcome
And once again, I would have to differ with you in public. The DOJ letter expresses concern about the social problems caused by abuse and impoverishment of people who use US courts (excluding Maine you might claim), as a result of fines and imprisonments that "run afoul of the US Constitution". The letter is about courts which are causing public harm and the 7 points discussed in the letter have applications that can readily be applied to many cases that we know personally, and, yes, here in Maine.
Further, I would ask you, "How do you know that Maine courts are 'off topic' for the DOJ letter - that Maine's courts are not at all what they had in mind when they sent it to all 50 states?" Is there a DOJ certificate that excepts Maine from the intent of the letter? What is your data for your claims of near perfection? Have you a window on those Maine courts or a video camera that allows you to bear witness to what actually goes on inside family courts? We do have witnesses to what goes on - lots of them. And there are recordings. But rather than debate our "truth" versus yours, I would ask, why has there been such strong opposition from the Judicial Branch (and allies) to allowing an evaluation, a legislative audit or an OPEGA study of even selected courts? or a systemic evaluation by out of state experts, or even a simple, inexpensive "consumer satisfaction survey"? The opposition to notions of any objective assessment is resounding every time we raise the issue. The need for "evaluation tools" is not about "mean-spiritedness" to the Judicial Branch; these, after all, are the universal tools of modern management all over the world. The defensive protection of courts from data-based oversight by you and others appears intellectually dishonest (no court system is "perfect", not even in Maine) and it implies that the public oversight has no role in seeking relief and improvement.
Your remarks about the DOJ letter and your position that Maine is excluded from their concerns, challenge us to approach the DOJ people who wrote the letter and ask them directly, is Maine excluded from their concerns? We'd be pleased to give them some brutal Maine cases and see how the DOJ evaluates their Constitutional cleanliness.
Yours for improving even alleged "perfection".
Jerome A Collins, MD
MeGAL is working for reform of the States Family Court and court vendors through education and legislative action. We encourage you to become involved in the process. To do so please contact us at MeGALalert@gmail.com or find us on Facebook.
2016-03-27 Reply from Maine's Judicial Branch on DOJ Letter Concerning Illegal Enforcement of Fines and Fees
2016-03-27 To Maine's Judicial Branch on DOJ Letter Concerning Illegal Enforcement of Fines and Fees