Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Attack on judiciary continues with call for Curless impeachment

In a letter printed on the Missouri Political News Service website, James Byrne appears to be calling for the impeachment of Barton County Circuit Court Judge Charles Curless.

The letter, which was sent to all members of the Missouri House of Representatives, followed the release of a letter written by Judge Curless criticizing Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, who has been relentless in his attacks on the Missouri judiciary. Curless' letter came following Emery's declaration that Aquila should not have to follow a court order and tear down a plant it built in defiance of zoning laws. The text of that letter can be found in the April 18 Turner Report:

While Judge Curless did not publish his e-mail as an open letter to the public, sending it to “several hundred recipients” would demonstrate intent to publish and have substantially the same effect as an open letter. In short, Judge Curless clearly intended the press to take notice of his attack of Representative Emery.

This is not a situation of Rep. Emery vs. Judge Curless. This is about the Citizens of Missouri vs. Judge Curless. The only way the citizens of Missouri can be ensured of a fair and impartial judiciary, is to call upon their representatives to exercise their constitutional check. The House of Representatives alone has the authority, and therefore, the responsibility, to impeach. Though impeachment may be viewed by some as an excessive remedy in this case, the possibility should at least be discussed, and, at the very least, some sort of disciplinary proceeding or investigation should be commenced immediately.

It is amazing that an organization like the Eagle Forum, which trumpets his love of the U. S. Constitution, has so little problem with continuing to bully Missouri judges. The last time I looked, the judiciary system is supposed to be an equal to the legislative branch. Perhaps the Eagle Forum members should take a closer look at the U. S. and Missouri constitutions.


Anonymous said...

Bravo Charles for caring enough about Missouri and in general your district to take a stand for something you believe in. I applaud you!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Rep. Emery and other legislators are prepared to extend their sessions in Jefferson City. As citizens become aware of the ability go through the same process when they don't get the results they want, there will be a substantial increase in business. Of course, this will be only for those who have the power and funds needed to persuade a legislator. Guess that is the new democracy.

Anonymous said...

What I really find disturbing, is that the idea of holding a judge accountable for violating the law, is seen as an attack on the judiciary.

Using that premise; would arresting a Representative for driving while intoxicated be seen as an attack on the Legislature?

BTW -I am not, nor have I ever been a member of the Missouri Eagle Forum.

Aimee said...

Did Curless use his personal moneys to distrubute his letter?Would his actions not be covered under freedom of speech/press?

I feel this is all a matter of checks and balances.

Randy said...

Mr. Byrne,

My apologies on the error. I wrongly believed that you were the same James Byrne who testified against the Missouri system in front of the House and was listed as being affiliated with the Eagle Forum. I will correct the error.

Anonymous said...


Judge Curless used his state court e-mail account to distribute the e-mail to several hundred recipients.

A judge cannot use his or her position on the bench to influence or support any side. This prohibition was put in place by the court themselves, in order to insure the appearance of impartiality.

What Judge Curless did is a violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, and therefore a violation of the laws of Missouri.

The full text of the letter that I sent to the House of Representatives, along with hyperlinked supporting documentation, can be viewed by clicking here

You may find it interesting to note that in Case #27277, Judge Curless had refused to follow an order of a higher court, and statutory law. The letter sent by Judge Curless was not only a violation of Missouri Law, it was also a case of the pot calling the kettle black.


I am the same James Byrne that presented oral and written testimony to the House Committee on General Laws in support of HJR-49, 52, and 66. While Missouri Eagle Forum is listed as having supported the proposed Resolutions, I don't know who spoke or submitted testimony on their behalf. I can only assure you that I am not a member.

While it is easy to claim that any of the proposed changes to the "Missouri Plan" were designed as an attack on the judiciary, that is simply false. The term attack on the judiciary was a marketing strategy used by the lobbyists paid to oppose change.

When you have a system in place that permits the attorneys to make as much money as possible, by picking their own judges, of course they are going to fight tooth-and-nail to maintain the status quo. As long as attorneys make more money, the profession will be happy. - I don't blame them for wanting to keep it that way, but don't be fooled by their manufactured reasons for the opposition to change.

As HJR-49 was the Bill perfected by the House, I ask you to take a look at the Bill itself, and tell me what part of it you considered to be an attack on the Judiciary.

Only two other states, that have an integrated Bar and use the merit plan for initial selection to the bench, permit the Chief Justice to have a voting role on the committee.

HJR-49 would have increased the number of nominees from 3 to 5. The American Judicature Society, who started pushing the merit plan in 1914 considers 3 to 5 nominees to be optimal. Given the exponential increase in the number of attorneys since the "Plan" was adopted in 1940, I think it would be reasonable to have a larger number of nominees presented to the governor.

Returning the Governors ability to reject nominees, is being done to restore something that was secretly taken away in 1976. The ballot language for the 1976 Constitutional Amendment read ”Changes authority and jurisdiction of Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and circuit courts; abolishes all other courts; creates associate circuit judges; amends non-partisan plan; amends judges retirement provisions; abolishes constables and St. Louis City prosecuting attorney; municipal courts become divisions of circuit courts.”

Do you see anything in that ballot language that says anything about removing the Governor's ability to reject, or creating the oligarchy that currently exists?

After reading that ballot language, you should feel as duped as I do.

If you do a little research, you'll find that the opposition to change started long before any Resolution had ever been submitted to the House. Claims of big money influence, and partisan elections were touted by those in opposition. This is about money alright, just not the kind that has anything to do with voter influence.

From the e-mail that I sent you, you have me e-mail address and phone number. Please feel free to e-mail or call me with any questions you may have.