Richard Fine, an attorney who has represented Marina del Rey homeowners’ groups and citizens on cases involving development in the coastal enclave, has filed a federal lawsuit with the United States Attorney General’s Office against three Los Angeles County judges.
“Attached hereto is a criminal complaint for violation of the ‘implied right to honest services’ 18 USC 1346 against all the Los Angeles Superior Court Judges, and in particular Los Angeles Superior Court Judges David P. Yaffe and Soussan Bruguera, based upon the receiving of ‘unconstitutional’ payments from Los Angeles County in the amount of approximately $300 million over the past 20 years,” Fine alleged in the legal action.
“Not disclosing such is a violation of the California Political Reform Act, and deciding cases in favor of Los Angeles County to the literal total exclusion of the opposing party in the past few years,” the lawsuit continued.
Fine, a former Department of Justice attorney who initially represented the Marina Colony Strand II Homeowners Association in its lawsuit against the Shores project on Via Marina, charged in his brief that the Superior Court had been rendered “dysfunctional” by these “unconstitutional” payments “which affect every part of the court system from property cases to children’s court, to probate court to every case where Los Angeles County, a Los Angeles County agency or employee is involved.”
“These are classic federal violations,” alleged Fine, the day after he filed his brief. “The violations are clear.”
Also named in the lawsuit are California State Bar Hearing Judge Richard Honn, Superior Court Commissioner Bruce Mitchell and County Supervisors Michael Antonovich, Don Knabe and Gloria Molina.
The supervisors are named because Fine argues that they allegedly received contributions from a developer “who advocated a project before the (Board of Supervisors), did not disclose such, did not recuse themselves, and voted for the developer’s project, when such project came before them within 12 months of the dates of the contributions in violation of the California Political Reform Act.”
Fine has been battling various judges regarding payments that county jurists have been receiving for several years from Los Angeles County, in addition to their salaries. In turn, he has earned their scorn as well.
In 2008, the combative attorney was placed on non-active status after Honn issued an order that Fine be disbarred from practicing law for “improper and vindictive reactions” to rulings by Mitchell and other judicial officers.
Honn stated in his judicial order that over a period of approximately seven years, Fine had engaged in “what amounts to an almost never-ending attack on anyone who disagreed with him or otherwise got in his way.”
Last October, The Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported that the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that payments made to county judges that exceed those given to all Superior Court judges under state law are unconstitutional.
The court case is known as Sturgeon vs. the County of Los Angeles.
Fine has also represented the Coalition to Save the Marina, a grassroots organization that is opposed to the manner in which the ongoing development in Marina del Rey is occurring.