Founder: Jim Love
Paralegal with 25 years experience in criminal law. The following is the Foreword to System Failure written by
my attorney. I could not describe what I am doing, or why, any better than Mr. Gallagher has in this article.
By William R. Gallagher
I first met Jim Love in 1995 after he had won his pro-se post conviction based upon Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. In Ohio, it is rare that anyone gets a hearing on such petitions let alone wins one. More than rare, if not unprecendented, is to win such a lawsuit pro-se from prison. Unfortunately, Jim was convicted on retrial. His convictions were reversed for a second time in 2006 and the indictment dismissed. The prosecution appealed the dismissal of the indictment and a six-year battle in the courts concluded with the partial Granting of a Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus, followed by an offer of a plea deal to time served. I am now proud to say he has been my client since 1999. Together we have been to the U.S. Supreme Court and back. Despite unqualified proof he was out of the country at the time of his alleged crimes, the State of Ohio insisted up until a U.S. Federal Court Granted partial relief, and approved appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, that a retrial would take place.
Over the past decade and a half, I have represented a number of fellow inmates pro bono at Jim’s urging. Most have unique circumstances which set their cases apart from the “standard” post convictions petitions. What all have in common is they are on the receiving end of a system intent on maintaining the status quo versus admit what most fear. The system in place has very little to do with “Justice.”
Jim Love’s book takes on subjects many lawyers will admit in confidence or at cocktail parties but will not say publically. The system has been overrun and our federal judges are unable to keep up with the cases before them. In analyzing case filings, briefing trends and applying a little common sense, Jim Love comes to a conclusion which seems credible and possibly unassailable; Federal Judges must defer much of their reading, analysis, and maybe writing, to law clerks or staff.
Overworked judges, with caseloads too numerous to handle, rely more and more on non-judicial staff to sift through claims, filings and exhibits. Judges have clerks reading transcripts, opinions, case law and producing memorandum summarizing, analyzing and possibly even deciding legal disputes. Class Action lawsuits, substantial legal disputes over property, money and people are in such numbers that judges are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of paper involved. Add to those the claims of prisoners asserting their trials were constitutionally inadequate, and you are left with a system in serious need of an intervention. But until then, accommodations seem to have been made in order to handle the volume.
Love presents a case that if true, undermines the reasons our Founding Fathers favored life tenured judges. They wanted politics removed from judicial determinations. With law clerks having intimate influence on decisions rendered in federal courts, the argument is politics has reentered the court system. Law clerks concerned with future employment and advancement now consider those when analyzing, drafting and presenting legal opinions in federal courts. Politics of a different sort, but politics nonetheless. Such a system exposed would substantially undermine the public’s confidence in the decisions rendered by our courts.
Love also presents compelling arguments on just how many innocent people are locked away in our prisons. With facts and figures which seem credible, there is an estimate that over 100,000 men and women are incarcerated and attempting to attract the attention of federal judges through habeas filings. Unless our courts are well equipped, resourced and able to properly review, analyze and respond to these claims, many, if not most of these innocents are lost.
In addition to highlighting the areas of our court system in greatest need of reform, Love does offer some solutions worth considering. One is to redistribute our federal judges based on our census numbers. Population centers generally have more lawsuits, crimes and other litigation than sparse areas of our country.
This book will literally have you scratching your head wondering how did our courts come to this? At what point did a system intent on correcting mistakes transform into one which turns a cold shoulder to the cries of the innocent and victims of unfairness or worse? There are clearly more questions which result from reading this book. But I believe that is the author’s intent.
William R. Gallagher was Chief Trial Counsel for the Chicago Public Defender’s Office for eight years before joining with attorney Hal Arenstein in Cincinnati to open the law firm of Arenstein & Gallagher.
Mr. Gallagher was awarded the Robert Heeney Memorial Award by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 2011. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, of Washington, D.C., gives the award nationally to one attorney, each year, whose outstanding work in the field of criminal justice exemplifies the goals of the organization, the motto of which is, “Liberty’s Last Champion.”
Mr. Gallagher is a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and past President of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Note, Article III's Office is located in The Last Citadel, an office building owned by Mr. Gallagher and his partners in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.