Tuesday, May 25, 2010
U.S. High Court Declines to Review Fine’s Challenge to Imprisonment
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to review disbarred Beverly Hills attorney Richard I. Fine’s claim that his now-14-month-long continued imprisonment for refusing to answer questions at a judgment debtor exam is unconstitutional.
The justices rejected Fine’s petition for a writ of certiorari without comment. Fine, 70, has been confined in the Los Angeles County Jail since March of last year on the order of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe.
Fine turned to the nation’s highest court after being denied habeas corpus relief by U.S. District Judge John Walter of the Central District of California and by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The former attorney claims he was denied due process and a jury trial when Yaffe jailed him in an attempt to coerce his participation in the exam. Fine also claims to be the victim of a vendetta by Superior Court judicial officers based on his litigation of suits challenging Los Angeles County’s payment of benefits to Superior Court judges.
The judgment debtor exam was part of an effort to collect sanctions Yaffe imposed on Fine in the case of Marina Strand Colony II Homeowners Assn vs. County of Los Angeles, BS109420. Fine has continually argued that Yaffe should have disqualified himself from the outset of the case because he, like apparently every other Los Angeles Superior Court judge, has received benefits from the county over and above his state salary.
Yaffe said the argument was waived because Fine was aware of the payments at least 10 months before he raised the issue.
Fine, the onetime head of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s antitrust unit and counsel for the plaintiffs in a number of highly publicized class actions and taxpayer suits, was a member of the State Bar for 35 years before his disbarment last year for filing a stream of disqualification motions and other papers containing what the State Bar Court found to be false and frivolous charges regarding members of the state bench.
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