Editorials

He makes a good case

Marin Independent Journal Friday, June 11, 1999

If the Marin County Human Rights Commission were half as conscientious about standing up for Kenneth J. Schmier as Schmier is in trying to look out for Californians, the concept of government of, by and for the people would advance.

Instead, the ability of citizens to contest Ėand more clearly understand- out stateís appellate courts has taken a leap backward.

The commissioners did us no favor by deciding not to investigate Schmierís contention that he was "assaulted, battered, falsely imprisoned and defamed" last Oct. 28 after being forcibly removed from Marinís "Meet Your Judges" night. Similarly, the Board of Supervisors rejected Schmierís compliant on May 5.

Evidently, the human rights commission wanted no part of taking on Marin Superior Court Judge Stephen Graham, who presided over the forum and ordered Schmier removed.

Itís equally apparent that Schmier isnít skittish about taking on the issue he wanted to ask the Marin judges about Ė California Court Rules 976 and 977, which allow appellate judges to withhold publication of their opinions and prohibit citing those unpublished opinions in legal actions.

Schmier, a Bay Area businessman and a graduate of Hastings College of the Law, deserves to he heard when he challenges the rulesí constitutionality. He contends that the rules enable appellate courts to make up laws at their own whim and make it nearly impossible for citizens, litigants or attorneys to monitor courtsí decisions.

If Marinís supervisors and our state Legislature believe in more vigorous participation by citizens in their democracy, they should consider accepting Schmierís invitation to help him fight a ruling that in effect keeps too much of our judicial system under wraps.

Failing that, Kenneth Schmier says he will press his case in court. There, the people can be served if Rules 976 and 977 command even slightly more attention than the snub which Schmier regrettably got from Marinís Human Rights Commission.