The thirty or so lawyers and judges executing worker compensation criminal cases have been warned by the US Chief Justice to stop messing around. The justice told them that the courts can't be used to abuse public or private rights.
It was a very rare action for the justice to speak from the bench regarding these cases. He was clear on the fact that the high court will not tolerate any more disruptions of justice.
He didn't blame any one in particular. The conference was summoned after the attorney general blamed several local judges for doing damage to the state's investigation of, and subsequent prosecution of, alleged workers compensation cases.
The judge's remarks led to many, many comments by other lawyers regarding the attorney general's statements.
The justice called the conference to make sure justice was served, and to make sure that was done in a speedy manner.
Courts were told to move cases up on their calendars, and lawyers and judges were admonished to put worker compensation cases as a top priority. Courts could even enact special jury methods to ensure the quick trial of these cases.
According to one lawyer at the conference, the validity of the order was in question because it didn't have three of the five sitting justice's signatures.
The order, which also enacted a gag rule, was signed by just one justice. Publicly made comments, criticisms or allegations of wrong doing, made for the purpose of changing public opinion are subverting justice in these cases.
The judge reminded the lawyers and judges that they vowed to avoid personality offenses. Such issues should be taken to the grievance committees, which have been created for this purpose, according to the judge.
The justice reminded the judges that due process must be given to the trial participants and that due process must be given. The chief justice invited questions from the floor, but clearly stated complaints or excuses about past actions or events were not allowed. Those would be dealt with by the correct authority.
One lawyer, whose client had been indicted by a grand jury, wanted to note the difference between media reporting and public comments the prosecution made. The lawyer said the Canon of Ethics should have stopped the prosecutor from speaking publicly, but that the Second Amendment to the Constitution allowed the media to report.
Another lawyer, whose client used to administrate a workers compensation division, said he had not violated the gag order, but rather had taken legal steps to protect his client.
When the counsel for one indicted lawyer stated that he wouldn't be giving any of this client's rights away, he was just trying to pick a fight. One counselor briefly spoke about the concern he had that silence could be seen as some kind of admission of guilt.
There were also statements made by another lawyer claiming that there was a slowly rising rate of worker's compensation case publicity. Another lawyer told about the problems his clients had to overcome simply because of the negative publicity.