Is the role of the press to be the eyes and ears of the public? If so, then what happened in Montere

Published: Tue Nov 29 2005

MONTEREY, Calif. -- A local man claims his legal battle with public officials is being ignored by the local press, even though the issues involved can have a significant impact on the lives of people throughout the state.

The recent disciplinary inquiry of Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Diana R. Hall has caught the attention of state-wide media because of a document that was issued in a separate case that accuses judges of wrong-doing and provides evidence to support the claims. It is apparent to even the casual observer that judges are fixing court cases, and working closely with other state officials to control and manipulate court findings.

The declaration was entered into evidence in Forte v. O'Farrell, M72599 (Monterey Super. Ct., filed 2004). The impact of that evidence is so damaging to the highest level officials and judges in the state that Attorney General Bill Lockyer immediately halted the disciplinary proceedings against Hall, even though the declaration was not entered into evidence in the Hall inquiry.

Eugene E. Forte has charged in Forte v. O'Farrell that Monterey Superior Court Judge Robert O'Farrell violated his rights when the judge had deputies arrest him because Forte announced his intent to "paper" O'Farrell in another civil suit he had filed, according to Forte. O'Farrell's abusive attempt to intimidate Forte did not work. Forte later in August 2004 had overturned a court ruling of O'Farrell by an appeal he wrote that detailed the corruption of the local Monterey bench. The local media did not report on any of it.

Forte claims he can prove that the judges fix the assignment of judges, including in their own Code of Civil Procedure Section 170.6 disqualifications filed by litigants. When a party files the disqualification, that case is suppose to be given to another jurist to be assigned back out with no questions asked of the party filing it.

"It is interesting that the media outside Monterey have shown an interest in this story about corruption by public officials, but the press who are closest to what is going on remain silent," said Forte, the private citizen who has been fighting a legal battle with Monterey Superior Court judges and other officials in the state all the way up to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The declaration that has caused such a panic states that Judge Michael Fields told a former court clerk, Crystal Powser, that he and the other Special Masters who are hearing the Hall case have already decided that Hall is guilty on all three charges, prior to the case being concluded.

"That means those three judges are subject to disciplinary action themselves. The attempt by AG Lockyer to strike and seal the declaration, along with the seriousness of the claims of the declaration, give further evidence to my claims of corruption at the highest level and the attempts that are being made to protect those involved, including the governor," explained Forte.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that Lockyer is defending O'Farrell in the case in which the declaration by Powser was made. That case alleges that O'Farrell conspired with Fields, to fix the assignment of cases and the outcome of hearings.

In spite of unsurmountable odds, Forte has won many legal battles in a case that has the potential to bring powerful officials down. Media in other parts of California have covered Forte's quest for justice recently, but the local media remains silent and the people of Monterey are wholly uninformed as a result.

It is the ethical responsibility of journalists to act as the eyes and ears of the public by reporting on the acts of public officials for all to know and then make an informed judgement. The Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists ( states in part "public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues."

Forte is concerned that the corrupt officials who are exposed by his legal actions are being assisted by a silent local press.

"The public needs to know the issues and the revelations of wrong-doing that have come to light over the past several years, but they are not aware because of the failure of the Monterey media to report. Our local reporters are harming the public good by their failure to report the corruption that has been and continues to be exposed," said Forte.

Corrupt officials are usually able to prevent the average citizen from exposing their deeds, simply because it is so hard to fight city hall. When the "good ‘ole boy" network is so well established and highly placed, it is intimidating to anyone trying to bring daylight to corrupt activities.

Forte has not been intimidated, and he is proving himself to be highly intelligent in his determined effort to overcome every dirty trick his opponents throw at him. He is not a lawyer. Attorneys who wish to remain anonymous, say that he is a "formidable legal opponent and his writings are both high in quality and substance". Forte has successfully overcome legal challenges which has placed many top Monterey and state officials in fear.

Forte recognizes that he is a very small "David" up against an almost unbeatable "Goliath," but he says he knows that if the press would simply report honestly and fairly what has been going on, the public eyes will be opened and corruption will have nowhere to hide.

Forte has many filed legal documents and audio recordings he said he will make available to any reporter who would like to research the success he has had so far. He is also willing to spend whatever time is needed in an interview to explain the issues and charges involved, but so far the press have not contacted him.


Press Contact:
David M. Bresnahan
Contact Name: David M. Bresnahan
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Contact Phone: 603-522-0148

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