From the February 2004 Idaho Observer:

Simkanin travesty witness files judicial misconduct complaint

NEW ORLEANS -- Texas resident Charlotte Hanks was so appalled at how U.S. District Judge John McBryde handled himself at the second trial of businessman Dick Simkanin she filed a judicial misconduct complaint with the Fifth Circuit Court of appeals.

Hanks claims the judge engaged in several justice obstructing activities during the proceeding that resulted in a jury convicting income tax dissident Simkanin.

Among the complaints alleged by Hanks are Judge McBryde's violation of Simkanin's 5th Amendment right to trial by jury.

Court transcripts and witnesses concur that Simkanin was not allowed to present a proper defense because the judge blocked his ability to present witnesses in his own defense or cross-examine the government's witnesses. “There was no doubt that Judge McBryde did not provide Mr. Simkanin with a fair and impartial trial,” commented Hanks.

The complaint goes on to list several incidents that describe how Judge McBryde created a combative and hostile courtroom atmosphere by chastising, coercing and intimidating Simkanin attorney Arch McColl. Hanks also noted that the judge was rude and contemptuous of Simkanin and McColl and seldom sustained their objections. When spectators responded to Judge McBryde's behavior with gasps or murmurs he frequently lost his composure, threatening to clear the room.

“It was apparent that Judge McBryde believed the 'trial' was a waste of time, that Mr. Simkanin was guilty of violating the law and the jury's only purpose was to confirm this determination,” said Hanks.

Last December Judge McBryde was forced to declare a mistrial after a jury hung 11-1 in favor of acquitting Simkanin of charges related to his refusal to withhold income taxes from his employees' wages.

Simkanin was immediately taken back into custody and charges against him were refiled by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Rather than hold a fair and impartial retrial, Judge McBryde decided to tilt the scales of justice in favor of the federal government to insure a conviction. Simkanin will appeal his kangaroo court conviction.


Note: Hank's complaint was dismissed by Feb. 18, 2004. Procedural, not substantive issues were cited as reasons for the dismissal. The complaint is expected to be refiled. Additional judicial misconduct complaints are being filed by others who witnessed the Simkanin travesty.

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