Beverly Hills lawyer, Richard Fine, has been in solitary confinement for almost 15 months for contempt of court. The 70 year-old attorney began his career 40 years ago, after obtaining his law degree from the University of Chicago and his doctorate in international law from the London School of Economics. He specialized in anti-trust law and was well respected. So what happened?
About ten years ago, Mr. Fine began criticizing judges who ruled against his plaintiff clients in lawsuits against LA County. He maintained that because the County provided benefits to the judiciary beyond their usual salaries, they were tainted and corrupt.
But he did more than criticize. He filed multiple lawsuits, suing three trial judges, three appellate judges and a court clerk. His contempt conviction arose after he continued to practice law, despite his disbarment and refused to provide personal financial documents and information in relation to a $47,000.00 fine levied against him by the Court.
Mr. Fine appealed his contempt conviction unsuccessfully and then sought a ruling from the United States Supreme Court, who declined to hear his case.
Mr. Fine could be released from prison any time if he were to provide documents and respond to the Court’s questions, but he refuses. He is being heralded as a political prisoner by supporters who have initiated a petition in favour of Mr. Fine being President Obama’s next judicial appointee to the US Supreme Court. Another group of wingnuts maintain that he is not in jail but has been surreptitiously transferred to a “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” secret psychiatric unit!
There is much to feel sorry about for Mr. Fine’s predicament, but the reality is, he is in no different position than a family law litigant who refuses to comply with disclosure rules regarding income and property.