by Brenda Grantland 12-25-2010
(c) 2011, Brenda Grantland, Esq.
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The opinions stated in this blog are the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other associate of, or client represented by, the Law Office of Brenda Grantland.
It might sound a little presumptuous calling my new blog “Truth & Justice” – but that’s what I’m calling it. You see, I’m a frustrated optimist. After all of the human misery and corruption I’ve encountered in my 25+ year career as a lawyer, I have come to the conclusion that the American justice system is broken. But not hopelessly broken. I still believe the system could work (not perfectly, but passably well) if more people cared enough (or dared enough) to speak out.
What broke the system, I believe, was not a decline in moral values of the American people as a whole, but the ruthless and bold corruption of a few, and the ignorance, gullibility and apathy of the rest. The corrupt are always among us. Those whose driving passion is to better their positions of power, wealth, or fame at the expense of others, by hook or by crook, without concern for the damage they inflict on the public or its institutions – naturally will worm their way into positions of power. We elect them, promote them to positions of authority within corporations, etc. because they use their charm and zeal to convince us that they have the gumption and ideas to be leaders, and the charisma and acting skills to make us want to trust them when they tell us the things we want to hear.
When the inner heart of a person is corrupt, no matter how savvy his acting skills and charm, as he moves up the ladder of fortune and power, his unethical nature will become known to the people who work closely around him. No corrupt politician or Ponzi scheme artist could ever make it into the position of power and stay there long enough to amass great wealth or a political empire without leaving telltale signs visible to those who worked with him along the way. When the people around him who discover his corrupt nature do nothing to expose his misdeeds, they aid and abet the corrupt-hearted man in achieving more wealth and power, at each point increasing the amount of damage he can wreak on the public. Often, on the way up, other corrupt-hearted men will join together into networks, political parties, and criminal conspiracies, and make mutual pacts to assist each other in moving up by concealing the mutual frauds.
So, what got me thinking about Truth and Justice is that both seem to be sorely lacking these days. Or maybe that’s just what I’m seeing in my law practice. Since the spring of 2009 I’ve been working on a big case in Minnesota. My client, Ritchie Capital Management and several investment funds Ritchie manages, lost a collective $165 million (not counting interest) in the Thomas Petters Ponzi scheme case. For over a year and a half I have been trying to apply the law in a system that is essentially broken. The courts are not following the law. The Crime Victims’ Rights Act and the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act contain explicit provisions designed to protect crime victims from the very thing that happened in the courts of Minnesota. Despite the mandatory requirements of these statutes, the courts just simply refused to follow them. You’ll hear more about that in later blogs.
Bernard Madoff and Thomas Petters would never have succeeded in building Ponzi schemes of such magnitude without the tolerance and cooperation of numerous silent co-conspirators who learned of the corrupt hearts of the two men in the deeds they did over the years, and who saw the corrupt scheme being built – but said nothing, did nothing, or, worse, who joined in and formed corrupt allegiances for their mutual benefit and for protection against the consequences of their corruption.
The court system that defies statutes designed to protect crime victims, that appoints Receivers and Trustees with blatant conflicts and allows them to drain away assets that essentially belong to the victims — are not so very different from the Ponzi schemers. To the extent they built a system that does not strictly follow the law, they were aided and abetted by numerous others who worked in the system or along-side the system (i.e. the local press), and who saw the unlawfulness first hand, yet said nothing.
I’m not saying this problem is limited to Minnesota. Similar fiefdoms of unfairness and injustice can be found all over the country. But just because others are doing it doesn’t make it right – or more tolerable.
The system won’t get more fair or just until people dare to tell the truth about such things. I’m going to try to expose the corrupt-hearted things when I see them, in the hope that others will speak up sooner, before the potential damage grows to such proportions.
I’ll tell you what I believe to be the truth, and what evidence I rely on to support my belief. You don’t have to believe me – you can investigate for yourself. That’s why I chose poison oak as the background for my blog’s logo. If I were to tell you that the beautiful red-leaved plant you’re standing next to is poison oak, you could ignore my warnings and touch it any way. I just thought I should warn you.