Judge Rogelio R. Flores, Superior Court Judge in Santa Barbara County, CA, is not only a judge in the Santa Barbara Substance Abuse Treatment Court he's also a trustee of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous. Does anyone else see a conflict of interest here?
The Santa Barbara County Substance Abuse Treatment Court mandates A.A. attendance:
"A treatment plan is developed for each participant which involves individual and group counseling, frequent drug testing, acupuncture to reduce cravings, regular AA or NA meetings and weekly court appearances." http://www.sbcourts.org/special_programs/satc.htm.
It gets worse...
Judge Flores has commented several times in A.A. publications since his appointment as A.A. trustee:
" 'I keep extra copies of the Grapevine in my chambers and in my courtroom. I give them a copy of whatever one comes to hand, whatever one happens to be closest, and I say ‘I want you to take this Grapevine home and I want you to read it. And I want you to write me an essay about the one story in there that really touched your heart.' ”
" 'Instead of putting you in jail,” he said, “I want you to read this Grapevine.' "
" 'If there’s alcoholism involved, who do we call? We always call A.A.; we always rely on the hand of A.A. to help the still-suffering alcoholic.' "
A.A. Box 459 - Vol. 54. No. 6. Holiday issue 2008. http://www.aa.org/en_pdfs/en_box459_holiday08.pdf
1. Judge Flores engaged in religious proselytizing in his court. AA is religious and thus the Grapevine is a publication of a religious organization.
2. Judge Flores cannot order someone to read the Grapevine or go to jail. There must be a secular alternative.
3. Judge Flores cannot "always call A.A.", "If there's alcoholism involved". He must call a secular alternative.
In 2010 Judge Flores was quoted by A.A. as follows:
"...by his own estimate Judge Flores has sent over 20,000 alcoholics on to A.A."
Flores described A.A. as "...a program that was not religious but spiritually-based, with strong spiritual principles..."
"Even though he is not a member of the Fellowship, Judge Flores is a firm believer that the strongest counselors in his court, the people who are most on-fire for helping people out, are those who are in recovery themselves. “They’re the ones I turn to for resources. They know what their lives would be like if
they started drinking again." "
About AA - Spring 2010 Issue. http://aa.org/lang/en/en_pdfs/f-13_spring10.pdf
1. Judge Flores has no qualms about ignoring the constitutional rights of 20,000 citizens by sending them to A.A.
2. Judge Flores insists that A.A. is not religious but spiritual even though federal case law on this subject is clear - See Inouye vs. Kemna below.
3. Judge Flores apparently likes to employ counselors in his court that are in recovery and one would assume also A.A. members. That's a discriminatory employment practice.
There should be no doubt in Judge Flores' mind that his actions were unconstitutional. According the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Inouye v. Kemna, 504 F.3d 705 (9th Cir 2007):
"...was the pertinent Establishment Clause law “clearly established” on this point such that a reasonable official would know that his or her conduct was illegal? Sorrels, 290 F.3d at 969. We find that it was. The vastly overwhelming weight of authority on the precise question in this case held at the time of Nanamori’s actions that coercing participation in programs of this kind is unconstitutional."
"This uncommonly well-settled case law alone is enough for us to hold that the law was clearly established, sufficient to give notice to a reasonable parole officer, in 2001."
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit covers all of the State of California. Judge Flores should have known, if he were a "reasonable official", that his actions were unconstitutional AND according to the 9th Circuit, Flores should have known this from as far back as 2001 or further.
How can an official in this position be so ignorant of the case law and of the constitutional rights of citizens?