National Judicial Watchdog Organization to Investigate Allegations of Judicial Collusion and Cronyism by Retired Pima County Superior Court Judge and his Ex-Law Partner

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National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc. (NJCDLP) will investigate accusations made in a private civil rights action before a Federal Court of Tucson, Arizona involving former Pima County Superior Court judge, the late Joseph R. McDonald, and reportedly his ex-law partner, Tucson divorce attorney Leonard Karp. Plaintiffs in the case include D.C. attorney Robert S. Catz who based on personal knowledge and professional experience in cases of state court judicial collusion and cronyism, describes how McDonald and Karp may have gamed the Domestic Relations Division of the Pima County Superior Court for more than a decade. The Tucson Federal Court has been asked to create a class-wide trust fund requiring Leonard Karp and his co-counsel attorney Annette Everlove to repay with interest all attorneys fees, expenses and costs awarded to them by Judge McDonald from 1989 to 1999. Amounts involved could exceed two million dollars. After NJCDLP investigates the matter, a public report of its findings will be issued.

corrupt conscience shocking awards of attorneys fees that Leonard Karp formed 3060 North Swan Road, L.L.C. which then constructed a 9600 square foot professional office building on a 1.1 acre lot

National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc. (NJCDLP), a national judicial watchdog organization based just outside Chicago, Illinois in northwest Indiana with a satellite office in Washington, D.C., announces its investigation of alleged judicial collusion involving the Pima County Superior Court in Tucson, Arizona. Related litigation is pending as Catz v. Karp, cause number CV-03-91-TUC-FRZ [TN-1148] before United States District Court Judge Frank Zapata for the District of Arizona at Tucson. Plaintiffs in the private civil rights case are Shawn D. Catz and his father Robert S. Catz of Nashville, Tennessee as well as his brother Jason A. Catz of Berkeley, California. The three allege that former Pima County Superior Court Judge Joseph R. McDonald who passed away this year, engaged in judicial collusion and cronyism with defendant Leonard Karp, a Tucson divorce attorney who is reportedly an ex-law partner of the late judge, as well as Karp’s co-counsel and co-defendant, attorney Annette Everlove. The alleged conspiracy purportedly led to a corrupt seizure of $1 million in assets during the divorce proceedings of plaintiff Robert S. Catz brought by his ex-wife Susan Chalker, now deceased. Those assets apparently include investment accounts that Robert held jointly with his adult sons from a prior relationship, plaintiffs Shawn and Jason Catz. Shawn and Jason were never parties to the divorce proceedings between their father and the late Susan Chalker titled Chalker v. Catz, dissolution number D-103065 before the Pima County Superior Court at Tucson, Arizona.

As an attorney licensed by the District of Columbia and admitted before a variety of courts, plaintiff Robert S. Catz has significant experience with cases alleging state court judicial collusion and cronyism. He joins his co-plaintiffs in describing a series of disturbing procedural irregularities leading to a default judgment against him by which the late Judge McDonald awarded the late Susan Chalker all the sequestered assets of Catz as well as certain funds belonging to his adult sons. In 1996, Judge McDonald awarded attorneys fees and expenses in the underlying case to Leonard Karp of Karp, Heurlin & Weiss and Annette Everlove of Butler & Stein. According to Robert S. Catz, they were awarded $43,308.92 in total for doing little more than taking judgment against him by default without prior notice or proper service on him and/or his adult sons. After the award, these three federal plaintiffs learned that Judge McDonald and Leonard Karp were partners in Karp, Stolkin, Weiss & McDonald just before McDonald assumed judicial office in the Domestic Relations Division of the Pima County Superior Court. This prior professional relationship was reportedly concealed during the Chalker/Catz divorce proceedings in Arizona and perhaps to other lawyers and litigants in the community for more than a decade.

The Catz v. Karp amended federal complaint filed in Tucson on February 3, 2005 alleges, “that from 1989 until 1999 when Judge McDonald retired, he awarded his former law partner Leonard Karp more than $2 million in larded attorneys fees". The plaintiffs allege that it is from these "corrupt conscience shocking awards of attorneys fees that Leonard Karp formed 3060 North Swan Road, L.L.C. which then constructed a 9600 square foot professional office building on a 1.1 acre lot". They contend that "Leonard Karp indeed prospered during Judge McDonald’s decade long tenure on the domestic relations bench", noting that in 1999, "Karp’s renamed law firm of Karp, Heurlin & Weiss leased office space from 3060 North Swan Road, L.L.C. as larger office space was necessary -- Karp’s law firm grew exponentially from a mere 3 attorneys in 1995 to 12 attorneys by 1998.”

The federal complaint of Catz v. Karp calls for jury trial and an award of damages against Karp and Everlove for their role in alleged judicial collusion. The plaintiffs also ask the federal court to “impose an equitable constructive trust on all attorneys fees awarded” to defendants Karp and Everlove by Judge McDonald and their respective law firms Karp, Heurlin & Weiss. and Butler & Stein from 1989 to 1999” for grossly excessive attorneys fees against other “party litigants that were unaware of the professional partnership relationship of defendant Karp and Judge McDonald.” Any persons having information related to proceedings between January 1, 1989 to January 31, 1999 before the Domestic Relations Division or Probate Division of the Pima County Superior Court in which Judge Joseph R. McDonald awarded attorney fees, expenses and costs to attorney Leonard Karp of Karp, Heurlin & Weiss, attorney Annette Everlove of Butler & Stein, or any other attorney from either of these law firms is encouraged to contact NJCDLP by e-mail: contactus@njcdlp.org or by telephone toll free: 1 (888) 478-4439.

NJCDLP is a non-profit, citizen’s judicial watchdog organization that selectively investigates cases in which legal abuse is alleged. Legal abuse occurs when any officer of a court or quasi-judicial government agency abandons the "rule of law"; knowingly transgresses the United States Constitution; ignores the civil rights of the parties or witnesses before the court; usurps power from an executive or legislative branch of government; and/or commits a crime in his or her official capacity. Legal abuse manifests itself in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most severe perversion of any justice system is judicial collusion. Judicial collusion results from an illicit conspiracy or conspiracies involving a judge or judges in their official capacity with a party or the attorneys before them in court proceedings. It may display itself through corrupt influence, bribery, cronyism, political and personal connections, and/or blatant bias.

At the conclusion of its investigation NJCDLP will publish a final report of its findings on its website. Documents regarding Catz v. Karp are available upon request. For additional information about NJCDLP, please visit http://www.njcdlp.org or contact Zena D. Crenshaw, its Acting Executive Director at 1 (888) 478-4439.

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