Brad Ballah's Complaint

Excerpt From Brad Ballah's Petition

I was convicted of marijuana possession and sentenced to the Drug Court program of Susan Bolton's court. At the time, I was told only that I would be monitored closely, see the judge periodically, and that if I remained free of drugs and obeyed the law in all respect, I would be discharged in eight months with a misdemeanor offense on my record. I was not told there were any other requirements for the Drug Court program at the time I signed the plea agreement. To follow, is what the Drug Court program has required of me, and some incidents which relate to this complaint against Judge Bolton.

I must attend two meetings weekly called Motivational Enhancement, which are entirely based upon the disease concept of addiction, and upon the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. In order to receive favorable reports, preventing my imprisonment, I must not only actively participate in these sessions, but comply with the instructor's opinions. The instructors/counselors of the Motivational Enhancement classes are all members of the religious organization, Alcoholics Anonymous, which instructs its members to take their disease theory of misbehavior to all persons who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs.

On May, 29, 1998, when I appeared before Judge Bolton, I reported that I had attended the Motivational Enhancement classes, and I told her that I had already had unsuccessful exposure to the 12-step program and found that program to be objectionable for personal reasons and counterproductive toward my effort to remain free from intoxicants. I proposed that I enroll in an abstinence training program which I fully believed would serve the public's interest that I cease and permanently desist from the use of alcohol and other drugs.

Judge Bolton denied my request for an addiction recovery program I could make use of, and denied me a travel permit to attend the Rational Recovery program in Newport Beach, California, while residing with my parents in that vicinity. During this hearing, I presented Judge Bolton with a summary of federal law (Attached) demonstrating that the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is a "religious" program. I also presented her with some Rational Recovery program materials, and an affidavit stating that I have already recovered from my substance addiction using the concepts of Rational Recovery.

I told Judge Bolton that I have made a personal commitment to permanent abstinence that is incompatible with the 12-step, disease/treatment concepts of the court's Motivational Enhancement program. In that mode of recovery, individuals may only remain abstinent one day at a time, never confident in one's ability to remain abstinent over the long term. Ironically, alcoholics and other substance abusers are required to mingle and congregate with others having the same problem to act as a "support," even though none of them, including the sponsors and mentors, have resolved the problem themselves. They are intolerant of persons such as myself who accept personal, moral responsibility for permanent abstinence, and accept only insecure, tentative abstinence, one day at a time.

Judge Bolton told me that in order to avoid imprisonment, I must participate in the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous which is contained throughout the court's Motivational Enhancement program. The court has no options or alternatives.

At the next court appearance, June 12, 1998, Judge Bolton, acting on an ex parte communication from a Motivational Enhancement instructor, ordered me to serve four days at Tent City. The communication stated that I had been removed from the class because of "inappropriate behavior." This related to a disagreement about whether certain events can cause me to use drugs. Oddly, I was arguing "no," that no circumstances could induce me to use drugs, and he was arguing "yes," predicting that under certain circumstances I would use drugs, because I am powerless over the disease of addiction. I commented that this was a very strange message to come from a court-sponsored program, as it inplied that I do not know right from wrong, and cannot be expected to obey the law. He ordered me to "Shut up!" and then told me that I must not disagree with the principles of the Motivational Enhancement program, and he ordered me to leave the class.

On June 26, 1998, Judge Bolton, acting on an ex parte communication from another Motivational Enhancement instructor, Karen Marshal, told me that I would be discharged from Drug Court and imprisoned for 56 days if I did not accept the disease concept of misbehavior. She told me that I was "in deep denial," and unless I accepted the spiritual teachings of the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, the outlook for my rehabilitation was zero.

I should clarify that I have denied nothing, and held myself to a much higher standard than anyone in the Drug Court program. "Denial" is a 12-step expression with a public meaning and an inside meaning. To the public, denial means that substance abusers are pathetic dumbbells who don't know what they are doing. To insiders, "denial" means denying the truth of the 12-step program or its ploy, the disease concept of addiction. I am also, to my knowledge, the only Drug Court participant who has remained perfectly abstinent from alcohol and drugs. I know factually that in my Motivational Enhancement group, all of the other participants have continued alcohol and drug use with impunity, and have rendered numerous dirty drug tests. At my own expense, I obtained a hair test, the most telling of all tests, and submitted evidence to the court that I have remained abstinent since February, 1998, when I discovered Rational Recovery.

A fair reading of court records will show that the Drug Court negotiates dirty drug tests against program compliance. Those who, in the words of Judge Bolton, are "working a good Program" are forgiven any number of dirty tests proving illegal activity, while persons such as myself, who obey the law and abstain from all drugs but disagree with the Drug Court's spiritual teachings, are imprisoned. Participants are told that if they continue dirty tests, they will eventually go to residential treatment programs, but not to jail. This is far from the description of the Drug Court I had originally been given. In Judge Bolton's court, I am punished for thought crimes, and required to accept an alien religion as a condition of physical freedom. In my case, the law has had its desired and intended effect, to produce permanent abstinence from intoxicants which conflict with the public safety and welfare. I no longer drink or use drugs, nor will I ever do so again. Ironically, the 12-step Motivational Enhancement program attacks my attempts to take personal, moral responsibility for my misdeeds and for my future conduct.

...I believe that... the Drug Court of Maricopa County, under Judge Bolton, is nothing more nor less than an induction into the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am being offered two choices, imprisonment versus submission to Alcoholics Anonymous. This is a violation of my First Amendment rights. I have informed her of this and she has continued to violate my rights.

If Judge Bolton is determined to be a member of any 12-step organization ((AA, NA, Al-Anon, CA, etc.), this constitutes an intolerable conflict of interest from my standpoint. Anyone familiar with the venerable traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous understand that the members' loyalty to Alcoholics Anonymous exceeds their loyalty to any other entity. In this case, I will demand that she not only be removed from my case, but also from the Drug Court of Maricopa County.

SUMMARY: 1. I was misinformed of the nature of Drug Court when I agreed to it. 2. I am forced, under the threat of imprisonment, to express agreement with beliefs I do not hold, and to make false oaths to avoid imprisonment. 3. I am required to participate actively and compliantly in a religious program, Alcoholics Anonymous, departing from the persuasive authority of the Second, Ninth, and Seventh Federal Court Districts, in observance of the trend set by the Supreme Courts of New York and Tennessee, and in contempt of the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct. . I am supervised and controlled by members of Alcoholics Anonymous, in a court operated by Alcoholics Anonymous, through its anonymous members in public employment. This is in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, ("Code"), Canon 2, Item C., and Canon 4, Item A (all). 5. I am discriminated against by threats of and judicial orders for imprisonment for failure to submit to the religious 12-step program, without an opportunity to respond, in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, ("Code"), Canon 2, Item B (7[ii]). By advancing the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous while court is in session and through the Drug Court program, Judge Bolton abuses the prestige of the judicial office to advance her private interests. She routinely permits persons in the recovery group movement to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence her, both of these in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, ("Code"), Canon 2, Item B (5). 6. Judge Bolton performs her judicial duties in a biased and prejudiced manner, said prejudice based upon religion, permitting and requiring staff, court officials and others in her direct control to do likewise. This is prejudice is in violation of the "Code", Canon 3, Item B. (5).

I am asking that the Commission on Judicial Conduct act to provide me relief from an unreasonable and unconstitutional arrangement in the Maricopa County Drug Court. I realize that the Drug Court concept is in wide use, but this in no way mitigates the extent of harm that Judge Bolton is causing to individual lives and to the court and corrections systems. I am a direct witness to the spectacle of Drug Court abuses, and to the extraordinary contradictions which exist between the Drug Court and the public interest.