"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What is attorney misconduct in Florida warranting disbarment without reinstatement, is business as usual in New York for retired judges and sons-of-judges

It is an interesting reading about an attorney disbarred without permission to be reinstated - ever - by the Florida Supreme Court, for engaging in a conflicted representation - of a close corporation and some of its shareholders.

In New York, attorney Richard A. Harlem of Oneonta, NY, son of retired (and now deceased) judge Robert Harlem, former Chief Judge of the 6th Administrative District, landlord to NY Senator James Seward, represented by a law firm Hiscock & Barclay that employes another NY Senator, Neil Breslin, represents in TWO court cases alleged victims of fraud and alleged perpetrator of the same fraud:

Estate of Andrew Mokay Sr. and children of Andrew Mokay Sr..

Case names are:

Mokay v. Mokay, et al., Delaware County Index No. 2007-695;
Frederick J. Neroni v. Richard Harlem et al., Delaware County Index No. 2011-547.

An appellate decision of January 22, 2015 in Mokay v. Mokay describes the decedent  as one of the "trio" engaged in fraud against the decedent's children.

Richard A. Harlem and his father, a retired judge, started first to represent the decedent (perpetrator) in the Surrogate's Court, then started an action in the Supreme Court on behalf of decedent's (perpetrator's) children and alleged victims, and then, when the deeds were placed in the Estate of the decedent, added the Estate (equivalent of adding the decedent) as co-Plaintiff with decedent's alleged victims.

And continue to happily represent these absolutely incompatible clients, 5 plaintiffs and one de fact defendant, in the same action for 8 (!) years.

Not to mention that one of the Plaintiffs in the Supreme Court Mokay v. Mokay action, David Mokay, is suing the Estate in Surrogate's Court in a related action commenced before Mokay v. Mokay, and Richard A. Harlem is opposing there David Mokay Pro Se, their own client in the Mokay v. Mokay action.

Here is the timeline:

January of 2007    Richard Harlem undertakes to represent the Estate (decedent) in the Delaware
                              County Surrogate's Court

June 2007             the same Richard Harlem files the Mokay v. Mokay action in the 
                             Delaware County Supreme Court on behalf of ONLY the decedent's children
                             claiming on their behalf the "scheme to defraud" where Richard Harlem's client
                             from the Surrogate's Court the decedent is part of the "trio" of the alleged
                             fraudsters.  Of course, that is already a conflict of interest, but who cares.  
                             After all, Robert Harlem, one of the attorneys of record in both of the above
                            cases (died in September of 2012), is a retired judge and is "owed deference" by his                             fellow judges
October 2007     The deeds that are the center of the controversy in the Mokay v. Mokay proceedings
                           are placed. on consent of the decedent's new wife and now widow Connie Mokay
                           into - the horror! - the decedent's Estate.  Richard A. Harlem argues on record
                           to Judge Elizabeth Garry (now Justice of the Appellate Division 3rd Judicial
                            Department) AGAINST putting the deeds into his client the decedent's Estate.  Yet
                            another conflict of interest.

December 2007  Richard Harlem files an appeal of Judge Garry's decision putting the deeds
                           not directly with the decedent's adult children (Richard A. Harlem's clients 
                           in the Mokay action in the Delaware County Supreme Court), but into 
                           decedent's Estate (Richard Harlem's client in the Delaware County Surrogate's
                           Court).  Nobody punishes Richard Harlem for representing clients
                           with irreconcilable conflicts of interest

January 2008     While the appeal is pending, Richard Harlem now moves to merge his two
                           irreconcilable groups of clients into one case and makes a motion to
                           add the decedent's Estate (the perpetrator) as the co-plaintiff with
                           the decedent's children (perpetrator's victims) in the Mokay action. That is
                           one more irreconcilable conflict of interest.

October 2008     Richard Harlem obtains a partial summary judgment on liability against
                           Mr. Neroni for all of his clients.  Thus, one of the "trio" of the perpetrators
                           obtained a summary judgment on liability against one of the two other
                           alleged perpetrators.  For what? For fraud.  For whose fraud? For
                           decedent's own fraud.  Does it make sense? No, of course, it doesn't.

                            But, to shut Mr. Neroni and his counsel up, 

  •                            discovery in the case is blocked
  •                             demand for a Bill of Particulars is blocked
  •                             motions to vacate the summary judgment in favor of the decedent are blocked
  •                            Mr. Neroni and I are sanctioned for even raising these issues

A detail: the only damages that Richard Harlem claims on behalf of all the incompatible clients in the Mokay action are - surprise! - Richard Harlem's own legal fees, the whole reason for this frivolous litigation. 

April 2011           Mr. Neroni finds out that 

                              David Mokay was suing the Estate in Surrogate's Court,
                             and that Richard Harlem did not disclose, yet another conflict of interest

                              That Richard Harlem attempted to get a judgment of damages in
                              the Mokay action (Supreme Court) on an ex parte basis in the Surrogate's Court
                              behind Mr. Neroni's back

                              Mr. Neroni sues Richard Harlem, his father Robert Harlem, their law partner
                             Eric Jervis, their law firms Harlem & Harlem and Harlem & Jervis for
                             fraud upon the court (same as they were suing him for) and their
                              clients in the Mokay action for fraud

                              Richard Harlem and Robert Harlem hire to represent them in that action -
                              surprise! - the law firm of Mr. Neroni's disciplinary prosecutor who 
                              apparently used his prosecutorial position to pick paying influential
                              clients out of attorneys referred to him for discipline and "honoring"
                              his client's wishes by disbarring those who referred them for discipline
                              to begin with.

                             So, Judge Becker, at that point the Acting Delaware County Supreme Court
                            Justice who assigned himself to all actions where Mr. Neroni and I were parties,
                             in order to retaliate against us,  grants the motion to dismiss to Richard Harlem's                                  attorneys Hiscock & Barclay of Albany, NY,  after
                             John Casey, member in Hiscock & Barclay and thus private attorney for 
                             Richard Harlem and Robert Harlem, does his "job' for Richard and Robert                                            Harlems, dismisses Mr. Neroni's complaint against Richard Harlem
                             and Robert Harlem and obtains disbarment of Mr. Neroni without a hearing
                             based on non-final decision in the Mokay case that Richard Harlem
                             obtained by not telling the judge that Plaintiff David Mokay represented
                             by Richard Harlem is suing in Surrogate's Court in a related action 
                             the Estate, Richard Harlem other client, the co-Plaintiff in the Mokay action.

All judges in the case looked the other way as to Richard Harlem and his father Robert Harlem's conflicts of interest.

All judges in the case disregarded the law in favor of Mr. Neroni.

Richard A. Harlem represented in the action, for 8 years (!) both the alleged perpetrator of fraud and his victims.

Let us look once again and compare.

An attorney is disbarred without a right to be reinstated in the State of Florida for representing, at the same time, a close corporation and some of its shareholders, a conflict of interest.

Richard Harlem represents in Mokay v. Mokay action five adult children of a deceased former client of Mr. Neroni, and the decedent himself, the perpetrator of fraud upon his children, as claimed by the children and by Richard Harlem.

And if you are a son of a judge, you can do it in New York, a landlord of a NY Senator and a client of a law firm employing (1) NY Senator Breslin and (2) wife of NY Chief Judge of the Court of Claims M. Cornelia Cahill - you can do it.

Where is Preet Bharara for all this corruption, I keep wondering.

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