I wrote about the fact that my own disciplinary proceedings were adamantly secret, even when it was illegal to close the courtroom after I opened it, by operation of law, through a written waiver of my privacy.
I wrote that I was criminally charged practically for violation of my own privacy, for blogging about judicial and prosecutorial misconduct in cooking the transcripts of my disciplinary proceedings, specifically, for posting both the transcripts and the audio-recordings of the same conferences that did not match the transcripts, including material issues (whether the proceeding was a hearing or a conference, who were the parties present, whether I waived any issues, whether I testified or not).
Judging by my own experience as an attorney, on what my clients and readers reported to me and on my research for this blog, preservation of the record of court proceedings is a problem across the United States.
Of course, fabrication of transcripts is a crime, and not only in New York.
Here is a question of a legal consumer asked on Avvo about fabrication of transcripts, and an answer by a California criminal defense attorney.
Thank you, attorney Marshall, even though I wonder whether the attorney and the court reporter will be prosecuted criminally if the opposing counsel is himself the state Attorney General, like it already happened in California - recently its Attorney General was criticized by a court for fabricating a transcript of confession in a criminal case.
Yet, I completely agree with Attorney Marshall's determination above. It is a crime to cook court transcripts, no matter how you look at it.
I will definitely ask disciplinary attorney Mary Gasparini to be disbarred - when the new attorney disciplinary rules will kick in in July of 2016.
I will also ask the New York court system to yank certifications of court reporters who cooked the transcripts, but I doubt that any of what you say will happen to the perpetrators of such fraud will happen.
Because the very court that such attorney Gasparini and two court reporters were defrauding for cooking the transcripts are aware of the fraud and refused to address it or sanction the fraudsters. After all, that fraud was "for the benefit of the public" - brought in order to bring to heel the much-hated critic of judicial misconduct, so it is totally forgivable.
Here is a petition filed online at change.org 2 months ago by a New York litigant. The New Yorker is asserting that certain transcripts of a divorce proceedings were inaccurate, in order to protect misconduct of a judge:
I wonder if the alleged serious misconduct of the judge involved (there are two judges in New York by the last name of Cooper, so I do not know which one is meant here), was investigated and addressed.
If allegations are not investigated simply because they are not put together in a refined way, as an attorney would, that is not a good reason to deny investigation, because what is asserted is serious misconduct, that includes condoning fabrication of transcripts.
Reports of alterations of court transcripts were made recently in Pennsylvania (see also here, and see that the reporter in question sued the lawyer for even alleging the alteration of transcripts) and in New York, where, apparently, a whole code language exists indicating that the record should be "cleaned" and what needs to be done with it.
In the same Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court has removed a judge for alteration of transcripts (but did not take her off the bench, disbar her, nor was she criminally prosecuted) for alteration of a transcript in a death penalty case and removing her own disparaging remark from the transcript.
In Ohio, a judge would stop recording of a proceeding because - as the judge claimed - the recording equipment would, coincidentally, "not pick up", and - as the attorney claimed, because the judge wanted to fix the transcript as he saw fit (you will soon see a separate blog about how Delhi Town Court, NY judge Richard Gumo was doing the same - for years).
In Texas, an individual asked a question on Avvo, an attorney rating system where attorneys also answer questions of individuals in exchange for an increase for their rating.
The question was pretty staight-forward:
Even federal judges were reported to have ordered alteration of transcripts, and retaliation against whistle-blowers who reported such misconduct.
Since in many jurisdictions, audio and video recordings of court proceedings are not allowed, or, to make an audio recording or a video recording of proceedings (security tapes) is made the exclusive right of the court, it is the court and its personnel who can do anything it wants with the transcripts and even with digital files.
See how #JudgePhyllisKeaty of Louisiana handled the issue of court recordings in which she did (her version) or did not (the attorney's version) disclose having a property interest in a real estate firm that handled the sale of the litigants' property.
Note that while what Judge Keaty did reads like a disciplinary or criminal proceeding against her, it is in fact a successful disciplinary proceeding against the attorney whistle-blower Christine Mire who found out and reported Judge Keaty's misconduct:
So, the attorney did what she is supposed to do - due diligence. She asked for the audio recording.
By the way, I myself and many of my former clients and of readers of my blogs asked for audio CDs of court proceedings from New York courts, with an invariable answer - NO. That is not "our procedure". Our procedure is that you pick a stenographer from an "approved list", agree with the stenographer on the price, tell the court the name of your "chosen" (or, rather, coerced) stenographer, and then the court will send the stenographer the audio-recording (possibly, with instruction of how to "fix" whatever "problems" in that audio tape).
As you see above and below, the stenographer in Chistine Mire's case became initially just "very defensive", and then sued to enjoin disclosure of the audiotape, but Respondent still obtained the tapes and was actually able to prove that the recordings were actually altered.
So, in other words, Judge Keaty lied as to what was cut out of those court tapes.
While Christine Mire was charged with making "unfounded motions to recuse", thus "delaying litigation", "disrupting the tribunal" and making accusations against a judge that were "false or made with reckless disregard to truth or falsity",
- Christine Mire was right that the tapes were altered;
- Christine Mire as right that Judge Keaty lied as to disclosure of her interest in the real estate firm;
- Judge Keaty changed her disclosure firm after and as a direct result of Christine Mire's investigation;
- Judge Keaty was ordered off the case, so Christine Mire's motions to recuse were not unfounded, after all.
I do not believe that any of this circus would be possible if one simple thing was done - if proceedings were public, and if any member of the public present at such proceedings, including parties and their attorneys, could videotape proceedings themselves or order videotaping from others.
Then, there could be multiple videotaped versions of the same events and a very good possibility to compare who doctored what, without fighting "very defensive" court reporters to see what exactly is in the record of the court proceeding where the attorney and her client was attorneys of record, and thus had an absolute right to the record of proceeding, in all forms, paper, audio and video, if those records existed.
And, while one of the dissenters in Christine Mires disciplinary case, Judge Weimer, said this:
I applaud to Judge Hughes.
That one paragraph of Judge Hughes' dissent was all that was needed to dismiss the case against Attorney Mire.
The record of attorney Mire's disciplinary proceedings would serve wonderfully as evidence before the grand jury to indict Judge Phyllis Keaty and whoever else was participating in doctoring transcripts and court tapes.
I guess, the feds need to step in there, as state system, the system of the "honorables" who do not want to see misconduct of their own "brothers and sisters" even when facing evidence of it, will only continue to do more of the same - pursuing not the perpetrators of court corruption, but the whistleblowers, and destroying their lives.
For that reason, I am all for the YouTube revolution.
Allowing any member of the public to video-record court proceedings will be a large step forward to clean up the courts.
It should be done now. And people, through grass roots movements and through aggressively petitioning their legislators, or voting out of office those who are not responsive to requests for such legislation, can do it.