who died in 2007, at a bench trial in a state court in Pennsylvania, and since then, affirmed on appeal by the Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania, including judge #MichaelEakin and #RonaldCastille, who both retired or resigned from the bench and were both subject to controversies with refusal to recuse.
Eakin refused to recuse from suspension proceedings of Pennsylvania Attorney General #KathleenKane whose investigation brought about his resignation - so he first ordered suspension of her license, and only then resigned from the court.
Castille retired only after he denied 4 TIMES a habeas corpus petition to a criminal defendant in a DEATH PENALTY case, where
- Castille, as a District Attorney, ASKED for that death penalty from the prosecuting court;
- Castille's subordinate, an Assistant District Attorney, concealed Brady material (exculpatory evidence) from the defense; and
- Castille's subordinate, an Assitant District Attorney, suborned perjury from a co-defendant in the case in order to convict and obtain the death penalty in that case;
- Castille was elected to the Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania on the platform of being "tough on crime" as a prosecutor, counting the fraudulently obtained conviction and death penalty as one of his personal achievements;
- Castille refused to recuse from the 4 habeas corpus petitions;
- Castille instead filed a "concurring" opinion blasting allegedly inappropriate behavior and zeal of the condemned person's attorneys;
- the U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded denial of habeas corpus - of course, it was sent back to the same court that denied it 4 times before - in Williams v Pennsylvania in 2016, specifically indicating that decisions made by a judge acting as an accuser and adjudicator are void, and that the judge had an obligation to recuse - actually, 4 times!
After this stellar combination of judges affirmed the conviction on appeal, the convicted defendant brought a habeas corpus petition in federal court.
The lower federal court, Judge Norma Shapiro,
who also died, in 2016, one month after the appellate oral argument of this case, denied the petition.
Judge Norma Shapiro, who was 86 years old at the time of the decision, denied the habeas corpus petition WITHOUT ANY EXPLANATION.
Here are the habeas corpus issues raised in the petition,
and here is the decision of those issues by Judge Norma Shapiro without any explanation:
- begging questions:
- whether Judge Norma Shapiro anything about the case at all, or whether she was too frail to meaningfully perform her duties as a judge; and
- whether #JudgeNormaShapiro, in denying the petition, protected the memory of her female "trailblazer" colleague on the bench Lisa Richette with whom Judge Norma Shapiro was personally acquainted, was likely her friend, and fought discrimination against women together - but Norma Shapiro nowhere in this case made a disclosure about her close connection with Lisa Richette:
Well, the court managed that anyway - even with the reversal of conviction, describing egregious misconduct of the 70-year-old Judge Lisa Richette, but refusing to put the blame on her, instead putting the blame entirely on the criminal defense attorney who did not move for her recusal - omitting two sticky issues:
- that the attorney in question was an appointed attorney:
- appointed by Judge Lisa Richette;
- financially dependent on that and further appointments; and
- in Judge Lisa Richette's hands entirely - the attorney could be suspended from practice of law (as, for example, New York did with attorney John Aretakis in 2008 for making a motion to recuse also in a criminal case).
After the Kids for Cash Scandal, the State of Pennsylvania - and the 3rd Circuit - removed law licenses of Pennsylvania attorneys #KathleenKane and #DonBailey, Don Bailey - for claims of judicial corruption in federal courts, and as to PA AG Kathleen Kane - for investigation of the "Porngate scandal" where high-ranking judges and prosecutors in PA were caught exchanging misogynistic, sexist and racist jokes, heavily interspersed with pornography, through the use of court computer system.
Plus, in 1999, 2000 and 2006 Pennsylvania removed licenses of three attorneys who criticized judges:
- #EugeneAndrewWrona, and
Of course, discipline of attorneys Wrona, Price, Surrick, Kane and Bailey, and refusal to reinstate the license of PA Attorney Andy Ostrowski for Ostowski's running for U.S. Congress on his platform of judicial reform, and for his radio show "Justice Served with Andy Ostrowski" where he interviewed victims of judicial misconduct and experts on judicial corruption, happened after assigned attorney Fred Harrison refused to move to recuse Judge Lisa Richette in a bench trial of a murder case.
Yet, attorneys were disciplined for criticism of judges at the time Fred Harrison represented his client, too, and attorney Fred Harrison did not live in a vacuum - he knew that criticizing a judge, pointing out at judicial misconduct is what is regarded in the legal profession what is politely called "professional suicide".
So, what did Judge Richette do that the 3rd Circuit finally deigned to reverse the conviction after the defendant served 19 YEARS (!) in prison?
- Held an ex parte conference in chambers, involving the District Attorney and the victim's family (the family of the person who was allegedly killed by the defendant) but not involving the defendant or his counsel - the ADA who participated in that conference was NOT disciplined, even though it was a violation of both judicial, and attorney professional code of conduct;
- During that meeting, Judge Richette, among other things:
- sought approval from the alleged victim's family;
- told them that, contrary to online criticism by a third person, she is not "Let 'em Loose Lisa" and is not lenient on crime;
- sought to vet in the future anything published about her online by the alleged victim's family.
- the case was civil, and
- I was a retained, not assigned, counsel.
- there is a right to impartial judicial review and access to courts, in both civil and criminal cases;
- yet, motions to recuse in civil court are punishable against attorneys by financial sanctions for frivolous conduct and suspension without a hearing - as it happened to Tatiana Neroni in 2015; and
- motions to recuse in criminal court are punishable against attorneys by contempt of court in criminal court and also by suspension without a hearing - as it happened to attorney John Aretakis in 2008; even though
- several U.S. Supreme Court precedents prohibit content-based regulation of speech without strict scrutiny in all cases - but, since the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear cases of attorney discipline for criticism of judges, such cases, and the 1st Amendment - do not exist for attorneys; and
- if the attorney does not make the motion to recuse - fearing what happened to attorneys John Aretakis and Tatiana Neroni - the attorney will WAIVE the client's right to raise the issue of judicial bias on appeal ("The father's claim that Family Court demonstrated bias, which involves facts outside the record, similarly is unpreserved for our review in light of the father's failure to object or otherwise move for Family Court's recusal", that is one of my cases, by the way, where I did not move to recuse the same judge who sanctioned me - and had my license suspended when I did move him to recuse - see where the 3rd Circuit's decision declaring that right as UNWAIVABLE comes in and is important?), and will be subject to discipline and malpractice lawsuit for that now.