"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, March 14, 2017

Meltdown moments for judges

Michigan judge Lisa Gorcyca (the last name means "mustard" in Russian, by the way), whose outrageous behavior towards three children I described before on this blog, here and here, is now begging the disciplinary authorities not to suspend her for 30 days, and is using very interesting arguments to justify her begging.

She is, first, asserting a judge's right to a "meltdown" on the bench - claiming that her outrageous behavior, with multiple violations of the very basic constitutional rights of children - to counsel, to a hearing, to due process, to not be locked up for refusing to see their father because reportedly they were afraid of him - was just "one instance" of "lapse of judgment" in her otherwise stellar record.

That means that Gorcyca impliedly recognizes that there was a lapse of judgment.

Yet, at the same time, Gorcyca's lawyers were reportedly arguing that her behavior (the very same which she recognized was "a meltdown" and at least one instance of a lapse of judgment) received "more national praise than outrage".

Moreover, Gorcyca accepted a standing ovation from lawyers in her court after a finding of misconduct was made last July - behavior which clearly does not correspond with remorse.

Discipline of judges in this country, or rather, lack thereof, does not fail to amaze me.

At the worst - and that's what Gorcyca is trying to prevent, arguing about her "right to a meltdown" - she is looking at a 30-day suspension, losing about $11,000 in salary and having to pay $12,000 in fines and court costs.

Yet, for what she did - unlawfully incarcerated children after intimidating and humiliating them in court, without any legal basis for either humiliating or intimidating them, or locking them up - she clearly should have been taken off the bench and disbarred.  That was not a "legal error".  That was not a "lapse in judgment".  That was a clear evidence of a character flaw and unfitness for the bench.

Does a judge have a right to a meltdown on the bench?


One time.

After which that judge should be taken off the bench for good, so that those meltdowns would not happen again.

If Gorcyca is left on the bench, that is leaving a time bomb on the bench, which judicial disciplinary authorities know will go off, sooner or later.

If Gorcyca, a longtime attorney, longtime prosecutor and longtime judge, cannot discipline herself not to lash out in "frustration" against the most vulnerable and helpless people in front of her, children, she is hopeless and clearly unfit for the bench.

Take her off, for good, so that her "meltdowns" do not affect other people in such drastic ways.

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