"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.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A federal court has ruled that a civil rights lawsuit for money damages based on post-disbarment investigations by a disciplinary committee's attorney may proceed

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York has ruled today that a civil rights lawsuit for money damages against the former disciplinary prosecutor Steven Zayas (formerly of the Professional Conduct Committee, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 3rd Judicial Department) may proceed.  For purposes of disclosure, I am the attorney for the Plaintiff (my husband) in the described case, the case name is Neroni v. Zayas, 3:13-cv-00127-LEK-DEP.

The court rejected Defendant's claims for Younger abstention, quasi-judicial immunity and prosecutorial immunity, finding that post-disbarment, the Younger abstention does not apply, and that Defendant Zayas' actions in conducting post-disbarment investigations were neither judicial nor prosecutorial, but investigative, and thus not covered by immunity doctrines.

The civil rights lawsuit for money damages against Defendant Zayas for his participation in post-disbarment investigations proceeds.

The court also rejected the claim of judicial and "quasi-judicial" defendants, the Chief Justice of the Appellate Division, 3rd Department the Hon. Karen Peters, the Chairperson of the Committee (at that time) Monica Duffy and the attorney for the Committee Steven Zayas that the amendment of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1983, through the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1996 prohibits actions for injunctive relief against judicial and quasi-judicial officers.  The court has ruled that such a prohibition only applies to judicial defendants acting in their judicial capacities.  The court ruled that post-disbarment investigations are not judicial proceedings and are, thus, not covered by the anti-injunction prohibition of FCIA Section 309(c).

Additionally, the court allowed to proceed the portion of the same civil rights lawsuit for declaratory and prospective injunctive relief against New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, sued in his official capacity as the public official authorized to bring civil and criminal actions for unauthorized practice of law (UPL) and Delaware County (NY) District Attorney Richard Northrup who is the public official authorized to prosecute UPL at the County level.

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