"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, April 14, 2014

Is it time to impeach judge Carl F. Becker of the Delaware County Court, New York, for "eeking out a victory" at his re-election in 2012 by misrepresenting his reversal record?

In 2011 I made a motion to vacate all orders of Judge Carl F. Becker because I did not find in the records of the Delaware County Clerk Judge Becker's certificate of his election from 2002, as was required by County Law.

In response to my motion, Judge Becker did the following:

(1) filed a certificate of election in March of 2011;
(2) sanctioned me for making motions to vacate two times out of three similar motions made, in the following order:

     (a) June 30, 2011 - Judge Becker found such a motion frivolous in Adams v. Bracci, Delaware County Family Court;

     (b) August 2, 2011 - Judge Becker found such a motion frivolous in Shields v. Carbone, Delaware County Supreme Court;

     (c) December 16, 2011 - Judge Becker found such a motion not frivolous in Mokay v. Mokay, Delaware County Supreme Court, but did not go back and did not vacate his sanctions in the previous two decisions where he found the same motions to be frivolous.

       Now, the legality of Judge Becker's certificate of election filed in March of 2011 appears to be very questionable.

      In the summer of 2010 I have filed a freedom of information request (FOILed) the Delaware County Board of Elections and asked them for records indicating whether original petitions and ballot pertaining to the 2002 election of Judge Becker were still on file.

     On August 17, 2010 I received the following letter from the Delaware County Board of Elections:

      " Dear Ms. Neroni:

      We have received your foil /sic/ request regarding the 2002 Election for County Judge.  According to Election Retention 90076 and 90087 we do not retain petitions or ballots past two years of an election.

      Enclosed is a copy of the Election Results from the 2002 General Election.  We do not have electronic information from that time.

      Robin Alger
      Deputy Commissioner
      Delaware County Board of Elections"

    Attached to the letter was an uncertified copy of election results.

    County Law 400.5 requires the candidate who has won the election to file the certificate of election with the County Clerk before he takes on his office.

    That was not done by Judge Becker in 2002, and in 2011, in response to my motion to vacate challenging the judge's legitimacy, the judge filed a certificate of election, while the Delaware County Board of Elections advised me that the originals to certify that election from, have been gone since 2004.

    Now, anybody but the judge would, probably, be criminally charged for filing a document certified from uncertified copies while originals were already gone.   Judge Becker remained on the bench until his reelection in 2012 and was even promoted to be Acting Supreme Court justice, where he assigned himself to all of my cases and sanctioned me and my husband in all of them, as I described earlier in my blog.

    Yet, in my legal opinion, the question of legitimacy of Judge Becker remains.

     As an attorney and a notary myself, I would not have been able to certify a document without supporting originals.  I would not have been able to certify his elections from an uncertified copy of results, while original petitions and ballots were already gone.  I believe that such certification was legally invalid and filing such a certification was unlawful.

    During Judge Becker's election campaign of 2012 I was on a prolonged sick leave and could not pay attention to what was going on.

    Moreover, because of sanctions imposed upon me by Judge Becker in 2011 I was simply scared to raise my voice against election of Judge Becker.

     There is a rule in New York, as is in all other jurisdictions punishing attorneys for "falsely" criticizing judges or "judicial candidates", with what is "false" is construed by the courts very broadly, in fact, anything an attorney might say to criticize the judge comes out false in a disciplinary action against the attorney.  That rule exist in parallel with another rule, mandating the same attorneys to report judicial misconduct, or, in other words, falling on a sword.

    Apparently, it is a violation of a New York Rule of Professional Conduct to criticize a judge "falsely", read to mean "criticize the judge at all", and it is a violation not to criticize and not to report judicial misconduct.  A very convenient rule, you can "get" an "inconvenient" attorney no matter what he (or she, in my case) does.

     I noticed only two attorneys speaking about Judge Becker in reference to his re-election campaign of 2012, Andrew Van Buren in support of Judge Becker, and I in opposition of Judge Becker and in support of Judge Becker's opponent Judge Gary Rosa.

      Andrew Van Buren's letter in support of Judge Becker was placed on Judge Becker's re-election website.  Obviously, Attorney Van Buren was not subject to attorney discipline for praising Judge Becker.

     As to my letter in opposition to Judge Becker in the local newspaper The Daily Star in Oneonta, NY, the Professional Conduct Committee immediately started an inquiry as to propriety of what I said, and I recently received a mysterious set of letters from the Professional Conduct Committee in regard to that inquiry:

      (1) one letter saying that the Committee made an intent to admonish me, without an explanation why, but that I have 14 days to ask to reconsider; and

     (2) another letter saying that I was already given time to reconsider, failed to respond and am now being admonished, with the aggravating factor being used because I was allegedly admonished in 2002 (7 years before I was admitted to the bar).

      Obviously, I am subject to discipline for criticizing Judge Becker.

      Also, the following curious events occurred during Judge Becker's re-election campaign of 2012.

      On October 18, 2012 the Appellate Division 3rd Department affirmed Judge Becker's sanctions against me in a case called Shields v. Carbone from Delaware County Supreme Court, where the plaintiff was and still is Beverly Shields, the Delaware County Treasurer.

     Within two weeks of that decision, I receive an unsolicited letter from Judge Becker's re-election campaign with a colorful flyer featuring Beverly Shields as one of the supporters of Judge Becker for re-election.

     Beverly Shields stated the following in that flyer: