"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, May 20, 2014

Trick questions about free legal representation for the high and mighty of the State of New York engaged in constitutional violations

Should taxpayers pay for legal representation of public officials when they are sued for violations of their constitutional oath of office?
Sounds like a dumb question, doesn't it?

Yet, it's the trick question # 1, and the current "correct" answer is - "yes, of course".  They should and they do, through their collective noses.

New York State Attorney General, as I wrote earlier in this blog, does represent public officials sued for violation of their constitutional oath of office, represents them against taxpayers, and claims he is doing it under New York Public Officers Law 17.

The way NYS AG and the court which allow such representation read the statute presupposes that constitutional violations by public officials are within their official duties.  It cannot be, because it is also a violation of their oath of office, but NYS AG's legal fiction so far prevailed.

Thus, where 80% to 86% of New Yorkers cannot afford legal representation in court, they are still mandated to pay for legal representation of the unworthy public servants that they saddled themselves with which public servants violated their oath of service. 

Does it make any sense where the poor cannot pay for their own legal services, but have to pay for the legal services of the wealthy?  That's the trick question # 2.

Yet, I have yet another, now, third trick question.

What if a public official is sued in his official capacity and in his individual capacity or in his capacity as a private individual?

Well, even then NYS AG's office invents ways to represent individuals who are, let's say, well-connected.  And the answer to this trick question # 3 is below.

Look at Ellen Coccoma and Michael Coccoma.

When my husband sued them, in a pro se federal action, he sued Ellen Coccoma as (1) former member of the attorney disciplinary committee and (2) as a private attorney who obtained an illegal order of deposition in a civil action.

As a disciplinary attorney under NYS AG theory that a public official can be represented at taxpayers' expense, such representation has the questionable legitimacy of being around for a long time, whether such use is constitutional or not.

Yet, no theory, not even Public Officers Law 17, supports representation by NYS AG, for free, of the wife of the Chief Administrative Judge of Upstate New York sued as a private attorney who represented paying clients in a private action.

But, apparently, Ellen Coccoma does not want to pay for legal representation, and her insurance carrier refused to cover her legal fees.

And - Ellen Coccoma and her husband Judge Michael V. Coccoma - considered it ethical and proper to accept from the NYS AG a gift of free legal representation at taxpayers' expense.

And, of course, the disciplinary committee found no fault with such an obvious misappropriation of publicly funded legal services.

By the way, NYS State Comptroler DiNapoli has been notified, but is in no hurry to take action on to make Ellen Coccoma disgorge to the state of New York the cost of her legal representation as a private party by the New York State Attorney General...

Do we have a rule of law and equality under the law in New York?  That's the trick question No. 4.   I don't recommend you to ask your judge about it when he denies you assigned counsel because you are "not eligible".  Remember, attorney Ellen Coccoma, wife of a judge, with a combined family income of at least $200,000.00 a year, is eligible for free legal representation by an army of lawyers in New York State Attorney's Office at your expense...

But who is she and who are you...

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