"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

What is attorney misconduct in Indiana is business as usual in New York

An Indiana attorney had to resign from the practice of law recently for adding an additional fee requirement to a criminal plea deal.  The attorney added $750.00 to his initial $1000.00 fee agreement.

Please, remember these numbers.

In New York, Delaware County, the District Attorney Richard Northrup and a criminal defense attorney, at that time the Vice-Chair of the New York Commission for Judicial Conduct, Stephen R. Coffey, have reached a plea deal under which the legally blind defendant was supposed to indemnify the District Attorney and all county officials, state police and federal actors of all civil claims pertaining to their potential liability for the seizure of his property.  It is interesting to mention that Mr. Coffey's co-member on the Judicial Conduct Commission was Karen Peters, the current Chief Justice of Appellate Division 3rd Judicial Department who, together with Stephen R. Coffey, dismissed my complaints against Judge Becker and against Karen Peters' court - I guess, no such thing as a recusal for conflict of interest exists in that Commission, and Mr. Coffey's and Justice Peters' own conscience did not mandate such a recusal.

And attorney Stephen R. Coffey had his legally blind client tell the court twice, under oath, at the plea allocution, that he was driving the truck Not only he couldn't do that because he was legally blind, but he didn't actually do that because another person was stopped and convicted for speeding on that same occasion, which was in the record.  Judge Becker accepted that allocution, having in front of him the record where the defendant's girlfriend was convicted for driving that same truck on that same occasion.

Attorney Coffey who worked the total of about 3 months on the case, did no discovery, no motions and made an appearance to strike this infamous plea deal, was in a hurry to collect his fee from the bail money, $18,500.00 if he brings litigation to a conclusion.  Which is what he was trying to do, fast.

Mr. Carbone was threatened that if he does not abide by all terms of the agreement, including, obviously, the indemnity term, he will be resentenced to the maximum for an A-II drug felony.

It is clear from the signature of Mr. Carbone on the plea agreement that he does not see what he signs.  There is no indication in the record that it was read to Mr. Carbone.  There is indication in the record that, on the contrary, nobody read the plea agreement to him before he signed it. 

It is also clear that, since Judge Becker, according to County Law 400, is a "county officer", he is "so-ordering" the indemnification for himself, too, and judicial immunity does not extend to extrajudicial seizures of property.

The fact that Mr. Carbone was legally blind and signed across the signature line, which means he did not see what he was signing, did not seem to bother the presiding Judge Carl F. Becker.

Not that it bothered the Appellate Division which affirmed the appeal without mentioning these interesting facts.

The judge, Delaware County Judge Carl F. Becker "so-ordered" the "indemnification" plea deal.

The Appellate Division 3rd Department affirmed without reviewing or resolving these issues.

It was obviously inappropriate for a prosecutor to agree to trade criminal plea bargains for his own personal indemnity from civil liability and liability of county, state and federal officials who participated in investigation and seizure of a defendant's property, especially when the defendant is legally blind and especially when nobody, including the judge, has read to him that particular condition.

It was apparent that the criminal defense attorney who was at that time toiling on the case for about three months, was too eager to collect his fee at the conclusion of litigation.  When that attorney was replaced before sentencing, he started to send out letters threatening criminal prosecution if anybody would touch "his" bail money. 

A 5-year litigation ensued over the bail money, with three appeals so far.

In 2010 the appellate court ordered the Delaware County Treasurer to pay the bail money in the amount of $18,500.00 to the defendant.

Delaware County Treasurer did not appeal to the court of Appeals, but she and her attorney Richard Spinney refused to abide by the court order.   Richard Spinney was never disciplined for that refusal.

A contempt of court motion was filed against it.

For some mysterious and undisclosed reasons the presiding judge on that case was "reassigned", and Judge Becker assigned himself to help out his former client of 27 years the Delaware County and his friends Richard Spinney and Beverly Shields who worked there.

During the motion hearing it was revealed by the then Delaware County Attorney Richard Spinney that he has talked on the phone or came to see Judge Becker on the issue of bail money.  I have the transcript of this confession.  The Appellate Division has the transcript of this confession.
Here is the front page of the transcript and the portion where attorney Spinney confesses to the fact that he called Judge Becker or came over to discuss the issue of bail with him (and who knows what else and in what way the old buddies discussed that issue).

The Appellate Division acted as if the transcript does not exist.

Even before Mr. Spinney's confession, I asked the judge to step down because of his above described actions in federal court, his obvious bias against the Defendant demonstrated in Judge Becker's claim that the Defendant was not as blind as he presented it to be because he could navigate the courtroom, and because Judge Becker represented Delaware County for 27 years before coming to the bench and was friends with the County Attorney.

Judge Becker did not recuse from the case after I asked him to do that.

Judge Becker did not recuse from the case after the County Attorney disclosed the ex parte communication on the record.

Judge Becker instead sanctioned me for raising the issues of his and other participants' misconduct, as described above, and for "threatening the court".

"Threatening the court" sounds like an act of terrorism, like I threatened the court to punch the court in the nose.  Did I?  Of course, not. 

All I did was forewarn Judge Becker that I consider him a witness in the case and intend to call him as a witness to testify at the trial.  That was how I "threatened the court". 

Was judge Becker a witness?  Of course, he was.  He talked to the Petitioner's attorney ex parte on the material issue of litigation before he released bail in such an "unusual" decision that the Treasurer mentioned that in the affidavit in the civil court that litigated who the bail money belonged to.  Event though the law clearly said that bail money must return to the person whose name was on the bail receipt, Judge Becker refused to do his duty and instead asked the Treasurer to "determine" who the bail goes to.  The appellate court later reversed that shenanigan on the law.

The Treasurer, instead of determining who the bail money belongs to, instead filed an interpleader action.

Delaware County was thrown into 5 years of litigation which still continues, because since the fall of 2010 when the summary judgment awarding bail money to Mr. Coffey's law firm was reversed and remanded, Judge Becker and the subsequently assigned judge did not strike a finger to move the case on the calendar.

Mr. Coffey threatened to prosecute anybody who touches defendant's bail money that defendant was entitled to but never received it until today because Mr. Carbone did not release the money despite a court order telling him to return the bail money back to Delaware County Treasurer since October 2012.  Mr. Carbone started threatening my husband and the criminal defendant with a prosecution for grand larceny, no less, if they attempt to touch the money.

Was he disciplined for committing the "no-no" of any attorney, specifically, for threatening criminal prosecution in a civil fee dispute situation, while Mr. Coffey's entitlement to the bail money is not resolved in 2014 while he threatened criminal prosecution if anybody attempts to touch the bail money in 2009?  Of course, he wasn't.
Was Mr. Northrup the prosecutor disciplined?  Of course, he wasn't.

Was Judge Becker disciplined?  Of course, he wasn't.

Was Attorney Spinney disciplined for his ex parte communication with Judge Becker? Of course, he wasn't, instead the Appellate Division pretended that the transcript where the confession about the ex parte communication was made does not exist and affirmed the sanctions against me.

After the sanctions were affirmed, Judge Becker sent to my home an election campaign flyer where Treasurer Shields de facto admitted to being Judge Becker close friend.

Was Judge Becker disciplined after that?  Of course, he wasn't.

How can one mar reputation of such honorable people?  Even if they marred it themselves?

It is better to kill the messenger.  

So, Judge Becker sanctioned me for reporting this mess and raising it as an appearance of impropriety in my request for Judge Becker to step down from the case, the Appellate Division affirmed while ignoring the transcript in front of the court which clearly showed that Judge Becker, through his ex parte communication with petitioner's attorney and his friend before the litigation even started, on the material issue of litigation, did make Judge Becker a witness in the proceeding.

Then, Judge Becker turned me into the grievance committee and is trying to get me disbarred based on his sanction.  To add insult to injury, this was one of three sanctions imposed upon me by Judge Becker within 45 days from the date when I sued Judge Becker in state court for in and out-of-court misconduct.

Is there a rule of law in the State of New York?

Do you honestly believe that Mr. Northrup, Mr. Spinney, Mr. Coffey and Judge Becker are NOT above the law and I am not below the law in the eyes of New York State courts?

Do you honestly believe justice is possible if you are right and some high-and-mighty person is wrong and you are stating that in court to his face?

By the way, the first attorney who raised the issue of corruption of Judge Becker on the criminal appeal of the legally blind defendant, was first threatened by the prosecution that he is "burning the bridges" by raising the issue of Judge Becker's corruption and then, "coincidentally", disbarred before his appeal was heard...  He was at that time and is now, also "coincidentally", my husband.

And finally, do you honestly believe that SUCH attorney regulation is protecting you, the reader, as a member of the public? 

You be the judge.

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