"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.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Judges indebted to others...

In my previous blog, about the Blanding saga, I put the Memorandum of Law by NYS Assistant Attorney General Mary A. Walsh.

I would like to re-quote it in a separate post to highlight its importance.

In her Memorandum of Law, p. 9 (see Blanding post) Ms. Walsh said the following:

"If the public is to have confidence in the judiciary, it must make sure that judges are not indebted to others or on someone else's payroll".

To explore who my judges may be indebted to, I filed the Neroni v. Peebles case. 

I believe, it is a matter of grave public concern when judges participate in secret membership organizations, where, behind closed doors, they attend receptions paid for by influential attorneys while the judges are allowed to participate for free. 

It is improper when judges are allowed free international travel with their spouses as part of the same attorney-sponsored membership. 

In the Blanding case, the judge was also doing something in secret - he secretly and self-servingly practiced law and drafted a will bequeathing himself a huge bounty, and then retired early, which the NYS AG's office characterized as a step motivated by the expectation of a bounty and the fear that the testator will die while the judge was still on the bench, so that the secret would be readily revealed. 

The judge also, as NYS Assistant AG says in her pleadings, "chose his son, secretary and law clerk, presumably confidants, as witnesses to his misdeeds", Memo of Law of March 24, 2000, p. 4 in the Blanding case.

As Assistant Attorney General Mary A. Walsh said in her Memorandum of Law on March 24, 2000,

"Judges must not be bought, and the public should not think they can be.   Judges must be answerable to the public they serve and not to any private benefactor, friend or client.  Were it otherwise, the public would be led to perceive that judges would be inclined to act at the behest of their friends and patrons...."

I could not say it any better.

There are some flies in the ointment, though.

The first such "fly" is that, were Judge Harlem to be sued for corrupt behavior on the bench, Mary A. Walsh would have been representing him in court and claiming judicial immunity on his behalf.

The second such "fly" is that the NYS AG's office settled with Robert Harlem without requiring him to forfeit his salaried position as a trustee in the Blanding foundation where he continued to financially benefit for his wrongdoing until he died in 2012, and there were no criminal or disciplinary consequences for the former Robert Harlem for his obvious wrongdoing for which he remained adamantly unrepentant, and even accused the NYS AG's office of inappropriately targeting him for punishment in the wrong forum.

I wonder when NYS AG's office will start to actually prosecute judges and members of their families to the fullest extent of the law, the same way the NYS AG's office would do prosecuting a John Smith off the street who would steal a much smaller amount than what judges and members of their families did.

There is a clear deference in not prosecuting judges or their family members when New York prisons are full with people who are doing hard time for less.

If public trust in the integrity of the judiciary is to be maintained, the judiciary is to be cleansed of their bad apples, not protected from prosecution.

But - I admit that NYS Assistant AG wrote a most impressive Memorandum of Law as to the need to maintain public trust in the integrity of judges.

As she said, once again, "judges must not be bought, and the public should not think that they can be.  Judges must be answerable to the public they serve and not to any private benefactor, friend, or client".

Yet, one can only "think" about something when one has information about something.  Speculation leads you nowhere. 

For that reason, and, of course, to establish whether any judges were disqualified by financial interests in presiding over my cases, I want to make my judges reveal, as discovery in a federal lawsuit, whether they are members of an organizations where they receive perks from attorneys and, if they are, who are attorney members of the organization who wined and dined them (or wines and dines them at present). 

And I want to make the State of New York mandate its judges to make such information public.

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