"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.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Blanding saga - will these attorneys ever be disciplined? Or their "blue blood" will continue protecting them?

I have written about the Mokay saga which was the basis of disbarment of my husband without a hearing, after 37 years of practice and despite running a free legal clinic in an under-served area. 

I also wrote in this blog about the situation where attorney discipline appears to apply in the state of New York only to civil rights attorneys and whistleblowers of official (and judicial) misconduct and does not apply to the most powerful attorneys who can hurt the public the most.

I also described the extraordinary lengths to which courts go in order to absolve attorneys who are judges, retired judges or their friends or members of their families of liability, even when they are clearly wrong.  That desire to absolve "members of the pack" of liability for wrongdoing goes to direct misrepresentation of the record, misstatements of the law or simply ignoring the law or portions of the record, as it was done multiple times in my cases by multiple judges, so I can deem it as a pattern and policy of the New York State judiciary to do that.

Well, the class of blue blood attorneys protected by the State of New York from whistleblowing of their misconduct includes politically connected private counsel, especially retired judges and their family members.

While the Committee is spending its scarce budget on prosecuting whistleblowers, it allows the "big fish" attorneys to continue to hurt the public.  And if misconduct is not deterred or punished, it will proceed further and will get worse, I do not have to be a legal expert to tell you that.

Below you can see public documents describing what kind of misconduct the 3rd Deparment's Committee for Judicial Conduct allowed to remain unpunished and undeterred.

The documents I publish in this blog will describe how the now late judge Robert Harlem of Oneonta, New York, practice law while on the bench, involved in that secret and unconstitutional practice of law his son, his confidential law secretary (later his wife) Irene Mann/Harlem and his confidential law clerk Denis Dineen.

None of attorneys involved in that scandal were disbarred or publicly disciplined.


Because when we turned these attorneys in, the law firm Hiscock & Barclays, where the disciplinary prosecutor John Casey, member of the Committee for Professional Standards was and is law partner, chose to (1) allow his law firm to accept attorneys turned in for his investigation and prosecution as paying clients;  (2) caused the prosecution to be dropped,  (3) resigned from the Committee when I raised this issue in a federal lawsuit Neroni v. Zayas, but (4) allowed his law firm to continue representation of Richard and Robert Harlem anyway, keeping the ill-gained legal fees, and instead (5) disbarred my husband and (6) commenced a disciplinary proceedings against me.

How corrupt is that is for your to judge.  

I will simply publish the documents for your information.  The records I am publishing here are in open access in Otsego County Surrogate's Court, New York and are also available on Freedom of Information requests from the New York State Attorney General's office.

An attorney drafting the will is prohibited to self-deal and to have the testator give any gifts to the attorney in the will that he is drafting.

The drafter here was not only an attorney, but a sitting Supreme Court justice at the time - Robert Harlem to whom the New York State Constitution prohibited to practice law, which included drafting wills.

That did not deter Robert Harlem from either practicing law or bequeathing in the will that he drafted 8,000 shares of the IBM corporation to himself.

Robert Harlem also gave a gift to the Beatrice W. Blanding foundation where, upon my research of public records of that non-profit, he was a salaried trustee until his death in 2012.

To conceal the fact that Robert Harlem, a sitting Supreme Court justice, was practicing law, he used two attorneys, his son Richard Harlem and his confidential law clerk Dennis Dineen, to sign codicils (additions) to the will.

Neither of these attorneys were publicly disciplined for helping a sitting Supreme Court judge to engage in unauthorized practice of law.

Richard Harlem still has a private practice.

Denis Dineen is employed by the state of New York, so the taxpayers continue to fund livelihood of this attorney who should have been disbarred for his role in allowing the judge her served as a law clerk to engage in the practice of law prohibited to the judge by the New York State Constitution.

After Beatrice Blanding died, her will was submitted by Richard Harlem and Robert Harlem to the Otsego County Surrogate's Court with the backer above.

The backer clearly shows the name Richard A. Harlem, allowing the court to make an inference that Richard A. Harlem and not Judge Robert Harlem was the drafter of the will.

This is, ladies and gentlemen, fraud upon the court in my humble legal opinion - and it is a crime in the State of New York.  

Of course, the statute of limitations for that crime is now over and nobody dared to prosecute a retired judge and his son.

The reason for the lack of criminal prosecution against Richard Harlem and Robert Harlem for fraud upon the court could very well be because the prosecutor himself - now Chief Assistant District Attorney for Otsego County Michael Getman, with his own father,  Frank Getman, also a retired judge - was involved in his own trouble with New York State Attorney General who sued Michael Getman and Frank Getman for self-dealing and mishandling funds in another non-profit.

Michael Getman and Frank Getman also got away with it through a mere settlement of the civil lawsuit, with no criminal prosecution and no attorney discipline for either Frank Getman or his son Michael Getman.

I will publish court documents pertaining to Michael Getman that I obtained from the New York State Attorney General's office on a Freedom of Information request in my next blogs.

Next I publish " objections to account" by the New York State Attorney General.

It shows how Richard Harlem inflated his legal fees in an Estate proceedings and claimed as legal fees what he could not possibly claim.  Richard Harlem was never publicly disciplined for that either.

Also, it is enlightening to read NYS Attorney General's petition to reconsider the court's decision in the Beatrice Blanding Estate, with a supporting memorandum of law.  

The judge Nettie Jean Scarzafava who presided over the Blanding case immediately retired in 2000, allegedly, as I recall from reading local newspapers, to take care of her ailing mother, after refusing to hold Richard Harlem and Robert Harlem liable for their misconduct and misrepresenting what was in the record in her order in the Blanding case.

Judge Nettie Jean Scarzafava apparently had a problem with her reading skills, as other judges do when they try to avoid what is in the record and decide for a favored party or against a disfavored party.

Judge Nettie Jean Scarzafava "found" that the backer which said "Richard A. Harlem" said in fact "Robert Harlem".  

Of course, a judge may not "find" what is not in the record.

Of course, Nettie Scarzafava did make such a finding.

Of course, Judge Nettie Scarzafava was allowed to retire without any judicial discipline.

This is a part of New York State Attorney General's petition to Judge Scarzafawa to reconsider her decision in the Estate of Blanding.

And another snippet from the petition.

The Affirmation and Memorandum of Law of the New York State Attorney General are scathing.  I do not know how Richard Harlem and Robert Harlem were able to keep their law licenses after this case.  Well, I do know that they had to be disbarred, and I do know who was their rescuing angel/ private counsel.    His name is John Casey, he is also an attorney, he was the member of the Committee for Professional Conduct until the summer of 2013 and I bet he will never be disciplined either.

Blue blood attorneys are not subject to discipline - whether they hurt the public or not.  This is the rule in the State of New York.

Robert Harlem delayed disclosure of who was the drafter of the will for a year, while earning the income on the shares that he was never required to return.

Finally, Robert Harlem disclosed his role as a drafter, but never acknowledged that he did anything wrong, even though the practice of law is prohibited by the New York State Constiutiton and Robert Harlem, as an attorney admitted to practice in 1953 and a judge, surely knew that an attorney drafting a will may not bequeath to himself anything, at least without an affidavit that the client was apprised of the conflict of interest and agreed to proceed.  

It is attorney misconduct to self-deal when drafting wills, Judge Harlem who also was a Surrogate at some point, had to know it.  

Robert Harlem got away with (1) unauthorized practice of law while being a sitting judge;  (2) involving court personnel in aiding him in his unauthorized practice of law;  (3) submitting to the court a misleading backer showing the name of his son as a supposed drafter;  (4) delaying investigation into who was the drafter for a year.

As did his son, an attorney, who obviously knew what his father was doing, but aided his father in his unauthorized practice of law and fraud upon the court anyway, while at the same time benefiting from the situation and inflating his legal fees, as stated in the "Objections to Account" by the New York State Attorney General (see published above).

To this day, Richard Harlem remains unpunished for what he did in the Blanding case, even though, by the way, there is no statute of limitations for attorney discipline in the State of New York and Richard Harlem can still be prosecuted for his role in the Blanding case - if the Committee wants to stand by its declaration that the purpose for its existence is to protect the public from unscrupulous attorneys.

As to Robert Harlem, in his affidavit that I am publishing below he arrogantly stated that he did not do anything wrong, under oath.

That is the same judge who was sworn to uphold the State and Federal Constitution, while the New York State Constitution, Article VI, paragraph 20(b)(4) clearly and unambiguously prohibits sitting Supreme Court judges to practice law.

Robert Harlem was allowed to practice law until his death in 2012, even though he should have been disbarred in 1999 once he admitted he was the drafter of the will of Beatrice Blanding, along with his son attorney Richard Harlem and his confidential clerk Denis Dineen whom Robert Harlem involved in his unauthorized practice of law.

But, attorneys Richard Harlem, Denis Dineen and John Casey who let these attorneys escape discipline because his law firm accepted Richard Harlem and Robert Harlem as paying clients at the time complaints against them were pending in front of John Casey, are alive, there is no statute of limitations on attorney discipline in the State of New York.

In my opinion, Richard Harlem and Denis Dineen were allowed to practice law 15 years too long.

In my opinion, John Casey should be investigated for his role in failing to prosecute Richard Harlem and Robert Harlem and instead sharing, as a law partner in Hiscock & Barclays LLP in legal fees paid by these two attorneys as private clients of John Casey's law firm. 

That investigation must happen, if public is to believe in the integrity of attorney disciplinary proceedings, 

It is for the public to now act and protect themselves from these attorneys.

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