"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.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

There is no "good faith" when a judge does not disclose her conflict of interest

Judge Cathryn M. Doyle, a Surrogate's Court Justice, has been removed by the New York State Commission for Judicial Conduct for presiding over cases where her friends appeared in front of her as attorneys and for failure to disclose her conflicts of interest.

In defense of herself, Judge Doyle claimed that she failed to disclose the conflicts of interest "mistakenly" and "in good faith".

Now, how can a person fail to disclose a conflict of interest "in good faith"?  Especially when that person is a judge of many years, and a lawyer of 35 years, admitted since 1979, according to the New York State attorney directory? I do not believe Judge Doyle could pretend she did not know the applicable rules of disqualification or at least of disclosure...

The value of disclosure is for other attorneys and parties to be able to weigh that information and apply for recusal of the judge. 

It was not for Judge Doyle to decide whether to disclose a conflict of interest or not, such a disclosure is mandatory. 

By not disclosing her conflicts of interest, Judge Doyle undermined people's trust in the integrity of the judiciary and does not belong on the bench.

Judge Doyle, as every other judge presiding over people's lives and fates, should be squeaky clean in her performance.  Anything less than that is unacceptable.

I believe that the NYS Commission for Judicial Conduct did the right thing (for a change) by removing judge Doyle. 

NYS Commission should be consistent in its actions, though, and apply the same standard of removal to all judges who fail to disclose their conflicts of interest.

In 2014 Judge Doyle was removed for presiding over cases of (1) her friend, (2) her personal attorney, (3) her former attorney .

In 2013 Judge George was removed for presiding over cases of friends.

Judge Carl F. Becker, the Acting Supreme Court justice of the Delaware County Supreme Court remains on the bench, even though he openly presided over the case of a close friend and failed to disclose his multiple conflicts of interest in multiple cases in that court and in other courts, and he openly presided over the case where his personal attorney was in front of him - and granted the victory to that attorney. 

Why should Judge Becker be given a special treatment by the Commission? He knows somebody who protects him?

And Judge Becker does not even use "good faith" excuses, he arrogantly acts as if the courtroom is his own fiefdom - his and his friends'.

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