"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, July 15, 2014

American Inns of Court revisited - additional "creative" ways judges invent to "regulate" the judiciary system without authority from the public and without public oversight

I have written in this blog about the potential impropriety of judges and attorneys meeting behind closed doors through the American Inns of Court, a private association with secret membership where attorneys sponsor judges’ monthly lavish meals, and, according to scarce information available about this organization, at least some sections of this organization sponsor national and international travel for judges and their family members.

I have also written about the devastating consequences for litigants where a judge was presiding over cases where her Facebook friends appeared as attorneys – Facebook friends who the judge openly acknowledged on her personal Facebook page open to the public.

I have written in this blog that I have brought a federal lawsuit to verify membership of judges who presided or are presiding at this time over my personal lawsuits, in the American Inns of Court, or in any other organization with secret membership where judges and attorneys have an opportunity to communicate behind closed doors, without participation of or oversight from the public.

I have also written that my federal lawsuit, where the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, its Chief Judge, and several of its District Judges and Magistrates were named as parties, in their official and individual capacity, dismissed the case against itself before the lawsuit was served, instead of transferring the case to another venue, as was proper and as I requested.

In fact, one of the state judges who was sued through that lawsuit, who did receive the federal form requesting a waiver of service, was astonished when he tried to make a disclosure about the federal lawsuit in two motion hearings and heard from me that the lawsuit was dismissed before he was actually served.  To him, such a procedure clearly appeared as irregular, same as to me.

To me, the sua sponte, ex parte dismissal of my federal lawsuit, by the court which is a defendant in that lawsuit, shows to what extraordinary steps the judicial system will go in order to protect their own members.

My federal lawsuit was covering all organizations where judges and politically powerful attorneys had opportunities to meet behind closed doors, those I knew about and those I did not know about.

Now I introduce to the public yet another organization where membership is not transparent, goals are not transparent, activities are not transparent and authority upon the organization exists and is acting is not transparent, but the organization exists, is powerful , “advises” state and federal courts and is comprised of state and federal judges and members of the legal profession whose interactions within the organization are not subject to public scrutiny.

I did not find any published information as to what is the source of power in State-Federal Judicial Councils, I did not find any registration of such councils as business entities or associations, I did not find lists of members of such councils, except for the occasional press-releases where a powerful law firm would proudly announce that one oftheir law partners has been “appointed” into an Advisory Committee of such acouncil. 
Who appointed them – nobody knows.  But - these attorneys are "advising" federal and state judiciary.  About what - also nobody knows.  On what grounds - also nobody knows.
How the appointment happened, what is the procedure of appointment, what is the procedure of advising the state and federal judiciary before whom attorneys continue to appear in fee-generating cases – nobody knows or can check. 
And, lo and behold, such councils have as members of “advisory committees” powerful attorneys who appear in front of both state and federal judges in court proceedings while “advising” those same judges behind closed doors.

So, since creation of such councils in 1972 no court decision in this country was free from the taint of whether it was done by a judge who was “advised” by the counsel who appeared in front of him - or who participated in a “state-federal judiciary council” behind closed doors where the judge had an opportunity to talk with “state law officers”, including parties to litigation.

Such “councils” provide a great opportunity for corruption and/or undue influence on judges behind closed doors by attorneys practicing in front of those judges, or between judges and governmental defendants in civil rights cases. 
Yet, same as in the case of the American Inns of Court, the State-Federal Judicial Councils are proclaimed to be “quasi-public” entities working toward more “efficient” system of justice, and toward “better serving” the American public.

As I wrote above, my federal lawsuit which was supposed to take the veil off such ventures and to verify just in what kind of relationships certain judges and certain attorneys are, was dismissed by the same court which was the defendant in the action.  
It is obvious that neither a person nor an entity has a power to dismiss a lawsuit against itself, yet, that’s exactly what happened.  What remains to me is to try to verify what is available from open sources – and to make my findings public.

Same as the American Inns of Court, the idea of State-Federal Judicial Councils was introduced by a U.S. Supreme Court. 

So far, I have found only one source describing the goals of the State-Federal Judicial Councils, a law reviewarticle written by Jack B. Weinstein, the Chief Judge of the U.S. DistrictCourt for the Northern District of New York at the time the article was written ( “Coordination of State and Federal Judicial System” , St. John's Law Review, Issue 1, Volume 57, Fall 1982, Number 1, Article 1).

Judge Weinstein claims in his law review that “… the organization of state-federal councils blossomed after Chief Justice Burger suggested their employment as a method of reducing the tension created in part by increased federal constitutional safeguards that affected state judicial and criminal procedures” (citations omitted, emphasis added).

At the very beginning of the law review article Judge Weinstein announces  his view that the power to coordinate state and federal judicial systems belongs to:

  • state and federal legislators,
  • executive agencies, and, in the case of criminal matters,
  • to prosecuting attorneys and police personnel.

Now, to me as a criminal defense attorney and a civil rights attorney, such a view, especially coming from a Chief Judge of a federal trial court, presents a big problem.

Prosecuting attorneys in criminal matters are attorneys for a party appearing before the court.

Police personnel, if it appears in criminal matters, appears only as witnesses in criminal proceedings.

Thus, Judge Weinstein, the Chief Judge of a U.S. District Court which handled death penalty cases, publicly announced his view that he actually thought that attorneys for a party and witnesses for a party have the power to coordinate the federal judicial system.

I do not know how many criminal cases Judge Weinstein presided over while being a judge – but I do think that such views require reconsideration of every one of such cases where the criminal defendant was convicted.

Judge Weinstein makes further comment, that “cognizant of limitations [of power of enumerated coordinators” “courts should take whatever steps possible to ensure that the two systems properly mesh”.

What constitutes “proper meshing” between the state and federal judiciary, is surely not reflected in the U.S. Constitution, but that does not deter Judge Weinstein.

Judge Weinstein states that “[t]he primary responsibility for better coordination rests with the legislature since it can provide a more rational division of jurisdiction and substantive law.”  
Judge Weinstein has what appears to be a “functional” rather than “constitutional separation of power” approach to the issue of coordination of the judicial system.

Judge Weinstein goes on by stating that “[t]he executive branch, moreover, particularly prosecutors and police, must cooperate in allocating prosecutorial roles in order to prevent a breakdown of both federal and state systems of criminal justice.”  What this means, nobody knows. 

How a public prosecutor, an elected public official in New York State and an appointed public official in federal agencies, whose duty is to prosecute crimes is supposed to “cooperate” to “prevent a breakdown of both federal and state systems of criminal justice”.

Why would a state prosecutor, once again, an elected public official usually elected by the voters of a particular county, “cooperate” in consideration of any goals other than the goal for which he was elected, prosecuting crimes, is anybody’s guess.

Yet, that prosecutors “must cooperate” in view of such a goal, is Judge Weinstein’s conviction that was publicly announced through a law review article in support of activities of State-Federal Judicial Councils.

Furthermore, while being sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution which does not allow federal judges to legislates, Judge Weinstein, the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York at the time the article was written, states the following: “[o]ccasional decisions [by federal courts] that slightly modify the law so as to eliminate sources of friction between state and federal law officers also may be helpful”  (emphasis added).

It is interesting to mention that in civil rights actions the “state law officers” are often defendants in front of federal “law officers”.  When that is occurring, Judge Weinstein’s suggestion that the federal judiciary should legislate from the bench to eliminate “sources of friction” with parties appearing before federal judges suggests that not only criminal convictions where Judge Weinstein presided, but civil rights lawsuits decided for “state law officers” where Judge Weinstein presided, should be reviewed and verified as to whether Judge Weinstein applied in those lawsuits is policy to “slightly modify the law” in order to “eliminate sources of friction” with state defendants, or, in other words, acted with unconstitutional a bias which was part of his policy.

Judge Weinstein presents the unconstitutional “state-federal coordination” of the judicial systems as, of course, being done to better serve the American people. 

“Coordinating” state and federal judicial systems behind closed doors with the party defendants in civil rights lawsuits and claiming that prosecutors, attorneys for a party, are coordinators of state and federal judicial systems, have nothing to do with judges’ constitutional duties.

How acts in violation of the U.S. Constitution and state Constitutions are supposed to better serve the American People, is also anybody’s guess.

Yet, what strikes me is the arrogance of the judiciary to continue this “coordination”, behind closed doors, while dismissing lawsuits against itself challenging constitutionality of such coordination and having the audacity of claiming that the judiciary can actually change the law in order to “eliminate sources of friction” between state and federal courts – even when state courts are defendants in federal civil rights actions.

If “eliminate[ing] sources of friction” between “state and federal law officers” are the function of the federal courts, the courts carry out that function beautifully.

Federal courts increasingly dismiss the majority of civil rights lawsuits as “frivolous”, or “failing to state a claim”, or for lack of specific pleadings despite the fact that federal rules of procedure do not require specific pleadings in a civil right lawsuit, or for any other judicially invented reason.

I bet a state defendant in a federal lawsuit may have a lot of “sources of friction” with the presiding federal judge.

But, for the federal judge to actively seek to “eliminate” these “sources of friction” is called bias – at the least.  And such bias requires the judge who holds such views to step down from any cases where state “law officers” appear in front of such a judge. 

If such bias amounts to a policy, and to a policy of the entire court, as it appeared to be in Judge Weinstein’s court, based on the fact that Judge Weinstein was the Chief Judge of a large federal district court in New York State, such a policy spells out a crisis of both the state and the federal judicial systems.

It appears that for federal, as well as state judges, the constitutional oath of office, once taken by a judge, means absolutely positively nothing, where judges gave themselves immunity from suit for malicious and corrupt behavior on the bench, where judicial discipline is non-existent, and where judges openly profess as their goals “eliminate[ing] sources of friction” with “state law officers” which obviously includes defendants in civil rights lawsuits in federal court.   

Thus, instead of following the mandates of the U.S. Constitution that judges are sworn to uphold, it appears that all that judges seek is to (1) clear their dockets and reduce their own workloads;  (2) protect themselves and the state “law officers” from any kind of liability;  (3) eliminate any possibility of stepping on the toes of the state “law officers”.

In my humble opinion, such goals are not even close to serving the American people through the judiciary systems.

There is no need for “quasi-public” “gray cardinal” “co-ordinators” of the state and federal judicial systems.

The public must be assured that judges presiding over court proceedings have no ex parte communications, involvement with or potential for influence over them through any social networking or civic organizations.

I have a firm belief that State-Federal Judicial Councils and their mysterious “Advisory Committees”, same as the American Inns of Court, while declaring service to the public, taint integrity of judicial proceedings with their existence and secret proceedings outside of public oversight.

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