"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, July 16, 2014

Can an attorney bill for legal services of a non-attorney? Judge Dowd says he can - and for the judge it is mind-boggling to even contest that

I have written about the "mind-boggling" hearing that I had in the "Mokay saga" case where Judge Dowd ruled that our motion to vacate Judge Becker's sanctions and all decisions of Judge Becker (based on Judge Becker's pattern of misconduct spanning many court proceedings and out-of-court actions, conduct that to date escaped judicial review on the merits - and still escaped review because Judge Dowd did not want to review it) is somehow frivolous.

The motion was one of the five motions I made, to vacate sanctions imposed by Judge Becker upon me and my husband after we sued the judge.  Elementary due process of law allows people to challenge decisions made by judges who are engaged in a pattern of misconduct before and after sanctions were imposed, misconduct that shows egregious bias of the judge against an attorney and a party - which Judge Becker cogently demonstrated.  Apparently, due process of law is not applicable in Judge Dowd's court.

Judge Dowd decided to punish my client and husband for making the motion.

I recently received the transcript of the hearing and will start publishing it, portion by portion, with comments.

It appears that I will need to publish portions of the transcript issue by issue, as there are so many and all of them deserve be presented to the public separately.

I view this post as my service to the public - because many times, litigants appearing in front of Judge Dowd are either represented by timid attorneys who do not want to take the judge on for fear of being "blackballed", or not represented at all, lack funds to obtain transcripts, lack funds to hire an attorney to analyze the judge's mistakes.

The public needs to know about possible incompetence of a public servant, especially with the tremendous power that a Supreme Court justice has in New York.

So - the first cluster of issues that I will analyze in the series of posts about Judge Dowd's evidentiary rulings is whether an attorney can bill a client for legal services of a non-attorney, and do it without the client's knowledge or consent.

In the evidentiary hearing on counsel fees, attorney Richard Harlem presented to the court an exhibit showing that he charged his 6 clients, at $100.00, for legal research and for drafting of legal documents, done by a Patrick Orr, who was at that time not admitted to New York State bar.

I contested legality of such billing.

Mr. Harlem claimed that Patrick Orr's work in doing legal research and drafting legal documents was "beneficial" to Mr. Harlem's clients - and apparently, to Mr. Harlem everything else is irrelevant.

Moreover, attorney Harlem further claimed that in an application for attorney fees the only issue that a court must consider is whether the fees are "fair and reasonable", 

and that was in rebuttal to my argument that to be fair an reasonable, the fees claimed must also be legal and in compliance with applicable law and rules:

I made my arguments not only based on the law, but on my own and my client (and husband)'s personal experience with how that law is applied.

My husband had to sue the disciplinary committee to get off his back and stop prosecuting him for unauthorized practice of law for merely sitting at his desk in his own home and talking to a visitor - and the inquiry specifically included whether my husband, a disbarred attorney, talked to my clients and drafted anything at all.

If my husband, who does not have a law license because he lost it, is not authorized to practice law by doing legal research and drafting legal documents for me, an attorney, in my legal practice - why Patrick Orr who did not have a law license because he did not get it yet can still practice law and do what my husband is not allowed to do?

And why I was personally investigated for the mere suspicion of allowing my husband to do exactly what Richard Harlem not only allows a non-attorney to do - but bills for those legal services - and is blessed for that by Judge Dowd?

Attorney Harlem confirms that he allowed Patrick Orr to draft "a portion" of the combined affirmation and memorandum of law - and that he billed his clients for it.

Yet, Judge Dowd denied my request to strike any fees out of the exhibit for unauthorized legal services of a non-attorney.

And, to strengthen his decision legitimizing Attorney Harlem's billing for legal services of a non-attorney, while Attorney Harlem did not provide a retainer agreement to the court and "did not recall" whether, in the retainer agreement, his clients agreed to be billed for services of auxiliary personnel, Judge Dowd simply offers his own unsworn testimony on behalf of Mr. Harlem - in violation of the "judge advocate" rules and Canons of judicial conduct.  

Of course, working for a District Attorney, where practice of law by legal interns is officially allowed by rules of the Appellate Division, and allowing a private counsel to bill for legal services of an intern who was not admitted to practice law are two different things - but not to Judge Dowd.

Judge Dowd appears to be thinking that he is the only law in his courtroom - and acts that way.

To the judge it is "mind-boggling" that I even went into a hearing instead of settling with Mr. Harlem - and he punished my client for not settling by awarding against him fees for legal services services of a non-attorney.  

So, I guess we have a double standard for people who are themselves disbarred attorneys or who are wives of disbarred attorneys and for attorneys who are sons of deceased judges, as Richard Harlem is...

At least, in Judge Dowd's court...

So much for access to court;
So much for the rule of law;
So much for equal protection of laws to all.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Still escaped review because Judge Dowd did not want to review it) is somehow frivolous.Business consulting company