"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.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Does it matter who is standing in front of the court when the court decides the issue of standing? In NYS Appellate Division 3rd Department, it does.

On December 13, 2012 the NYS Appellate Division Third Judicial Department decided a case O'Sullivan v. Hallock.

One of the defendants in that civil court case between private parties, siblings, for the allegations of wrongful death of their father and fraud in connection with the estate of their father, was Peter Bracci, political supporter of Delaware County Judge Carl F. Becker, the then Supervisor of the Town of Delhi and the then Supervisor in the Delaware County Board of Supervisors of the Department of Social Services, Judge Becker's pet and client of 27 years.

Another defendant, Mary Bracci Hallock, was Judge Becker's former client herself.

Representing the defendants was the then Assistant Delaware County Attorney (and now the Delaware County Attorney) Porter Kirkwood who was seen engaging in conversations behind the courthouse with Judge Becker during the pendency of the O'Sullivan v. Hallock proceedings.

Porter Kirkwood was at that time a full-time employee of Delaware County and represented these private defendants in court on county time.

It is the same Porter Kirkwood who appears in front of Judge Becker on behalf of the County in child neglect and abuse cases in Delaware County Family Court.

It is the same Porter Kirkwood who, according to witnesses and federal court litigation, controls access of citizens to their own files in Delaware County Family Court and to the files of applicants for gun licenses, something that Porter Kirkwood cannot control but which he nevertheless controls.

Carl F. Becker nonchalantly presided over the case where he had glaring conflicts of interest and ruled that Barbara O'Sullivan has no standing to sue because she was not the executor of her father's estate.

Admittedly, Barbara O'Sullivan was not the executor of her father's estate when she sued.

Nevertheless, Porter Kirkwood who represented Barbara O'Sullivan's siblings, neglected to raise the issue of standing in his pre-answer motion to dismiss or answer, and thus, under the existing New York State law, waived the issue.

Judge Becker rescued a paying case for his former colleague, subordinate attorney and, apparently, friend, by dismissing Barbara O'Sullivan's case for lack of standing where the issue was obviously waived through the neglect of Porter Kirkwood as an attorney.

The Appellate Division affirmed Judge Becker's dismissal on the grounds of standing.

That was on December 13, 2012.

On July 3, 2014 that same Appellate Division 3rd Department reversed the decision of Judge John F. Lambert, of the same Delaware County Supreme Court, on the same issue of standing.

In its decision, Town of Delhi v. Telian, the Appellate Division correctly stated that the issue of standing is waived unless raised in an answer or pre-answer motion to dismiss, which the respondent allegedly failed to do.

Of course, the difference was that, according to the federal lawsuit filed by Mr. Telian on July 29, 2014 in the Northern District of New York, Mr. Telian was not the record owner of the property in question and could not possibly be sued for filing to obtain building permits, on that property so Judge Lambert was indeed correct in dismissing the action - even though the dismissal would be not for lack of standing, but for failure to state a claim.  The Appellate Division could, in its own discretion, dismiss that case as against Mr. Telian, for failure to state a claim, even if Judge Lambert did not dismiss it on that particular ground, simple as a matter of justice, due process and judicial economy.

Instead, the Appellate Division reversed Judge Lambert's dismissal and remanded the case for consideration of a motion for a summary judgment against Mr. Telian, a completely frivolous motion in view of the fact that Mr. Telian was not the owner of the property in question.

Now - the Appellate Division follows the law of standing, to a fault, when somebody who is attacking a judge's friend is involved.

The same Appellate Division would not follow that same law when following it would expose that same friend of that same judge to an embarrassing lawsuit.

Why am I not surprised?

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