"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

New York Appellate Division 3rd Department - when the Neronis are concerned, ex parte communications, soliciting unauthorized practice of law, soliciting unethical behavior from the court's own attorney, denying access to the file and engaging in "selective recusals" are business as usual

I already wrote in this blog about the disciplinary proceedings that were started against me based on sanctions of a judge imposed by the judge upon me after I sued him.

By the time the disciplinary proceedings were commenced against me in January of 2013, my husband was disbarred for a year and a half, since July 7, 2011.

In my own proceedings, I moved to disqualify the Appellate Division based on bias against me and to transfer my proceedings to another court, the Committee opposed my motion and called it frivolous - until suddenly the Committee made a secret ex parte application for the same relief and had it granted without having me served.  The Committee, by the way, had the audacity of serving me with the Notice of Entry of the order obtained based on its ex parte application - without sending to me the application or papers upon which it was granted.

My disciplinary proceedings which commenced in January of 2013 had, at least by reading the disciplinary petitions, nothing to do with my husband's disciplinary proceedings which concluded on July 7, 2011.

There is no law or rule allowing the Appellate Division to engage in ex parte communications with the Disciplinary Committee.

There is no law or rule allowing the Appellate Division to re-start court proceedings against an attorney after he was disbarred.  At the time of disbarment, the Appellate Division, as a licensing authority, simply loses authority to do anything to Mr. Neroni.

There is no law or rule allowing the Appellate Division to merge several disciplinary proceedings against several attorneys.

Here is the order of the Appellate Division, 3rd Department dated June 11, 2014 with a caption "In the Matter of Tatiana Neroni, an attorney (registration number) and Frederick J. Neroni, a disbarred attorney (still with an attorney registration number).

Such a caption normally indicates to a reasonable attorney reading this document, as to Frederick J. Neroni, the following:

(1) that there are court proceedings in the Appellate Division, Third Department, against Frederick J. Neroni;
(2) that these court proceedings are merged/consolidated with court proceedings against Tatiana Neroni.

In reality, none of that was true.

  1. There was no motion to consolidate (merge) proceedings against me and against my husband, at least, I as an attorney for myself and an attorney for my husband, was not served with such a motion.
  2. The appellate court had no jurisdiction to merge proceedings which are pending with proceedings which are already concluded.
Now as to how the so-called application by the Committee was granted.

There is no law or rule allowing the Committee, a Petitioner and party in an attorney disciplinary proceeding, to communicate with the presiding court ex parte, and there is no authority in the presiding court to review and grant ex parte applications and then deny access to such applications to the parties affected by them.

That's exactly what happened in my husband's case.

The confidential order clearly states that it was granted the Committee's application to transfer "all inquiries, complaints and/or disciplinary proceedings involving Tatiana Neroni and/or Frederick Neroni to a different Judicial Department".

Now, such an "application" should have been in writing, as any motions.

The usual motion practice of the Appellate Division is that even applications made on an ex parte basis (for an Order to Show Cause) must be served upon the opposing party.

I have attended hearings (on the phone) on such motions made on an Order to Show Cause in this same Appellate Division in other civil cases and know its rules and practices.

I was not served with the Committee's "application" for a transfer as either my husband's attorney in the concluded disciplinary proceedings, or as my own attorney in my own disciplinary proceedings.

Moreover, motion practice in my case has concluded, and deadlines for filing extra pleadings without a leave of court has long ended.

The confidential order makes no mention of an application by the Committee on an Order to Show Cause, for a leave of court to make another motion.  It appears that the Committee opens the door of the Appellate Division with their feet any time they want, for any reason they want and without any rules governing such "applications" - and the Appellate Division grants the Committee, on an ex parte basis no less, anything the Committee wants.

My husband asked for a copy of the application and all documents upon which the ex parte application was granted, and for a list of documents transferred to the Appellate Division, 4th Department.

I also asked for the same.

On July 10, 2014 the Appellate Division sent to us two letters.

In a letter to my husband, below, the Appellate Division indicated that his disciplinary proceedings were concluded, no court proceedings were transferred to the 4th Department and what was transferred is only currently pending inquiries and complaints.

My husband was not served with any pending inquiries and complaints against him, and the Committee is already being sued by my husband for conducting any investigations against him post-disbarment and for denying him access to his file.

If what was transferred (allegedly) is inquiries and complaints against other attorneys filed by my husband with the Committee, the Committee still continued to review inquiries and complaints by me, as demonstrated by a letter of the Committee dated June 25, 2014, two weeks after the confidential order of transfer of June 11, 2014, where the Committee rejects my complaint against an unnamed attorney.

One thing that is readily noticeable in the letter: that the Chairman of the Committee, Michael St. Leger, Esq., is no longer listed on the Committee's letterhead - I wonder whether it was the result of my lawsuit against him that was dismissed by the court which was itself one of the defendants in the same action.  The lawsuit was dismissed by the court before I had the opportunity to even serve the lawsuit,  but I certainly plan to appeal the dismissal.  Appears that Mr. St. Leger resigned from the Committee after the lawsuit.  It is interesting to know the reason of such a resignation...

By the way, since the letter regarding my inquiry does not show the name of the attorney the inquiry was about, nor even an inquiry number, the letter of rejection is useless.  It also shows that there is no real archiving procedure existing in the disciplinary Committee where no indexation of inquiries even exists.   Since no indexation of inquiries exists, there is no way to say which inquiries or complaints were subject to the order of transfer of June 11, 2014.

Moreover, since both Mr. Neroni and I complained against attorneys for the Committee, the rejection letter could just as well mean that the Committee investigated itself and is rejecting the complaint against itself and their own attorneys and attorney members - which the Committee has no right to do, as a due process point, and because such actions would be in violation of the "confidential order" of the court dated June 11, 2014.

So - as to Mr. Neroni - the Committee had no authority to investigate or prosecute any inquiries or complaints against Mr. Neroni after his disbarment,  Mr. Neroni was not served with any new complaints or inquiries against him, and the Committee continued to investigate inquiries made by us after the date of the confidential order of June 11, 2014.

Moreover, in the letter of July 10, 2014 to Mr. Neroni, the Appellate Division indicated that only new and pending inquiries were transferred, but refused to even consider releasing the list of documents transferred to the 4th Department, which raises all kinds of issues whether any documents were transferred at all, and for what reason the application and the order was made - especially that during the time of the application and granting of the ex parte order both the Committee and all of its members and attorneys, and the Appellate Division 3rd Department, and all of its judges, were defendants in my lawsuit to explore their potential (surprise!) ex parte communications through American Inns of Court and similar "quasi-public" or networking organizations.

At the same time, Mr. Neroni was suing the Committee and the court for (surprise!) denying him access to his file.

Well, as to me, the Appellate Division was even more harsh and arrogant.

It stated to me, basically, that I do not know how to read their decisions and said nothing about why the decision was granted ex parte, and said nothing about giving me access to papers upon which the order of transfer was granted.

Should I also mention that James S. Ranous was an individual defendant in the just dismissed (sua sponte, by the court-defendant) federal action about the American Inns of Court?

Now, reading together the above four documents - the confidential Decision and Order of June 11, 2014, the Committee's letter of June 25, 2014, and the court's letter replies to Mr. Neroni dated July 10, 2014 and to me dated July 10, 2014, it appears that the inquiries and complaints that are transferred are not by us against attorneys, but against both of us.

Therefore, it is even more interesting to see the ex parte application of the Committee for the Decision and Order of June 11, 2014, as, in my humble opinion, if the Committee deems itself disqualified to  consider complaints against us, how can the Committee be still deemed impartial in considering complaints against other people, including the Committee's attorneys, by us?  

It is interesting to mention that in May of 2014, shortly before the "confidential order" of June 11, 2014, in a federal civil rights lawsuit where I was an attorney of record for two indigent plaintiffs and not a party, the 3rd Department, through its attorney, asked the court to make me sign a settlement agreeing to dismiss the federal lawsuit with prejudice (without the right to re-file), where such a settlement was negotiated with the 3rd Department's counsel, New York State Attorney General, by an attorney not admitted in federal court, and not an attorney of record in federal court for the plaintiffs, behind my back...

Thus, it was apparent that the 3rd Department, a court prosecuting me for allegedly attorney misconduct, and which disbarred my husband for allegedly attorney misconduct, does not care whether it is engaging itself and engaging its counsel NYS AG and the attorney who was not admitted to the federal bar, in attorney misconduct - as long as the result suited the 3rd Department.

And this appears to be the motivation of the court in its dealings with Mr. Neroni or myself.

On June 20, 2014 I have filed several letters requesting recusal of the Appellate Division 3rd Department from cases where Mr. Neroni or I were parties and where appeals were pending in the Appellate Division 3rd Department.

At the time the letters were sent it was clear that the Appellate Division 3rd Department 

(1) engaged in an ex parte communication in regards to Mr. Neron's and my case - based on confidential order of June 11, 2014; and 

(2) attempted, through federal court, to put malpractice liability upon me and demonstrated that the court does not really care whether it condones and engages attorneys in unethical behavior - based on the court's request to make me settle in a federal case on the basis of negotiations between NYS AG and a non-attorney of record and a non-attorney in federal court.

The 3rd Department arrogantly answered me that I must make a motion of recusal in every single appellate case.

With every motion comes a motion fee of $45.00 and hours of work.

I am already in a disciplinary proceedings specifically for making motions to recuse which a judge (whom I sued) considered improper and sanctioned me, so by directing me to make a motion to recuse, the 3rd Department invited me to fall on my sword - several times, and at our own expense.

So much for fairness, justice and the rule of law in the Appellate Division 3rd Department in New York.

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