"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

The whole country of lawyers is paying money to learn the "pet peeves" of judges for an ethics and skills credit - and that is called the rule of law?

Recently, I wrote about a Continued Legal Education (CLE) seminar where I was invited and where, for $359, I was supposed to be given credits for skills and ethics for learning "pet peeves" of judges and exploring judges preferences and whims in the courtroom "without jeopardizing clients' cases".

If one follows declarations of presumption of integrity of the judiciary, there is nothing jeopardizing my clients if I simply walk into the courtroom without knowing the judge personally, without knowing his or her whims, and fully expecting the judge to simply follow and apply the law.

It is interesting to mention that the post about the "pet peeves" of judges has been one of the 10 most read posts on my blogs, which is determined automatically and without my control, simply by the number of views of the posts.

Recently, I referenced that blog and followed the link to the seminar that was offered to me.  The link led me nowhere.

I went to the company which offers those CLE seminars around the country and ordered a word-search as to what the "judges want you to know".   The search returned a staggering 1132 seminars around the country, where attorneys around the country were offered to pay and receive skills and ethics credits for, basically, learning how to brown-nose a judge.

My other major concern was that judges actually participated in the panels, which raised at least the following questions:

  • are judges being paid for participation?
  • If "yes", how much?
  • doesn't it create a conflict of interest for the judges to see that attorneys who attended the seminar paid to learn about their "pet peeves"?
  • Shouldn't the seminar rosters (attorneys attending) be made public, so that other attorneys and litigants may consult those lists and decide whether they want to recuse a certain judge or disqualify a certain attorney because of an appearance of impropriety, because it appears that the attorney paid the judge to learn about his or her "whims" in the courtroom and thus can expect a favorable treatment from the judge?
  • especially in view of budget constraints in the court system, who allowed the judges who attended the seminars to be present there during taxpayer-paid time?
  • how did the judge's absence from the courtroom while the judge was instead present at the seminar affect the judge's calendar and rights of litigants over whose cases the judge presides?
Once again, this problem is pervasive, such seminars are happening around the country.

Remember - attorneys can be admitted to the bar and allowed to practice law only after they learn the law in an ABA-accredited law school, where they take Constitutional law and ethics as mandatory courses, and then must pass rigorous bar exams.

Yet, an attorney will still jeopardize his client's case if he comes to a court room without knowing a particular judge's personality and does not cater for the judge's whims?  Maybe, regulation of the legal profession is then unnecessary because all that is needed is not knowledge of the law, but knowledge of a judge's, available for money through a seminar?

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