"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, August 14, 2014

Assigned counsel for the rich - revisited yet again

I described in this blog how a powerful attorney Mr. Gleason, from a powerful law firm Hinman, Howard and Kattel of Binghamton, New York, applied to federal court asking for attorney's fees for hours of negotiations with the New York State Attorney General in order to secure free legal representation by the NYS AG for a wife of a high-ranking judge who was not entitled to such a legal representation because she was sued for her actions as a private attorney.

I also wrote that Mr. Gleason was successful in securing the assigned free counsel for the wife of high-ranking administrative judge, Ellen Coccoma and Eugene Peckham, the retired judge who was sued in his individual capacity for his actions as a private attorney after his retirement.

Mr. Gleason's advocacy for Ellen Coccoma and Eugene Peckham could not be attributed to his work for his clients in the federal lawsuit in question at all, because Ellen Coccoma and Eugene Peckham were not his clients in that lawsuit.

I also wrote that I made a Freedom of Information Request to the New York State Attorney General's Office requesting copies of the e-mails that Mr. Gleason asked the court to have my husband, a pro se Plaintiff in litigation against Ellen Coccoma and Eugene Peckham, to pay for (which the judge, Gary L. Sharpe, who has his own history of disqualification, misconduct and grudges against Mr. Neroni, granted in full, without regard to the screaming and shameless illegality of such a request).

Judge Sharpe's misconduct pertaining to my husband is described in my blog here, here, here and here.

Judge Sharpe also sanctioned me after I made an inquiry whether his son works for the New York State Attorney Generals Office (he does), and the court where he is the Chief Judge dismissed my federal lawsuit against itself and against Judge Sharpe individually, before the lawsuit was even served. 

Think about it - a defendant agency in a civil case is presiding over that case and dismissing it against itself and its officers whose misconduct is alleged in the lawsuit.  

I bet, many defendants who are on the receiving end of a foreclosure, eviction, consumer credit, family court or criminal proceedings would want that kind of power.  To dismiss a lawsuit against yourself, before it was served, and to block discovery and, possibly, the jury trial that may reveal your misconduct- isn't that sweet?

Back to my FOIL about the e-mails - yesterday I received a response to my FOIL request from the NYS Attorney General's Office.

As you can see from the letter of the NYS AG's office, it was a complete denial of my FOIL request on the following grounds:

(1) that the sought e-mail were "attorney work product".  They were not, because Mr. Gleason had no business working for Ellen Coccoma or Eugene Peckham in that federal lawsuit where Ellen Coccoma and Eugene Peckham were not his clients (the e-mails were to secure a free representation by NYS AG for non-clients, both politically connected attorneys, one being a spouse of a high-ranking judge, the other - a retired judge himself);

(2) that the sought e-mails were covered by the "attorney-client privilege".  They were not, because, once again, Mr. Gleason was advocating for Ellen Coccoma or Eugene Peckham who were not his clients.

(3) that the sought e-mails were covered by the "intra-agency exemption", which is, in other words, a claim that the e-mails I was seeking was generated inside the NYS AG office, for its own purposes.  That was clearly not true because the e-mails were generated or reviewed by Mr. Gleason who claimed throughout the litigation that he is a law partner for a private law firm Hinman, Howard and Kattel, LLP out of Binghamton, NY and not for the New York State Attorney General's office.

An interesting question arises since NYS AG is part of the executive branch of the government, which may be covered by Governor Cuomo's recently revealed "policy" directing employees of the executive branch of the New York State to destroy their e-mails - and, obviously, with them, any evidence of any possible misconduct that a nosy journalist or a member of the public, through a Freedom of Information request, would seek to discover and expose.

Or, does the claimed fighter of fraud in the government NYS Attorney General Mr. Schneiderman have a similar policy of its own - to destroy or stall access to emails of public concern?

By the way, how can Mr. Schneiderman now, on the one hand, be a designated counsel for Mr. Cuomo in good faith in all lawsuits filed against Mr. Cuomo by civil rights plaintiffs - and, at the same time, to handle any kind of investigation against possible impropriety and tampering with potential evidence of misconduct by Mr. Cuomo.

How can Mr. Schneiderman combine these two tasks that are mutually exclusive for any attorney under existing Professional Conduct Rules, at a time where Mr. Cuomo introduced a "policy" to delete e-mails specifically at the time when the Commission on governmental ethics (the Moreland Commission) was:

(1) disbanded by Mr. Cuomo after it started to target him and his friends and close associates and confidantes in their investigations and 

(2) when the feds announced that they will look into Mr. Cuomo's and his office's behavior in regards to the Moreland Commission and even issued a subpoena to an employee of Mr. Cuomo?

Of course, no subpoenas can reach what was deleted, it is a time-honored foolproof solution against exposure - burn the compromising records (oops, press the "Delete" button).

Yet, since Mr. Cuomo knows that deleting e-mails by employees may not delete such e-mails from the cache of the computer - or the cloud drive, while his office switched to Office 365 - apparently, deleting the e-mails in accordance with Mr. Cuomo's policy is not a mere act of pressing the "delete" button, but may be a matter implicating the use of an army of computer specialists (at taxpayers' expense) to continuously cleanse public computers of public records - something the feds must definitely look into.

Against this background, is the New York State Attorney General Mr. Schneiderman who represents Mr. Cuomo in federal lawsuits instead of investigating him for misconduct part of the problem with fraud in New York State government rather than a solution to it, as he claimed to the voters during his election campaign?

And did Mr. Schneiderman also devise a policy to delete any evidence of misconduct of his own office, including negotiations about taxpayer-backed free representation of Ellen Coccoma and Eugene Peckham when Ellen Coccoma was turned down by her own insurance carrier and when, apparently, both Ellen Coccoma and Eugene Peckham, both attorneys and officers of the court sworn to protect and uphold the U.S. and New York State laws and Constitutions, did not want to pay an attorney out of their own pockets or represent themselves, as every other litigant does?

At this time, the question remains - do those e-mails that I was seeking, reflecting Mr. Gleason's advocacy for the two connected-to-state-judiciary non-clients to obtain taxpayer-paid free legal representation for their misconduct as private attorneys even continue to exist?  

Did they ever exist?  Due to this policy, will attorneys now be allowed to charge legal fees for treading air, as long as they claim e-mail exchange with the NYS AG's office, for something that is not ascertainable whether it existed in the first place?

I continue to believe that the issue as to the content of the e-mails by which a powerful and politically connected powerful attorney brokered taxpayer-backed free legal representation for a wife of a high-ranking judge and for a retired judge who were not his clients, and brokered that with a governmental official, is an issue of public concern.

Freedom of Information Law in New York has a presumption of disclosure for public records.

It is my firm belief that e-mail exchanges between a government official and a powerful politically connected attorney in order to secure free legal representation for a wife of a high-ranking judge and a retired judge, in a situation where neither Ms. Coccoma or Mr. Peckham were entitled to such representation, because they were sued for their private conduct, may be evidence of corruption in the government, are not covered by any privileges and must be shown to the public pursuant to a FOIL request.

Of course, I will file an administrative appeal of the denial of the FOIL request.

But - a rhetorical question nevertheless - does the New York State Attorney General have no shame?

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