"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, October 7, 2014

American lawyers lack protection that European lawyers have for statements on behalf of their clients

I have written in this blog that I have a disciplinary proceeding pending against me for sanctions imposed upon me by a judge who I sued before he started to impose the sanctions.

All sanctions were imposed for my statements on behalf of clients.

Today I've read the "Summary of International Standards Concerning Attorney Disbarment" by the American Bar Association which cites to the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to cases of the European Court of Human Rights.

In particular, what caught my attention is footnote 5 on page 2 of the "Summary" where the ABA cites to a case Steur v. Netherlands, where an attorney was disciplined for questioning good faith of an investigative officer where the attorney's client was charged with social security fraud.

The attorney was disciplined for "impugning the character" of the officer, and his appeal was dismissed.

The European Court of Human Rights held that punishing the attorney for statements on behalf of his client was a clear violation of attorney's right to freedom of expression, and was wrong because it could have chilled expression during advocacy, inflict harm on the legal profession and can lead to denial of a fair trial to the clients.

In this country, attorneys do not even have a right to be heard on any level higher than (in New York) the level of the appellate court.  Attorneys in the U.S. are not given the right to appeal any further, are not given the right to remove their case in federal court, unless they can claim RACIAL discrimination (as my case showed).

In Netherlands, the attorney was provided two more layers of review AS OF RIGHT - right to an appeal, and right to contest the finding of discipline in the European Court of human rights.

In this country which attempts to proclaim itself as "the leader of the free world", elementary rights afforded to attorneys in Europe, are not given to American lawyers targeted for their advocacy for their clients.

When attorneys are punished, whether through sanctions, arbitrarily imposed fees for "frivolous conduct" or attorney discipline, for advocacy for clients (and especially where criticism of the judiciary is part of such advocacy), the public which is already grossly underrepresented in court (less than 20% of litigants can afford legal representation in the U.S.) loses honest advocates who are courageous enough to step on toes of public officials who violate clients' civil rights.

The American Bar Association referenced in the "Summary" I mentioned above the opinion of the United Nations Organization that "if attorneys are unable to vigorously defend their clients for fear of disbarment, they will be unable to provide the legal services required to ensure meaningful access to counsel".

In view of what has happened and is continuing to happen to me based exclusively on the contents of my advocacy on behalf of my clients, and in view of the fact that multiple attorneys have been suspended or disbarred in the U.S. and are continued to be disciplined in a variety of ways, including suspension or disbarment, there is no way to obtain independent legal counsel in the U.S., as any and all American lawyers would be afraid of a disciplinary action based on the essence of their advocacy and will not raise sensitive issues on behalf of clients for fear of attorney discipline or financial sanctions.

Such punishment is clearly against the public's best interest, and until the public starts paying attention to punishment imposed on attorneys for the contents of their statements in court on behalf of their clients, access to justice in the U.S. will remain as abysmal or non-existing as it is now.

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