"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, November 6, 2014

When victims of police torture are denied a legal remedy and their torturer is paid a pension at their expense as taxpayers - that's the ugly, but true face of access to justice in the U.S.

The highest court of the state of Illinois decided that the former cop who has brutally tortured suspects to get confessions out of them, can keep his state-paid pension of $4,000.00 a month.

At that same time, court-created statutes of limitations, even for constitutional violations, which abound here, prevent victims of the torture from obtaining any compensation.

This case, of all cases, shows why there should not be statutes of limitations on torture and statutes of limitations for victims of torture to sue their torturers. 

Let me ask you - why the German Nazi criminals are tracked down and put through trials for their crimes, without any statutes of limitations, while a torturer like this walks free, and his victims are denied compensation? 

There is no statute of limitations written into the federal Civil Rights Act, it is a judicial creation to prevent the court dockets from being overwhelmed with civil rights claims. 

Yet, victims of torture must have a remedy at all times, especially because they were prevented from suing their torturers by the same government which is now paying pension to Mr. Burge. Let's not pretend naivete by saying that they could sue within the 3-year judicially-established statute of limitations even when they were behind bars. 

Federal courts claiming that everybody is equal under the law treat prisoners and their lawsuits like garbage. 

Moreover, filing a lawsuit against a police officer while you are still in prison can invite more brutality against you, now by corrections officers who will beat you up outside of reach of video cameras and then use your own bruises against you claiming that it was you who assaulted police officers and not vice versa. 

People only end up injured, possibly dead, or at the very least in a solitary confinement for a very long time or with more falsified charges, now for assault of police officers, if you try to sue public officials from within prisons. 

With just 5% of the world's population, the U.S. has 25% of prison population, and the prison population only keeps growing, thus only aggravating the problem with access to justice.

Corrections officers' brutality in American prisons is rampant and not even nearly addressed the way it should be. 

Instead of addressing the issue of torture, both before and after conviction, the U.S. Government enacted long ago the so-called "Prisoners Litigation Reform Act", introducing a pre-condition that a prisoner must first exhaust administrative remedies in the prison before being able to sue for brutality or other unconstitutional prison conditions in federal court.  The "statute of limitations" imposed by that condition precedent is a whopping 15 DAYS!!!

In other words, if a prisoner does not officially complain about police brutality within 15 days of the occurrence - while the prisoner is still within the prison and his health and life is in the hands of the very same people who he is complaining about - the prisoner will not be allowed by federal courts and the U.S. Congress to address the issue of torture at all. 

That is "the law" in the U.S.

And that law and the law that was just created by allowing the torturer to keep his taxpayer-backed pension while his victims cannot obtain any compensation from him directly or from the state who hired and empowered him should be taken off the books as a shame of this nation.

Let's put it this way - Mr. Burge is now the face of the level of access to justice in the U.S. 

The ugly face, but the true face.

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