"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.

Monday, January 26, 2015

When former or current public officials are hired by law firms "to increase the firm's prestige and perceived power", hide from disgrace or - possibly - run from a political fallout...

New York Post, in its yesterday's article about Sheldon Silver's law firm Weitz & Luxenberg writes about the separate calendars in court marked "Weitz" and "Non-Weitz", the "Weitz" calendars moving faster than the "Non-Weitz" calendars, according to long-complaining lawyers.

The article also writes about a separate section of the courthouse dedicated for servicing the "Weitz" business.

Most notoriously, the article quotes statements by "Weitz & Luxenberg" to Silver's investigators, that they hired Silver - who knows nothing about asbestors investigation which is the law firm's specialty because they "hoped 'to increase the firm's prestige and perceived power'".

Unfortunately, Weitz & Luxenberg is not the only law firm who does this "celebrity-for-hire" trick, hiring or joining as partners or as "of counsel" public officials who are licensed attorneys, not so much for actual work, but "to increase the firm's prestige and perceived power".

I recently analyzed on this blog such firms as 

They all appear to have an inordinate number of former court personnel, former judges, former prosecutors, present Senators, and present and former other public officials, including present hearing officers in the NYS Judicial Conduct Commission.  

To me as a citizen, taxpayer, attorney and litigant, this "symbiosis" raises all kinds of red flags as to appearances of impropriety and potential to influence courts and steal honest services of judges.

I started following one more law firm which I got interested in because it allegedly employed Steven D. Zayas, former disciplinary prosecutor whom I am suing for fraud and fraud upon the court and who left the Appellate Division 3rd Department in 2013 "amid investigation into filing false time sheets".

Steven D. Zayas's official attorney registration indicates, as of today, that he is employed by the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP. 

The website of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP, however, does not show as of today an attorney Steven D. Zayas in its "Z" section of attorney listing:

At this time, I do not know what is the reason for such a discrepancy.

Yet, what is exceedingly peculiar is that the same law firm that gave shelter to the disgraced former prosecutor Steven D. Zayas, also embraced, as of last week, January 12, 2015,  3 prosecutors right out of Preet Bharara's office (U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York), the office currently prosecuting Sheldon Silver for corruption.

The names of these former prosecutors are:

  1. Matthew L. Schwartz;
  2. Peter M. Skinner;
  3. John T. Zach

Does it mean that prosecutors out of U.S. Attorney's office in SDNY were afraid of fallout in view of the impending arrest and charges against Sheldon Silver and ran for cover? 

Interesting timing to leave this particular office, especially in droves.

I will continue to analyze this law firm and will report results later.

Stay tuned.

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