"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.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A week after I filed a complaint and blogged about incompetency judges of justice courts who are not attorneys, the Sixth Judicial District in Binghamton NY started to react - somewhat?

On April 15, 2015 I have filed a complaint with the New York State Commission of Judicial Conduct against the "acting" judge of the Greene Village Court Alta R. Martin raising the issue that her lack of known formal training and lack of legal training present a competency problem of constitutional dimension where my client, a defendant in a criminal case, is concerned.

I also reported the fact that I made the complaint and the summary of its contents on my blog.

On April 22, 2015 a local newspaper, The Walton Reporter reported that, according to Walton Village attorney David Mertzig who consulted, as I understand, with the Chief Administrator of the Sixth Judicial District in New York (in Binghamton), "because there are no judge training classes currently being offered in the district, an appointee to the position must have judicial and legal experience".

Of course, that was a reaction to my complaint to the Commission of Judicial Conduct, and especially a reaction to my motion to recuse and disqualify a judge that was made on constitutional grounds in a criminal case and that may be appealed directly to the New York State Court of Appeals (if denied).

The concern, I understand, is that the motion may set the law for the entire State of New York, and possibly, finally toppling the perversion of justice happening in justice courts where people with no formal education decide the fate of criminal defendants, sending them to jail for, in case of consecutive sentences, many years.

In anticipation of the outcome, "there are no judge training classes currently being offered in the district" and "an appointee to the [judicial] position must have judicial and legal experience".

The question then remains - what does it mean, "judicial and legal EXPERIENCE"?

A judge in a County Court (an argument that was part of my motion to disqualify a judge in the justice court, on equal protection and due process grounds) must have, as a pre-requisite of even being considered for that position, have the following experience, education and training:

1) Graduation from high school - 13 years, K-12;
2) Graduation from a 4 year college with at least 45 credit hours in liberal arts;
3) A good rate on the Law School Admission Test;
4) Graduation from an American Bar Association-accredited 3-year law school;
5) passing the multi-state professional responsibility test;
6) passing the 2-day 12-hour (total) New York State bar examination testing knowledge of state and federal law and performance skills in reading, analysis and drafting legal documents;
7) passing the character and fitness commission of the Board of Regents;
8) obtaining and maintaining a license to practice law;
9) have 10 years of experience as a lawyer.

ALL of those requirements - ALL OF THEM - are scrapped for judges of justice courts.  When you appear in front of a judge of a justice court, they do not have ANY required formal education.

The shortest time in prison that a County Judge can convict to, on a lowest level felony (E-felony) is 1 1/3 years.

That is a judge who has fulfilled the education, experience and training requirement in points 1) through 9) above.

A judge in the justice court who has authority to sentence people to up to 1 year in jail, and more than 1 year if there are several charges running consecutively, does not have to comply with ANY of those requirements in 1) through 9) and instead now has to have a vague "judicial and legal 'experience'" to be appointed - not elected - to the bench of a village court?

Why the difference in educational and training requirements then?


Because an emergency election, conducted in accordance with existing laws, may provide a judge without a formal education who will immediately be challenged for incompetency?

Maybe, there is time to scrap village courts altogether if benches there cannot be populated with judges who know what they are doing when they lock people up?

And - a one million dollar question - if a judge without ANY formal education may preside over criminal trials that have a potential to deprive a criminal defendant of his or her liberty for years and, let's say, in the case of sex offenders, impose a lifelong deprivation of civil rights, why do we need attorney licensing and requirements to such licensing at all?

If a person without even a kindergarten education can preside over a criminal trial, a person with similar education must be able to represent people in court.

There is simply no rational explanation as to why a person representing people in court must have higher educational requirements than a judge presiding over the case.

The writing on the wall for the legal profession, the way it exists now, becomes clearer and clearer, doesn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment