"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, April 21, 2015

Body cameras for members of the public entering public places, including courthouses, as a measure of public safety from the government

For me there is no question that public places are unsafe without people being able to videotape what is happening there, to prevent abuse by the government.

During several proceedings I have been a target of clear verbal abuse and harassment by male attorneys.  Those proceedings were held off record (even though in courts that are supposedly courts "of record" which requires record of proceedings to be kept - but it isn't), and it is just my word, a word of an immigrant female attorney, against the well-connected male attorneys and judges and judicial personnel favoring them.

Whenever I asked for copies of videotapes documenting judicial misconduct in a proceeding, such videotapes were never provided to me, either under the guise that such videotapes could only be shown to me when the courthouse was closed (meaning - never), or that the video equipment suddenly became broken on that particular day, while no records of its repairs existed, or that the records were "accidentally" taped over, even though they were not supposed to because I asked for copies of videotapes well within the period of time when the court administration claimed it stored such video records.

I know for a fact that if anything happens to me in the courtroom healthwise (and it already happened), nobody will render me help, there will be no evidence of wrongdoing or failure to give help, and nobody will answer, so if I feel unwell I prefer to have my illness documented and to stay home on an official medical leave.

Yet, what I am describing in how I was harassed or how people refused to give me help when I needed it in the courthouse, or how people refused to give me recordings of judicial misconduct that occurred on the premises of the courthouse (3 times) - that is still very mild, as compared to what happened recently to a female attorney in Philadelphia who was beaten up when 6 court officers were overpowering - unnecessarily - her mentally ill client a criminal defendant.

The result?

The female public defender was hospitalized, the officers are not charged, the officers claimed she "fell" to her own doom while she claims she was pummeled, everything occurred - surprise! - off the range of video surveillance in the courthouse, and the local district attorney - another surprise! - is not charging the court officers for their action.

The court officer who reportedly pummeled the female public defender - yet another surprise! - first refused to be identified and, when the officer was identified, threatened the public defender that he will get to "talk" to her if she keeps digging more.

And yet another "big surprise" is that the pummeled criminal defendant was black, and that he was not given any medical attention - obviously, because giving him medical attention will be the same as documenting his injuries immediately after they were inflicted, something that the "honorable" court employees did not want to do.  And, of course, the victim of court officers' brutality was charged with new crimes (same as they do in prisons in the state of New York - pummel inmates outside of the range of video cameras and then put them in solitary confinement for a couple of YEARS, claiming that it is the inmate who has beaten up the guards and not the other way around).

The public defender is lucky that she was not charged with something - to pack her away to jail and prevent her from documenting her own injuries inflicted by court personnel.

So, ladies and gentlemen, members of the public, you need to be VERY afraid when entering courthouses in this country.

You may be beaten up there, by court employees, to the point requiring hospitalization, and no records will be kept, court personnel will present a wall of silence and of denial, out of fear for their jobs, no video records will be available and it will be your word against many "trained witnesses", court employees who will be presumed credible by the court system.

And - given that court employees are given extended quasi-judicial immunity for their actions - they may be untouchable no matter what they do, and, in the absence of video evidence, you may be out of luck proving that what they did to you did not occur as part of a court proceeding. 

Members of the public are in danger if they are the target of an unlawful arrest, as well as they are filming that unlawful arrest.  While a police officer in South Carolina was charged with murder based on a citizen's cell phone video footage, while police officers in other parts of the U.S. are suspended or fired because of documented video evidence of beating suspects, the reaction of law enforcement is often not to conduct themselves as they are supposed to, but to destroy evidence of their misconduct.

As an example, recently there was a report of a U.S. Marshal who was so disgruntled that a witness videotaped on her cell phone law enforcement brutality during an arrest that he grabbed the witness's cell phone, smashed it on the ground and kicked it.

What do I suggest to start solving the problem of the government getting out of hand and preventing its victims from proving that wrongs were committed against them?

The same as I have been suggesting for a long time.

If a person, a member of the public, enters a "public place", a person must be able to carry on him or her a body camera that provides video-recording of what is going on in that public place, and a law ensuring such a right for body cameras must cover courthouses, too.

So, ladies and gentlemen - let's press our representatives in the legislatures to introduce laws prohibiting any restrictions on video cameras in all public places, including courthouses.

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