"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.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The wealthy, educated and entrenched expressing the viewpoint of the poor consumers of legal services - what a joke!

I am reviewing the backgrounds of the "lay" members in the attorney disciplinary committees in the State of New York.

While the supermajority of members of such committees are attorneys, making it impossible for non-attorneys to carry their voices if they differ from those of attorneys, even then, the "lay" individuals appear to be carefully selected - by the courts - from the wealth and the educated, from that sector of the population that is not hurting from not being able to afford legal services and who has enough funds to simply sue their attorney for malpractice if he or she does something wrong.

It is apparent that the state-sponsored system of protection for consumers exists to protect those consumers who have no funds to do that for themselves, being poor and uneducated.

Yet, the "lay" members are:

  • journalists, including "Ivy-league" educated journalists
  • editors of major TV companies - all obviously not poor people
  • individuals who came from "old wealth" (such as - the father is a prominent OB/GYN, chief of staff of a hospital in LA, the mother owns apartment buildings in LA, the person herself is a media producer, along with her husband);
  • individuals who "serve" on a board of private schools for little privileged tykeks (K-12) where they have two children at a time enrolled, at the price tag of over $44,500 per year per each;
  • financial specialists of different kinds, from CPAs to investment managers to equipment lease manager
Do I need to remind anybody that over 80% of people in New York state cannot afford an attorney and that the Chief Judge of the State of New York called this situation an ongoing crisis?

So how do we solve it?

We put market participants and wealthy and entrenched lay individuals on disciplinary committees to weed out exactly those solo, private, independent, not wealthy attorneys who actually serve the poor, and to keep afloat those who make donations and have a potential to hire these people or their companies to provide their investment or financial advice.

Nothing like just a little a crooked.

Some of the "lay" members of committees are either related to attorneys or connected to prominent law firms through financial ties - and that is only what I can readily find on the Internet, without asking for records.

  • Dr. Hany Ghaleb (3rd Department committee) - married to the former judge and now practicing attorney Jhilil "Jill" Ghaleb;
  • Dr. Richard Maceko (4th Department) - father to the Assistant Energy Counsel Emma Maceko, graduate of the Albany Law School;
  • Miles Bottrill (4th Department) - Director, the Syracuse University College of Law who has a financial interest not to vote in a way that may affect generous donations of prominent law firms to his law school, so Mr. Bottrill has a financial interest not to ever vote to discipline attorneys of donors, no matter what they do 
  • Louis J. Cercone, Jr. (4th Department) - Managing Director of Brisbane Consulting Group in charge of Business Valuations, Forensic Accounting, and Litigation Support Services who will lose patronage from large litigation firms if he affects their ratings and attractiveness to clients and the judiciary if he disciplines the firm or any attorney from the firm that hired him in the past or may hire him in the future, and the usual clients of such support companies are large and rich law firms, not the solo attorneys who are usually disciplined by such committees.

I am sure that for other "lay" individuals connections with the legal industry can also be found after some digging, the system usually insures herself so that no "rogue" people come on these committees to upset the apple cart for the prominent attorneys and their law firms.

So, not only the attorney-lay person ratio is slanted several times towards the market participants and against the consumers, but the voice of the real consumer is further stifled because NO consumers, NOT one low-to-middle-consumer of legal services, not one person (I am positive) with a criminal record, not one person who lost custody of a child or who is in arrears for child support and is in desperate need of affordable legal services is among the lay members.

This way, the "prominent" attorney members of the disciplinary committees have no problem eliminating competition of the solo attorneys who actually provide legal services at an affordable price to the under-served rural population and actually are accessible to their clients to talk to them at any time of day or night.

As Judge Lippman told his buddy Sheldon Silver at the time he was put on top of this pyramid of corruption - "not too shabby".

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