"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, April 27, 2015

What is in common between the State of Nebraska and Tatiana Neroni, or kings of the bench begging to be dethroned

It appears that the common denominator is that both the State of Nebraska and Tatiana Neroni were punished by judges for investigating the judge's backgrounds while appearing before those judges in litigation.

On August 26, 2015 a senior-status federal judge Richard George Kopf of the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, who describes  himself in his blog as "Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska
Nominated by George H.W. Bush on April 7, 1992, to a seat vacated by Warren K. Urbom. Confirmed by the Senate on May 21, 1992, and received commission on May 26, 1992. Served as chief judge, 1999-2004. Assumed senior status on December 1, 2011".

It is not clear why Judge Kopf who assumed his senior status only in 2011, lost his chief judgeship in in 2005, but I suspect that it may have happened because of his "wildly unpopular decision" in 2002, after 4 years of litigation (I checked on where the judge retaliated against a whole state forcing it to accept nuclear waste because a reporter from the state dared to make a legal request for the judge's financial disclosure reports from the court administration.  Usually chief judges, once appointed, continue until the end of days.

Yet, only in 2015 Judge Kopf decided to announce to the public, through his blog, the circumstances of how he awarded against the State of Nebraska a 151 million dollar judgment.

In a blog that Judge Kopf named "Ralph Waldo Emerson: When you strike at a king you must kill him" the judge gives insights as to what may have lead him to make that "wildly unpopular" decision.  The judge even provides a citation to the decision, which I will reproduce here - Entergy Arkansas Nebraska v. Nebraska, 226 F.Supp.2d 1047 (D. Neb. 2002), aff’d 358 F.3d 528 (2004).

This is what happened during litigation in the case cited by Judge Kopf, in Judge Kopf's own words:


Since Judge Kopf is still obviously reeling in 2015 from the fact that in 2004 or earlier "some one /sic/ closely related to Nebraska" dared to ask for the judge's financial disclosure reports (pursuant to a legal right established by statute, Freedom of Information Act), and the judge expressed his displeasure in a blog quoting, as a headline, a phrase "When you strike at a king you must kill him", it is obvious that there is an appearance that Judge Kopf may have awarded his "wildly unpopular" decision against the State of Nebraska in retaliation for the reporter asking Judge Kopf's financial disclosure reports.

Look how Judge Kopf assesses an attempt to even obtain financial disclosure reports about a judge or investigate the background of the judge or the judge's relatives, which is a matter of public concern and is not illegal:

And look what triggered the judge's "old wound" to write about the 10-year-old case:

The judge who was obviously irate because somebody dared to request his financial disclosures - even though he pretends to be neutral and magnanimous and claims that he kept that same report at his clerk's office and allowed it to be disclosed without reporting to the judge who asked for it (right!) - has the audacity not to step off the case because he became irate when he learnt that the reporter from the "organ of the state government" requested the judge's financial disclosure reports, but to "give advice" to litigants:

(1) that if the litigants "strike against the king" they "must kill him" - meaning that Judge Kopf 
     (a) considers himself the king, 
     (b) issues a direct threat to the litigants, that if litigants "strike, but do not kill" "the king", they will be - what? - killed themselves, as Judge Kopf did in the nuclear waste dump case?
     (c) perceived a simple - and perfectly legal - request for information about him which was not part of litigation as a personal attempt to strike against him, which perception would clearly have required his recusal from the case, 
      (d) since the perceived "strike" was not successful, the judge perceived what he thought was an attempt at a strike (requesting the judge's financial disclosure reports) as "slimy and ham-handed", and

as an obvious resulting retaliation from "the king", the judge slammed the State of Nebraska with a 151 million dollar lawsuit.  I wonder what happened after that with the reporter.

I do not know why the State of Nebraska did not (1) require a jury trial and allowed Judge Kopf to proceed to a bench trial where he made his own "findings of fact" against the State of Nebraska, nor did the State of Neraska (2) move to recuse the judge immediately after he notified the litigants that he is aware that a reporter from the Nebraska public television asked for his financial disclosure, because it was completely unrelated to litigation.  I checked the case out on, a motion to recuse or demand for a jury trial were not made, which, in my opinion, was a disservice to Nebraska taxpayers.

I do not know whether the State of Nebraska will dare to challenge the judgment now, after 10 years, based on the judge's yesterday's blog, but I did report what judge Kopf said on Facebook, with a link to the judge's blog, and tagged the Nebraska Attorney General to read the post.

And I am sure that the judge will not be disciplined for his behavior because the policy of federal courts is not to even accept complaints about judge's behavior during litigation (while at the same time giving judges absolute immunity for malicious and corrupt acts committed during litigation).

And, I am sure that federal prosecutors who regularly appear in front of that judge and that court, will not dare to touch him with a criminal investigation either.  That's why the judge feels safe to expound himself in the blog.

Yet, I do intend to inform through this blog post taxpayers of the State of Nebraska who may want to apply pressure to their State Attorney General to move to vacate the judgment that was paid out of their collective pockets.

As compared to Judge Kopf monumental retaliation against the people of the entire state for something legal that a TV reporter of that state did (and which is presumed by law to be done in public interest), my case involving retaliation for the very same act appears to be small.

In 2011 Delaware County Family Court judge Carl F. Becker (the anti-hero of my most popular blog post) punished me, my client (and, apparently, her child since Judge Becker denied my client perfectly legal and meritorious request to restore her custody of a minor child) for filing a Freedom of Information Request with the New York Court administration , same as in Judge Kopf's case, for the financial disclosure reports that judges in New York must file semi-annually with the court administration.

Judge Becker was so irate that he issued against both me and my client a sua sponte Order to Show cause demanding me to answer why I and my client should not be punished for frivolous conduct.

In that Order to Show Cause he mentioned that he considers it inappropriate when an attorney "investigates a judge while frequently appearing in front of him".

When I pointed it out in opposition that New York law considers Freedom of Information Requests as presumed to be in the public interest, Judge Becker issued a decision where he:

(1) agreed with me on that point; but

(2) punished me and my client anyway by granting his own Order to Show Cause in its entirety, meaning to include the punishment for the FOIL investigation anyway.

Of course, the sanction was also issued 3 days after my client and I sued the judge, based on his actions ON and OFF the bench (what we learnt as a result of the necessary background investigation, because Judge Becker did not disclose his conflicts of interest).

Of course, both in state and in federal courts, lawsuits against Judge Becker were dismissed on "jurisdictional" grounds, because of absolute judicial immunity that is supposed to cover only acts ON the bench, but not OFF the bench.

Of course, in 2013 we discovered that Judge Becker failed to disclose a conflict of interest that arose before he even ascended to the bench in 2002, yet, the federal court rejected that claim.

Of course the judge assigned to Judge Becker's case in the state court, Judge Tormey, failed to disclose his own conflict of interest, that the New York State Attorney General representing Judge Becker was Judge Tormey's own judge in a federal case against Judge Tormey personally that lasted 4.5 years, for retaliation against an employee, and concluded just a month before Judge Tormey was assigned to Judge Becker's case with a $600 000.00 settlement that somehow New York taxpayers had to pay for Judge Tormey's misbehavior that had nothing to do with his judicial duties.

Of course, Judge Tormey also engaged in an ex parte communication with Judge Becker's attorney and, possibly, with Judge Becker himself since Judge Becker was on the 2nd floor of the Delaware County courthouse when the motion was argued, and, on conclusion of the argument, I and my client left the floor, as is required by policies in that courthouse, and Judge Becker's counsel remained on the floor for another 40 minutes.

Of course, evidence of which the New York State court administration refused to give to me claiming that video tapes of what occurred in the courthouse that day are unavailable because the videotaping equipment allegedly broke (while no documents pertaining to payment for repairs of the same equipment were provided to me on a separate FOIL request).

Once again, what my client suffered, what I suffered and continue to be suffering from Judge Becker's retaliation (because Judge Becker's retaliative sanctions imposed after we sued him and after we investigated him under Freedom of Information Law are currently used as the only grounds in a disciplinary proceedings against me) is not comparable with what people of the State of Nebraska have been suffering when Judge Kopf forced their state to pay 151 million dollars and accept nuclear waste from other states on their territory.

Yet, Judge Kopf's beliefs are the same as Judge Becker's - that it is inappropriate for anyone who is appearing before a judge to legitimately ask for copies of the judge's financial disclosures.  It is "a strike against the king", it is slimy and ham-handed, and, if the strike does not kill the king, the king will kill the striker.

And kings like that should be taken off the bench to prevent further abuse of power and harm to the very people such "kings" are supposed to be serving.

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