In New York, judges have to file semiannual (every half a year) financial reports.
Every time I tried to get those reports I was (1) stalled by the New York State Court Administration, (2) sanctioned or badmouthed in court proceedings by the very judges whose reports I was seeking.
What the New York State does NOT have - and should - is the requirement that all government officials file financial reports, readily available for public review, and not only of their own finances, but of finances of their significant others - being that spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends, or partners of either gender, and their relatives related to them to the 6th degree of consanguinity and affinity.
I am not asking for much, actually.
New York rules of disqualification of jurors as fact-finders already allow disqualification based on consanguinity or affinity to the 6th degree.
Rules of affinity actually need to be changed based on the changed concept of a family in New York and in the United States, where marriage is no longer a requirement for a family to be formed, exist and include ties with the extended family on both sides as strong as if the couple is married.
I am the witness of this process as an attorney representing both married and unmarried parents in Family courts in cases of custody of children, where there is no difference in vigor, sometimes vehemence, and strength of family ties with the child is demonstrated by the members of extended family without any relevance to whether the parents of the child are married or not.
Public must be able to know potential conflicts of interest of their public officials, and especially judges.
At this time, the public is stalled (as I was) in obtaining financial information from the New York State Court administration regarding judge's semi-annual financial disclosures.
At this time, the public is prevented and chilled by the increasing trend of sanctions against civil rights victims/plaintiffs in civil rights actions brought against judges and prosecutors from conducting discovery of that misconduct, from being able to call judges and prosecutors to depositions and having an ability, as litigants, to ask them questions that have to be answered under oath and subject them to scrutiny of jurors (and not fellow judges) as fact-finders.
It has been in the news that judges react by pressing charges (sometimes by abusing their power) against members of the public who came to the judge's home address to talk to the judge and address their concerns.
Relying on the decoy system of judicial and prosecutorial discipline is, of course, a joke, and the public knows it is a joke - where attorney disciplinary committees are never pursuing prosecutors for misconduct, no matter how bad and where and committees for judicial conduct, populated predominantly by judges and by attorneys whose licenses and livelihoods are in the hands of judges, thus creating irreconcilable conflicts of interest from the very beginning.
The only way the public will be able to know about judge's behind-the-scenes deals is simple enough:
- push the state legislators - or push for an amendment to the state Constitutions, if legislators (dominated by the legal profession that is dependent for its livelihood on being on good terms with the judiciary) are unwilling to make necessary changes, to introduce a degree of transparency necessary for the public, the sovereign at both state and federal level, to conduct its own investigations: