"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, May 17, 2015

A suggestion to start undoing immunities of all kinds

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:

  1. 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:
A. prohibit restrictions on the use of videotaping of court proceedings by private citizens without the necessity to seek permission or give advance notice for doing such videotaping, in other words, permit spontaneous and surreptitious videotaping of open court proceedings by court observers.

B. Mandate judges who discharge functions of fact-finders (and all judges do, especially judges in administrative proceedings, special proceedings and proceedings in Family Court and at criminal pre-trial hearings) to file and make readily available to the public not only their own financial reports, but reports of their family members to the 6th degree of consanguinity and affinity, affinity understood broadly to mean the actual committed relationships and not only marital relationships.

Then, it will be easier for the public to oversee what now has become a monster of corruption, including judicial corruption, a monster that is protecting its existence through its mostly usurped power and through its secrecy and by creating bars for the public from accessing information.

I predict claims of violation of privacy by judges and other public officials.

I have a very simple response to those claims:  if you want to preserve your privacy, and that of your family, do not run for a public office.  Once you did, you and your finances are in the public domain, and must be disclosed to people who allowed you to rule them.  It is the condition of giving you that consent to rule.  If you do not want to satisfy that condition - do not opt for the job (a well-paying job, paying times more than the average income in this country, a job with a lot of power and a lot of benefits).

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