"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.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More on credibility of New York Senator John A. Defrancisco - and on his bills that appear to help his own and his son's law business. Should the feds get involved with investigation of yet another New York Senator?

I first wrote about Senator John A. Defrancisco on this blog in August of 2014 and raised the issue that the senator, along with other senators who are practicing attorneys, should be impeached for sponsoring bills and voting on bills that help their law business financially.

I do not presume to believe that Senator Defrancisco should be reading my blogs.

Yet, I do presume that Senator Defrancisco should not be continuing to sponsor bills that benefit his law business financially, and he still does it, while attempting to appear on the white horse and fighting prosecutorial misconduct in New York.

In my previous blogs today I raised issues as to credibility of New York State Senator John A. Defrancisco who was pushing his bill for a "state commission" to deal with prosecutorial misconduct, modeled after the New York State Commission for Judicial Conduct - which, as practically every complainant about judicial misconduct (rampant in New York) knows, tosses meritorious complaints, and New York courts give complainants no recourse to appeal those dismissals, leaving them not only without a remedy, but in the hands of enraged judges who know about the complaints and revenge against the whistle-blowers, with no consequences for that revenge.

What raised red flags as to credibility of Senator Defrancisco for me is, among other things, his claim that the majority of prosecutors in New York were doing their jobs properly.

First, there is no statistics to say that.


  • Senator Defrancisco is not a criminal defense attorney,
  • has left the criminal defense field a long time ago, 
  • has been himself a prosecutor once and is not impartial as to his former brethren, and
  • can receive plenty of statistics if he would simply care to ask currently practicing private independent (not assigned) criminal defense attorneys about incidents of prosecutorial misconduct;
  • Sen. Defrancisco would not be promoting such a bill if prosecutorial misconduct would not be rampant in New York, to the point of large (and usually deferential) media sources such as ProPublica and New York Times turning their eyes in that direction.
I guess, Senator Defrancisco does not care to ask defense attorneys, for he might not like what he would hear back, that prosecutorial misconduct is the rule in the State of New York rather than the exception - or Sen. Defrancisco tries not to ire prosecutors too much, because people who are prosecutors today may become judges tomorrow, and Senator Defrancisco is a practicing licensed attorney whose livelihood may be in the hands of people he is criticizing.  Nothing like a neat little conflict of interest.

Perturbed by Sen. Defrancisco's not-too-forthcoming statements to his electorate, I looked into Senator Defrancisco's background further.  

This is what I found.

New York attorney registration shows Senator Defrancisco as being employed at a Syracuse law firm, Defrancesco:

Yet, the webiste of Defrancisco & Falgiatano law firm does not list Senator Defrancisco as one of its attorneys, but it lists a younger male with the same last name, Jeff D. Defrancisco:

It is a disciplinary violation for an attorney to provide an incorrect registration, so I wonder whether Senator DeFrancisco will be subject to attorney discipline - or his status as a Senator will protect him, the same way it protects prosecutors whose misconduct Senator Defrancisco allegedly wants to address through creating a state commission on prosecutorial misconduct.

Let's note that Jeff D. Defrancisco (as I understand, Senator's son), who, in his 15 years of practicing, 

worked, besides his father's law firm, in the prestigious (and politically connected) law firm Harris Beach LLC that I wrote about on this blog, too, and in the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office.

The Onondaga County DA, according to news reports, is the law school friend and roommate of the Chief Administrative Judge of the 5th Judicial District James Tormey.

Sen. Defrancisco's law firm is located in Syracuse and is doing business there.  I highly doubt that Sen. Defrancisco would want to upset his own law firm's (and his son's) business and his and his son's law licenses and livelihoods by creating a commission that would have a potential to hurt the friend of the chief administrative judge who is in charge of assigning judges to Sen. Defrancisco's and his law firm's court cases.

Or, Sen. Defrancisco would be interested to make that bill as mild as possible to create yet another paper (and toothless) tiger to deflect public anger about misconduct of public officials - but not to hurt his and his son's own business chances and financial well-being.

What further bothered me is comparison of the list of the types of cases handled by Defrancisco & Falgiatano with the list of legislative activities of Senator Defrancisco.

These are the types of cases that the D & F law firm deals with, reportedly winning multi-million dollar lawsuits for their clients:

These are some of the latest bills sponsored by Senator John A. Defrancisco:

When Senator D's law business is, very likely, to oppose insurance companies who do not settle claims of their clients, Senator D has no business sponsoring legislation pertaining to any restrictions upon insurance companies, it is a direct conflict of interest (in my opinion).  The above bill is clearly in favor of Senator D's clients - it is not necessarily a bad thing, the bill in itself, the bad thing is who is sponsoring it, because the bill definitely helps potential client base of the Senator.  I wonder who lobbied the bill.

The bill for enhanced requirements for clinical "peer reviewers" appear to help in Sen. Defrancisco medical malpractice actions, making more strict (and costly for the hospitals) to review actions of their physicians, making it easier for attorneys suing for medical malpractice to attack alleged impropriety of physician's actions, and making hospitals more prone to settlements.  Once again, regardless of whether the bill will or will not be beneficial to the general public, Senator Defrancisco should not have touched this topic with a 10-foot fishing pole, because the Senator himself and his law firm, and its client base, will benefit from the bill, creating an irreconcilable conflict of interest against sponsoring such bills and an appearance of impropriety.

This bill is directly related to Sen. Defrancisco's and his son's law business.  If this bill passes, Senator Defrancisco will be able to create for his own and his son's law business a situation (now prohibited by law) where it can claim a contingent fee.

The bill, of course, sites an allegedly good faith reason for repealing a restriction on contingency fees:

Yet, it is undeniable that Senator D's and his son's law firm will financially benefit - big time - as attorneys specializing in personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits, if the bill passes, and such sponsorship should be prohibited to Senator D.  

The bill talks a lot about ethics and conflicts of interest - but it omits the fact that sponsorship of this bill by Senator Defrancisco is one big conflict of interest and an ethical violation for an attorney.

Legislating to change court rules that make it easier for a law firm to obtain a money judgment in court, should be prohibited to a Senator who is an attorney actively practicing, along with his son, in court, due to irreconcilable conflict of interest.

The bill, once again, directly relates to Senator D's and his son's law business, and such sponsorship should be prohibited to an interested legislator.

So, Senator Defrancisco - if you want to deal with attorney misconduct, including prosecutorial - first clean up your own act as a legislator drumming up legislation for his own and his son's law business.

For shame.

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