"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 28, 2015

What is judicial misconduct in Philadelphia is business as usual in New York

According to the media reports, disciplinary filings were just made against two judges in Philadelphia who fixed a case for the son of a judge.

Here, sons of judges rock to the point that no law applies to whatever they are doing.

I wrote on this blog about shenanigans of son of a judge Richard Harlem, about misconduct of a son of a judge Michael Getman.

Son of a judge Richard Harlem, landlord to NY Senator James Seward and client to the law firm employing NY Senator Neil Breslin, does not have to know the law or know how to present law, facts, evidence or even to be truthful in his submissions.  He will still win and nobody will dare to punish him.

Richard Harlem and is (now late) father Robert Harlem were caught by the New York State Attorney General in a scheme to defraud the Surrogate's Court and conceal Robert Harlem's role in practicing law while being a sitting Supreme Court justice, involving his son (an attorney), his court secretary and his court law clerk in signing the will and codicils as witnesses, and where Robert Harlem bequeathed to himself (another ethical no-no) hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of assets, plus made himself a paid third co-executor and made the trust where he was a salaried trustee, recipient of the residual estate counting in the millions of dollars.

Son of a judge Michael Getman was never disciplined for his misconduct pertaining to a charity where the New York State Attorney General got to the point of filing a case against him and his father - and both escaped with a slap on the wrist and no criminal, civil or disciplinary liability.

No judges so far were disciplined for fixing the case for Richard and Robert Harlems, a case (read my blog post the Mokay saga) which, had the law been applied, would have been dismissed 8 years ago with sanctions against attorneys who brought it.

Once again, what is a disciplinary violation in PA, is business as usual in NY.

In PA, judges who fix cases for sons of judges through back room dealings, are in hot water.

In NY, three (!) judges were caught in ex parte communications with Richard Harlem and his hired attorneys, ALL THREE retaliated by sanctions and imposition of attorney fees against attorney and her husband who confronted them about the ex parte communications - and the Judicial Conduct Commission has not filed disciplinary charges against ANY of these three judges:

  • Carl F. Becker;
  • Ferris Lebous;
  • Kevin Dowd
That is, as much as I know about ex parte communications because they were part of billing records provided to me by Richard Harlem and his attorney David Cabaniss of Hiscock & Barclay.

One can only guess how much ex parte communication could have been going on without those ex partes reflected in the billing.

Yet, the trend appears to emerge that judges do not have such an easy way out anymore when they commit misconduct - not in small part because of public outcry and growing public awareness of the issue and pervasiveness of judicial misconduct in the American justice system on the state and federal levels.

So - will we soon see disciplinary charges filed against Carl F. Becker?  I doubt it because he is resigning as of July 31, 2015, even though anything is possible, because the New York State Judicial Conduct Commission did go recently after a former judge, Bryan Hedges, AFTER his resignation from the bench and did discipline him, precluding him from holding any judicial office ever again.

Against Ferris Lebous and Kevin Dowd?  Future will show.

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