"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.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Younger and Rooker-Feldman, meet the Chilling Test (and vice versa)

When the U.S. Supreme Court creates rules by which civil rights litigation must operate (even though the U.S. Supreme Court may not legislate, under Article III of the U.S. Constitution), sometimes (if not always) it creates quite incompatible hybrids.

Yet, the parts of the hybrids are created in separate cases, and thus are not fully visible.

If those hybrids are brought before the attention of federal judges, both trial and appellate, they are quickly dismissed as meritless and frivolous, often with sanctions against the civil rights plaintiffs and their attorneys who brought those challenges, the U.S. Supreme court either denies certiorari, or the civil rights litigants are exhausted, emotionally and financially and do not bring a petition for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court - and the issue of federal courts' incompatible "rules" restricting the civil rights litigation gets buried.

Yet, there remains an issue pertaining to the impossibility of meeting the U.S. Supreme Court's "chilling" test - an add-on requirement for the right of civil rights litigants to bring a challenge for violations of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on the issue of free speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a plaintiff may not bring a 1st Amendment free speech challenge where the plaintiff has not pled the so-called "chilling" effect, in other words, if the plaintiff has not pled that he was chilled or deterred from exercising his or her 1st Amendment rights.

I cannot reasonably discern, for all my legal training and experience as a civil rights attorney, what exactly did the court mean when establishing this "chilling effect" test.

The Civil Rights Act clearly does not require civil rights plaintiffs to exhaust grievances in state courts before bringing a federal civil rights lawsuit, including for violations of the 1st Amendment.

Nevertheless, federal courts regularly dismiss civil rights lawsuits on "Younger abstention" grounds, a judge-created doctrine that claims to restrict jurisdiction of federal court by requiring to first litigate the issue in state court, even if the action was not pending in court at the start of the federal litigation - but was strategically brought in state courts after the federal litigation began.

State courts then studiously avoid constitutional issues, if brought in front of them, at the trial and appellate levels, and it is practically impossible (if the case is not of national importance) to get to the U.S. Supreme Court, if a civil rights plaintiffs "mere" 1st Amendment rights were violated in a single case.

When state courts decide any constitutional issues in litigation which was - or "could have been" - brought before state courts, and usually such constitutional issues are decided without analysis by ignoring the issues or slapping the party and attorney for the party who brought the issues with "frivolous" sanctions for "meritless" litigation, without any analysis or reasoning.

Then, the civil rights plaintiffs tries to go back to the federal court - and meets the double-wall of "no chilling effect" (because the plaintiff cannot plead the chilling effect since he/she already tried to raise the issue somewhere in a state court) and the "Rooker-Feldman" bar, a judicially created bar to federal jurisdiction in civil rights cases where the court is claiming that the state court plaintiff is simply trying to use federal courts as state appellate courts - which is not allowed by statute.

So, between being kicked out of court on a Younger abstention issue if the 1st Amendment issue is brought before it is brought in state court, and the "tradition" of ignoring of constitutional issues by state courts, and then the "Rooker-Feldman" and "no chilling effect" dismissals by the federal district courts, and the "fast track" 3-judge-panel rubber-stamping of whatever the federal district courts say on federal appeals, and the selective blindness of the U.S. Supreme Court to most civil rights petitions for a writ of certiorari - the chilling effect can never be proven by a civil rights plaintiff.

I found one instance though when a federal appellate court found this test invented by the U.S. Supreme Court -  "if you file a lawsuit for violation of your 1st Amendment rights - you prove you could file a lawsuit, therefore you did not have the chilling effect and you cannot then prove the 1st Amendment violation" - as circular logic and - gasp! - refused to follow it in a prisoner civil rights litigation case.

Good for the Ningth circuit.  Bad for the rest of the country where the "chilling test" meet Younger abstention and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is still the court-invented rule.

No comments:

Post a Comment