"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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

NYS Court Administration: do not FOIL for what we do not want to show you

I received a cranky response from the Executive Director of the New York State Court Administration to my administrative appeal of constructive denial of the FOIL request pertaining to the records showing appointments of attorneys to attorney disciplinary committees, names of attorneys on those committeys in the Appellate Division 2nd Department and all supporting documentation for such appointments.

Here it is in its entirety.


The response, in short, is like this:

1) NYS Court Administration already gave you information as to points 1 & 2 - true, but only partially;

2) NYS Court administration does not maintain records as to items

  • # #3-5 (current staff of attorney disciplinary committees, orders for their appointments and supporting papers for their appointments),  
  • # 6 (statistics of attorney discipline imposed, by type of discipline, by county and by type of employment of disciplined attorneys - public or private);
  • # 7 number of disciplinary inquiries (without mentioning names) for all attorneys in the State of New York dating back several years.
That is simply incredible, since there must be some record of people appointed to be prosecutors of other attorneys, in charge of (1) protecting the public and with authority to (2) take reputation and livelihood of attorneys, as well as their lifetime ability to be employed in any reputable job.  If those appointments are clandestine and if what NYS Court Administration is true, that such records are "not maintained", this in itself is a big problem requiring legislative intervention.

3) in the alternative, NYS Court Administration directed me to find information I was seeking through my FOIL request at the following links:

First of all, I do not understand why I should be seeking PUBLIC information in link No. 3, documents of a PRIVATE organization - a bar association.

Second, NONE of these links lead to the information I was seeking.

The "Table 2" that the cranky FOIL response of Mr. Younkins refers to is not responsive to my FOIL inquiry, as it provides only general statistics of how all cases were decided by Appellate Divisions in 2013 (the latest year for which annual reports are available, when I was asking for that information up to present day).

So, the public, I guess, is not entitled to know the names of attorneys who are members of the attorney disciplinary committees in the Appellate Division 2nd Department - no links were provided, no information was provided, and the NYS Court Administration claimed that such records "are not maintained".

So, the 2nd Department disciplinary committees operate in complete secret, even the identity of who is allegedly "protecting the public" from bad attorneys is not revealed - and no records are maintained as to how such attorneys are appointed to disciplinary committees in all of the 4 Appelalte Divisions in New York State.

Simply put, the public does not have a right to know who allegedly "protects" it - while in reality protecting their own turf, protecting politically connected attorneys from liability and going after competitors and critics of misconduct in the government and especially in the judiciary.

And this state of event needs to be changed.



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