I also wrote about experts who are members of the Commission and who have a vested interests contrary to the Commission's declared goal - interests to preserve the current status quo in the legal profession and attorney discipline rather than change anything.
Today, I received from a friend a link to the testimony by Professor James Milles, a person privileged enough to have been invited to "testify" before the Commission, published by Professor Milles on his blog.
Update: Since ethics Professor James Milles, after I criticized him in this blog and in court pleadings, removed his proud blog boasting of his unethical conduct, and now you can see only some hieroglyphs if you follow the link to Professor's blog, his testimony can be still read in the official transcript of the New York Statewide Commission for Attorney Discipline, here.
James Milles is the professor of Legal Ethics in Buffalo Law School.
What Professor Milles said in his testimony before the Commission, and what he did not say in his testimony, is very revealing as to how the legal profession operates and how it grabs and trains new recruits.
First of all, it is very telling what Professor Milles does not say in his testimony.
You will look in vain for such words as "constitutional" or "unconstitutional" in his testimony.
You will look in vain for any meaningful analysis of disciplinary process, or for any analysis of possible constitutional defects in that process.
You will look in vain for coverage in Professor Milles' testimony of the issues of:
1) selective enforcement and non-enforcement of attorney discipline based on status and connections of attorneys;
2) antitrust and anti-competitive conduct of attorney disciplinary committees in pursuing attorney discipline;
3) separation of power issues in attorney discipline, both on the court side and on the side of disciplinary committees;
4) the effect of attorney discipline imposed by judiciary on independence of legal representation;
5) fear of judicial retaliation for pointing out judicial bias or misconduct and the resulting fear and unwillingness of attorneys to address such issues of public concern in pleadings, mostly because attorneys are regulated by the same branch of the government whose misconduct they have a duty to challenge, with the resulting lack of independence and inefficient representation of clients;
6) vague and arbitrary rules that allow to apply attorney discipline as a tool against dissenters, but allow real violators of ethics to escape discipline;
7) lack of proper records pertaining to attorney discipline;
8) lack of transparency of attorney discipline, which hurts both the public and the disciplined attorneys,
9) that the right to practice law (to engage in an honest profession in accordance with one's calling) is considered a privilege in New York rather than a constitutional right, as the U.S. Supreme Court said it is, with the resulting less procedural and substantive protections in attorney disciplinary proceedings.
and many other pertinent issues.
Since there was so little time afforded for testimony-by-invitation and the subject of imposition of attorney discipline is so pertinent to both livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, as well as to the right of access to court that attorneys are meant to ensure, any law professor invited to testify before the commission was, in my opinion, duty bound not to present the commission with a bunch of niceties and common places in his testimony, but to take the bull by the horns and analyze what bothers both the legal community and the public, and is the subject of raging debates in courts and in the social media.
What happened is a quote in the testimony by Professor Milles to the book authored by a member of the Commission Professor Gillers - which is clearly inappropriate and, to me, a violation of legal ethics by an ethics professor. To me, it amounts to brown nosing to quote a book of a presiding decision maker in one's testimony, as such citation has an appearance to gain that decision-maker's favor.
Imagine that you get on a witness stand and say: "I read your book, judge, and I am so very impressed".
Second, it is very telling what Professor Milles does say in his testimony - and especially HOW he says it.
Since the issue of attorney discipline prompted the Chief Judge of the State of New York to create a whole Statewide Commission, to address fairness and uniformity of discipline, and since the declared goal of attorney regulation and attorney discipline is to actually protect consumers of legal services, the public, the testimony before the Commission should, at the very least, be understandable to the public.
Yet, Professor Milles, often in his testimony, spoke in riddles well-laden with legal terms that are devoid of real meaning, and those terms, to me as a prepared reader who knows both the term, the background and what the terms really mean, it appears that certain statements by Professor Milles were meant to obscure the real purpose of certain deliberate gaps in law education, and meant to obscure what Professor Milles is likely afraid to say - that to insist on the rule of law rather than learning the "customs" of judges that lead to "significant variation" of judicial decisions is a career suicide for an attorney.
I also wrote on this blog that learning the customs and quirks of certain judges have become a business for attorneys, for judges who present such quirks at CLE courses, during taxpayer-backed time, likely for payment.
I wrote that such "continued legal education" courses and the whole concept that, attorneys can satisfy their licensing requirement by learning about "pet peeves" of judges to "better represent clients" is undermining the whole concept of the rule of law which should be blind, uniform, predictable, equally applied and not related to whether a certain attorney attended a CLE course held by a certain judge and paid for that judge's lecture as to what that judge's "pet peeves" are.
Professor Milles, citing to another law professor, from San Diego School of Law, tiptoes around the issue of arbitrary enforcement of the law in courts.
Professor Milles simply quotes:
"One of the hardest things to teach students is
how to deal with the sometimes significant variation
in judicial reactions to similar conduct. . . .
‘Pay close attention to custom’ is helpful, and
an obvious point, but I do find that students
throw up their hands and tend toward nihilism
when they perceive how much variation they will face.
Teaching realism without nihilism is important
Let's translate this quote into plain English.
1/ Law professors acknowledge that "significant variation in judicial reactions to similar conduct" is a problem.
2/ Law professors acknowledge that such "significant variation" may and does cause law students (and lawyers in the future) to "throw up their hands" and "tend toward nihilism" - which is, in my understanding, a roundabout way of saying that when seeing that judicial decisions are plain arbitrary and all over the place on the same issue, law students lose faith in existence of the rule of law, which requires equality, uniformity and predictability of application, which undermines the whole idea of legal ethics;
3/ Law professors acknowledge that they teach law students to "pay close attention to custom", or "pet peeves" of certain judges, which is completely contrary to the whole idea of the rule of law or legal ethics;
4/ Law professors acknowledge that they continue to "teach realism without nihilism", or that they teach, instead of true legal ethics, a course in how to best brown-nose a judge by knowing of his "customs" in order to win a case.
Well, at least in the above statement Professor Milles gives credit to the law student's intelligence, that they weed through the "frames of reference" of law professors and see the core of the problem, arbitrary enforcement of laws, which is a constitutional problem and one of the reasons as to why the judicial system is currently in crisis and lost and continues to lose public trust in its integrity or effective operation.
Professor Milles went further and hinted that it may be that law professors are deliberately limiting knowledge by law students of the disciplinary process so that law students would not engage in ethical violations when they become attorneys.
I am not kidding.
Here is Professor Milles' statement published on his own blog:
"However, another reason for neglecting disciplinary
sanctions in legal ethics courses may be a concern
that teaching students about sanctions may contribute
to disrespect for the disciplinary process and disregard
of the ethical rules."
"Despite the explicit guidance of the Rules of Professional
Conduct, what the bar and the courts choose to sanction,
and what sanctions are imposed, may say more than
the rules do about the real values of the profession."
So, in other words, Professor Milles acknowledges that law schools prefer not to teach law students about the disciplinary process because they think that if law students know how attorney discipline works, or how arbitrary application of attorney discipline is, such knowledge will encourage law students to commit ethical violations.
First of all, in New York as in any other state, there is such a thing as a "presumption" of knowledge of all laws.
So, those same students who are deliberately not taught about attorney discipline, are "presumed to know" about attorney discipline - same as every lay member of the public, including illiterate ones.
This presumption exists to encourage members of the public to learn what laws are, in order to be on notice of the laws and to obey them.
Here, a professor of legal ethics admits that to teach law students, future lawyers and judges, about the law of attorney discipline "may be" an equivalent of encouraging these lawyers to violate rules of ethics.
It also says a lot of the low esteem that law schools have of the caliber of law students they recruit and teach.
If a law student, after learning what attorney discipline is, how it is enforced (or not enforced), will supposedly rush into violating of rules of legal ethics, that is to say that the only thing that prevents lawyers from violating rules of ethics is if they are kept by their law schools in deliberate ignorance of the laws.
Once again, good grief!
Sounds to me like a Dark Age religious zealot who would cackle from a pulpit that too much knowledge is from the devil and should be discouraged, not as a modern times law professor.
By comparison, if a member of the public knows about arbitrary enforcement of criminal laws, he or she will rush into violating criminal laws, so let's keep the public ignorant as to existence of criminal laws and how they are applied? That's the key to law and order? Ignorance?
If a person learns about the law that provides a procedural protection in the defense against charges of rape and murder, he will immediately go out into the streets to rape and murder?
Everybody has a right to an opinion, of course, but an opinion that ignorance as to problems with enforcement of attorney discipline will lead to deliberate ethical violations by lawyers, coming from the lips of a law professor, is a disservice to the law students he teaches - and that is my personal opinion.
So, presumably, only unethical individuals who only look how to violate rules of ethics, apply to law school, thus making it necessary for law schools to deliberately not teach them about attorney discipline or how it is applied?
And generations upon generations of such law students were thrown upon the unsuspecting public to represent them in court, and states give them monopoly for such representations and, moreover, require that judges be necessarily lawyers and thus members of that presumably unethical class of people?
If that is so, the profession is doomed beyond repair.