"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.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A big question about attorney integrity and about integrity of NYS Statewide Commission for Attorney Discipline

Ok, so in February of 2015 NYS Chief Judge Lippman established Statewide Commission for Attorney Discipline to allegedly review issues of lack of uniformity and fairness in attorney disciplinary proceedings in New York.

At the same time, Judge Lippman did not notify the federal court where he was making arguments that lack of uniformity is not a constitutional issue, in Neroni v Zayas case, and continues to aggressively oppose Mr. Neroni's appeal, which opposition has become frivolous because of Judge Lippman's changed position and appointment of the Commission.

The same refers to NYS Senate that is reviewing a bill S24 to end selective non enforcement of attorney discipline in New York against criminal prosecutors involved in misconduct and wrongful convictions by trying to establish a separate Commission addressing, specifically, prosecutorial misconduct, while the existing attorney disciplinary committees do nothing to prosecute prosecutors (including themselves, for their own misconduct).  NYS Senate did not notify the court in Neroni v Zayas of its changed position and continues to oppose the same statements from Mr. Neroni that they use to support Bill S24.

At the same time, Monica Duffy, the Commission member, Chief Counsel of the NYS Appellate Division 3rd Department's Professional Conduct Committee (Attorney Grievance Committee), member of the Statewide Commission for Attorney Discipline and defendant/appellee in Neroni v Zayas case failed to notify the court of her changed position in participation in the Commission while continuing to oppose the same issues that Mr. Neroni raises that the Commission must explore and resolve.

The same applies to the Third Department court whose deputy clerk is on the Statewide Commission, similarly without any disclosures of the change of position to the Neroni v Zayas courts - district court or appellate court.

Says a lot about integrity of these folks, doesn't it?

But, member of the Commission Peter Skelos outdid them all.

In March Peter Skelos was appointed by Lippman to the Statewide Commission.

In May Peter Skelos' brother Dean Skelos, former New York State Senate Majority leader was arrested by the feds on charges of corruption and using his public position for personal gain, for himself and his son.

After his arrest and resignation from NYS Senate, on May 11, 2015, John Flanagan became NYS Senate Majority leader, while also having similar issues of using his public position as a senator for public gains were raised in the press based on Flanagan's activities as an attorney parallel to his position as a Senator.

On June 3, 2015, Peter Skelos, as part of a panel of 5 judges of the NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 2nd Judicial Department, makes a decision denying reinstatement to disbarred attorney Joel R. Brandes, based on Mr. Brandes' provision of paralegal and law expert services to attorneys and expanding, by judicial interpretation, the scope of two criminal statutes, which Peter Skelos had no authority to do.

The decision makes all attorneys, not only attorneys facing suspension or disbarment (which is very easy to arrange in retaliation for criticism of any governmental misconduct because of loose and arbitrary rules and even more arbitrary enforcement of those rules) think twice before criticizing the judiciary, because in case of license revocation, they are now stripped by Skelos's decision of any possibility of earning a livelihood, even where it does not constitute the practice of law (as two judges said in other cases, Kevin Dowd in Delaware County Supreme Court, Mokay v Mokay and Lawrence Kahn in Neroni v Zayas in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York).

After arranging for this intimidation of the legal profession, Peter Skelos announced that he is retiring early (at 59, 11 years before mandatory retirement) to make use of a "wonderful opportunity" to return to legal practice.

The "wonderful opportunity" came, and I am not making this up, in joining the law firm of John Flanagan, the successor of Peter Skelos's brother Dean Skelos on the post of NYS Senate Majority leader in his law firm.  John Flanagan, reportedly, for years derived income as a lawyer from decisions of senate where he was a senator.

Before joining Flanagan's "former" firm (Flanagan quickly retired before taking the majority leader seat, even though worked for that firm while he was a "mere" Senator), Peter Skelos made sure that attorneys are even more intimidated, through his decision in Matter of Brandes, against speaking about judicial corruption.

After the intimidating order was properly in place, the Commission where Peter Skelos is a member issued invitations for oral testimony to predominantly attorneys (11 out of 16 witnesses in the NYC public hearing were attorneys and only 1 out of 16 not related to the legal profession in any way - not an attorney, not a wife/daughter of an attorney, not a suspended attorney etc.), who as witnesses were by that time useless.

Licensed attorneys were also called to testify first-in-order in the three public hearings before the Commission in Albany, Buffalo and New York City.

None of them raised the issue that were the practice of law is not defined, there is nothing to regulate or prosecute for UPL, and that the issue of attorney discipline is a non-issue where what constitutes the practice of law is not defined by the law.  NONE of them raised this issue.

The Matter of Brandes worked well.  All the attorney witnesses said to the Commission, among some luke warm criticism of some minor issues, was that they are very happy to be invited to testify before such a distinguished panel.

No surprises as to integrity of the people calling themselves "the Honorables".

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