"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, September 17, 2015

The list of attorneys who contributed to the campaign of Delaware County attorney Porter Kirkwood who runs for a the Family/County Judge - watch out for conflicts of interest

I obtained from the New York State Board of Elections campaign finance reports of Porter Kirkwood who is running for the seat of the Family/County judge in Delaware County.

I already wrote on this blog that Porter Kirkwood has zero integrity and should be disbarred, not elevated to the position of a judge - at least, for his role in approving $129.6 mln in public contracts to be awarded without public bidding plus $700,000 without even written contracts - and that's only in one year, and according to conservative audit of New York State Comptroller.

So, this wonderful person is running for a judge, and I wanted to check who supports his election efforts financially.

First of all, I must state that you will not be able to find Porter Kirkwood's campaign finance reports on the NYS Board of Elections website.  I tried, the database does not return any results.

The only way you can get to the reports of Porter Kirkwood's campaign finance - whether it was done intentionally or not - is only by logging in Porter Kirkwood's campaign's "Filer ID", and you need to know it in order to use it and to get to the reports.

I obtained Porter Kirkwood's Filer ID and am now making it public - it is C03616.

When you put in that Filer ID, you will get to his campaign finance reports.

I strongly suggest people who foresee appearing in front of Porter Kirkwood to download all of his campaign finance report for purposes of future cross-reference for conflicts of interest.

Porter Kirkwood never discloses his conflicts of interest (after all, he learnt from the "best" - from now retired Carl Becker who, also, never disclosed his conflicts of interest and punished those who challenged him for those conflicts of interest after discovering them, often after the end of court proceedings, on their own).

Porter Kirkwood was also caught in awarding millions of dollars in public contracts without public bidding.

Think how he will be awarding attorney assignments when (and if) he becomes the Family/County judge.

Therefore, first of all I started with the list of attorneys who so far contributed to Porter Kirkwood's election campaign.

Here is the list that I cut out from Porter Kirkwood's campaign finance reports:

Christine Becker is not an attorney, but she is married to attorney and retired judge Carl Becker.

Lauren Clark is the law clerk of retired judge Carl Becker

Leslie McKeegan is not an attorney, but she is wife and sister-in-law to two local attorneys.

Bruce Maxson is regularly assigned to Delaware County Family Court cases.  Apparently, he tries to secure his place on the assigned counsel list under the prospective new judge.  Bruce Maxson donated to Porter Kirkwood's election campaign twice so far.

John Hubbard is Chief Assistant District Attorney of Delaware County who will be appearing in front of Porter Kirkwood as a County judge, and as a Family judge in child abuse cases where the DA's office is, by statute, a necessary party.

John Hubbard contributed to Porter Kirkwood's campaign so far twice.

 Retired appellate judge Carl Mugglin, friend and supporter of the retired monster judge Carl Becker.  Has become famous because of his phrase that a female attorney will dig a hole for her female client with her intellectual efforts.  A supporter of criminal trials in churches.

Despite a Las Vegas address, Mr. Mackin is a New York lawyer out of Hancock, New York.

Mr. Grayson is often appointed as a referee in residential foreclosures in Delaware County Supreme Court.  Since the County/Family Court judge is expected, as his predecessor, to be appointed an Acting Supreme Court justice, apparently, Mr. Grayson is trying to keep himself on the prospective referee list.

Charles Hill is more of a commercial litigation and wills-and-trusts attorney.  Since the County/Family Court judge will also be a Surrogate and, likely an Acting Supreme Court justice, Mr. Hill apparently tries to bow to the prospective judge ahead of time with a present.

Thomas Gallagher is a staple on the Family Court assigned counsel list, and, apparently, wants to keep it that way.

 Frank Miller Law firm is Delaware County's litigation attorneys.  Frank Miller is currently defending in Delaware County Supreme Court Delaware County Deputy Sheriff Derek Bowie, nephew of District Attorney's office investigator Jeff Bowie, against a lawsuit for vehicular assault upon a woman in order to destroy a tablet in the woman's (Barbara O'Sullivan's) hands while she was, reportedly, videotaping Derek Bowie's misconduct.

Frank Miller already obtained certain breaks from Judge John Lambert which his client was not entitled to, and, apparently, hopes for even more breaks when the former Delaware County attorney may replace Judge Lambert in that lawsuit after election, to save Judge Lambert time for travel from Otsego County.

Frank Miller is also the attorney who has handled an "investigation" into police misconduct of a local police officer and deposed for that purpose many people without telling them that he is not a neutral public investigator, but an attorney hired by Delaware County and by the Village of Delhi to defend these entities from liability.

When that apparent conflict of interest or not-so-forthcoming behavior was brought up to his attention, he threatened me with a complaint to disciplinary authorities because I dared to soil his impeccable Martindale rating.

Frank Miller is known to be aggressive and, in my experience, outright rude at depositions.

Ms. McCue is on the Family Court assigned counsel/law guardian list and, apparently, wants to keep it this way with the prospective new judge.

I posted this list of contributors first because potential conflicts of interest in the future appearances before Porter Kirkwood as a judge are, probably, most serious here, and people should know about these campaign donations by these attorneys and should remember the names of these attorneys for future reference.

I also understand that money does not smell and that anybody has a right to donate to a judicial election campaign - as well as to accept donations.  Yet, to me there is certainly an appearance of impropriety when an attorney sponsors a judicial candidates with knowledge that he or she will appear in front of the judge, after elections, in the future, no matter how small the donation was.

And, in my opinion, there is an appearance of impropriety for a judicial candidate to accept donations for the election campaign from attorneys who will then expect to get lucrative assignments from that judicial candidate, once he becomes a judge, or other favors.

Studies show that judges most often rule in favor of attorneys who contributed to their campaigns.  Even the famous satirist John Oliver recently took up judicial elections as "justice for sale".

Thus, accepting contributions from attorneys amounts to a disqualification from these attorneys' cases to avoid appearance of impropriety (if Porter Kirkwood, of course, wants to follow rules of Judicial Conduct when/if he gets on the bench), and bringing a judge from out of the County will add to taxpayers' burden.

Maybe, for Porter Kirkwood no conflicts of interest exist - considering his recent approval of $129.6 mln in public contracts without public bidding (I will show in the next posts how Porter Kirkwood was "rewarded" for that approval by various members of Delaware County Board of Supervisors who supported his judicial election campaign financially).

Yet, because, apparently, for Porter Kirkwood no conflicts of interest exists, Porter Kirkwood should not be allowed to get on that bench, no matter who supports his judicial campaign financially.

Vote for Gary Rosa!

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