"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, September 18, 2015

There is no selective enforcement of attorney disciplinary rules in New York. Right?

In the three "public" hearings before the New York Statewide Commission for Attorney Discipline, that were held in Albany, Buffalo and New York City at the end of July - beginning of August this year, members of the Commission ardently argued with witnesses who were claiming that attorney disciplinary process is corrupt and is designed to target judicial whistleblowers and protect high-ranking attorneys from accountability.

Yet, here are two scans from New York attorney registration website that will prove that selective non enforcement of attorney discipline in New York is a reality.

Attorneys disciplined in New York, especially the whistleblowers against judicial misconduct get suspended and disbarred all the time.

The burden of proof for such a suspension or disbarment is extremely low - by preponderance of the evidence.

When probable cause is found to prosecute an attorney for a crime, that probable cause is found on th same standard of proof, by preponderance of the evidence.

Thus, a criminal felony indictment may be used to prosecute an attorney in a disciplinary proceedings, and even an acquittal by the jury will not help vacate attorney's discipline, because an acquittal happens because the case cannot be proven beyond the reasonable doubt, while lower proof is needed to find against the attorney in the disciplinary proceedings.

The scans above show two recently (and, maybe, still) powerful attorneys:

  • The recent and now former New York State Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver, and
  • The recent and now former New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos
None of them lost their license.

None of them was even censured - even though there was enough time since federal felony indictments for corruption as to each one of them, to commence and bring to conclusion a disciplinary prosecution.

Are committees waiting for these two former giants to rebound and are afraid of retaliation from their still powerful friends, should they commence investigations and prosecutions?

Then, the should not pull wool over the eyes of the public pretending that selective enforcement of attorney discipline in New York does not exist.

To illustrate the point even further, here is yet another scan of a formerly powerful New York Senator - John L. Sampson, head of the Judiciary Committee:

As of today, former Senator Sampson is employed, very coincidentally, by Bullock & Fox, an asbestos injury law firm.

Coincidentally because the recently indicted Sheldon Silver also provided services - and was charged for corruption in relation to those services - to yet another asbestos law firm.

The interesting fact about former Senator Simpson and his successful employment with a powerful and rich law firm - and having no record of public discipline - is that Senator Simpson, as of July 25, 2015, has been convicted of THREE felony counts - one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements to federal agents.

Conviction for a felony is grounds in New York for AUTOMATIC disbarment.

It is certainly not advisable for a law firm to have on board as their attorney a convicted felon.

Yet, as of today, nearly 2 months after his felony conviction that should have led to automatic disbarment, former Senator Sampson, a convicted felon, "enjoys" employment at a powerful and rich law firm - and no public discipline.

As one of the witnesses at the NYC public hearing before the Statewide Commission for Attorney Discipline said:

it is time to stop mocking the public by pretending that the committees do not see the elephant in the room - their own corruption.


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  2. Thank you for your comment and for reading my blog. I am trying to make available information that does not get to the public through mainstream media and is not analyzed by "politically correct" legal scholars, and I try, from my standpoint of a person trained in the law and who has experience in state and federal courtrooms, to highlight certain issues that have been taboos for lawyers to discuss for too long. The public has a right to know what is going on in the court system, and how their rights are going to be affected. I will soon be starting a video blog channel, with periodic public debates through live video-conferencing, using Google + Hangouts or other available platforms. You and your friends are welcome to join these discussions. Thank you for your comment.