"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.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Blood donation as a sentencing substitute

We have the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.

All punishment that may be meted in criminal offenses is described in statutes, and no other punishment may be imposed.

All judges are sworn to protect and uphold the U.S. Constitution, including its 8th Amendment.

Yet, a judge in Alabama, Marvin Wiggins, ordered various offenders, from traffic tickets to criminal misdemeanors, to pay fines by donating blood - under the threat of jail time.

People complied.

It was wrong because such punishment, by an invasive procedure and donating of a part of your body in lieu of sentencing, is prohibited by the 8th Amendment.

It was wrong because it was a medical invasive procedure that was not beneficial to donors, that was used as punishment.

It was wrong because blood donations cannot be forced.

It was wrong because blood donations can be medically counter-indicated to a lot of people, and it was reported that at least one of the offenders who complied with the judge's order and donated blood fainted.

It was wrong because donated blood must be free of viruses, and not every donor is or should be accepted.

It was wrong because it was done in cooperation with a blood collection company who recently was slapped with a $4 million dollar judgment based on an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion, and there are certain risks for both the donor and the recipient of blood donation as to sterility and virus transmission.

I wonder whether the judge will be disciplined.  A disciplinary complaint was filed - but not by any attorneys who represented the offenders made to donate blood as punishment. 

In fact, an attorney who appears in that judge's court and was interviewed, was not forthcoming as to his opinion and indicated he does not really know whether the judge's actions were unethical, illegal or unconstitutional. 

Yet, if an attorney, a law expert, does not know - who does?

It is not only lack of accountability of judges that allow judges to act the way Judge Wiggins did, but the total cowardice of the legal profession that allows judicial misconduct to proceed - in various ways, across the country.

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