"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.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Corruption in magistrate appointments and interactions with the courts. NDNY-FCBA and other attorney-sponsored organizations - the tails that wag the court: a federal probe of this affiliation between the court and a private interest group is overdue

Appointment of federal magistrates is governed by 28 U.S.C. 631, which provides for "merit selection panels" by "district residents".

"District residents" are turned by many courts into practitioners practicing in that court, even though attorneys admitted to practice in a particular district do not have to reside in that district, and thus, their "service" on the "merits panel" may not be appropriate.

Yet, in the U.S. District Court, merit selection panels, instead of being composed of "district residents", which is a strict requirement of 28 U.S.C. 631, are composed of "attorneys and other members of the community"

which means, some or all of members of such "merit selection panels" may not be "district residents", and selection and the ultimate appointment of magistrates by such "district residents" may not be legitimate.

Moreover, when attorneys who are practicing before the court select magistrates presiding over their cases, that raises unique conflict of interest issues.

When an attorney gave the magistrate a gift of $1,480,096 (salary of $182,500 over an 8-year term), and that's without benefits and pension, a magistrate may feel indebted to rule that attorney's (and his client's and his firm's) way, and MANY issues in federal litigation are decided by magistrates, whether you agree to that or not.  I never agree, as part of the General Order in civil rights cases at the beginning of a civil rights case, for a magistrate to decided issues in my litigation, and magistrates still handle discovery issues anyway, no matter what I say and no matter what the law says.

Here is the official judicial biography of magistrate David Peebles:

It shows that, before he was "selected" by a "merit panel" to his position of a judge on May 22, 2000, he worked:

  • as an Onondaga County Assistant District Attorney;
  • a partner in Hancock & Eastabrook, LLP where he served as "chair of the Labor ad Intellectual Property Law", and
  • as a law clerk to a NDNY judge
Magistrate Peebles also "serves" as an officer of American Inns of Court - Intellectual Property Chapter in Albany, NY, where his organization intermittently shows and hides his status as an officer depending on whether Judge Peebles is sued for his participation in the organization or not.

Other officers of the organization are members of Hiscock & Barclays, LLP, now Barclay Damon.

Partners from HB were on the merit selection committee appointing magistrates, and likely, appointing, Judge Peebles, too.

Partners from HB are also members of the "Local Rules" committee of the same court.

So, partners from HB (now Barclay Damon) have their finger in every pie:

  • they selected/appointed Judge Peebles to his lucrative position which now transformed into a Chief Magistrate judge of the Northern District of New York;
  • they likely wine and dine the judge through the American Inns of Court monthly receptions;
  • they participate in "Local Rules" committees and continue to reinstate Judge Peebles after his 8-year term expired in 2008, and may be influential in his reinstatement in 2016.

At this time, Barclay Damon and Judge Peeble's former law firm Hancock & Eastabrook are "coincidentally" both on the court's "Standing Committee":

The recently sued by my husband in that particular court law firm Hinman, Howard and Kattel are actually advisors of the court:

same as the son of the recently sued John Casey, member of the disciplinary committee who disbarred my husband while accepting a bribe of private representation from two powerful attorneys, retired judge Robert Harlem and his son Richard Harlem, at the time when he was asked by my husband as a complainant to investigate them.

I sued John Casey in Neroni v Peebles recently, and Peebles was actually assigned to the case where he was a defendant, and then the case was tossed, even though the Casey family and its various law firms were part of the fabric of the NDNY court.

Barclay Damon continues to be part of the Standing Committee on Local Rules of practice:

as well as of the "Pro Bono Committee":

Nothing like attorneys for your opponents, or attorneys you are suing sitting on various committees of the presiding court, including on committees including employees of the court and having ample opportunities to discuss your case and form the court's opinion against you.

And, while I continue to litigate Neroni v Zayas case, where my husband challenges constitutionality of the entire system of attorney regulation in New York, and where former disciplinary attorney Steven Zayas (who resigned amid investigation into filing false time sheets) is a defendant sued for money damages, his current employer:

is part of the court's federal bar's "Public relations and membership committee":

Nothing like just a little appearance of impropriety here.

And - as an example of "wisdom" of choices of attorneys for these merit selection panels, here is the "merit panel" for the selection of a magistrate judge in 2014:

Please, note the date of the order, March 7, 2014.

As of March 7, 2014 Judge Sharpe considered Lori Cantwell as a worthy individual to serve on a magistrate selection panel.

At the same time, Lori Cantwell practiced before the same court, and there is no indication whether she is the "resident of the district", as required by 28 U.S.C. 631, nor does the order indicates whether she is.

Moreover, Lori Cantwell, as of June of 2013, was sued by the Plattsburgh Housing Authority for:

breach of fiduciary duty; rescission (the right to have a contract set aside if it has been entered into mistakenly); fraud and deceit; breach of contract and unjust enrichment.”

Instead of being investigated and, possibly, criminally prosecuted, Cantwell was put on a "merit selecting panel" and was charged with a duty to select magistrates for a huge federal district court.

Another member of the "merit selection panel" was attorney Daniel Stewart of Queensbury, NY.

Apparently, his "merit selection" was so successful that he himself was "selected" in the following year as a magistrate for the same court - a perfect reward of nearly $1.5 million over 8 years in salary alone (out of taxpayers'  pockets, of course) for the "right" selection decision.

Stewart claims he "did not expect" that he will win and claimed he won in a "competitive process" where he was "chosen" by a "merit panel" out of 90 applicants.

Stewart is a "godson" of "venerable Dick Bartlett" and a son of Bartlett's law partner, where "venerable Dick Bartlett" is actually a powerful Supreme Court justice Richard Bartlett who died in May of 2015. 

Too many coincidences for a "merits" win.

Looks like Stewart got as an insider ON that "merit selection panel" and got something out of "serving" on that panel.  

Stewart inherits the magistrateship from Magistrate Treece who, thankfully, will not seek a second term as a magistrate - I will never forget his decision that failure to give pain medication for a week to a prisoner with a bone fracture was NOT a constitutional violation.

The NDNY court never discloses their conflicts of interest in the cases I or my husband litigated in front of that court, so I made it a part of my public service to the people and my duty of an officer of the court to make these conflicts of interests known to the public, right after I found about them.

NDNY-FCBA, Inc., a corporation, announces, as a benefit for its members, the following:

Of course, the benefit in itself is not an opportunity to "serve", but an opportunity to be close to the judicial ear, to be able to communicate with the judge or the judge's personnel, through those "committees" and to influence the court through behind-the-scenes ex parte communications, and through "recommendations to the Board of Judges regarding court policies and procedures".

I just think that, same as the U.S. Attorney General is investigating Connecticut State judiciary's affiliation with Association of Family and Conciliation Courts through a corruption probe, a similar probe should be launched as to activities of NDNY-FCBA, 

a "resource" where judicial personnel "serves" along with litigants, witnesses in litigation and attorneys appearing before the court on various "committees" that make the court not a public entity, but a tool of private interests.

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