"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, October 1, 2015

The gap in the Report of New York Statewide Commission for Attorney discipline - the use of disciplinary process as a tool of retaliation for whistleblowing, and whitewashing of well-connected attorneys not addressed

I continue to analyze the Report and Recommendations of the New York State Statewide Commission for Attorney Discipline.

One important issue is prominently missing from the Report, which was present during the hearings - protection of whistleblowers of judicial misconduct from the use of attorney discipline as a tool of revenge.

Attempts to punish attorneys for criticism of the judiciary is not the invention of the State of New York.

Such attempts were made for over a century.

In fact, I made it a point to put a quote from a 1880 Pennsylvania case attempting to punish an attorney for criticizing the judiciary on top of this blog, and it appears on top of every blog post.

I will repeat the quote here:

"“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)."

That was a noble thought expressed by an honest judge in the State of Pennsylvania 135 (ONE HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE) years ago.

One hundred and thirty five years down the road, the following is happening in all states of the United States:

  1. attorneys are a licensed profession;
  2. licensing of attorneys, an executive function, is in the hands of the judiciary (when all other occupational licenses are regulated by the executive branch), even when, as the quote says, attorneys "have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment" as to judicial integrity or misconduct - and must ensure, on behalf of their clients, their clients' constitutional right to a fair and impartial adjudication, pointing out issues of judicial bias and misconduct;
  3. the judiciary introduced specific rules of discipline against attorneys making "false statements" against judges or even judicial candidates (thus impairing attorney free speech to educate voters during judicial elections), and
    1. under these rules, all statements against criticizing judges are considered false; and
    2. attorneys are not entitled to 1st Amendment protection for criticism of judges
This phenomenon, of "disbarring the critics" was already picked up by the legal scholar Margaret Tarkington who has written a series of articles dedicated to attorney speech and its suppression when the subject of that speech is criticism of misconduct in the judiciary.

Here are FOUR very detailed articles of Margaret Tarkington, a law professor and an "order of coif" law school graduate (all "A"s throughout law school - a VERY rare thing)

I quoted to these articles.

I was punished for criticizing the judiciary in pleadings despite the references to scholarly articles supporting my position.

And I am not unique in that - unfortunately - I am part of a whole class of lawyers sanctioned and expelled (well, I am not expelled yet, but I am on the verge of it) from the legal profession for doing their jobs and trying to ensure for their clients a right for fair and impartial adjudication.

I have my personal experience in not only being viciously sanctioned, by many courts, for:

  • making motions to recuse - where the challenged judge sanctions you for "harassing the judge", which the judge, of course, cannot do because there is a clear due process rule that a judge cannot sit in judgment of his own case, and when a judge issues a claim of harassment of himself, the judge operates as a
    • complaining witness
    • prosecutor
    • testifying witness
    • judge and jury
  • for suing that same judge in another action - I was sanctioned by Judge James Tormey for suing him in federal court, on specific request of my opponent, attorney Jonathan S. Follender of Arkville, New York, who is a local town justice and thus his request to the member of his brotherhood had more weight than some puny constitutional restraints
Moreover, I have a disciplinary action pending against me based in its ENTIRETY on 

  • three sanctions imposed upon me by a judge;
  • immediately after I sued that judge on behalf of a client for misconduct in and out of court proceedings
The disciplinary complaint, as I understand, was made by the retaliating judge seeking the ultimate revenge of my disbarring, and by the chief counsel Timothy O'Sullivan, of the Lawyers Fund for Client Protection in order to collect fines imposed upon me by the retaliating judge - while the only authority that the fund has, by its statutory definition, is to collect monies from fines imposed upon attorneys who actually harmed their clients.

I was sanctioned for BENEFITING my clients, in the way that other attorneys refused and were afraid to do (openly telling their clients that they do not want to be "blackballed" by the judicial system and sometimes referring them to me for a motion to recuse - because "Mrs. Neroni has nothing to lose ALREADY").

When the New York State Statewide Commission for Attorney Discipline was formed in February of this year, one of its declared goals was to verify how to make attorney discipline more fair.

A lot was said in the three public hearings in front of the Commission about dismissals of most of the complaints against attorneys.

A lot was said about non-prosecution of prosecutors involved in wrongful convictions.

There were statements by two witnesses - Elena Sassower and Alton Maddox, pointing out the issue of retaliation against attorneys for their professional activity.

Alton Maddox said in his testimony in the New York City public hearing:

This is what witness Elena Sassower has said in the same hearing:

Elena Sassower stated why her father was disbarred - for refusing to condone a wrong court order that protected attorney misconduct.

Here is why her mother was disbarred - for publicly addressing impropriety of cross-endorsements by different political parties in judicial elections, an important 1st Amendment issues.

At the time of disbarment and suspension, respectively, of George Sassower and Doris Sassower, both were prominent members of the legal community with years of unblemished record of public service.

Before Elena Sassower, lay witnesses talked about judicial corruption as "the elephant in the room" and about misconduct of well-connected attorney that nobody wants to address.

Members of the Commission included the Committee sued recently in the federal court by a former employee of that same committee who raised issues of intentional whitewashing well-connecting attorneys (to the point of destroying their files) while deliberately targeting attorneys marked for destruction.

Christine C. Anderson was not invited by the Commission to testify - even though, as an insider who already blew the whistle on whitewashing in attorney disciplinary proceedings, when would be an invaluable witness.

Another employee of the disciplinary committee, Nicole Corrado, was also not invited by the Commission to testify.

Nicole Corrado sued the Disciplinary Committee of the same 1st Department in 2012, alleging sexual harassment by the committee's members and retaliation when she complained.

George Sassower, an attorney disbarred for challenging judicial misconduct in lawsuits and for "criminal contempt of court", in other words, for refusing to acknowledge an order of a court that he believed was illegal.

Not only George Sassower, who was, reportedly, "half-blind", disbarred, he was also jailed for his litigation against judicial corruption, and was treated in the jail system worse than a rapist.

Apparently, George Sassower was a poster person to testify on the issue of the use of attorney discipline as a political tool of retaliation for criticizing judicial misconduct.

He was not invited.

Doris Sassower, an attorney suspended indefinitely, without a hearing or right to appeal, for challenging legality of cross-endorsements by many political parties of judicial candidates in New York, was not invited to testify.

The daughter of George Sassower and Doris Sassower, Elena Sassower who did testify before the Commission, was treated as a criminal, with an armed gorilla of a court officer hovering over her petite frame during the hearing.

Elena Sassower was actually put in prison for 6 months for "disrupting Congress" - specifically, for reading in Congress what Congress refused to hear, despite its own procedures, a request to testify in opposition to appointment of a judge, Lawrence Kahn, to federal court, the same judge who used the cross-indorsement system of elections in his re-election campaign after ruling (for himself) in a lawsuit brought by Elena Sassower's mother Doris Sassower that such cross-endorsements are unconstitutional.


  • Doris Sassower was disbarred for challenging improprieties in judicial elections in New York State;
  • Elena Sassower was put in prison for opposing the federal judicial nomination of a judge who self-servingly first ruled that such cross-endorsements are legal, and then used those cross-endorsements in his own re-election campaign;
  • and judges who continue to regulate the legal profession - and who created the Commission, allegedly to make sure how to make attorney discipline "more fair", continue to use the system of cross-endorsement to get to the bench
  • Judge Kahn has been appointed and continues to "serve" on the federal bench, and continues to engage in self-serving acts - like participating in a secret-membership organization The American Inns of Court that provides benefits to judges while its members appear in front of those judges in court

That, in itself, is an indictment to attorney disciplinary system, because by being afraid to speak on this issue, attorneys ADMIT that they are afraid of attorney discipline being used as a tool of retaliation for whistleblowing about judicial misconduct or about impropriety of retaliation against other whistleblowers of judicial misconduct, such as Elena Sassower or her parents.

The Commission DID KNOW that all of these people are witnesses on material issues before the Commission.

After all, members of the Commission were the ones committing misconduct against these people.

But that's exactly he reason why the Commission did not and could not do the job that it was tasked with - because members of the Commission were the reason for the problem and were not interested in true public review or solutions.

Those issues were not addressed by the Commission - in the hearings where witnesses were "by invitation only", or in the Commission's Report.

Thus, it remains for us, the People of the State of New York, to address the issue in the broadest way - availability of independent court representation as a guarantee of access to court and the necessity of abolishing attorney licensing, since it exists only to serve interests of private groups and hurts the public.

Foxes guarding the chicken coup will not tell the public that their fox cartel needs to be disbanded.

We need to do it ourselves, by changing the State Constitution to prohibit, as a constitutional provision, for any government agency to "regulate" court representatives and human rights defenders, and by abolishing judicial and prosecutorial immunity for malicious and corrupt acts.

Otherwise, everything will remain as the Commission demonstrated:

  • perpetrators of attorney misconduct will remain in power;
  • whistleblowers of official misconduct will be stripped of their livelihood, disbarred, jailed, abused in jail and driven into bankruptcy;
  • attorneys will remain intimidated to speak out against judicial corruption, and
  • the public will continue to be screwed in the corrupt courts, without any possibility of independent court representation

You, the public, and not the government, are the sovereign.

You, the public, have a right to stop misconduct of your errant SERVANTS, fire them, clean the house and make sure that public servant misconduct is promptly and efficiently addressed.

No comments:

Post a Comment