"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 17, 2015

How many more ex parte communications Judge Yvonne Pagillo is engaged in without knowledge of defense counsel or parties?

I had an experience recently in Walton Village Court with Judge Yvonne Pagillo that I thought I need to share with the public, as it is a matter of public concern.

Judge Yvonne Pagillo received from prosecution an email containing a full thread of previous e-mails negotiating a plea in a certain case.

That same thread was not sent to me as a defense attorney - by mistake (as the prosecution) claims or otherwise.

The thread contained certain information that the prosecution could not introduce at trial for reason of its inadmissibility.

The judge read that information.

Judge Pagillo is not an attorney, and her level of education is unknown.

I do know though that Judge Pagillo's son is a police officer in Norwich, and that my other clients reported to me that he was spreading rumors a couple of years ago, allegedly coming from Yvonne Pagillo, that I was disbarred.  Nothing like appearing before such an "unbiased" judge - to begin with.

I would never have known about the ex parte exchange between (the thread) between the prosecution and the judge had the judge not triggered my inquiry into her misconduct, because the judge actually CALLED me, in an ex parte manner, and left a message on my voice-mail.  I have it on file and am turning it into the Commission for Judicial Conduct.

In her statement on the voice-mail Judge Pagillo state the following:

  1. that I was dragging on with the case - which was a lie;
  2. that my client was a no-show in court - which was a lie;
  3. and that, based on reading of the thread, Judge Pagillo will not allow me to drag on with the case any more and will require a personal appearance of me and my client - in a traffic case

the adjournments in the case occurred as followed:

1/ because there was no judge in Walton Village court, review of the case was delayed by several months - not my fault;

2/ an adjournment was granted by Judge Pagillo because of ongoing plea negotiations, on consent with prosecution - cannot be attributed to me as dragging the case;

3/ the prosecution failed to conduct review of the case (which was the basis for the request to adjourn) within a week, as it promised, and conducted such a review only within days of the next appearance, making it impossible for me to make a motion and making it necessary to ask for another adjournment.  Judge Pagillo apparently attributed to myself and my client prosecution's delay in reviewing the case with the police officer and turning down the prosecution's plea offer.

The case involves constitutional issues - but, not having legal education and listening to everything that the prosecution puts into her ears, apparently, Judge Pagillo equates "constitutional argument" with "frivolous argument".

The interesting point is that, while both the Judge and the Delaware County District Attorney's office both recused from the case, the DA's office denies any wrongdoing and tried to ardently argue with me against turning the judge into the Commission for Judicial Conduct.

When the DA's office is an advocate for such a judge - it appears to me that such a conduct is ongoing and a pattern, and investigation of a judge may open up a can of worms regarding interaction of the DA's office with non-attorney judges and giving them legal advice - as I observed happening on other occasions with other judges, too.

I feel other defense attorneys and the public must know about what is going on behind closed doors and must seek in discovery, through subpoenas duces tecum, access to court computers to verify that no improper exchanges were happening between the prosecution and the court.

And, by the way, I only learnt about improper disclosure of inadmissible plea negotiation information to the factfinding judge by the DA's office because of (1) Judge Pagillo's misconduct, her ex parte phone call to my voice mail;  (2) admission by the prosecutor as to sending the e-mail thread to the judge (at least, the prosecutor had the integrity to admit that).

But, my question is - in how many cases such issues remain unknown for the defense and parties?

I believe, Judge Pagillo should be disciplined for her misconduct and that the State of New York (and the Village of Walton) must make sure that the judge presiding over proceedings is properly trained to understand his or her duties.

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