"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

The corrupt process of magistrate selection in the Northern District of New York - David Peebles should not be allowed to stay on the bench

David Peebles, the Chief Magistrate for the Northern District of New York, is apparently, running for a re-appointment.

I, as a practitioner appearing in front of him, was not given a notice and was not invited for comments, and the deadline for comments expired on October 2, 2015.

So, I am using this forum to call upon the public to write petitions to request not to re-appoint David Peebles for the position of a magistrate.

I just wrote a blog about inherent conflicts of interests in appointments of magistrate in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

The Order to appoint the so-called "merit panel" to "select" David Peebles for re-appointment for his position as a magistrate is appointed along the same fraternity and "captive audience" lines.

The "merit selection panel" to reappoint magistrate Peebles includes:

  1. As a Chairperson - Attorney Kimberly Zimmer, a former federal prosecutor, and an attorney practicing before Judge Peebles and his court;
  2. Attorney J.Scott Porter, practicing before Judge Peebles now and who can suffer repercussions before the end of the judge's term, or by other judges who favor Judge Peebles, if he does not re-appoint him.
  3. Attorney John G. McGowan, also an attorney practicing in front of the court - an attorney for Bond, Schoeneck and King, a huge law firm employing a former law clerk for the just-retired New York Court of Appeals judge Victoria Graffeo, a former two law clerk for a judge of the Bankruptcy court of the same Northern District of New York, see also here;  a former assistant counsel to NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo;   former law clerk for a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, appellate jurisdiction for the NDNY; two former law clerk for a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, see also here; a former law intern for another magistrate of the same court, NDNY;  Attorney McGowan himself has a long list of connections with the court system:  "served two terms as a trustee of the Federal Court Bar Association for the United States District Court, Northern District of New York and currently serves as treasurer of that organization. John has also served two three year terms on the Grievance Committee for the Appellate Division, Fourth Department Fifth Judicial District where he was part of a committee that reviewed and passed on attorney discipline matters. He has also served on a select committee formed by the New York Court of Appeals for improvement of the jury system in New York Courts."
  4. Attorney Albert J. Millus, an attorney from Hinman, Howard and Kattel, a law firm who was recently a defendant in litigation in NDNY in Neroni v Coccoma, 3:13-cv-1340 where Magistrate Peebles was assigned, so now the successful defendant in litigation (the case was dismissed without reaching the merits) is supposed to reappoint the judge from the team who granted him the relief he sought?  And awarded attorney fees in his favor, even for activities in representing a NON-CLIENT, advocating for her representation, at taxpayers' expense, by the NYS Attorney General.  Sweet deal.  Attorney Millus himself boasts of having being appointed by that same court as a federal prosecutor in a death penalty case where he "secured a conviction" - much to be proud of.
  5. Attorney John Orilio - a corporation counsel for the City of Utica, an attorney practicing in front of the court whose fee status is currently "due".
  6. Jay Kianka, a lay member, a certified public accountant working for a corporation
  7. David W. Murphy, a lay member, a College Board Chairman of the Onondaga Community College Board, with a salary of $180,000 a year.
So, the decision whether to approve or not to approve David Peebles for his reappointment as a magistrate will be made by a supermajority of attorneys over lay individuals, and all attorneys are practicing in front of the judge they vote to "select".

Perfect.  You cannot select a better bunch of "captive voters", or rich voters - because not ONE person on the selected "merit panel" is poor, is a prospective civil rights litigant, or a civil rights poor plaintiffs' attorney.   

Here are the scans of NDNY registration for attorney members of the "merit panel":

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