Let's recall that Pennsylvania is the home for the "Kids for Cash" scandal where a judge was selling kids, for bribes, into for-profit jails, and was doing that for years.
Judge Mark Ciavarella was convicted, is in prison, but large portions of a civil lawsuit against him was dismissed on grounds of absolute judicial immunity with the following wording:
“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.
See the logic?
The act of taking the oath to protect the Constitution protects THE JUDGE from lawsuits for violating that oath. Even if that is against the popular will.
Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
Let's also recall that, but for the stance of Pennsylvania - and other states - to sanction attorneys, people who know the most and can explain the most, as experts, about judicial misconduct that they see on a daily basis, for criticizing judges - the bench would have been a lot cleaner than it is now.
Maybe, had attorneys been allowed freedom to criticize judicial misconduct without the fear of license suspension, the Kids for Cash scandal would not have occurred at all.
As it is now, here is the list of attorneys who I know who were suspended or disbarred for criticizing judicial misconduct (and many orders of suspension are concealed as my is, hiding the issue that the suspension or disbarment is for criticism of misconduct in the government and especially in the judiciary):
- Doris Sassower - civil rights attorney - New York - former president of New York women's bar association - suspended long time ago without automatic readmission date (which is in essence an order of disbarment) and not reinstated since; her "crime" was a lawsuit asking a New York to declare unconstitutional party cross-endorsements of judges during judicial elections in New York;
- Lanre Amu - African American - immigrant - civil rights attorney - Illinois - made a complaint against a Circuit Judge who was a member of the board of a company and the sister of attorney for the company appearing against her. Lanre Amu is suspended for reporting it;
- Don Bailey - civil rights attorney - Pennsylvania - a veteran of the armed forced, former senator and Pennsylvania state auditor - civil rights attorney - raised an issue of conflicts of issues and corruption in federal court - suspended;
- Kathleen Kane - Pennsylvania Attorney General - suspended for investigations of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct;
- Leon Koziol - civil rights attorney - New York - suspended and denied reinstatement because of his testimony before the anti-corruption "Moreland" Commission that NY Governor Cuomo disbanded when it started to investigate him. The dissolution of the Commission is now reportedly the subject of investigation by a federal prosecutor Preet Bharara;
- Paul Ogden - Illinois - suspended for an e-mail that criticized a judge;
- Dr. Richard Fine - California - disbarred for exposing judicial misconduct of Los Angeles judges who were receiving tens of thousands of dollars in addition to their state salary from the County of Los Angeles that was appearing in front of the judges as a party. Dr. Richard Fine, an elderly gentlemen, not only was disbarred, but ended up in jail and a de facto solitary confinement for 18 months for refusal to abide by an illegal court order.
- JoAnne Marie Denison - Indiana - suspended for 3 years for blogging and exposing elder cleansing and corruption in Indiana probate courts;
- Robert Serafinowicz - Connecticut - suspended for 120 for criticizing a judge's impartiality and competency in a public interview.
- Zbigniew Rozicki - Connecticut - suspended for 4 years for criticizing judges
- Stephen L. Hall - West Virginia - suspended for 3 months for criticizing judges
- "Zamboni" John Scannell, Washington
- Ken Ditkowski, Illinois
- Nanine McCool, Louisiana - allegations of filing "multiple motions to recuse with false allegations against a judge".
- Keven A. McKenna, Rhode Island, 1 year suspension without automatic reinstatement, as a retaliation for criticism of judges
- Stephen Yagman, California, "the Yag rule"
- Barbara Johnson, Massachussets
- Robert Grundstein, Washington/Ohio/Vermont
- Doug Schafer, Washington
- Sean Conway, Florida - called judge an "evil, unfair witch"
- James Albert Frost, Maryland
- John A. Aretakis, New York - accused a judge of criminal conspiracy in fixing court cases.
Amendment, we neither condone the tone of Green’s letters nor agree with
the conclusions he drew,” the unanimous opinion said.
1st Amendment was driven by policy - policy of the people that courts that take an oath to uphold the 1st Amendment and its policy - defy in practice.
public’s access to the views of lawyers, who are in the best position to
comment on the judicial system.
public periodically votes whether to retain judges,” the opinion
After all, courts refuse to reach the merits of lawsuits against judges claiming judges are immune from lawsuits even for the most egregious and corrupt behavior on the bench.
That seems like a public policy to me.
Yet, most courts do not want to apply the protection to criticism of themselves REQUIRED by the 1st Amendment of the very Constitution by which they get their power to judge.
Moreover, as reported by Paul Ogden in his blog, in attorney disciplinary proceedings courts and disciplinary panels across the country find insufficient grounds for criticism of judges in 98% of cases, which means, in 98% of cases attorneys criticizing judges are sanctioned, and the public is deprived of services of mostly capable criminal defense and civil rights attorneys (who mostly are the attorneys criticizing judicial misconduct).
Of course, criticizing judges for misconduct is an issue of public concern that is fully protected by the 1st Amendment, and punishing attorneys for criticizing judges is unconstitutional - but guess what, judges irate for being criticized don't give a damn about the Constitution because - read the quote about Ciavarella's immunity above.
I am honored to be in the company of people I enumerated above.
I am proud that I stood up against judicial misconduct when attorneys around me knew about such misconduct and were afraid to raise it.
I did it with support of my husband, despite all the dirt that was cast by the system against us in the process and despite all financial, emotional and health repercussion that we suffered because of it.
My husband was actually disbarred, also without a hearing, through a corrupt scheme instituted by a retired judge and his son - which corrupt scheme received an enthusiastic help from several judges of several courts, and his disbarment was yet another signal to me to shut up.
He was disbarred, as I understand, because I did not shut up.
Then, my own law license was suspended because I did not shut up.
There was an attempt to prosecute me criminally because I did not shut up.
There was an attempt to physically intimidate me, which is what likely happened, when a person broke into our home and left a burning cigarette on the carpet of our bedroom, right before we came back home.
I did not shut up then either.
The local DA - now judge-elect Richard Northrup - did not investigate or prosecute the case and, as I wrote in my previous blog post, evidence and statements from that case are mysteriously "not taken", "not preserved", withdrawn and generally my access to evidence collected in my house is stalled.
The State of New York, judges who I criticized, suspended me with multiple procedural violations. I already listed some of them. I will list more in the future when I file appropriate pleadings with appropriate courts.
Federal judges, judges who I criticized, refused to give me and my husband help against a judge committing misconduct and then suspended my federal license without a hearing or notice when my state law license was suspended without a hearing based on sanctions imposed by the judge I sued after I sued him.
Yet, I do not believe I am banging my head against an impenetrable brick wall by not shutting up and by continuing to write here.
You know why?
The judiciary is not as independent as it claims it is when it protects its independence (from the law) by protecting its corruption by immunity.
The judiciary is afraid.
And I will continue that exposure.
It helps - if not me personally, then the people.
The people have a right to know.
Because - had there been ENOUGH criticism of judges, timely criticism, the kid in Pennsylvania from the Kids for Cash scandal who committed suicide could have been alive, and many kids' lives and mental and emotional health would not have been ruined.
Removal of law licenses mostly from defense attorneys and civil rights attorneys, capable and vocal advocates for their clients, is harming most vulnerable consumers of legal services and is living proof that the legal profession should not be regulated by the very government whose misconduct attorneys are hired to address.
And, I return to where I started in this blog post. A judge was removed for a certain behavior, but first, the law license of an attorney, an elected public official, was suspended for exposing that same behavior.
In my case - the judge ran from the bench because otherwise he would likely have been removed. Yet, my license was suspended for criticizing his misconduct that the judicial system decided to immunize in court proceedings and not to address through the Commission for Judicial Conduct.
And, as I pointed out above, I am not the only member of the legal profession (now suspended) in criticizing judges.
Far from it.
There are a lot of people like me, both immigrant attorneys and American-born attorneys who want to do their duty by their clients, including exposing judicial misconduct to obtain fair and impartial adjudication of their clients' cases. Of YOUR cases.
They should not fight alone.
They protect YOUR rights to the rule of law.
And the public should protect attorneys, too, and enable them to do their job for the public without impediment or oppression from the government.
It is time to act.
It is time - through state constitutional amendments, though statewide referendums - to prohibit immunities to the government for violating the law, state and federal Constitutions, allow private lawsuits against governmental officials, prohibit any penalties or sanctions for raising constitutional issues in court papers, and prohibit regulation of attorneys' livelihood and ability to represent their clients based on their criticism of the government.
Legislatures will not help, they are heavily lobbied by interest groups from the legal elite and the judiciary.
Any "judicial screening committees", "judicial pay raise committees", "attorney discipline committees", judicial, prosecutorial and attorney ethics committees, are run by super-majorities of interest groups, so the public is not able to put a word in edgewise.
Only direct referendums will help resolve the access-to-justice and human rights crisis in the United States.
Without these measures, you, my dear readers and taxpayers, will never have independent court representation and will never truly have access to court, due process, equal protection of laws and other rights guaranteed to you by the U.S. Constitution.