"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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mama, I want a puppy for Christmas - but, Johnny, Daddy did not earn that much this year...

I have watched today the live-streamed public hearing in front of the NYS Commission for Legislative, Executive and Judiciary pay.

The hearing took several hours, it is a lot of testimony to digest.  I have a copy of the video testimony.  I will digest the testimony and written submissions and will post a series of blogs reporting on the hearing.

I was taking notes during the hearing, I will make my own transcription of the testimony and will share portions of those transcriptions with my readers.

One thing I did not hear today from any of the numerous advocates for the judicial pay raise is an economical analysis of budgetary situation in New York and a substantiation whether New Yorkers can afford the pay raises that judges claimed they are entitled to.

Yet, a report about economic ranking of the State of New York as opposed to other states of the United States exists, and here it is.

Based on that report, New York ranks 46th out of 51 state in budgetary health/solvency, which matches with the 47th place in the level of judicial pay (according to the today's testimony of the chief counsel for Estee Lauder at the NYS Commission for Judicial, Executive and Legislative pay raise).  

Yet, judges ask for "parity" (in pay only) with states that are ranking much higher than New York in budgetary issues.

That means that while judges ask for parity with other states in pay only, there exists no economic parity with other states because other states are managed better and, for that reason alone, can pay their public officials, including judges, more.

No advocates for judicial pay raises who testified today in favor of judicial pay raises (including, astonishingly, one of the members of presiding panel, retired judge Lack) mentioned that.

Here are some snapshots from a recent report on budgetary ranking across U.S. states.

New York has a debt of $17 dollars per EVERY resident - including babies, nursing home residents, prisoners and people who earn well below poverty levels.

At the very same time, judges claim "personal hardship" - when their current salaries are 3 times (!) higher than the average salary of New York taxpayers who fund them.

The long-term liability per EVERY New Yorker, once again, including, babies, retirees, prisoners and people earning under the poverty level, is a staggering $4,616.

So, a family of 4 people (two parents and two young children) are already saddled, on top of property taxes and annual income taxes, with $18,464 in DEFICIT generated by the government.

The key phrase here is that "New York relied heavily on neonate sources to cover spending".  The non-tax sources is debt.  Debt New Yorkers are going to be saddled with well into the future.

Under these conditions, businesses usually FREEZE or CUT wages of their workers, in order to survive.

Not so with New York court judges.

Under the conditions were economy is crumbling, they want an INCREASE of their already inflated salary which is already more than 3 times higher than an average salary of struggling New York taxpayers. 

Key words here is that 5.4% of "state personal income" and $2,946 per capita is "total bonded indebtedness" in New York State.

The key words here that New York has UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY of $251 BILLION, 8.4 TIMES more than the reported unfunded $30 billion.

Any judicial pay raises will only add to that already staggering unfunded mandate.

The mysterious OPEB is "other post-employment benefits" means "post-employment benefits that an employee will begin to receive at the start of retirement. This does not include pension benefits paid to the retired employee. Other post-employment benefits that a retiree can be compensated for are life insurance premiums, healthcare premiums and deferred-compensation arrangements", as reported by  Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Definition | Investopedia.

Preliminary conclusions - there were no surprises.

There was a lot of brown-nosing by attorneys and bar associations 
who described "personal hardships" of poor dear (very dear)
judges who "only" draw a paycheck of $174,000 a year, which is 
3.5 times more than the income of an average New York taxpayer 
who foots their salary and benefits, and their ability to do nothing
with the help of their similarly overpaid law clerks, to be
rude, aggressive and play Gods in the courtroom.

I will probably have to dedicate a separate post per each 
brown-nosing speaker to show the depth of moral degradation that
the New York legal establishment has sunk into.

There was a lot of self-glorifying flowery statements by judges and 
judicial associations, no surprises there.  They want more money,
they want it now, and they claim - about themselves - 
that they are the best, the brightest and the most impartial.

I told you earlier today it was going to be a stand-up comedy - and 
it was.

There was a lot of mentioning of the Constitution 
by the judges and the brown-nosing attorneys (which judges 
exclusively use in connection with pay raises, but give themselves 
a gift of absolute immunity to violate otherwise).

It is obviously safe to mention the Constitution in the setting
asking for judicial pay raises.  

When you mention the Constitution in a motion to recuse
or in a civil rights case - you and your client get monetary 
sanctions and you lose your law license,
so the use of the word "constitution" and "constitutional" today
by attorneys advocating judicial pay raises was sort of an
elaborate hedging technique, a survival-of-the-fittest (brown-nosers)

After all, I already stated earlier in this blog that the most 

There were several witnesses today who testified about 
judicial corruption and about the necessity to tie judicial pay 
to integrity, competence, fulfillment of constitutional duties, 
generally, to performance.

There was a witness who publicly announced that the federal
government is stepping in and planning to remove several
1st Department judges in 2016 and file indictments against them,
and the only reason why criminal charges will be confined
to 1st Department judges only is that the organization that
spearheaded investigation and surveillance of judges 
is located in the 1st Department and lacks fund for other

I already asked Preet Bharara to address corruption in the
3rd Department and I am going to ask the same Preet Bharara
to address corruption in the 4th Department.

There was a judge from the 2nd Department lamenting the 
loss of talent, where judges were leaving judicial positions for 
a better pay in the private sector.

One of such "lost talents"  is 2nd Department recently retired
judge Peter Skelos, brother of NYS Senate Majority leader 
Dean Skelos (recently resigned) who is currently tried by 
the feds for corruption.  

You can read my blogs about that particular legal "talent", 
Peter Skelos, by running his name in the "search" window 
on this blog and here.

What is also very interesting is that, even though the Commission 
was to deal with pay raises in all three branches of New York State
Government, witnesses testified only about one branch -

There are also some curious points at the hearing.

The only time when the microphone during live-streaming failed
was during the testimony of the first opponent of judicial pay
raises.  Consequently, listeners of the "live-streamed" video 
could not hear a chunk of an opponent's testimony.

Microphones worked fine for the testimony of supporters
of judicial pay raises before and after lunch.

The only witnesses at whom two members of the Commission
openly yelled at were two opponents of judicial pay raises.

Both yelled-at opponents were females.

Both yelled-at opponents said the taboo words "judicial corruption".

Both yelled-at opponents wanted more time to provide details 
to the Commission and were denied despite the fact that the 
public present at the hearing asked to give them more time.

One of the yelled-at opponents donated 2 minutes of her time 
to another, and was yelled-at by two panelists afterwards 
during her own testimony.

A panelist yelled at the public for advocating too loudly 
in favor of giving more time to the second yelled-at female
opponent of judicial pay (the last witness).

There were only three witnesses testifying after lunch, 
the hearing was concluded before 3 pm and there was no reason
why more time was not given to witnesses to allow them to
fully relay details of what they wanted to say to the Commission
and to the public.

All of what I described was documented.  I will post 
the clips with comments.

Stay tuned.

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