"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, November 12, 2015

The mainstream media coverage of judicial corruption - we wag our fingers, but we endorse the crooks all the same

Here is a beautiful piece in the Albany Times Union about Christine Ryba, an attorney for Chief Judge Karen Peters, an attorney who advised the court on its decisions, including decisions on disciplining attorneys for misconduct, and a member of the NYS Statewide Commission for Attorney Discipline.

Ryba was booted by Peters on November 2, 2015 for unethical conduct, without public disclosure of termination, which allowed Ryba to get elected the next day to the position of a New York State Supreme Court justice.

So, Ryba was thrown out the window, but will ride a white horse back through the doors of the New York State courthouses, with fanfares. 

Here is a very interesting paragraph from the yesterday's article of the Times Union about the obvious judicial corruption:

"There are still absentee votes to count in the race, and it's highly unlikely that Ryba's alleged conduct would be enough to warrant more than a wagged finger from state judicial disciplinarians. If she's the eventual winner, Ryba could turn out to be an eminent jurist, and there's no doubt that her election as the first African-American woman to sit on the bench in the 3rd District would add much-needed diversity to this corner of state Supreme Court.
Even so, the controversy is another reminder that the system we use to select Supreme Court justices ought to be scrapped."
The paragraph says three things, let's start from the end.
1/ "The controversy" shows that "the system we use to select Supreme Court justices ought to be scrapped".  
So, there is a recognition that the way Ryba was elected was fraught with impropriety, right?  
Yet, why such drastic measures to correct that misconduct?  
Why the whole system of ELECTIONS OF JUDGES should be scrapped because one candidate chose to engage in unethical conduct and abuse her employment within the court system?
2/ Yet, there is lamentation that, probably, the NYS Judicial Conduct Commission will not do more than "wag a finger" at Ryba.  That is a recognition that the system of judicial discipline in New York is not effective.
3/ Despite 1/ and 2/, the "Times Union", in its editorial no less, makes an astounding pronouncement:
If Ryba makes it to the bench come January, and be awarded a judicial position that she obtained by fraud and unethical conduct, after she was booted as an employee from the court system (of which fact voters who voted for her were not notified), TWO GOOD THINGS will happen, in "Times Union"'s opinion:
1) Ryba may make an "eminent jurist", and
2) there's no doubt that her election as the first African-American woman to sit on the bench in the 3rd District would add much-needed diversity to this corner of state Supreme Court.
That is:
A) even though Ryba's election was obtained through fraud and unethical conduct;  and
B) even though the only reason Ryba's election might stand is ineffectiveness of the system of judicial discipline in the state,
Because all you care about as a litigant and attorney is the judge's integrity and competence.
Ryba lacks integrity, thus, her election-by-fraud does nothing to her race than a disservice.  We have enough allegations that African Americans get benefits, including high positions in the government, only through affirmative action.
There should not be an affirmative action, or even a trace, a shadow, a merest shade of it, in judicial elections.
Out of hundreds of thousands of deserving attorneys to occupy judicial positions in the State of New York, many of those attorneys are African Americans, and many of them are female African Americans.  And the reason they did not run is because they did not have the backup such as what Ryba had - from the Appellate Court.  
Ryba had enough to fight honestly in the judicial elections.  Yet, she chose to fight dishonestly.
Once again, she is a DISSERVICE to her race and her election by fraud should not be paraded as a contribution to diversity.
Once again, misconduct in judicial elections cannot be justified and especially glorified and explained away by the need for diversity on the bench.
What "Times Union" said is an insult to deserving African American attorneys.
And, it is also a good example as to how corruption in the judiciary, and in judicial election, is presented by mainstream media - a lot of puffing up and then a cowardly statement lest the criticized judge will be presiding over the newspaper's case at some point.

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