"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 19, 2015

Two words on the New York State Commission for pay raises for New York judges, legislators and other unconstitutional officers

A Commission of insiders is going to hold a "public" hearing on November 30, 2015 in New York City in order to make "binding" report to the Legislature with recommendations of pay raises for all three branches of the government - judges, legislators and executive officers, collectively called "constitutional officers".

That is done without first cleaning up corruption in all of those three branches.

I will run a fuller blog on the issue tomorrow.

Today I wanted to say just a couple of words.

Here is a picture I took today near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

This is a report that the State of South Carolina expects next year 1 billion dollars in extra revenue, and there was already a media report in the local press as to a gradual plan of returning the revenue back to taxpayers through income tax reduction.

I a still a newcomer in the State of South Carolina, but, compared to what is going on in New York, these reports show me that in South Carolina, the government actually works.

In New York, we see exodus of taxpayers out of the state, we see recurrent huge budget deficits, we see one senator after the other being criminally prosecuted, we see shady conduct of New York State Governor and people close to him reported constantly.

We see gas prices somehow higher in New York (a colder state with a higher demand, higher supply and better bargaining power of purchasers of gas in bulk due to volume) than in South Carolina.  It is clear there is an oligopoly somewhere, but New York State Attorney General, instead of looking into it, helping New Yorkers and fighting such monopolies and oligopolies in gas pricing that hurts people, especially in winter time, badly, instead of that, NYS AG is involved in defending violators of people's constitutional rights in federal court.

And, no doubt, expects a pay raise for that, too.

We experience rampant corruption in the New York judiciary - even though unaddressed by the disciplinary authorities who mostly have conflicts of interest to even be on the New York State Commission of Judicial Conduct (because most people on that commission are licensed attorneys, and a licensed attorney attempting to punish a judge who holds that attorney's license in his hands, is suicidal for an attorney).

In New York, I handled constitutional litigation since 2009 and was suspended last week from my practice of law as a penalty for doing that constitutional litigation.

Anybody who tried to sue state officials in New York, or raise constitutional issues in New York state court, or in federal court, knows that the judiciary has an extremely sour look whenever a constitutional argument is raised.

For the New York judiciary a "constitutional argument" is the equivalent of a "frivolous argument", with the resulting consequences.

The only time we hear about "constitutional officers" is when those officers ask for a pay raise.

The pay of government officials in New York, on average, is already very much over $100,000 a year, much more than the average income of taxpayers who pay them out of their pockets, which makes no sense.

And, it makes no sense for those unconstitutional officers to claim pay raises when the state is going through one year of budgetary deficit after another, when both leaders of the state legislature are criminally charged for fraud and corruption, when only a willfully blind person would not see corruption in the judiciary, in every court a person has the misfortune of setting his or her foot into.

I suggest this.

Let's charge the government with creating a database of all of its sworn officers.

With a family tree for each officer until the 6th degree of consanguinity and affinity (NY standard for disqualification of jurors), affinity understood broadly, and including any significant other, boyfriend or girlfriend, and their relatives, not only spouses and their relatives.

Let's make all those "constitutional officers" (including attorneys who are deemed "officers of the court" and have overwhelming influence upon all branches of the government) self-report those connections, put them into a database.

With places of work, of course, along with places of work of close friends of those relatives.

Let's demand introduction of anti-nepotism and anti-cronyism policies in all three branches of the government, prohibiting employment of close relatives in the same branch of the government and/or agency, and closely verifying friendships between public officials with a duty to appear in front of one another in adversarial proceedings.

Let's demand disclosure of memberships of public officials in memberships in all non-public organizations, with a list of members in those organizations.

All of that should be self-reported and self-entered into a relational computer database.

This way, when a person is to appear before a judge, it will be easy to enter the judge's name and the name of the opposing counsel and/or party for the red flags of potential conflicts of interest to pop up.

When one public official nominates a candidate for another governmental position, recommends a promotion, a benefit, makes a favorable decision in favor of somebody - red flags may come up indicating a potential conflict of interest.

When we do those elementary initial steps and see how clean our government is, then we can review their claims of pay raises.

What I would advocate for now is not a pay RAISE, but, as I wrote before on this blog, a pay REDUCTION, and tying public officials' income to the average income of the area they are serving.  

They did not deserve a pay raise, not yet.

Let's tie the eligibility for pay raises to the government's degree of transparency, efficiency and accountability.

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