"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, December 5, 2015

I can't afford my scented hanky to deal with the poor!

Russians have a saying:

"Some complain their bread is too hard;
Some complain their pearls are too small".

This blog post is about complaints of New York judiciary (and of attorneys whose livelihood is depending on good graces of that judiciary) to the New York State Commission for Judicial Compensation about the size of the pearls judges can and cannot afford.

DEBRA RASKIN, president of the New York City Bar Association, testimony of all witnesses are quoted from this official transcript of the November 30, 2015 hearing before the NYS Commission for Judicial, Executive and Legislative Compensation:

  1. "I would also point out that many New Yorkers enter the state court system without counsel, which means that our judges not only manage heavy case loads but also must have the skill, patience and efficiency to shepherd through litigants who are proceeding without the benefits of lawyers. According to the New York State Unified Court System in 2013, there were 3.8 million cases filed in the trial courts that year alone and approximately two million litigants who proceeded in civil cases without representation of counsel. For many of those individuals - family, housing and debt matters - the outcome of the cases will be life-changing. ", transcript, p. 27.

    "Thus, our state court judges bear an enormous responsibility to manage and resolve not only the large complex cases, but in the face of significant obstacles the smaller cases, cases for unrepresented individuals that are no less critical to the well-being of our state. The quality of our judiciary and social and financial impact of the decisions they make every day depend on this", p. 27.

    Remember, this is the president of an organization that heavily lobbies to have attorney licensing remain the way it is (the NY City bar association did that before the recent Commission for Statewide Attorney discipline), and thus to prevent those millions of New Yorkers from getting affordable legal services, and this person who is part of the REASON why New Yorkers cannot have affordable legal representation, advocates to raise the pay of judges who help her maintain her lucrative status quo, BECAUSE judges "have" to deal with all those unrepresented litigants.

    If you think there can be a bottom of moral degradation of the legal profession, this is it - to advocate the hand that feeds you at the expense of your victims because that hand has to deal with those victims of your own behavior.
And, Debra Raskin states that her bar association supported the previous judicial pay raise, too:

  1. "the City Bar actively supported increasing juddicial pay when the Commission first convened in 2011" - so that the judiciary would not forget the favor and give quid pro quo favor accordingly.

Here is the testimony on the same day of BARRY BOHRER, Chairman, Fund for Modern Courts, transcript, pp. 32-33:

  1. "Given the continuing challenges of the economymany more litigants in these difficult times are turning to the courts to resolve both family and financial problemsMost often, these litigants are unrepresentedrequiring the judiciary to take an ever more active role in the resolution of those problems. Our recommendations take this into account."

Translation into the plain English.

  • economy is getting worse;
  • more people are getting poor as a result;
  • consumer debt cases and bank foreclosures on people's homes rise;
  • bad economy causes many families to split up;
  • child support applications rise
  • people affected by bad economy and poverty go to court to resolve their problems either voluntarily (child support petitioners) or involuntarily (child support respondents, consumer debt and residential foreclosure defendants);
  • courts have to "deal" with these poor unrepresented people;
  • for that hard work of dealing with the poor, despite the worsening economy, judges need to be paid extra

Again, this is the Chairman for the so-called "Fund for MODERN Courts".  Very modern courts, indeed.

What Barry Bohrer omitted to mention is also that he is a licensed attorney, and that for him the judiciary for whose pay raise he is advocating, is his licensing agency holding his own livelihood in their hands:

And, this "Fund for Modern Courts"'s officially announced programs is "Supporting Judges", made in affiliation with a now-convicted felon Sheldon Silver.   How appropriate.   

Judges could not have a better advocate for judicial pay raises.

This snapshot as taken of the Modern Courts website TODAY, several days after conviction of Sheldon Silver.

I guess, Sheldon Silver still has some clout that the "Modern Courts" Fund, an advocate for judicial pay raises, considers it appropriate to parade their affiliation with him.

The Modern Courts also supported Lippman's "Constitutional Amendment" to increase judge's mandatory retirement age from 70 (Lippman leaves at the end of this year, this is why the Commission's hearings are so rushed, to make the pay raise Lippman's legacy as a favor of the judiciary he leaves behind and before whom he will appear as a lawyer starting from January 1, 2016).

New York taxpayers rejected that amendment at a constitutional referendum of November 3, 2013, as they should reject the undeserved and unwarranted judicial pay raises now.

Remember Barry Bohrer - this is a licensed attorney from a powerful and rich law firm who:

1) depending financially through law licensing on the judiciary, and on favors from the judiciary in resolving his client's cases, and for that reason:
2) he cavorts with the top judge of the state through "civic" organizations like this "Fund for Modern Courts";
3) publicly supports judges through declarations on that organization's website;
4) supports increasing retirement age for judges which saddles New Yorkers with octogenarian judges and would have allowed Chief Judge Lippman 10 more years of more pay; and
4) who keeps the picture of a convicted felon, Judge Lippman's childhood buddy and bosom friend Sheldon Silver, convicted in federal court specifically for corruption in public office, on the webpage of his "civic organization" while indicating support for the state judiciary.

Judges of the State of New York should really be proud of such an advocate.  

Barry Bohrer can just as well put a slogan for the New York State judiciary on the website of his organization:

"Judges of the State of New York are not for sale.  We already bought them."

* * *

The next courtier with an even more disgusting testimony in support of judicial pay-raise at the hearing of November 30, 2015, was Adrienne Holder, "of Legal Aide Society", an Ivy League law school graduate, transcript starting at p. 49.

This is the officially declared champion for the poor, who is actually paid to represent the poor in various settings.

Let's see what that champion says on the issue of judicial pay raise.

This is what she says:

  1. Ok, we got it, she and her staff represent the poor across a large area of the State of New York.

    Holder says that she is in a unique position to address the issue of judicial pay raises from her organization's prospective and experience.

    Remember that Holder is a licensed attorney whose livelihood is in the hands of the judiciary through licensing.

    And, her career growth is in the hands of the same judiciary, because if she gets sanctioned by a judge for whatever reason, her license can get pulled, and she will lose her job.


    This is Holder's "unique prospective":

    "we strongly endorse substantial pay increases for the judiciary".

    And she goes on, and on, and on, about "judicial independence", necessity to attract "judicial talent" (that somehow cannot be attracted with a salary of $174,000 per year, with benefits, perks and support personnel), yada, yada, yada.

    Here it is.

    The advocate of the poor.

    Stating that the poor could just as well become a little poorer, so that the judges in front of whom she appears representing those poor people are paid a lot extra.

    And here is a chime-in from a judge in front of whom the poor usually appear - a City Court judge, in eviction, traffic ticket, crimes up to a misdemeanor level, felony arraignments, arraignments on family court warrants.

    Here is who the speaker is:

    He says that his court deals with a lot of unrepresented (poor, poorly educated) parties:

    He says that the job of a judge is worth doing no matter what:

     And yet, he complains about THIS level of judicial salaries - while working with the poor:

    Moreover, he complains that he gets less than 1/2 of the "middle level" salary of a full time judge of $145,000 per year.

    In other words, private attorney and part time judge Matthew Turner, of Troy, NY,  complains that, in addition to his private practice, he is paid as a 1/2 time judge less than $72,500 a year, with benefits.

You know...

Don't people have SOME shame?  At least not to complain about their "meager bucks" while working with the poor, and asking to increase their pay in order to be able to work with the poor better while this private attorney and half-judge's pay is $20,000 per year more for 1/2 judicial position than what an average New York taxpayer who is going to foot the bill of Turner's pay increase is getting.

I wrote on this blog about another such complainer - Chenango County Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dowd who complained about his "meager bucks" of $174,000 per year right into the face of an indigent pro se litigant", I have a transcript on file, and NYS Commission of Judicial Conduct did not consider that statement an act of misconduct for Judge Dowd.

We read about the nobility in the olden times in the olden countries who would hold a scented handkerchief while dealing with the poor.  

This is what our new nobility, the judiciary, and their courtiers the attorneys, seem to be doing.

They are advocating that they need to be paid more because they HAVE TO - DEAL - with THOSE people - the unrepresented parties - THE POOR.  The horror!

Yet, economists say that increased judicial pay may attract not legal talent, but status seekers and "leisure seekers", those people for whom "that vacation in Paris will seem more affordable".
While working with the poor.

In return for their hard work - with the poor.

So, we the taxpayers must now pay extra for HAVING to work with us.

We are that plebs that judges have to be paid extra "to deal with" if we appear before those judges on our own, without an expensive agent thrust upon as as compulsory and expensive "help" from the government in order to represent us.

And we, as that plebs, who is coincidentally the employer of the State judges, should say "no" to the bigger pearls and scented hankies for the judiciary that they need to work with the poor and with all of unrepresented parties, the ordinary people who foot their bills.

They need to earn their pay - and they don't do it even now.

No pay raises for New York judges!

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