"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, January 14, 2016

Attorney-Senator Bonacic builds his own business with confirmation of DiFiore. Can Preet Bharara handle them all?

Here is the response that I received yesterday from Jessica Cherry, the contact responsible for invitations of witnesses to the confirmation hearing of Janet DiFiore, Governor Cuomo's nominee to the position of New York State Chief Judge.

The claim is that invitations to testify at the hearing that is to decide the important question for all New Yorkers - whether the nominee for the Chief Judge of the court system is to be confirmed to the position, whether she is fit for the job - those invitations were given only to two witnesses.
Both witnessess are representatives of bar associations whose business depend on endorsement of judges (while judges regulate their livelihoods).

Both bar associations endorse DiFiore.

Both witnesses who wanted to publicly oppose DiFiore at confirmation hearing, Elena Sassower from the Center of Judicial Accountability and myself, were rejected by Jessica Cherry.

Ms. Cherry claims that, even though the rating by the bar associations of Court of Appeals nominees was published, the scarce time to testify, which was denied to members of general public, witnesses of misconduct of DiFiore's office (and given her many years as a District Attorney, and the way she handles her business, as I learnt in just one case, representing a client as a criminal defense attorney, there must be many victims of her misconduct seeking to testify against her  confirmation), will be dedicated to discussions of how ratings of judicial nominees by bar associations occur.

There are several questions in that regard:

1) why should the public confirmation hearing on such an important issue be so short, only one hour?

2) why cannot additional time be added to accommodate testimony of everybody who wants to orally testify? 

After all, issues of fitness and potential misconduct of a candidate head the entire court system should be important enough to make her confirmation hearing more than a mere formality with theatricals of endorsements by those who stand to get business before DiFiore once she is confirmed based on such endorsements?

3) why only supporters of confirmation are invited and opponents of confirmation are blocked?

4) why only bar associations are invited?

5) why the policy of invitations could not be reversed - NYSBA's ranking policies to be submitted in writing and opponents with actual evidence of DiFiore's misconduct invited to testify in a live-streamed confirmation hearing? 

6) why there can be only two supporting witnesses in an hour-long confirmation hearing?

It appears that attorney and officer of the court (and legislator, which is incompatible) Senator Bonacic has a policy to invite only attorneys who would endorse attorneys for the position that will regulate attorneys' business, which is Senator Bonacic's business, too.

I wonder how much Senator Bonacic and other members of the Committee for the Judiciary are paid, in money, in kind and in promises to them and their friends and family members, in exchange for such a policy.

My position on this subject though remains that if the Senate extended invitations to testify only to supporters of Janet DiFiore, its decision is pre-judged and will be void when made, and especially that the Judiciary Committee of the Senate is headed by a licensed attorney and when 11 out of 23 members of that Committee are licensed attorneys.    

After NY Senator Bonacic opponents to confirmation of DiFiore opportunity to testify, and allowed only bar associations who endorsed DiFiore, to testify, I seriously doubt the validity of the resulting confirmation of Janet DiFiore for the position of NYS Chief Judge, which is clearly pre-judged without any opportunity for a proper public hearing.

I wonder what will the Federal Trade Commission say to  attorney-Senator Bonacic' witness policy for confirmation of judges - regulators of the market of legal services.

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