"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 21, 2016

Take that, Preet Bharara! Cuomo got to control your law license now.

Yesterday, when the NYS Senate did not immediately confirm Cuomo's puppet Janet DiFiore for the position of NYS Chief Judge, Cuomo threw in a sweet deal for the Senate - nominated the Senate's own attorney Michael Garcia for the position of an Associate judge of the New York State Court of Appeals.

Today, NYS Senate confirmed DiFiore without a single vote in opposition, after "an hour of praise".  

So, just when Preet Bharara started investigating Cuomo for his potential involvement in the Buffalo Billion shady deals (September of 2015), Cuomo nominated his puppet DiFiore to get in a position of control over Preet Bharara's own law license (December 2015).

Law licenses of attorneys licensed in New York are controlled by the state court system.

Janet DiFiore now heads that system.

Janet DiFiore has confirmed her pledge to protect Cuomo rather than her ethical duties as a public servant when she protected from disclosure private donors to a Cuomo-backed non-profit, thus allowing more shady donations to be made and allowing Cuomo to escape without criminal prosecution (in June of 2012).

DiFiore was already rewarded by Cuomo by:

1) having her husband Dennis Glazer appointed to the casino and racetrack-siting board (in July of 2014);

2) nominating DiFiore to head the top court of the State of New York as soon as the case got vacated by her predecessor judge Lippman, and fought against Lippman's efforts to prolong his time in that position by changing judicial mandatory retirement age in the state Constitution.

Now DiFiore will have to pay back for such generous gifts of her benefactor.

And, when DiFiore has Cuomo's prosecutor's law license in hand, what is better than to hold it over his head to prevent prosecution?

Bharara already felt the doom.

After DiFiore was nominated and endorsed by NYS bar associations, on January 11, 2016, Bharara publicly announced that he did not find any criminality in Cuomo's disbandment of the Moreland Commission.

The same may happen with the Buffalo Billion investigation by Bharara - especially that Cuomo's Leutenant-Governor is married to Bill Hochul, Assistant U.S. Attorney (who recused from investigating his own wife's office, but the taint still remains).

Even though Bharara is a federal prosecutor, he cannot practice in federal court if his state law license is revoked (federal courts usually have automatic "reciprocal" discipline, whether state courts are right or wrong in their license revocation decisions) - and it is easy to find fault with an attorney to take his or her law license, law or no law, only the power to do so is needed. 

And there is already a just-created and developing precedent in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania as to how to remove an elected top-level prosecutor from office if she is doing the right thing and fighting corruption at the top level of the government.

When Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane started to investigate misconduct of the "ol' boys club" - judges and prosecutors involved in the "porngate" e-mail scandal - attorney licensing was used so that the licensing "state board", or, in reality, a group of private attorneys controlled by and with ties to the judiciary, behind closed doors, brought proceeding before the corrupt judges Ms. Kane investigated and, with their help, yanked her law license, the law license of an elected public official who was elected by millions (!!) of voters.

Now, Kathleen Kane, who courageously refused to resign - after criminal charges were brought against her, after her law license was suspended - was made part of proceedings in the State Senate trying to unseat her.

It is obvious that Kathleen Kane would not have been elected in the first place had she not have good connections in the government in the first place.  Yet, those connections did not help her when she raised her hand (which was part of her duty) at the holiest subject - corruption at the top echelon of the state government, and especially in the judiciary.

The message is clear - in this country, if you fight corruption in the judiciary, you face major problems.

Like Kane, you can be:

1) stripped of your law license;
2) criminally prosecuted;
3) removed from office - and if that  happens - 
4) conviction and incarceration will become so much easier.

But, if you keep your mouth shut - like attorneys in the same Pennsylvania who did not report that two judges, for years, were selling kids for kickbacks into privately run juvenile jails - you will keep your license and be good and continue in your "honorable" profession, even if children suffered, even if children committed suicides because of that corrupt scheme.

So, now, 
  • knowing what has happened and is happening to Ms. Kane, 
  • knowing that New York viciously pursues attorney whistle-blowers of judicial misconduct and yanks their law licenses, 
  • knowing that Cuomo now got from his corrupt puppet DiFiore mounted on top of New York Court system, and also 
  • knowing that Cuomo nominated Michael Garcia, the attorney who toppled Governor Spitzer through claims of involvement as a customer of a prostitution ring (a direct hint),  - will Bharara show courage and integrity and still obtain an indictment of Cuomo and participants in his schemes?

Is it possible that Bharara will investigate DiFiore for:

  •  reported participation in welfare fraud and using her office to quash that investigation through threats, 
  • her actions, reportedly, to hush up her loss of her badge and gun
  • her non-prosecution of police shootings while gaining the "highest felony conviction rates" against non-governmental defendants based on false or non-existing evidence, 
  • for her corrupt acts in covering up Cuomo's ties with the gaming industry - for which favor her husband received an appointment to the location-siting board for the gaming indusry? 
I asked NYS senate to testify agaisnt DiFiore - and was denied.

I asked NYS Senate to ask her questions about the above - and was denied.

So - now that DiFiore is in the saddle,  time will show, and, I believe, soon, as to how DiFiore's position of power will start influencing Bharara's and other people's actions.  It already did.

I won't be surprised if Bharara will give up on his surge against corruption in New York state government, for fear of his own license. 

Meanwhile, I need time to research interests and disqualifications of New York State Senators who voted for confirmation of DiFiore, will compare those interests with their actions before, during and after the confirmation hearing and will report my findings on this blog.

Stay tuned.

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