"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 7, 2016

The legacy of the just-retired Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals - corruption and more corruption (just when I so wanted to be wrong!)

Just yesterday I wrote a blog about the so-called "legacy" of Jonathan Lippman, the just-retired Chief Judge of New York State Court of Appeals.

I wrote that Lippman created new rules of attorney discipline that served him in his position as a private lawyer on retirement, and that he fought to obtain pay raises for judges, during his tenure and on the eve of his retirement, to drum up his own pension and to appease the judiciary in front of whom he and his future employers will appear in court. 

While writing that, I thought - please, whoever may be up above, let me be wrong on this one, please, let Lippman show some class and just retire, and not get employed by some legal elite firm that he benefited with the new "criminal cartel" rules of attorney discipline.

I was quickly shown by up above that I was wrong.  

The very next day after my blog, not even a full week into his retirement, Lippman already joined Latham and Watkins, and I want to be wrong, but it is unlikely that negotiations of such an employment did not happen overnight, or after New Year and were held when Lippman was still on the bench.

"Coincidentally", Latham and Watkins is the world's biggest-grossing and highest-paying law firm.

"Coincidentally", the firm employs the husband of Dick Cheneys' daughter, former Solicitors General and the likes.

While the New York Times parades the law firm's ALLEGED pro bono hours, information that is (1) unverifiable and (2) self-serving and used in advertisement, the following information about the law firm's pro bono services is available:

out of it's claimed 2.5 mln pro bono hours since 2000 (about 75 hours per attorney per year), the firm "donated $3.2 million in legal services to Jay Bybee, a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, during an investigation into allegations of professional misconduct resulting from Bybee's work for the U.S. Justice Department under President George W. Bush".

Allegations of professional misconduct are actually that Jay Bybee, while being employed by the Bush administration, authored the infamous "Torture Memos".

Of course, instead of being disbarred, the dishonorable Jay Bybee was elevated to be the "Honorable" judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Of course, Latham and Watkins, as a global firm, must practice in Judge Bybee's court.

Of course, "donation" of legal services to Judge Bybee is part of "doing business", and for some scrupulous observers, may smack of corruption, the same kind of corruption as negotiating employment of the Chief Judge of New York State Court of Appeals on retirement while practicing in his court.

So, Lippman joined a law firm who provided pro bono services to the author of "Torture Memos" and heralds it as part of its "pro bono service" to the public.

And the mainstream media swallows this crap, regurgitates it and feeds it to the public.

Good journalism, New York Times.

Good job, Mr. Lippman.

Good job, Latham and Watkins.

Very obviously, judge Jay Bybee who earns over $203,000 a year, was far from poor, is himself an attorney and did not need pro bono services, and provision of such services was simply a pledge of loyalty to the judiciary in order to drum up more business.

You think, a law firm employing former Chief Judge of the highest State Court will be ever disciplined, no matter what it does?

Lippman's employment only highlights the meaning of attorney regulation in New York and across this great country - regulation of the legal elite to secure, enhance and protect the business of the legal elite -at all costs.

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