Not so about dead public figures who claim to have made history.
History should not be sugar-coated or distorted.
So, on the death of Judith Kaye, the former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals.
Of course, the mainstream media and especially the legal profession sing praises and express mourning on the passing of the "excellent" and "distinguished" and "honorable" jurist Judith Kaye.
I cannot join these praises.
First, as I already wrote on this blog, I care what the judge has in his or her mind and and heart, not what is below his or her waist, so I do not care if Judith Kaye was the first FEMALE Chief Justice of New York State Court of Appeals, even though I myself am a female.
Also, as just-changed rules of attorney discipline show, the Chief Judge can change those rules at any time, and practically in any way she or he wants.
The rules of attorney regulation and discipline, which Lippman changed after public hearings addressing the rules' unfairness and alleged inefficiency, were Judge Kaye's "legacy".
Judith Kaye retired in 2008 and was employed since then at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, the law firm that is second-largest in the world for revenue and that, I am sure, derived a financial, business benefit from having a former Chief Judge as their employee.
Here is an interesting "coincidence" I found on the law firm's webpage.
On December 21, 2015 the law firm announced a "victory" in representation in California of - guess who - a class of 3,000 California judges for salary and pension increases.
That was while attorney Judith Kaye was still alive and was part of the law firm.
As to how underpaid California judges were or are, you can see in reporting on disbarment, incarceration and solitary confinement of 70-year-old Dr. Richard Fine who contested the payment scheme where Los Angeles County paid extra to the salary of California judges while appearing in front of them.
Such additions in pay were not allowed by law and constituted bribes (Dr. Fines opinion that I and many others share).
Moreover, the above interlinked report provides the following information about judicial salaries in California in 2010, that is 5 years ago:
"For the last decade, Fine has filed appeal after appeal against Los Angeles County's Superior Court judges. He says the judges each accept what he calls yearly "bribes" from the county worth $57,000. That's on top of a $178,789 annual salary, paid by the state. The county calls the extra payments "supplemental benefits" -- a way to attract and retain quality judges in a high-cost city."
So, the way to "attract and retain quality judges" is for a litigant in front of those judges to pay them a bribe. At least authorities admitted that.
Now, Judith Kaye's law firm, when she was still alive and working for that law firm, announced as a big victory a judge's decision to raise pay for judges who, for years and decades, accepted bribes, disbarred and incarcerated their critic and were not prosecuted because lawyer-controlled California legislature gave them, incredibly, retroactive civil AND CRIMINAL immunity.
And, California judges rewarded California legislators for this illegal gift by a court decision awarding the legislators their own pay raises.
So, this is the class of honorable people that Judith Kaye's law firm won a lawsuit for, claiming their pay was now "inadequate", I guess, without the "supplemental benefits" that Dr. Richard Fine had taken from them, at the cost of his law license, livelihood and liberty.
The moral choices of the legal profession are very clear through Dr. Fine's case:
- you stand up against judicial corruption - and your life is destroyed in every possible way; or
- you employ retired judges and represent judges in a class action to get them pay raises for their "inadequate" salaries (see above the 2010 salary level for California judges) - and you will be good and nobody will dare to touch your license, livelihood or liberty
As I stated above, the "victory" of pay raises for the corrupt California judiciary was heralded by Judith Kaye's law firm on December 21, 2015.
In just 3 days' time, New York State "Commission" for judicial pay raise, appointed by lawyers and judges, and consisting of lawyers and judges, all people interested in the outcome of Commission's decision (in other words, a fully disqualified Commission), obviously inspired with the victory of the corrupt California judiciary delivered to them by Judith Kaye's law firm, granted pay raises to New York judges, raising their salaries to $193,000 to the Supreme Court judge (the lowest trial court of general jurisdiction in New York).
Of course, to win in Los Angeles Court (the court whose judges "suffered" by having being deprived from their yearly bribes of $57,000 because of Dr. Fine's fight against corruption) is the same as for a mafia underling to win before Al Capone a boon to benefit Al Capone.
Yet, Judith Kaye's law firm heralded their "victory" of that lawsuit just the same.
During her retirement and employment with Skakken, Judith Kaye was called to an important duty by New York State Government, to whitewash Gov. Pataki of wrongdoing in a criminal investigation, when the then Attorney General (and now-Governor) Andrew Cuomo recused from the case.
Of course, it was the recused Andrew Cuomo who APPOINTED Judith Kaye to that position of an "independent investigator", which in itself defied the claim that she was an "independent" investigator.
Of course, Judith Kaye knew Pataki and Cuomo personally, making her also not an "independent" investigator.
Of course, Cuomo could not find any NON-LAWYER, to do the INVESTIGATION for which a law degree is not required.
Of course, only a person whose license and livelihood does not depend on government's good graces, can be independent, and Kaye, a licensed attorney, was not an independent INVESTIGATOR, not when investigating a governor who appoints appellate judges who, in their turn, held in their hands Kaye's own law license.
After all, it was only because of the courage of the domestic violence victim who was not a lawyer and who pressed her case through courts and the press, that misconduct of Pataki was even reported, a lawyer-victim would never have done that, reasonably fearing retaliation from the system.
Kaye passed the "team player with the government to drum up her law firm's business" test with flying colors, claiming that what was clearly a witness tampering scheme by Governor Pataki was a case of "bad judgment" and no crime, that is availability of the following voicemail:
"They're trying to make it look like I pressured you into dropping this court case. Please help me," the governor told Sherr-Una Booker, the ex-girlfriend of Paterson's aide David Johnson, in a voice mail."
Of course, at the time of her decision that Paterson committed no crime, Kaye was on payroll of a prominent and rich law firm that did not want any quarrels with New York State government elite, so, for Kaye to be kept on that payroll, it paid to be selectively blind to keep friends in high places.
Of course, as a judge of New York State Court of Appeals, Kaye affirmed many convictions which was, given her loose definition of "bad judgment" also only bad judgments and not crimes.
But, as we know, quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi, or "Gods may do what cattle may not".
Talking about titles of nobility and - Kaye left quite a legacy.