"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, February 11, 2016

The historic vote in Pennsylvania Senate not to oust PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane - the bell continues to toll the doom of attorney licensing

Yesterday, Pennsylvania Senate voted whether to oust the state Attorney General Kathleen Kane for having her law license suspended.  They did not have enough votes to oust Kathleen Kane, so now the unique situation where an Attorney General continues to direct her office while having her law license suspended, continues.

I already wrote in this blog about Kathleen Kane whose license was suspended as a preliminary matter, because Kathleen Kane who poked the hornet's nest of the "good ole boys club" in the state judiciary and prosecutor's offices who used taxpayer-funded e-mail system to send pornographic and women-demeaning e-mails.

I wrote how easy the attorney disciplinary system can be used as a tool of retaliation - and even as a tool of removal of an elected public official, bypassing the cumbersome procedure of impeachment.

The local establishment was trying to have Kathleen Kane resign by first bringing criminal charges against her after she started to expose judicial and prosecutorial misconduct in her state - which was her job as the State Attorney General, and especially in view of the fact that the state of Pennsylvania already disgraced itself by failing to discipline judges who were selling kids for cash for kickbacks into for-profit juvie prisons until the feds caught them and put them in jail for decades as convicted felons.

Kathleen Kane refused to resign.

The establishment then had an attorney disciplinary proceeding brought against Kathleen Kane.

In the parallel universe, in New York State, no disciplinary proceedings were brought in New York against NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the NYS Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos when they were charged with federal crimes - and even now, when they are both convicted for federal felonies for public corruption, they remain listed as licensed attorneys with "no record of public discipline", even when a felony conviction in New York must result in an automatic disbarment.

The same Pennsylvania Supreme Court that suspended the law license of Kathleen Kane - as a preliminary matter, while her disciplinary proceedings were pending, and while she was only charged with a crime and presumed innocent - only "temporarily suspended" (at first) Judge Marc Ciavarella, the "hero" of the Kids for Cash scandal, and suspended him only after his criminal conviction, but not when the FEDERAL criminal charges were brought against him, because the state court system refused to criminal charge their own judges - like Kathleen Kane was going to do. 

Here is a scan from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court registry of suspensions:

Even now, Judge Ciavarella remains only SUSPENDED, not DISBARRED, after being convicted for federal felonies and sentenced to serve 28 years in federal prison.

The date of Ciavarella's suspension is May 7, 2012.

Ciavarella was convicted by a federal jury on February 18, 2011 and sentenced to 28 years in prison as a felon on August 11, 2011.

Yet, it took Pennsylvania a year to "suspend" his law license - after his conviction.

As a contrast, an attorney who was also involved in the scheme with Ciavarella, but was not a judge, was disbarred, and disbarred "retroactively" to 2009.

For Kathleen Kane it was an "emergency temporary suspension" - I wonder, what was the "emergency", that she was about to criminally prosecute some prosecutors and judges?  So, the regulators struck before she had a chance to prosecute them?

We have a race of criminal defendants and a prosecutor to the courthouse now as to who will get whom first? Apparently, attorney disciplinary system provides an ample opportunity for criminal defendants to disable their prosecutors like they tried to do with Kathleen Kane.

 I do believe that the PA Senate did not get enough votes to oust Kathleen Kane because the esteemed Senators were afraid of riots in the streets if they would vote for such an ouster, despite an overwhelming public support of Kathleen Kane in Pennsylvania.

It is a historic moment that the use of attorney discipline as a tool of retaliation, to discredit and ruin an attorney for doing her job for the public, was stalled because of public support.

And it is a great start for deregulation of the legal profession.

Kathleen Kane does not need a law license to do her job properly.

Neither do defense attorneys, civil rights attorneys and other attorneys raising sensitive issues of misconduct against well-connected private individuals and public officials.  

Their law licenses are an impediment for independent representation of clients and not a protection of clients.

Law licenses in Pennsylvania are useful, apparently, only as gags on attorneys not to report judicial misconduct, and are of no use to protect the public and ensure quality of legal services.

But, the historic PA Senate vote continues the process of deregulation of the legal profession that already started - and is powered by the grass roots movement in Pennsylvania in support of its Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The regulation of a profession should be stopped when it does nothing but stifling independent representation of the public in court and operates to impede independent actions of elected public officials to weed out public corruption among the regulators of the legal profession.

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