"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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A no-public-bidding 33-million-dollar contract of New York Unified Court system with a non-profit. Budget constraints and personnel cuts, right...

In November of 2015, the soon-to-be-retired New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced and endorsed a program funded allegedly by an "anonymous private donor", called "Legal Hand".  I wrote about the program on this blog on December 22, 2015.

The program was about non-attorney volunteers providing legal services and advice to indigent individuals and, as announced, sometimes "screening" their cases.  The program, reportedly, "helped" the cases of consulted individuals to not reach courts.

The program caught my immediate attention because I actively researched the concept of unauthorized practice of law, in this country and in the State of New York, moreover, since 2013 to November 2015 when I was suspended from the practice of law (right before I was about to file a motion for sanctions for frivolous conduct against Judge Jonathan Lippman, the 3rd Department Court, the 3rd Department Professional Conduct Committee, and the New York State Attorney General) I was litigating a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of my husband raising, among other things, the issue that unauthorized practice of law (UPL), is tailored in New York to the identity of criminal defendant, which is unconstitutional.

Specifically, I asserted there, and Mr. Neroni is continuing to assert it on his own in his motion to vacate the dismissal of his civil rights lawsuit based on new evidence, including the "Legal Hand program" (see his newest pleadings on the subject published in full here), that UPL laws in New York are vague, undefined, allow arbitrary enforcement, and are actually arbitrarily and selectively enforced, unconstitutionally targeting people's right to earn a living.

UPL is practicing law without a license, and is a criminal statute that must be applied blindly, without looking at the identity of the person.  That is not what is happening in New York which applies UPL to suspended and disbarred attorneys differently than to never-licensed individuals.

Practicing without a license means practicing where you never had a license, or practicing when you had a license, but it was suspended or revoked.

Yet, New York applies one set of rules to those who never had a license and another, stricter set of rules, to those who lost their law licenses.  In other words, in New York, what is a crime of UPL to those who lost their licenses, is not the crime of UPL for those who never had it - and the "Legal Hand", endorsed by New York's Chief Judge is one of the examples.

Yet, exploration of the "Legal Hand" program brought me into something, I think, bigger that unconstitutional application of UPL laws.

When I researched the program, I found that it was handled by the so-called "Center for Court Innovation", a "public charity", a non-profit organization.

Back in law school, I took a course in non-profit organizations from a professor who was extremely distrusting to these entities.  To give you an idea, the professor told us that he never donates to a single charity before they answer two of his questions (and most never do):

1) financial reports of the charity;
2) percentage of income of the charity dedicated to its declared mission (example: how much money does a children's cancer research institute dedicate to children's cancer research?)  Could be as little as 1% of collected funds, or less - there is no set limit for that.

Following my professor's tip, I started to ask these questions to charities who call for donations.  They usually refused to provide financial disclosures, refused to answer the question as to the percentage and quite often became belligerrent as to why I ask all those questions instead of just doing "the right thing" - just give them the money.

Well, while researching the webpage of the Center for Court Innovation, a public charity (a tax-exempt non-profit corporation otherwise known as the Fund for the City of New York, Inc.), I found this spectacular statement:

Yes, it was declared that this non-profit was "founded as a public/private partnership" with the New York State Unified Court System.

That put the "partnership" within the reach of Freedom of Information Law, at least, on the Court Administration's side.

I filed a FOIL request with the New York State Office of Court Administration in December of 2015 and asked for information about the "partnership".

Here is my FOIL request:

The Court Administration answered with its usual tactic - "we will answer within 20 days", even though the law is clear that they should provide information within 5 business days, unless information is substantial and not easy to find.

Instead of complying with the law, governmental entities in New York (it is a universal trick) first give you a "20 day run-around", then take a lot more than 20 days to respond in the hope that you will forget.

In my case, I made the FOIL request by e-mail on December 23, 2015, and, until yesterday, did not have any responses.  So, I wrote again and threatened with a lawsuit and legal fees against those individuals who are stalling release of records, in case I am represented in the lawsuit by a licensed attorney (New York conveniently suspended my own law license so that I could not sue for stalling my own FOIL requests, after I made in October of 2015 a FOIL request that the Court Administration is still stalling - about members, founding documents and other records pertaining to the so-called "New York State-Federal Judicial Council", a shadow organization influencing New York and federal courts).

After my e-mail  yesterday, New York office of Court Administration reacted nearly instantly (showing that 20 days were not really necessary to respond), but gave me not documents pertaining to the formation of a "partnership" that, according to available information, existed since at least 1990s, and, according to the papers filed by the Fund with IRS, since 1982 (the "ruling" year).

The only documents pertaining to that so-called "private-public" partnership that New York Court Administration released to me so far is - guess - a CONTRACT for the period of 2014 to 2018 between New York Court Administration and the Center for Court Innovation, approved by:

  1. The court administration
  2. New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
  3. New York Attorney General

Of course, I contested the incomplete disclosure with the following e-mail:

But, guess what was the amount of the contract between the New York Unified Court System and the Center for Court Innovation for the years 2014 to 2018 approved by the New York State Comptroller and New York State Attorney General?

33 million 763 thousand and 419 dollars, ladies and gentlemen, of taxpayers' money, are pledged to be diverted by the New York Unified Court System to "independent research" and some "projects" where, I am sure, relatives and friends are employed by the droves - and that is at the time of budget cuts, when the court claims too high caseloads, cuts personnel, and asks from the New York State Legislature an ADDITIONAL budget for increase of salaries of judges.

And here are the names of people who approved the contract:

Of course I will apply to the NYS Senate immediately asking to disaffirm the findings of the commission for judicial pay raises as a need for additional budget for such raises (not that our corrupt Senate will listen to me, of course, but I will at least make the record) - because the budget is right there, only it is used for "contractors", which should be investigated as to employment of relatives and friends of judges.

If New York Unified Court system has extra money to splurge on "contractors" to do "independent research" for them, it definitely must have money to fund such pesky things as (first as priority) indigent defense and then (last priority) judicial salaries.

That the contract is open-ended, its terms which are not contained in the contract itself, but are attached in an "appendix" allows a non-profit corporation to practically to run the New York State court system, and many of its programs, and to influence the courts' decision-making process.

Since it has been approved by the State Comptroller and State Attorney General, apparently, state authorities cannot investigate the project for public corruption, because they are themselves involved in it and will look like idiots for approving it in the first place.

To learn for what exactly did the New York Court system is going to pay nearly 34 million dollars of your money over the years 2014 to 2018 - stay tuned.

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