"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.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Attorneys' courage in challenging the government

This young Russian civil rights attorney from Ekaterinburg (Russia, Siberia) Roman Kachanov does not look like a hero.

But he is a hero.

Here is Roman Kachanov's speech in court in defense of his client Ekaterina Vologzheninova who was labeled an "extremist" and criminally charged and prosecuted simply for re-posting other people's political posts on social media.

The official charge is for “incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as humiliation of human dignity”, a criminal offense under under Article 282.1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code.

Here is Roman Kachanov's client, Ekaterina Vologzheninova.

Here is a snapshot made by Russian media source of the court proceeding against Ekaterina Vologzheninova.  Note that a court security officer in Russian court is allowed to conceal his face, like in a SWAT-team operation.

Here is Roman Kachanov's speech in her defense in court, in Russian, of course.

Here is my translation of Roman Kachanov's speech (my transcript of Roman Kochanov's speech from the original video recording, in Russian, is posted here).

"Freedom of thought and speech, constitutional freedom of thought and speech, allows me to stand in complete solidarity with the opinion of my client regarding actions of my country in the Ukraine.

I rarely side with my clients, it is actually the first time in my law practice, but here, being here as if I am a defendant, too - yes, I am perceived like that...

It is not by chance that I am here, together with my client, on this defense bench - the defendant is here close to me - I am also a defendant here, as are millions of Russian citizens who did not support occupational, land-grabbing position of my Motherland in regards to the neighboring sovereign state.

Did not support.


So what now - all of them should be charged? 

A war... Is going on...

Human corpses, people perish, people's pain and suffering...

Of course, people are emotional.

Of course, during war time it is acceptable.

How did the poet describe it?

"Strike at a German, kill him as many times as you see him" 

(Roman Kochanov is alluding to the 1942, well-known in Russia WWII poem of Russian poet  Konstantin Simonov "If you cherish your home and land", poetic translation is pending and will be published soon - T.N.).

And, when the poet wrote "German", he meant, naturally, fascism because it is an embodiment of the whole, if I may say...

One may make such generalizations during war time, when my people, my citizens, citizens of my country and my compatriots, are dying in a foreign land.

That's what Galich wrote - "citizens, our Motherland is in danger, our tanks are on foreign soil" 

(Roman Kochanov is referring to Alexander Galich, a now-deceased and still famous Soviet poet, screenwriter, playwright, singer-songwriter, and dissident, and to Galich's famous anti-war song 'The immortal Kuzmin', poetic translation is pending and will be posted soon - T.N.).

Here are my... Our tanks are in the foreign land!

Of course, people are not indifferent to it.

And people are being gagged.

They are told:  "be silent, do not express emotions, that's not your d****d business, it's our business to deal with it without you".

Of course, people are not indifferent.

Look at the pathos of these publications!

Look at this one verse alone!

"We are Russians!  Know it, Russians do not surrender!
We will not surrender the Ukraine to you!"

This is positive pathos, aimed to extol Russians who are fighting.... citizens of the Ukraine who are fighting on the side of their Motherland, on their own land.  Against aggressors and land-grabbers.

And now this text, the one that the esteemed state prosecutor referenced - regarding ... signed... where "volunteers" from Russia who fight are criticized ("volunteers" meant are Russian citizens who crossed into the Ukraine to fight against the Ukrainian armed forces - T.N.).

...criticism of volunteers from Russia, including Russian volunteers who fight in the Ukraine.  

This is not simple criticism, this is, so to say... (licks his lips nervously) ... The author says - "how can you?  You disgrace Russian people!  Disgrace them!

The Ukraine... For 25 years it is a sovereign state, a member of the United Nations, a founding member, one of the founding members of the United Nations, an organization that has in its Charter the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

When Stalin attacked Finland, the Soviet Union was kicked out of the League of Nations - quickly!

They, probably, don't have the guts to do the same now.

But - what has happened is the same.

Why should Russian citizens be silent?

Why should they be mum as cattle, why should they be mum and yes-man the government? 

When Kiselyov, from a state channel, wields  his propaganda, when he says - "let's turn the United States into radioactive ashes" - that's not incitement of hatred and animosity?

That's not brainwashing of millions of our compatriots?


You didn't have the guts to get at Kiselyov - right?

It is easier to get at a single mother caring for her own elderly mother...

Somebody read something somewhere...

Just think about it, she was persuading somebody somewhere in the rightness of her ideas...  Her colleagues, somebody else...

So what?

Yes, she was persuading.

Yes, she was advocated.

Has an absolute right to do that.

And I am also persuading, and I am also advocating - those things I am sure about.

So what?

Let's charge everybody for it.


Attorney Roman Kochanov did not save his client from a clearly political conviction.  

The odds were too great.

There is a tendency to charge people for contents of their political statements in Russia, as there is a clamp down on free speech elsewhere in the world - all under the guise of fighting terrorism.

Mr. Kochanov's client was reportedly sentenced to 320 hours of community service and to a completely medieval - and senseless - sentence of destruction of her laptop that she used for reposting on social media, and even sentenced to destruction of her computer mouse.

Yet, that Roman Kochanov valiantly fought for his client, the way he did, shows that, while such people like him exist, not all is lost for humanity.

If you watch and listen to him speak, whether you know the Russian language or not (the speech is short, just over 5 minutes), simply by observing Roman Kachanov's facial expression, his body language, his trembling lips when he is speaking, his occasional stammer and broken sentences, you can say that he is afraid to say what he is saying to the court.

Yet, he is saying it, on behalf of his client.

To do what Roman Kochanov is doing, at the time he is doing it, in the country he is doing it, in the political climate he is doing it, despite his likely and reasonable fear of repercussions for doing it, makes him a hero.

Roman Kochanov is one of many honest lawyers who are fighting for their clients everywhere in the world.

The toughest fight is the fight against unfair accusations of the government - government that has exponentially more resources and tools of suppression of both the client, and the attorney, than the attorney has.

Roman Kochanov was not demonstrating in the streets.

But, what he did is no less important, maybe, more.

He created an example for others inside and outside of his profession to follow, an example of integrity and standing on one's principles, even if when you are afraid, but when you think you are right, and when it is a matter of important principle.

Our freedoms and the future of democratic society rests on the courage of people like Roman Kochanov.

If in your time of need, you, for any reason, in your country, become "unpopular" with the government or people around you - because of who you are, because of what your thoughts and beliefs are - if you have nobody around you like Roman Kochanov who will be ready to put his own career and well-being on the line for your sake - because when people like Kochanov were discriminated and eliminated, you did not think it's worth it to defend them - then what?

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