"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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Disbarment of Silver finally recognized (but not quite), Skelos remains listed as a licensed attorney with no record of public discipline

Even though Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos were both convicted of felonies last year, they appear as attorneys with no record of public discipline.

I wrote about it repeatedly on this blog, see, for example, my blog in December 2015 and this recent blog in March of 2016.

Sheldon Silver's disbarment, as of the date of his conviction in November of 2015, was recognized by a New York appellate court yesterday, on March 29, 2016.

The court found grounds for similarity (for purposes of automatic disbarment as of the date of the conviction) between the federal conviction of Silver in November of 2015 and a New York State felony statute:

"A conviction of a federal felony does not trigger automatic disbarment unless the offense would constitute a felony under New York Penal Law (Judiciary Law § 90[4][e]; Matter of Rosenthal, 64 AD3d 16 [1st Dept 2009]). While the federal felony need not be a mirror image of the New York felony, the two crimes must be essentially similar (see Matter of Margiotta, 60 NY2d 147, 150 [1983]; Matter of Bardey, 133 AD3d 77 [1st Dept 2015]). Essential similarity in this case is established by comparing the language of the relevant state and felony statutes, as well as by examining past precedent with respect to the foreign felony at issue (Matter of Schoenecker, 107 AD3d 113 [1st Dept 2013).

A person is guilty of larceny by extortion under New York law when "he compels or induces another person to deliver such means of instilling in him a fear that, if the property is not so delivered, the actor or another will...[u]se or abuse his position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to his official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such a manner as to affect some person adversely" (Penal Law § 155.05[2][e][viii]). Under 18 USC § 1951(b)(2), extortion is defined as "the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, [*2]violence, or fear, or under color of official right."

Yet, on the website of NYS Unified Court System, Silver is still listed today as a licensed attorney with no record of public discipline.

We will see what amount of time will take New York to reflect the court's decision on Silver's attorney registration website.

For "mere mortal" attorneys the NYS Unified Court system bends over backwards to reflect the decision about suspension or disbarment the day the decision is made.

Dean Skelos, former Majority Leader of the New York Senate, also convicted last year of felonies, similarly continues to be shown as a licensed attorney with no record of public discipline.


Somehow, old connections die hard?

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