"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.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Judges self-excusing themselves from work to go contributor-chasing

When a judge is elected to the bench, the judge's first and foremost duty is to be a judge.


Well, maybe.

A Wisconsin #judgeRebeccaBradley is being criticized for leaving the bench in the middle of the oral argument and adjourning such argument because she reportedly needed to meet with the state business lobby who would fund her re-election campaign.

It may be, as Judge Bradley's "spokeswoman said", that judges "routinely excuse themselves for personal or scheduling reasons".

There are four questions (at least) about that though:

1) with the caseload congestion claims being made by all courts in all states, how justified was the "self-excuse", and are there policies in courts across the country to monitor the "self-excuses" of judges "for personal and scheduling reasons";

2) Did Judge Bradley - and other judges who practice such "self-excuses" report their "self-excuses" in their time sheets and are also "excused" from being paid for the "self-excused" time.  I will try to verify whether Judge Bradley charged the state for the time of her "self-excuse" through a Freedom of Information request;

3) Did Judge Bradley had the decency to notify parties and attorney appearing in front of them that she will have to leave, and that the court dates will have to be adjourned.  With attorneys paid by the hour at hourly rates well exceeding $100/hr, it is a disservice to the parties to have them pay for their attorney's appearances (since it is contempt of court and attorney misconduct not to appear to a scheduled proceeding) and then be blatantly "advised" that the judge "excused herself" in the middle of an oral argument for "personal reasons" not related with disability, and they have to come again, inconvenience themselves again, ask their employers to allow them to take time off work again - and pay their attorneys again.

Reportedly, the judge "read the briefs" and "had no questions", but that's not the point.

An "opportunity to be heard" includes a right to an oral argument of the brief, and that right may only be waived by the party and not by the judge.

Did Judge Bradley offer to pay for the lost time and for attorney fees incurred by parties because of her abrupt disappearance in the middle of a court session, her self-excuse and self-adjournment?

I know, I know, it is a rhethorical question.  But it should not be.

Judges should not be allowed to act as if they can do whatever they want with the taxpayer-paid time, and there should be some real accountability for misconduct such as Judge Bradley's.

Judge Bradley who is so head-over-heels to get to the sources of funding for her election campaign that she has left her job in the middle of a court session (in order to get funds to retain her job, makes a lot of sense, doesn't it), is also known for hateful speech as a student.

After election of Bill Clinton she reportedly wrote this:

""Either you condone drug use, homosexuality, AIDS-producing sex, adultery and murder and are therefore a bad person, or you didn't know that he supports abortion on demand and socialism, which means you are dumb. Have I offended anyone? Good — some of you really need to wake up."


Bad person?


Judge Bradley reportedly condoned adultery by engaging in an extramarital affair with a married man while representing him in a child custody proceedings.

Is she a self-described bad person? 

What disgusts me is that such people as Judge Bradley remain on the bench forever, because, no matter what misconduct and ethical violations they engage in, they know which side their bread is buttered.

Judge Bradley knew parties and attorneys appearing in front of her are helpless to hold her accountable for "self-excusing" from oral arguments where they arrived, having spent time, money for travel and money lost in days off work.

But, Judge Bradley also knew that she will lose money if she does not make it on time to her potential sources of funding for re-election.

And funding won over Judge Bradley's service as a judge.

As to whether Judge Bradley also charged the state for the time when she "excused herself" to go elsewhere for personal business, I will try and use Wisconsin access-to-records law, will try to verify that information and will publish the results on this blog.

Stay tuned.

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