"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, April 17, 2016

A message to case-fixing judges by a federal court - it pays to go to church, you'll get a more lenient criminal sentence if you do

I recently wrote about a judge from the state of Louisiana, Judge Best (don't laugh, real name), who fixed a court case for a convicted sex offender, specifically, reduced his probation in an ex parte hearing, without notifying the prosecution, because the judge personally knew the sex offender from the judge's church's choir.

I also recently wrote a blog arguing that it is unacceptable, in ANY setting, for the government to consider church involvement as a mitigating factor to determine a measure of government-imposed discipline, or to provide a government-issued license, of any kind.

The church is separated from state - period.

The government may not discriminate - to give favors or disfavors - for participation in church activities or lack thereof.

Yet, that is exactly the kind of favor, deviation of criminal sentencing guidelines, that the convicted felon, former PA judge Joseph C. Waters, asked from the sentencing court - and received.

Waters' attorneys asked for a downward deviation because of Waters' alleged "good character" - supported by 190 letters of character.

Even though the sentencing guidelines enacted by the U.S. Congress - which Waters' attorneys acknowledged - do not allow deviation based on the criminal defendant's "good character".  Only criminal history, or lack thereof, may be considered by the sentencing court.

Here is what Waters' plea agreement was - according to Waters' own "Sentencing Memorandum":

The court could reject, and should have rejected the negotiated plea agreement because it did not comply with the federal sentencing guidelines, it was too lenient.

Waters argued in his memorandum - as a devote Catholic and a man of "good character", no less - that several bribes that he received had to be calculated as one for purposes of leniency and downward deviation in the sentencing guidelines.

Then, Waters' asserted that, as a man of "good character" who has "temporarily lost his moral compass", a good family man and because of his COMMITMENT TO CHURCH, he should be given a downward deviation in criminal sentencing.

Here is what Waters pled guilty to:

Both of these crimes are felonies.

The crime charged under 18 U.S.C. 1341 was punishable by

  1. not more than $1,000,000 in fine and 
  2. not more than 30 YEARS in federal prison - or both.

Waters pled guilty to having committed that crime.

The crime under 18 U.S.C. 1343 another count that Waters pled guilty to, provides for an identical punishment - either up to ONE MILLION DOLLARS in fine or up to 30 YEARS in federal prison.

Yet, here is Waters' Sentencing Memorandum in its full glory and

here is a portion of Waters' argument to get a more lenient criminal sentence because he goes to mass every day:

The convicted felon, a judge who wielded tremendous power, who has been a 2nd-generation police officer and retired as a police captain, who was an attorney and officer of the court practicing in state and federal courts, who has been a judge for many years, and thus knew what he was doing was a crime, and his knowledge must INCREASE his sentence, not DECREASE it - that man "attends daily mass", and thus, should be (and was) given a sentence that was more lenient than the federal sentencing guidelines required?

Here is what Waters was sentenced to:

 Incarceration for 2 years - out of possible 30 years.

In a prison close to home, so that "friends and family" could visit more easily - think about indigent criminal defendants whose young children have to travel across the country to see them.

Judge Waters' family and friends are WEALTHY individuals who could well afford travel to anywhere in the country.

There was no basis whatsoever for such deference to a corrupt judge.

After Waters is released from prison - that will happen in two years since his commitment, in 2017 if not earlier (for good behavior), Waters will be supervised for 3 years, under the following conditions:

These are "general conditions" of Waters' supervision.

and here are the fine and special conditions of supervision:

So, a corrupt judge received:

A fine of $5,500 out of possible ONE MILLION dollars;
A term of incarceration of 2 years out of possible 30 years,

a permission to serve his prison term close to family and friends, so that they could visit often, and lenient conditions of supervision for 3 years.

That's all.

And, as a factor, the sentencing court that gave a corrupt judge a lenient sentence, used the judge's claim that he is "committed to church" and goes to mass every day.

Here is the full docket of Waters' criminal case, including the names of the judge and prosecutors who agreed to this "downward deviation" based on Waters' active churchgoing.

So, now precedents are being set all over this great country.

If you want to molest a child - just sing in the church choir where your criminal court's judge attends and sing sweetly, and the judge (Judge BEST) will give you a break.

If you want to fix a court case, go to mass every day, and then the sentencing court (like Judge Juan Sanchez, his picture is below so that the country would know its "heroes"), will give you a break.

Going to church apparently pays, big time - to get criminals a break.

The more important the criminal - the bigger the break.

A mere local garden variety sex offender gets an ex parte reduction in probation for singing sweetly in the judge's church choir.

A wealthy corrupt judge convicted, on admission, of receiving multiple bribes, (by the way, see the full 12-page criminal charges against Waters here), gets 

  • 1/15, or 6.7% of the allowed maximum sentence, 
  • a fine that constitutes 0.55% of the allowed maximum fine
  • a prison close to home so that his influential and wealthy family members and friends could save some money on travel visiting him

What is NOT included into judge Waters' sentence - despite recitations of multiple bribes in multiple cases in his own Sentencing Memorandum -  is forfeiture of bribes and restitution of damages to victims

  • opponents in civil litigation where cases were fixed, 
  • victims of crimes where criminal cases were fixed.

So, the corrupt judge was NOT ordered to returned cash bribes and gifts he received.

And, there is no indication that victims of the judge's behavior received any restitution or remedy.

I will run, time pertmitting, additional blogs about other "mitigation" factors that corrupt judge Waters pointed out to the criminal sentencing court, and the court accepted it by granting Waters the lenient sentence he was asking for.

Yet, as to the "devote churchgoer" issue, specifically, I would like to highlight and stress what the federal sentencing court did in Waters' case.

In a cynical, shameless and self-serving way, the federal court gave a message to other corrupt judges who commit corruption and are as yet not caught - going to church pays.

Who knows, maybe, some time down the road the sentencing judge himself will be caught, one cannot be too careful not to prepare for such an occasion.

Like by creating a precedent for a fellow judge who was actually court in multiple cases of corruption and case-fixing.

Go to church, you idiots, when engaged in corruption - you will do less time.

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