"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

Judges fixing court cases, beware - FBI may be listening: the story of PA judges Waters and Segal

The FBI was listening, I am not kidding.

In 2011, one Pennsylvania judge, Municipal Court Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr.,  reportedly called another Pennsylvania judge, Dawn Segal, and asked her to give a favorable treatment to a politically connected defendant that will appear in front of her that day.

Judge Segal  agreed.

Judge Segal did give the favor and repeatedly called Judge Waters back, repeatedly, to report and make sure he understood that she "took care of it".

Here are the pictures of the two criminals in black robes:

the one who requested to fix the case for a politically connected defendant

and the one who agreed to carry out the request, used her judicial office corruptly, ruled in favor of the politically connected defendant and happily reported her crime back to Waters, several times, to make sure he gets it - and tells the politically connected defendant, so that Judge Segal could gain her own favors for "doing a job" for the "right person".

Specifically, Segal and Waters "allegedly discussed a felony gun case she was hearing, and Segal downgraded the charges to a misdemeanor after their conversation, according to disciplinary records."

The telephone conversation was wiretapped by the FBI.

Now, Judge Waters is in federal prison for two years, after he pled to a single count of mail and wire fraud, convicted for 

"fixing cases on behalf of campaign donors and political allies"

which, as the report went, made him "the latest in a string of city jurists facing time behind bars for breaking their oaths".

I resent the fact that Judge Waters was allowed to plea - and that indicates to me that those "political allies and campaign donors" still have the power, because they were allowed to be prevented from having their names appear in a federal jury trial, while the public has a right to know not only the names of corrupt judges, but who corrupted them and who obtained those favors.

Shouldn't the corrupted cases be overturned, shouldn't the opponents of corruptly favored litigants entitled to justice?

A plea, obscuring the names of cases and parties favored, makes such justice impossible.

Here is what the convicted felon, former Judge Waters, reportedly said at his sentencing:

"Honest to God, I'm here today to say I screwed up," Waters said, in front of a courtroom packed with family, police officers, defense lawyers, and even former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, who resigned last year in the midst of a pornographic e-mail scandal.

And "honest to God" statement from a former judge convicted, on admission, for mail and wire fraud, is sweet.

And, are we to understand that Waters fixed cases for police officers, defense lawyers and former Judge McCaffery - who "packed the courtroom" to make sure they hear whether Waters would implicate them in his parting-to-prison speech? 

And, of course, the report gave this characteristic to the convicted felon, that former Judge Waters is:

  • a former police captain, 
  • a Temple Law grad, 
  • a Fulbright scholar, and 
  • a devoted Catholic 

Imagine if an attorney would have overheard the case-fixing scheme and reported it.

That attorney's license, reputation and livelihood will be in the gutter by now.

Wiretapping by the FBI was different.

The former police captain, Temple Law grad, Fullbright scholar and devoted Catholic went to federal prison.

Judge Segal and another Philadelphia judge, O'Neill, are suspended, and Judge O'Neill has been indicted in early March, 2016 on case-fixing charges.

The reports on O'Neill reveal that "Waters contacted O'Neill twice in 2011 seeking favors for Samuel G. Kuttab, a Democratic fund-raiser who counted mayors and congressmen among his friends".

Here is the picture of O'Neill, the country should know its "heroes".  The picture is watery, but I found no other:

By the way, both O'Neill and Segal remain licensed attorneys with no record of attorney or judicial discipline in PA, here are screenshots from PA attorney lookups for their names I made today.

Here are screenshots for Segal:

and for O'Neill:

Kuttab was convicted on a plea and got 6 months in prison.

I found mentioning of Mr. Kuttab's name in connection with Bill Clinton's healthcare initiatives in 1993, otherwise it appears that the Internet has been purged of any information pertaining to ties of Mr. Kuttab.

As to how the criminal proceeding of now-former Judge Waters proceeded, I will dedicate a separate blog post - what I found on in the docket of the criminal case is simply hilarious.

For purposes of this blog post, what was happening in the good old Philly courts, was happening in New York (for example) all the time.

For example, Oneonta attorney Richard Harlem (and son of a retired and now late Supreme Court Justice who was also Chief Administrative Judge of the 6th Judicial District Robert Harlem) proudly put his ex parte communications with judges into his billing statements - to be billed against the victims of his ex parte communications.

And judges proudly grant Richard Harlem's requests, ordering such victims to pay legal fees for Richard Harlem's ex parte communications with judges.

I guess, FBI has its hands full with Pennsylvania judges now.

But, since Preet Bharara has recently hinted to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, buddy of New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, to "stay tuned", New York judges should also start to be wary about their case fixing activities.

Who knows.

FBI may be recording.

As to the story of the federal criminal proceeding against Judge Waters, containing information that somehow escaped reporting so far - 

Stay tuned.

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