"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.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

What 1st Amendment?

Judicial retaliation against attorneys who criticize judges has been a recurrent topic on this blog.

I, as an attorney whose license was suspended for two years on November 13, 2015, for criticizing two judges in three motions, two of them to recuse, know the brunt of that retaliation first-hand.

Despite the fact that my criticism was (1) true and (2) fully protected by the 1st Amendment (as the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed in June of 2015 in the case Reed v Town of Gilbert, invalidating content-based regulation of speech that did not pass strict scrutiny - and strict scrutiny test was never applied to my sanctions - courts stubbornly continue to enforce the unconstitutional suspension.

I am not alone in my plight.  Attorneys throughout the U.S. are being sanctioned, and raise the issue of their 1st Amendment protection to criticize misconduct of public officials, including judges.

Now, amazingly, a judge entered the fray of this fight.

In my previous blog (just updated) I described the plight of a judge who dared to call a spade and a spade and accused a prosecutor of being racist - based on the prosecutor's unquestionably racist actions.

Now the judge is in hot waters and is facing a disciplinary action for his protected speech on issues of grave public concern - CONFIRMED, systematic racism in criminal proceedings in his state.

Now a judge has to sue the Judicial Conduct Commission to protect his right of free speech that he did not abdicate when he put on his black robe - and that is exactly the same situation with attorneys, who did not abdicate their 1st Amendment rights to speak out on issues of public concerns, including judicial misconduct, in exchange for their state license and "permission" by the state to earn their livelihood, a federal constitutional right.

So, when an attorney criticizes a judge, she is disciplined.

When a (black) judge criticizes a (white) politically connected attorney, he is about to be disciplined, too.

This bacchanalia of discipline only hurts the public and prevents their access to court by eliminating attorneys and judges who can actually do their jobs honestly, as they were sworn to do.

And the public should be aware of it.

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