"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, May 31, 2016

My interview on "Justice Served with Andy Ostrowsky" tonight at 6 p.m. Eastern Time - tune in

My readers are invited to tune into my interview tonight at 6 p.m. Eastern Time (in North America) by a radio show of Andy Ostrowski called "Justice Served" at "Twigs Cafe Radio".

Andy Ostrowski ran for Congress in 2014 and won an astounding 1/3 of votes while being a first-time candidate and not being endowed by financial support, as his opponent was.

Andy Ostrowski's election platform was judicial reform, and support of voters shows how important that issue has become in this country.

My interview will be largely on the issue of attorney licensing and how it contributes to the justice gap in this country, and why attorney licensing, designed as help offered (or, rather, imposed) by the government upon consumers of court representation services, creates an illusion of protection and hurts rather than helps.

It must be a lively discussion, it will be live-streamed, not pre-recorded, so it will be spontaneous questions and spontaneous answers.

The radio show also has a call-in line, a text-in line and an e-mail-in line for questions during and after the on-air interview:

Even though the call-in line will not be open tonight, I asked Andy Ostrowski to forward questions to me and will strive to answer as many as I can, whether during the show (though time on the show is limited) or after the show.

Come listen to my interview - 6 p.m. tonight, Eastern Time at "Justice Served" with Andy Ostrowski/Twigs Cafe Radio.

Andy Ostrowski's "Justice Served" covered so far a wide range of sensitive topics that the mainstream media refuses to cover, such as:

1) the use of attorney discipline as a tool of retaliation against attorneys who do their jobs for their clients and criticize misconduct of the government and especially judicial misconduct - in the "Disciplined Attorney series"; 

2) abuses of basic human rights by Homeowners Associations;

3) abuses and corruption in probate and family courts.

I am grateful and honored to have been invited to speak on "Justice Served" show.

Thank you, Andy Ostrowski, and, to my readers - "see" you there.

6:21 pm  Update: for some technical reasons, so far the Radio Show could not reach me - some phone glitches, possibly because of a thunderstorm in my area.  I am here by the phone and we are trying to overcome the glitch.

7:20 Fortunately, I was able to get through and appear on the show - for 25 minutes out of the planned hour, but still, we had a productive discussion.

Here is the link to the interview.

Thank you for listening, and apologies for the technical glitches.  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Would the American Founding Father John Adams have been persecuted for representation of the "wrong clients" in our day and age?

I dedicated a lot of posts on this blog to the growing tendency of political persecution of attorneys - human rights defenders, and that occupational licensing of attorneys is used not for its intended use, protection of the public, but as a sword to destroy, in every possible way, attorneys who dare criticize misconduct of government officials on behalf of people whose civil rights are violated.

Recently, I wrote about assassinations - in many countries, including the U.S. - of human rights defenders, including attorneys.

Some attorneys flee from countries where they can be detained and murdered for their views, like civil rights attorneys are fleeing from China.

I also wrote about cowardly policies of the American Bar Association that "require" that "noble" institution to deny support to attorneys who are not "in good standing" in their countries.

That's why, apparently, the American Bar Association denied support to the Chinese civil rights attorney Dr. Teng Biao who immigrated into the U.S. from China to escape political persecution, when ABA pulled the plug on the book deal about civil rights activities that ABA first solicited from Dr. Teng Biao.

ABA takes the same cowardly position as to American attorneys disciplined for standing up for their clients - under ABA's policies, any attorney who is suspended or disbarred, no matter for what reasons, rightly or wrongly, is barred from acceptance into the ABA, even as a non-attorney member.

It has become a well-known fact that civil rights attorneys and criminal defense attorneys are disproportionately targeted with attorney discipline.

What happened to the attorney who brought successful police brutality lawsuits, who brought the first successful lawsuit on behalf of a Guantanamo bay detainee (detained for years without charges), who wrote treatises on federal practice, and who triggered impeachment proceedings against the most-reversed federal judge Manuel T. Real?

He was disbarred, of course.

What is happening to independent criminal defense attorneys?

They are persecutedhumiliated and discredited.

If they dare to step into civil court proceedings, they are sanctioned and suspended on the basis of amorphous court-created "rules of frivolous conduct".

It appears that, had our Founding Father John Adams lived and practiced today, he would have been suspended by now.

After all, he represented - successfully - soldiers and officers involved in the Boston massacre.

The gall!

And, after he was suspended or disbarred, John Adams would have been discredited as a politician and prevented from a political career - that's what is being done to attorneys who criticize the judiciary in the U.S. nowadays.

That is actually the true goal of current attorney regulation - to divide attorneys into "good" and "bad", to lure the obedient with the "golden cage" of monopoly for practice, and to punish those who bite the hand that purports to feed them - the judiciary.

Yet, don't we as a nation want our potential Founding Fathers (and Mothers) to not be beaten up for doing their jobs?

One thing is to pay lip services at history lessons and describe John Adams and his accomplishments.

Quite another is to provide true protection to those who do the same as John Adams did, now - representing unpopular clients, "sensitive" causes, and opposing the government.

If human rights defenders don't have such protection, human rights don't have such protections either.

The New Jersey Governor sends a message to the public by nominating the just-disciplined judge to the new term: judicial discipline MEANS NOTHING

I wrote on this blog about the "crying" New Jersey judge Joseph Portelli - who was not crying when he was committing misconduct, running his court as a petty tyrant and making disparaging and sexist remarks in court to witnesses and attorneys.

Yet, the judge dissolved in tears when he considered the possibility of discipline and being taken off the bench.

Judge Joseph Portelli was not taken off the bench.

He received only a slap on the wrist by the disciplinary authorities.

And, as a parent sometimes gives a reward to an offending child to stop his crying - bad parenting, by the way - New Jersey Governor Christ Christie nominated Joseph Portelli for re-appointment for a new term just a week after Portelli was punished.

Apparently, with an abundance of attorneys in New Jersey, many of them presumably honest people with good temperament for becoming a judge, there was nobody else to nominate for the high judicial bench, but a just-disciplined judge? 

And, the New Jersey Governor sends a message this way to the public that judicial discipline MEANS NOTHING. 

Great job, Governor Christie.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Argro saga continues: a practice guide of how to screw the poor - just ask NDNY judges David Peebles and Norman Mordue and attorneys Woodruff "Teen Lover" Carroll and Erin Donnelly

I wrote on this blog about the civil rights lawsuit against Chenango County CPS, a case where I was removed from the case purportedly because I was suspended in federal court on November 18, 2015 (there is no public federal order of suspension, and thus no legal court order of suspension, and thus I am not suspended in federal court), but in reality - to prevent me from trying the case and obtaining a multi-million dollar recovery for the plaintiffs against Chenango County Department of Social Services.

Today, I looked it up on Pacer again - my name, cases filed and closed in 2015.

Here is what Pacer returned:

In that case I am listed as an attorney, not a party, it is closed in July of 2015, not November, and the case is not about discipline against me, but a civil rights lawsuit I brought on behalf of a client against an anti-semitic state Judge Kevin Dowd.

The order of suspension must be public to be valid.

As the query from Pacer as of today shows, there is NO public order of suspension of me as an attorney in federal courts.  None.

Which can only mean that, as a matter of law, I am an attorney in good standing in the Argro case, and my removal from that case was unlawful.

I also wrote on this blog how, after my alleged suspension, an attorney recommended by the local "bar association" (which is dominated by attorneys and judges who I sued) sold out the plaintiffs and was fired for misconduct and for repeated fraud upon the plaintiffs.

I also wrote on this blog that the attorney for the Defendants Erin Donnelly was representing to the court for months that the low amount she is offering is because of the low ($100,000-$150,000) payout limit.

Of course, I verified with the Chenango County through a FOIL request that those assurances were fraudulent, and that the Chenango County insurance payout limit per occurrence is $1,000,000.  Not to mention that New York law does not allow insurance coverage of intentional misconduct, and without coverage, insurance cannot control settlement amounts.

I also wrote about efforts of attorney Woodruff Carroll to defraud plaintiffs into signing low settlement of a multi-million dollar case, and into signing an affidavit against me.  The plaintiffs refused and fired Mr. Carroll for misconduct.

And that attorney Woodruff Carroll has a massive support from his well-connected siblings, while also demonstrated such lack of judgment - and morals - when he ran for an elected legislative seat in Onondaga County that he was called as "lacking a filter" in the press because of his outrageous statements that no civil rights attorney, or any self-respecting person would ever make.

Mr. Carroll returned to their residence, from Syracuse to Oxford, NY, three times, trying to force them to sign what they didn't want to sign and what was forced upon them by the combined fraud of Mr. Carroll and attorney Erin Donnelly.

Mr. Carroll came to plaintiffs' residence on Friday, May 20th;  Saturday May 21st; and, plaintiffs suspect, on May 22nd when plaintiffs simply did not open the door for him, but somebody insistently knocked on their doors, like Mr. Carroll did the previous days.

On May 24, 2016, Mr. Carroll notified the court that he has been fired by the plaintiffs.

The court told him that he cannot notify the court of being fired, but must submit a motion.

Mr. Carroll submitted a letter motion to withdraw, and an in-person hearing was scheduled for June 3, 2016, that was beyond the date to oppose my motion, May 31, 2016.

Of course, plaintiffs did not want Mr. Carroll to oppose my motion because they agreed with it.

So, when offering plaintiffs $100,000 for singing a $35,000 settlement and a false affidavit against me did not work, pleas about Mr. Carroll's law license and his sick sister did not work, Mr. Carroll and the defendants' counsel, and, no doubt, the court, put their heads together to defraud the plaintiffs in a new way.

Today, plaintiff Dara Argro called me to tell me that Mr. Carroll called her today (that is important) and notified her that the Defendants CPS filed a motion YESTERDAY which needs to be opposed by May 31, 2016, and that since Mr. Carroll is not yet relieved by the court as plaintiffs' counsel, he should be the one opposing the motion.

So, CPS filed a motion, on a Friday before the long Memorial Day weekend, to be responded to not within 17 days, as required by the local rules of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, but within 4 days, three of them falling on national holidays.

Here is a portion of the local rules of the NDNY court on the returnable dates for motions:

Here is the motion calendar of the court where, as a filing guide to parties, 31 days are automatically added to the filing date of the motion to determine the returnable date:

Here is how three overlapping motions in the case were scheduled:

My motion:

Mr. Carroll's three motions:

The Defendants' motion filed on 5/27/2016, with responses demanded on May 31, 2016 (within 4 days over the Memorial weekend, and while plaintiffs' counsel was fired and awaiting determination of motion to withdraw).

Defendants' May 27, 2016 motion, even though definitely attempting to infringe upon my rights, were not served upon me, 

so I chose not to look at them, not to be accused of waiving service.

Here is how motions have to be filed in NDNY:

1) a motion is filed, dates of response, reply and motion hearing are set:

I filed my motion on May 13, 2016, so the following dates for the motion were set by the court:

  • responses (including cross-motions, if any) - May 31, 2016 (+ 18 days from filing);
  • reply to response - June 6, 2016 (+ 6 days from filing of responses);

2) A cross-motion can only be filed against the party who filed the motion.

3) If the motion is a new motion, filed against a party who did not file a motion, it should follow the local rules and 31 days should be added to the filing date for the returnable date, and 17 days for response for the opposing party.

In other words, for a motion filed on May 27, 2016, the returnable date would have to be June 27, 2016, and the response date would have to be, according to the court's own rules, June 13, 2016.

Here is a table of scheduling of how the currently pending, overlapping and interralted motions were actually filed and scheduled:

Date filed
Who filed
What is the motion about
Response deadline
Reply to response deadline
Motion hearing date
Tatiana Neroni, plaintiffs previous attorney removed because of purported order of suspension – while there is no public order of suspension in federal court

Motion to vacate order stripping me of legal fees, recuse the court, sanction attorneys Carroll and Donnelly for frivolous conduct

May 31, 2016
June 6, 2016
June 15, 2016
Carroll requested permission to file cross-motion, the court denied his request
Woodruff Carroll, plaintiffs' new attorney
Motion to withdraw from representation
of plaintiffs because plaintiffs fired Woodruff Carroll

No response date set
No reply date set
Hearing in person on June 3, 2016

Woodruff Carroll
Motion to adjourn dates on my motion because of pending motion to withdraw

Denied, because the hearing date of June 3, 2016 was a "firm date" and was allegedly not "affected" by my motion to withdraw
That plaintiffs' rights were not "affected" in denying them adjournment of all dates until their counsel is removed from the case and until they hire a new counsel, was a lie of the enraged Judge Peebles, because plaintiffs were thus forced to be represented in opposition to my motion they did not want to oppose by an attorney they just fired for fraud that I described in my motion, requesting sanctions against that attorney

To enforce a settlement, dismiss the case with prejudice, deny me opportunity to apply (after the case closes) for legal fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988, and to bar me from filing more motions
(the motion was not served upon me, and I did not read it and did not waive service, I just read the docket entry)

May 31, 2016
No reply date set
June 15, 2016
Since the motion was not served upon me, it was not a cross-motion, but a new motion, and had to be filed following the usual local rules, in 31 days of advance and with 17 days for response
Response date for
·       My motion filed 18 days prior
·       Defendant's motion filed 4 days prior

Plaintiffs are not allowed to voice their position "pro se" because they have counsel that the court did not relieve yet, even though he was fired for misconduct
Hearing date for motion to withdraw

Such a hearing is academic since Mr. Carroll by that time will have done all the damages needed to be done to the case by May 31, 2016
Motion returnable date for
·       My motion filed on May 13, 2016
·       Defendant's motion that was not served upon me that was filed on May 27, 2016

Mr. Carroll may be very well removed from the case by that time, so the only reason to set 4 days for response for plaintiffs was to force them to use Mr. Carroll for opposition to the motion seeking a result that Mr. Carroll was trying to force upon the plaintiffs for 3 consecutive days by coming to their house

Now, what Defendants, Mr. Carroll and judges Mordue and Peebles accomplished by this motion and by how responses to this motion and scheduling for Mr. Carroll's motion to withdraw was done - is that indigent plaintiffs who are "technically" still represented by Mr. Carroll have NO CHOICE but allowing the attorney they just fired for fraud to represent them in a case where issues of the same fraud must be brought and discussed.

By court rules, plaintiffs may not proceed pro se while Mr. Carroll is still not relieved by the court.

And, the court conveniently refused to relieve Mr. Carroll at the time he was fired, or to adjourn deadlines for the plaintiffs to have Mr. Carroll removed by the court and to find new counsel.

Does it appear like this case is criminally fixed by the court and attorneys who wanted to kill the case - for money?

Most definitely.

Mr. Carroll has demonstrated, even by the timing of his call regarding the new motion (not when it was made, yesterday, with only 4 days' advance, but today, with 1/4 of that time gone).

Time was of the essence, right?

Yet, for his own benefit, when he wanted plaintiffs to sign a false affidavit against me to save his law license, he didn't just call, he actually came to their residence three days in a row - when plaintiffs told him not to come.

Of course, when it was time of the essence as to plaintiffs' rights, Mr. Carroll did not call right away.

And did not ask the "pissed off" judge for an adjournment until he is removed from the case.

And did not ask the "pissed off" judge for recusal, even knowing that the judge was "pissed off", and thus not impartial, towards the plaintiffs.

Mr. Carroll only called Dara this afternoon, and did not call his other two clients at all.

And, to Dara Mr. Carroll told that, since he is still "officially" Dara's attorney, he "must" oppose the motion - or everything will be lost.

When Dara asked Mr. Carroll to do the most reasonable thing under the circumstances - file a letter motion requesting an adjournment from the judge of opposition to the motion until the time when Mr. Carroll is relieved from his duties (because he has been fired as of May 20, 2016), and until the time when Dara and the other two plaintiffs find a new attorney - Mr. Carroll adamantly refused to file such a letter request.

Mr. Carroll explained his refusal by a claim that allegedly the response date of May 31, 2016, 3 days before the hearing on Mr. Carroll's motion to withdraw because he was fired, was set by "the judge", that the judge was "pissed" with Dara "for some reason", as Mr. Carroll said, and Mr. Carroll did not want to piss off the judge any further.

So, even though Mr. Carroll claimed to be officially an attorney for the plaintiffs until June 3, 2016, the hearing for his motion to withdraw, and even though opposition to the Defendants motion involves issues of his own fraud upon the plaintiffs and his own collusion with defendants' counsel (which, of course, he will not willingly raise against himself in a pleading), and even though Mr. Carroll acknowledged that the judge was "pissed" with his client, Mr. Carroll did not file either a request for adjournment beyond the date of his removal from the case by the court, nor did he file a motion to recuse the judge who was "pissed" off and retaliating against his clients with shortened-to-nothing time to respond.

Of course, it was in Mr. Carroll's interests not to be fired until the end of the case, and this maneuver allowed him to force himself back upon the plaintiffs, claiming to them that if they do not re-hire him and do not allow him to represent their interests - after all the fraud he committed against them - all will be lost for them.

Let's compare the response dates given to Defendants on my motion and given to plaintiffs who "pissed off the judge" on Defendants' motion.

Defendants were given 18 days to respond (May 13, 2016 to May 31, 2016) to a non-dispositive motion;

the "bad" plaintiffs who "pissed off" the judge were given 4 days to respond to a dispositive motion, where those 4 days were over the Memorial Day weekend, after they fired their counsel for fraud and while the court refused to remove the counsel and to give plaintiffs adjournment of all dates until they find new counsel.

Apparently, "Woody" Carroll - who, by the way, has tendencies of hanging out in video-chatrooms that lure teenagers to talk about sex, as demonstrated by his Facebook page (and, of course, nobody investigates him as a possible sexual predator against children because of his connections).

The "Tinychat" video chatrooms, as parents are repeatedly warned, is a direct way to their children's webcams - in the child's bedroom mostly.

And, the "tinychat" has been exposed as a "dirty" site where children may be exposing themselves before a webcam.

"Woody" is a mountain climber and posts on Facebook extremely explicit descriptions even of mountain caves.

THIS is who Chenango County child protective services, their attorneys and two judges, David Peebles and Norman Mordue, teamed up with - to screw up the poor.

And, under "Woody"'s they seem to have reached new heights in that art.

After all, "Woody" said in his election campaign for a legislative seat that the poor need to just be "roughed up a little" to "get 'em motivated".

And "Woody" knows about "roughing them up", doesn't he?

In this case though, roughing up the poor got to completely new levels. 

Where a judge, "pissed off" at the behavior of the plaintiffs who actually want a jury trial instead of being represented by a fraudster attorney who sold them out, and want out of fraudulently induced settlement that they never signed, the judge in question, instead of recusing (because he is pissed off with a party, and can no longer be impartial), fixes everything he can possibly fix:

1) refuses to release an attorney when he is fired;
2) refuses to adjourns pending dates until the time when the attorney is removed from the case by the court and until a new attorney is hired;
3) sets an extremely short date, in violation of the court rules, to answer a dispositive motion - knowing full well that the combination of the rulings will require plaintiffs to use the services of an attorney they fired for fraud.

These two judges, Peebles and Mordue, give professional attorneys 18 days to respond to a non-dispositive motion, and give 4 days over a national holiday to three indigent civil rights plaintiff to answer a dispositive motion, while at the same time forcing them into a situation where they have a "choice" - to re-hire an attorney they just fired for misconduct so that he would oppose the defendants' motion for them (in his favor, of course), or lose the case.

Of course, Dara Argro told me that she realizes now that they have been better off without Mr. Carroll or any attorney than with Mr. Carroll.

As of today, Mr. Carroll refuses to do his duty and refuses to do what Dara Argro asked him to do - file a letter motion asking an adjournment of the date of response to Defendants' motion to enforce the settlement agreement (obtained by fraud) and to dismiss the case with prejudice, until Mr. Carroll is removed from the case and until a new counsel is found and appears in the case.

And the "pissed off" judge, instead of recusing from the case, continues to preside over it and enforce fraud orchestrated, with the help of the court, against three indigent victims of CPS misconduct and of the fraud of two attorneys - Woodruff Carroll and Erin Donnelly.

I will continue to cover this story because, it appears that exposure of fraudsters at this time is the only thing that can help my former clients.

I want you to remember the faces of the people who are screwing the poor so savagely, cruelly, relentlessly and shamelessly.

Woodruff Carroll - the mountain climber, teen lover and fraudster:

Erin Donnelly - just fraudster, who graudated law school in 2005, with "honorary recognitions" as children's advocate (!!), 

got admitted in NY in 2013, 8 years after graduation, and a year AFTER the Argro case was even brought.

Judge David Peebles - the case-fixer judge who does not know when to recuse from a case, even when his bias and case-fixing can no longer be hidden:

Judge Norman Mordue - a "senior" status judge who should have retired by now, instead of openly and unashamedly fixing court cases against the poor, in favor of connected attorneys.  An army veteran, a "Purple Heart", a "Bronze Star", a "Distinguished Service Cross" bearer - and a case-fixing fraudster.  Past honorable acts do not cover the dirty acts of today - which are clearly visible in this case.   Teaming up with a possible child predator and with child protective services sued for misconduct, in order to rob poor people of their day in court and their rightful remedy for civil rights violations.

For shame, Judge Mordue.

Enough already.

On minimum educational requirements of judges - what is a problem in Virginia is an over-qualification in New York

In 2005, New York Times wrote about non-attorney judges in justice courts in the State of New York who do not have any ascertainable levels of education (by the way, there was a letter to the editor of the same New York Times back in 1984 accusing the editor of improperly bashing such judges and praising their performance).

I wrote about misconduct and incompetence of such judges, time and again.

Such judges are guided in their decisions by prosecutors, routinely engage in ex parte communications with prosecutors and decide cases as prosecutors want them to decide.

A legislative reform of the situation have stalled 6 years ago, in 2010.

Interestingly enough, in the State of Virginia recently, there was open criticism that allowing judges (magistrates) with an educational requirement of a 4-year, bachelor's degree, to sign search warrants is improper because judges with a 4-year college education (but no law degree) lack the training to understand the applicable law for purposes of signing a warrant.

So, what is a lack of qualification in the State of Virginia is 17 years more of formal education than judges in New York justice courts are required to have.

That is, in Virginia magistrate judges at least have 13 years of public schools (K + 12) and 4 years of college.

In New York, the judge signing your search and arrest warrant may have NO education whatsoever.  There is NO educational requirement for the judge whatsoever.

And, it is not even a secret that prosecutors run these courts.

If a judge who was an attorney said that she wouldn't change illegal practices where the prosecutor decided cases - what can be said about judges who are not attorneys.

Look what advertisement for the Hancock Town Court (NY) says:

Prosecutors:  "ADA Mary Beth Dumont Lays down the law".

Just like that.

Town of Hancock Court's law is what prosecutor Mary Beth Dumont "lays down".

No need to make it a secret.

Yet, what was pointed out in the Virginia protest is that in federal courts, where all magistrates are lawyers, there is a growing trend to deny law enforcement search warrants for evidence, especially electronic evidence, as baseless and unconstitutional.

Don't make constitutional argument to a New York local criminal court "justice" who, for all you know, may lack basic literacy skills.

Such a judge will simply ask the prosecutor what to think - and, after the prosecutor will "lay down the law" will think (and sign the search and arrest warrants) accordingly.

And, somehow, the issue of untrained judges was not important enough for New York legislators to consider.

Of course - they are making sure they clean up their files so that Preet Bharara wouldn't get them, as he got Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos.

Nebraska Federal Judge Richard Kopf and New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield bash the Nevada public defender handcuffed for making an argument for her client

I wrote two blogs so far about the handcuffing of a Nevada public defender #ZohraBakhtary that happened this past Monday, May 23, 2016, here and here.

I mentioned that Ms. Bakhtary received no defense from her boss.

Ms. Bakhtary's boss:

(1) did not complain about judge Conrad Hafen's behavior to disciplinary authorities; 
(2) did not direct filing a motion to vacate Ms. Bakhtary's client's conviction because the judge acted as a prosecutor in the case and shut down - and handcuffed - the defense attorney for trying to put on record the necessary arguments for her client;
(3) did not direct filing of a motion to recuse Judge Hafen from all proceedings where Ms. Bakhtary appears, to protect her and her clients from further abuse and further "lessons" taught by the enraged judge.

Ms. Bakhtary's boss only had a closed-doors conference with the judge and emerged out of it "positive" about the future.

There was no apology to Ms. Bakhtary, and the judge continued to bad-mouth her to the media claiming that he has had problems with her in the previous 6 months (without any transcripts of citations to support those claims) - the claims that attorneys who constantly appear in front of judge Hafen denied, claiming that, on the contrary, Judge Hafen was very "complimentary" about Ms. Bakhtary before this incident and never complained about her.

The Clark County Public Defenders Union of Las Vegas, Nevada put in a defense of Zohra Bakhtary in an undated "letter to the editor" - but not in a complaint against the judge (see court surveillance video, without an audio, here, see the letter of CPDU here).

The letter says that what Judge Hafen did was "wrong".  Not that it was egregious judicial misconduct that should earn the judge discipline and get him off the bench.

The public defenders' union does mention in the letter that "handcuffing an attorney who is merely doing her job to teach her a lesson is simply improper and has never been done in the history of Nevada".

So, Judge Hafen made history - history of judicial misconduct that Nevada judicial authorities are not addressing as yet.

The public defenders' letter also points out that Judge Hafen conveniently switched off audio and video capabilities to prevent creating the actual record of what occurred.

Believe it or not, there are strong supporters of what Judge Hafen did to Zohra Bakhtary and to her client who was left without an attorney at sentencing, and who was sentenced because the judge was pissed with the client's attorney trying to do her job.

Here is one of such blogs supporting Judge Hafen and condemning attorney Zohra Bakhtary.

I just want "heroes" to be known to the public, and especially so because at least one of those condemning Zohra Bakhtary is a criminal defense attorney.

The line in the blog of "Ellie Mystal" is simply - Zohra Bakhtary was told by a judge to shut up and she didn't.  She should blame herself, the judge was right, because the judge said he had problems with Zohra Bakhtary before (no transcripts provided) - and one doesn't question what a judge says.

Blogger Elie Mystal of a prominent legal blog "Above the Law" does not quote the full transcript of proceedings where Zohra Bakhtary was taken into custody and handcuffed.  Here is the full transcript (even though it is highly doubtful the transcript is complete, Judge Hafen switched off audio on purpose, after all, so that transcripts made by court employees dependent for their job security on Judge Hafen could conveniently cook transcripts for him).  Blogger "Elie Mystal" of "Above the Law" just quotes bits and pieces - but thinks that Judge Hafen is right anyway.

Of course, Judge Hafen has a murky history of filing fabricated investigations against political opponents of his boss, a District Attorney, and of humiliating male attorneys he did not like, too - by "teaching them a lesson" for not coming into his presence with a tie.

The lesson being a punishment of their clients by having to pay higher legal fee and, possibly, losing a job because they had to either wait in court until the end of the docket or come on another day - all because their lawyer did not come in court in a tie, as the judge wanted him to.

Of course, the alternative was to accept from the judge a "clip-on" "funky" tie and be publicly humiliated - in order to be able to defend a client in a criminal case:

"When Las Vegas Township Judge Conrad Hafen became a judge in 2011 and noticed some attorneys weren’t wearing ties, he went to a thrift store and picked up a few funky ties from the 1960s and ‘70s along with two children’s clip-on ties. He then gave attorneys who showed up without ties a choice: wear one from his thrift store collection, or have their case heard last or even moved to a different day."

It was readily apparent 3 years ago, when the "funky clip-on tie policy" was introduced by Judge Hafen that Judge Conrad Hafen did not have the right temperament to preside over any cases, and especially over criminal cases, where observation of defendant's constitutional rights and not the attire of defense counsel, should be the the main concern of the court.

The supporter of Judge Hafen "Above The Law" blogger "Elie Mystal" pointed out, in endorsing Judge Hafen's order to handcuff a public defender for making constitutional arguments in support of keeping her client out of jail, that the judge said he had problems with her before.

The judge just said it - and it was enough, no transcripts are required confirming Zohra Bakhtary alleged prior "misbehavior".

The judge just said his behavior is necessary to "teach a public defender a lesson" - and that, Elie Mystal claims, is enough grounds to have her handcuffed.

I saved Elie Mystal's shameful blog post in case the author decides to pull it and claim he never said it.

The author, "Elie Mystal", even twitted his condemnation of Zohra Bakhtary, and that's how I found another supporter of Judge Hafen's handcuffing "teaching techniques" -  New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield, "blawger" at "Simple Justice" and managing editor of "Fault Lines".

I guess, clients of lawyer Scott Greenfield should not expect a vigorous defense from him if the judge shuts him down in the courtroom.

Of course, Mr. Greenfield is a male and, probably, never experienced gender-based shouts of male judges who think that a female attorney comes to the courtroom as a target practice for abuse and humiliation by male judges.

And, of course, you can get some insight about Mr. Greenfield's general disrespect to public defenders - or anyone giving poor people free legal advice - from his own statement on his own law blog "Simple Justice":

All he had to say is that nothing in the blog is legal advice.  Period.  Why did he have to go further and bash people for seeking or giving free legal advice?

You can say from these statements that Mr. Greenfield is the champion of the poor - those people who are mainly targeted by the criminal justice system.

A good criminal defense attorney, no doubt.  

Mr. Greenfield's clients will not have to worry about Mr. Greenfield being handcuffed in the courtroom - he will, apparently, never raise a word against a judge committing misconduct in the courtroom.

Mr. Greenfield actually dared to call Zohra Bakhtary's attempts to get a word in edgewise for her client while former prosecutor Judge Conrad Hafen ran roughshod right over her and acted as a prosecutor in the case a "pissing match" with the judge and ineffective representation of client.

Here is what criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield wrote about the handcuffing episode of a criminal defense attorney for the indigent.

That, essentially, Ms. Bakhtary, a young attorney, ran away with her passion for the client, and failed to provide an effective defense for her client.  And, attorneys who do that have no place in the courtroom.  And, even if Judge Hafen was a jerk, Ms. Bakhtary had to invent ways of handling a judge-jerk to provide an effective defense for her client.

From one male jerk Scott Greenfield about another male jerk judge Conrad Hafen - sounds right.

Of course, Scott Greenfield, in calling Zohra Bakhtary essentially incompetent, failed to mention that her own boss calls her intelligent, effective and well prepared, and that Zohra Bakhtary is actually a Soros Criminal Justice Fellow - an honor bestowed only on very capable lawyers.

Nor did Scott Greenfield refer to a full transcript - same as Elie Mystal, he relies on bits and pieces.

Yet, the only "practical advice" that can be discerned from the piece is:

1) if you see a judge who is a jerk and biased against you and your client, "deal with it" to provide "effective assistance of counsel" - yet, where you have a control freak jerk judge like Hafen, there is no way of "dealing with it" short of disqualification of the judge from the cases, or from the bench.

If a criminal defense attorney is shut down and prevented from making the record for his client, so that the client will not be able to use it on appeal, the only thing that an attorney can do to protect her client's rights is - (1) move to recuse a judge which attorneys very rarely do and which Zohra Bakhtary did not do, and it is very possible that she was under orders from her boss not to make motions to recuse; and/or (2) try to make the record for her client anyway, which is what Zohra Bakhtary tried to do.

Nothing like blaming the victim.

Calling a female criminal defense attorney ineffective and incompetent because she "caused" her own abuse and "caused" illegal sentence without counsel of her client - is the ultimate disqualification for a criminal defense attorney, in my opinion.

Of course, we never know, maybe brown-nosing jerk-judges is attorney Scott Greenfield's tactic of winning cases.  Efficiency over passion, you know.

In comments, more "wisdoms" on effective representation of counsel were revealed.

Such as this:  since Zohra Bakhtary was not an "older" "statesmen lawyer", she should have understood it an acted accordingly, even though the same behavior from an "older attorney" who "earned respect" would not have been treated as contempt of court.

So, a public defender must earn a "seniority right" to make constitutional arguments on behalf of a client?

Good grief.

And, there is a comment indicating that it is ineffective to try to put in arguments for the record when the judge keeps shutting you down because it will still be reflected as "inaudible" in the transcript.

It may be so, but why did Judge Hafen turn off the audio and video recording - and shut down the defense counsel?  Wouldn't the vidoe and audio recording help the stenographer prepare a true transcripts of what was said.

And wouldn't the appellate court then be able to determine, without a transcript, just from observing the video and hearing the audio what really happened?

Wasn't filibustering the appeal and preventing Ms. Bakhtary from making the record on appeal part of Judge Hafen's efforts?

And, there was a comment that what happened was a matter of ego for Judge Hafen because Attorney Zohra Bakhtary made that argument not in chambers, but in an open hearing.

But, sentencing IS an open hearing, and Ms. Bakhtary's client was entitled to his attorney making a record on his behalf.

Moreover, Ms. Bakhtary did not yell, did not use profanities and did not even criticize the judge - she just wanted to put in arguments on behalf of her client.  And was handcuffed for the effort.

There was a comment that pointed out that, in the absence of an audio recording, it is impossible to verify whether the attorney was really talking over a judge or coincidentally talked at the same time as the judge was trying to interrupt her - and was simply finishing her sentence.  The transcript would naturally be more beneficial to a judge who employs the stenographer, that's why the audio (that Judge Hafen shut off) would have been the a better source to assess what occurred.

And, when a commentator points out that judges and attorneys are not equal, so the attorney must shut up when a judge tells him so, this is what the commentator "Alex Stalker", who says he is a public defender but is obviously afraid to reveal his real name, says:

And that's the jist of it.

The judge asked a question, the attorney is answering it, and the judge cuts her off in answering not the way the judge liked.

The judge is calling a female attorney by her first name, while she is calling him "judge" and not "Conrad", by HIS first name.

The exchange reeks of disrespect of a judge of the attorney - under such circumstances the judge should have stepped down.

And this is a prominent federal judge from Nebraska chiming in - in support of Judge Conrad Hafen:

Here is Judge Kopf, the author of not one, not two, but THREE reasons of why he would execute an innocent, here is my blog about it in English and here is in Russian.

Here are some of Judge Kopf's other outstanding statements:

1)  "grow the f**k up"! - to advocates of people victimized by denying equal rights to marry (that was a month before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a constitutional right), see my commenting blog about it here;

2) on the judge's long memory about certain attorneys and inevitable retaliation, see Judge Kopfs' blog here and my commenting blog about it here;

3) do not go against the judge's opinion, or else you will be a "stupid, ignorant son of bitch, dumb bastard" - see the "cranky judge" Kopf's blog here and my comment here:

"4. If you send me a brief knowing that you will lose, but you are hoping to “educate” me, you are, in the words of the greatest of all legal minds, Gene Wilder, one “stupid, ignorant son of bitch, dumb bastard.”" 

Judge Kopf asserts his right as a judge to be cranky, disrespectful, humiliating attorneys - to be a petty tyrant in the courtroom.

4) Judge Kopf, a sitting federal judge, white male, is also a racist and obviously dislikes not only black people, but poor black people - he recently ascribed to the American Constitution Society a motto:  "We love poor black people almost as much as we love puppies and kitties", see my blog about it here.

From that perspective, Judge Kopf's comment about Zohra Bakhtary is totally understandable - it totally fits his beliefs, which, of course are not fitting a judge, but Judge Kopf remains on the bench no matter what he says - dealing with death penalty cases, remember? - of predominantly poor black males, who he would send to be executed even if he knows they are innocent.

Once again, this is the comment of Judge Richard Kopf, of the U.S. District Court of the District of Nebraska, about handcuffing of public defender Zohra Bakhtary by Nevada state judge Conrad Hafen:

Judge Kopf accuses public defender Zohra Bakhtary of self-aggrandizing.

Judge Kopf hints that Public Defender Zohra Bakhtary, in trying to make a record for her client was badly prepared and incompetent: 

  • "a hapless young lawyer" who allegedly 
  • did not prepare to answer the judge's question "with some degree of thought instead of mumbling inanities about justice and irrelevant crap like that".
Great to hear from a judge's mouth that constitutional arguments about liberty for poor criminal defendants are, for a federal judge dealing with death penalty cases, "inanities about justice and irrelevant crap like that".

Judge Kopf also hints that a person with authority (a professor, a judge) is always right and the person criticizing the authority is "a jerk plus an asshole. Yep. That's the ticket!" - Judge Kopf's words, not mine.

All those words - for simply making a constitutional argument on behalf of poor criminal defendants.

From a federal judge whose job is to protect federal constitutional rights of people.


By the way, Judge Kopf himself has ordered practices in criminal jury cases which are completely unconstitutional, while they exist since 2009 (for 7 years so far), and defense attorneys obviously were afraid to challenge them:

Judge Kopf limits time in presenting opening and closing arguments to the jury, prohibits the attorney from moving around the courtroom during the attorney's speech, which may help the attorney get the jury out of boredom and get their attention.

Moreover, Judge Kopf authorizes his court clerk to cut off the opening or closing statement which is longer than the set time limits - while in a serious criminal case recitation of the evidence alone may take longer than the set arbitrary time limits.

All of those time-limits are introduced in 2009, and Judge Kopf admitted in his blog that he is being treated for several years for cancer.

To accommodate judge's health problems, a rule is introduced cutting short attorney speech to the jury, so that the judge would spend less time in the courtroom?

Judge Kopf also prohibits objections on record during criminal jury trials:

Judge Kopf only allows objections to be done at "bench conferences" which he can decide whether to grant or not.

The most common objection during the trial is to hearsay.  It is a due process problem and a 6th Amendment confrontation problem to convict a person of a crime based on statement of a person who did not testify in court, that's what hearsay is about.

Yet, Judge Kopf does not allow "speaking objections" during jury trials - obviously, also in death-penalty cases.  The State of Nebraska abolished death penalty, but Judge Kopf is sitting in federal court in Nebraska, and the feds did not eliminate death penalty for federal crimes.

Judge Kopf's criminal jury practices do not have an exclusion for death penalty cases.

Federal judges like Judge Kopf do not have authority for legislating, policy-making, and that's exactly what he does with his "criminal jury practices" - while the Chief Judge of the court obviously approves, and the defense bar is afraid for their licenses, and for retaliation against their clients, to raise their voices against such practices.

By the way, preventing the jury and the public from observing objections being made can be also a tactic of the old and ailing Judge Kopf, to prevent the public from seeing that the judge cannot adequately and promptly react to objections.

Judge Kopf's "bench conferences" are also recorded on demand only - while all meaningful portions of criminal proceedings, and objections are certainly a meaningful portion - must be done on record.

Objections in a criminal trial are usually made within a split-second time, and are deemed waived if not made just as the offending evidence (hearsay, violating the best evidence rule etc.) is being introduced.  Asking for a court conference after the fact is not an adequate remedy here.

So, Judge Richard Kopf who eliminated objections in his courtroom as a matter of policy and considers constitutional arguments as "inanities" and "crap", supports Judge Conrad Hafen's "teaching court decorum" tactics.

Handcuffing a beautiful female public defender for a constitutional argument.  An inanity, of course.

I would like to end on a positive note though.

The cavemen's bashing the victim in this case, and accusing public defender Zohra Bakhtary of doing a poor job for her client for actually trying to do her job for her client and being handcuffed for it by caveman judge - is in the minority.

The majority, including the press, is supporting Zohra Bakhtary.

I encourage my readers to read the entirety of the "Dear Conrad" open letter of the National Defenders' Association to Judge Hafen that lacks any deference to the caveman judge which the press, Zohra Bakhtary's boss and even the letter-to-the-editor of the Clark County Defenders' Union displayed.

It calls judge Conrad Hafen out as a rude bully and tyrant.

One point on which I disagree with the letter though is the ending.

What needs to be done is not "stretching out our necks" to be cut, like Cicero did, but remaining alive and demanding to take cavemen judges off the bench.

Like Judge Conrad Hafen.

Like Judge Richard Kopf.

I will continue to monitor this case and report whether Judge Conrad Hafen is going to be disciplined in any way.

Stay tuned.