"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, May 28, 2016

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.

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