"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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Once you cut off the head of a snake, the rest of the body dies" - a federal lawsuit reveals how a New York criminal defense attorney subjected to wiretapping, searches, and criminal investigation in retaliation for doing his job

Here is a federal lawsuit filed on May 13, 2016 (this past week) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Reads like a crime novel, but, unfortunately, it is not a novel.
It was the gruesome reality for an independent criminal defense attorney out of Westchester County.

Attorney George Galgano filed a federal civil rights lawsuit


  • County of Putnam, New York;
  • Putnam District Attorney's Office;
  • Town of Carmel, New York;
  • Town of Carmel Police Department;
  • Adam Levy - former District Attorney of Putnam County (voted out of office in 2015, but still lists himself on attorney registration website as Putnam County DA, in violation of attorney registration rules requiring him to re-register 30 days after leaving employment with new information); Adam Levy is coincidentally, the son of TV "Judge Judy" - and thus considers himself not subject to attorney rules;
  • Andres Gil - Assistant District Attorney of Putnam County, still employed there;
  • Heather Abissi - Assistant District Attorney of Putnam County, no longer employed in Putnam County DA's office, now employed in a civil rights law firm Sussman & Watkins at Goshen, New York;  Defendant Heather Abissi's new employer has on its front page these attorney advertisements, on behalf of the law firm and on behalf of each attorney employed by the law firm, including Heather Abissi, now sued for gross civil rights violations:

  • Lourdes Gonzalez - investigator in Putnam County District Attorney's office;
  • Henry Lopez - senior investigator in Putnam County District Attorney's office;
  • Michael T. Nagle - Detective Sergeant in Town of Carmel (NY) Police Department.

Here is the registration information of the Plaintiff, criminal defense attorney George Galgano, showing his admission to the bar in 2000, so he has now 16 years of experience.

The lawsuit mentions that prosecutors Gil and Levy were sanctioned by Putnam County judge for destruction or spoliation of evidence in a criminal case that the former Putnam County DA Adam Levy, according to the lawsuit, fabricated against a supporter of Adam Levy's political opponent.

Yet, despite such sanctions, there is "no record of public discipline" in their attorney registration anyway:



The complaint lists the following misconduct of defendants:

  • fabricating a criminal case against the DA's political opponent Mr. Zaimi;
  • spoiling or destroying evidence in the Zaimi criminal case where Mr. Galgano represented Mr. Zaimi as a criminal defense attorney;
  • knowingly obtaining false testimony from a witness;
  • knowing not releasing to Mr. Galgano "Brady" material, statements of that witness that the sexual crime charged was not committed by Mr. Zaimi and that the witness received money in return for consensual sex;
  • obtaining a court order and installing a "pen register" (wiretapping device) to record conversations between the defense witness of that opponent and the defense attorney (Mr. Galgano), based on a false affidavit claiming that Mr. Galgano is about to bribe a witness;
  • obtaining a court order and installing a device locating the defense attorney Mr. Galgano's cell phone;
  • obtaining a court order for a wiretapping order on Mr. Galgano's phone based on a false affidavit, which resulted in intercepting of private and privileged communications of Mr. Galgano with clients, other attorneys, doctors and family members;

  • obtaining an incriminating statement against Mr. Galgano after hours of interrogation of a person completely disabled by ingesting 4 bags of heroin;

  • repeatedly trying to obtain false statements against Mr. Galgano, including by a trick when a police detective claimed that somebody else already acknowledged that Mr. Galgano committed a crime, offering an "easy confession";

  • destroying exculpatory evidence in the McQuaid case on a cell phone the same way evidence was destroyed in the Ziami case - for which prosecutors were already sanctioned by the court:

  • trying to embed false memories into a drugged witness's head and extract a false incriminating statement against Mr. Galgano based on those false embedded memories:

  • applying, based on a false affidavit, for a search warrant of Mr. Galgano's car, home and law office:

  • synchronized search raids of the defense attorney's home and law office based on unlawfully obtained search warrants:

  • obtaining privileged files from Mr. Galgano's law office:

  • searching the defense attorney's home and seizing internal security surveillance of rooms where the attorney slept with his wife and of rooms where their young daughters dressed and undressed, intimidating and traumatizing the attorney's children;

  • subjecting Mr. Galgano's employees to warrantless arrests, with claims that they will not be released unless they "consent" to submit to warrantless searches of their person;
  • attempting to coerce Mr. Galgano's employees to incriminate Mr. Galgano by intimidation:

All unlawful activities against Mr. Galgano were summed up by DA's Investigator himself:  "once you cut off the head of a snake, the rest of the body dies"

  • subjecting Mr. Galgano to a warrantless search of his person;

Mr. Galgano alleges in his lawsuit that no incriminating evidence was - or could be - unearthed against Mr. Galgano, but searches worked as planned, hurting him financially and as a professional.

  • arresting and prosecuting Mr. Galgano and his employee attorney Eric Sharp on "constructive possession" of drugs charges which were dropped a year later because the prosecuting Westchester DA's office (current New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore) admitted that there is no probable cause

The question is - why it took DA DiFiore a year to dismiss fabricated charges against two criminal defense attorneys?

Moreover, even though the "Galgano" criminal case was prosecuted in Westchester County and by the Westchester County DA (DiFiore), somehow Adam Levy, prosecutor from Putnam County, controlled the prosecution and claimed that Galgano is his "trophy":

Adam Levy also sought indictment,  based on false evidence, of attorney Galgano in front of Putnam County grand jury (even though his office was located in Westchester County).

It appears from the complaint that Westchester DA DiFiore was notified by Mr. Garland of criminal activities of prosecutors, police officers and Putnam DA office investigator in Westchester County - but never prosecuted them.

Otherwise, she would not have been elevated as the Chief Judge of the State of New York, right?

In August of 2014, Galgano and the second-chair attorney in Zaimi trial Eric Sharp were indicted and publicly humiliated with huge TV coverage arranged by Levy, and Levy immediately moved to disqualify them from the Zaimi trial:

The lawsuit alleges that in order to set up high bail on Mr. Galgano or keep him in jail, Putnam County ADA Gil made a false statement that Mr. Galgano threatened to kill a prosecutor:

Six months after the indictment was brought, the Putnam County Court dismissed the indictment against both Mr. Galgano and Eric Sharp citing insufficient evidence to support charges and prosecutorial error and misconduct.

Apparently, attorney Eric Sharp was subjected to the ordeal of criminal prosecution because he did not want to commit perjury falsely incriminating Mr. Galgano.

The court clearly stated that it was improper for police witnesses to mischaracterize Mr. Galgano's lawful actions as motivated by criminal intent.

Notwithstanding all police and prosecutorial misconduct in the case, the dismissing judge David Zuckerman did two astonishing things:

  • allowed the same prosecutors who committed misconduct to re-submit the case against Mr. Galgano to another grand jury, and
  • lifted the injunction from continued searches against Mr. Galgano's computers, officers etc.

After the dismissal based on prosecutorial misconduct, Putnam County DA, amazingly, threatened to file disciplinary charges against Mr. Galgano:

But, Levy did one mistake in the case, which cost him.

He mistakenly appointed an honest prosecutor, Chief ADA Ortolano, to handle additional investigation of Mr. Galgano, claiming that Levy trusts Ortolano implicitly to do the right thing.

She did, but not the "right thing" Levy apparently contemplated:

Instead, as the complaint claims, Lisa Ortolano left the DA's office (her current attorney registration indicates that she is still working there).

Mr. Galgano was indicted by Mr. Levy again (I will dedicate a separate blog to circumstances surrounding the 2nd indictment), and the indictment was dismissed.

And, Mr. Galgano is suing prosecutors, investigators and police.

I can foresee claims of prosecutorial absolute immunity and of "qualified immunity" by police officers being made.

Yet, fabricating evidence during investigation does not come within prosecutorial immunity and making false statements to the press certainly does not come within immunity either.

Moreover, recently the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, surprisingly, cut out an exception from prosecutorial immunity in cases where prosecutors fabricate evidence in preparation for presentation to the grand jury, and Mr. Galgano can definitely rely upon that direct precedent fighting any claims of prosecutorial immunity by Adam Levy and other defendants-prosecutors in this case.

I will run a separate blog as to the 2nd indictment against Mr. Galgano and the 2nd dismissal, and I will certainly run an additional blog with analysis of misconduct of Mr. Levy and other public officials involved.

I will also monitor how this case proceeds and will report it on this blog.

Stay tuned.

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