"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, May 15, 2016

The table of convictions of high-ranking New York government officials from 2009 to 2016 - why no prosecutors or judges are in it?

On May 12, 2016, two days ago, The New York Times published the table of New York's 12 high-standing public officials criminally convicted for corruption and sentenced in the years of 2009 to 2016.

I wonder why New York Times inadvertenly omitted two recent convictions, 

  1. of New York Senator and former Chairman of Committee for the Judiciary (approving judges to the New York State top court, the Court of Appeals) John Sampson convicted in July of 2015 and who is not yet sentenced, but is facing up to 20 years behind bars; and 
2.  New York Senator Thomas Libous who was convicted in 2015 and sentenced to a 60-month "house arrest" and $50,000 fine - because he had cancer, which does not usually prevent "defendants from the street", not state Senators, from going to prison.  

I, as a defense attorney, personally handled cases in New York criminal courts where I had to argue that a diabetic, a person on kidney dialysis (for years), a person who just underwent a quadruple bypass, a person who is legally blind - those people are better left outside than sent to prison, sometimes successfully, many times unsuccessfully.  

Judges often claimed that there is medical care in prison, so there is no reason not to sent there people with disabilities, even disabilities requiring ICU-type care.

In a case I did not represent, but where a lawsuit against the judge was filed by a pro se defendant, the criminal defendant claimed that the now-former Judge Carl F. Becker told him (and I checked the court records, the account was correct) that he allegedly invented his back pain to undergo SURGERY in order to forego sentencing, and that they have good medical care for him in prison, so he should be sanctioned for not appearing at sentencing because he was undergoing a back surgery.

So, courts are lenient to disabled individuals with medical problems only when such disabled individuals are former Senators.

Thomas Libous recently died, and his published obituary in the local press in Binghamton, NY, was named "A Towering Legacy".

Towering, indeed.

To die while being under a house arrest as a convicted felon.

But - you know what is conspicuously absent in the list of these convictions?

Prosecutors and judges.

Does Preet Bharara avoid prosecuting judges because they regulate his own law license, and does he avoid prosecuting corrupt prosecutors because the majority of judges regulating Bharara's law license are former prosecutors?

In a state where corruption in courts runs rampant, and wrongful convictions are a problem for decades, to prosecute only legislative and city officials for actions not concerning court corruption appears just - too cautious to me for the allegedly independent prosecutor Preet Bharara.

Don't you think?

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