"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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Will Foster v Chatman help restore justice for the Kentucky #JudgeOluStevens?

I wrote on this blog repeatedly about the unjust suspension of an African-American #JudgeOluStevens from Kentucky who was trying to assert the law and fight racism in criminal proceedings, see my blogs here, here and here.

My blogs were posted in April of this year, 2016.

On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a death sentence from Georgia to an African American man made by an all-white jury, specifically because the prosecution behaved in the exact same manner as the prosecution behaved in Kentucky - struck every African American potential juror from the jury panel.

Judge Olu Stevens rectified that behavior by the only way possible, in fact, by the same way as the U.S. Supreme Court did - at the last level of litigation, by ordering the case with such flawed jury selection to a new trial and then, after the case concluded, going public about prosecutorial misconduct in the case.

Judge Olu Stevens should be commended, not disciplined, for not only doing justice for the criminal defendant, but also for saving Kentucky taxpayers thousands, if not millions of dollars in litigation cost and preventing the need of going to the U.S. Supreme Court after the conviction of African American defendants by all-white juries hand-picked by a white prosecutor.

By the way, the only black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court dissented.  Yet, being black does not gives you a right to uphold racist injustice against your own people.  Fortunately, the rest of the court disagreed with "justice" Thomas.

As the New York Times reports it, there was no doubt that striking the black jurors - and seeking the death penalty against an African American man - were racially motivated decisions:

"In notes that did not surface until decades later, prosecutors marked the names of black prospective jurors with a B and highlighted those names in green. They circled the word “black” where potential jurors had noted their race on questionnaires.

They ranked those prospective jurors in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors,” as the prosecution’s investigator put it in a draft affidavit at the time. In the end, prosecutors struck all four black potential jurors.
After Mr. Foster was convicted, Stephen Lanier, the lead prosecutor, urged the all-white jury to impose a death sentence to “deter other people out there in the projects.” The jury did so."

Now that the majority decision in Foster v Chatman is in, I wonder whether Kentucky disciplinary authorities will obey the precedent and restore Judge Olu Stevens to the bench, with apologies - because Judge Stevens' only "fault" was that he tried to uphold the law.

All that Kentucky disciplinary authorities have to do now - a very difficult decision in a racist criminal justice system, I bet - is to uphold the law, and the new precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court, too.  And to do justice to Judge Olu Stevens.

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