"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, June 12, 2016

Georgia defense attorneys filed a lawsuit seeking records of ex parte communications between a judge and a prosecutor

A lawsuit has been filed by criminal defense attorneys in Georgia, Cobb County, seeking full access to video and audio recordings of court proceedings in criminal cases before Judge Reuben Green.

The reason for the lawsuit is that Judge Green, according to court security videos, engaged in ex parte communications with prosecutors in the absence of defense attorneys and defendants.

When a defense attorney filed a Freedom of Information request and obtained copies of video and audio recordings from the Sheriff's Department (that handled court security and was the custodian of court security tapes), the judge called the County Attorney and yelled at her for releasing the damaging videos and audios without a "consultation" with him.

Then, reportedly, the policy of access to records was changed, allowing access, on demand, to video recordings, but requiring inquirers to sign a "confidentiality agreement" as to audio recordings of criminal proceedings that were supposed to be open to the public.

In the already-released audio recordings the judge allegedly tells prosecutors, without presence of defendant or defense counsel, that he hopes that the jury will "do the right thing".

 "A few weeks later" - after the "do the right thing" ex parte conversation with prosecutors, the judge, a former career prosecutor, "when talking to prosecutors about defendant Borja Francisco Escobar, who faced drug-related charges, Green began referring to Escobar as “Pablo,” apparently in reference to the notorious Colombian drug lord. Green then indicated he would give Escobar a 25-year sentence, even though Escobar had yet to stand trial."

Apparently, the judge made up his mind as to the defendant's guilt before the trial.

Moreover, several motions to vacate criminal convictions were reportedly filed.

One of them asserts that a former juror came forward and stated that, when a criminal jury was deadlocked and a mistrial declaration was required, Judge Green came to jury deliberation room and, without presence of prosecution or defense, told the jury that he will not accept a deadlocked (mistrial) decision, sent them home, and they convicted the defendant the next day after 45 minutes of coerced deliberation.

Apparently, it was easier for the holdout juror to convict the defendant than to disobey the judge who said he will not accept a mistrial.

The case shows how CRITICALLY important are court surveillance cameras with audio and video recording, and how CRITICALLY important it is to have such recordings preserved for a substantial time, so that the defense and the public can review such recordings months and even years after a criminal conviction.

Georgia is a death penalty state, by the way, and having a judge who is nothing more than a behind-the-scenes aide to the prosecutor is not only illegal - it is absolutely disgusting.

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