"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.

Monday, July 11, 2016

They are afraid of exposure - charges dropped against the publisher and his attorney for seeking public records in Georgia

On July 3, 2016 I posted a blog covering the latest efforts by various members of the government in the United States to punish in various ways people who seek public records and use them to expose misconduct in the government.

On the same day, July 3, 2016, I published a separate blog highlighting a specific example of the above sanctions, the recent arrest in Georgia of a publisher, Mark Thomason, and his attorney Russel Stookey in Georgia.

Mr. Thomason and Mr. Stookey were arrested by the DA on a complaint from a judge whose court records were sought by Mr. Thomason and Mr. Stookey, under the interesting circumstances that the DA was the judge's former law clerk, and the records sought could expose judicial misconduct and misuse of funds in the court operating account.  Specifically, the records sought to verify whether the court system, with knowledge and/or approval of the complaining judge Brenda Weaver, has paid $16,000 in legal fees to private attorneys of a stenographer who counter-sued Mr. Thomason when Mr. Thomason, with the help of attorney Stookey, was trying to get an audio tape of court proceedings that, in its own turn, could show that the presiding judge (who quickly retired) used the "N-word", not reflected in the transcript, in calling discussing an African American criminal defendant in open court.

So - the publisher and his attorney sought records that would prove (1) racism of a judge;  (2) that the transcript was cooked.

When that lawsuit was squashed by the court system, without releasing the audio, and the stenographer had the audacity to seek attorney fees against Mr. Thomason and his attorney despite the fact that she withdrew her counter-claim, Mr. Thomason and his attorney sought copies of court records to prove that the fees in question were already paid from another source - the court operating account.

And for that they were arrested by the judge's former law clerk turned DA, charged with three felonies and thrown into jail.

Now it has been announced that the charges were dropped - after a campaign in the media and social media.

It is good that the system is afraid of exposure of misconduct.

It is good that justice and common sense prevailed - this time.

Yet, nobody can undo for Mr. Thomason and Mr. Stookey time spent in jail, the indignity and stress of arrest and criminal charges, the threat of disbarment for Mr. Stookey, an attorney charged with 3 felonies for doing his job for his client.

And, the case was dismissed not because it was unlawful and unconstitutional, but because the alleged "victim", Judge Brenda Weaver, the District Attorney's former employer, asked the DA, her own former law clerk, "after conferring with individuals who the judge greatly admired", to drop the charges.

So, the judicial system managed to turn even dropping of unconstitutional charges into a farce.

And, I hope that Mr. Thomason and Mr. Stookey will now sue Judge Brenda Weaver, DA Sosebee and those who helped them in this shameful mess - just like attorney George Galgano recently did in New York, after two full-blown criminal felony prosecutions, complete with ransacking his law office, because he also happened to investigate corruption in the local government, including police and prosecution, as part of his job.

I will dedicate a separate blog to the disgraceful letter of Judge Brenda Weaver asking to drop the charges against Mr. Thomason and Attorney Stookey.

Stay tuned.

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