"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 4, 2016

When both the rich and the poor customers in the U.S. can now use robot lawyers, and the majority of the population cannot afford a licensed attorney, what is the purpose of law licensing?

I receive a lot of feedback from readers complaining that they either cannot afford an attorney, or that the attorney of their choice was targeted with discipline because the attorney was courageous enough to raise certain sensitive issues, like that of governmental misconduct.

I am one of the examples of what the government can do to eliminate an attorney who does her job properly.  My law license was suspended at the time when I brought a civil rights case against social services to trial, and my clients were then coerced and intimidated to settle for a pittance, while their new attorney stated in court pleadings what my disciplinary proceedings did not state - that my law license was suspended BECAUSE of my professional activity as a civil rights attorney, the new evidence that I am going to explore further.

Recently, several other attorneys were targeted by the government for raising sensitive issues pertaining to civil rights.

An attorney in Nevada was handcuffed for raising due process liberty issues on behalf of her indigent client.

An attorney in Louisiana was suspended from the practice of law because she successfully produced evidence of cooking court audio files and transcripts, likely at the direction of a judge.

An attorney in Georgia was handcuffed, jailed and indicted for seeking documentary evidence of judicial misconduct.

Ok, so the consumers are told that only a licensed attorney can provide to them advise and court representation, because provision of legal services requires training and "judgment of a lawyer".

Of course, even law professors are acknowledging that regulation of the legal profession is a fake invented by the legal profession itself so that the government would not butt into their business.

And, of course, several state courts so far have ruled that law licensing had nothing to do with effective assistance of counsel, dropping the declared purpose  of attorney licensing, that of "consumer protection", right down the drain. 

And, the recent joint letter of the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice about the essence of the practice of law clearly reveals that what is the practice of law is not properly defined, and cannot thus be regulated, as a licensing scheme, or as a criminal law, becuase people must have at least a notice of what it is that the government is regulating before the government may regulate it and punish people for violating the law.

The concept that a law license, with the required ABA-certified costly education, is required to help people get access to courts, has been recently even further eroded, if not dispensed completely - by both sophisticated and non-sophisticated artificial intelligence, and law firms who want to stay in the business, are actually helping the demise of law licensing, by starting to use decision-making robots.

Robots already ARE acting as lawyers, and judges, in the United States, and the round candle of law licensing, so to say, is being burnt from all ends, the government, the law professors, the rich law firm, the legal information industry, and the consumers who cannot afford legal services, but are willingly using cheaper information technologies and available lawyer robots.

The rich bought an expensive program, ROSS, that can analyze cases and statutes with computer speed, make relevancy determinations as to the existing laws and newly decided cases for and instead of the lawyer, answer hypothetical questions, predict outcomes of cases, and thus apply laws to facts of the case - which is exactly what lawyers do and what constitutes that so-called "judgement of a lawyer" which, according to the government, requires a law license, for customer protection.

The less wealthy use the free lawyer robots, such as Ebay virtual dispute resolution service, and/or the DoNotPay virtual robot lawyer to appeal parking tickets.

Well, the rich customers of law firms that "employ" robot ROSS, apparently, do not need protection from the robot lawyer, making unauthorized practice of law statutes redundant.

Nor do people who are using the free artificial intelligence "chatbot" "DoNotPay", created by a self-taught 19-year-old coder who wanted to beat a parking ticket of his own.  And, in the process, created a free "robot lawyer" who beats the majority of parking tickets for customers in London and New York.

With the success of the parking ticket lawyer, on the cheaper end of the spectrum, and the ROSS lawyer on the expensive end, same as with all other technology, it is the matter of time when these two extremes - free and super-expensive, will meet halfway.

If a self-taught teenage coder could create a program that asks questions (I checked it out) about the parking ticket and then draft appellate applications that succeed most of the times, and that robot lawyer is free, it is a matter of time when similar free "robot lawyers" will be created for other types of cases:

  1. eviction proceedings;
  2. custody proceedings;
  3. civil rights proceedings;
  4. divorces - all those proceedings where too often money talks, and people lose their rights simply because they cannot afford an attorney, and they cannot afford an attorney because licensed attorneys are priced by the licensing process out of sight, and unlicensed individuals of customers' choice are blocked from providing services, no matter how skilled, because of criminal laws forbidding "unauthorized practice of law", meaning practice of law without a license.
It is not impossible to use robots in child support, custody and divorce proceedings, those proceedings where legal advice is needed, but where too many people go without a lawyer because they cannot afford one, it simply requires more factors to be considered by the machine, but removing subjectivity of judges from such proceedings and connections with judge-favored law firms will actually work for the public good. 

In Holland, legal advice by robots in child support, custody and divorce proceedings is allowed and practiced.

Thus, it is not impossible to introduce the same in the U.S.

And, we should not rely upon the charity of self-taught teenagers to provide to the public the much needed legal service by the robot lawyer.

The public needs to pay to either obtain a public license for ROSS or to create its own robot lawyer, to be used by all, for free or at low cost.

That said, robot lawyers are not the equivalent of humans, of course.

They cannot be creative, and their "thinking" is static and retroactive, relying on what was decided in courts before.

One cannot expect a robot lawyer to assess decisions as unfair, or call for overruling unfair cases or abolishing unfair rules or laws.

Yet, several law firms are already doing research based on this static and retroactive thinking of a robot lawyer - ROSS - that, according to the press, decides for a lawyer, after sifting through a myriad of cases decided across the country, relevancy of certain cases.

For the same reason - static, retroactive, rigid "thinking" within what was already decided - I wouldn't want robot judges, as attractive as the idea of judges not undermined by corruption, even potentially, may be.

As to the issue of judicial corruption, raised with a new vigor in New York, stay tuned for my next blog.

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