"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, August 21, 2016

#JudgeGonzaloCuriel, his life experiences, and the right to impartial judicial review of those we do not like - Part I

The "wise Latina woman" U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor just made yet another public blunder, by claiming that the U.S. Supreme Court needs more diversity - now not "by appearance, but by experience", which, in Justice Sotomayor's opinion, is the equivalent of the need of a Protestant judge.

That is the same judge who, back in 2001, endorsed herself as a "wise Latina woman" who will enrich a federal appellate court with the "richness of her experience" - even though appellate judges may only base their decisions not on their experiences, whoever rich they are, but on the record on appeal and the applicable law.

Apparently, to Justice Sotomayor her race-related experiences - and now religion-related and other experiences - matter in judicial decision-making.

From that point of view, let's look at the experiences of Judge Gonzalo Curiel - the one judge who was criticized by Donald Trump for an appearance of bias based on, specifically, the judge's race and experiences.
"Gonzalo, the youngest of four children, was born at an East Chicago hospital in 1953.  His mother was a devout Catholic, and their family was active in the St. Patrick parish, where the children attended school. Before Gonzalo reached high school, however, his father died. And the cost of the parochial education became a greater burden. “I think it was a financial hardship,” said Greg Vega, who has been close friends with Gonzalo since the ninth grade."

So, no diversity here - Judge Curiel was not a pagan, not an atheist, not a Muslim, he was from a devout Christian family.

And, Judge Curiel was brought up in an immigrant community - which, at the time of his birth, could be more fairly characterized as an immigrant ghetto.

"It was a thriving blue-collar town, and also ethnically diverse, with Mexicans, African-Americans and an assortment of immigrants from Poland, Serbia, Croatia and Lithuania."

Why ghetto?

Why only immigrants lived in that location?

And why only blue-collar immigrants (not highly qualified and highly paid workers) lived in that location?

Obviously because blue-collar immigrants either could not afford, or were not allowed to live in more integrated communities.

There is a reason to believe that Judge Curiel's parents came to the U.S. illegally, and his mother obtained citizenship in the 60s, after the birth of Judge Curiel and after the death of his father.

Since Judge Curiel's mother did not obtain citizenship through marriage to a U.S. citizen father, but after the birth of her American-born children and after the death of her husband, there is a reason to believe that Judge Curiel is an "anchor baby" - and that his early life experiences were shaped not only by poverty, but by illegal status of his parents.

Whether Judge Curiel's parents were or were not illegal immigrants, is easily proven or disproven - through public records.  Apparently, with all the money that was poured into the campaign to brand Donald Trump as bigot when he raised the issue of appearance of bias because of Judge Curiel's background, the media was unable to produce documents proving legality of Judge Curiel's parents' presence in the United States.

But, since there is a clear implication that, since Judge Curiel's mother only became a citizen in 1960, even though his father came to the U.S. in 1920s, and only after the birth of her children within the U.S. and after the death of his father - it is likely that Judge Curiel's parents were both illegal parents when they came, and thus the comparison with Donald Trump's mother who came to the U.S. through marriage to a U.S. citizen - Donald Trump's father - is not appropriate.

It is also apparent that, under these circumstances, survival and education came at a hard price to Gonzalo Curiel.

Under the circumstances of such "experience", anybody who would be rich enough to set up a private university, and who would then be accused of cheating students, can expect an "experience-based" bias from such a judge.

Here is a picture of Judge Curiel as a young man.


Moreover, unlike the spoiled rich kid Donald Trump, Gonzalo Curiel had to give up his true calling - music - in order to earn a living.

"He played football but seemed to have a greater affinity for music, playing the guitar, keyboards and even the organ. He was in a number of bands and, after graduation from Bishop Noll in 1971, his brother Raul remembers that Curiel initially hoped to study music at IU. Eventually, his brother said, “he didn’t think he was going to earn a living out of it.

So, unlike the rich kid Donald Trump, Gonzalo Curiel, after the death of his immigrant father, when his immigrant mother with only elementary school education was struggling to raise the children and give them education, gave up his dream for his true calling in music because of money issues.

All the more reasons for Judge Curiel to hate Trump and be biased against him.

Trump is a bully - and that is clearly visible in his speeches as a presidential candidates, and in how he handles his campaign, where anybody who appears to be non-white can be expected to be thrown out of a campaign rally.

And that's exactly the point - these two people are very different, and Judge Curiel's background prepared him to hate Trump and people like Trump, rich white kids who had no problems with advancing their careers that were smoothed by parents' money.

Gonzalo Curiel himself had to forgo his dream of a career in music because he had no money to pursue that career or survive in it.

"Instead, Gonzalo followed an older brother, Antonio, into law, entering the IU law school in 1976. In a class of about 100 students, he was one of a handful of Latino students. Curiel was an able student, but he also had other interests. He performed in the IU Soul Review, a rhythm and blues band. He wore his hair in a big Afro, and he caught the eyes of women he was around. “He looked like a fair-skinned African-American,” said Sherma Wise, who attended Ball State with Curiel’s girlfriend."

So, Gonzalo Curiel was longing for his forfeited calling even in law school, and he was longing for a musical career even long after graduation from law school.  In fact, reportedly Gonzalo Curiel graduated from law school in 1979 and worked in Illinois for 7 years, but then moved from Illinois to California, because he was still hopeful at that time for a career in music.

"For a time, after his law school graduation in 1979, Curiel worked in a law firm in Dyer, about 12 miles south of East Chicago. But by 1986, he was lured to Southern California by the warm sun and the lingering hope of a musical career."

"Even as he sometimes questioned whether the law was for him, he stuck with it. As his friend Greg Vega put it, “I guess somebody must have told him, ‘Don’t quit your day job.’ ” It wouldn't prevent him, though, from keeping a guitar in his office the rest of his career."

So, we have a judge presiding over Donald Trump University's case where the judge himself grew up in poverty and, likely, fearing deportation of his parents during his childhood, and forfeiting a calling in music because of lack of money - a heartfelt loss judging by the fact that Curiel keeps having a guitar in this office throughout his career as a lawyer/judge.

Moreover, when Trump got his seed money the easy way, from his father, and never had a problem in career advancement, because of coming from a rich family, Gonzalo Curiel tried 7 TIMES to get into the U.S. Attorney's office - where his brother already worked, and was turned down 6 TIMES despite his brother working in his office - meaning that his brother was not a connection enough to secure that job for Gonzalo Curiel.

Thus, Gonzalo Curiel had a long history of overcoming discrimination against him clearly based on his background of a son of poor Mexican immigrants without connections - contrary to Donald Trump who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

"Throughout the 10 years he spent in private practices, Curiel had been inspired by his brother to work for a U.S. attorney, but he kept getting turned down. On his seventh try, he succeeded. Vega, who by then was a California resident himself, already worked in the southern district of California as an assistant U.S. attorney. He became U.S. attorney in 1999."

Gonzalo Curiel then dedicated himself to a career in drug enforcement, and eventually became a chief of narcotics division in 10 years - fighting crimes pertaining to money, not violence.

"For about a decade, Curiel paid his dues in the office, eventually gaining an appointment as chief of the narcotics enforcement section. “He was hardworking. He was street smart. He resolved turf battles between the various agencies,” Vega said. “He was a leader.”"

Curiel's persistence as a prosecutor, including the situation where he had to be put into a witness protection program because he was put on a hit list, helped him get a judgeship.

"Curiel was known as an aggressive prosecutor, and his work on drug cases and money laundering no doubt helped bring him to Schwarzenegger’s attention for the judgeship, in 2007, and for the federal bench in 2011."

Reportedly, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Judge Curiel to the Superior Court of San Diego in November, 2006, and he was
reelected to that position in 2008, and then proceeded to the federal bench within 3 years of his election in 2008.

"During his tenure he has been exposed to a wide variety of cases, assigned to domestic violence, criminal cases, family court cases, civil cases, presiding over more than 40 that have gone to verdict or judgment.

In confirmation proceedings of Judge Gonzalo to the federal bench, it was stressed that "He's the son of immigrant parents from Mexico, who came to this country with an elementary school education."

Once again, Judge Curiel's humble background and the humble educational background of his parents were paraded.

It is apparent that Judge Curiel's "experiences" could form nothing but an in-built bias against Donald Trump, simply because of the hardships that Judge Curiel's family and he himself had to overcome - while Donald Trump had an easy road to money and success paved by his father's wealth.

It is also apparent that the fact that he has reportedly "tried over 300 cases, the vast majority of
them Federal criminal jury trials where he served as the sole or lead counsel" and was
"the lead attorney on the Presidential Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force in 1999 to 2002" defined and sealed his Judge Curiel's prosecutorial mentality - a big concern as to how judicial experiences (praised by Justice Sotomayor) may have shaped Judge Curiel's outlook on cases like the civil case for fraud against the Trump University.

Even without more, Donald Trump would have had concerns about how Judge Curiel's "experiences" as a prosecutor shaped his pro-plaintiff views in a fraud case, and how his experiences of hardship, as a child of likely illegal and barely literate immigrants from Mexico, a child who had to forego his dream of a career in music to go into law in order to earn a living would shape his biased attitude against a rich son of rich parents and a founder of a private university sued for fraud.

But, Donald Trump had much more to be concerned about - and, naturally, his lawyers did not dare to raise those concerns for fear to lose their law licenses, which are in the hands of the judiciary, so lawyers' criticism of judicial misconduct in this country is, as we all know, silenced.

As I said before on this blog, if we do not afford Donald Trump his right to an impartial judge (see my blogs about it here, here and here) - because we do not like Donald Trump - we are shooting ourselves in the foot, because whichever precedent we are creating for those who we do not like, will be equally applicable to everybody else.

For additional description of Judge Gonzalo Curiel's "experiences" and dubious connections that raise the appearance of his bias against Donald Trump that should have disqualified Judge Curiel from presiding over Donald Trump's case - stay tuned.

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