"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, September 21, 2016

Bribery through donations in a judicial election campaign resulted in a class action in Illinois

In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court made a seminal decision, Caperton v A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc.

Here is how the U.S. Supreme Court described the situation that triggered the decision:

Let's note that the judge who received a $3,000,000 campaign contribution from a party refused to recuse from the case - three times, - reversed a jury verdict of $50,000,000 and filed a "concurring opinion" explaining his refusal to recuse.

The U.S. Supreme Court considered the case important enough to review on a writ of certiorari, and held:

So, the U.S. Supreme Court held in 2009 that there is an unconstitutional potential for bias where a judge is given such a large monetary "incentive" that, for any reasonable person, the "incentive" has a potential to sway the judge's opinion and prevent the judge from being impartial.

Since 2009, state and federal courts, including those in New York state, turn the blind eye on this case, claiming that recusal of a judge is a matter of the judge's absolute discretion - and punishing people who say otherwise.

By the way, while the U.S. Supreme Court clearly stated in its holding that a contempt proceeding cannot be handled by a judge who was "reviled" by the alleged contemnor's conduct, New York yanked licenses of two criminal defense/civil rights attorneys - John Aretakis and my own - without a hearing and based on sanctions imposed specifically by judges "reviled" by motions to recuse them.

And, no references to precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court helped.

John Aretakis was suspended a year before Caperton, and I was suspended 6 (!) years after Caperton - and both attorney Aretakis and I remain suspended, even though the suspension is clearly unconstitutional.

Information I am getting through research and feedback on this blog from other states indicates that in other states courts treat Caperton v A.T. Massey with the same disdain as New York.

Moreover, as it was recently revealed, yet another case is making its ways through the federal court system with allegations nearly identical to Caperton.

In Caperton, the case involved refusal to recuse of the West Virginia appellate judge Brent D. Benjamin

who accepted campaign contribution from a soon-to-be appellate litigant in the amount of $3,000,000, and then stuck like glue to the case, refused to recuse and overturned a $50,000,000 verdict.

In a federal class action in Illinois allegations are that State Farm insurance company "recruited" Lloyd A. Karmeier

to run for judicial elections and replace the judge who would be presiding over an appeal, organized and funded the campaign of Lloyd A. Karmeier to the order of $4,000,000, and then, when elected, State Farm reportedly deliberately lied as to the extent of its financial support of Judge Karmeier's election campaign - see all that, and more, reflected in the federal court order

The federal court order reflects that the investigation that led to the federal class action was inspired by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Caperton:

Only the amount of money that this man - Brent Benjamin - was paid to be elected to overrule (50 million dollars):

was mere peanuts as compared with what State Farm paid this man, Lloyd Karmeier

to reverse - a $1.05 BILLION judgment.

So, Judge Lloyd Karmeier and his obvious misconduct is the reason for a class certification of the following class against State Farm Insurance:

Note that Professor of Law Erwin Chemerinsky is now a court-appointed class counsel.  That's the same Professor Chemerinsky who lectures for BarBRI, an organization that was sued for shady conduct in how BarBRI courses are put together and how competition is squeezed out, including educators with better and more efficient ways of teaching for bar exams

One thing that bothers me to no end.

Both "heroes" of bribery-through-elections, Judge Benjamin in West Virginia, and Judge Karmeier in Illinois, are very much on the bench, have their law licenses intact and were not disciplined for their misconduct.

Yet, at the very same time, two attorneys were suspended in these same states for criticism of judges:

  • Stephen Hall in West Virginia - a lawyer who accused judges, in legal pleadings, of racism and corruption.

Obviously, in West Virginia and Illinois accepting a multi-million dollar bribe (disguised as a "campaign contribution") to get elected for a lucrative and highly-paying position of power, and abusing governmental authority in return for that bribe, is not a disciplinary violation at all.

Criticism of such action by an attorney is, nevertheless, a suspending offense in the same states.

What comes to mind is the dissent in Caperton voiced in 2009 by four U.S. Supreme Court Justices:

  • Roberts;
  • Alito;
  • Thomas; and
  • Scalia
In that dissent, these four justices claimed that it is not accepting the obvious bribe in return for overturning a multimillion dollar verdict that is the problem.

The problem is, in their opinion, that public trust in the integrity of the judiciary will be undermined if a judicial decision caused by such bribery will be overturned.

In other words, these four justices held the public for idiots - that despite the obvious bribery, the public's trust in the "presumptive" integrity of the judiciary will be unshaken.

In other words, these 4 U.S. Supreme Court justices (one deceased now) believed that there is a presumption of integrity in judges because they took an oath of office - even if a particular judge very obviously broke that same oath, for money.

Yet, if judicial corruption was not a problem, and was not a liability concern for the judiciary, the judiciary would not have bent over backwards, as it is doing now, to create, enforce and expand beyond any breaking point the concept of absolute judicial immunity for malicious and CORRUPT acts on the bench.

So, we undoubtedly have case-fixing in the judicial system.

As the case in California recently revealed, case-fixing may be ongoing and involve a lot of people.

Yet, such corruption is usually swept under the rug unless really big numbers are involved - and even then judges who were involved in the obvious corruption, like Judge Brent Benjamin in West Virginia or judge Lloyd Karmeier in Illinois, these judges remain on the bench, untouched by judicial or attorney discipline, or by state or federal criminal prosecution.

Instead, whistleblowers of judicial misconduct are viciously persecuted and stripped of their livelihood.

Since the subject of judicial corruption is taboo in mass media, we the bloggers, we the People, we through social media, should be exposing every single instant of it, big or small, fixing a case worth 1.05 billion dollars, or a family court custody case.

Corruption is corruption, and people suffer from corruption whether it is money that they have lost as a result of that corruption, or liberty, or custody of children.

So, will Judge Karmeier be disciplined or criminally prosecuted, now that a class action under the Rackateering and Corrupt Organization Act statute was instituted based on his corrupt behavior?

Let's see what happens.

Social media is a powerful news source nowadays, making many things possible - maybe, sharing and expressing outrage in the media will finally prompt authorities to prosecute judges who fix cases in exchange for campaign contributions.

I will continue to follow up on this case and report it here.

Stay tuned.

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