"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, October 5, 2016

In Alabama, Texas and New York, sexual misconduct of judges is not deemed a basis for attorney discipline

While the Alabama Chief Judge Roy Moore was suspended for disobeying the same-sex marriage precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court (while other judges happily throughout the country continue to disobey a variety of U.S. Supreme Court precedents concerning civil rights litigation), one thing that Judge Roy Moore's attorney pointed out is really spectacular:  from the point of view of discipline, it is a worse offense for a judge to disobey the precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court than to sext with a litigant appearing before a judge.

What was meant is just 6-month suspension for sexting with a litigant for judge Leon Archer of Alabama.

The same is happening in New York, both in terms of attorney discipline and judicial discipline.

I recently wrote that, in New York, an attorney, Barry Dolgoff, who admitted in court to committing what qualifies as a felony by stealing from his clients' trust fund (reportedly, $149,000), received a lighter discipline than the attorney whose only "fault" was criticism of a judge in motions to recuse on behalf of her clients, one of them pro bono.

As to sex crimes, in New York, judge Bryan Hedges was relatively recently taken off the bench for sexual child abuse, sexual molestation of a deaf-mute 5-year old niece, see determination of the New York Commission for Judicial Conduct here, but remains a licensed attorney with "no record of public discipline".

So, Alabama, same as in New York, embraces criminals, including sexual predators, as licensed attorneys and judges - and sends to the public an unmistakable message that all assurances the attorney licensing exists to protect the public is a sham.

The sexting judge in Alabama is not the only sexting judge exposed recently.

In Texas, Judge Joel Baker recently resigned during a sexting investigation.

A criminal complaint was filed against judge Baker back in 2011, for stalking a woman - but Judge Baker remained on the bench, and the investigation was swept under the rug.

Despite criminal complaints for stalking, resigning during sexting investigation and criminal indictments for violation of open meetings law, former judge Joel Baker remains, as of today, a licensed attorney in the State of Texas:

Well, before it was only civil rights attorneys who were kicked by the system for doing their jobs the way they understand it.

Now joining the crowd of attorneys punished for their correct legal opinions is Chief Judge for the State of Alabama, suspended for stating the obvious - that precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court are not the Law of the Land, not being part of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and thus not mandatory for enforcement in the State of Alabama.

Let's see what the U.S. Supreme Court says to that - if Judge Moore's case goes that far.

As a summary of the sorry cases of Judges Leon Archer in Alabama, Judge Bryan Hedges in New York and Judge Joel Baker in Texas, I bet that the American public should feel extremely protected through attorney licensing when sexual predators are allowed to remain licensed attorneys with "no record of public discipline".

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