"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.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Over a 1,000,000 views and a hurricane of news on the recently taboo topics of judicial misconduct and corruption

My husband and I, and our 8 pets have survived our first hurricane in South Carolina, and a week without electricity. 

When we finally got electricity - and high-speed Internet - again, I was amazed, first, that the blog has now reached over a million views:

I thank my readers for their attention to the not so easy topics I am covering on this blog.  I appreciate you attention and will strive to provide good coverage of access-to-justice issues, which include independence of court representatives and necessity for transparent, honest, unbiased and competent judiciary - something that our nation is lacking at this time, in my personal opinion, of course.

What was also amazing, after just a week of my absence from the blogging scene is the avalanche of news that have been posted on the subject of attorney misconduct, judicial misconduct and impropriety, and judicial corruption.

When I was starting this blog 2.5 years ago, the topic of attorney misconduct and judicial misconduct was a definite taboo in the news.

The fact that this topic is now discussed more and more actively, and I would say, aggressively, not only in social media, not only by us bloggers, but also by mainstream media, indicates just how influential the rapid exchange of information through social media has become.

Mainstream media has no choice but to pick up and cover these previously "taboo" topics, too.

I must add that the public is becoming very vocal as to what it does not like in its government - and I doubt that the government can ignore such a powerful voice.

For example, reportedly, over 40,000 people have signed a petition to remove from the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama, a Trump supporter, who claimed that grabbing women by their genitals does not constitute a sexual assault.

The public considers the Senator's post in choosing the nation's federal judges and setting laws regarding federal courts too important to be entrusted to a sexist jerk, even if he is an old sexist jerk.

In Rhode Island, a female litigant has filed an ethic complaint against a judge who handled her sexual abuse lawsuit against a Catholic priest without disclosure - in his mandatory financial statement, too - that for years, Rhode Island Supreme Court Judge Francis X. Flaherty

has had a leading role in Catholic church, and thus should not have been presiding over her lawsuit against a Catholic priest alleging sexual abuse.

And, in New York, a state Supreme Court judge Michalek, convicted of a felony and disbarred, is now a "cooperating witness" in a corruption investigation against a political power broker.

And in Texas, an appellate judge was exposed for receiving $11,000 in campaign contributions from attorneys appearing in front of the judge for the past 2 years only.

And in Missouri, increased public interest in judicial elections is noted, and the question that judicial candidates are bought by those contributing to their election campaigns, is publicly raised and debated.

And, finally, New York Times raises the issue of improper failure to recuse by U.S. Supreme Court justices and questionable exercise of discretion by the U.S. Supreme Court.

New York Times correctly questions
  • why the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan did not recuse from the "Affordable Care Act" case after participating in that case as a representative of the U.S. Justice Department, and
  • why the U.S. Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer and John Roberts did not recuse from cases of corporate litigants whose corporate stock they held; and
  • why the U.S. Supreme Court self-servingly refused to take a 1st Amendment case about protests on the plaza in front of that same U.S. Supreme Court.

Corrupt judicial candidates, conflicts of interest in the judiciary, in its top echelons - the top state courts and even in the U.S. Supreme Court justices - topics which were only hushed and tabooed now plunge into mainstream.

You know why?

The American public is not dumb, and it does not want to receive in its courtrooms - instead of fair resolution of disputes - abuse by bought judges.

Through exchange on social media, through its own experiences in the courtroom, it sees that the "presumed integrity" of the "honorable" judiciary that gives itself immunity from malicious and corrupt acts is a mockery of the rule of law that the American public as the employer of its judges, is entitled to.

And, the movement to clean up the judiciary and make it more transparent, more accountable to the people, and actually adhering to the rule of law instead of the rule of "discretion" (whim) is on the rise, too.

I am glad the tide has started to turn, at least judging by the news.

And, I believe that, propelled by instant information sharing in the social media, possibility of real reforms of our judicial system does not seem a utopia any more.

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