"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, October 3, 2016

The bench is no longer a shelter for attorney misconduct - in Ohio and in North Carolina. In New York, the black robe protects attorneys from charges of misconduct

I recently wrote about a case in North Carolina where a judge was prosecuted for misconduct both as a judge and as an attorney.

The judge claimed that he could not be prosecuted as an attorney, because he was already prosecuted as a judge.  Yet, since maintaining a law license in good standing is a pre-requisite for a judge, and a judge adds rules of judicial conduct to rules of professional conduct of attorney when taking the bench, there is no law prohibiting to prosecute misconduct of judges both through judicial disciplinary authorities and through attorney disciplinary authorities.

A similar case is happening now in Ohio, where the Ohio disciplinary counsel is targeting with investigation a former judge for the judge's conduct on the bench.

Yet, in the blessed state of New York, attorney disciplinary committees usually refuse to prosecute judges as attorneys, claiming that they cannot prosecute a sitting judge, thus making the bench a sort of refuge for attorney misconduct of its occupants.

For example, I wrote on this blog about a complaint I filed in January of 2016 with the New York Commission for Judicial Discipline against judges that was nearly instantly dismissed without an investigation.  The complaint was against attorneys-turned-judges:

1) Christina Ryba, and
2) Richard Northrup

I complained about their actions before they came to the bench, actions of them as attorneys.

New York does not have a statute of limitations for attorney misconduct.

Christina Ryba engaged in misconduct so bad that he was fired from her position as counsel for the Chief Judge of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division 3rd Department for her unethical behavior and illegal and fraudulent use of the court system to rig her own judicial election.

Yet, the announcement of her being fired was not made in such a time to allow the rigging be known to the voters, and Christina Ryba was elected and took the bench, while her rigged election was paraded as "historic".

No attorney discipline followed against her, and the New York State Judicial Discipline Commission refused to prosecute her, even though she was fired for ethical violations - possibly, because a high-ranking judge known for his own misconduct, as well as for his preference for pretty-face female "special counsel", took her under his wing.

So, no criminal charges, no judicial disciplinary charges and no attorney disciplinary charges followed.

The same applied to judge Richard Northrup who rigged all criminal convictions in Delaware County from January of 2002 to July 31 of 2015 by failing to disclose that the Chief Assistant District Attorney he hired was the presiding judge's (Carl F. Becker's) law partner in private practice John Hubbard.

Now John Hubbard appears in front of Richard Northrup as an Acting District Attorney in front of a judge, even though these two have been now known of rigging cases for 13 years in the District Attorney's office.

Richard Northrup is also the one who refused to investigate attempted murder of a judicial critic Barbara O'Sullivan because the perpetrator was the nephew of Richard Northrup's long-time employee, and who instead filed rigged charges against the victim.

The New York State Commission for Judicial Conduct dismissed my complaint about both judges, without investigation, in April of 2016, within three months of filing at the end of January, 2016.

Yet, apparently, public pressure upon attorney disciplinary counsel and public outrage about rampant judicial corruption in the country has already resulted in changes in Ohio and North Carolina where attorney disciplinary authorities now dropped their unspoken and unwritten policy of not prosecuting judges for attorney misconduct and are doing it.

Not yet in New York, the stronghold of corruption, but - the wheels of justice are turning slow, but they are turning. 

We can all here the screeching sound.  It will happen.

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