"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 20, 2016

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court gives a preelection carrot to voters - and the carrot is rotten

On September 15, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the court ridden by multiple scandals

  • (refusal to discipline the Kids-for-Cash judge until the feds convicted him and sent him to prison for 27 years,
  • the Porngate where there was no discipline imposed on anybody but the whistleblowers;
  • suspending the license and convicting the Pennsylvania Attorney General who tried to hold judges accountable,
  • the recent U.S. Supreme Court reversal of a death penalty case in Williams v Pennsylvania with a scathing criticism of the now retired Judge Donald Castille who sat as a judge on cases where he signed the death penalty applications as a prosecutor)

The press release confirmed, of course, that only some of the appointments will be for non-attorneys, and that "many" "volunteer" positions require "legal training" or "expertise" - in other words, are reserved for attorneys only, and, remember, attorneys are people whose livelihood is in the hands of Pennsylvania Supreme Court, because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court regulates law licenses in the state.

Remember how quickly they yanked the license of PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane when she started to investigate judges for misconduct in office?  One of the judges who Kane investigated actually sat on the panel that suspended Kane, and only after suspending his "enemy", he recused.  An extremely honorable man.  "Honorable" is part of their job titles, so that makes them all very honorable, you know.

The press-release claimed that volunteers "serve" as part of "independent agencies" helping the court, but, seriously, when the majority of such "agencies" are populated by lawyers, people whose livelihood is in the hands of the court, people totally dependent on the good grace of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, how can such agencies be "independent"?

The press-release said that:

And, the first "volunteer vacancies" were supposed to be published by October 3, 2016.

Today is October 20, 2016, so I decided to look, which "volunteer vacancies" were published, and how many of them are for non-attorneys.

The Committees and Boards are on the far bottom right of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court website:

Of course, when you click on the "Committees, Boards and Advisory Groups" in the bottom right, you are immediately discouraged from further applying for "volunteering" in such "Committees, Boards and Advisory Groups" by this announcement/warning:

So, there is no independence in these "groups" where MOST "volunteers" are - admittedly - attorneys, people whose livelihood depends on the whims of judges of that court.

If after that warning, the reader still wants to waste time on these "boards", further listed are "available positions" for two "boards":  Continuing Legal Education Board, and Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee.

So, I clicked on "more information".

Here are the requirements to apply for "volunteering" on the Continuing Legal Education Board:

Why only attorneys are allowed to set rules as to how attorneys should be taught and, especially, taught about ethics - nobody knows.  Doesn't law licensing - and CLE is part of it - exist to protect consumers of legal services?  And don't consumers of legal services, those allegedly sought to be protected, have a right to see how exactly they are being protected?  And set rules of how attorneys must be educated?  With the help of experts, if a need arises?

But no, the CLE Board is yet another secret society excluding ordinary people, the "nonlawyers", and decides (allegedly) how to protect those nonlawyers behind closed doors.

Here are the requirements to apply for "volunteering" on the Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee:

While there is no explicit requirement for members of this "Committee" to be attorneys, I wonder how many lay members will be allowed.

The answer is in the current composition of that Committee: there are NO lay members there.

So, the pre-election carrot to voters that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court does SOMETHING to clean up its stables turns out to be a rotten carrot.  It is, and is going to be - until and unless the public takes the appointment power to these "Committees" from the hands of the courts and make them into a really independent agencies, populated by non-attorneys - what it is now.

An attempt to deceive and appease the public before the elections.

A rotten carrot.

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