"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, November 16, 2016

A nice solution to disciplinary investigation of #JudgeBrendaWeaver in the death penalty state overhwhelmed with unmet legal problems of largely illiterate population - to abolish its Judicial Qualifications Commission

Georgia is a state with a lot of social problems - and "interesting" solutions for these problems.

Georgia denies access to court to pro se individuals when it arbitrarily deems lawsuits of those individuals "frivolous" (as in claiming misconduct of the government - what constitutes "frivolous" in the eyes of judges is a very vague and arbitrary notion),

and does it despite the high percentage of illiterate population (up to 36%, more than every 3rd citizen in some of Georgia counties), and inability of pro se litigants (80% across the U.S.) to afford "counsel in good standing" (that Georgia highest court said should sign off a "vexatious litigant's" filings - for a fee that the pro se litigant might not have).

Georgia reported in 2009 that every low income family had 3 "legal needs" per year:

with legal assistance received in only 9.1% (9 out of 100) of problems,

and while most of such legal problems causing problems for individuals and/or families:

The State of Georgia, as all other states, also presumes knowledge of the law in everybody, including the poor and the illiterate - while at the same time suing to block its citizens, including the poor and the illiterate, from information about its own laws.

And the State of Georgia is IN-famous for segregating poor young troublemakers and deny to them decent living conditions, or proper education, thus perpetuating their poverty and troublemaking for their lifetime.

And, the State of Georgia, a death penalty state, punishes people, BY DEATH, for choosing to try their case in criminal court.

And, the State of Georgia is known for putting people who profess innocence, to death, without even having the decency of having a qualified person to insert the needle properly - and while the prosecution got the conviction only on a THIRD try (with a prior mistrial and a prior reversal of conviction).

And, the State of Georgia has prosecutors (who are supposed to be neutral) who have battery-operated toy electric chairs in their offices, and who are reportedly "pathologically enthralled with the death penalty" and who remain in office, pursuing the death penalty, in the State with high levels of poverty and illiteracy.

And, of course, such "toy electric chair" prosecutors are not disciplined - and, instead, criminal defense attorneys are sanctions, and put in jail, for "improperly" filing motions in defense of their clients in death penalty cases.

And, Georgia has judges who are indicted for their "tyrannical partiality" - which shows that its Judicial Qualifications Committee that issues a report upon which the judge was indicted, did something right.

And, in Georgia, a judge reportedly allowed himself a racial slur in court, then resigned, and then the judicial establishment, including the Chief Circuit Judge Brenda Weaver (who was at the time also the Chairman of the State Judicial Qualification Commission) trying to cover up the scandal - to the point of having her former law clerk (present prosecutor) arrest and charge a journalist and his lawyer who tried to get access to those records with felonies (a disbarring offense for the lawyer).

It is in that State of Georgia, where the poor cannot expect justice in its courts already - that made litigants lives even harder, by eliminating a possibility for them to even complain about misconduct of the state judges and have those complaints investigated.

Now, whatever misconduct Georgia judges commit, Georgians have nowhere to complain, nobody to deal with their complaints.

Because Georgian voters were duped into passing the "Amendment 3" abolishing its Judicial Qualifications Commission and subordinating the new Commission (which was not yet formed) to the State Legislature, where issues relating to the judiciary are handled by former judges and lawyers regulated by judges.

Amendment 3 asked, on the ballot, the following question:

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to

  • abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission;
  • require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the
    • composition,
    • manner of appointment, and
    • governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judge
  • require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and
  • allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?”
(structuring of the question added).

Read more here:

Before the elections, interestingly enough, both Republicans and Democrats came together to oppose Amendment 3, claiming that oversight of judges by judges in the Judicial Qualifications Commission worked just fine for 44 years, and that transferring oversight to the Legislature will only result in more "power brokerage", and less independence of the Commission.

As a comparison, in New York, the majority of members of the Commission for Judicial Conduct is already appointed by the Legislature - and consists of a supermajority of judges and lawyers (9 out of 10 current members are lawyers), as opposed to "lay" members of the public.

Reportedly, there was "little campaigning on either side of the issue", and, possibly, for that reason, and for the reason that it offered to voters a presumably good solution to the presumably bad problem of lack of oversight and due process in the current Judicial Qualifications Commission, Amendment 3 has passed.

The State Bar of Georgia did not take a position on the issue - predictably taking the coward's way out, since it is a "professional suicide" for lawyers to engage in any discussion, and especially in a public discussion of any issue relating to discipline of judges for misconduct.  Of course, the official reason for taking the coward's way out by the State of Georgia and not informing the public about the issues involved with Amendment 3 was different - that if they make their position known BEFORE voting, they will not be "invited to the table" AFTER VOTING.

Despite the Georgia State Bar taking a position to keep silent in order to be "invited to the table" in case voters say "yes" to the Amendment, there was a bipartisan movements in the State of Georgia, uniting prominent present and former government and State Bar officials and citizen journalists, tried to oppose Amendment 3.

Current Georgia State Senator Josh McCoon, as well as Past President of the State bar, and former Chairman of the Judicial Qualifications Commission Lester Tate - united with citizen journalist Nydia Tisdale campaigned against Amendment 3.

Yet, if the whole reason for Amendment 3 and pandering it to the public to establish "oversight" by "people's representatives" in the State Legislature, the whole idea of inviting lawyers (people whose livelihood is regulated and controlled by judges) "to the table" of shaping and handling discipline of judges seems "counterintuitive" - or deceitful, as in "bait and switch" for the public.  Which is exactly what Amendment 3 is.

First, it was proposed by a former judge who ran from the bench during investigation of misconduct, so he would not propose anything that would benefit the public, as opposed benefiting the judiciary.

Second, oversight by Legislature where sponsors and proponents of bills regarding the judiciary are themselves licensed attorneys and "officers of the court" has nothing to do with "oversight" for the public and everything to do with lobbying for the judiciary and the bar regulated by the judiciary (and, since the State Bar wanted a "place at the table" discussing and handling regulation of judicial behavior, lawyers and judges in the State of Georgia regulate each other, not allowing the public anywhere near that regulation).

Georgia's Judicial Qualification Commission was not the best and the most independence watchdog of judicial discipline in the world - especially, with Judge Brenda Weaver as its recent leader, while a complaint was pending against her.

Yet, what it changed to is a straight-out lobbying body, which is even worse for the public.

And, the additional benefit of Amendment 3 - for judges, not the public - is that all pending investigations handled by the Commission at the time Amendment 3 passed (and that includes the investigation against Judge Brenda Weaver) necessarily stopped with abolishing of the Commission, and the public, at least for the "transition period" before the Legislature comes around to re-establish the Commission, has NO body handling complaints against judges and investigating and prosecuting judicial misconduct.

A brilliant move by the lobbyist former rogue judge and laywers/ legislators who are behind Amendment 3.

New York Law Journal, in a rare bold announcement, claimed that passing Amendment 3 - and thus subjecting the Judicial Qualifications Commission to "oversight" of the Georgia State Legislature, "strips" the Commission of its "constitutional independence".  Of course, New York Law Journal did not dare to say the same of the nearly exact same situation already existing in New York, where the majority of Judicial Conduct Commission is appointed by the State Legislature, and where the State Legislature has the oversight of the Commission, through its Judiciary Committee (and where both the Judiciary Committee, and the Commission for Judicial Conduct are comprised of super-majority of lawyers whose livelihood is controlled by judges).

The organization "Georgians for Judicial Integrity" also campaigned against Amendment 3, claiming that the text of Amendment 3 offered to voters on the ballot, is misleading and stating that "[I]f this amendment is approved by voters, Georgia will have less oversight of and accountability for judges who abuse their power. We must preserve the independence and integrity of the JQC."

Now - the bottomline is that:

  1. Amendment 3 passed;
  2. There is nowhere for Georgians to file complaints against rogue judges at this time.
  3. All investigations against judges pending at the time Amendment 3 passed (including the investigation against Judge Brenda Weaver) are stopped, and, likely, will not be renewed by the "new" Commission.
  4. The former rogue judge and lawyers who lobbied within the Legislature for Amendment 3, now got their wish.

Apparently, with the public emotions predominantly focused on presidential elections, such things as Amendment 3 easily slipped through.

Yet, it is time for us as citizens to realize that:

  1. allowing all 3 branches of the government to be dominated by lawyers;
  2. whose own livelihood is in the hands of the judiciary, and
  3. while the judiciary is "regulated" by
    1. screening or nominating committees comprised by lawyers;
    2. by elections where lawyers (who know a thing or two about judicial misconduct, often seeing judicial candidates every day in the courtroom) gagged by the threat of losing their livelihood if they speak out - and thus the voters do not get the "WikiLeaks effect" and are not informed as to the true background and integrity of judicial candidates; and
    3. by lawyers who are too timid to pronounce their position as to the agency dealing with judicial misconduct, in order to have a piece of the pie discussing makeup and operatio of that agency;
  4. where rules of ethics by attorneys are written by judges and attorneys;
  5. rules of ethics for judges are written by judges,

ALL OF THE ABOVE is NOT meant to protect the public, but is meant to protect the cozy status quo of lawyers, as a privileged class (if they "play by the rules" of their own privileged class, if they don't, another set of rules apply). 

And, such protection of lawyers' status quo has nothing to do with protection of the public - the declared reason for attorney regulation in the first place.

Several days have passed since voters accepted Amendment 3 in Georgia, and the Georgia State Judicial Qualifications Commission was abolished and its investigations and prosecutions stopped.

Yet, no news were available as to any movement of the Georgia State Legislature to institute as least a temporary Commission to handle citizens' complaints against rogue judges, nor are there any news as to enactment of new laws regarding the new Commission promised to the public through Amendment 3.

Which shows the real reason behind promoting Amendment 3 - stripping the public of any body to complain to and to have judicial misconduct investigated and prosecuted.

And that is called voter misinformation and fraud.  Big time.

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