"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.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Federal magistrate John Primomo taken off citizenship ceremonies and forced into retirement for telling new citizens they should leave the country if they do not like Donald Trump as president

An update on my recent blog about outrageous behavior of federal magistrate John Primomo at a citizenship ceremony where Judge Primomo told the new citizens that, if they do not like Donald J. Trump as the country's new president, they can just as well leave and go to another country.

Well, it is not the new citizens who do not like Trump who now leave the country, but it is judge Primomo who has abruptly left citizenship ceremonies - and is leaving the judgeship as well.

Judge Primomo reportedly turned in a retirement notice, effective September 2017, the next day after his "unusual" lecture to the new citizens.

The judiciary is supposed to be independent and free from influence.

Yet, what happened to Judge Primomo is a direct effect of the outrage in the media and social media coming from his statements.

Is it an encroachment on judicial independence?

I don't think so.

After all, the judiciary has given itself a gift of absolute judicial immunity for malicious and corrupt acts on the bench, and the U.S. Congress gave federal judges a gift of being free from discipline for whatever they do on the bench, leaving to victims of judicial misconduct only one remedy - appeal.

Yet, federal appeals in civil rights cases turned into rubber-stamping of what the misbehaving judges in the courts below say - through non-precedential summary opinions, which scholars claim are unconstitutional, without proper review of issues involved, see just 2 footnotes from the law review I just interlinked quoting Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit describing how judges, in their "discretion", decide cases through summary opinions - and nearly 100% of civil rights cases are decided this way by federal appellate courts:

So, there is absolute judicial immunity for malicious and corrupt acts on the bench - and the victim of judicial misconduct is barred from suing a judge.

And, there is a Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. 352, under which the absolute majority of complaints against federal judges - complaints about misconduct on the bench, bias, ex parte communications and fixing court cases - are rejected for "lack of jurisdiction", because the U.S. Congress, in its infinite wisdom (lobbied, no doubt, by the judiciary) decided that the only remedy a victim of judicial misconduct in office can have is to appeal.

And, there are appellate courts that, as a matter of discretion, decide (or, rather, reject) issues of judicial misconduct through summary opinions where

  • "facts need not be recited in detail because the parties to the dispute ... already know them" (why would then courts need to recite details of facts in any cases at all - including in the U.S. Supreme Court opinions?);
  • it is not important "to be terribly precise in
    • phrasing the legal standard announced"; or in
    • "providing the rationale for the decision"
  • it is not important for the judge to ponder precedential effect of the decision, "how the disposition will be applied and interpreted in future cases presenting slightly different facts and consideration",
  • "[t]he time - often a huge amount of time - that judges spend calibrating and polishing opinions need not be spent in cases decided by an unpublished disposition that is intended for the parties alone" - and that applies to the now published, but still non-precedential summary orders, too.
According to Judge Kozinski, "[p]ublished opinions, by contrast, are often of impeccable quality; decisions for publication must be complete on their face and adequately discuss the facts, nature, history and reasoning of the case".

Yet, while the appeal is ONLY REMEDY for victims of judicial misconduct in federal court, federal appellate court, through their alleged "discretion", turned that only remedy into nullity, becase, as a matter of discretion, whenever you raise issues of judicial misconduct on appeal, it is put onto the "summary order" track, decided, most likely, by interns and law clerks and not by judges, where:

  • facts,
  • nature,
  • history, and
  • reasoning of the cases do not even have to be stated.

It is futile to make motions to recuse federal judges - despite a prohibition for judges to decide motions directed at themselves which claim bias, they do just that, reject such motions - and appellate courts affirm such rejections through the sloppy summary orders.

With no remedy at law available for victims of judicial misconduct in federal courts, the only way of making the federal judicial misconduct known and trying to obtain some remedy remains exposure of such misconduct in the mainstream media (if it is brave enough to cover such an "sensitive" topic), or/and in the social media.

And, more and more we see judicial discipline imposed because news of such misconduct leaked first into social media, and then picked up by the timid mainstream media.

In this case, this was a court ceremony, but a citizenship ceremony.

So, those participating in the ceremony were:

  1. barred by judicial immunity from suing Judge Primomo;
  2. barred by Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act from complaining about judge Primomo's misconduct in office; and
  3. barred from appealing - because they were actually granted citizenship by judge Primomo in a court ceremony.

Their only remedy was making Judge Primomo's misconduct public.

They did - and Judge Primomo is going to be removed from the bench, not immediately, but within less than year at least.

So, victims of judicial misconduct should continue exposing that misconduct in the media.

The more we do that, the more changes we have hope of bringing about.


  1. This appears to me to be PC on steroids. Given that "protesters" were attacking police vehicles, setting fire to government buildings, and pulling white drivers out of cars and beating them almost to death, I am less than concerned about the comments of a judge swearing in new citizens. I am far more bothered by J. C. Gonzalez, Kings County, who injects politics from the bench and, according to many in Brooklyn, is an anti-semite.

    1. What Judge Primomo did was wrong. Yet, many federal judges do things that are much worse, and still are not forced to retire, so, yes, there is a PC element here. As to Judge Gonzalez, I am not familiar with him. If you send me materials supporting your statements that Judge Gonzalez injects politics from the bench and is anti-Semitic, I will look into the matter.