"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, January 12, 2017

Another public reprimand for abuse of judicial office in North Carolina - now, saving the job and the law license of #JudgePeterMack

I recently wrote about North Carolina top court's extraordinarily, and extraordinarily corrupt, decision to absolve an influential judge, as well as all judges in the state, including those who have made the decision, of attorney discipline, despite being licensed attorneys - without a proper court regulation or legislative enactment for such an extraordinary exemption.

As I promised, I will soon publish further analysis of that decision regarding #NorthCarolinaJudgeJerryTillett, which was made on 41 pages and included multiple concurring opinions.

Yet, nearly immediately after the North Carolina top court absolved itself, all judges of the state, and judge Jerry Tillett, of the reach of attorney regulation, despite being licensed attorneys, the North Carolina Supreme Court gave yet another slap on the wrist (just like they did with Judge Tillett) to yet another North Carolina judge who was abusing his office for personal gain: #JudgePeterMack.

Mack has been handpicked and supported for judgeship by "prominent" local attorneys - while the ethics of this "tradition", and of judges too-cozy relationships with the local bar in return for rulings - was questioned since long time ago.

And, when the judge himself became a litigant, he depended on the local bar to deny representation to the judge's opponent - and got what he wanted.

While the Supreme Court gave Judge Mack a "public reprimand", but did not take him off the bench, for only "failing to disclose additional income" from his rental properties, the disciplinary decision raises much more serious misconduct of Judge Mack, which required taking off the bench and disbarring him as an attorney.

Judge Mack had a rental property.

And, he rented it.

And, a tenant trashed it when leaving, causing a lot of damage.

And, Judge Mack had a right to pursue legal remedies under the law, as anybody else in this country and in the State of North Carolina.

Yet, it is HOW Judge Mack pursued his remedies that is a problem.

First, Judge Mack pursued not just civil remedies, but filed a criminal complaint against the tenant.

Moreover, to rub it in with the prosecution that the complainant is a judge, Judge Mack indicated as his return address the address of his court, obviously wielding the power of his office to advance his personal interests.

Such a complaint would likely not have been addressed, had it not been made by a sitting judge.

So, the criminal complaint was turned into criminal charges against the tenant, because of Judge Mack's status as a judge.  So, Judge Mack influenced the prosecutor with his judicial position in order to have criminal charges brought against he tenant, instead of trying to sue the tenant and try his luck, as other landlords have to do, to get any money from a tenant in civil proceedings - facing the potential problem of a deadbeat tenant.

Of course, it is easier to have the tenant pay up for damages if that is the price of getting out of jail, rather than to have him pay up a civil money judgment.

Furthermore, knowing that the judge is the complainant, and is wielding his judicial status by putting his court's address on the complaint, the tenant had a difficulty finding an attorney who would dare represent him against a judge.

The case was even put on the calendar of Judge Mack, so he was both the Plaintiff and the presiding judge in the same case.  Of course, Judge Mack denied knowledge or collusion with the prosecution, but who is going to believe it? Only "brother judges" on the NC Supreme Court, obviously.

Finally, a public defender was assigned to represent the tenant - only to sell the tenant out and to agree for the tenant to meet IN CHAMBERS of the Plaintiff Judge Mack, with the prosecutor being present, but without the presence of that same public defender for restitution negotiations - at the end of which the tenant was pressured enough to produce $3,000 for the judge.

For all of that - the judge was given only a "public reprimand" and was allowed to remain on the bench, while knowing that, according to NC Supreme Court helpful information in Judge Tillett's decision, the last time a judge was impeached in North Carolina was in 1868, and a judge may not be now disciplined as an attorney because NC Supreme Court decided to give itself and all judges in the State such a self-serving gift.

So, North Carolinians, the decision regarding Judge Tillett predictably opened up a floodgate of more corrupt disciplinary decisions that only pretend to discipline judges while in fact are operating as protection for judges committing egregious misconduct for personal gain.

And, unless the public demands more accountability from its judges, through a legislative action making impeachment proceedings easier and specifically providing by a statute that attorney discipline equally applies to judges who are attorneys, corrupt judges will remain on the bench forever.

After all, according to the NC Supreme Court's decision regarding Judge Tillett, it was Judge Tillett's current judicial status that protected him from disbarment - an incentive for the NC Supreme Court to NEVER take a judge off the bench, as it would mean throwing such a judge to the wolves of attorney disciplinary authorities.

Great job, NC Supreme Court.

Could not expect anything less from the "Honorable" judiciary.

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