"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, January 16, 2017

The double-dipping #JudgeBettyWilliams, of Brooklyn, acts as an unsworn expert linguist in Hebrew, and changes Criminal Procedure Law 190.50 in order to save a criminal case that the prosecution neglected to timely turn into the grand jury

I've just published a blog about the double-dipping history of #JudgeBettyWilliams of Brooklyn, a retired judge from Brooklyn, NY who ran for election after she turned 70.

Since Judge Betty Williams was not entitled to take office on January 1, 2014, because she turned 70 in August of 2013, Judge Williams had no right to even put her name on the ballot in the elections of 2013.

Since she did put her name on the re-election ballot, while knowing full well that she will have to retire until the end of that year, and is not allowed by law to take office on January 1 of 2014, Judge Betty Williams got her re-election by fraud - in my opinion.

I wonder whether the court administration and the New York State Board of Elections let these fraudulent elections come through because Judge Betty Williams is an African American female

- in 2015, for example, yet another African American female attorney, #ChristinaRyba, was elected to the Albany County Supreme Court, after defrauding voters (after she was fired for unethical conduct and misusing her position and the court system in her elections, from her position as counsel to the Chief Judge of the Appellate Division 3rd Department),

and now "serves" on the Supreme Court - even though she was supposed to be disbarred by the Attorney Grievance Committee of her own prior employer the 3rd Department (yes, I know what the chances of that happening are, with that particular corrupt Attorney Grievance Committee) and barred from ever coming to the bench, where she won elections by fraud and misuse of her public employment position.

Christina Ryba's fraudulent election was celebrated because of her gender and race - and for that reason, I believe that Judge Betty Williams' fraudulent election was not struck down, and Betty Williams herself was not prosecuted for public fraud criminally.

Judge Betty Williams' "election" resulted in the following expenses for New York taxpayers:

  1. Judge Betty Williams retired 8 weeks after election in 2013, thus vacating her office without ever being sworn into it, and thus allowing the State Governor to appoint a judge for a year into that position, without any elections;
  2. Judge Betty Williams at the same time was "certificated" for a full-time salary, and drew a full-time pension,
so, instead of Judge Betty Williams retiring at the end of year 2013, as she did anyway, she had to run for re-election, have the State of New York waste money on her elections, secured for somebody - possibly, through an agreement - an opportunity to be appointed rather than elected to the Supreme Court bench, and made the court system expend a million dollars to keep Judge Williams on the bench, according to an administrative judge who participated in denying her re-certification in December of 2016.

Yet, retired judges can only be "certificated" under a New York statute (which is, in my opinion, unconstitutional, as it defies New York State's constitutional requirement for mandatory retirement of judges at age 70) because, under the requirements of Judiciary Law 115(1), their services are "necessary to expedite the business of the supreme court":

How can a 70+-year-old judge "expedite" the "business of the supreme court", and how that "expediting" can be necessary - especially in criminal court (where Judge Betty Williams "served", where fairness rather than speed must be the key), is anybody's guess.

But, after judges were appointed on false certifications that their "service" was "necessary to expedite the business of the supreme court", nobody checked what they do on the bench - their "productivity was not a focus" of re-certification reviews, so those positions were, essentially, highly paid sinecures for retired judges after retirement, at a huge cost to taxpayers.

After Judge Betty Williams was actually denied her certification on December 2, 2016, the New York State Court Administration indicated that the new Chief Judge DiFiore has a "business attitude" and requires retired judges "to carry their weight", because it allegedly costs New York taxpayers 1 million dollars "to keep a Supreme Court justice on the bench".

How so, what comes into that calculation, I am going to verify through a FOIL request - which, I am sure, New York State Court administration will try to stall, as it does, upon my personal information, experience and belief, with all FOIL requests.

Even before the denial of re-certification, Judge Betty Williams could be and should have been, in my opinion, criminally prosecuted for fraud in 2013 elections, and should have been disbarred for that fraud.

Yet, after Judge Williams was denied re-certification on December 2, 2016, and, reportedly, ripped the decision denying her certification, in obvious rage, Judge Williams lashed out - not only against those who denied her re-certification, but also against innocent people, litigants and attorneys in her courtroom.

Yet, while Judge Corcyca's lashing out against the children resulted in a public outcry, and in at least a pretense of discipline, a public reprimand (even though after the public reprimand Judge Gorcyca was given a public ovation in the courtroom, orchestrated by Judge Gorcyca's husband and "members of the bar", attorneys appearing in front of her and depending on her financially), Judge Betty Williams' lashing out was not described in the news at all.

And, what #JudgeBettyWilliams did, apparently in lieu of slamming the door while leaving the bench, is no better and, possibly, much worse that what Judge Gorcyca did: she created a very bad precedent, gutting state criminal defendants' statutory right to testify in the grand jury because of a perceived misconduct ("gamesmanship") of defense counsel.

Before Judge Betty Williams, another infamous judge - the convicted felon former Chief Judge of New York State Court of Appeals #SolWachtler, currently embraced by present NYS Court of Appeals judge Michael Garcia (see my blogs about Wachtler here, here and here) - tried to gut the grand jury system completely.

What people remember about Wachtler is his catch-phrase that a good prosecutor can have the grand jury indict a ham sandwich.

What people do not remember about Wachtler is that his catch-phrase was used in his efforts to eliminate the grand jury proceedings in New York state felony prosecutions completely, even though a grand jury indictment is the requirement of the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that Wachtler was sworn to uphold as an attorney and as a judge.

And, it is reported that prosecutors, who also act as "legal advisors" of grand juries, while grand jury proceedings are secret and one-sided (only prosecutors get to present their side, and act as legal advisors of the decision-maker, which is a stark conflict of interest), use their positions for their benefit:

Yet, this is a chicken-and-egg situation where the primary requirement is that of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

How the grand juries are regulated under state law is secondary - so if prosecutors abuse their positions to manipulate grand juries so that they can indict a ham sandwich, it is the state laws allowing such manipulation that should be changed, not the grand jury proceedings that should be scrapped.

To a criminal defendant, grand jury proceeding, their imperfections notwithstanding, serve an important role of an additional barrier between initial criminal charges and their prosecution by the County Court.

It often happens - and I used that feature for the benefit of my clients as a criminal defense attorney in New York - that prosecutors simply forget that, under New York statutory law they MUST make a presentment to the grand jury within 6 months.

If they don't, the state speedy trial statute requires dismissal of the felony indictment made after expiration of the 6 months.  And prosecutors DO forget to present cases to the grand jury.  I had judges who wanted to cater for prosecution enraged by motions to dismiss that they HAD TO grant.

Moreover, I had cases where the indictment was either not returned at all, despite efforts of district attorneys and their alleged ability to have grand jury indict a ham sandwich, or not returned at the level requested - as an example, I had a client against whom an A felony indictment was sought, but only a C felony indictment was obtained, or against whom an E felony indictment was sought, but the grand jury refused to indict at all.

Grand jury proceedings must be done in accordance with statutory law, and, if they are not so conducted, the resulting indictment is subject to dismissal - and often, if the time required for bringing an indictment has expired based on the state speedy trial statute, an indictment, once dismissed, may not be repeated.

I wrote on this blog about such a situation - about my friend Barbara O'Sullivan, critic of judicial, prosecutorial and police misconduct who has suffered removal of custody of a grandchild from her daughter, foreclosure and loss of business, fabricated arrest and criminal charges, the death of 2 dogs, and the burning down of a house because of her criticism, including a lawsuit against the corrupt judge Carl F. Becker who has since speedily "retired", along with his corrupt cronies.

Instead of investigating criminal retaliation against Barbara, the local system, of course, was busy making the fabricated criminal charges stick. 

While they did not stick - because of additional misconduct of Delhi Judge Richard Gumo (who lied in Barbara's hearing under oath and thus triggered dismissal of her criminal case), Judge John F. Lambert who presided over Barbara's criminal case initially did for the prosecution what he is now doing for the former police officer who tried to kill Barbara with his vehicle in Barbara's civil lawsuit - Judge Lambert attempted to help prosecution fix the case against Barbara.

This is how Judge Lambert did it in the criminal case - which is similar to Judge Betty Williams misconduct in the case she decided after she was denied re-certification as a retired judge for years 2017-2018.

Felony charges were filed against Barbara in Delhi Town Court on or about September 18, 2016.

The prosecution had 6 months to present her case to the grand jury.

In the lower court, Delhi Town Court, Barbara was arraigned with counsel (me), and had a felony hearing with counsel (me).

Because of that, under the Criminal Procedure Law, the then-District Attorney prosecuting Barbara, now Judge Richard Northrup (he was elected as a judge in 2015, after prosecuting Barbara in 2014-2015, instead of prosecuting Barbara's assailant, who was, coincidentally, a nephew of DA Northrup's longtime investigator Jeff Bowie) had to send a written notice of presentment of the case to the grand jury to either Barbara or me as her attorney in the lower court.

That is the statutory requirement of Criminal Procedure Law 190.50(5), which provides:

"5. Although not called as a witness by the people or at the instance of the grand jury, a person has a right to be a witness in a grand jury proceeding under circumstances prescribed in this subdivision:

(a) When a criminal charge against a person is being or is about to be or has been submitted to a grand jury, such person has a right to appear before such grand jury as a witness in his own behalf if, prior to the filing of any indictment or any direction to file a prosecutor's information in the matter, he serves upon the district attorney of the county a written notice making such request and stating an address to which communications may be sent. The district attorney is not obliged to inform such a person that such a grand jury proceeding against him is pending, in progress or about to occur unless such person is a defendant who has been arraigned in a local criminal court upon a currently undisposed of felony complaint charging an offense which is a subject of the prospective or pending grand jury proceeding. In such case, the district attorney must notify the defendant or his attorney of the prospective or pending grand jury proceeding and accord the defendant a reasonable time to exercise his right to appear as a witness therein;

(b) Upon service upon the district attorney of a notice requesting appearance before a grand jury pursuant to paragraph (a), the district attorney must notify the foreman of the grand jury of such request, and must subsequently serve upon the applicant, at the address specified by him, a notice that he will be heard by the grand jury at a given time and place. Upon appearing at such time and place, and upon signing and submitting to the grand jury a waiver of immunity pursuant to section 190.45, such person must be permitted to testify before the grand jury and to give any relevant and competent evidence concerning the case under consideration. Upon giving such evidence, he is subject to examination by the people.

(c) Any indictment or direction to file a prosecutor's information obtained or filed in violation of the provisions of paragraph (a) or (b) is invalid and, upon a motion made pursuant to section 170.50 or section 210.20, must be dismissed; provided that a motion based upon such ground must be made not more than five days after the defendant has been arraigned upon the indictment or, as the case may be, upon the prosecutor's information resulting from the grand jury's direction to file the same. If the contention is not so asserted in timely fashion, it is waived and the indictment or prosecutor's information may not thereafter be challenged on such ground.

CPL 190.50(5) is convoluted, so let me re-iterate:

FIRST, the prosecutor must notify the defendant against whom an outstanding felony complaint is pending, of the DA's plans to present the case to the grand jury, and

THEN, after having received such a notice, the defendant files a notice with the DA that he wants to testify in the grand jury,

AND THEN the DA notifies the foreman of the grand jury of the defendant's request to testify.

The timing of defendant's request to testify is triggered by the written notice given to the defendant by the DA.

In Barbara's case, DA Richard Northrup chose to have her indicted without sending the statutory required notice to either Barbara or to me as her counsel in the lower court.

Since I was at that time subjected to vast harassment by the disciplinary authorities, to the point of having to leave the State of New York, Barbara first represented herself in the felony proceedings, and then was represented, consecutively, by two defense attorneys. 

Barbara timely filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for failure to comply with the statutory requirement to notify her or her counsel of the pending grand jury proceedings.

Had Judge Lambert granted that motion - which he had to do by law, because DA Northrup admitted that he did not send a notice to either Barbara or me - DA Northrup would have been out of luck and would not have been able to re-indict Barbara, so her criminal case would have been dismissed in November of 2014.

Both DA Norhtrup (who is now Judge Northrup) and Judge Lambert knew that (1) Northrup had no grounds to oppose such a motion and (2) Lambert had no grounds to deny the motion, and that (3) the motion, once granted, would mean the end of criminal charges against Barbara.

Yet, because the law was on Barbara's side, Judge Lambert bent it, in order to cater for Northrup.

Lambert denied the motion, even though he had no right to do so under the circumstances when a timely motion to dismiss was filed for failure to serve a written notice of grand jury proceedings under CPL 190.50(5):

 and the felony case against Barbara proceeded for 1.5 years more, still resulting in a dismissal of charges, but only after Barbara was subjected to the stress of criminal prosecution, the perspective of conviction and a 7-year sentence in state prison, and after she and her family expended tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to the two attorneys hired in the felony proceedings.

While CPL 190.50 does not have a statutory provision for interpreters to be present, or to aid the defendant in the grand jury proceedings, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the 5th and 14th Amendment Due Process requirement requires that individuals with disabilities be given a "reasonable accommodation" in any public proceeding, and not being a native speaker of English is a recognized language disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA).

What CPL 190.50 does not have is the authority of a judge to deny the motion under CPL 190.50 if the defendant is not given an opportunity to testify in the grand jury.

A judge DOES NOT have such power.

If a judge is presented with evidence that a defendant wanted to testify in the grand jury, timely communicated his request, but was denied opportunity to testify in the grand jury, a judge has no choice but to dismiss the indictment, as it is not valid, by statute, under such circumstances.

Yet, Judge Betty Williams did exactly that.

On December 16, 2016, two weeks after she was denied re-certification as a judge for years 2017-2018, the decision that she reportedly "ripped" in anger, Judge Williams refused to dismiss a criminal indictment where a defendant, a foreign national speaking Hebrew, was not allowed by the prosecutor to testify in the grand jury.

Judge Williams justified her decision by the alleged "gamesmanship" of the defense counsel who, quite reasonably, insisted on recording inadequate translation of documents to his Hebrew-speaking defendant.

Judge Williams - who is not, upon my information, a linguist herself - claimed that because defendant did not ask for an interpreter in previous proceedings (before the indictment, in the court below, which had not so much significance), and even though the defendant had a right to ask for an interpreter at any time, the defendant, in Judge Williams' opinion, did not really need an interpreter.

So, if the defendant is able to say "yes" or "no" or "not guilty" at arraignment, that somehow indicates that the defendant, a foreign national for whom English is not a native language, understands enough of the English language to (1) understand a waiver of immunity in English language, and (2) testify in the grand jury, and subject himself to examination by the grand jurors, which can result in a felony indictment - through an inadequate interpreter and without an audio record of interpretation that would reflect the inadequacy of interpretation.

I was not there, and I do not know Hebrew, so I would not know whether the actual interpreter was or was not inadequate.

Yet, the defense attorney apparently knew Hebrew and started audio-recording of the interpretation specifically because he thought it was inadequate.

Judge Williams then invoked a court rule - which was not part of CPL 190.50, and could not thus be used as a part crafting out an exception from CPL 190.50 requirement - claiming that the defense counsel was prohibited, by court rule 22 NYCRR 29.1(a), from audiotaping any conversation in the courthouse, including offices and hallways - and, since the counsel violated that rule, his non-native speaking client somehow lost his right to testify in the grand jury.

Given that court reporters are prone to cooking court transcripts (happened in my disciplinary proceedings twice, and, when evidence of that was published online, the disciplinary prosecutor filed criminal charges against me asking the court to put me in jail for posting that evidence - charges were later dismissed), anybody who is testifying in any proceedings should insist on having an audio recording of his or her testimony, as court reporters, people dependent on court personnel for their livelihoods, are simply not to be believed.

Here, the additional risk of incorrect transcript was inadequate interpretation from Hebrew, while the Hebrew translation was not recorded by a court reporter knowing Hebrew, in Hebrew, nor by audio-recording.

And, the defendant here could be indicted based on his alleged testimony alone - as interpreted by the Hebrew interpreter that the defense counsel claimed was inadequate.

Here are judge Williams' "grounds" claiming that the defendant "waived" his right to testify in front of the grand jury:

The "grounds" show an extremely convoluted procedural history of the case.

Usually, a felony charges, if started in the lower court, is prosecuted in the following manner:

1) charges are filed in the lower court - 6 months speedy trial statute is triggered, so the prosecution must not only indict within 6 months, but announce readiness for trial and be actually ready for trial within 6 months of those charges;

2) the defendant is arraigned in the lower court, and the decision is made by the lower court as to detention, bail or release on defendant's own recognizance (ROR);

3) if defendant is detained in jail, defendant has 144 hours for a felony hearing, or to be released without bail;

4) prosecution MUST present the case to the grand jury and prosecute the case within 6 months from the time charges were first filed, and if that is not done, the case must be dismissed on speedy trial grounds.

Even though Judge Williams does not disclose in her decision when charges were initially brought against the defendant, the case was much publicized, and the felony charges of robbery, burglary and assault were initially filed, reportedly, no later than October 23, 2015, for defendant's alleged assault upon #RabbiChaimBoruchHalberstam on Kingston Avenue and/or on a student in the dormitory of the Yeshiva university.

So, prosecution had until April 23, 2016, under the speedy trial statute, to indict #YossefNacham and have him arraigned, with announcement of readiness for trial.

The prosecution, the District Attorney of the Kings County, blew the deadline.

Instead of indicting and having the defendant arraigned by April 23, 2016, the prosecution only notified the defendant of their intent to present the indictment on July 29, 2016.

I do not know whether defendant or his attorney AGREED to adjournments of the indictment - if he did, he cannot claim a speedy trial violation.

If the defendant did not agree to adjournments, presentation of the case to the grand jury on August 3, 2016, after initial charges were filed on October 23, 2015, did not result in a valid indictment.

And, judging by the nervous decision of Judge Betty Williams who was trying hard to preserve the indictment by denying the motion to dismiss that she had to grant by statute - it appears that there was no agreement for adjournments.

Once again, this is how the judge recites procedural history of the case:

Since the motion to dismiss must be filed within 5 days after the arraignment on the indictment, and the judge does not say that the motion was untimely, the arraignment that the judge mentions in her recitation of her grounds must be in the lower court - because next, the judge talks about "reduction of the felony charges to misdemeanor charges, about "hearings" and a jury trial, and the "adjournment for the Grand jury action".

The judge also does not indicate whether the defendant was represented in the court below and in the felony court by the same attorneys.

If attorneys in the lower court did not think of demanding an interpreter, and the attorney representing the defendant in the upper court did, that does not say anything about the defendant's level of English, or about any "gamesmanship" of defense counsel.

Actually, "gamesmanship" is not even a legal term.

So, the judge describes a long and convoluted history of the case:

1) that the defendant was charged with felonies in the lower court, and arraigned there - at the felony arraignment in the lower court, a court which cannot try felonies, a "ready for trial" notice cannot be filed by the prosecution;

2) that the prosecution then reduced felony to misdemeanor charges - with or without agreement of defendant (it is wholly within the discretion of the prosecution to do that);

3) that the case was scheduled for pretrial hearings - which is possible only if charges were reduced to a misdemeanor, otherwise the lower court would have no authority to handle pre-trial hearings, only the County or Supreme Court, after an indictment, can do that;

4) that the case was scheduled for a jury trial, twice; and

5) that the case was then adjourned for the action of the Grand Jury - which is a completely irregular occurrence for misdemeanor charges already scheduled for a jury trial, twice.

Here are the host of charges which were reportedly initially filed against Yossef Nacham in the Kings County Criminal Court:

Right now, New York Unified Court system has the following information about the case:

So, arrest and charges were dating actually from October 16, 2015, and the speedy trial cutoff date to indict, arraign and file ready for trial notice was April 23, 2016 - while the case was not even presented for indictment until August 3, 2016, nearly 4 months too late.

I do not know why attorney Paul (Levi) Heubner representing the defendant in this case did not file a straight-out speedy trial motion to dismiss - unless he or another attorney (unwisely) agreed to adjournments in the lower court.

Yet, what I do know is that attorney Heubner was absolutely right to audio-record the inadequate interpreting to and from Hebrew of the contents of the Waiver of Immunity for his non-native English-speaking client, he was protecting his clients' constitutional rights which was his main concern, and NO laws may be used against criminal defense counsel trying to secure his client's constitutional right by means allowed by criminal statutes of the State of New York.

22 NYCRR 29.1(a) prohibiting audio recording in hallways and offices of the courthouse runs contrary to Penal Law 250.00, 250.05 that allows such recording.

Moreover, recording in offices or hallways of a courthouse has nothing to do with "taking pictures", "televising" or "broadcasting" of "court proceedings" prohibited by Civil Rights Law 52.

The Grand Jury proceedings are not "court proceedings", and are not under court control.

Moreover, discussing a waiver of immunity before entering into the room where Grand Jury proceedings are taking place, is not part of "Grand Jury proceedings" and can be done in the street, if necessary.

Specifically prohibiting the recording of inadequate interpretation for a criminal defendant that affects the defendant's constitutional rights - because the recording was taking place outside of a courtroom, outside of a court proceedings, but in a courthouse - is simply silly.

Claiming that such a recording jeopardized the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings, is equally silly.

If the identity of grand jurors is a problem, then the testifying defendant could see those grand jurors while testifying, and could recite their questions from memory - so barring him from audio recording his own testimony does not expose the secrecy of grand jury proceedings any more than the defendant's presence and testimony in such proceedings, allowed by law.

Judge Williams' decision not only stinks of the judge's rage because of denial of re-certification, not only of incompetence, but also of a desire to cater for the prosecution, and bend the law in order to allow the prosecutor who neglected to timely file and prosecute felony charges, to save face and proceed with charges which are untimely and thus no longer valid.

As it often happens, unfortunately, in court proceedings in New York, judge Williams acted as an expert linguist - while having graduated, according to her own admission in the election campaign, a BA in agricultural sciences, and having worked as a social worker.

First, I wonder how did the judge get to be hired as a social worker with a degree in agriculture - which is a separate question.

Second, how can a judge who is an agricultural expert and a social worker get to rule, without any expert input, as to

  • whether a 22-year-old Israeli national has a command of English sufficient to subject himself to the dangers of
    • (1) signing a waiver of immunity and 
    • (2) testifying in the grand jury (which bears a risk of being indicted for a D felony lying to the grand jury, carrying a sentence of up to 7 years in prison, even if the person is not indicted for the initially sought charges), and
  • whether the interpreter provided for the defendant by the court system was adequate.
Of course, I have so far had judges who ruled as expert surgeons (Kevin Dowd), who re-diagnosed me as healthy after my doctor gave me a medical leave after a spinal trauma, held a trial in my absence, awarded an over-$300,000 judgment against my client in retaliation for my absence, and, after the trial, could not stop retaliating, and started a sua sponte proceedings for sanctions and sanctioned me with a fine for not appearing in court while on a medical leave and in pain because of a trauma.

And, we had an in-famous Judge Carl F. Becker (now "retired") who acted in various court proceedings that I am aware of (not only those where I represented people as an attorney) as an expert eye doctor, OB/GYN, dentist and surgeon.

And, we had judge Mary Rita Connerton, of Binghamton, who claimed that "hurried speech" in a non-native speaker of English is a sign of misconduct that requires a negative inference in a court proceeding.

So, Judge Betty Williams was in good company testifying as an unsworn witness in the proceedings of People v Nachum.

This type of conduct is just a raw abuse of power.

It is a claim that, no matter what the law says, no matter what the judge's own field of expertise is, no matter that the prosecution did not provide enough evidence that the defendant had adequate command of English, while the defendant provided enough evidence of the opposite - if a judge says it is "just so", it must be just so.

Yet, it is not the law.

Such judges have no business to be on the bench - and the public should be aware of such misconduct, and should seek to eliminate judicial candidates like Judge Betty Williams, and the other "testifying expert" judges from ever getting on the bench.
According to the docket, the case proceeds, no motions so far are pending, and the next appearance is in March of 2017.

Had Judge Betty Williams not been removed from the bench, and from this case, through denial of post-retirement re-certification, unfortunately, there would be no mechanism of removing her.

Because, criminal defense attorneys are punished by suspension of their law license (the case of John Aretakis) for making a motion to recuse in a criminal case - so, no such motion was filed in the People v Nachum case, even though it was richly warranted.

And because, as the New York State Commission for Judicial Conduct told me, they have no jurisdiction to remove a retired judge.

So, let's thank the corrupt system of the State of New York for the small blessings of removal of Judge Williams without a right to appeal - which, the judge claims, is very unfair (but I do not see her joining the ranks of those protesting against the lack of the right to appeal in attorney disciplinary cases).

Without such removal, Judge Williams would still have been bending the law to cater for the prosecution, and testifying as an expert linguist.

By the way, I don't even know if Judge Williams know Hebrew.

Most likely, she doesn't.

But - if she says she is an expert in Hebrew, I guess, that must be it.

I will continue to cover this case.

Stay tuned.

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