"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 9, 2017

The North Carolina Supreme Court gave itself a Christmas gift, by exempting itself from attorney discipline

I wrote in August of 2016 about an attorney disciplinary case that was unfolding at that time in North Carolina against a sitting judge who engaged in a case-fixing for his son, escaped with a "public reprimand" from the judicial disciplinary authorities, and was the subject of attorney disciplinary proceedings.

In May of 2016, the top court of the State of North Carolina first imposed a stay on disciplinary proceedings against Judge Jerry Tillett, while mulling over the question whether it can regulate Judge Tillett as an attorney on the subject Jerry Tillett was already disciplined - kind of, through an agreed-upon "public reprimand" - as a judge.

The concern was that:

Now, the Supreme Court of North Carolina decided that licensed attorneys, as soon as they become judges, are not reachable by attorney discipline, even though being a licensed attorney and remaining a licensed attorney is a condition of getting and remaining on the bench.

The American Bar Association matter-of-factly reported on the decision, without any attempt to criticize its self-serving nature and impropriety, even while listing a description of what Judge Tillett did wrong - which had nothing to do with his authority or job as a judge:

Let's list what Judge Tillett did, which was the subject of the "reprimand", without taking him off the bench, and see whether it is related to his work as a judge, or whether it was actions of a private individual who uses his authority as a judge in other cases in order to influence a criminal case of his close blood relative - which is handled by another judge.

Reportedly, in 2010, after the Kill Devil Hills Police Department had detained his adult son "for an unspecified reason", Judge Tillett undertook the following:

  1. He had "arranged an in-chambers meeting with town and police officials" - since the judge could not possibly preside over his own son's potential criminal proceeding, the judge could not meet with the police (investigators) and especially with the "town officials" who must have no participation in any one criminal case.  Neither prosecution, nor defense attorneys were present, and the judge certainly did not have a right to practice law on behalf of his son, but apparently appeared as his defense attorney - which was unauthorized practice of law, but the judge was not criminally charged.  The judge obviously tried to fix his son's criminal case, which is a state and federal criminal offense - but was not criminally charged, in either state or federal court.  Let's go further.
  2. During that meeting, judge Tillett not only engaged in ex parte communications with the police and the town officials in the effort to fix his son's case, but also attempted to intimidate town officials with threats of using his judicial power to remove them from their positions if they do not help fix his son's court case.  That is criminal conduct, but Judge Tillett was never charged or prosecuted.
  3. Next year, the judge tried to personally seek removal, and criminal charges of the police chief and of the assistant town manager by asking the District Attorney (unsuccessfully) to prosecute them.  Personally, I do not see any problem with a judge reporting a crime to the District Attorney, if there was evidence of a crime being committed - and in this case I simply lack information whether there was enough, or not enough evidence, to criminally prosecute the police chief and the town manager.  Of course, the judge would hardly have asked to prosecute these people, had they gone along with the judge's threats and pressure regarding his son's case.  Yet, one thing is to simply report a crime, if you have enough evidence about it (and, once again, I do not know whether judge Tillett had enough evidence to ask the DA to start criminal prosecutions against the police chief and the assistant town manager) - the crime should be reported to the police or to the prosecutor, the judge reported it to the prosecutor, so it's ok.  But, the judge went too far when he has tried to harass and intimidate the police chief and the town manager by sending to them threats of prosecution on judicial stationery.
  4. Moreover, the judge initially presided over court cases involving police complaints - while being personally involved in the story up to his ears and while having acted as a complainant, an investigator, and an interested witness in those cases;
  5. The judge then recused, but after recusal, contacted other presiding judges and suggested the way that the cases against the police are supposed to be decided.

It is very clear that a person who committed this string of misconduct, should be:

  • taken off the bench;
  • disbarred; and
  • criminally prosecuted
Instead, Judge Jerry Tillett

  • was never criminally prosecuted;
  • "agreed" to a "public reprimand", and
  • was shielded from attorney discipline by a decision of the attorney regulator court claiming that it does not have "jurisdiction" to review clear misconduct of a licensed attorney committed while he is employed as a judge, but is acting in cases where he has a personal interest, acted mostly out of court, not in his judicial position, simply abusing his judicial position.
Here is the disgraceful opinion of the North Carolina Supreme Court, all of its 41 disgraceful and self-serving pages.

And here are judges who made that plurality decision on a discretionary review - after choosing to hear the case, the case whre each and every of these judges had a huge personal interest.

Judge Barbara Jackson, the author of the opinion, is, according to her official biography on the court's website, is still living and is still not buried, and who is or was a part of the NC Bar, a party appearing in front of her, the present or former Vice Chair of the Administrative Law Section of the North Carolina Bar - which should be a complete disqualification in deciding a case whether the North Carolina bar may regulate Judge Jackson's OWN law license, which Judge Jackson used to get on the bench and receive her judicial authority, salary and benefits:

Here is Judge Jackson's bar membership information:

It is apparently a complete disqualification for a judge to preside over a case where her own personal interests are involved, and, by deciding that Judge Tillett (and, as a member of the same class as Judge Tillett, an attorney-judge, Judge Jackson herself) are not subject to attorney regulation and discipline while on the bench, Judge Jackson protected herself from attorney discipline and disbarment, no matter what she does on or even off the bench.

It is not even a sad irony, but is quite predictable for the "honorable" judiciary of this country, that Judge Jackson, and other judges of the panel, all licensed attorneys, ruled in a self-serving manner in a case of a judge acting out of court in a self-serving manner, and claiming that they cannot be touched by attorney discipline, even while being "active members" of the bar, while they are on the bench, are covered by absolute judicial immunity on the bench, and are now covered by absolute immunity to attorney discipline for misconduct and corruption off the bench.

After all, judges of this country gave themselves absolute judicial immunity for malicious and corrupt conduct on the bench, which they interpret as applying to any decisions off the bench, too, as long as they are "related" to a court case, and they find everything "relating" to a court case, so judges GIFTED THEMSELVES with an absolute license to violate the U.S. Constitution, their state Constitutions and any other laws, civil and criminal, state and federal, with immunity from lawsuits from the victims of their misconduct.

Such an extraordinary immunity is unconstitutional because NOBODY in the United States, by the U.S. Constitution, may claim themselves to be above the law, because the power to grant such immunity, if it existed, would be with the legislature, not with the judiciary, and because using one's office to give themselves a permission to violate the law with immunity - which is what the judiciary did with absolute judicial immunity - is a gross due process violation making such a decision void.

Yet, Judge Jackson, obviously inspired by the precedent by which judges gave themselves absolute judicial immunity for malicious and corrupt acts on the bench, now gifted to herself, her colleagues and to all judges in the State of North Carolina an exemption from attorney discipline, acting instead of the Legislature of North Carolina, and clearly acting in a self-serving manner.

I am wondering what, other than self-interest, made the three women judges on the North Carolina Supreme Court, Judges Robin Hudson, Cheri Beasley and Barbara Jackson

absolve from attorney discipline a judge who was not only putting himself above the law, not only engaging in misconduct OUT OF COURT - not as a judge doing is official duties - but also who is so ardently misogynistic as to belong to an organization that does not allow women into its government, see also the "Sudan Shriners'" board of trustees - also all men.

I understand that judges should be impartial and independent of personal feelings, but, first, in this case, personal interests of these judges were very much vested anyway, and, second, the review of the case was "discretionary", so the judges had to agree to hear this case, and consider it important.

Here is the second female author of a concurring decision, an Associate Justice of North Carolina Supreme Court Cheri Beasley

Judge Beasley pushed for voters to "vote smart", and advertised in her election campaign that she was a member of "Professional Standards Committee" - implying that she herself maintains high professional standards.

Yet, such a claim of professionalism is incompatible with what she did on December 21, 2016, when she, 4 days before Christmas, gave a huge Christmas present to herself, a licensed attorney,

to the criminal still on the bench Judge Jerry Tillett, a licensed attorney

who is officially called "The Honorable Jerry R. Tillett - Senior Resident Superior Court Judge" - despite his completely dishonorable, and criminal, conduct,

and to all judges in North Carolina who are licensed attorneys - a gift of exemption from attorney discipline, not provided by any court rule or statutory law.

I wonder whether the fact that Judge Jerry Reginald Tillett is a hereditary mason and a "Potentate" in a powerful "Sudan Shrines" mason's organization,

was any factor in the decision gifting him - and, through him, all other judges who are licensed attorneys, an exemption from attorney disciplinary and from rules of professional conduct for attorneys.

Here is the full information about Judge Tillett on the "Sudan Shriners'" website, if they consider removing it after this blog is published:

Here is a description of what the "Shriners" are, and a self-description of this particular chapter on their own website.  "Shriners" is a segregated organization that allows only men as their members, with only a couple of "women-only" chapters in the country.

The segregation is clearly visible in the "divan" of Judge Tillett's "Sudan Shriners" - maybe, people from North Carolina will recognize faces and names::

Given the power Judge Tillett wields, as a judge, and as an office of a powerful masonic organization, one can only respect the police chief of the Kill Devil Hills township, its town members and the District Attorney who refused to yield to Judge Tillett's pressure...

Judge Beasley, and her colleagues, who obviously yielded to their own self-interest and to the likely behind-the-scenes pressure to absolve Judge Tillett of attorney discipline, and who now should be proud of their "honor" and their "professionalism" in this case, while the public may have concerns about their clear corruption and complete lack of integrity in issuing such an unlawful and self-serving decision, legislating from the bench and changing the rules of attorney regulation, in their personal favor, through abuse of their judicial office.

The third female concurring author of the opinion regarding Judge Tillett is the North Carolina Supreme Court Judge Robin Hudson

Of course, Judge Robin Hudson was portrayed in the press as this fair and democratic judge who "big business" "bankrolls" to unseat.  Only this past September, 3 months before her disgraceful decision in Judge Tillett's case, Judge Hudson was invited as a speaker to students at Willis Hackney Library on campus of the Barton College on Constitution Day, and was characterized as a "bold thinker and leader".

Yet, in her decision of December 21, 2016, Judge Hudson is very pro-business and pro-judicial corruption, making such corruption of judges - by big business included - unreachable by attorney discipline.

By the way, the Barton College is a Christian missionary college:

so Judge Hudson's decision exempting a Christian missionary and hereditary freemason Judge Tillett of attorney accountability has little to do with the law and, likely, a lot to do with her own religious beliefs - because, a Christian missionary college would not have invited as an inspirational speaker a judge who would not share their beliefs.

Apparently, when a judge is invited to "speak" somewhere, the inviting institution usually provides a lavish reception to such a speaker, so judge Hudson got some material benefit from her speech, and who knows who met with her there, during the pendency of Judge Tillett's case, in the aftermath of her "speaking" activity, over dinner and wine.

The four male judges who participated in absolving themselves and Judge Tillett of attorney discipline, who carved an exemption without a court rule or legislative enactment, without public notice or public debate of such an important, and self-serving rule, are no less liable for misconduct as the three female judges, they are simply more prone to side with their own gender.

And, of course, the NC bar and the ABA did not make any statements criticizing this corrupt decision.

This is happening in North Carolina, which, 2 years after North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v Federal Trade Commission, an antitrust precedent fought by the North Carolina Bar, not only did not comply with the U.S. Supreme Court precedent, not only did not restructure the operation of its attorney regulation system from being run by market-players as a private cartel, in violation of civil and criminal anti-trust laws, but now aggravated and added to that disgraceful cartel regulation when the regulators completely absolved themselves, as licensed attorneys, from the reach of their own regulation of attorneys.

The self-serving decision of the NC Supreme Court regarding Judge Jerry Tillett - and regarding each and every judge who has made the decision - is reason enough to do that.

As judicial conduct, judicial regulation of themselves, their accountability and their ethics demonstrates in Judge Tillett's case, we the mere mortals can always rely on the "honorables" to do the self-serving thing, while claiming they serve us, the people.

Yet, by allowing themselves to engage, with impunity as attorneys in ANY misconduct OFF the bench, and outside of their judicial duties, the judiciary actually showed to the public, in full glory, that North Carolina is not subject to the rule of law.

Only to the rule of whim of the judicial elite that rules it.

As is elsewhere in the country.

And that "rule of judicial whim" should be changed, if we want to continue to claim ourselves a democratic society, as soon as possible.

I wonder when voters in North Carolina, and elsewhere in the United States, will raise their voices to remove attorney regulation from the hands of the judiciary completely, and will require their legislators to cancel this corrupt decision through a legislative enactment.

Not only the much publicized transgender bathroom law is disgraceful in North Carolina. 

This decision, quietly snuck in before Christmas without much fanfare, has a lot more impact on human rights in North Carolina. 

This decision hurts every litigant, every voter and every person in North Carolina, whether resident or guest, including the transgender community.

Because, a corrupt judiciary hurts everyone.  And, to have any hope for the rule of law, the judiciary should be precluded from regulating itself, giving gifts of immunity or exemptions from liability to themselves, and thus leave victims of their misconduct without a remedy.

We the people must be able to stop this corruption.  The judiciary most certainly won't.

I will provide an analysis of the 41-page decision by the NC Supreme Court regarding Judge Jerry Tillett - an extremely interesting one in the way the NC Supreme Court inventively tried to protect their own - in the coming days and weeks.

Stay tuned.

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