"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.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

While New York has no money to fund its indigent defense, it has money to pay its retired judges both salary and pension, after mandatory retirement

Meet the Brooklyn judge Betty Williams.

Judge Betty Williams is well known to New Yorkers for her double-dipping, running for re-election after she turned 70, which is a mandatory retirement age for judges, retiring within 8 weeks of election, and then remaining on the bench after "certification" and collecting both her $174,000 a year salary, and her $135,902 a year pension.

How did I determine that Judge Williams turned 70 before her re-election?

Judge Williams' attorney registration indicates that she will have to re-register in August of 2018.  Attorney registration rules in New York require attorneys to re-register every two years, within 30 days of their birthdays, and an attorney next registration date shows the month of the attorney's birthday.

The month of Judge Williams' birthday is August.

In New York, judges must retire on January 1 following the year when they turned 70.

Judge Williams' retirement date is listed as December 30, 2013.

The election committees and donors who supported Judge Williams in her re-election bid had to know about this double-dipping scheme.

This scheme alone says a lot about integrity of Judge Betty Williams.

Here are Judge Betty Williams' salary payouts - paid by New York taxpayers - reported by since 2009, and her pension payouts reported since 2014, after she retired in 2013:

Betty Williams worked as a judge in 2016, and remains on the bench in 2017, as her attorney registration indicates, even though she is not listed as a judge in the New York State judicial directory:

and, according to an answer of the New York State Commission for Judicial Conduct to me about another retired, but still "serving" judge, Judge Betty Williams is not subject to jurisdiction of the NYS Commission for Judicial Conduct, so she can do on the bench whatever she likes - and she is covered with judicial immunity, attorney disciplinary committees or criminal authorities will not dare to touch her for any misconduct on the bench, and the New York Judicial Conduct claims it does not have "authority" to discipline misconduct of retired judges - even if they continue to serve.

Reportedly, many judges do what judge Betty Williams does - collecting both her salary and pension after MANDATORY retirement and "certification" allowing, by court rule only, New York judges to remain on the bench for 6 more years after the mandatory age of retirement of 70 - in 3 2-year increments.

Here is attorney registration of the Rockland Surrogate Judge Thomas E. Walsh II

 Here are the salary payouts for Judge Thomas E. Walsh II after retirement:

Here are Judge Thomas E Walsh, II's retirement payouts since 2010:

Judge Thomas E. Walsh, II reportedly draws not only a pension of $105,000, a salary of $170,000 as a state judge, and, an additional salary of $4,200 as a surrogate.

In 2013, after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo complained about double-dipping judges, and while awaiting the vote on the constitutional amendment to raise mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 80, New York courts, at that point headed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman who was the ardent supporter of raising the mandatory retirement age - because it would have allowed him to stay on the bench, while Governor Cuomo was fighting against the amendment, in order to plant his personal friend Janet DiFiore in Jonathan Lippman's stead (Cuomo won) - at that historical time, Lippman's court system tried to cater to the voters and, after Cuomo complained about double-dipping, reportedly stopped paying out judicial salaries to retired judges.

Not for long, though.

First, New York voters did not approve raising mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 80.

Second, judges sued.

After the only honest judge in this whole situation, the Acting Supreme Court Justice Gerald W. Connolly of the Albany County Supreme Court,

prohibited the double-dipping, the notoriously corrupt Appellate Division Third Judicial Department, Judges McCarthy, Egan, Devine and Clark - in a court whose Chief Judge Karen Peters, as well as several other judges, is close to retirement herself and stood to benefit from their decision personally - reversed Judge Connolly, claiming that to prohibit "double-dipping" to retired judges means to violate New York State Constitution, Article V, paragraph 7, Judiciary Law 115(3) and Retirement and Social Security Law Section 212.

First, this is the court that usually do not give a damn to whatever State and Federal Constitution, or statutes say - unless, obviously, it concerns judges themselves.

Second, the ruling was plain wrong on its face.

New York State Constitution, Article V, Paragraph 7 says:

"§7. After July first, nineteen hundred forty, membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or of a civil division thereof shall be a contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired. (New. Adopted by Constitutional Convention of 1938 and approved by vote of the people November 8, 1938.)"

Nobody is taking judges' pensions, but hiring retired judges, after MANDATORY retirement, for a full salaried position from which they HAD TO retire due to their age - while they draw both their pension and their salary, while there is an abundance of young lawyers in the State of New York who could serve as a judge (if there are no enough judges) more effectively than 70+ retired judges - is just plain wrong, as well as wasteful of taxpayer money.

Judiciary Law 115(3) provided:

But, Judiciary Law 115(3) appears to be in conflict with the mandatory retirement age for judges set by the New York State Constitution at 70 - which was reconfirmed by voters in 2013 at a referendum.

That vote, and the New York State constitutional requirement for a mandatory retirement of judges at 70 is rendered meaningless, if judges come out of one door and come back through another door, having the same powers, but now being paid twice what they were paid before retirement.

The 3rd Department, of course, never dreamt of declaring Judiciary Law 115 unconstitutional since the cut-off retirement age for judges in New York is 70, and any "re-certification" after mandatory retirement amounts to an annulment of this constitutional requirement, for which the New York State Legislature had no authority.

And, the Retirement and Social Security Law 212 provides:

"212.  Employment  of  retired  persons.    1.  Notwithstanding  the
  provisions of section one  hundred  one,  two  hundred  eleven  or  four
  hundred  one  of  this  chapter  or of section five hundred three of the
  education law, or the provisions  of  any  local  law  or  charter,  any
  retired  person may continue as retired and, without loss, suspension or
  diminution of his or her retirement allowance, earn  in  a  position  or
  positions in public service in any calendar year
an amount not exceeding
  the  amount  set  forth  in the table in subdivision two of this section

  provided such retired person employed under this section  duly  executes
  and files with the retirement system from which he or she is receiving a
  retirement  allowance  a statement that he elects to have the provisions
  of this section apply to him or her.
A statement  of  election  executed
  and  filed pursuant to this section may be withdrawn by a retired person
  at any time by a statement similarly executed and filed. However,  there
  shall  be no earning limitations under the provisions of this section on
  or after the calendar year in  which  any  retired  person  attains  age
  sixty-five.  The  retirement  board  of  the  New  York  state teachers'
  retirement system is authorized to adopt  rules  and  regulations  which
  would  allow  retired persons receiving a retirement allowance from such
  system to make such statements of earnings from a position or  positions
  in public service as such board shall determine necessary to enforce the
  provisions  of  this  section  in  lieu  of  the  foregoing statement of

Subsection 2 of the Retirement and Social Security Law 212, referenced in Subsection 1, sets the limit of $30,000 on salaries in public service to retirees drawing from the public retirement system:

So, under Retirement and Social Security Law 212, judges could only earn $30,000 out of the full judicial salary plus to their retirement benefits.

Yet, under Judiciary Law 115(3) retired judges could earn both their full salary and their retirement benefits - but the mandatory retirement age for judges in New York State set by the New York State Constitution is 70, and any efforts to effectively prolong it until 1976, and allow such "certificated" post-retirement judges to work and to draw any salary at all is unconstitutional.

Moreover, Judiciary Law 115(3) contradicts the earning restriction of Retirement and Social Security Law 212 - and cannot be thus quoted at the same time, which is what the 3rd Department did.

And, later, they sued to collect the "back pay" because of the alleged multi-year salary freeze - which was not granted.

But, what was granted to the judges presently on the bench, is that in 2015 the "Judicial Compensation Commission" consisting mainly of attorneys who derived their livelihood from judges, were regulated by judges, and thus wholly depended on good graces of judges, raised judicial salaries - the law that went into effect in 2016, and judges who are currently double-dipping benefit from the raised salaries.

And, later, judges also sued to collect the "back pay" because of the alleged multi-year salary freeze - which was not granted by the New York State Court of Appeals.

But, what was granted to the judges presently on the bench, is that in 2015 the "Judicial Compensation Commission" consisting mainly of attorneys who derived their livelihood from judges, were regulated by judges, and thus wholly depended on good graces of judges, raised judicial salaries - the law that went into effect in 2016, and judges who are currently double-dipping benefit from the raised salaries.

Here is what one of the double-dipping judges say about their alleged right to double-dip: he is absolutely ok about it, naturally, since it concerns himself personally.

Now we will get a chance to see whether the NYS Court of Appeals, a court that claims that it "gets to pick its cases", will "pick" this case, in which each and every judge of the Court of Appeals has a financial interest, and whether it will decide in favor of its own judges - and to benefit the just-retired Judge Piggott who is benefiting from double-dipping right now.

I will continue to monitor the lawsuit of judges asserting their right to double-dip into taxpayers' pockets.

Meanwhile, I will monitor and publish analysis of decisions of double-dipping judges so that New York taxpayers should decided whether they need to demand from their legal representatives to strictly enforce the mandatory 70-year requirement, or to continue to allow judges to disregard the requirements of the New York State Constitution, act as judges after turning 70, and fleecing the public for substandard work and unlawful decisions. 

Let's note that the raise in judicial salaries and judicial double-dipping after mandatory retirement age continues while New York Governor just vetoed funding of indigent criminal defense out of the state budget - for lack of funds.

Let's also note that retired judges are "certificated" because they are allegedly needed to help promote the business of New York Supreme Court:, according to Judiciary Law 115:

The statute does not indicate whether extra expenditures to pay out salaries of "certificated" judges are provided for in the State budget.

Yet, on December 4, 2016, the very same double-dipping judge Betty Williams was removed from certificated judges and cannot any longer continue to be a judge - even though she did not yet re-register as an attorney and still continues to list herself as a judge - because, reportedly, she could not cope with court caseloads.

It is an interesting decision by State Chief Judge DiFiore who, while having a certificated judge's "double-dipping" lawsuit pending on appeal, is herself dealing with certification and denying certification as the Chief Court administrator - a clear conflict of interest.

As to the decision to deny re-certification to the 74-year-old Judge Betty Williams, reportedly, Judge Betty Williams ripped the decision denying her re-certification and effectively removing her from the bench, which will cost her $174,000 a year in lost earnings.

That was reported on December 4, 2016.

Two weeks after the double-dipping Judge Betty Williams ripped up the decision effectively removing her from the bench - as of January 1, 2017 - Judge Betty Williams took her rage out on a criminal defendant, a national of the State of Israel who needed an interpreter in court proceedings and against his attorney for trying to do his job for his client, and unlawfully changed provisions of Criminal Procedure Law, thus demonstrating that not only she could not handle court caseloads, but she also lacks the very basic competence and integrity.

I will analyze Judge Betty Williams' outrageous December 16, 2016 decision in a separate blog.

I will also continue to analyze in separate blogs the strain on the budget put by the double-dipping judges, and constitutionality of such double-dipping, as well as of judges' acting as judges after the constitutionally mandated retirement.

And, by the way, now Judge Williams, at least theoretically, has a right to sue New York State Judge Janet DiFiore, and Chief Administrative Judge Marks - both in federal, and in state court.

In 2006 such a lawsuit was filed by judge Frank Pontiero - it was denied, but rules were set as to how such a lawsuit should be frame in order to win it.

We will see whether now Judge Williams will sue Judges DiFiore and Marks.  If she does, I will report on that lawsuit, too.

Stay tuned.

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