"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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Massachusetts to judges: it is unethical to reveal to the public the judge's true feelings and biases

Over the last three months, the Massachusets judicial ethics board have made history twice.

First, in December of 2016, it issued an "ethical" opinion for state judges advising them that they cannot really attend the so-called "Women's March" (which as in reality an anti-Trump march, the next day after the new President's inauguration) - because that will reveal the judge's political preferences.

So, even on the judge's free time (it was a Sunday), not wearing the black robe, the judge cannot reveal his or her true feelings.

Massachusetts judges are, thus, given an unmistakeable message - if you have biases, hide them.

Displaying your biases is unethical.

On the same day, December 9, 2016, Massachusetts ethical advisory board issued yet another astounding "ethical" opinion - in an intricate situation.

Massachusetts, unlike other states, apparently does not require that suspended or disbarred attorneys are prohibited to work in a law office as paralegals.

So, the judge, before coming to the bench, employed a disbarred attorney as a paralegal, at the direct permission of the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

Now the judge wanted, as the disbarred attorney's former employer, to testify for the attorney in his reinstatement proceedings voluntarily.

The advisory opinion said - "no", you can't do that.

A judge, in the opinion of the State of Massachusetts, can only testify at such a proceeding about his own experience as an employer BEFORE he came to the bench, if he is subpoenaed.

While the rationale of the opinion is that the judge, by voluntarily testifying for an attorney, is "lending the prestige of judicial office" to his testimony, of course, that's bullshit.

The judge actually wants to testify, he is actually friendly to the former employee, friendly to the point of agreeing to sacrifice his time to testify for him in his reinstatement proceedings.

There must be no difference for the reinstatement commission whether a witness is testifying voluntarily or on a subpoena - and whether he is a judge or not a judge.

But, it DOES matter in the future if the same attorney, once reinstated, appears in front of the same judge, and the issue of bias is raised because the judge volunteered to testify for the attorney in his reinstateme proceedings.

What the advisory opinion does is it protects the judge of future motions to recuse, pointing out a way of how to duck such a possible future motion by saying - oh, now, I did not really want to testify there, but it was outside of my control, I was subpoenaed.

Of course, that would be a lie, but - advisory opinions are clear.

Appearances matter.

Common sense or showing actual judicial biases to the public do not.

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