"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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Federal judge Edwin Kosik found alive - but questions arise now about his performance

I ran a blog yesterday about a federal judge missing who rejected the plea of Marc Ciavarella, the Kids-for-Cash judge in Pennsylvania, and who has sentenced Ciavarella for 28 years in a regular (not "country club" in Florida) federal prison.

The yesterday's press reports indicated that the 91-year-old Judge Edwin Kosik stopped hearing cases because he was recovering from rib fractures he suffered at home.  Putting those things together, I asked whether investigators are taking these issues seriously and considering foul play, both in Judge Kosik's alleged fall at home with rib fractures, and his disappearance.

Today, the media reported that Judge Kosik was located in the woods outside Scranton, PA, within 100 yards of his car, that he was taken to a hospital and that it is hoped that he will make a full recovery.

While I am happy that a 91-year-old man did not freeze or starve to death in the woods, what was reported next was disturbing.

There is a significant gap in this reporting.

The judge stopped hearing cases only last month, but he is taking medication for memory loss for how long?  And why is his taking of memory loss medication not reported to the public, parties and attorneys, so that they at least have a chance to make a motion to disqualify?

Privacy of a judge?

We all have a right to know whether our President has health issues while holding his finger on the big red nuclear button.

Yet, we do not get to know about health issues of a judge who holds his finger on the big red button of our lives?

Come on.

The man appeared to be functional enough to drive a car without crashing it, but demented enough not to know where he is - so, he only "stopped hearing cases" last month?  How many cases did he botch over time?

I bet he botched a lot, otherwise why would the court system lie in initially telling reporters that Judge Kosik stopped hearing cases last month not because of dementia, but because he made a conscious decision to stop hearing cases because he was recovering from a physical injury (rib fracture) from a fall at home?

That lie had to be authorized by the Chief Judge of that federal district court Christopher C. Conner, and that lie had to be issued in order to try to do damage control because Chief Judge Conner had to know that Judge Kosik was, probably, TOLD to stop hearing cases because of his dementia issues.

Yet, even when it was outed that the judge was "out there", and not only in the woods near Scranton, the court system was still trying to do some damage control and pretend that the judge had all his wits around when found.

First, it was not the local police, but the federal court marshall who has found the judge - even though it was the job of the local police to do it.

Apparently, the court system was very concerned as to who will find the judge first and what the judge would tell to that person, and how it will be reported.

So, it was one of the court's own employees to see the judge first when he was found - I wonder how it happened that a U.S. Marshall from the judge's own courthouse was on the scene quicker than the police.

And look what that U.S. Marshall reported about the judge's reaction to seeing him.

Here is a man off medication for a long time, out in the woods in freezing weather, not contacting his family, and having his family launch a police search for him.

Yet, being found "conscious", the first thing he says to his rescuer is that the rescuer has cut his hair?  While that indicates some memory retention about basic things - how people looked, that kind of memory level does not mean that the judge was lucid, or at least, lucid enough to be on the bench until last month.

Once again, our Legislative representative in the U.S. Congress MUST finally pass the much-needed and much-overdue law REQUIRING federal judge to report their disabilities and medications and REQUIRING them to step down if asked on motions to disqualify based on such medical reports.

Otherwise, right now people whose cases Judge Kosik decided - for how long? - are left in limbo as to whether he was entirely lucid when he was making his determinations.

And we, the taxpayers, may have to pay for retrials, or, if such retrials are denied, will be left with a bitter taste that the federal court has cheated us - and litigants involved - out of justice and out of their proper performance.

And, the question remains.  How many MORE demented and mentally unstable judges remain on the bench while courts are bent on concealing this information until situation gets so bad that the judge has to be let go - and even then the courts would like, as they did in Judge Kosik's case, about reasons why he was let go, in order to not allow the judge's decisions to be vacated because of his mental disability?

Quite like it happened with Chief Judge Solomon Watchler in New York (a convicted felon who was disbarred, but is now restored as a lawyer and is a "distinguished" law professor in the Touro Law Center in New York) where judge Wachtler is commended by the New York Court system for defrauding federal courts and playing yo-yo with his mental health issue with the federal prosecutors and the federal sentencing judge when he was charged, and later convicted, for extortion and intimidation of a woman - claiming he was mentally ill before and after the plea bargain, but claiming he is absolutely healthy for the purposes of the plea bargain, and doing it specifically because he did not want lawyers and parties to be massively filing motions to vacate decisions made by a mentally unstable judge.

No honor in such behavior.

An awful waste of money.

And, such secretive and dishonest behavior, both of former Chief Judge Wachtler of New York State court system, and of Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, or of Judge Edwin Kosik and his family, does not inspire much respect to the justice system, including federal courts.

So now, with any decision coming from federal courts, especially from an elderly judge, we need to think - how demented this judge is?  Did he or she take his medication on time?  Does medication work?

This is a lot of speculation we do not need as a nation.

We need transparency.

We need the truth.

We need our public servant to properly do their work, and to properly disclose to us when they cannot do that work because of their disability.

It is not too much to ask.

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