"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, April 3, 2017

On polite lawyers cheating their clients out of their constitutional rights - and a great job for an indigent client by an assigned attorney, Ariel Podolsky Schneller

An interesting decision came out of Queens County (NY) criminal court - dismissing a criminal case because People's statement of readiness for trial was "illusory" under New York statutory speedy trial law, Criminal Procedure Law 30.30.

In New York, prosecutors must announce readiness for trial on record within 90 days for a misdemeanor charge or within 6 months for a felony charge.  In this case, it was a misdemeanor charge.

The prosecution did announce readiness for trial early on, but then were not actually ready for trial and asked for adjournments on multiple occasions.

The case is very informative for criminal defendants because it contains a detailed and painstaking calculation by the judge of which adjournments were counted against the People, which are not, and why.

Defense attorney's good work in this case for their indigent client must be noted - as the judge did mention that, as in any other case, the defense attorney was busy on certain occasions with other cases, and asked for adjournments, but did not "agree" to adjournments requested by the People, otherwise such adjournments would not have been counted to the People.

It was a young defense attorney Ariel Schneller, a recent Harvard Law graduate, who should be commended for doing an excellent job for the indigent client in this case.

Usually, attorneys are "polite", "civil", "civilized", agree to adjournments of prosecution "out of professional courtesy" (that's what I have been told, formerly, by prospective clients and now by readers, about their prior attorneys again, and again, and again), while clients do not realize that their rights for a speedy trial (and for a dismissal for violation of the speedy trial statute, such as happened in this case) are given away by the "polite" and "courteous" attorney.

So, whenever a criminal defense attorney in New York agrees, "as a matter of professional courtesy", to adjournments by the prosecution, such a defense attorney is selling out their client's right to a dismissal on state statutory speedy trial grounds.

This is a very rare case.  Usually, judges bend over backwards to deny motions deeming prosecution's statement of readiness for trial illusory. 

Good job, once again - attorney Ariel Podolsky Schneller.

1 comment:

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