"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, April 30, 2017

The "awesome" judicial power to lop of floors off buildings - and threaten and decimate critics

In the course of my research for a book, I came across a 1996 law review article by the then-judge of the New York State Court of Appeals (and now law professor) Joe Bellacosa.

I already wrote about the "process" of submitting law reviews for publications to the captive audience of law students who have no choice by to publish any garbage from high-enough individual.

The law review from Judge Bellacosa was exactly that type of garbage.

In no other profession (I would hope) a supposedly academic article is published simply to air complaints in the form of rantings of a high-ranking public officials about criticism of himself, his organization and his branch of the government.

Yet, that's what Judge Bellacosa allowed himself to do.

Neither the quality of "scholarship", nor the topic of the conference (prosecutor training for death penalty cases) even remotely suggested any connection with Judge Bellacosa complaints.

Moreover, Judge Bellacosa committed a crime of aiding and abetting unauthorized practice of law by having an unlicensed individual, his own "law clerk" who at that time did not have a law license, do "research" for him to put in footnotes into his complaint, mostly without any specifics, to a captive audience.

It is even more disgusting that the complaints were "bestowed" upon prosecutors in a luxury lake resort on a business day.  While complaining that at that time the New York State Court of Appeals had 5,000 cases per year, and that it was doing its job admirably, Judge Bellacosa considered it possible for himself to deviate from his duties and huge case load to not only complain to prosecutors about critics of the judiciary, but also to sic those prosecutors on those critics - by expressing a "hope" (at the beginning of the article) and giving a not-so-thinly veiled directive (at its end) to pursue attorneys-critics of the judiciary for disciplinary violations.

Judge Bellacosa was complaining about the "quality of criticism".  Like any judge would love criticism of himself and "his" court, given the criticism's high quality - in the eyes of the judge.

Judge Bellacosa was also raving about his own decision (made together with his friend Chief Judge Wachtler who by the time of the article was released from federal prison) where Wachtler and Bellacosa ordered competitor of Wachtler's family members in NYC construction business to cut off 12 stories of a completed residential skyscraper, see Parkview Associates v. City of New York ,71 N.Y.2d 274 (1988).

Let's not forget that Sol Wachtler, Bellacosa's buddy, came to power and dragged Bellacosa into the same power, through the money of his wife's uncle, Alvin Wolosoff, a construction magnate from NYC, and thus a competitor of the developer whose building Bellacosa and Wachtler ordered destroyed.  Obviously, Bellacosa not only did not feel any shame about that case, where he had the power to refuse to order demolition of the already constructed residential building because the mistake in the building permit was the City's and not the developers.  No, Bellacosa obviously was proud of that case, "in awe" of his own power, and considering himself some sort of a king whose "independence" from the law must be safeguarded as a "crown jewel", safeguarded from any criticism, and at whose direction anything can happen, law or no law, justice or no justice.

Bellacosa was obviously relishing in his own power when telling the prosecutors at that luxury resort:

1) I do not care what the topic of this conference is, I would rave about what I want;
2) I want to rave about criticism of me, my buddy Wachtler and "my" court;
3) I can do anything, even cut off stories off completed residential buildings to hurt competitors of another judge's family members; and
4) I demonstrate my power in front of you, the cattle, the captive audience, whose licenses I regulate, so that you know that when I demand pursuing my critics - you listen.

When I see posts on social media where people from other countries are "in awe" of how the 1st Amendment is honored and cherished, re-read this piece of "scholarship".

Consider the sickeningly self-praising lofty language of this courtier-judge.

Consider the name-calling of professors who dared to do what the judge didn't - the actual, real academic scholarship about the court.  Professors Judge Bellacosa demeaned were Professor Bonventre of Albany Law School and professor Luke Bierman pointing out that Judge Bellacosa switched his views as to whether and how the judiciary should be criticized - from claiming that the judiciary must be criticized and its actions scrutinized as if it is operating in a "glasshouse", to threats of disciplinary action against attorneys for criticism of judges and chest-thumping about his own power to lop off 12 stories off residential skyscrapers, despite the fact that that same skyscraper was built according to a valid building permit.

Of course, if Bellacosa's sensitivity as to criticism was so fragile, he should have been removed from the bench the moment the law review article was published.

Of course, he wasn't.

This law review article, I understand, was some kind of a judicial Manifesto of an open hunt on critics of the judiciary.

I encourage my readers to read it and consider the doublespeak, the implications, the language and the threats.

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