"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.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

NY Chief Judge DiFiore to the press (when she still was a Westchester County DA): DO YOU KNOW that my husband knows all U.S. Supreme Court Justices by their first names and has their direct lines?

In 2008, there were several civil rights lawsuits filed against the Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, who has now become the Chief Judge of the State of New York.

Since these lawsuits provide unique information about this public servant, I am sure, the public will be interested to see these materials.

I already blogged today about the lawsuit against DiFiore's alleged participation in corruption and voter fraud in connection with her elections for her position as the Westchester County DA, which she used to protect or, alternatively, target different individuals, and used as a stepping stone to her current position.

The voter fraud lawsuit involved statements that the plaintiff, Giulio Cavallo, after DiFiore's threats and threats by Senator D'Amato on her behalf, stopped publishing in local newspaper, "The Guardian".  Cavallo's lawsuit also alleged that DiFiore claimed that "The Guardian"'s owner is part of Albanian organized crime and that she will "fix him" when the time comes - the desire to "fix" him came "coincidentally" after his newspaper published an article exposing her corruption.

"The Guardian"'s owner's lawsuit gives more insight into DiFiore's threats.

Here are the parties to the lawsuit:

In 2007 "The Westchester Guardian" committed the ultimate faux pas: it criticized several powerful public officials, including DiFiore and DiFiore's current predecessor (once removed, Jonathan Lippman "served" after Kaye) in her present position, the NY Chief Court Judge Judith Kaye:

Of course, criticizing Judith Kaye was a death wish, because:

1) Chief Judge Kaye was very sensitive to criticism.  In fact, Chief Judge Kaye was so sensitive to criticism of judges and of herself and "her" court that in 1997, shortly after conviction and incarceration in federal prison of the previous Chief Judge Sol Wachtler, friend of Chief Judge Kaye

(Kaye, according to his book "After the Madness", wrote consoling notes to Wachtler and had Bellacosa deliver them to Wachtler in prison),

Kaye published two "law review articles", citing one another, together with Wachtler's other longtime friend Joe Bellacosa

(who also wrote to Wachtler in prison that Bellacosa read a sermon to a group of parishioners about those who condemned Jesus Christ as a prisoner and thus should go to hell).

Those two law review articles, under the guise of some elaborate language tried to bash criticism and lawyer-critics of judges, I blogged about Bellacosa's article here, and here is Kaye's article where she calls judicial independence a "crown jewel" and asks the "legal community" to protect that "crown jewel" from criticism.

2) In 2007, when the publication was made, Kaye's felon friend Sol Wachtler was reinstated as an attorney, despite his felony conviction and his history of violence, sexual misconduct with a minor and mental instability, which added a "sensitive issue" to any criticism of Kaye or her surroundings.

Kaye, of course, retired in 2008, when the lawsuit was filed, yet, her connections and influence remained alive.

3) The article criticized DiFiore and her husband Dennis Glazer and made allegations of election fraud and corruption against both of them:

The lawsuit indicates that Kaye read the article criticizing her and for some reason shared her "concerns" about the criticism with DiFiore, a mere County DA.

DiFiore, in her position as a County DA of the County where the newspaper was located, and especially with her husband who was wealthy and well connected, had pressure powers of her own. 

And DiFiore, according to the lawsuit, did not miss the chance used her power to intimidate the newspaper.

Here is the "offending" article by Richard Blassberg:

And here is the article in larger font:

"Last Monday afternoon, New York State’s Chief Judge, Judith Kaye appeared on National Public Radio’s Brian Lehrer Show. Mr. Lehrer, not generally known to be unprepared with subject matter, squandered an excellent opportunity to bring some meaningful dialogue regarding New York State’s failing court system to his listeners, unless, of course, it was his intention to give the Judge a ‘PR Freebee.’

For openers, his willingness to permit the Chief Judge of the State, while making reference to the enormous number of pro se litigants in the Matrimonial Part of Supreme Court, to get away with, saying, “I never understand those  Latin phrases,” as she was uncertain whether she meant to say pro se, or pro bono, without some expression of surprise, was both scary and disappointing. Her admission was scary, and his failure to recognize and pursue her ineptness was most disappointing. Lehrer’s ‘marshmallow treatment’ of her was reminiscent of Archie Bunker addressing his letter to Richard Nixon with “Dear Mister President, Your Honor, Sir:”

It was evident from the outset that Judith Kaye was not prepared to have a meaningful discussion of the dreadful condition of New York State’s Unified Court System, and Brian Lehrer was either unwilling, or unprepared, to hold her feet to the fire. Shame on them both! To listen to her reassurances one has to wonder where she has been for the last 14 years? Clearly, former Governor Cuomo’s decision to appoint Kaye, a woman with no prior judicial credentials, whose legal career had been spent in corporate law, was a badly failed experiment.

Kaye’s remarks, intended to convey the impression that the judiciary, particularly the Matrimonial and Criminal Parts of Supreme Court, are in essentially good shape could not be further from the truth, as many Westchester residents are well aware. It is common knowledge that numerous Supreme Court Justices purchased their nominations through political power-brokers. One such case recently exposed in Brooklyn, involved a complaint by a judge’s wife that she paid $200,000 to secure his nomination.

Here in Westchester, The Guardian has been exposing for several months the role of Giulio Cavallo, Larry Schwartz, and others, in the sale of judicial nominations, for as much as $15,000, and more. And, of course, the practice is not limited to judges. It’s well known in political circles that Giulio Cavallo is furious with DA Janet DiFiore’s spouse, attorney Dennis Glazer, for reneging on his promise to pay Cavallo $30,000 for the Independence Party’s cross-endorsement of Janet for DA against Tony Castro in 2005.

One wonders how Kaye can accept the fact that her Chief Administrative Judge, Jonathan Lippman, a Democrat, to ensure his election to State Supreme Court, a 14-year position, schemed with then-Westchester County Court Judge Joseph Alessandro, who had been found “Unqualified,” by the State Commission on Judicial Credentials, to cross-endorse each other, thus underhandedly guaranteeing their election two years ago? Judge Alessandro, when last seen in Westchester, was the subject of a suit by Barbara Battista, his former campaign treasurer, for having allegedly defrauded her out of more than $250,000.

Judge Kaye certainly cannot deny knowledge of the shameless enterprise that has been flourishing on her watch in the Matrimonial Part of Westchester Supreme Court, involving certain judges and matrimonial attorneys, and law guardians. The complaints were so numerous, many litigants having gone to federal authorities, that Kaye was compelled, in June of last year, to instruct Judge Francis Nicolai to remove the four sitting judges in the Matrimonial Part, and replace them with others, the so-called “Historic Rotation.” No, Judge Kaye, despite her remarks to Brian Lehrer, to the contrary, is only too well aware of the scandalous scheme by which the ‘monied spouse’ in divorce after divorce, invariably gets control of the marital assets, and custody of the children, by employing the services of the unscrupulous clique of lawyers, law guardians, and mental health professionals, who use Temporary Orders of Protection, perjury, and outright fraud to achieve control.

Too many of the easy questions put to Kaye by Lehrer were answered with expressions such as ”I hope that.” She would prefer to appear unknowing, rather than engage in open discussion of the serious day-today realities citizens encounter in our State Courts. Her responses to questions regarding Family Court were most discouraging in light of what has been happening to Jing Kelly and her infant son Tristram for more than four years at the hands of New York County Family Court Judge Sara P. Schechter. Listening to Kaye’s uninformed responses, it is little wonder that a bigoted creature like Schechter has been able to keep this ChineseAmerican mother and her six-year-old son apart for four years, in total defiance of both the order and mandamus of the Appellate Division, First Department.

It doesn’t do the People of New York State one bit of good to have a politician the like of Judith Kaye as our Chief Judge. It’s one thing not to know pro se from pro bono, but it’s quite another to be totally out of touch with what is going on in our courts. And, furthermore, to speak in meaningless and irrelevant terms simply serves to further undermine public confidence in our judicial system. Worse yet, we must continue to labor under her lack of initiative and leadership for two more years thanks to Governor Spitzer’s reappointment of her."

Yikes, that stings.  For a top judge of a large state that sets itself as a "trailblaizer of human rights" to not know the difference between Pro Se and Pro Bono, and that being the least of her lapses in knowledge is kind of ... humiliating.  But well deserved.

The article also described DiFiore's and her husband's alleged corruption to elect her as DA:

DiFiore could not let that stand, of course. 

So, what did she do?

Let's go to the lawsuit by Selim Zherka, the owner of The Westchester Guardian.

DiFiore, likely, asked Zherka to call her on her cell phone to avoid a lawsuit for acting in her capacity as a DA.  I wonder if now-Chief Judge DiFiore kept her cell phone number mentioned in the lawsuit, 914-224-7238?

DiFiore, the District Attorney of a large county, is calling the press, uses four-letter language, calls publications stupid and demands that the owner of the newspaper to call her on her cell phone.

Looks like an abuse of power and a command to me by a DA, doesn't it?

But, let's go further.

Selim Zherka obeyed DiFIore's command and reportedly called her on her cell phone.

Look at the wonderful conversation between the District Attorney of a county where:

  • DiFiore lives;
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo lives, and
  • Former President Bill Clinton and his wife State Senator, then State Secretary and now former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lives:

A very informative first phrase for DA DiFiore.

1) Personal contact with Judge Kaye and representation of Judge Kaye in DiFiore's capacity as a DAm, which means that Judge Kaye asked DiFiore to use her authority as DA to intimidate the press.  "She read the part in the article".  How does DiFiore know?  That means that Judge Kaye contacted DiFiore and DiFiore is acting on Judge Kaye's behalf.  Since DiFiore was at that time a DA and could not privately practice law, she could not possibly represent Judge Kaye as an attorney, and could only represent her as a District Attorney, on a criminal complaint.  What kind of criminal complaint did Judge Kaye file, or what kind of favor did she call upon DiFiore to call the press on her behalf to intimidate them for criticizing judge Kaye?

2) "what you did is personal! You don't go after family.  That is a no no".

So, what DiFiore said, when she still was a DA is that nobody can criticize her family, the family of a high-ranking public official, even in connection with allegations of public corruption.  If it was a "no-no" then, imagine what kind of "no-no" it has become when DiFiore got to head the entire New York Court system - and then ruled for her own husband's agency and appointed him to chair a "Constitutional Convention" Commission, as a wedding anniversary present no less.

So, I can fairly surmise that, since I not only criticized "family", which is for DiFiore an ultimate no-no, before DiFiore was appointed New York Chief Judge, but asked that that "family", and DiFiore herself be criminally investigated and disbarred, DiFiore's decision in my disciplinary case, refusing to recuse and refusing hear my as-of-right constitutional appeal (twice, here and here), was undoubtedly personal.

Which does not jibe with her pledge to "serve fairly", uphold the "rule of law", and her attempts to project an impression of a fair judge, an impression of "excellence", and an impression of a great and wise leader of a great and fair court system, seeking to - what a joke for a DA who was seeking wrongful convictions no matter what! - prevent wrongful convictions.

By the way, everything in the article about Chief Judge Kaye being out of touch with reality can be repeated, with additions, about Chief Judge DiFiore.

3) "My husband is one of the most respected attorneys in the country.  He knows every U.S. Supreme Court justice on a first name basis, and has their direct lines.  He is in front of these people all the time.  What you did is not right".

What is that supposed to mean?

It is an interesting concept that a public prosecutor is claiming that, because her close relative is a "respective attorney", and knows some high-standing public officials, he is beyond criticism.

In fact, DiFiore, as the DA, may have to PROSECUTE her own husband based on these allegations, and, since she is disqualified to do that and a special prosecutor would be required, does not have any say in the matter.

And, another interesting revelation is that attorney Glazer, while appearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, was on first name basis with all of its judges and "had their direct lines", which may be interesting for his opponents to know, as it directly involves an appearance of case-fixing and ex parte communications.

Thus, DiFiore, in order to flex her own and her husband's muscles, implicated in case-fixing and ex parte communications, all U.S. Supreme Court justices who were appointed before 2008, and those are all of the present SCOTUS judges but Kagan, Sotomayor and Gorsuch, 8 of them:

  • Stephen Breyer;
  • Anthony Kennedy;
  • Ruth Ginsburg;
  • the late Antonin Scalia;
  • Clarence Thomas;
  • David Souter (retired in 2009);
  • Chief Judge Roberts.
4) DiFiore is telling the OWNER of the newspaper "what you did is not right", even though he was not the journalist who wrote the article, and is clearly intimidating the press, using her own and her husband's political connections, and hinting that he will not be able to find any justice anywhere, up to the very top court of the country given her husband's personal connections to judges of that court.

The remaining dialogue is no less interesting.

This is a then-public prosecutor and the present Chief Judge of the New York Court System.

She will not give help to somebody who criticized her family if she sees them bleeding in the street.  Great morals. 

Moreover, she
  • "fucken hate[s]" the critic,
  • threatens that the journalist who has written an article critical of her and her husband "will get [the owner of the newspaper] into a lot of trouble, is "going to cause a lot of problems" for the owner of the newspaper,
  • claims that "no one in this county likes him", obviously by "no one" meaning "no one that matters", the politically connected people, including, very likely, Governor Cuomo and the Clintons, and,
  • ta-da, the apotheosis of stupidity - DiFiore demanded that the owner of the newspaper should fire the journalist and "find another writer".
But even that is not all yet.

Apparently, people have a lot to say about DiFiore's "very good friend" Domenic Procopio (his picture says, for example, that he is not only a friend of DiFiore, but may very likely be a good friend of various bottles),

the City of New Rochelle's Chairperson of the Civil Service Committee (who also has several other interesting memberships)

DiFiore then demanded a "complete retraction" of the article about herself and her husband:

Moreover, Zherka, intimidated by DiFiore's threats, promised to never allow another article about DiFiore or her husband to be published by his newspaper - apparently, despite the fact that DiFiore was a prominent public figure, and her family was supposed to be in the spotlight because of her job.

And you know what happened?

Remember that D'Amato threatened Cavallo, as described in Cavallo's lawsuit against DiFiore that Cavallo must make peace with DiFiore, "or else", because D'Amato's wife works for a very powerful federal judge?

That judge, "coincidentally", toiled in the same court where Zherka's lawsuit was litigated.

And that, as well as her husband's personal connections to the U.S. Supreme Court, obviously, helped.

A lot.

You know why?

Because Zherka was only "temporarily muted" and did not suffer any "immediate injuries", stress from intimidation from the DA and having to make a coerced promise not to write about her any more, obviously, does not count:

DiFiore allegedly did not intimidate Zherka as a DA, but as a "private citizen":

Of course, while claiming that DiFiore was acting only as a "private citizen", the employer-of-Amato's wife- court first recognized that DiFiore COULD be threatening prosecution as a DA - for purposes of a lawsuit against Westchester County:

So, Amato's wife's employer dismissed a valid - and solid - case against DiFiore as a DA abusing her power because she was allegedly intimidating the press as a private individual, with all muscle flexing, claiming that the journalist will get into a lot of trouble, the newspaper will get into a lot of trouble, demanding to fire the journalist, parading her husband's personal connections to the U.S. Supreme Court.

DiFiore was right - her husband knows a person or two in the court system.

But, while DiFiore's and her husband's connections got this lawsuit dismissed, it is still committed to public records, and serves us, members of the public, as a reminder:

DiFiore's oaths, reports, pledges, or "initiatives", or DiFiore herself as a public official material are, in her own words

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