"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, July 26, 2017

Russia's judges can take a master class from American judges in how to be corrupt more subtly - and how to quash dissent against such corruption more effectively. The case of Judge Khakhaleva and attorney Zhorin

An attorney reported on his Instagram account that a judge had a lavish wedding reception for her daughter's wedding, which experts estimated to have cost around 2 mln dollars.

The post went viral.

The backlash came, of course - not against the judge, but against an attorney.

You would think it is happening in America - as it usually does.

But no, it is happening in Russia.

Yet, same as in America, of course, the attorney is wrong and the judge is right.

And, of course, the judge submitted contracts for services at the wedding reception that did not amount to even close to what a reception with live performance by top pop-stars could cost, and the public is supposed to believe that bullshit, because the investigators did.

And, of course, those singers who were filmed (and the video posted) performing at the wedding, performed there for free, or for a song.

And, of course, since attorney Zhorin specializes on representing stars of Russian show business, and since his information may have come from sources with first-hand information, the pop stars who performed (or were underpaid, or were not invited) to the reception, his post should be considered totally unbelievable.

And, of course, when Zhorin claimed he made his exposing publications based on a reliable source, that should be totally disregarded.

Now, in a classic spinoff of what usually happens to American lawyers exposing a judge for what appears to be evidence of corruption, the heat is not on the judge - who claimed that it was her ex-husband businessman who paid for the wedding, 1 mln roubles, which is an equivalent roughly of $17,000, and not $2 mln, which was attorney Zhorin's assessment, based on the video, the caliber of performers at the wedding, his knowledge of such pop stars' usual fees, and a tip from a reliable source.

Of course, it is clear that such a star as Nikolay Baskov will not look in the direction of the Krasnodar region (where the wedding was held) for the claimed amount covering the entire wedding, yet he was filmed making speeches at the wedding while embraced with the judge:

Of course, it is possible that Nikolay Baskov is merely a personal friend of the judge who flew from Moscow to the provincial Krasnodar region to perform at her wedding for free, as friends do.

Same as the other pop stars:

Valeriy Meladze
Vera Brezhneva and
Joseph Kobson - who, by the way, was, reportedly, repeatedly denied US visas since 1994.

Of course, one of the unnamed guests at the wedding denied participation of these stars, and denied that Nikolay Baskov was acting as host at the wedding - so, what you see in the video of the wedding and the screenshot about is just a collective visual illusion to be disregarded.

And, of course, Joseph Kobzon, when asked about his participation in the wedding, preferred to feint indignation about the "invasion of privacy" on behalf of the judge, while the local press published, and quickly deleted an article about the judge's wedding.

And, of course, the judge and her guests were not served caviar or crabs at the wedding, as the unnamed guests assures. 

And, of course, the cost of a wedding involving live performances of top Russian pop stars was assessed not just by attorney Zhorin, but by experts of such fees, judging by the video of the wedding that surfaced on the Internet, and is still available on YouTube.

So, who is to blame for the scandal and backlash in social media that ensued?

Of course, attorney Zhorin, who "fouled his own nest" by exposing the wedding that had to cost, by conservative assessment, about 2 mln DOLLARS, while the judge's income by the tax declaration for the last year was around 2 mln ROUBLES (around $34,000).

How could he ... do what?

Post the video in his Instagram account?

Say that it is a feast in time of plague?

Say the truth?

How could he?

And, of course, the court where this "royal judge" sits, was known for a story where a large brick multi-story building was captured under the guise of a "legitimate transaction" where the unwilling seller ended up in jail "for fraud", and the very willing buyers sued claiming that the 10 000 roubles ($166) that they have transferred to the bank account of the unwilling seller constituted just and proper consideration for the building.

And, of course, the public would have a reason to worry about such a lavish wedding of a judge's daughter if a judge:

  • sits on a court handling land issues;
  • sits on a court handling land issues in Krasnodar region;
  • sits on a court handling land issues in Krasnodar region where Sochi is located (remember the Sochi Olympics?);
  • sits on a court handling land issues in Krasnodar region while it was reported that land was unfairly expropriated, through the court system including, so that the right land lands in the hands of the "right people" who would benefit from the Olympics, and from the tourist industry afterwards.
And, of course, nobody ever wrote about state corruption in the Sochi Olympics, right?  Like, Vanity Fair, for example, didn't?

And nobody tried to mention that this judge's (allegedly) former husband wins all cases in court?  Which, of course, can be attributed only to the merits of his cases and the quality of his legal representation and to nothing else?

And nobody wrote quite recently about the judge's former longtime assistant presiding over the case of the judge's husband and ruling in favor of what the press characterized as illegal asset-grabbing - grabbing 33 land plots with houses already built on them, at the expense of a landowner who legally purchased the property?

And, that assistant to Judge Khakhaleva, the happy mother of the bride,  (a.k.a. The Tsarine of the Krasnodar Regional Court) did not:

And judge Khakhaleva's husband is a truly former husband, and the press never wrote about the yacht and the personal plane that the couple uses to fly to - gasp! - Sochi.

So, as to the wedding.  Why was it not reported in June of 2017 when it happened?

Good, but rhetorical question.

Appears that some insider got pissed and leaked the video to attorney Zhorin.

For some reason, attorney Zhorin thought that he is powerful enough to not be afraid to poke the dragon in the eye with a stick and exposed the judge.

And THAT is the whole problem.

Not the corruption, but exposure.

So, in an ancient move - kill the messenger - the attack now against attorney Zhorin, to have the "independent" Chamber of Advocates, the "self-regulating organization" of Russian attorneys, discipline him for allegedly spreading false information about a judge.

Don't American lawyers disciplined, suspended and disbarred for the very same thing, identify with attorney Zhorin's plight.

Of course, judges in America act in more subtle ways than judges in Russia.

For example,

And, American judges are regulating those who are investigating them - with the result that 99% of complaints against judges are dismissed without investigation.

And, American judges are regulating the legal profession, unlike Russia where judges still do not control the legal profession and there is no monopoly for legal representation in court.

So, theoretically, even if the federal Chamber of Advocates expels attorney Zhorin, he can still practice law and earn a living.

Not so in the United States.

If an attorney here criticizes a corrupt judge and his/her license is yanked for that - which regularly happens - the attorney will be foreclosed from not only the practice of law, but, in many states, even from jobs that do no require a law license from anybody but the suspended or disbarred attorney, such as law assistances, paralegals, legal secretaries etc.

And, such an attorney will not be able to work in any other professions requiring some kind of government approval (certification, registration, licensing) - while the percentage of such professions is, by conservative estimates of the White House in 2015 was close to 40% of the labor market, and, judging by job descriptions in job announcements in the U.S., is much higher.

Russian judges still have a lot to learn about:

  • the subtlety of corruption; and
  • about the means of quashing the public dissent - through regulating the legal profession, nipping the most knowledgeable and vocal critics of judges in the bud, and depriving the public of independent legal representation
And, they have great teachers.

Because, if there was attorney monopoly in Russia, attorney Zhorin would never even opened his mouth to do what he did.

And everything would have been hunky-dory.

Why don't people learn from the best, even when it's offered on a silver platter?

Just don't blunder like this

and control those who can leak the most about you and who can be the most knowledgeable and creditable experts against you - attorneys.

Or, arrange for rules and behind-the-scenes organizations, like American Inns of Court in the U.S., where judges can comfortably meet with legal elite behind closed doors, at attorneys' expense, and discuss deals not like the Judge Khakhaleva's assistant did for Judge Khakhaleva's husband's asset-grabbing case (read above) - through ex parte "consultations" during breaks in a court hearing - but without the parties even knowing that it takes place.

Just be more subtle in your corruption and quash your critics more effectively - and you'll be fine.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lawyers under siege trying to represent a client. A growing problem in America

Ok, so a lawyer has a client.

That is called a "fiduciary relationship", a relationship of trust.

And, the lawyer has a client for 15 years.

Meaning that the relationship of trust is long-standing, and the lawyer is the client's choice of legal representation of many years.

And then somebody comes out of the woodwork and sends, from an anonymous e-mail account, an email to the attorney demanding that the attorney should drop his client of 15 years, or there will be "consequences" to the lawyer, and/or the lawyer's law firm.

What has just happened?

That is qualified under the law as:

1) an attempt at tortious interference with a business relationship - for the lawyer;
2) an unlawful bullying over the internet.

So, what would a lawyer do with such an email?

Of course, the wisest decision when receiving such an e-mail is to put it into the spam folder and to report spam.

But, consider the following factors:

1) the e-mail was received at the end of a very long working day, and for a litigation attorney a very long working day means a very high level of stress;

2) even a litigation attorney has a right to his own private time, and those who are sending e-mails to him at night, while not even knowing the attorney personally, must observe the minimum civility as to timing of their messages;

3) the person who contacted the attorney was not his client, nor was he representative of a court notifying of changes in a schedule of a court case, it was a completely personal e-mail, unrelated to litigation, and was completely inappropriate - demanding the attorney to abandon a long-time client, and threatening consequences to him and his law firm if he doesn't.

So, what did the attorney do with the letter from an anonymous bully?

He responded.  In several reply messages.  With profanity.  Promising to verify the bully's identity.

Did the attorney have a right to verify identity of a person who threatened consequences to himself and his law firm if the attorney does not drop a long-time client?

Absolutely he did have such a right.

Did he have a right to be upset because of such pressure?

Absolutely he had a right to be upset.

Is the use of profanity illegal in this country in private settings?  Not at all.  It may be "distasteful", but it is not at all illegal.

Is the use of profanity prohibited to attorneys in private settings?  Not at all.  The bully was not the attorney's client, and was not a court official sending the attorney an e-mail on official court business.

So, did anything at all happen which is newsworthy?

In my view, not at all.

A bully tried to apply unlawful pressure upon an attorney to have the attorney drop a longtime client, threatening consequences to the attorney and his law firm.

The attorney told the bully (1) to mind his own business, and (2) that the attorney will verify the identity of the bully and, possibly, will go after him - I am sure, in a legal way, and not with his fists.

What about the attorney's use of profanity in his response e-mails?

Well, while the use of profanities is "distasteful", judges in the State of New York (where the attorney in question is licensed), who are all licensed attorneys, use profanities all the time and escape with no discipline at all, and that profanity happens during court proceedings, not in their private life.

And, judges in New York are regulators of the legal profession, those who set standards for lawyers to behave.

So, with those standards, and those circumstances, what made this piece of no-news a hotly discussed subject?

The identity of the attorney - the attorney for President Trump, #MarcKasowitz.

Marc Kasowitz is not a spring chicken.  Judging by his official registration information, he was admitted to practice law in New York in 1978, usually it takes 18 years to graduate high school, then 4 years of college and 3 years of law school, so Marc Kasowitz is at least 64 years of age at this time.

And, Mark Kasowitz confirms in his official biography on the website of his law firm that he has been representing President Trump for 15 years.

And, Marc Kasowitz was already subject to disciplinary complaints specifically BECAUSE of the identity of his client.

Now, if the President of the United States would be Hillary Clinton, nobody will give a damn what advice her lawyer gave to the staff of the White House - if that even happened.

Not with Donald Trump.

With Donald Trump, everybody is more interested to know the color of his care and the nature of his compliment to the wife of the President of France than what President Trump is actually doing in office.

And the same way with his attorney.

President Trump simply cannot be entitled to such a good litigator as Marc Kasowitz who successfully represented President Trump for 15 years, that simply should not be happening.

So, first, some pressure was put on Marc Kasowitz and his law firm - a successful law firm with many attorneys and rich and powerful clients, mind - to drop President Trump as a client.

And, Marc Kasowitz made some powerful enemies - among them, Preet Bharara, where some media source went so far as reporting that Marc Kasowitz actually was behind firing of Preet Bharara from his position of the U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of New York.

And here is the original (as ProPublica published, with redactions) of the e-mail sent to attorney Marc Kasowitz:

So, while attorney Kasowitz is suddenly hit left and right by disciplinary complaints simply for representing his client (while nobody touched him with complaints while he represented Donald Trump before his presidency), while he is already under pressure to drop his client, he receives this masterpiece.

Somebody not courageous enough to make his (reportedly, the bully is a man) name, "believes", while pretending that he does not know Marc Kasowitz and Marc Kasowitz does not know the bully, that it is in Marc Kasowitz's interest and in the long-term interest of his firm for Marc Kasowitz "to resign from [his] position advising the President re. pending federal legal matters", and that "[n]o good can come from this".

How can a reasonable person NOT perceive this letter as a direct threat and pressure put on the attorney for the President of the United States that if he sticks to his PROFESSIONAL DUTY to his client, both the attorney and his law firm will suffer "long-time consequences".

What kind of long-time consequences can a 64-year-old attorney suffer professionally?


That was the threat, sent after a long working day, by an anonymous bully.

You can read the further reported exchange between Marc Kasowitz and the bully here.

Of course, the bully had the audacity to get "offended" with profanity and forward Marc Kasowitz's emails to the FBI.

I believe, the President of the United States have every right in the world to actually task the FBI with investigating the author of the e-mail as to who is behind him in applying pressure on the counsel to the President to deprive the President of competent legal representation by a lawyer who the President has been represented by for 15 years.

Because, this case is political.

Instead, ProPublica turned it into a cheap hysterical row on social media.

There are a lot of comments following the slanted publication about the "incident", accusing Marc Kasowitz only of impropriety and demanding his head on a silver platter - disbarment.

The message is very clear: if he does not want to abandon his client "voluntarily", he will have to do it if he is disbarred.

Disbarred over what?

Over using profanity in a private email against an anonymous author of an unsolicited politically motivated Internet threat against the lawyer and his law firm?

The coward who has sent the e-mail message to the President's attorney still remains unidentified - as he asked ProPublica to do.

Yet, without knowing the identity of the coward, the public will not know how real was the threat of "consequences" to Marc Kasowitz and his law firm to assess whether his impassioned response at the end of a long working day was reasonable.

Of course, Marc Kasowitz, knowing what the disciplinary Nazi in New York can do to him, apologized to the bully to diffuse the situation.

There were enough people asking for his disbarment without even knowing the identity of the cowardly bully, and without knowing how many more threats like that were aimed at Marc Kasowitz and his law firm before this one.

Marc Kasowitz's spokesman was, no doubt, very restrained when he stated this in response to the "situation with the e-mails":

So, Kasowitz has been a "rainmaker" for the law firm - before one of his long-time clients became the President of the United States and continued to retain Kasowitz.

Then, those who do not like the CLIENT, turned on the attorney and his law firm and put the law firm under siege.


The new rule of the "honorable" legal profession is - represent somebody we don't like - get disbarred, no matter how, but you are on the radar, and we will get you no matter what.

That is not how independent counsel can operate.

But, while the public is foaming at the mouth as to how inappropriate PRIVATE conduct of the President's attorney in response to bullying and political pressure allegedly was, I have a question to this same public, and commentator seeking Marc Kasowitz's head: what about you?

What about your own personal legal representation if a disaster strikes you or your loved ones?

What if you, or your loved one in need of representation, for some reason yet unknown, will suddenly become a "persona non grata" to some powerful political figure, or lobbying group?

If the President of the United States has no chance for independent legal representation, if his counsel is under pressure to "choose" whether to abandon the client, or to lose his license and livelihood while committing neither an act of incompetence, or an act of dishonesty to his client or the courts - which is the ONLY thing that matters from the point of view of attorney licensing (that exists ONLY to protect interests of consumers of legal services) - and if a powerful attorney finds it easier to apologize for being a victim of bullying rather than lose his head and livelihood - WHAT CHANCES DO YOU HAVE, what chances does a mere mortal has for independent legal representation?

Read Marc Kasowitz's lips while apologizing to the anonymous bully.


Laughter is not sufficient for disruption of Congress - while laughing at some public officials, but not others

A judge threw out a conviction of a woman for laughing at the confirmation of Jeff Sessions, because, in the judge's view, laughter was not enough to support a conviction for disruption of Congress.

Additionally, the defendant argued that she laughed involuntarily when Jeff Sessions announced that he treats all Americans equally.

So, it's official, folks - laughter at the stupidity of your public officials, right in their faces, may be deemed involuntary (like, you cannot control your natural spontaneous reactions) - cannot be the basis for a criminal conviction.

Who would think that reason will take the upper hand?

Or, did reason take the upper hand only because of the identity of the much disliked public official in question?

And the result would have been different if the disruption of Congress would have been at the confirmation of a judge - like it happened to #ElenaSassower, who simply asked a question if she may testify (which she asked, without an answer, in writing prior to the confirmation hearing, too) in opposition to confirmation of federal judge Richard Wesley to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit and got 6 months in federal prison for her efforts, and especially for refusing to apologize for doing nothing wrong.

So, it is official, but still fuzzy, who you can laugh at.

The nominee for the U.S. Attorney General for the President kicked by the "liberal" press - oh, yes, of course, you can laugh at all you want.

As to a judge - nope, you cannot even ask a question at a pre-arranged spectacle of a confirmation hearing.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

South Carolinans in need of new glasses or contact lenses - South Carolina new law, sponsored by optometrists, "protects" you - from new technology

New technology making goods and services cheaper and better is good.


Maybe not in South Carolina.

Not for people in need of new glasses or contact lenses, anyway.

Because there exists a new technology - in the form of a smartphone app, affordable to a wide range of consumers - that can read your retina, access your need for a lense and bypass an optometrist.

Would an optometrist do a better job than a smartphone app in assessing your needs for a new contact lense or glasses?

It is debatable.

First, a smart app does not cost much or long to develop, and is cheap.

On the contrary, medical equipment in an optometrist's office is expensive, as well as an optometrist's services - and is necessary built into the price of your lenses.

Moreover, an optometrist most definitely cannot afford to replace his medical equipment with newer one every year while retina reading and assessing smartphone app can be enhanced daily.

And, isn't it the consumer's final choice whether he or she wants or does not want an optometrist to advise him (presumably, with a higher level of precision), what kind of glasses/contact lenses he needs rather than a retina-reading smartphone app?

Not so, asserts the South Carolina optometrist association that lobbied a legislature that:

  1. passed South Carolina House and Senate;
  2. was vetoed last year by the then-governor Nikki Haley; and
  3. the veto was overridden by South Carolina Senate.
So, now we have the law that prohibits the sale of eye lenses and glasses in South Carolina without an optometrists' prescription.

And the law, of course, is called Eye Care Consumer Protection Act.

The company that was selling online eye tests - OpterNative (out of Chicago, IL), has moved out of South Carolina after the Governor's veto was overridden.

Now, are South Carolinan patients in need of new glasses or a contact lense better off now?

The shameless optometrist-lobbied legislation did not protect consumers - it only prevented consumers from saving money on eye tests, and stripped them of their choices of providers of services.

Which brings me to a million-dollar-question as to any and all occupational licensing - if it exists for protection of consumers, why not allow consumers to OPT OUT of it?  And choose providers according to their own volition instead of from lists pre-approved by the government?

After all, if the government pre-approval/licensing of any professionals exists to just HELP consumers in their marketing and choice of providers, can't we, the consumers of any licensed services, tell the government - thank you for your help, but no, thank you?

And if not, why not?

Why the government thinks it can treat their own boss, their sovereign, the People (who are also consumers of various services of providers licensed by the government) as mentally incompetent in need of being forced to accept high-priced services we may not want - or need?

Do you want to pay less for your glasses?

Like $60 for glasses AND online vision test - as Opternative offers?

I certainly do.

But now, South Carolinans cannot get that order fulfilled in their own state.  They will have to go to another state to do that - which, in terms of costs, defeats the purpose of saving.

Great job, South Carolina Optometrist Association.

You won, we lost.  For now.

Yet, your temporary victory may turn out Pyrrhic.  Like Luddites in the 19th century, weavers destroying weaving equipment, you will not be able to stop technology from progressing.

Imagine that we would be forced, nowadays, in the 21st century, to buy weaved fabrics from individual weavers and not from factory manufacturers, because, under the guild-lobbied legislation, that was supposed to be "better for us".

The Optometrists Association's fight with technology - instead of embracing it - appears as bad.

Of course, nobody wants to see their income derived from costly training and licensing, disappear because of technology.

But, that's life, and, the concept of consumer PROTECTION should not be put on its head in order to shield service providers from doom brought on by technology - which HURTS consumers.

And, your efforts to stop technology (which hurts consumers, and you know it) only shows that occupational licensing, "even" of doctors, is nothing but a sham where a cheaper technology is available.

Consumers must be given a choice of buying what they need from whoever they need, approved by the government or not.

It is that simple.

Why cap taxi medallions?

Yet another piece on how occupational licensing makes no sense and injures consumers instead of protecting them - which is what occupational licensing is declared to be doing to justify its existence.

It is reported that the cost of a taxi medallion in New York City (a right to operate a taxi business, one car) has dropped over the latest 4 years from the whopping $1.3 million per medallion to "just" $241,000 in March this year.

I wonder, of course, whether the drop in the cost was because of the Trump administration's efforts to corral illegal immigrants - who were most likely used as drivers by the wealthy owners of such medallions.

But, the question is - WHY, given that the declared purpose of occupational licensing (including taxi licensing) is PROTECTION OF CONSUMERS, would New York City CAP the number of taxi permits (medallions) in a multi-million city of residents, with more millions of people coming every day as tourists and to do business in New York City - to the meager 13,587?

It does not seem like protection of consumers, does it?

It seems like restricting competition to the existing taxi owners from potentially incoming competitors in order to keep supply of taxi services low and prices high.


Of course, everybody knows that the actual taxi drivers are often new immigrants (legal and illegal) whose command of the English language is limited and for whom driving a taxi may be the only way to earn a living.

These people most definitely cannot pay either $1.3 or $241,000 per "taxi medallion", so they have to work for richer people who do not driver that car, but who exploit these immigrants.

New York City, the self-proclaimed "sanctuary city", is supposed to be friendly to immigrants.  Right?

Then, how come that it not only allows, but promotes and establishes cruel exploitation of immigrants by taxi barons?

Why not reduce of taxi licensing to checkup on the car and checkup on the driver (background check and knowledge of the city)?

After all, that's all that is needed to establish safety and quality of service for consumers?

And why not cancel any caps on taxi medallions?

When a plumber is given authority to tell you whether you can sue a plumber - why do we need courts?

Occupational licensing is not a front-line topic these days.

Yet, it should be.

Now and again, across the U.S., rich and powerful professional guilds, under the guise of protection of our interests as consumers, gain privileges from state and federal legislatures to continue their cozy and lucrative monopolies, at our financial expense and at the expense of injuries to customers.

The last resort of any consumer is the court.  

Court proceedings are costly and cumbersome - but still, for injured people sometimes such proceedings do bring remedies.

And that was, apparently, a big problem in the blessed state of Kentucky.

The state of Kentucky has snuck in a law that puts an additional hurdle for people injured by medical professionals to overcome before they can sue - "screening panels".

Apparently, in Kentucky, the legislature does not trust courts with their preliminary procedures, such as motions to dismiss, and juries to screen lawsuits.  Or, courts and juries were in fact awarding something to injured consumers of medical services which doctors were not happy about.

The principal sponsor of the new legislation, reportedly, was a Senator who is a licensed physician - which is an irreconcilable conflict of interest, but apparently, State Senator Ralph Alvorado does not care about that.

Moreover, the "screening panels" that are put, by new law, in the position to precede and substitute for courts and juries, must consist of 3 doctors

- which is an even bigger conflict of interest. 

How can an unelected panel of three licensed doctors be allowed to usurp the role of the courts to resolve conflicts regarding mistakes of their own colleagues?

And how does that protect consumers?

Does Senator Dr Alvorado care that the declared purpose of occupational licensing (including licensing of any medical professional, which means his own medical license) is protection of CONSUMERS, not doctors?

This legislation very obviously has as a purpose protection of doctors from injured consumers, blocking injured consumers from ever having any remedy.

The flurry of court filings before the legislation kicked in indicates how much patients and their lawyers trust in doctors in these panels "judging" and screening medical malpractice cases fairly.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not that easy for a medical malpractice lawsuit to survive.  The main hurdle is to prove causation - that the particular actions of a particular physician have caused injury and damages to the plaintiff.  Proof in such cases require expert evidence and testimony.

If it pertains to surgery, when the injured patient was under general anesthesia or sedation, proof can be manipulated by the defendant physicians and their personnel, by manipulating records about the surgery to protect themselves from liability.

If it pertains to any other procedure when the patient was conscious, there are informed consent forms which may be signed without necessary information provided to the patient to form that informed consent - but still can be used against the patient.

And, in general, it is difficult to find a doctor who would be willing to testify against his colleague in court - for fear of being blackballed, disciplined and stripped of his own license and livelihood by his own profession.

Now, when debates about the fate of Obamacare are raging in the federal government, mainstream and social media, such "minor issues" as blocking access to court of victims of medical mistakes fall by the wayside as not so important.

Yet, with any coverage, even a perfect medical insurance coverage, our hope to quality medical care will remain illusory if doctors are going to be allowed to block our access to court to address their mistakes that cause injuries.

It is for people of the state of Kentucky to demand repeal of this shameful legislation.

For people in other states, where similar legislation can be pushed by the medical guild - beware.

And, here is a cautionary tale - of a person who has brought about a $500,000 cap on recovery in medical malpractice lawsuits - only to be later injured through a medical mistake, with damages from the injury amounting to millions of dollars, but capped, by his "own" legislature, at $500,000.

The sponsor of the shameful "doctor panel" legislation in Kentucky, the State Kentucky Senator Dr Ralph Alvorado is young and arrogant, 

he occupies all the key positions that conflict with his role as a lawmaker without any scruples, such as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Medical Association, American College of Physicians, Kentucky "One Health Med Group", "BD Vice Chair Wealth MD".

Of course, while doing a quite self-interested and un-Godly thing, Senator Alvorado does not forget to rub in his religiosity by putting into his official biography that he is a deacon of Grace Baptist Church.

Senator Dr Alvorado apparently presumes he himself or his loved ones will never be victims of medical mistakes, as it happened to Frank Cornelius in the State of Indiana - or that he can through his weight about at all times to manipulate those doctors in medical panels to pave a path to court that he blocked to everyone else?

Power and authority, and high elective positions come and go. 

People are mortal, they retire and die, leaving vulnerable their own family - and everybody else who was hurt by such "laws" created to satisfy self-interested greed of a professional guild at a particular moment.

Nobody can guarantee that Senator Dr Alvorado and his loved ones will not fall victim to the very legislature he crafted and pushed through, for himself and his colleagues.

But of course, who thinks about karma when abusing his power to satisfy his own greed...

What is really bad is that the Kentucky legislation only started on the slippery slope of blocking access to courts for consumers injured by various service providers.

If doctors can screen access to court of consumers injured by other doctors - why can't other providers be allowed to do just the same?

Just imagine - if a contractor screwed construction of your house, you cannot sue him directly, but must first have your case "screened" by a panel of three - gasp! - contractors, who will decide whether you can sue their colleague or not.

Or, if a plumber screwed up your toilet, flooding half of your house with fecal matter, you cannot sue the plumber unless a panel of his 3 colleagues allows you to do that.

Which brings us to a million dollar question - why do we need courts at all in consumer injury cases?

We can just have service providers, in each consumer injury case to gather into TROIKA panels and tell consumers what such TROIKA panels will most definitely tell injured patients in Kentucky - BUZZ OFF.

And abolish all courts.