"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, December 19, 2018

The New York Law Journal criticizing (somewhat) the sacred cow: something must be really happening with New York courts

My experience with the leading scholarship journal of the legal profession in New York, the New York Law Journal is one of disappointment.

There is nearly never any critical review published there of judicial decisions, usually just comments of WHAT a judge did, but no attempt to analyze WHY that was done, and no attempt to go into the judge's background and explore the judge's potential conflicts of interest to make this or that sensational - and sensationally wrong - decision.

NYLJ also gives its platform to former and present judges in their calls upon the legal profession and the public to defend judges as "having no voice" defenseless creatures - while the judiciary not only permeated with its "officers of the court" all branches of the government, controlling those branches through control of officers of those branches who are attorneys, but acquired a "well-settled" knack for making laws for the entire country and being entirely unaccountable in its misconduct.

Presumed honorable - with a self-given immunity for malicious and corrupt acts, that says it all.

So, it sounded to me like something unexpected has happened in the market of legal services and in the New York judiciary when New York Law Journal suddenly published an article vigorously criticizing regulators of attorneys, the New York court system.

Look at the language of the criticism:

"“It (New York State’s Unified Court System) employs the energies of more than sixteen thousand judges, officers and employees around the State, who handle more than three million new case filings annually.” Fiscal Year 2019-2020 New York State Unified Court System Budget.

Yes, New York’s Judiciary does handle more than 3 million cases per year, but they have a peculiar way of counting. For each petition filed in Family Court they give each child a separate docket number so if you have four children and file for custody it counts as four cases. They count Uniform Traffic Tickets and Parking Tickets as cases and include “both answered and unanswered cases.” For 2017 those tickets totaled 497,623 “cases” without which the total filings would be well below 3 million.

Just to put this in perspective, there were 4,671,265 filings in 2008 which is 41 percent more than 2017. The budget for 2007/2008 was a little more than $1.6 billion. The Judicial Budget for 2019/2020 is an all-time high of $2.336 billion, an increase of $44.7 million from last year. Just five years ago it was $1.81 billion even though there have been significant decreases in filings every year. When you add all costs, the judiciary spends about $600 million more but the budget never mentions the actual sum spent by the Judiciary. For example, in 2018-2019’s budget the request was $2.23 billion but the Chief Administrative Judge’s Annual Report four months later said that $2.96 billion was approved.

New York’s court system is the most expensive per capita in the country and possibly the world. It amounts to $117 per citizen just using the State Operations Budget request of $2.336 billion, but using total funds it is over $150 per person. Florida has many more people than New York but runs its judicial budget on $27.09 per person. The United States Judiciary costs $22.25 per citizen."


Catching the court system red-handed in padding up the statistics of case-filing by gerrymandering docket numbers?
Blasting State Chief Judge DiFiore's "Excellence Initiative" as the possible justification of unjustifiable padding up and increasing the budget while the actual number of filings actually dropped 41% in just 9 years?
What is going on in New York?
Do more people leave the state than is officially reported?
Case filings in court dropping nearly TWOFOLD in just 9 years?
Access to court blocked by courts artificially by different tricks, for judges to have less work?
Just when judges pushed through (with the help of attorneys and bar associations judges control through control of their law licenses) an increase of salary for themselves?
While THREE major whistleblower lawsuits were either settled or are pending at this time - whistleblowers being EMPLOYEES of the court system?

By the way, with the drop in filings, the increase in salaries, the increase in the budget, the pending lawsuits regarding misconduct of judges - and New York Court Officer Associations' demand that a new body be created to control budgetary spending of the court system, because the current oversight bodies are not to be trusted (say the insiders) - judges do not even have to "do their time", come to work on time and spend their work day where they are supposed to, in the courthouse, in the courtroom, doing their work.
There was a standoff - at least, as reflected in the media - this year between Governor Cuomo and his friend and nominee Chief Judge Janet DiFiore over whether judges should present to the public their time-sheets showing when they come and leave their workplace.
Cuomo finally ceded the fight to DiFiore, so now, as before, New York State judges do not have to show the public, the mere mortals (and the judges' employers, by the way), the paper trail proving that they actually work for that increased salary.
And still.
A 41% drop of case-filings in court in 9 years?
While New York judges
  1. do not want to tell the public whether they show up for work or not and how many hours they actually are PRESENT in the courthouse;
  2. despite having nearly 1/2 less work than 9 years ago, have upped their salaries, dramatically, with the help of their PR-slaves, attorneys whose livelihoods judges control, who testified in favor of the increase to the shadowy "judicial salary commission" - an unelected body engaged in unlawful legislation; 
  3. squash any kind of sexual harassment policies and get rid of employees who blow a whistle on sexual harassment and other types of judicial misconduct; and
  4. push to increase the budget, under the guise of different "excellence" initiatives, while there is less work for judges - because of fleeing population, or for other reasons that New York court system does not want to explore, and
  5. all those budget increases go exclusively to judicial salaries and perks - while support employees of the court get fired in alarming numbers, to the point that they had to call upon judges not to take the bench while being so understaffed?
So, was the New York Officers association correct in calling New York Court Administration and court system organized crime?

Even court attorneys have had enough - to the point of losing the fear of being fired and losing the licenses and speaking out, and recording judges, and filing lawsuits?
Even court officers unions calling the court system organized crime and demanding to put some money from budget increases towards support personnel, not just judges, their salaries for work without timesheets or accountability and their discretionary budgets they use without any oversight?
Even the usually timid-as-a-mouse New York Law Journal that is never raising a critical argument about a judge, no matter how bad a judicial decision or conduct is?
What is going on?

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