"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.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Governor Cuomo announces new ethical reforms - until they touch upon him, and then they will follow the route of the Moreland Commission?

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the advent of an "ethics reform" in the New York Legislature recently.

The "reforms", if they take root, will require New York legislators who are practicing attorneys, to disclose their clients.

I wonder whether the reform will take place at all, how far back in time will the disclosures go, since New York legislators continued to practice law for decades, creating, now doubt, multiple conflicts of interest on the way.

I also wonder why Governor Cuomo, instead of re-instating the Moreland Commission that he disbanded once it started to investigate him, is now pretending to engage in limited ethics reform in the Legislature.

Criminal charges against Sheldon Silver struck a little too close to home?

A perfect way to fleece a client - the "minimum increment" billing policy

Any attorney who worked in a large law firm will tell you that the increment in billing their clients is 6 minutes.

What does that mean?

It means that no matter how much actual time your attorney have spent on reviewing, let's say, a 1-page letter from the court assigning a judge (even if it is a whole of 2 seconds), he will still charge you at 6 minutes, and if the attorney's hourly rate is from $175.00 an hour upwards (which is usually the case), you will be charged $17.50 and upwards instead of pennies.

Will you believe that your attorney stared, a presumably intelligent human being, hired for his/her intelligence, was staring at a sheet of paper that, let's say, said: "Judge XYZ was assigned to your case" for the whole of 6 minutes - that is 360 seconds, you can count to 360 while staring at a piece of paper to see how long that is - while doing what?  Providing you a professional legal service?  At upwards of $175.00 an hour?  A stare for 6 minutes straight at a sheet of paper with a name of a judge is provision of a professional service?

It is insane to believe this, isn't it?

Do you have enough money to give away to people who stare at pieces of paper for 6 minutes?

If your attorney needs 6 minutes to stare at a letter assignment of a judge, what kind of legal services such an attorney can provide you?

Of course, your attorney never stared at a sheet of paper for 6 minutes, he or she is really not that stupid.

He simply used his firm's "policy" that no matter how short was his cursory glance at the assignment of a judge (and possibly, his secretary just told him who is assigned and he did not even look at that letter), the "policy" is to bill at 6-minute's increments.

So, the attorney is determined to fleece you of the full 6 minutes' worth of his time, at $175.00 an hour, even though no professional services you hired the attorney to provide, were provided to you during those 6 minutes.  

Why this fleecing is occurring?

Because you did not say "no".

And because you are not saying "no", your attorney from a large law firm can bill you repeatedly for reviewing separate 1-page documents at 6 minutes' increments instead of for the actual time he or she spent working on your case.

If litigation is long enough, and often it lasts for years, you will be paying through your nose for air, simply for time added to the actual time worked because of the "billing increment" policy of the law firm - or because their billing software works only in 6 minutes increments.

Of course, disciplinary rules prohibit attorneys to bill for time not actually worked and for services not actually provided.

But who cares?  Certainly not the large law firms.

The way around disciplinary rules for law firms are - to hire a number of governmental officials, their relatives, and especially those who are related to or worked for a judge.

With such a live shield, no discipline will ever be even attempted against such law firms, and they can continue to happily fleece their clients, at 6-minute increments.

How to fight this robbery?

Of course, to ask your attorney to specifically put into the written retainer agreement that you agree to pay only for the time actually worked, not for the billing increment policy of the law firm, and certainly not for how their billing software works.

You are the master of your own retainer agreement, so it is in your power to stop the robbery.

Say "no" to the 6-minute "minimum increment" billing by large law firms.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On job security of judges...

Attorney to judge:   Judge, but you testified on behalf of my client's opponents and became a witness in this proceeding.  Here is proof - transcript of the hearing in question.  You are a witness now, you cannot continue to preside, it is a due process violation, please step down.  Since you have previously imposed an anti-filing injunction upon my client (for raising constitutional arguments), I ask you, on an application for an Order to Show Cause to allow me to proceed with a motion to recuse against you raising these issues of your misconduct, Your Honor.

His Honor:  I will not sign it (and will not allow you to challenge my misconduct).

Attorney to judge:  Judge, I saw you communicating with my opponents through your facial expressions.  I am concerned that you are going to do the same with the jury.  Please, allow me to videotape you to make sure you are not engaged in the same misconduct that I already witnessed on this particular date, date is specified.

His Honor:  I will not sign it (and will not allow you to capture my misconduct on camera).

Would you just LOVE to have such a job where nobody can question you because you can prevent anybody challenging you from even seeing the inside of the court with that challenge?

Of course, the question remains whether His Honor acted honorably or, let's say, self-servingly, but that is, ladies and gentlemen, not a question of law and "honor" for these country's judges is a job description, not a moral and ethical restraint.

And there is a long history in American courts to treat constitutional questions as frivolous questions, or pesky questions not worthy of the judge's attention.

Moreover, what kind of constitutional question can overpower the requirement that litigants and attorneys must have faith in the integrity of the judiciary?  The legal profession and court proceedings have long become a brown-nosing exercise where the party who has the most brown-nosing potential (including political connections) always wins.

Anything a judge does in his job is covered by the judge-created presumption of judicial integrity, which apparently is supposed to co-exist along with the judge-created absolute judicial immunity for malicious and corrupt acts on the bench.

And whoever believes that such a combination is illogical and incompatible, and who does not want to believe in the Emperor's new clothes, of the honor of the profession that absolutely immunized itself of liability for dishonorable acts, should be banned from any possibility to earn a livelihood and should be blackballed for life from any meaningful employment.

And with all this job security in place, wouldn't you love to be a judge?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

For how long will this nation continue to send children to jail without providing them a counsel to defend themselves?

It is often said that one can judge the true nature of democracy in a nation by the nation's treatment of its most vulnerable members.

The treatment of children by American courts in juvenile and criminal proceedings shows that America has a long way to go towards the true democracy.

Only in 2005, 10 years ago, did the U.S. stop executing children.

Only 3 years ago did the U.S. Supreme Court rule that children may not be sentenced to life without parole as a mandatory sentence, that such sentencing would be a violation of the 8th Amendment.

Nonetheless, according to ACLU, 2,570 individuals convicted as children and sentenced for life without parole, remain sentenced.  Apparently, in the U.S. Supreme Court's "wisdom", the court's pronouncements of what is or is not a violation of the U.S. Constitution enacted in the 18th century does not have a "retroactive effect", a completely illogical concept.

The abysmal treatment by the American judicial system practice is also demonstrated by the pattern and practice of incarcerating juveniles without the benefit of counsel that continues to be a dreadful reality in many states.

The practice caught national attention when a judge in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, was exposed and ultimately charged for racketeering in a scheme of receiving kickbacks from private actors who built a juvenile jail and needed to fill it in order to receive money from the county.  The judge, for kickbacks, filled that jail with children who the judge sentenced to deprivation of their liberty without the benefit of counsel.

Yet, what the former judge Ciavarella practiced for kickbacks, ruining lives of 2000 children in the process, is practiced throughout the country, and I do not see much of the media attention to that problem.

In Ohio, as of 2004, 15% of children committed with the Ohio Department of Youth Services (juvenile facilities) and 20% placed with the community corrections facilities (adult jails) were unrepresented by counsel.

Detention of juveniles after court proceedings without legal representation was reported in Tennessee in 2014.  Please, note that Tennessee continued what enraged the nation in the Pennsylvania "Kids for Cash" scandal long after exposure in Pennsylvania and, apparently, in defiance of established constitutional precedent of nearly half a century that is described below.

In New Jersey, the child's right to legal representation in the juvenile proceeding is reportedly linked to the income of the child's parent or law guardian, which is, in my view, unconstitutional, because a child himself or herself have no income, and should be entitled to public defender anyway.

A parent's duty of supporting a child does not extend to paying for a lawyer in juvenile proceedings, and parents may have significant conflicts of interests in such proceedings and may be actually the people who reported the child and triggered the proceedings, so they would definitely not be interested to pay for the child's lawyer.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court blundered in the precedent on point, In Re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967) by conditioning the child's right to counsel on parents' income, even though it found that a child has a constitutional right to counsel in proceedings that may result in deprivation of liberty.

Yet, at the very least, the U.S. Supreme Court stated, among other things, that "the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court", In Re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967).

Apparently, for many courts across this nation, being a youth still justifies a kangaroo court, and I do not see any significant movement from state bar associations to change that.

A winning strategy in not reporting judicial misconduct: play dumb

I watched recently a documentary regarding the "Kids for Cash" scandal in the Luzerne County Court in Pennsylvania where two judges were convicted of, among other things, the crimes of racketeering and receiving kickbacks.

The judges ruined more than 2000 lives.  Lives of juveniles, of children.

In the documentary, the Luzerne County Public Defender, in an interview, stated that he "thought" that the juveniles in question who the former judge Ciavarella sent to the juvenile jail in return for kickbacks in proceedings where children were not represented by counsel, actually "validly waived" their right to counsel.

Now, that explanation was, to me, stunning.  The statement gives a new meaning to the phrase "do not insult my intelligence".

A public defender who have worked in this field, including representation of juveniles, for decades, should have known that a child may not legally make a waiver of counsel without such a counsel present.

At the very least, the counsel must be present at the time when a juvenile waives his or her right to counsel, to make sure that the juvenile is properly advise what legal consequences such a waiver entails.

Former judge Ciavarella's misconduct continued for years.

Former judge Ciavarella has sent to juvenile jail without the benefit of counsel 2000 children over the course of several years.

And the public defender would pretend with a straight face that he did not know of any of that?

Good try, counselor, but wasn't it in reality easier not to report judicial misconduct and retain your law license than try to save the kids and put your license on the line risking retaliation from the judiciary?

This blog has turned one year. Thank you for reading.

It is a year and two days since I published my first post on this blog.

During the year of its existence, I found with surprise that I have readership from, literally, around the world.

I have had a lot of feedback, from this country and from other countries.

That tells me that the topics I am raising here are important for people.  I did receive threats trying to prevent me from blogging.  I was accused of being crazy because of my blogging, "coincidentally", by attorneys and attorney-judges who were subject of the criticism.

Of course, the easiest way to address the issue is to try to claim that the issues come from person whose claims should be disregarded because she is stupid, incompetent or mentally ill.

And still, people keep reading.

And I see that issues of judicial misconduct and misconduct of politically connected attorneys picks up speed in the media and, especially in the social media.

So, I am proud to be the contributing member of the corps of at-home journalists who are brave enough to raise issues that the "regular" press is afraid to touch.

I am proud to make a difference, at least to the point of showing to people that not all attorneys are greedy cowards who are afraid to protect their clients' rights and afraid to challenge judicial misconduct that, unfortunately, permeates the U.S. "justice" system.

Thank you for reading and I assure you that I will keep going and will keep raising these issues.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Attorneys and litigants appearing in front of Jonathan Follender, judge in the Town of Denning court, Ulster County - beware of this judge's views that he is above the law and that constitutional rights of litigants are, in fact, "constitutional" rights

I have written on this blog about attorney Jonathan Follender (who is at the same time a judge in the Town of Denning court in Ulster County) who is the author of the following arguments (for which he never was sanctioned by any court):

  • loss of consortium of a dog, a non-existing cause of action in New York (compare what "loss of consortium" is);
  • death of a corporation (Mr. Follender filed a motion for substitution of the wife of his client due to his client's death in a case where his client was a corporation - and the presiding judge Eugene Peckham of Binghamton, now retired and partner to Levine, Gouldin and Thomson LLP, reviewed and granted the motion!);
  • frivolous default (a non-appearance in a civil action may never be considered as frivolous conduct);
  • frivolous deprivation of the court of SUBJECT MATTER jurisdiction through "untimely" satisfaction of money judgment - after the same Mr. Follender had me sanctioned in a related case for delaying satisfaction of the same money judgment.
The last one bears specific attention - Mr. Follender claimed, in a case where I never appeared as an attorney, that my alleged influence in satisfaction of money judgment that was "too fast" for his client to grab the home of two people on a homestead sale petition frivolously caused the LOSS OF JURISDICTION by the court.

So, Mr. Follender, at the time of making these arguments, fully realized that he was making them to the court that has lost jurisdiction.

Yet, that did not prevent either Mr. Follender to proceed before the court that has lost jurisdiction, nor Judge Becker from presiding over the case where he lost jurisdiction and making decisions in that case.

Several days ago I received yet another masterpiece from Mr. Follender that got me worried as to his fitness as a judge, so here is what he claimed against me after I finally sued him for defamation, fraud and fraud upon the court for falsely running his mouth against me in a case where I never appeared as an attorney of record.

Mr. Follender claimed that:

(1) my constitutional rights  are actually "constitutional" rights, in quotes;

(2) I must be punished for criticizing the judiciary for well documented misconduct for making "unsubstantiated claim of misconduct" in violation of attorney rules.

Apparently, Jonathan Follender, as attorney and judge, is not aware of the federal pre-emption doctrine under which federal law trumps inconsistent state law on issues of the U.S. Constitution, and where my statements were within the core political speech protected by the 1st Amendment.

Jonathan Follender asked to punish me for criticizing judges by

(1) sanctions;
(2) paying his legal fees and
(3) imposing on me an anti-filing injunction for trying to prove to the court that Judge Tormey punished me illegally and unconstitutionally without reviewing the record and while treating as one two different underlying court cases, one where I was an attorney of record and the other where I wasn't and where Mr. Follender defamed me.

Mr. Follender asked the court to punish me for untimely filing of the record while I came to the court on my deadline bringing BOXES of that record and faced closed doors because the court chose to close its doors due to election day, even though it was not a national holiday.

I brought that same record the next day, which was accepted by the court - yet Mr. Follender had the audacity that I filed untimely and "failed to explain the reason for delay".  Apparently, the court's actions in closing its doors on my deadline while I made a nearly 200 mile roundtrip with huge boxes of the Record on Appeal is not  good reason enough for Mr. Follender.

Mr. Follender asked the court to sanction me for stating an opinion that Judge Tormey should have been taken off the bench long time ago due to his misconduct resulting in lawsuit after lawsuit by female court employees that New York taxpayers have to pay for, and that had Karen Peters, the presiding judge of the 3rd Department who was a member of the Judicial Conduct Commission for years, did her job on that Commission, Judge Tormey would have been taken off the bench and disbarred by now.

Mr. Follender asked the court to sanction me for my opinion that Judge Tormey has a tendency of discrimnating against women, while my opinion was well documented and expressed based on the two lawsuit prosecuted against Judge Tormey by two different females, a court clerk and a court interpreter, for similar discriminating conduct, as well as for his course of conduct against me showing Judge Tormey as a spiteful male who cannot allow a female to challenge his misconduct without abusing his power and sanctioning that female, no matter how lawful her challenge is.

Mr. Follender made a very interesting statement in his pleadings - that I plead as if "I have nothing to lose".

Apparently, to Mr. Follender, reporting of judicial misconduct, a duty foof attorneys as officers of the court and a right of attorneys as citizens participating in democratic processes of their country, can be done only when an attorney "has nothing to lose".

All in all, this is an attorney who is also a judge who things that: 

  1. asserting constitutional rights is frivolous;
  2. criticizing judges is sanctionable per se, constitutional standards of 1st Amendment do not apply to such criticism despite clear language of constitutional provisions and a long string of cases on that subject by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that no amount of documentary evidence may prevent sanctions for criticism of judges.
Those views, added to the stark incompetence of an attorney who claims, with a straight face, loss of consortium of a dog, death of a corporation, frivolous defaults, frivolously causing delay in satisfying a money judgment and at the same time frivolously satisfying that same money judgment prematurely, a frivolous deprivation of the court of subject matter jurisdiction - those views, ladies and gentlemen, belong to a judge, a person who holds in his hands your liberty, who decides whether you go to jail or not, whether to issue orders of protection or not, whether to evict you from your home or not, whether you should have your property in a small claim action or not.

And that attorneys with that level of incompetence are allowed to be judges is downright scary.