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Attorneys for the People News & Views 2010

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June 2010

CALIFORNIA  

Court Documents Reveal Judicial Corruption:
Full Disclosure Network® Video Report

PRNewswire-USNewswire  

06-29-10 -- Federal and California Court documents reveal the details of a statewide Judicial corruption scheme in California involving illegal payments of hundreds of millions of dollars to State Judges who are prohibited under the California Constitution and Judicial Canons of Ethics from taking payments from parties involved in cases before them. The documents are available from links below and were filed recently by former prominent Anti-Trust Attorney Richard I. Fine in an attempt to win his release from L A County jail where he has been held for more than a year in contempt of court. Both Federal and State Courts have denied all his petitions for Writ of Habeas Corpus and motions for hearings. / "THE NEWS BEHIND THE NEWS" VIDEO . . . Full Disclosure Network is releasing an online five minute video covering Dr. Fine's legal battle to win his freedom from the L. A. County Men's Central Jail. He has been held in solitary "coercive confinement" after attempting to disqualify State Superior Court Judge David P. Yaffe who had admitted in court testimony that he received illegal payments from the County of Los Angeles, an interested party to the case, Marina Strand Colony II Homeowners Association vs County of Los Angeles. Watch the video here: http://tiny.cc/FreedomFight


DOJ Attorney Resigns Over New Black Panther Case, Blows Whistle on Holder’s DOJ

Contributed by Lonely Conservative (Reporter) Before It's News 

06-27-10 -- This has to be the most corrupt administration in the history of our republic. I’m sure you recall the case against the New Black Panthers, who were wielding weapons at a Philadelphia polling place and intimidating voters. You probably also recall that Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s Department of Justice dropped the case against those thugs, even though it would have been a slam dunk for the prosecution. . . . Now we hear from someone from the inside of the Justice Department. J. Christian Adams is an attorney who has resigned because of this case and the corruption within the DOJ. He wrote all about it in The Washington Times. You have to read the whole thing, but here’s a preview.

Based on my firsthand experiences, I believe the dismissal of the Black Panther case was motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law. Others still within the department share my assessment. The department abetted wrongdoers and abandoned law-abiding citizens victimized by the New Black Panthers. The dismissal raises serious questions about the department’s enforcement neutrality in upcoming midterm elections and the subsequent 2012 presidential election  . . . The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has opened an investigation into the dismissal and the DOJ’s skewed enforcement priorities. Attorneys who brought the case are under subpoena to testify, but the department ordered us to ignore the subpoena, lawlessly placing us in an unacceptable legal limbo.


NEW YORK  

Skadden Name Partner Helps Bring Pianos to the Streets of New York

By Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

06-14-10 -- The only living name partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom has donated $60,000 to help bring 60 pianos to the streets of New York as part of a “play me, I’m yours” worldwide public art project. . . . The matching donation by Joseph Flom and his wife, Judi, a former concert pianist who is now a lawyer, spurred another $120,000 in matching donations to support the project by Sing for Hope, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. The pianos will be decorated and displayed in parks and other public places in New York from June 21 to July 5, and then they will be donated to organizations such as schools and hospitals.


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NEBRASKA  

A life spent giving back to the community

By Sarah Schulz, Grand Island Independent  

06-13-10 -- Late last week, Grand Island attorney Susan Koenig headed to Nebraska City to meet with a "client who's gotten himself in a bit of a pickle." . . . Koenig doesn't typically handle cases that far outside of Central Nebraska, but she described the man as a "good client." . . . It's that dedication to her job -- her colleagues, fellow board members and family as well -- that leads to high praise for the woman who has practiced law since 1982. . . . Koenig is originally from Lindsey and spent a year in Columbus before following "the man" to Grand Island. That man is Mark Young, who is now the Hall County attorney and Koenig's spouse of 26 years. The couple has a 19-year-old daughter, Liz, who just finished her sophomore year at Tulane University in New Orleans. . . . Koenig was a prosecutor in Hall County from 1984 to 1995. Now she handles mostly family law cases, such as divorces and adoptions, to avoid any conflict of interest with her husband's office. . . . "I try to do all the adoptions I can," she said. . . . However, she does take some criminal cases in surrounding counties. . . . Some of her cases are appointed by a judge, while others come about when "people wander in and tell you their troubles." . . . She takes on a number of pro bono cases as well, some of which come to her through the Nebraska Bar Association. . . . "I decide if it's a fit," she said. "I have to balance them with the paying cases as well."


NEW JERSEY  

Christie is right to resist a usurping judiciary

Gregory J. Sullivan, Esq., Special To The Times

06-11-10 -- The collateral benefits of Gov. Chris Christie's decision not to reappoint Justice John Wallace, Jr., continue to accumulate. The most recent good news is that all seven members of a panel -- which included four former members of the state Supreme Court -- that advises governors on appointments to the state trial courts have resigned to protest what they called a decision that was "inconsistent with an independent judiciary." . . . As to the panel itself: Good riddance. The real concern is the contention that Gov. Christie's exercise of the judicial-appointment power is an attack on the independence of the courts. This view is plainly wrong. The independence of the judiciary is utterly unthreatened by Gov. Christie. What is in fact happening is that the regime of judicial supremacy is finally meeting serious and politically potent resistance. . . . The nature of the problem with the state Supreme Court is often misunderstood. For instance, this newspaper recently editorialized that "the governor considered Justice Wallace to be an activist judge. An activist judge, it's been said, is one who "makes a decision you don't like.' And that's not reason enough to abruptly end the career to a judge who has served well and wisely." . . . If this were so, then it would not be a sound reason to reject reappointment of Justice Wallace. The problem, however, is not the strawman of an "activist" judiciary. The problem is a judiciary that breaches its proper limits and becomes a central policymaker with no statutory or constitutional warrant whatsoever. The independence of the executive and legislative branches has been under assault from the court for decades.


Gov. Christie replaces N.J. judiciary panel who resigned to protest non-tenure of Justice Wallace

Chris Megerian/Statehouse Bureau The Star-Ledger - NJ.com 

06-09-10 -- Gov. Chris Christie replaced the Judicial Advisory Panel today, less than one week after the previous seven members resigned en masse to protest Christie's decision to replace state Supreme Court Justice John Wallace. . . . “I wanted to act quickly to fill the panel with qualified individuals of high integrity and reputation so that the panel would have no interruption in performing its function," Christie said. . . . The new panel, which vets potential Superior Court nominees, will be led by former justice Peter Verniero, who has a controversial history within the state Judiciary. Former Gov. Christie Whitman nominated him to the Supreme Court over the objections of the New Jersey State Bar Association. He later resigned before the end of his seven-year term on the court. . . . Although many prominent members of New Jersey's legal world have condemned Christie's decision to dump Wallace from the state's highest court, Verniero has been quiet on the issue. He did not sign a critical statement from eight other retired justices criticizing Christie. **** Besides Verniero, the other six new members are attorney Rosemary Alito; Richard J. Badolato, the immediate past president of the New Jersey State Bar Association; former New Jersey attorney general John J. Degnan; former Superior Court judge Harriet Derman; former attorney general Cary Edwards; and former Superior Court judge Bette E. Uhrmacher.


NORTH CAROLINA  

Ex-con mom beats odds, gets law degree

By Ruth Sheehan – Raleigh News & Observer Staff Writer

06-02-10 -- In February 1990, Lynn Burke arrived at her public housing unit, escorted by a parole officer, to find her four young children living in squalor. Her crackhead husband had left pipes and needles in a back room. The kitchen sink was so clogged with grease, he did dishes in the tub. . . . Broken and broke after two years in prison, Burke had little reason to be optimistic about her future. Then her 7-year-old son held out something in his hand. . . . "I was thinking you might need this," he said. For two years, he'd slept with Burke's driver's license under his pillow. . . . Burke realized in that moment that her children and others in her life believed in her against all odds. . . . Their faith - and Burke's own drive - led her on a odyssey from a felony fraud conviction to representing clients for the Orange County Public Defender's Office. . . . Burke, 47, graduated last month from N.C. Central University Law School and is studying for the bar exam in July; she hopes to begin criminal defense work in the fall. Burke knows her story is rare; she wishes it weren't so. . . . "Cons are like everyone else. We want to contribute. We want our children to be proud of us," she said. "My story shouldn't be miraculous. I'm a regular person who screwed up royally. If I can do this, anyone can." . . . Burke didn't grow up in poverty. Her father was a corporate lawyer, her mother, a nurse. It was an upper middle-class upbringing in upstate New York, then Tennessee. Still, Burke said, she never learned key lessons about how much things cost, about education, about personal responsibility.


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May 2010

UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT

U.S. Supreme Court won't hear jailed L.A. lawyer's contempt of court case

Richard Fine, 70, has been in solitary confinement since March 2009, taking his case all the way to the top court. He says he will continue to fight.

By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times

05-25-10 -- After a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge sent him to jail indefinitely for contempt of court last year, veteran attorney Richard Fine vowed to take his case all the way to the nation's highest court. . . . "To fight me is to fight me all the way to the Supreme Court," he said in a jailhouse interview with The Times last May. . . . On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Fine's petition, effectively putting an end to the attorney's dogged legal quest to end his confinement. . . . The 70-year-old antitrust and taxpayer advocate attorney has been sitting in solitary confinement in Men's Central Jail for about a year and three months after Judge David Yaffe found him in contempt in March 2009. The judge ordered him to stay in jail until he is ready to follow court orders and answer questions about his finances. . . . From his cell, Fine has filed habeas corpus petitions for his release in the California Supreme Court, district court, and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals alleging that Yaffe was biased against him and should have recused himself from the contempt-of-court case. Fine contends that his legal troubles stem from his challenges to county-funded benefits that judges receive on top of their state pay.


CALIFORNIA  

Ex-lawyer jailed 14 months, but not charged with a crime

By Abbie Boudreau, Emily Probst and Dana Rosenblatt, CNN Special Investigations Unit

05-24-10 -- Once a dapper Beverly Hills attorney known for his bow tie, Richard Fine has been held in solitary confinement at Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail for 14 months, even though he's never been charged with a crime. . . . Fine, a 70-year- old taxpayer's advocate who once worked for the Department of Justice, is being held for contempt of court. . . . Superior Court Judge David Yaffe found Fine in contempt after he refused to turn over financial documents and answer questions when ordered to pay an opposing party's attorney's fees, according to court documents. . . . Fine says his contempt order masks the real reason why he's in jail. He claims he's a political prisoner. . . . "I ended up here because I did the one thing no other lawyer in California is willing to do. I took on the corruption of the courts," Fine said in a jailhouse interview with CNN. . . . For the last decade, Fine has filed appeal after appeal against Los Angeles County's Superior Court judges. He says the judges each accept what he calls yearly "bribes" from the county worth $57,000. That's on top of a $178,789 annual salary, paid by the state. The county calls the extra payments "supplemental benefits" -- a way to attract and retain quality judges in a high-cost city. . . . While the practice of paying supplemental benefits is common in California, most high-cost cities elsewhere don't hand out these kinds of benefits. Judges in Miami, Chicago and Boston receive no extra county dollars.

More details on the Special Investigations Unit's blog


FLORIDA  

New lawyer takes case of Brevard man being sued over eBay comments

By Keyonna Summers • Florida Today

05-24-10 -- A Brevard County lawyer has taken on the case of a Cape Canaveral man facing a $15,000 lawsuit over a negative comment he left on eBay. . . . Michael Steadman is being sued by Miami Beach attorney Elliot Miller over a $44 time clock he bought from Miller on eBay. That's because Steadman, who claims the shipped goods didn't match the advertisement, expressed his opinion about the South Florida lawyer in a buyer's critique: "Bad seller; he has the ethics of a used-car salesman." . . . Miller filed a $15,000 defamation lawsuit. And, so far, it's cost Steadman $7,000 in legal bills and another attorney, who quit because Steadman could no longer afford him. . . . Cape Canaveral attorney Tony Hernandez said he recently filed a motion on behalf of Steadman, seeking to have the case dismissed. . . . Hernandez -- an avid eBayer himself -- said he decided to offer his services because he felt Steadman deserved "his day in court."


CALIFORNIA  

When Are Illegal Judicial Payments Bribes? High Courts to Decide

Full Disclosure Network® Video News Report / PRNewswire-USNewswire

05-17-10 -- A nine-minute news video features two public interest attorneys whose long legal battles against California court corruption have finally reached the highest courts in the land, disclosing their prospects for victory in their two separate cases.  Watch here: http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Blogs/86.php / La County Wins All But 3 Cases In Court  . . . Both cases involve illegal payments made by the County of Los Angeles to State Judges which in court documents have been referred to as "bribes" and address the little known 2009 State legislation (Senate Bill SBX 211) that attempted to make the payments over the past twenty-three years retroactively "legal" along with criminal immunity from prosecution.  On May 20, 2010, the U S Supreme Court, will have before them the issue of illegal payments being used as "bribes" when they consider whether or not to grant a Petition for Writ of Certiorari submitted by Richard I. Fine.  (Richard I. Fine vs LA County Sheriff Leroy Baca Case No. 10-cv-0048)


GEORGIA  

Kilpatrick Stockton’s 4-Year Mentoring Program Sees
‘Wildly Phenomenal’ Results

By Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

05-17-10 -- Kilpatrick Stockton is being credited with a big win, but it has nothing to do with the courtroom. . . . One-hundred of the firm’s lawyers and staffers have been mentoring a group of students at Atlanta's Washington High School for the last four years, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. In 2006, the program had 147 students participating. Now there are only 78 left, but the seniors who stuck with the program have something to show for their participation: 97 percent have been accepted into college. They have been collectively offered 320 scholarships worth about $7.2 million. . . . The Journal-Constitution profiles two members of the group. Class valedictorian Deonte Bridges wants to be an entrepreneur. Veronica Coates wants to be a doctor.


April 2010

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA  

Despite High Court Denial, Battle Over Bikini Atoll Bombing Endures

Congress may be the next venue for attorney Jonathan Weisgall's 35-year fight on behalf of displaced Bikini Atoll residents

Tony Mauro, The National Law Journal

04-26-10 -- Jonathan Weisgall was a new associate at Covington & Burling in 1975 when a partner asked him to take a call about a possible new pro bono client. "Something about atomic bombs," he was told. . . . Ever since, Weisgall has been representing, part time or full time, the displaced residents of the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific, site of dozens of U.S. nuclear bomb tests from 1946 to 1958. Their land was not just taken; some of it was vaporized, and high radioactive levels to this day have kept residents from returning. . . . The long court battle to secure compensation for their losses ended on April 5 when the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the Bikinians' appeal and a related appeal by residents of a nearby atoll. But Weisgall is ready for the next phase -- going to Congress to seek justice. "We exhausted the judicial branch option, but I am not exhausted at all," said Weisgall, now 61. "The story is not over until these people are safely back on their island."


GEORGIA  

Top 8 Reasons to Take Pro Bono Cases
Dawn Levine, Fulton County Daily Report

04-23-10 -- The stress Ms. W was under was evident when she walked in. Her shoulders were bent. Her expression strained. Her hands were clenched tightly around her pocketbook straps. Ms. W sat at my conference table still clutching her purse, perching on the edge of her seat. That was understandable with all she'd been through. Her husband had passed away after an illness full of suffering and pain. He had run up huge credit card bills trying to compensate for his loss of income. He had racked up astronomical medical bills. . . . Now he was gone. And she was alone. And the creditors were calling. From her perspective, this problem was so big she could not believe any attorney would take her case for free. . . . Ms. W came to my office from the Cobb Justice Foundation. Despite their assurances that attorneys take cases like hers on a pro bono basis all the time, she was still waiting to hear that from me. We talked about the options available to her through the probate process for about an hour. . . . As the hour went by she visibly began relaxing. She laughed and cried by turn as we talked about her problems. She relayed little anecdotes about her husband. The end result was we were able to protect her from being put out on the street. . . . Along the way, Ms. W began bringing little tokens of appreciation like homemade cookies, a flower from her garden or a card despite my admonishments. She began bringing in her children to proudly introduce them to "her attorney." I was the first attorney she'd ever had. Even though her case was not financially rewarding, it was a very rich experience just the same. . . . No doubt my paying clients appreciate me, too. It is hard to describe to someone who hasn't experienced it, but the appreciation is different when you've helped someone who had nowhere else to turn. And the appreciation is even more different when the client knows you helped them with no expectation of financial gain.


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February 2010

NEW YORK  

Ethics Rules: Even the NYC Bar Association says lawyer-legislators should comply

By The Post-Standard Editorial Board

02-08-10 -- The ethics bill that flew through the state Legislature last month was far from perfect. One of its more significant flaws was exempting attorney-legislators from the same financial disclosure rules that apply to other lawmakers. . . . The bill exempts legislators who are lawyers from disclosing who their clients are, how much those clients pay and what kinds of services they receive. . . . Gov. David Paterson highlighted that flaw when he vetoed bill. . . . This page has argued that, on balance, the governor should have signed the ethics legislation, flawed as it was, because the alternative may be no ethics legislation at all. But Paterson is right about the attorney exemption. Dozens of legislators are attorneys, and many run active practices. Citizens have the right to know which companies and individuals are paying them for their services — and could have an influence on their behavior as legislators.


TEXAS  

Allure of pro bono work is contagious at Fort Worth law firm

By Darren Barbee, star-telegram.com

02-06-10 -- Billy Ray, 59, needed a divorce, but he had no money for a lawyer and he can't read or write. . . . Nevertheless, the attorney who represented him was from one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in Tarrant County: Cantey Hanger. Over its more than 125 years, the firm has counted Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, local utilities and other institutions among its clients. . . . About a year ago, a judge asked Billy Ray, a former Fort Worth city employee, some questions and then granted the divorce. To protect his privacy, the Star-Telegram isn't fully identifying him. . . . "I don't think I could have done any better if I had went and hired me a lawyer," he said. "I doubt I could, because they were so nice." . . . His attorney from Cantey Hanger, Philip Vickers, worked the case pro bono after volunteering for the Fort Worth branch of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, which helps the poor in legal disputes. . . . Vickers' enthusiasm for helping out -- he finished one case, then took on another without hesitation -- was contagious. Now, 16 Cantey Hanger attorneys have agreed to accept at least two pro bono cases each from Legal Aid -- the largest such partnership in the nonprofit's 59-year history.


The 5 Creepiest Defense Attorney Websites

By Soren Bowie, Cracked.com  Jan 29, 2010


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA  

Washington Attorney Transforms Lives

Jeff Swicord | Washington, DC

02-05-10 -- Millions of people are living in the streets of America's cities and small towns.  They sleep on park benches and in subways.  Some suffer from addiction or mental illness; others are just down on their luck.  Most people walk by them, hardly noticing them. VOA introduces us to one man in Washington D.C. who took the time to stop and say hello, and at the same time transformed his own life. . . . As the sun rises over the nation's capital, Jonathan George begins to stir under his blankets on the steps of Capitol Hill United Methodist Church. Then, Rob Farley, a Washington Attorney and member of the congregation, shows up, fresh from his morning run. . . . Two years ago, people in the neighborhood began to complain about the homeless sleeping on the church steps.  So, Rob began to wake up the men each morning and get them moving along. Then something unusual happened: One of them asked for a cup of coffee. "And I was like, oh, I don't want to do this.  But it was cold, so I said sure, come in and get a cup of coffee.  So, I brewed a pot," he explained. . . . Initially it was just coffee. Then other homeless men started coming, and coffee grew into breakfast and friendship. "This is where we hang out.  we come in, I get the coffee going.  Victor is downstairs preparing some soup.   And then we get, uh, guys start coming in," he said.


MASSACHUSETTS   

Boston Lawyer Sues Police, City Over His Arrest for Recording an Arrest

Boston attorney Howard Friedman

Sheri Qualters, The National Law Journal

02-02-10 -- Massachusetts lawyer Simon Glik is suing three Boston police officers and the city in Boston federal court for arresting him after he used his cell phone to record an arrest. . . . The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts filed Glik v. Cunniffe in the District of Massachusetts on Monday, along with Boston attorney Howard Friedman. . . . Glik was arrested in October 2007 after openly using his cell phone to record police allegedly using force during a Boston arrest. The Boston Municipal Court threw out the case after four months. At the time of his arrest, Glik was a recent New England School of Law graduate, who had just wrapped up a clerkship with the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Department.


SUPREME COURT REPORT

A Touch of Terror?

Court looks at free speech vs. material support for terrorism

By David G. Savage, ABA Journal magazine

02-01-10 -- Ralph Fertig believes in peaceful social advocacy—and he has the scars to prove it. In 1961, he was a young social worker in Chicago when he journeyed to Alabama and rode with the Freedom Riders to integrate the interstate buses. He was arrested and beaten in a Selma jail, leaving him with broken ribs, but he calls it “one of the proudest moments of my life.” . . . To his surprise, however, he has been caught in a long legal fight with the U.S. government over whether he can engage in peaceful advocacy in this country for another aggrieved minority: the Kurds in southeastern Turkey. . . . This time, Fertig’s efforts have spawned the U.S. Supreme Court’s first major test of whether the war on terrorism conflicts with the free speech principles of the First Amendment. As the government’s lawyers see it, Fertig’s advocacy for the Kurds could amount to “material support” for terrorism, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison. . . . “I am opposed to violence of all sorts. It seems crazy to me that I could go to jail for trying to persuade people to use nonviolent means to achieve their rights,” says Fertig, now 79 and president of the Los Angeles-based Humanitarian Law Project, a nonprofit human rights organization begun in 1985. The case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, is scheduled for oral argument on Feb. 23.


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January 2010

TEXAS  

Haynes and Boone partner donating kidney to staffer's son today

Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, Texas Lawyer Blog

01-28-10 -- Haynes and Boone partner Matthew Deffebach(pictured) of Houston spent much of January preparing his labor and employment practice for a month-long hiatus while he recovers from elective surgery scheduled for today. Deffebach isn’t in ill health. Instead, the 39-year-old father of three is donating a kidney to the son of a longtime Haynes and Boone staffer. After learning in November 2009 that the Dallas man who is in dire need of a kidney transplant is married and the father of a 6-year-old boy, Deffebach decided he would do some medical testing to see if he might be a good kidney donor. As it turned out, Deffebach’s kidney was a good match, and he’s healthy, so the lawyer agreed to donate his kidney. *****According to Deffebach, the man suffers from Berger’s disease, which can cause renal failure. . . . UPDATE: Doug Bedell, manager of marketing communication for Haynes and Boone, says Wilson reports that the surgeries went smoothly and the kidney started functioning immediately after the transplant. Bedell says Wilson told the firm that everyone is overjoyed.


GEORGIA  

To Haiti and Back: 'I Saw Things I Wish I'd Never Seen,' Says Sutherland Partner

Ross Todd, The American Lawyer

01-27-10 -- In the days following the earthquake that hit Haiti on Jan. 12, The Am Law Daily checked in with a number of law firms that were organizing relief efforts. We were impressed by how quickly the firms mobilized, announcing contributions and other forms of support. . . . One firm's announcement stood out. Sutherland Asbill & Brennan's employees would contribute to ServeHAITI, a faith-based organization that works on the ground in the Caribbean nation. Additionally, partner Peter Anderson planned to travel to the country together with two American doctors to volunteer in any way needed. Anderson, a board member and treasurer of the nonprofit, set out for Haiti on Monday, Jan. 18. He returned home to Georgia one week later. We spoke with him shortly after his return about ServeHAITI's mission and efforts, and about the enormity of the challenges faced by the people of Haiti.


CALIFORNIA

My Dad Tried to Right a Wrong, Now He's Behind Bars Unjustly

Victoria Fine, Editor, HuffPost Impact    

01-12-10 -- As an editor at Huffington Post Impact, I have the honor of reporting daily the generous acts of others and the devastating issues that our communities have yet to address sufficiently to make this world a safe and healthy place for everyone. . . . I empathize with the subjects of our articles on a very personal level. My own parents are uninsured, facing foreclosure of their house, and my father is unjustly in jail. All because of his compulsion to help others. . . . Many of you may be familiar with California's budget mess. Around the state, parks are being closed, tuition hiked and state workers laid off in an attempt to salvage a very bad financial situation, one that is rife with misuse of funds and, in some cases, corruption. My father is a respected lawyer and has, for the last decade, dedicated his career to retrieving as much of these wrongly funneled funds back to taxpayers like you and me. . . . He is 69 years old, (he turns 70 on the Friday after next) and is known for his dapper bow ties and for seeing the world in strict terms of right and wrong. And since March, he has been taken a political prisoner of the L.A. County Jail System. . . . In a country that prides itself on its adherence to the rule of law, my father has been in solitary confinement for more than nine months, deprived initially of paper, pen and telephone, without any legal charges being filed or indication of length of his incarceration. His crime? His belief that $300 million dollars in taxpayer money should be legally spent. And suggesting that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David P. Yaffe had violated state law by accepting bribes from a party before him in court -- namely, Los Angeles County. My father is being held in contempt of court by the judge he has embarrassed. . . . You can learn more about my father's situation and how you can help on his supporters' site.


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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA  

Former BigLaw Attorney Spends His Mornings Feeding the Homeless

By Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

01-06-10 -- A lawyer who formerly practiced labor and employment law at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has switched to the plaintiffs side—at the same time that he made a switch in his morning routine. . . . For the past year, Washington, D.C., lawyer Rob Farley has been helping feed breakfast to the homeless at the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church. The Washington Post has the story in its “On Faith” column. . . . “For Farley, the routine has given his faith a purpose, his vow to be a better person a tangible test,” the story says. . . . “This was a guy who, until a few years ago, couldn't remember going to church aside from the time that, decades ago, his mother threatened to take away his Super Bowl-watching privileges if he didn't attend. A guy whose initial intention was just to end his morning jog by waking the homeless and kindly urging them to move on.


CALIFORNIA  

Judicial Bias Out of Control in SF Superior Court

by Dean Preston‚ Beyond Chron   Jan. 05‚ 2010

01-05-10 -- As 2009 drew to a close, the Appellate Panel at SF Superior Court quietly upheld the eviction of long-term San Francisco resident, Susan Suval. Without any explanation, the court rubber-stamped the erroneous trial court ruling that allowed a landlord to invoke the Ellis Act despite a written agreement with the City that he would do no such thing. . . . The case stands as the latest example of judicial bias against renters in San Francisco’s Superior Courts. Despite its progressive political climate, San Francisco continues to be one of the worst places in California when it comes to judicial bias against tenants. / Suval Eviction – From Bad to Worse  . . . I previously reported on the illegal eviction of Susan Suval. Suval’s landlord initiated an Ellis Act eviction in direct violation of his written agreement with the City to continue renting to low-income tenants for five years. The judge refused to even allow the jury to hear evidence at trial of the landlord’s agreement with the City, assuring a victory for the landlord. . . . The judicial proceedings in this case are best summarized in the words of Fielding Melish, Woody Allen’s character in the movie Bananas: “This trial is a travesty. It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.” Suval’s attorney, Raquel Fox, must have used every ounce of restraint not to say something along these lines at trial. . . .

Dean Preston is an attorney and director of Tenants Together, California’s Statewide Organization for Renters’ Rights.

For more information about Tenants Together, go to www.tenantstogether.org.


National Law Journal Pro Bono Awards

The National Law Journal

01-04-10 -- Every year at this time, The National Law Journal bestows its Pro Bono Awards on lawyers doing exemplary work upholding the principle that justice shouldn't be contingent on one's ability to pay. We looked for firms that contributed substantial time and money to the cause and gave bonus points if the lawyers risked opprobrium by standing up for unpopular people and causes. We don't pretend this is anything but our subjective judgment. We received nominations for dozens of firms that easily could qualify for inclusion and regret that we lack the space to write about more of them. Here are the firms we honor this year.

Better to light a candle ...

Firms are using pro bono to train young attorneys, and aren't afraid to take on tough cases.

It took a 'village' to block bottling project

A Manatt team worked with scientists, anglers and community organizers to beat Nestlé.

A rookie sets a precedent and maybe saves a life
How a Jenner & Block associate made her appellate debut at the highest court.

Asylum cases keep her on the cutting edge

Reed Smith's Jayne Fleming is building a human-rights infrastructure.

Firm rode to rescue of senior citizens, disabled

Munger Tolles took on Social Security for cutting off people for crimes they didn't commit.


NEW YORK  

Lawyers Target 'Assembly Line' Practice, Abuse of Poor Immigrants

By Mark Hamblett | New York Law Journal | New York Lawyer

01-04-10 -- A movement in the legal community to increase pro bono representation of indigent immigrants and weed out incompetent or unscrupulous lawyers who prey on them is gathering momentum. . . . A group of some 40 to 50 lawyers has been meeting regularly to analyze what is widely regarded as a broken system where many indigent immigrants lack the information and advice they need about asylum applications and other immigration procedures. . . . The meetings, held periodically at the federal courthouse, were initiated by Second Circuit Judge Robert Katzmann, who has made addressing the unmet needs of the immigrant poor his signature issue. . . . "This is a unique effort, and it's the kind of effort that can be replicated in other circuits." Judge Katzmann said in a recent interview. "You have lawyers, as part of their responsibility to the larger community, willing to roll up their sleeves and think conceptually about how to best improve the delivery of services to the poor."


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MASSACHUSETTS

Barbara Johnson, Author, Civil & Criminal Litigation Attorney

Amazon is a Victims-of-Law Advertiser

Attorney Barbara Johnson believes:

- Americans should have a common purpose
- Americans do not want bitter partisan debates
- Americans do not want "gender wars" and "culture wars"
- Americans want simple problems solved, without regard to special interests.

In her bestseller, Behind the Black Robes: Failed Justice, Attorney Johnson covers every conceivable topic regarding judges, their decisions, and how Americans are victimized by the judicial system. Some of the subjects she hits on are immunity and the pseudo Eleventh Amendment; quasi-judicial, prosecutorial, and qualified Immunities, which she terms “Protecting Judges, Parasites, the Other Enemies of the People”; legal malpractice or “foxes guarding the chicken coops”; problems with transcription companies; intimidation and insolence of judges; rape and date rape; child protection agency cases and governmental kidnapping; fraud and complicity by the Court; child custody; divorce; immigration fraud, and so much more.

Of greatest concerns to her are the immunity enjoyed by our judicial system, and the federal annual bonuses to the States, of which she believes, if abolished, our judicial ills would be cured immediately.

Barbara Johnson is a graduate of the New England School of Law: J.D., and earned her B.A. from Bennington College, along with attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Center of International Relations, and Middlebury College’s Russian Summer School.

She was awarded the West Publishing Company Corpus Juris Secundum Series Award, 1987, for highest annual scholastic average, and had her papers selected for the Nathan Burkan Memorial Competition (sponsored by ASCAP: "Patent or Copyright Protection for Computer Programs: A Traditional Legal Comparative Analysis Overlayed with a Linguistic Theory" by the Dean of New England Law School to Competition). She has trial and appellate experience in Massachusetts Superior, District, Probate & Family Courts, Appeals Court, Supreme Judicial Court, U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, has appearedd pro hac vice in the U.S. District Courts in Concord, New Hampshire, and Portland, Maine,and U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Mrs. Johnson now lives in Costa Rica.


December 2009

CALIFORNIA  

Ninth Circuit Cover-Up of Court Corruption Unpublished: Judicial Recusal at Issue

Full Disclosure Network(R) Video (6 min)

PRNewswire-USNewswire

12-21-09 -- Full Disclosure Network® presents a six minute video news report at the URL: http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Blogs/83.php in the ongoing cable TV series entitled "Judicial Benefits & Court Corruption". On December 16, 2009 a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals three judge panel issued an "unpublished" decision in the contempt of court case involving jailed Anti-Trust Attorney Richard I. Fine. When Fine learned the opinion was designated as "unpublished" and "not be used as precedent" he described the three Judge panel's opinion (Reinhardt, Trott, Wardlaw) as having "succumbed to the cancer of corruption and the criminals in judicial robes." http://www.scribd.com/doc/24355674/9thCircuitDenialWHC12-16-09  . . . This statement from Richard I. Fine is featured in both transcript and video form on the www.fulldisclosure.net website and provides the audio clips from a telephone interview conducted by Leslie Dutton of the Full Disclosure Network®. Fine has been held in solitary "coercive confinement" in the Los Angeles County Central Men's jail for almost ten months, since March 4, 2009. . . . http://www.fulldisclosure.net/news/2009/12/ninth-circuit-covers-up-court.html


Remarks of Judge Seymour D. Thompson in an address before the Bar Association of Texas in 1896 (30 Am. Law Rev., 678).

1896 -- After referring to many cases in which the court had exercised authority beyond their rightful powers, he thus sums up, in language which reproduced below for its intrinsic power. Judge Thompson said:

There is danger, real danger, that the people will see at one sweeping glance that all the powers of their governments, Federal and State, lie at the feet of us lawyers—that is to say, at the feet of a judicial oligarchy; that those powers are being steadily exercised in behalf of the wealthy and powerful classes and to the prejudice of the scattered and segregated people; that the power thus seized includes the power of amending the Constitution; the power of superintending the action, not merely of Congress, but also of the State legislature; the power of degrading the powers of the [ 19 ] two houses of Congress, in making those investigations which they may deem necessary to wise legislation, to the powers which an English court has ascribed to British colonial legislatures; the power of superintending the judiciary of the States, of annulling their judgments and of commanding them what judgments to render; the power of denying to Congress the power to raise revenue by a method employed by all governments; making the fundamental sovereign powers of government, such as the power of taxation, the subject of mere barter between corrupt legislatures and private adventurers; holding that a venal legislature temporarily invested with power may corruptly bargain away those essential attributes of sovereignty, and for all time; that corporate franchises bought from corrupt legislatures are sanctified and placed forever beyond recall by the people; that great trusts and combinations may place their yoke upon the necks of people of the United States, who must groan forever under their weight, without remedy and without hope; that trial by jury and the ordinary criminal justice of the State which ought to be kept near the people are to be set aside and Federal court injunctions substituted therefor; that those injunctions extend to preventing laboring men from quitting their employment, although they are liable to be discharged by their employers at any hour, thus creating and perpetuating a state of slavery. There is danger that the people will see these things all at once; see their enrobed judges doing their thinking on the side of the rich and powerful; see them look with solemn cynicism upon the sufferings of the masses nor heed the earthquake when it begins to rock beneath their feet; see them present a spectacle not unlike that of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. There is danger that the people will see all this at one sudden glance, and that the furies will then break loose, and that all hell will ride on their wings.

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"Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; and to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary. But no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent."

--John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

 


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INAUGURATED ON: January 7, 2010
Updated: 01/09/2012