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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Casual Attitude Toward Court Corruption Now Accepted Culture

A troubling look back to understand the current mess....

Justices Consider How the Taint of a Corrupt Judge Should Be Measured and Remedied
The New York Times by LINDA GREENHOUSE - April 15, 1997

A corrupt Chicago judge, now serving a 16-year sentence in Federal prison, took bribes to fix murder cases. Today the Supreme Court wrestled with the question of whether to presume that the judge's corruption may also have tainted the trials of defendants who did not bribe him, and, if so, what the legal consequences of such an assumption should be. The Court heard an appeal by an Illinois death-row inmate, convicted of triple murder after a trial in the judge's courtroom in which no bribe was sought and none was paid. The inmate's lawyer is arguing that the defense is entitled to question the judge, Thomas Maloney, and others to build a case that the trial was fundamentally unfair because there is a substantial possibility that Judge Maloney was unduly harsh in the non-bribe cases to deflect attention from his leniency in the others. The Justices were clearly troubled by the tawdry and undisputed facts about Judge Maloney, one of 18 Cook County judges to be convicted on corruption charges in the last 10 years in a major Federal-state investigation known as Operation Greylord. Yet at the same time, the Justices were also troubled by the question of how to proceed in a case that itself lacks a definitive link between corruption and outcome, and in which a ruling in the defendant's favor could conceivably unsettle verdicts in hundreds or thousands of other cases.

"You're saying that once on the take, a judge can never be trusted to be unbiased," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said to Gilbert H. Levy, the lawyer representing the inmate, William Bracy. Mr. Levy replied, "Someone with so little concern for his oath of office that he takes bribes to fix murder cases'' should indeed be presumed to have presided over a fundamentally corrupt courtroom. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said to Mr. Levy: "This judge handled 6,000 criminal cases. By your standard, they are all out the window. We're talking about a lot of cases." When Mr. Levy filed his Supreme Court appeal for Mr. Bracy last year, he sought reversal of the conviction on the ground that Judge Maloney's known behavior amounted to a "structural defect" that deprived Mr. Bracy of the "bedrock constitutional right to be tried before a fair and impartial judge." The Justices, however, offered him something less in agreeing to hear the case in January, announcing that they would consider only whether Mr. Bracy was entitled to "discovery to support his claim that he was denied the right to a trial before an impartial judge." So the only question before the Court was by what standard a convicted defendant like Mr. Bracy should be able to compel a judge and other witnesses to answer his questions under oath. The question was phrased at the usual level of abstraction for a Supreme Court case; the Court's goal is to define general rules rather than dispense individual justice in the 80 or so cases it chooses to decide from among the 8,000 appeals that reach it every year.

Yet given the troublesome context of judicial corruption -- emphasized in a friend-of-the-court brief from 30 leading Chicago lawyers and law professors who asked the Court to demonstrate "zero tolerance for the venality" displayed by Judge Maloney -- the Justices appeared unusually concerned about finding out what may have happened during Mr. Bracy's trial. They questioned Mr. Levy closely about the type of evidence he would try to extract if permitted to conduct discovery. Mr. Levy's theory was that Judge Maloney was motivated to make sure that defendants in cases in which he did not take bribes were convicted, to balance the cases in which he traded leniency for money. The lawyer now wants to talk to participants in other trials the judge conducted around the same time as Mr. Bracy's trial in 1981. Both Justices David H. Souter and John Paul Stevens told Barbara A. Preiner, the Illinois Solicitor General who was arguing that Mr. Bracy was not entitled to any further proceedings, that his request appeared at least reasonable.

Justice Stevens said the case was not like many other requests for discovery, which he called "fishing expeditions." There was "some factual basis" for taking a "harder look," he said, adding: "It's perfectly obvious something might be learned in discovery." Ms. Preiner replied, "With all due respect, this is a fishing expedition." She said there was strong evidence of Mr. Bracy's guilt, "no evidence of bias" by Judge Maloney against him, and "no valid basis to upset the conviction." The Justices who were openly troubled by the state's position did not include Justice Antonin Scalia, who said that Mr. Bracy's case "rests on a series of assumptions that are not necessarily self-evident." Addressing Mr. Levy, the inmate's lawyer, Justice Scalia said he thought it just as likely that rather than punishing those who did not pay bribes, a judge taking bribes to favor some defendants would be lenient in other cases as well to avoid calling attention to his behavior.

"He would look worse if he were a hanging judge in most cases and a bleeding heart in some," Justice Scalia said, adding: "The fact that he was dishonest when he was given money doesn't mean he was dishonest when he was not given money." Mr. Bracy, whose conviction was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1985, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal District Court in Chicago in 1993, shortly after Judge Maloney's criminal conviction. The District Court denied his petition, as did the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, which held that a defendant in Mr. Bracy's position "must show either the actuality, rather than just the appearance, of judicial bias, or a possible temptation so severe that we might presume an actual, substantial incentive to be biased." The case is Bracy v. Gramley, No. 96-6133.

In another case today, the Court agreed to decide whether the Government violated the constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy by prosecuting three former bank officers on criminal charges after the men had already paid civil penalties for violating Federal regulations in their management of five banks in Oklahoma. Whether combined criminal prosecution and administrative penalties amounts to double jeopardy has been a troublesome question for both the Court and the Justice Department. In this case, Hudson v. United States, No. 96-976, the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, upheld the prosecution. The Government has recently filed a Supreme Court appeal in a separate case, Metzler v. S. A. Healy Company, No. 96-1299, in which the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could not impose an administrative fine for conduct that had already been the subject of a criminal prosecution.


Anonymous said...

When are all the NY Judges going to be prosecuted and sent to jail? Are we to reward them for sometimes acting honorably? Have they asked Saint Andrew (patron saint of corked lawyers and judges) what should be done?

Anonymous said...

The judges that I came to know and work with, displayed conduct that was similar or worse than what I knew of them in legal practice. So if the question is whether they threw cases when not compensated finacially..I would say absolutely....esp. if it had "favor" compensation for the robe!
I would also, if I was an atty, check out any court reporter, where there is proof that they altered transcripts or worked with a judge known to be corrupt. I have proof of one and if I was a lawyer, I would insist that it be revealed.
The justice system today unfortunately, is one that can be bought by many means. Since we have no accountability for our judicial system, it is naive to believe that many judges and at their behest, court reporters, are rigging cases in large numbers. Look at Wall Street...that is the reflection of our justice system...if you really need an example!
Why argue case by case, these judicial corruption issues, when a cheaper and more logical method would be to establish accountability, before America collapses from this weak and unstable infrastructure of governement's continued serious misconduct!
Lots of people have lots of information to begin the judicial removals and establish the accountability!
Why then is it being judges, decent, and legal minds???

Anonymous said...

i agree with the above and guess there should be an all out campaign to put the legislature and governor on notice that these issues need to be taken seriously. unfortunately one of the problems seems to be that folks who are the victims have been so beaten down by the system that they either give up or believe no change is possible. any suggestions to help bring this needed change movement forward is appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone who is going to actually put the governor no notice?

Anonymous said...

Ooops! That should be on notice.

Anonymous said...

New York's corrupt courts make Chicago's stuff look like kid's stuff.

Anonymous said...

The bad apples have corrupted the barrel. Saint Andrew seeks beatitude for aiding corrupt judges and lawyers. Maybe,Saint Andrew will realize the Pope will not submit his name for beatitude; Saint Andrew, you've cast your lot elsewhere. Patterson is our next great black hope.

Anonymous said...

I made three charges against a Suffolk County Judge. I will leave his name out of it as the NYS Commissiion on Judicial Conduct gave him a free pass. I am not an attorney, and cannot speak to the legal merits of my charges.

The charges were:

1. He should have recused himself because he had too much prior knowledge of the case when he gave the informant a free pass for his promised testimony. He all but gushed over him at the plea deal. And it was proven beyond any doubt the witness lied to him at that hearing.

2. I advised him that an attorney that set this case in motion was in a serious conflict of interest. The attorney represented two clients, the latter giving testimony against the former. The result being a third party was charged and convicted in this purposeful lie. The judge, according to my reading of the rules requires the judge to notify the appropriate authority to investigate attorney misconduct. It appears as though he did not. But I did, and the Grivenance Committee has this case since July 2007. I would assume my charges are 'credible', or to the extent it has now been more than 16 months under investigation.

3. The judge caused the official trial record sent to the Appellate Court to be changed. We had the daily records and compared it to the official record and the following passage was missing:

Judge: Mr.T-----, I know where you are going with this, and if you do so I am going to call a mistrial. You do so at your own peril.

Mr.T : I understand your instructions, judge, and I am going to do so anyway.

And that is exactly what he did only moments later when he goaded a witness to utter a highly prejudical remark for the jury to hear. A matter that was ruled on at pre-trial hearings, and several side bars while this was developing.

That entire passage has gone MISSING from the trial transcript.

I received ONLY one communication from the CJC, and that was from a female named that identified herself as "Jamie". No title given, no last name given, and no phone number contact given.

The only information I was required to submit evidence for was ITEM#2 - the judge's failure, or apparent failure to notify the appropriate authority.

As to charges: #1 and #3. I have to assume the CJC did nothing with them.

I should add that an old friend of 40 years, a person of the HIGHEST authority on matters of CJC told me NOT to bother making the complaint. It was going to be ignored. He was right, of course, and I never believed otherwise. I just did what I had to do. Now I can post it on a Blog Board such as this one.

Anonymous said...


The lying informant told the judge on 7/2/04, or when he set his no jail plea in motion that he committed 38 violent felonies. He admitted to two crimes to cover the entire 38 crimes. One crime he admitted to was an armed robbery of a Strathmore Bagel Company on 7/25/00, at 4088 Nesconst Hwy, Nesconset, NY. That is the same Strathmore of Tankleff Infamy, for those that followed that case. It was also the same Det.Sgt that was involved in the Tankleff Case and this case I am referring to.

The same informant gave a detailed statement to Suffolk detectives on 11/13/03 as to the defendant - to - be was at the Strathmore acting as a look out by using a police radio to monitor the calls. THE DEFENDANT TO BE WAS IN SPAIN AT THE TIME.

The informant would repeat that lie before the same judge at the trial in January of 2006. He would get cauught. The judge had told him at the allocution: "that if something so shocks the consciense...and I don't anticipate that happening, I will withdraw this deal.....'

The judge let the man go scot free with no bail so they miscreant could return to Boca Raton, Florida to get his phony mortgage, real estate, title companies, and his steroid business in full swing.

Nothing seems to shock the conscience of this judge, or for most Suffolk judges.

The judge seemed to be more concerned about his career than he was about justice. His career hinges on the favor of the DA, a miscreant who was front and center in the 1989 SIC Investigation along with the attorney I mentioned in the previous post that had a conflict of interest.

As SIC Chair David Trager said in 1989: If this isn't fixed immediately the entire criminal justice system will be infected - or words to that extent. Mr.Trager is now federal judge Trager, and his reputation is above reproach. The only mistake in that statement is: The entire criminal justice system in Suffolk county at that time was not only infected, but the 'patient' was long dead.

Anonymous said...

The Westchester County NY court system is one of the most corrupt in the country. The Marital Part has been publicly called to the carpet, judges are stragetically moved when they are under suspicion. Why is there no accouintability? Law Guardians are ruining families with a right of entitlement attitude, they have absolutely no accountability. The children loose the rights that they were hired to protect. It is all about MONEY. How can this continue to go on un addressed? When will someone with some backbone take action. When the victims speak out, they are labled as angry sore losers, crazy, NOT CREDIBLE... there is no recourse! When a lawyer gets reported to the grievance committee the complaint gets brushed under the carpet. It is tantamount to the blue wall of silence, we know exists with the police departments all over the country.

Anonymous said...

Very similar problems go on with the Family and Matrimonial Courts in an upstate County an hour and a half north up the Hudson from Westchester. I am also familiar with similar actions in the Dutchess County Family and Matrimonial system as well.

And yes, what is done to the Children and Families by the Family Court "Professionals", the Law Guardians, Court, Assigned Counsel, DSS is Horrible at minimum.

I spoke out against a pattern of corruption in these courts and was disbarred several months ago.

In one instance a Law Guardian and Assigned Counsel repeatedly stated that a Woman had not completed a Substance Abuse evaluation which actually had been completed 6 months before, NO problems, and was Fully Reported to the Law Guardian, Family Court and DSS authorities and was in FACT sitting in the Files of the Law Guardian and Family Court.

This is not only knowingly making a false Official Record as this is Fraud on the Tribunal before the Tribunal ( the Family Court ) but this False Issue of allegedly not having completed an Evaluation was used as further basis to deny Constitutionally protected Family and Child contact rights.

So in essence, the Law Guardian and Assigned Counsel and Family Court Judge were all participating in a knowing scheme to deny and interfere with fundamental Constitutional rights and liberties while committing fraud and the like in the process.

None of these folks have been investigated by the oversight authorities and sworn testimony exists in the records showing how neither the Commission on Judicial Conduct nor the Attorney Standards Committee ever bothered to contact or pursue any of these matters even though the proof of the misconduct was clearly in their possession.

Only federal intervention or Major statewide action through a Special Prosecutor and or Attorney General will be of any assistance but Legislative action and hearings at state and federal level could help as well.

As an aside, not a single client testified against me in the suspension and disbarment proceedings and to the contrary, all clients that testified supported my attempts in practice to do the right things.

Anonymous said...

I voted earlier today knowing that no matter who I voted for in the presidential election it will make not one wit of difference.

The NYS Grievance Committee and the NYS CJC are only instruments of the system that protects itself from being exposed.

It is kind of discouraging to go into the appellate court with an appeal and have many prominent attorneys, judges, and former judges tell you don't count on a fair hearing. The worse part of it all is they were right.

Had it not been for the overwhelming publicity in the Marty Tankleff case, Marty Tankleff would be spending the rest of his life in a cell.

The law, justice, common sense, and the facts have nothing to do with a court's decision in a majority of cases.

Nobody wants to fix it, and no one really cares.

In the case that I speak about and made charges to the CJC and Grievance Committee, I first filed a complaint with the 10th Judicial Committee to review my charges that a principal attorney in this case had a serious conflict of interest: He represented one client in a previous case that in my opinion is directly related to the second case. The attorney brought his first client to the police and DA and allowed his second client to give testimony against his former client.

The attorney took a $5,000.00 retainer to review the wiretap evidence in the first case, and then said he was not the attorney, but merely a 'research assistant' for the lead attorney.

Of course the attorney did NOT impart any confidential information to the second client or the DA of his first client. The first client was deemed to be an unindicted co-defendant in a case against the defendant charged.

That attorney's client became the propety of the DA and police on 10/23/03, and subsequently gave statements against the attorney's first client as early as that date. This continued until the trial on Jan 2006. The 2nd client continued to lie throughout this period of more than 2 years, the DA did nothing to confirm or deny his testimony.

The 2nd client would emphatically state at the January 2006 trial that another person was at the crime scene of a crime charged that was allegedly committed by him on 11/8/99. He went into great detail as to what that person was doing at the crime scene, and stated it many times over. On cross, the witness was made to be a liar as it was conclusively proven that the person he said was at the crime scene with him and the defendant charged in this case was in a Virginia Jail serving time for Manslaughter. He continued to insist that person was there. He finally relented, and on re-direct offered another person as the one doing what he said the other one who was in jail was said to have done.

The ADA would tell the jury in his summation that the defense attorney made such a big deal of this gaffee, big deal. He then tells the jury that both he and the police KNEW that person was in jail. Then he has the unmitigated gall to tell the jury that by allowing him to tell this lie is proof that the DA and police were telling the truth. Why else would they allow him to say this? Good question.

The DA then attempts to excuse this lie by offering proof that he told the defense of this situation when they gave this information in Rosario material. Yes, he did, but he didn't know he gave it to us because he never read it. That Rosario material was given to the defense attorney on a late Sunday night before the trial began the next day. It was thrown haphazardly in two boxes, and puroposely unsorted as to bog down the defense with a pile of other meaningless reports.

The sacred obligation of a DA or an attorney is to expose a mistruth when they became aware of it. It is NOT for the defense attorney to expose, but for the person who knows of it when he is said he knew of it. There is no excuse in the law or the canons of ethics to account for this.

THE DA told the jury, and then told the Grievance Committee that he did in fact KNOW of this, and tries to explain it was available to the defense. NONSENSE.

And what has the trial court and the appellate court done about this? Nothing.

This is now left to the Grievance Committee to investigate and pass their findings to the very same appellate court that upheld one of the convictions of three burglaries.

My feeling are is that the Grievance Committee investigator has taken these charges VERY seriouosly and is making a sincere effort to get to the bottom of this. I am afraid he is going to be stifled in his final report by those that need the protection of a favorable decision for the DA.

More than 2 years to get it right, and the DA was so arrogant and so comfortable knowing he could get away with a sloppy and frame job that he didn't bother to get the facts right.

Anonymous said...

What is totally outrageous about this case is that it was prosecuted by Suffolk DA Spota. Spota was mentioned in a very unfavorable light by the NYS SIC in it's 1989 scathing report of misconduct by the SCDA and PD. Mr.Spota was then a private attorney who was said to have passed out his business cards to police officers for referrals. It was also stated by the SIC that there was an arrangement for those officers to receive compensation for those referrals should Spota retain those referred clients.

He is now the District Attorney.

The attorney that I mentioned with the conflict of interest was also mentioned in that SIC Report. It was alleged that while he was acting as the Chief ADA of the Narcotics Bureau that he was aware of, and encouraged detectives to place illegl wiretaps by using an altered pen register. He was also accused of allowing tainted witnesses to testify in criminal cases, witnesses that there was testimony that he was told that they were not reliable.

See above post as to his 'expertise' sought in the wiretap case he was ONLY a 'research assistant' for.

Mr.Spota's now Chief Investigator, and SCPD police inspector that commands the detectives that investigated the case I speak of was himself mentioned indirectly in the 1979 murder case of a John Pius Jr. At that time this Chief Inv. and Police Inspector was then a 14 year old punk that came forward, or more likely was made to come forward and gave information to guess who - Tom Spota that eventually resulted ( it went on for 11 years ) in convictions of three teenagers for that murder. The testimony that this young man, now a police detective gave in one of the later trials in 1992 was seriously conflicted by the victim's father at the trial.

The detectives that investigated that homicide case almost 30 years ago are now civilian investigators for Tom Spota - retired as SCPD detectives and now receive up to 110K+ a year. At least one of them who caused the reversals of those defendants now works under the command of the same 14 year old that he investigated in 1979 to 1991.

NO, my friends, you can't make this stuff up.

Corruption is alive and well in Suffolk County and there is NOT one person of courage that will expose it for what it is - with the exception of a former County Judge named Stuart Namm. That judge caused the 1989 SIC report to be made, and for his reward he was denied his own party's nomination for re-election. Then, private attorney Tom Spota led the charge for the police union that he then reprsented as their in house counsel.

Anonymous said...

I dealt with the CJC for about 2 plus years, a while back, as a non-lawyer, and I will be blunt with all of you about what they really do!

They play footsy with each other, all the while they are talking to you about serious judicial matters!

This is not a lie and if you are attractive, they call you into these meetings several times a week until the judicial slaughter is complete... however many years it takes. come to know them and have this knowledge about them, like you are employed and sitting next to them for that lenghty period.

They may also kiss you before the hearing...while you are distracted, knowing no one would believe you, if you told them...but it happens!

This is what goes on and why they only deal with the town and justice courts..they have more play time and little political confrontation!

So, when you think they can help you...forget it and take on the judge in another of your choice, because no one is monitoring the children AT the CJC!

Anonymous said...

interesting comments above about the cjc which a lot of folks are looking at these days. write to if you can and begin the info sharing process

Anonymous said...

How the CJC could possibly rule on a case where I said the judge altered the trial record is a mystery to me. All I got was that there was an investigation and they found no wrongdoing on the judge's part. I was NOT asked for the daily sheets provided to the defense where the judge warned the ADA. And where the ADA said he was going to do it anyway. I have no record that the court stenographer was interviewed regarding this matter.

If the record was altered as I said it was then it was ONLY the judge that had an interest in doing so. I have been told that this matter was the talk of the courthouse when it happened. Everybody knew about it and it was grist for the mill for many weeks.

The CJC did nothing as far as I can tell. I can't tell because they won't tell me what they did to rule in the negative on my three complaints.

Truth is that a person known to me of much prominence in the legal community told me to forget about it. Nothing is going to happen with the CJC, and most likely the Grievance Committee in my charges against the attorney and the ADA.

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
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               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2