(LINK to photo at bottom of this post);
This article, plus reacting comments, is from a legal blog (trackback below);
BARRY GOLDSTEIN, Esq.
The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department imposed a five year suspension of an attorney found to have committed a laundry list of ethics violations in two matters. One involved misuse of funds entrusted to the attorney in connection with his representation of a not-for-profit tenants housing resource center; the other involved representations to and about a court in a domestic relations case where custody had been transferred from his client to her ex-husband:
The respondent represented Yevgenia Shockome, the mother in the child custody matter, and in a divorce action in the Supreme Court. The respondent wrote an article entitled, “A Call for Genia’s Law by Barry L. Goldstein, Stop Family Violence,” which was posted on a web site for the Battered Mothers’ Custody Conference as part of a campaign to free the respondent’s client, who had been imprisoned after being held in contempt by Judge Amodeo. One or more of the following excerpts from that article were dishonest, false, or misleading:
i. “Without an evidentiary hearing or any written explanation, Judge Amodeo took the children from the mother who has raised them and sent them to the abuser.”
ii. “Judge Amodeo got around this in his decision by constructing a bizarre conclusion that he, the Judge, had caused the mother’s PTSD.”
iii. “At one point it was discovered that the court had erased two of the transcripts[,] further delaying the appeal.”
iv. “The decision demanded that the mother stop therapy with her present therapist and instead use someone selected by the court.”
v. “I had to make a motion to withdraw from the case in front of Judge Amodeo for medical reasons… The law requires that when a party loses an attorney for medical reasons, that she is entitled to at least a 30-day stay to obtain another attorney. Instead, Amodeo continued to make her come to court unrepresented, to face more abuse. After the 30 days has passed (with no stay) he decided that she had enough time to find an attorney.”
vi. “The police were called and they found that the supervisor had attacked the mother and child.”
viii. “Judge Amodeo called numerous conferences to attack and berate the mother for interfering with the phone calls and the father’s relationship with the children.”
The court rejected the following contentions:
In determining the appropriate measure of discipline to impose, the respondent asks the Court to consider, with respect to the escrow violations, that they were “technical errors,” that “he was just an honest attorney attempting to help others,” and that he has since corrected his ways. The respondent’s witnesses testified to his reputation for cooperation, honesty, and sincerity.
While the respondent contends, with regard to the charges relating to the Shockome matter, that these disciplinary proceedings were brought by the Grievance Committee in retaliation and as a penalty for his criticism of Judge Amodeo and the courts, we find no basis for such a contention. To the contrary, we find the respondent’s utter failure to appreciate the fact that his conduct exceeded the bounds of propriety as a courtroom advocate, his complete lack of remorse, and the pervasive nature of his deceptive conduct to be aggravating factors. Irrespective of the respondent’s sincerity in his beliefs, his overzealous behavior which took the form of disparaging remarks on the court, false accusations about Judge Amodeo disseminated in a public forum as part of a campaign to pressure the court into changing its rulings, and noncompliance with multiple court orders, truly constituted conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
The attorney had no record of prior discipline.(Mike Frisch)
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I think these are worth reading. Those who follow either feminist or ”male supremacists” blogs will recognize some familiar names, or handles, for example, Glenn Sacks, or “Mike Murphy” (tireless, that one…). As well as Mr. Goldstein’s response, for example:
Some of the posts here reflect the repeated lies by male supremacist groups about the Shockome case.
The Newsweek reporter spent weeks confirming that Ms. Shockome’s case was overwhelming. She spoke with myself and Ms. Shockome and with the abuser and his attorney. She spoke with national experts and male supremacist representatives. Most important she reviewed the actual evidence. The mother had 11 witnesses including five experts and neutral witnesses such as the school nurse, son’s therapist and couple’s counsellor, The abuser was his only witness. The evaluator admitted the father probably abused the mother physically, verbally and emotionally throughout the marriage and was probably witnessed by the children. She admitted the mother was a safe parent and there was no alienation. She said the mother’s PTSD was probably caused by the father’s abuse (the genuine experts were more certain). Nevertheless she couldn’t use this information because she couldn’t determine the father’s abuse to a CERTAINTY. In other words she and the judge used a certainty standard against the mother and probability standard for the abusive father. The Court’s own Committee on women in the Courts found gender bias is widespread and gave as an example giving women a higher standard of proof. You can’t have a more obvious case of bias, but when I referred to Judge Amodeo as biased they called me a liar and that was one of the charges against me.
One of the posters was right that what they did was a very conclusionary statement with no evidence to support their findings and ignoring all the evidence that contradicted them. They also overturned many of the findings of the referee who heard the evidence and found I had a lot to contribute as a lawyer (although he didn’t have the background to understand all of the false charges)
At the start of the process I warned the grievance committe that it has become standard abuser tactics to file frivolous professional complaints against anyone who dares help his victim. The custody system in NY is already broken and many other children are forced to live with abusers. This decision will make it harder for protective mothers to find attorneys who will speak up for them. As a result more women will stay with their abuser in order not to lose her children and some won’t survive. In their desire to retaliate against me for exposing an abusive judge they have placed the lives of battered women in danger.
My warning proved prophetic as the male supremacists jumped all over the story and in fact most people first learned about it from them. Ironically they are using it to support their bogus PAS theory. This was one of the issues in the case. Even Judge Amodeo denied he was using PAS and acknowledged it is illegal in NY because it has no scientific basis.
Posted by: Barry Goldstein | Jan 7, 2009 10:30:52 AM
And someone pointed out the Free Speech element:
This is a very troubling case.
“[T]he respondent contend[ed], with regard to the charges relating to the Shockome matter, that these disciplinary proceedings were brought by the Grievance Committee in retaliation and as a penalty for his criticism of Judge Amodeo and the courts”. The court claimed that it found no basis for such a contention but also failed to state why. In fact, the opinion makes it quite apparent that the opposite is true. The New York courts have allowed themselves to become embroiled in a pissing match with the respondent. This is the conduct which is most “prejudicial to the administration of justice”.
The court lists many, many charges yet fails to deal with the facts on almost any of them. There is no disclosure of the timeline so it is not clear whether the trust account investigation was a product of the respondent’s public criticism. Notably, all of respondent’s claims relating to the Stockome matter are presumed to be wrong without any discussion. The only consideration of the facts is contained in the sentence “Based on the respondent’s admissions and the evidence adduced at the hearing, we find that all charges are sustained, with the exception of Charge 10 (Statement No. vii), Charge 11 (Statement No. vii), and Charge 23.” Yet the veracity, or lack of veracity, of these statements is the central issue. The fact that the courts themselves were the object of the criticism makes it even more critical that they deal with the facts in detail. In fact, much of the opinion is argumentative attempting to counter the criticism levelled publicly by the respondent. The court clearly does not like what he has to say.
Not once does the court address the first amendment issue which is clearly central to this case. Judges of the courts are obviously public figures as are other government officials. If the subject is a public figure, the First Amendment affords a safe haven provided the libel is not published either knowingly or with a reckless lack of investigation. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 270-285 (1964).
This would almost invariably prevent any other government official from punishing the respondent for his speech. Yet here, the judges are using their disciplinary power to achieve what, as a matter of public policy, they are precluded from achieving in other ways.
Respondent’s “words were directed at public officials and their conduct in office.” Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada, 501 U.S. 1030, 1034 (1991) (Kennedy, J.). Speech “relating to alleged governmental misconduct … has traditionally been recognized as lying at the core of the First Amendment.” Butterworth v. Smith, 494 U.S. 624, 632 (1990).
>>> The judicial system, and in particular our criminal justice courts, play a vital part in a democratic state, and the public has a legitimate interest in their operations. See, e.g., Landmark Communications, Inc. v. Virginia, 435 U.S. 829, 838-839 (1978). “[I]t would be difficult to single out any aspect of government of higher concern and importance to the people than the manner in which criminal trials are conducted.” Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 575 (1980). Public vigilance serves us well, for “[t]he knowledge that every criminal trial is subject to contemporaneous review in the forum of public opinion is an effective restraint on possible abuse of judicial power…. Without publicity, all other checks are insufficient: in comparison of publicity, all other checks are of small account.” In re Oliver, 333 U.S. [at] 270-271. <<<
Gentile, 501 U.S. at 1035 (Kennedy, J.).
Judges must accept that they are public figures and that they will, on occasion, face criticism and that that criticism may, at times, be unfair. If a judge cannot tolerate this then he has no business being a judge.
I also appreciate this post because it illustrates at least cites to support the statements. Again, ALWAYS check out anything cited (that is, if you want to know whether the cite was valid).
I’d recommend subscribing to this blog (why not?); at least it’s informative.
Clearly, the fathers’ groups don’t like ex parte restraining orders, and the mothers’ groups don’t like losing their kids in the same manner.
MEANWHILE, My “thang” is of course, tracing the funding that attracts certain power-mongers to certain professions, however ethical others in the same professions may also be. The public needs ALL of the judges, and attorneys, to be held to ethical standards — particularly judges, who sign the orders. We also ought to know how the system works.
Typically this isn’t on the average person’s agenda to learn, but I’m still trying to think how “ignorance” of relevant fields of life is an asset. It’s not. Ditto, “intellectual dependence.” Learning takes time, effort and is costly, but inportant. One of THE most important things to know in life is whether one’s associates, hired help (whether nanny or attorney), OR (did you ever think of these as “hired help”? But they are!!) federally funded, state-funded, county-funded, or otherwise-funded nonprofits are ethical also.
Nonprofits, by definition, are exempt from taxes (right?). So whatever services they don’t provide, when their existences says, because we are nonprofit and helping society, we should not also be taxed — is relevant.
And they come in all shapes and sizes.
Here’s links (from LIZNOTES) to this Shockome case. FYI, I have not read all the details, but know it by reputation only:
GENIA SHOCKOME CASE
Poughkeepsie, Duchess County, New York
Yevgenia Shockome, Case No. 29594
On Thursday, May 5, 2005, Yevgenia Shockome, a pro se battered mother seven months pregnant, who already hadinexplicably** [liznote 1] lost custody of her children to her abuser three years before in Judge Damian J. Amodeo’s Duchess County Courtroom, was jailed on Mother’s Day weekend for objecting to Amodeo’s order permitting her abuser to move with her children to Texas. [liznote 2]
TRANSCRIPT of Genia Shockome’s May 5, 2005 hearing
that landed her in jail for 30 days
Links to more information about this case:
I have other things to do, and blog on today. I am just following up on a comment to my first post regarding Mr. Goldstein.
However, also in 2009, here’s some coverage of what happened to Mr. FINE when HE tried to confront judicial bribery. At least, according to this account:
RICHARD FINE, Esq.
Attorney At Law
Los Angeles, CA On Wednesday, March 4, 2009 the Full Disclosure Network attended a Los Angeles Superior Court Contempt hearing in Judge David Yaffe’s Department 86 courtroom where he sentenced prominent Anti-Trust attorney Richard I. Fine to county jail indefinitely, until such time as he provides to the Judge his personal financial information. Judge Yaffe’s actions came after attorney Fine pointed out the Judge had taken illegal money from an interested party in the case.
TAKEN INTO CUSTODY
Immediately following the sentencing an entourage of ten or more Sheriff Deputies and Court personnel surrounded the slightly built, grandfatherly 69 year old attorney and placed him in handcuffs. Fine who was dressed in a charcoal grey suit, white dress shirt and red bow tie, readily cooperated and did not appear to be a flight risk. However, the Court was taking no chances as the procession led down the halls of the Los Angeles County Court House to the prisoners exit where the Sheriff’s Department provide transportation to the jail.
DEVELOPERS VS HOMEOWNERS
The hearing involved the case of Marina Strand Colony II Homeowners Association vs County of Los Angeles and was prompted by attorneys representing the Del Rey Shores Development who sought to collect legal fees awarded to them. Richard Fine challenged the credentials of the Debtor Court Referee and Judge Yaffe who he claimed had been receiving illegal payments, estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from the County Board of Supervisors since 1988. The attorneys for the developer asked Judge Yaffe to order Fine to take down his website from the Internet, the request was denied.
EXCLUSIVE TELEVISION INTERVIEW
One day prior to the com tempt hearing, Full Disclosure conducted a one hour exclusive interview with Richard Fine who warned of the possibility that Yaffe would likely commit another illegal act by refusing to disqualify himself from conducting the hearing and that any ruling would be illegal as well. In fact during the hearing Fine admonished the Judge his participation would only continue the criminal activity. The Full Disclosure interview is to be shown on 40 cable systems and the Internet in April 2009. A transcript of the entire hearing will be posted on the Full Disclosure Network websitesoon.
DISTINGUISHED LEGAL CAREER
This extraordinary judicial action of ordering the indefinite incarceration of such a prominent attorney whose long and distinguished career included service in the U. S. Department of Justice in Washington D. C. followed an intensive exchange where attorney Fine objected to Judge Yaffe’s failure to disqualify himself. According to Richard Fine, Judge Yaffe along with all of the Los Angeles County judges have each been accepting up to hundreds of thousands of illegal dollars from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, that is specifically prohibited by the California Constitution and the Canons of Judicial Ethics.
WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
The fact that the Judge insisted on hearing the matter, which involved the County of Los Angeles, was challenged by Fine in a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed with the California Supreme Court just moments before the hearing. Fine pleaded unsuccessfully to the Judge to delay sentencing till both the State and Federal courts had an opportunity to consider his requests for re-hearing.
JUDGES CRIMINAL ACTS FORGIVEN BY LEGISLATURE?
In concluding his argument before Judge Yaffee’s ruling, Richard Fine noted on the record that the California Legislature, the Governor and Judicial Council, all have admitted and recognized the illegal and criminal acts committed by Judge Yaffe and all Los Angeles Superior Court Judges and Supervisors when the Governor signed into law the State Budget legislation this February. Inserted into the budget bill was a provision granting Judges and elected officials immunity for illegal acts specifically prohibited by the State Constitution.
I support Richard Fine’s struggle and feel terrible that he has been incarcerated for so long without any seeming legal basis. I know of judicial corruption and wish more would fight back against a truly enterprise.
I have however heard rumors that he had some problems of his own with ethics. Any truth to claims that he took money from clients and didn’t follow up with services?
(3B More on Fine) (Note these seem to all be in early 2009… Quite a banner year):
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Supreme Court Orders Disbarment of Attorney Richard I. Fine
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court yesterday ordered that a prominent Beverly Hills attorney be disbarredfor filing a stream of disqualification motions and other papers containing what the State Bar Court found to be false and frivolous charges regarding members of the state bench.
Let’s TALK about this double standard. That is, basically, what the family law venue DOES, in part by taking hearsay evidence. Apparently it’s OK to file strings of ex partes by one parent against another, so long as it’s good for business. This, however, is NOT permissible when the motions are against judges, and requiring THEM to hold to ethical standards.
That’s the DOUBLE standard, in part.
The high court, at its weekly conference in San Francisco, voted 6-0 to deny review and to adopt the State Bar Court’s recommendation that Richard I. Fine lose his license to practice law. Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar was absent and did not participate.
Honn was declared involuntarily inactive in October 2007 after Hearing Judge Richard Honn said Fine’s “remarkable academic and professional background” as a leading antitrust and taxpayer rights lawyer did not justify his “improper and vindictive reactions” to rulings of Commissioner Bruce Mitchell and other judicial officers.
The hearing judge said Fine “engaged in what amounts to an almost never-ending attack on anyone (including attorneys and judicial officers) who disagreed with him or otherwise got in his way.” Fine, Honn said, “kept digging himself into deeper and deeper problems” and failed “to appreciate the harm he has imposed on so many people and on the court system.”
Fine, the onetime head of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s antitrust unit and counsel for the plaintiffs in a number of highly publicized class actions and taxpayer suits, has blamed his troubles on state judges and other officials whom he accuses of retaliating against him for his years of challenges to the benefits paid to Los Angeles Superior Court judges by the county.
Fine claims that judges who receive the benefits have a conflict of interest in any case involving the county, and that they have, over the years, improperly failed to disclose the conflict and to disqualify themselves from cases to which the county is a party.
The Court of Appeal last year ruled in Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles that the benefits are unconstitutional because they have not been authorized by the Legislature. The court did not say that judges who have been receiving the benefits had a conflict of interest as contended by Fine, but Fine—who was not involved in the Sturgeon case—said the decision vindicated him.
Fine told the MetNews he intends to seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court based on what he said are violations of his constitutional rights to free speech and due process of law. He has argued, among other things, that Honn had an undisclosed conflict of interest because the disciplinary charges stemmed from his battle with the county, which gives $30,000 a year to Special Olympics of Southern California, on whose board Honn serves.
Honn’s participation in the case violates the “implicit right to honest services” and should be investigated as a violation of federal fraud statutes, Fine said.
The now-disbarred lawyer is also suing the State Bar in federal court, arguing that the statute that permits disbarment for acts of moral turpitude not amounting to crimes violated the Due Process Clause. That suit, pending before Judge Dale Fisher in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, has been on hold pending the outcome of the State Bar proceedings, Fine said.
“This is political payback for my having exposed the corruption in the judicial system,” Fine said yesterday. “….I would have to question whether the California Supreme Court ….even read the papers….This is on one of the greater travesties of justice…They want to take the lawyer who has saved the taxpayers more than $1 billion dollars and put him out of the bar when they have done nothing about the corruption in the judicial system.”
He added that there is “not one scintilla of substantive evidence” that he has violated ethics rules.
ALL of this, friends, to further explain why Mr. Goldstein MIGHT have felt it appropriate to, in the web page “custody visitation scandal,” put a little disclaimer, that such decisions MIGHT look like judicial bribes were involved, but probably did not. I can certainly understand that. . . . . .
Here’s another coverage:
March 05, 2009|Victoria KimSporting a burgundy bow tie and with silver-gray hair fringing a mostly bald head, 69-year-old veteran attorney Richard Fine made an unlikely arrestee as he was hauled off to jail Wednesday morning from a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
But this marked the second time Fine has landed behind bars on contempt of court charges — this time for refusing to answer a jurist’s questions and for practicing law without a license. Judge David Yaffe ordered Fine to sit in jail indefinitely, until he relents and follows court orders.
And a 2008 article, same topics:
January 31, 2008
Taxpayer advocate Richard Fine faces disbarmentTarzana attorney Richard Fine is charged with moral turpitude with a recommendation by California State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn that Fine be disbarred, the Los Angeles Daily News reports (here).
Honn alleges in state bar documents that Fine “filed meritless lawsuits” to retaliate against judges who ruled against him. Fine alleged L.A. Superior Court judges hadn’t disclosed the nearly $40,000 paid to them annually by the county, on top of their salary, in cases where the county was a party.
This is the same line of reasoning Liz Richards has been following since the 1990s (http://www.nafcj.net), and others, including Marv Bryer, who actually required an audit of what was called a “slush fund.”
Fine argued his case at state Supreme Court, who haven’t ruled yet.
Fine told the Daily News that the state bar began action against him because he filed cases against judges – rather than his earlier cases against the state legislature and governor. According to the newspaper, “legal observers say the case against Fine is unusual.” What do you think?
I maintain, and believe, that the “Access/Visitation” funding, for starters, functions as a set of bribes, at federal expenses, to also pervert due process in the courtroom, by externalizing the decision-making to venues that become a virtual maze for any parent trapped in them: mediators, custody evaluators, guardians ad lit, supervised visitation monitors, you name it.
There may or may not have been double-dipping in individual cases, but some has been discovered. I don’t think the average person LIKES to make a custody decision that has, in similar cases, repeatedly led to the deaths of infants, children, and families. Yet these are continuing. Clearly some value certain things more than life, and I do not think it too far a stretch to believe that among those things which are considered more important than life, due process, and JUSTICE, is money.