December 29, 2005
The Inherent Right of ALL People to Alter
or Reform Abusive Government
The Right Upon Which All Other Rights
The Torchbearer for J.A.I.L. Nationally -
P.O. Box 412, Tea, S.D. 57064
- (605) 231-1418
Less Respect For The
Profession Than When Starting Law School
By Stacy Ryan, Recent Law School
The public is tired of a runaway legal system
only themselves. Although its members have
the problem for years and announced a call
the system does not change. As a result, the
public lost respect
for the legal profession and has begun
to demand change.
corruption in every profession but lawyers and judges
are in the
position to do the most damage not only to the public,
to our justice system. If the legal system wants
respect it once deserved it will be accountable,...
-- Stacy Ryan
Barbie & Ron,
I am proud to say I am a recent law school graduate. I am
sorry to say I have less respect for the profession than I did when I started my
law school career. So, why did I spend 3 years and thousands of dollars to
attend law school? Because after years of messy, expensive, unethical litigation
with my ex-husband (by the way hes a judge in my city) I was sure this was not
the way the system was supposed to work. I was sure that I could somehow expose
the unethical conduct of both my ex and his lawyers and perhaps help others
before they were caught in the litigation vortex.
In telling my story to legal types, most would look at me
skeptically and say nothing. I found there is a code of silence with lawyers,
they will not criticize one another, no matter how egregious their peers
conduct might be. Before I spent
class time in my law schools legal clinic, the administration found I was
active in judicial accountability and I was cornered by two law professors who
actually demanded that I disengage myself from any criticism of the judiciary.
Two members of the bar instructed me that I was not allowed to say anything
bad about a judge! They wholeheartedly agreed with me that the courthouse was a
good ol boys club but as a law student soon to be lawyer I could not speak my
mind. That semester they kept me
out of the courthouse because they were convinced they would lose cases because
For my last paper, I chose to research the lawyer
disciplinary process. I would have researched the judicial disciplinary process
but not much information is available. Lawyers and only lawyers become judges so
I believe this is relevant to J.A.I.L.
J.A.I.L will find the research interesting yet nothing new.
Distrust of the legal system is also nothing new to the American Bar
Association. Despite the ABAs
efforts to reform the profession, its members are still not listening.
This is interestingly but not surprisingly illustrated by the continual
criticism of the South Dakota effort by various bar members.
Some information from my law school paper:
In 1970, an ABA committee reviewed the nations attorney
discipline system. The committee found a scandalous situation requiring
immediate attention. Led by retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark,
the Clark committee found deliberate efforts to discourage any public
dissemination of disciplinary activities. Fueled by the public's dissatisfaction
with the bar and the courts, the Clark Report stated, "With few exceptions, the
prevailing attitude of lawyers toward disciplinary enforcement ranges from
apathy to outright hostility. Disciplinary action is practically nonexistent in
many jurisdictions; practices and procedures are antiquated; many disciplinary
agencies have little power to take effective steps against malefactors."
In 1992, an ABA panel led by New York University Dean
Robert McKay, reported that the public has a "growing mistrust" of the lawyer
disciplinary process. The McKay Commission concluded that the practice of
allowing bar officials to control state disciplinary systems was perceived as a
gross conflict of interest. The commission criticized attorney discipline as
"too slow, too secret, too soft and too self-regulated."
In August 1996, the Conference of Chief Justices passed a
resolution for a National Study and Action Plan Regarding Lawyer Conduct and
Professionalism. In that resolution, it was noted that a significant
decline in professionalism existed in the bar. The publics confidence showed a
corresponding decline. From the conference report: There is the perception and frequently
the reality that some members of the bar do not consistently adhere to
principles of professionalism and thereby sometimes impede the effective
administration of justice. The
Conference focused on an effort to involve the state supreme courts in raising
public opinion of the profession. The court of highest jurisdiction in each
state was considered to have the ultimate responsibility for regulation of the
In 1999, the
National Action Plan on Lawyer Conduct and Professionalism was
adopted by the Conference of Chief Justices. The plan included recommendations
on how lawyer complaints should be handled. Some jurisdictions dismissed up to
ninety percent of all complaints because supposedly the conduct alleged did not
violate the rules of professional conduct. The commission gathered information
about the dismissed complaints and found that many of them in fact
did state legitimate grounds. In their recommendations, the
commission claimed that the disciplinary system disregarded tens of thousands of
According to the American Bar Association, in 2002, 121,000
complaints were filed against 1.2 million lawyers. Only 3.5 percent led to
formal disciplinary action and just one percent resulted in disbarment. Of these
121,000 complaints, 96.5 percent resulted in no discipline or informal
punishments in the form of private sanctions.
In 2002, HALT, An Organization of Americans for Legal
Reform, produced the Lawyer Discipline Report Card to assess whether states had
taken any action to improve their lawyer discipline system. HALT is a nonprofit,
nonpartisan public interest group dedicated to reform projects that challenge
the legal system to improve access to the courts and reduce costs at both the
state and federal levels. (see www.HALT.org
In just one area of their report, HALT criticized state
gag rules. Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey,
South Dakota and Washington prohibited complainants from telling anyone about
their lawyer complaint before complaints become public. (note that most lawyer complaints never
become public) The complainant who talks could be held in contempt, fined or
even imprisoned! A few of these states have struck down their gag rules, finding that the rule poses an
unconstitutional restraint on free speech, already noted by the Chief Justices
Speaking from experience, I was instructed that my
complaint against a judge remained confidential under Nebraska law. Despite my
best efforts I could not get the highest court to explain to me just what that
directive meant. I found later that my state indeed has a gag rule.
The following incident was reported in my city and
illustrates just why the public has lost confidence in the justice
In March 2005, an Omaha Douglas County District Judge
reviewed the file of a 26-year-old Omaha man whose third drunken-driving
infraction put a motorcyclist in critical condition. The Judge declared that
probation was not appropriate. The accuseds wife began crying, the man begged
the judge not to send him to prison. The judge changed his mind. The accuseds attorney
(who by the way, was a buddy of the judge) mentioned that the accuseds dad is a
lawyer. "I know his father," the judge said. "That's another problem. By
that I mean it just makes this more difficult."
In an appeal attempt, this judges decision was affirmed by
the higher court.
The public is tired of a runaway legal system accountable
to only themselves. Although its members have recognized the problem for years
and announced a call for reform, the system does not change. As a result, the
public lost respect for the legal profession and has begun to demand change.
Despite the poor press, lawyers exceed one million in the
United States. There are surely ethical lawyers in practice but they fail to
report or criticize one of their own. The result is the good suffer the poor
conduct of the bad. In my research, I also found that the public often fails to
employ a lawyer because of distrust of the profession.
There is corruption in every profession but lawyers and
judges are in the position to do the most damage not only to the public but also
to our justice system. If the legal system wants the respect it once deserved it
will be accountable, invite public opinion and involvement, openly emphasize and
demonstrate ethical conduct and properly punish the unethical. I would then be
proud to be a part of a profession that demonstrates integrity and respect for
our nations legal system.
It is time bar members start listening and follow the directives of their
Here's to change in 2006!
Our thanks to Stacy for this personal testimony and research on this very
important topic. She even commented "Distrust of the legal system is also
nothing new to the American Bar Association. Despite the ABAs efforts to reform the profession, its
members are still not listening. This is interestingly but not surprisingly
illustrated by the continual criticism of the South Dakota effort by various bar
Yet, we recently had an admonition from another JAILer, an attorney, who
warned Ron that he deserves to lose this cause because he dared to ask
rhetorically of the 250 members of the South Dakota Bar Association:
"Do the People of South Dakota actually believe these lawyers have decided
to do this out of the kindness of their hearts?"
--referring to the free legal services SD lawyers say they will be offering to
the poor. Many of our readers have told us of the "free legal services" they
were offered, and as the saying goes, "There is free cheese in every mouse
It is no secret that besides the judiciary itself, the Bar Association
nationally is the natural enemy of J.A.I.L., as is its closely associated
law enforcement industry. It is the Bar Association that hosts and trains
(brainwashes) the legal fraternity consisting of judges and lawyers. It is
the Bar Association that has made the legal system what it is today and which
the People seek to alter and reform through J.A.I.L. Ron's disdain for the legal
profession shouldn't be a surprise to anyone-- and it is the
profession to which Ron's above question is directed.
Ron has numerous attorney-friends, and so he recognizes not all lawyers are
corrupt. However, the system prevents them from having any impact on resolving
the corruption. As Stacy reports,
"There are surely ethical lawyers in practice but they fail to report or
criticize one of their own. The result is the good suffer the poor conduct of
the bad." She says that there is a "code of silence" with lawyers.
Ron recognizes J.A.I.L.'s enemy when he sees it, and the South Dakota State
Bar has no effective disguise. "Prejudging" the motivations of the members of
the Bar is, in fact, not an issue. Their track record has long
been shown for many years. The evidence has already been established
and they routinely depend on their brethren, the judges, to cover up for them
(and this includes law enforcement corruption). Ron has experienced this
phenomenon himself throughout his 18 years of legal battle. He has been fighting
a closed club all those years, and realized that law doesn't matter. Of course
they're going to criticize J.A.I.L.