** Sharks Stripping Away Wealth of Incompetent
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California January 7, 2002
Judges & Attorneys, as Sharks, Stripping Away the Wealth of the Incompetentby Bill Gage & Ron LoeberThe bubble burst with the December 4th, 2001 report in the New York Law Journal below. But it started much earlier. Chief Judge Judith Kaye, in her State of the Judiciary Address last January, created her 2001 Community Initiative in which Town Hall Meetings were to be held around the state to "alter perceptions of the judiciary." At the same time, unbeknownst to you and I, Judith Kaye had already commissioned an investigation into corruption in fiduciary appointments within the judiciary.Only two conditions could exist that could prompt this dual effort. Either the people had a distorted perception of the judiciary and saw them as crooks in black robes and their perception needed to be altered... or the people had an accurate perception of the judiciary and saw them crooks in black robes and the judiciary saw the need to attempt to pull the wool over the public's eyes so as to prevent the peasants from storming the castle with pitchforks and sickles in hand. We believe the New York Law Journal report, and the subsequent list of links below it, confirms the latter. There is nothing wrong with the perception of the people. There is definitely something wrong with the judiciary itself. It is the judiciary which must be altered, not the public's perception.It is our belief there is a simple solution to the problem. If you and I had conducted ourselves in the manner described in the report, we would have been charged with a variety of crimes... from theft to fraud. You and I would be in jail, and it would serve as an example to all.As you read about a the fees charged by court appointed guardian/ lawyers, ask yourself what the fundamental difference is between what they were doing and what John Gotti was convicted of doing. The simple solution is to prosecute those judges and lawyers for the crimes they have committed... and put them in jail as an example to all other lawyers and judges. No one should be above the law.The report below refers to "fiduciaries" and to "unquestioned party loyalty". First, lets understand something. A "fiduciary" is appointed only in cases where someone is incompetent. It is downright heinous, by every measure of morality and common law, to steal from those who are incompetent... especially when the assigned task is to guard the stagecoach. Second, if you take the time to open and read the below links, you will see the letter referring to "unquestioned party loyalty". In simple words, someone "well connected" either thought they weren't getting their fair share of the raping and pillaging, or they saw the raping and pillaging and were trying to prevent it. In either case they should be brought into a court of law... either as a defendant or as a witness... just as you and I would.All of this is just more evidence that the only solution to the problem is a Special Grand Jury formulated under the provisions of a simple law known affectionately by some, and fearfully by others, as J.A.I.L.Bill Gage, JAILer-In-Chief, gageserve@...Ron Loeber, Lt. JAILer-In-Chief, valortoo@...
'Cronyism' Abounds in Court Appointments
By Daniel Wise
New York Law Journal
December 4, 2001
A two-year investigation by a special inspector general appointed by Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye has concluded, after auditing about 2,500 court files, that the most lucrative court appointments often go to a select group of well-connected individuals, who are often lawyers.
Inspector General Sherrill R. Spatz has referred cases involving about 10 lawyers and 10 judges to professional disciplinary authorities for further inquiry, according to a source close to investigation.
Commenting upon the report released yesterday, Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman said he was "distressed and surprised" that the report uncovered instances in which "cronyism, politics and nepotism" had played a role in the appointment process. "It's not a pretty picture," he added, but the report should create the foundation for "serious, significant reform."
Proposals by a panel appointed by Chief Judge Kaye to remedy the situation are expected later this week. The panel is headed by Sheila L. Birnbaum of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Chief Judge Kaye appointed Ms. Spatz and created Ms. Birnbaum's panel, the Commission on Judiciary Appointment in January 2000, following publication of a letter written by Democratic party officials in Brooklyn that provided a rare glimpse into the connection between politics and court appointments. The two party officials, Arnold J. Ludwig and Thomas J. Garry, had complained in a letter, which ultimately was reported in newspapers, that they were being frozen out of appointments despite their "unquestioned" loyalty to the party.
In its other major findings, the report cited instances in which non-legal work was billed at expensive hourly rates, and times when lawyers were hired when none were needed. It also found spotty compliance with Office of Court Administration filing requirements.
With respect to guardianship cases, the report asserted that many of the recipients of "multiple and lucrative" appointments had "connections to judges, political parties or court-system personnel."
Ms. Spatz, and her team of two lawyers and 10 auditors, concentrated their review of guardianship cases in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, where they uncovered cases of well-connected lawyers winning appointments. ....
The report cited a judge having appointed "a high-ranking local bar association official with whom the judge was friendly" as counsel to an alleged incompetent person. It did not specify names or identify individual cases, but the reference was to Michael Miller, the president-elect of the New York County Lawyers' Association, who was appointed by Acting Justice Diane S. Lebedeff in Matter of Gerald J. Friedman, 50064/99 (NYLJ, Nov. 30).
Neither Mr. Miller nor Justice Lebedeff's attorney, Ben Rubinowitz of Gair, Gair & Conason responded to a request for comment.
In their examination of 417 receivership cases in Brooklyn over five years, the auditors discovered that Ludwig & Garry, whose two principals wrote the letter that touched of the inquiry, was hired as counsel by the receiver in a disproportionate number of cases. The firm was hired as counsel in 189 cases, most of them mortgage foreclosure proceedings, or 74 percent of the cases in Brooklyn where a lawyer was retained by the receiver. The firm was awarded fees of $464,554 for this work, or 78 percent of the total approved by Brooklyn judges to counsel for receivers for the five years ending Dec. 31, 1999.
Neither Mr. Garry nor Mr. Ludwig had any comment, according to their attorney.
The report noted that in receivership matters requiring little expertise, Brooklyn receivers, who were "recognized experts," nonetheless hired counsel.....
The report also uncovered a case in Nassau County that reflected how "court appointees in Nassau Surrogate's Court frequently have ties to the court and each other." The report referred to a case where a retired Nassau County Court judge was appointed as guardian ad litem and a retired Surrogate was appointed as special referee to oversee discovery.
The retired County Court judge, according to the report, in turn hired as his counsel both his daughter and the Nassau County Deputy Public Administrator. All told, about $1.5 million was paid in handling the estate, which was valued at $80 million. The former County Court judge was paid $424,500; his daughter, $44,000; the former Surrogate, $192,500; and the Deputy Public Administrator, $215,000, the report said.
The report cited several examples of fiduciaries billing at hourly legal rates for pedestrian tasks. One guardian and an employee of a guardian's law firm billed $850 for a visit to a nursing home to celebrate their ward's birthday. Another guardian received over $65,000, billing at hourly rates for visiting an eyeglass store, attending a holiday party and inventorying the incompetent person's wardrobe.
Compliance with OCA's reporting requirement varied. In Brooklyn, the auditors found that only 20 percent of the time did receivers file certifications that they were not closely related to any judge, and that they did not have other appointments which might yield more than $5,000 compensation within one year.
The auditors also reported that they did not find any reports by judges regarding fee awards they approve, which are required by OCA rules.
In Manhattan, guardians filed forms making the required disclosures in 59 percent of the cases audited. And judges filed reports of their fee approvals in 76 percent of the cases.FIDUCIARY APPOINTMENTS IN NEW YORK - A report to Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan LippmanReport of the Commission on Fiduciary Appointments, December 2001
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