Tuesday, August 30, 2011

State Officials Ruled Immune From Post-Release Action

State Officials Ruled Immune From Post-Release Action

State prison and parole officials cannot be held liable for violating the constitutional rights of felons by administratively imposing a period of post-release supervision, Western District Judge David G. Larimer held yesterday. He said the officials are entitled to qualified immunity because it did not become clear until April 2008 that the prison system could not add the legally mandated post-release supervision period when the court had neglected to do so on the record.
Vincent v. Yelich, 08-cv-6570Lm, and Johnson v. Fischer, 09-cv-6323L, involved 11 inmates who had served a determinate prison sentence and were released between March 2002 and June 2007. Under Penal Law §70.45, each was required to complete a five-year period of post-release supervision. However, because the sentencing court did not specifically order post-release supervision in these cases and many others, officials at what was then the Department of Correctional Services administratively imposed the statutory required supervisory period.
In 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Earley v. Murray, 451 F.3d 71, held that post-release supervision was not enforceable unless imposed by the sentencing judge. However, not all New York state courts followed Earley and it was not until April 2008 that the New York Court of Appeals in Garner v. DOCS, 10 NY 3d 358, and People v. Sparber, 10 NY 3d 457, made clear that state law prohibited DOCS from administratively adding post-release super-vision.
"Hindsight is always 20/20," Judge Larimer wrote. "Although the unconstitutionality and/or unlawfulness of defendants' practice of administratively mandating [post-release supervision] may be clear today, it was manifestly not so prior to April 2008, when New York state appellate courts remained split as to Earley's import and scope, and had identified numerous well-seeming ways to distinguish it."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Finally Facing the Shame of N.Y.

Finally facing the shame of New York: Cuomo and union will root out workers who fail the disabled

Bill Hammond, Daily News,  August 23, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's deal with the Civil Service Employees Association ensures that the state's most vulnerable residents will be protected.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's deal with the Civil Service Employees Association ensures that the state's most vulnerable residents will be protected.

Gov. Cuomo's just-finalized contract with the Civil Service Employees Association marks a breakthrough for good government in New York - and one that has nothing to do with wages or benefits.

As part of the five-year deal, the CSEA agreed to reforms that will help the state root out workers who abuse or neglect the mentally disabled people they're supposed to be caring for.

It's an obscure clause that was overshadowed by the contract's three-year wage freeze, trimmed health benefits and first-ever furloughs for state workers - provisions that will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars while avoiding thousands of layoffs.

But protecting New York's taxpayers must take a backseat to protecting its most vulnerable citizens. To the great credit of Cuomo and the CSEA, this contract begins to take that moral imperative seriously.

Just how badly those citizens need protection became obvious in recent months, as The New York Times exposed widespread abuse and neglect in group homes operated by the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities - with wrist-slap punishment or less for most offending employees. The paper found 399 abuse cases filed against 293 employees over three years. The state tried to fire 129 of the employees, and succeeded with only 30.

The rest got off with nothing worse than a warning or a short suspension. Eventually, the vast majority were allowed to go back to working with severely disabled children and adults - people who often cannot defend or even speak for themselves.

In too many cases, the abusers abused again.

The worst example was an employee of an upstate group home who was literally caught with his pants down, reportedly standing between the legs of a female patient. The man - who already had a record for assaulting a co-worker - was arrested and charged with rape after his semen was found on the victim's body.

He wasn't fired, but suspended and moved to another home.

At the heart of this culture of impunity is the state's badly broken system for disciplining and firing rogue workers.

Thanks to Civil Service laws and contractual protections, workers cannot be punished at any level without the right to a hearing before an outside arbitrator, jointly picked by managers and union representatives.

The odds of winning a termination case are so long that managers often choose to settle for a lesser punishment, such as a two-week suspension. Others look the other way entirely - and go after employees who try to blow the whistle.

It's a pattern you see throughout state and local government in New York: The rules make it so hard to get rid of bad or mediocre civil servants that management stops trying. Or it resorts to desperate alternatives - such as New York City's longstanding but finally defunct practice of parking unwanted teachers in "rubber rooms."

Cuomo has begun to tackle this inherited mess. But neither he nor the Legislature had power to change the disciplinary rules. This is because those rules were long ago written into labor contracts, giving public employee unions a veto over any reforms.

Thankfully, The Times' articles shamed both management and labor to action. Cuomo demanded disciplinary fixes from the CSEA. And the union agreed without insisting on concessions in return.

In a joint statement announcing the deal, the CSEA and Cuomo acknowledged the obvious: The current system "does not adequately protect our most vulnerable population in state care."

Under the new terms, the state and the CSEA will hash out a detailed schedule of punishments for various offenses - with immediate termination for the most serious cases of abuse, and escalating discipline for repeat offenders - and no more arbitrators making it up as they go along.

"This provides some very long overdue clarity and consistency, so it's really good news for us and the individuals in the system," said developmental disabilities office spokesman Travis Proulx.

Clearly, Cuomo and his agency have a long way to go. Patient advocate Michael Carey - himself the father of a disabled boy who died at the hands of state employees - points out that many managers who have been looking the other way, and failing to properly report abuse to law enforcement, are still on the job.

But firing the people who actually commit abuse has to come first - and Cuomo and the CSEA have taken a clear step in that direction. Good work.


Addressing The Justice Gap

August 23, 2011
Addressing the Justice Gap
Editorial, NY Times, August 24, 2011

Most low-income Americans cannot afford a lawyer to defend their legal interests, no matter how urgent the issue. Unless they are in a criminal case, most have no access to help from government-financed lawyers either.

In civil proceedings like divorces, child support cases, home foreclosures, bankruptcies and landlord-tenant disputes, the number of people representing themselves in court has soared since the economy soured. Experts estimate that four-fifths of low-income people have no access to a lawyer when they need one. Research shows that litigants representing themselves often fare less well than those with lawyers. This “justice gap” falls heavily on the poor, particularly in overburdened state courts.

There is plenty the government, the legal profession and others can do to improve this shameful state of affairs. With the economic downturn, only around two-thirds of law school graduates in 2010 got jobs for which a law degree is required, the lowest rate since 1996. That leaves the other third — close to 15,000 lawyers — who, with financial support from government and the legal profession, could be using their legal expertise to help some of those who need representation.

While the Constitution requires that defendants in criminal cases be provided a lawyer, there is no such guarantee in civil cases. The Legal Services Corporation, created by Congress, gives out federal grants that provide the bulk of support for legal aid to the poor. Over the decades, that budget has shrunk — it was $404 million in 2011, about one-third less than it was 15 years ago, adjusted for inflation. The House Appropriations Committee has proposed reducing that to $300 million for 2012. The cut would be devastating; the budget should, instead, be increased.

Half of the people who seek help from legal aid offices are already turned away. Some offices are so understaffed that they must engage in triage, so that in, say, domestic abuse cases, they will only assist someone seeking a restraining order against a violent partner if that person is in immediate danger of being hurt again.

State bar associations could help address these needs by requiring lawyers to report their pro bono service — such disclosure would likely increase many lawyers’ service to the recommended 3 percent to 5 percent of their paid work. Another step is to allow nonlawyers into the mix. The American Bar Association has insisted that only lawyers can provide legal services, but there are many things nonlawyers should be able to handle, like processing uncontested divorces.

Legal education must also change. The Carnegie foundation recommends that all law students be given experience in public advocacy, of which providing legal services is one kind. At the same time, law schools should expand loan forgiveness programs for legal services lawyers. A few have such programs, but most schools do not — and not enough schools view tuition as a source to help support future legal-services lawyers.

The justice gap is widening. Government, law schools and the profession need to work together to redesign and fortify the grossly deficient legal services system.

Commission On Judicial Compensation Approves Pay Hike

A seven-member commission on judicial pay held hearings in Albany last month. It voted 4 to 3 to
approve the increase on Friday. 
August 26, 2011

Commission Raises N.Y. Judges’ Pay 27% Over 3 Years

A state commission decided on Friday to increase the pay of the more than 1,200 New York State judges by 27 percent over three years, ending a decade of battles in Albany and the courts, and giving judges their first raise in 12 years.

The seven-member commission, appointed by the leaders of all three branches of government, had been expected to grant a raise. Still, the amount it settled on was considered very modest — and some judges even expressed bitter disappointment.

The commission voted 4 to 3 to approve the increase, with its members sharply divided in a brief meeting in Lower Manhattan that included accusations of political grandstanding. The dissenters said the raises were too small.

Over years of legislative and legal struggles on the judicial-pay issue, New York’s judges, once among the best paid nationally, slipped to being among the lowest paid.

The increase was small compared with some proposed ones that had called for judicial raises across the court system of as much as 60 percent.

The commission was created under a bill passed last year to try to resolve one of the most contentious and long-stalled issues in state government. “This is a start at correcting the injustice that has been done to New York State’s judiciary over more than a decade of neglect,” said the commission’s chairman, William C. Thompson Jr., the former New York City comptroller.

But Mr. Thompson and other members of the commission also said that the fragile state economy required restraint. Under the commission’s decision, the highest level of trial judges in the state, the justices of the State Supreme Court, would receive an increase to $174,000 from the current $136,700, phased in over three years. That would match the salary of United States District Court judges. The raises for all the judges would cost the state about $50 million a year when they are fully implemented.

The creation of the commission was an effort to minimize political fallout from what was likely to be an unpopular decision in a time of budget cutbacks.

The three commission members appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo were joined in voting for the proposal by the appointee of the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, who, like the governor, is a Democrat. The two appointees of the state’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, opposed it as inadequate, as did the appointee of the leader of the State Senate, Dean G. Skelos, a Republican. The Cuomo administration had expressed concern about a large judicial pay raise, so it was not unexpected that the governor’s appointees would limit the increase.

The raises will go into effect next spring unless they are overruled or modified by legislation passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed by the governor. Mr. Thompson said he hoped the size of the increase would dissuade the Legislature and the governor from seeking to overturn the decision, which he said would be “disastrous” for the judiciary.

The commission’s decision would govern judicial pay for four years, after which time another commission would revisit the issue. The pay increase would apply to judges from low-level courts like New York City Civil Court and Criminal Court to the members of the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

The salary of Supreme Court justices had been viewed as a benchmark, with the commission agreeing to keep in place the relative differences in pay across a complex state court system with many pay levels.

The salary of judges in Criminal Court who earn $125,600, for example, would increase proportionally over the next three years, to $160,100. The salary of the chief judge of the state would go from $156,000 to $198,600.

Judges have argued that the pay stagnation forced some judges to leave the bench. On Friday, some judges said the decision would amplify dissatisfaction in the judiciary. “I think it’s very demoralizing,” said Judge Margaret Parisi McGowan of Queens Family Court.

Phillip R. Rumsey, president of the state association of Supreme Court justices, said the salary levels in New York “will continue to reflect the low regard that other branches of state government apparently have for the judiciary.”

Judge Lippman said that he was disappointed that the raise was not larger and that it would be phased in over three years.

Judge Lippman was deeply involved in the plan to create the commission and said at the time that it was the “holy grail” to remove negotiations over judicial salaries from the political process. Asked Friday if the decision was a setback, Judge Lippman said the commission had been successful because it ended with a pay increase at a time of economic crisis.

“We live in the real world,” he said. “We see what’s happening in Washington and in our own state. We see what’s happening in the stock market.”

The commission had always appeared divided 3 to 3 over how generous an increase would be, with Mr. Silver’s appointee, James Tallon Jr., a former Democratic member of the Assembly, holding the decisive seventh vote. The increase that was approved, Mr. Tallon said Friday, “balances all of the factors that are out there, including an economy that has tanked.”

But in a switch of usual roles, in which Republicans criticize Democrats for spending, Mark S. Mulholland, Mr. Skelos’s appointee, criticized Mr. Tallon.

Mr. Mulholland said the Republican-controlled Senate stood with the judges in seeking higher pay. He said that by bringing the salaries of State Supreme Court justices to $174,000 instead of $190,000 or higher, the state would be continuing what he called its neglect of the judiciary. He said he was “disappointed” that Mr. Tallon had “not seen fit to close ranks with me.” One of Mr. Cuomo’s appointees, Richard B. Cotton, criticized Mr. Mulholland, a Long Island lawyer, saying it was “highly unfortunate to inject scoring political points into this discussion.”

Asked about the comments, Mr. Silver said he had not spoken to Mr. Tallon about his vote, adding that “an independent commission was created to take the decision away from the Legislature and away from political finger-pointing.”

Center for Judicial Accountability opposes judicial raises

Commission's July 20 2011 Hearing

Judicial Pay Lawsuits

Third Circuit Allows Judicial Immunity Grant for Defense Witness

August 25, 2011


There are certain imbalances in the trial of a criminal case. Some favor the defense – most obviously, that the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, not merely by a preponderance of the evidence. Some favor the prosecution – such as the ability to force witnesses to testify by grant of immunity, an ability the defense does not have.
Essentially, the prosecution may require testimony from any available witness if the testimony is relevant and admissible and not protected by constitutional or evidentiary privilege. If a witness refuses to testify on fifth amendment grounds, the prosecution has the option of granting the witness immunity and thus eliminating, at least theoretically, her fear of self-incrimination and consequently her right not to testify. Prosecutors routinely in white-collar and other cases rely at trial on immunized testimony of accomplices, co-conspirators and others involved in the alleged criminal activity at issue.
The defense, on the other hand, is hampered by its inability to secure the testimony of such witnesses, who, fearful of prosecutorial use of their trial testimony against them in a later proceeding and/or retaliation for their testimony for the defendant, often assert their fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination to avoid testifying. Although the defense may request that the prosecution, or the court, grant immunity to a defense witness, such requests are almost invariably denied. Prosecutors, generally not interested in helping the defendant, never or virtually never grant such requests, even if there is virtually no possibility that the witness will ever be prosecuted, commonly claiming that the witness might be immunized for other, unknown crimes. Judges routinely refuse to grant immunity out of fear of giving a potential wrongdoer immunity, deference to the prosecutor’s decision, or separation of powers concerns.
In re Nagle  (3d Circuit, 10-3974, August 17, 2011), 2011 WL 3610120, a non-precedential opinion, involved such a situation. The underlying indictment charged Nagle and his uncle and business co-owner Fink with defrauding the United States by setting up a phony Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) to act as a subcontractor so that the business was eligible to, and did, receive government projects. Nagle claimed Fink had excluded him from the day-to-day operations of the business and that he was unaware of any fraud. After Fink pleaded guilty to conspiracy, Nagle subpoenaed him and Fink replied that he would invoke his fifth amendment right and decline to testify.
The defendant requested that the government grant the witness immunity. Not surprisingly, the government refused, contending it did not know what the witness would say and that it feared giving him an "immunity bath." Then, the district court, upon application of the defendant, itself granted Fink immunity.
The case reached the Third Circuit on the government’s interlocutory appeal and writs of mandamus and prohibition challenging the district court’s immunity grant to Fink. The Court of Appeals denied both the appeal and the writs on procedural grounds. While the court did not rule on the merits of the district court’s decision by holding it was not challengeable by either appeal or writ, it did say that the district court "neither committed clear legal error nor clearly abused its discretion," thereby putting its finger, but not its thumb, on the scale favoring the grant of immunity here.
Thirty-seven years ago, a federal judge, denying a motion I made for defense witness immunity, called it "the stupidest motion I ever heard." According to the knowledgeable Ardmore, PA attorney Peter Goldberger, who co-wrote the NACDL amicus appellate brief supporting Nagle, this case is the first Circuit Court decision upholding a grant of immunity. The law sometimes moves slowly.
To be sure, the court’s non-precedential decision is not a strong or unqualified approval of judicial grants of defense witness immunity. The court said only that the grant here was neither a clear error of law nor a clear abuse of discretion. Additionally, the district court’s order was made after the witness Fink had pleaded guilty (but apparently before he was sentenced) and thus the immunity grant did not absolve him of criminal liability, at least for the conduct to which he admitted guilt. Most requests for grants of defense witness immunity are for testimony of persons who have not been charged, let alone convicted. In those instances, the prosecutorial objection that immunity might let a criminal go free has more substance.
Defense lawyers should nonetheless celebrate -- albeit with beer, not champagne. The decision should give some support to district judges (at least in the Third Circuit) who are hesitant to grant defense immunity because of questions of judicial power or fear of reversal. And, it should suggest to prosecutors that they may no longer be able to continue to deprive defendants of essential testimony solely based on the boilerplate, unspecific argument that it might give the witness an "immunity bath" for unknown crimes.
Nagle Mandamus Petition -Download Nagle mandamus petition
Brief of Appelle/Respondent Joseph W. Nagle - Download 3BrNagle e032111
Rply Brief of Appellant/Petition - Download 3USReply e040611

Monday, August 15, 2011

Trish Lynch Loses Custody of Her 5-Year Old daughter To Vincent "Vinny" Velella, Her Former Boyfriend, In Westchester Family Court

by Betsy Combier
Editor, Parentadvocates.org

Ms. Lynch did not lose custody of her 5-year old daughter because of any proof that she is a 'bad' custodial parent, but because of the vast web of corruption that former disgraced New York Senator Guy Velella, his father Vincent Velella, and all their buddies in the courts and politics in the Bronx created and operate, even now, after both Guy and Vincent Sr. have died. Their legacy lives on.

On August 12, 2011 Tricia Lynch, mother to 5-year old Emma Lynch (who may soon have the name Velella), and the former girlfriend of Vincent “Vinny” Velella Jr., asked the Appellate Court, Second Department, for leave to appeal the ruling made in July 2011 to give sole custody of her daughter to Vinny Velella without justification….Unless you count in the web of “friends” and “family” that former disgraced Senator Guy Velella, Vinny’s dad, left behind when he died in January 2011. Her papers, submitted by her Attorney Alexander Potruch (who said the papers were created and submitted only for media coverage) were thrown out and the Second Department's ruling that Tricia Lynch lost custody of her daughter Emma, was affirmed on the spot not because of any proof that she is a 'bad' custodial parent, but because of the vast web of corruption (see also here and here) that Guy Velella, his father Vincent Velella, and all their buddies in the courts and politics in the Bronx created and operate, even now, after their deaths. I call people who wield power through bribery and extortion, 'cross-over politicians', everybody knows the politicians of Westchester as 'teflon pols'. It doesnt really matter what party you are from. Guy Velella 'owned' the Bronx and Westchester, and as Chairman of the powerful Senate Insurance Committee (1989), held sway over New York State.
Vincent "Vinnie" Velella
In fact, Trish's former boyfriend and Emma's father Vinny Velella is, since May 2008, Acting Program Manager, Long Term Care, at The NYS Department of Health.(see p. 18 of Dr. Kathleen McKay's Parenting questionnaire), Dr. McKay, the Director of Westchester Jewish Community Services Court Assessment Program), prepared a Forensic Mental Health Evaluation of both Vinny Velella and Tricia Lynch that was kept "in camera" by Westchester Family Court Judge David Klein at the trial over custody of Emma Lynch. Klein would not allow any copies outside of the courtroom (see Ressler email below), and would not admit the memorandum prepared by Jessica Ressler, Ph.D, that opposed the McKay Forensic Evaluation. It is also important to note that sources say that the Velella family (and friends) have contributed alot of money to WJCS. Two key questions that should be in the reader's mind are: (1) Why did Vinny Velella insist on keeping jurisdiction in Westchester Family Court, when he lives in the Bronx, and Tricia lives in Connecticut? (See the Final custody stipulation, p. 13); (2) Why did Judge David Klein keep Dr. Ressler's memorandum on the problems with Dr. McKay's report out of the trial?
Family Court is well-known for making decisions that seem unfair and which destroy families. Of course Family Court is not the only court in New York State that places itself squarely under the guidance and oversight of the leader of all corruption in the Courts, Jonathan Lippman (see also this other article on Silver, Lippman). But when mothers have no rights to custody under the unwritten rules of an evil game whereby a father or guardian can simply make any attempt to get control over a child and usually succeed, this raises the level of public concern because there are children's lives at stake.
Judges are told to ignore family situations that are not in the interest of the appointed law guardian, the appointed psychologist/family counselor, or the appointed anybody in favor of the party "protected" by the people, no matter what the circumstances. The standard excuse for giving a child to an abusive parent, guardian, or 'friend of the court' is, as Martin R. Gold, a member of the First Department’s Departmental Disciplinary Committee, said in an interview after hearing hours of testimony (at the court corruption hearings in front of Senator John Sampson): “It’s understandable. …If things don’t go well for them, they complain about their lawyers, they complain about the judges and when they don’t get their complaints heard, they complain to the superior judges and the appellate judges, the state Senate, and everybody else.” In other words, "ignore these complaints", they are baseless due to the fact that those who complain dont have any legal rights to what they are complaining about, and the judges see through them.
Gold really is supporting the biggest fraud of our judicial system, namely the practice of giving judges their jobs for life (Federal Court) and appointing judges through the very absurd judicial election process in New York State, and immunity from prosecution for anything that they do while on the bench - or even off. The recent sentencing of corrupt Judge Ciavarella to prison for 28 years after accepting bribes from a youth detention center in the "cash for kids" case is a very rare occurence.
People who do not understand that the rich and/or powerful can get what - and who - they want, when they want to, is headed for trouble especially if there are children or property involved. Tricia Lynch did not think about what it might mean to be part of "the Velella Family" when she met Vincent "Vinny" Velella in 2004.

From Tricia Lynch:
In 2004 I was in my 3rd year working as a Teacher of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped (TSHH) for a school that specialized in educating children with autism from ages 2-5. Additionally I was completing my masters degree in speech language pathology at Lehman College in the Bronx. I adore and embrace every child and take pride in helping them with one of the hardest disabilities one could have and making their day a little easier. During the summer of 2004, I was introduced to Mr. Velella through a colleague of mine. Later that summer, Mr. Velella contacted me and we pursued a relationship from then on. During our relationship, Mr. Velella was going through a very difficult time in his life as his father was in prison. I did not judge Mr. Velella by his fathers actions because he seemed like an honest, caring, and warm person. My home was always open to him when he needed support.

In April of 2005, I became pregnant which was a surprise. Both Vincent and I were shocked by the news and were conflicted as to how to handle the situation. Our relationship was just getting started and this seemed to scare the both of us. I immediately discussed options (adoption)with my doctor, my family, Mr. Velella and his family. After careful consideration and understanding where Mr. Velella was coming from, I decided to keep Emma, my daughter, as I saw her has a blessing. Mr. Velella, on the other hand, made it clear he did not support my decision and offered to pay for an abortion by a friend of his.

Shortly after, Mr. Velella’s sister called me to tell me her brother would never be there for Emma but that her father, Guy Velella, would support the child financially. I explained to her that my deciding to keep and raise Emma was my decision and that I accept all the responsibility for her. Having her was not meant to hurt Mr. Velella in any way. I told her that whatever he decided was to be his decision, but Emma would always be available to him if he ever changed his mind. Mr. Velella was well aware that my father and I are extremely close and I always wanted that for Emma as every little girl needs her father. At that point, our relationship ended.

On November 25, 2005 Emma was born. That was the best day of my life. We have been blessed with the most endearing, loving, sweet, strong and intelligent daughter that a parent could ask for. I raised this beautiful little girl from birth and everyday I strive to be a better parent for her. There is no better gift in the world than to be a mother. I informed Mr. Velella in the hopes that he would want to see his daughter. He came a few times, but not to visit with Emma. He came with attempts to scare me with all the people his father knows. However, I always tried to stay positive in the hopes that his anger towards me would pass. Not living that lifestyle and attempting not to be bullied, I filed papers in the Westchester family court house in January of 2006 seeking sole-physical custody of Emma. In late 2007, I was awarded sole-physical custody of our daughter. From that point on things grew progressively worse. Despite all my attempts to facilitate a relationship between Emma and her father, his anger towards me grew. What he didn’t understand was that she is extremely close to my father (he retired to take care of Emma while I worked) and she understands that every girl needs her daddy. She couldn’t understand why her daddy was so different. He was so focused on hurting me that he only hurt her. In August of 2010, custody was awarded to Mr. Velella.

I live a completely different lifestyle than Mr. Velella. I help people everyday, I smile and laugh and try to see the good in things. I don’t try to hurt anyone or hold grudges as I see no point. I try to live a happy positive life. I am outspoken and when I see something wrong I will be the first person to speak up, but in a constructive way, not a harmful one. Mr. Velella knows what kind of person I am. That is why I cannot understand why he would do this. Anger is a terrible curse. More importantly, how can our judicial system allow for this. Clearly, power and money are more important than the welfare of children. What scares me the most is that my daughter runs a high risk of learning an awful way to get what she wants.

Tricia wrote to her Attorney, Jessica Ressler, of Farber, Pappalardo & Carbonari about the traumatic transition times when Emma was taken by her father:
To: JessicaR
Sent: Sun, Jun 7, 2009 9:32 pm
Subject: Emma

At 5:30 or so today, Vinny called and told me to bring Emma to his mother's house. I said no, I will drop her at your house. Emma cried the entire way down, I was able for brief periods to calm her down, but failed. When I pulled up to his house 10-15 people, including children were outside. Vinny yelled, god she is already crying, while laughing about it to the others. I got out, all adults approached the car with arms folded shaking there heads starring. Emma was hysterical, screaming I am not going, I want to stay with my mommy, I need my mommy. I tried to get her out of the car seat, but she grabbed the button so I couldn't unlock it. Then, she jammed my arm between her feet and the front seat while pushing up, screaming everything above. Vinny came to the car yelling you are prolonging it, take her out, while looking at his sisters. My arm was pinned to the front seat. I said you try, he was pissed, I said no and fought Emma to get her out. I got it undone and took her out. She wrapped her body, arms and legs against me. Vinny tried to pull her off, but he was pulling me instead. He said put her down. I let go and held my arms out to the sides, so he could see. It took two tries and he peeled her off me and some of my hair. He yelled where is her bag. I went to the trunk and grabbed her bag and toys, he walked down the block laughing, while she was screaming to me to get her. His sisters stood there, arms crossed, tape recorders and cameras, I passed them her things, they just starred me down. I looked over at the children on the lawn, they had the same look. Everywhere i turned, there were people. I didn't even get to say a goodbye and tell her I loved her.

This is not right jessica, this is not a game or a joke....this is my child for christ sake.


Tricia wanted to have full custody of Emma, so she filed for this in 2006. When Emma was 11 months old, Tricia's lawyer at the time, Marilyn Faust, suggested that she find a law guardian for Emma. Theresa Daniele was signed on by court order. Daniele is well-known in the Wastchester courts as taking on cases involving child custody disputes, which seemed odd, as Tricia was not in any kind of dispute then with her former boyfriend, Vinny Velella. She would later understand why Ms. Daniele wa brought in. Ms. Daniele never saw Emma after one visit in 2006, until 2009, when Tricia made an appointment with her to meet Emma and discuss what was going on with her, but Daniele cancelled. She told Tricia that she had visited with Emma and her father. Tricia drove to Daniele's office anyway, and spoke with Daniele, who told her that Vinny was "not the smartest star in the sky". (Vinny evidently has learning difficulties and is dyslexic) and that Emma should remain in therapy. Tricia did not believe at that point that Daniele would turn against her, especially since the Appellate Court Second Department in Corigliano v Corigliano (2002) looked askance at bias and potential conflicts of interest in the appointment of law guardians for children.

When Tricia decided to move to a house in Connecticut with her parents (her father retired so that he would be at home with Emma) she asked Vinny to support her move, and he agreed as long as jurisdiction for all issues remained in the Westchester Family Court, notwithstanding the "Father's residence in the Bronx and the Mother's in Connecticut." (p. 13, paragraph 29.). This was a fatal error on Tricia's part. The final custody arrangement giving Tricia full physical custody of Emma was signed by her, Vinny and Judge Charles F. Devlin on August 17, 2007.

The situation deteriorated at this point. Vinny was suddenly determined to take full custody, and he was not going to let anyone get in the way of reaching his goal. He hired Attorney Gordon Burrows to help him get Emma. Burrows has been a county legislator in the 15th District since 2005. Prior to that he was a member of the City Council. Burrows has worked as a private attorney for 20 years. His father Gordon W. Burrows was a Supreme Court Judge.
Attorney Gordon Burrows is, sources tell the author, a friend of political crossovers, especially the Velellas and all their "friends". When he and Vinny Velella go to any Court both are ushered around the security system and into the Courtrooms, never having to go through any security. His political pull can be seen in the cocaine incident, when he, Burrows, and Timothy Cacace were pulled over by police at a Mobil station in Queensbury in February 2010 and both were found snorting cocaine. Burrows also had listed in his record several incidences of domestic violence. He was fined $250. In his other cases he is said to be abusive to the opposing party (record of victim Diane Rotanelli in Michael Rotanelli's divorce case). He has friends in high places.

Realizing that she should try to remove the custody case from Westchester Trish made a motion in 2008 to move the custody battle to Connecticut, where she was living , to remove jurisdiction from Judge David Klein. Gordan Burrows showed up with Vinny Velella, and told Judge Axelrod that he could not practice law in the state of Connnecticut but that he was working pro se with a Connecticut law firm. Axelrod would not let him continue, saying his lawfirm must be in court in order to proceed. Axelrod then spoke by telephone with Judge Klein in Westchester, and they agreed to send the case back to Klein's courtroom, as Mr. Burrows could not represent Velella in Connecticut. This had the effect of ending Tricia's custody of Emma.

Then Judge David Klein ordered that both Tricia and Vinny would share custody equally, 50% each. Trish's Attorney, Jessica Ressler, emailed Tricia that something very unusual was going on in Judge Klein's courtroom - namely, she could not submit the report of Dr. Juliet Ressler, who opposed the report of Dr. McKay saying full custody of Emma should be given to the father. Below is an email Ressler sent to Tricia:
From: Jessica Ressler
Jessica Ressler
Sent: Thu, Jun 25, 2009 4:43 pm
Subject: Forensic Report/File
I called over to Judge Klein's part today to secure permission to send a copy of the forensic report to our consulting expert. The court attorney said she would not allow me to give the expert a copy of the report and she wasnt even allowed to read it in our office. She did
not want a "trial within a trial". I have never heard of not being able to give your expert a copy of the expert report. This is after having waited weeks to gain access to the report as your attorneys and initially being told that we could only read it in court and take notes. I also am not allowed to look at your court file tomorrow as they need to "clean it out" and remove any confidential information.


Tricia went to Senator John Sampson in 2009 for relief from the progressive despair she was feeling that the Velella family would take Emma from Her. Dilay Watson, who worked with Sampson, emailed her back (see below):

To diwatson@senate.state.ny.us
Dear Ms. Watson,
I met with you on 6-23-09, hoping to prevail upon you for help. I understand that there is presently a crisis in Albany and understand that your time is limited. However, you said to send you any pertinent
information. I have just received this email from my attorneys (please read below). Following a call to the attorneys, it is my understanding that not only is this illegal, but it will cost me another 15,000+ to fight this. Please advise with any suggestions.

Thank you again for your time,
Tricia M. Lynch

From: diwatson
Hello Ms. Lynch,
I am writing to let you know that we are looking into this matter. I'm afraid I do not have an answer for you at this point, but I wanted to let you know that we are taking this issue very seriously, and we are trying to find a way to help. Please do not hesitate to send any additional information that you believe may be of assistance. I will contact you again as soon as we have a better idea of how to proceed.
Thank you so much for your patience.
Dilay Watson

Trish never heard from Senator Sampson or from anyone in his office, again.

During 2009 Theresa Daniele brought in Dr. McKay to do a forensic evaluation on Emma. The report urged the Court to give full physical custody of Emma to Vincent Velella. Tricia went to another evaluator, Dr. Juliet Ressler, who did not agree with Dr. McKay. The trial took place June 2009-June 2010 in the courtroom of Judge David Klein.

On August 9, 2010, Westchester County Court Judge David Klein suddenly ordered full physical custody of Emma go to Vincent Velella, and supported his decision with the sentiments and assessments of Dr. McKay and Theresa Daniele, both of whom said that Emma should be with her father. He ignored the report written by Dr. Juliet Ressler and would not allow this into evidence.

Theresa Daniele supported Judge Klein's decision and opposed Tricia's application to the Appellate Division, Second Department, for a stay of execution of Judge Klein's order pending an appeal. Tricia and her Attorney Alexander Potruch filed an Appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department, and a Cross Motion to Respondent Velella, now represented by Patrick Lawless of WILSON, ELSER, MOSKOWITZ, EDELMAN & DICKER, LLP

Affirmation of Tricia Lynch
TRICIA M. LYNCH, being duly sworn deposes and says:

1. I am the Respondent-Appellant in the above-referenced matter, and submit the within Affidavit in support of my cross-motion for an Order as specified in the Notice of Cross-Motion, and in opposition to the motions by the Respondent Law Guardian seeking inter alia to dismiss the subject appeal and to grant an extension of time within to file their Briefs.

2. Although I am granted limited time to spend with my daughter pursuant to the Decision and Order of the Family Court, Westchester County (Exhibit “C”), the Respondent’s behavior during the last four months has again established the enormous infirmities that he demonstrated as a potential custodial parent be specified at length in the Brief. (Exhibit “D”, pp. 32-46) He has continued to behave in a selfish and immature way to further prejudice the wellbeing of our daughter Emma.

3. During the last several months, he has unilaterally changed the weekend visitations and then threatened to bring Emma to the police station or leave her on my doorstep if I do not take her when he has directed me to do so. He has attempted to modify the mid-week visitation from Wednesday each week to every other Tuesday and/or Wednesday and, if I do not agree, he told me that he would bring her to the police station and take me back to Court. He has threatened me that if I kept Emma any additional time, which he had “arranged” with Emma, he would call the police which resulted in Emma becoming hysterical about returning to him earlier. As recently as November 23rd, he again unilaterally changed the schedule with no notice to me which, as a result, I missed a birthday celebration at a party that the priests has planned for her.

4. As is his custom, he filed a claim against Dr. Garcia’s office in the State of Connecticut alleging “medical misconduct”. This has been his pattern from the beginning; he previously filed a complaint against Emma’s therapist, Dr. McNamee. He testified at the trial that, although he was not happy with Dr. Garcia’s decisions, he did not communicate with him for a period of over two and a half years, except on one occasion he came to his office. Dr. Garcia’s office had problems with him because he insisted on tape recording each and every conversation. (See Exhibit “D”, pp. 42-43)
5. He became enraged when I observed bruising on Emma’s upper thigh which occurred when he was with her. He told me he had no idea how it happened. When I told him to ask the school, he told me that “you do it and make a fool out of yourself”.
6. He failed to cooperate in advising me of the identity of the pediatrician until after Emma was treated. While the selection process is clearly his alone under the Decision and Order of the Family Court, he is required to advise me of this information. (Exhibit “B”, p. 9)

7. I have attempted to address certain of Emma’s problems with him with little or no success:
•She was returned wearing diapers since she is often pooping in her pants and I have also learned that his sister (Lisa) who supervises Emma most of the time, makes her wear diapers as a punishment.

•He inaccurately claimed I told Emma that she was not allowed to attend a birthday party with her friends and her father which was untrue which greatly upset her.

•His sister, Lisa, at a gym class I attended, became extremely distraught when Emma ran over to me, and grabbed both of her boys and yelled “I am not fucking dealing with this every other week”.

•On November 19th, I attended a party for Emma at Fun Craft in Scarsdale. No one acknowledged me as I entered except Emma who was elated I was there. She became hysterical. The Respondent’s mother and sister made a number of negative comments about me in front of the child.

8. He claims that I was unable and incapable of helping Emma with her homework which, as a consequence, created anxiety in the child when we do homework together.
At the parent/teacher conference on November 22nd, the teacher explained that although Emma is “bright” she is “having difficulty following directions, listening, has inadequate attention span and difficulty completing activities and does not always participate in prayer”. Ironically, this behavior mimics her prior experience behavior at the daycare center in the Bronx where Respondent had previously enrolled her. Basically, the teacher (Mrs. Kamfer) did not know about the parenting situation, including the access schedule since the Respondent never told her.

9. As referenced above, the foregoing demonstrates that the Respondent’s conduct, as proven at the trial, has continued since he is empowered by the Trial Court’s Decision. While the problems of our child escalate, she remains in an unfortunate and unhappy environment at the Vellella compound in the Bronx, where the Respondent is only a minor participant. In the meantime, his attorney and the Law Guardian (who for reasons best known to her has blindly adopted Respondent’s legal positions in each and every respect), have intentionally refused to comply with this Court’s Scheduling Orders. The purpose is obvious; not only will they have enormous difficulty in submitting a brief which is truly responsive to the overwhelming facts specified in our Brief, they hope that with the continued passage of time, there may be reluctance on the part of the Court to change the status quo. While we do not believe that the Court will go beyond four quarters of the Record on Appeal, we respectfully submit that the Scheduling Order must be complied with which we have scrupulously done but the Respondent’s counsel and the Law Guardian have not. We request, therefore, that they be given a limited period of time to file their Briefs and that oral argument be scheduled as soon as possible.

10. By reason of the foregoing, it is respectfully requested this Court enter an Order granting the relief requested in the accompanying cross-motion, denying the motion by the Respondent and the Law Guardian, and granting such other, further and different relief as to this Court may seem just and proper in the premises.

23rd day of December, 2010.

Alexander Potruch, Tricia Lynch's new Attorney, summed up the case as follows:

Without stating any real basis at law and with few if any facts supporting his decision, Judge Klein issued his order of June 2, 2009 radically changing the access that the parties had to Emma, then three (3) years old, by equally dividing her time with them. In doing so, he effectively dismissed appellant’s petition and disregarded the “change of circumstances” doctrine which was the basis of respondent’s petition.

Lacking any foundation for its introduction into evidence, he nonetheless relied on the conclusions made by the forensic psychiatrist in her report. It was from that point that the Court, together with the Law Guardian, and the respondent’s attorney, joined in a mantra criticizing appellant again and again without factual foundation, as will be demonstrated below, claiming she engaged in unspecified conduct contrary to Emma’s best interests. Ultimately, Judge Klein, who was wedded to this initial determination, inevitably adopting her supplemental report (consisting of two (2) hours of interviews) and by awarding custody to the respondent without making any specific factual findings except an incorrect one regarding Dr. Jimenez’ testimony involving her examination of Emma.

This reply brief highlights the myriad of misstatements, inaccuracies, half-truths and deceptions in the briefs submitted by the respondent and by the Law Guardian. Most significantly, the testimony of the respondent himself, as will be demonstrated below, substantially undercuts the veracity of his own attorney’s assertions.

Both the respondent’s counsel and the Law Guardian argue that the trial Court listened to the witnesses and, after doing so, rendered its determination. Significantly, the trial Court rendered no findings on credibility since if it did, the respondent’s testimony would be found to be inconsistent, incomplete, ignorant, self-serving, and not worthy of belief.

They ask this Court to ignore the overwhelming testimony at the trial demonstrating that there was no change of circumstances whatsoever. Of the non-family relatives, the only witness who testified in favor of the respondent was Dr. McKay, whose testimony was grossly flawed as delineated in our brief, and Dr. Jimenez who refused to attribute the alleged comments made by her to Dr. McKay. All the other witnesses, including the therapists and mental health professionals, uniformly indicated that of the two parents, the appellant was the only one who attempted to address and resolve any issues that Emma had; that she consistently acted in the child’s best interests; that she tried unsuccessfully to get the recalcitrant respondent involved; and that he continuously demonstrated an obdurate and inflexible attitude throughout. Instead of crediting the testimony of these professionals who knew Emma, Judge Klein cavalierly dismissed them by stating “the mother and her chosen experts’ inevitably came to the conclusion that “the father was responsible”. (Decision, p. 8). The trial Court ignored the evidence that demonstrated his consistent conduct in refusing to involve himself with appellant’s attempts to discuss Emma’s issues and to tell her what happened when the child was with him (App. Br., 32-35).

What is most regrettable is the manner in which Judge Klein conducted the trial. He made certain that the record was as limited and could not be expanded to include evidence that would be contrary to his initial determination on June 2nd. He did this in a number of ways including: the failure to qualify Kathy Repole as an expert witness; the failure to permit the introduction of Dr. Jimenez’ report into evidence;the failure to permit counsel to look at Dr. Jimenez’ report; he admonished the appellant’s counsel just prior to his cross-examination of Dr. McKay as if she were a special witness entitled to elevated status; by demeaning Dr. Lesser’s role and by refusing to permit the introduction of her highly critical Report into evidence; and by making inconsistent rulings regarding the introduction of evidence involving events which occurred prior to August 17, 2007. (2/4/10, 52)

Among other things, Judge Klein told appellant’s counsel as follows:
“No no no, just a second here. I want to make this clear. I’m not going to turn this into an attack on Dr. McKay. It’s not going to happen.” (12/3/09, 8, emphasis added).

We acknowledge that the trial Court made one absolutely correct comment; - “the Court recognizes that the child’s mother has devoted her very life to what she perceives as being her daughter’s best interests . . .” (Decision, p. 8). If the Court had only utilized the overwhelming evidence which supported that statement and not elevate its desire to uphold its June 2nd decision and its appointment of Dr. McKay, the decision would clearly have been in appellant’s favor.

What is missing are two significant factors which the trial Court blithely ignored. One is that there is no real advocate on Emma’s behalf at the trial. Nor is there any evidence of what Emma herself was like since Dr. McKay’s observations of the child with her father in March of 2009 in which she found Emma utterly “unresponsive” to her father, and in April of 2009 when she observed the mutually loving relationship between mother and daughter. Thus, all of the statements by the respondent that Emma’s maladaptive behavior has decreased in his custodial “care” are self-serving and uncorroborated except for his mother and sister whose testimony contradicts respondent’s testimony in many respects. After all, what is the actual reason that Emma uniformly becomes hysterical when she leaves her mother’s home; it has to do with the loss of the nurturing and secure environment that she has found only in that home.

Emma’s voice in this case has not been heard. There has not been a single reference in this record from June 2, 2009 through the conclusion of the trial on April 24, 2010 that the Law Guardian ever spoke with and/or visited the child. As re-appointed by Judge Klein, the Law Guardian understood that the Court wanted to make a finding and conclusion consistent with Dr. McKay and the June 2nd decision and she acted accordingly.

In the decision, Judge Klein indicated that it “would not be bound by “the desires of this very young child, even if they could be determined.” (Trial Decision, p. 7). Tragically, her wishes were never determined and Emma was never heard. We can easily ascertain Emma’s continuing preferences from this Record.
Secondly, the evidence established that the respondent never took primary and solitary custodial care of the child and that when Emma is with her at the Velella compound of houses, he is either not there and/or his mother or sister is in charge. Except for a brief trip to Florida, this record is silent as to anything that he has done with the child alone and not with other members of the Velella extended family. He ignored Dr. McKay’s recommendation that he become personally involved in his own and in community activities with Emma. This, said Dr. McKay is a significant way of establishing the bonding between the child and her father. That he did not do so is testament to his failure to achieve that bond with Emma although he claims otherwise. Surely, he should not require a forensic recommendation to tell him that he should spend quality alone time with his daughter. Rather, his inability to pick up and/or return the child from the mother’s home without the presence of her mother or sister (which they both testified to) tells us that the respondent is incapable of acting alone in his child’s best interests.

Finally, the trial Court and counsel ignore the fact that the parties never married and never resided together with the child. Thus, the dynamics of an intact family unit were never experienced by Emma. Having been removed by her father while enjoying the nurturing and security of her mother’s home, it should seem obvious that Emma would suffer from extreme separation anxiety. That the respondent exhibited no sensitivity concerning this, as found by Dr. Sinowitz, underscores his minimal knowledge of his own daughter. It is small wonder that Dr. McKay, his advocate, noted Emma’s lack of responsiveness to him during their solitary meeting of March 9, 2009. Suffice it to say, this significant dynamic was ignored by Dr. McKay and the trial Court.

In the initial report, respondent told Dr. McKay that “I would support any decision she made, but I wanted nothing to do with the mother”, (Exhibit “A”, p. 13).

As referenced above, the respondent’s subsequent conduct was entirely consistent with that attitude; thus, during Emma’s short lifetime, he had as little to do with the appellant as possible, ignoring the appellant’s entreaties regarding the child’s developmental issues, medical problems, emotional behavior, etc. and did nothing to assert himself as her father of a young child rather as a temporary caretaker. Even after the stipulation of August 2007 until the trial, the communication with respondent was “ineffective because of no response on his part.” (10/16/09, 74-75, See Exhibit “19”).

The issue then is not whether or not Emma is a “normal” child, as framed by respondent, or whether appellant “subjected” Emma to excessive medical scrutiny, but whether the respective parties acted appropriately in addressing the issues of a young child; some of these issues being usual and some unusual. In the absence of any meaningful response from Emma’s father, what should a caring and committed mother do? First, she must question her daughter about what happened when she was with “Daddy” (because he refused to tell her). Justice Klein showed no understanding as to why this was necessary when he wrote appellant’s “actions in checking the child upon her return from visitation with the father evince an interest in finding evidence of abuse and that her purpose was to determine if something ‘untoward’ had occurred.” (Decision, p. 8, 9).

We would ask this Court to consider the alternatives available to appellant when her three (3) or four (4) year old returns from her father’s custody with rashes, marks, scratches, unwashed, food on her face, etc, etc., This conduct was not to establish abuse but merely to find out what happened. If finding neglect or abuse were her purpose, she would have filed petitions to that effect in the Family Court long ago (Decision, p. 8). The second thing appellant did, in the absence of any response from Emma’s father, was to seek professional guidance. The initial therapist was Dr. McNamee, the Chief of Psychology at Lehman College, who was referred by Dr. Treacy but was forced to withdraw shortly afterwards when respondent filed a complaint against her. The appellant then retained Ms. Repole in 2008 for Emma’s play therapy. (8/4/09, 43). Ms. Repole, with a post-graduate degree in child and adolescent therapy, created an appropriate and specialized setting for Emma and worked with Emma regarding the negative statements and feelings that Emma said and felt about respondent, (8/4/09, 48). That respondent characterized this process as a “waste” underscores his ignorance of the potential benefits of this process.

The only other involvement(s) with medical professionals, other than the pediatrician(s), occurred as a consequence of recommendations made by Dr. Sinowitz relating to Emma’s seizures and self-stimulation. The respondent ignored these issues, although admitting the problem(s), and the trial Court criticized appellant, without specifics, totally impressing its own value judgments and ignoring how appellant alone addressed Emma’s everyday life. Because of respondent’s determination to remain isolated from Emma’s mother, the appellant was finally compelled to file the petition, dated April 15, 2008 in which she requested that an order be issued inter alia, that respondent be directed to communicate with her by emails and voice messages; and authorizing her to consult with him on medical issues (Exhibit “3”).

POINTS IN AFFIRMATION by Alexander Potruch in opposition to full custody going to Vincent Velella.

Tricia and Potruch filed an appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department, and Velella filed his Brief in Opposition

On June 10, 2011 the Second Department denied the Cross Motion of Tricia, and then on June 21, 2011 affirmed the decision of Family Court to give full custody to Vincent Velella.

Attorney Potruch's request for Leave To Appeal
Theresa Daniele opposed any appeal of the Second Department's decision

In May 2011 NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Theresa B. Marangas, partner, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, to the Court screening committee of the Third Department.

According to Tricia's lawyer Alexander Potruch, the reply papers on the request for leave to appeal the ruling on custody of Emma were rejected at the Second Department because he got them into the Court late on the 12th of August, 2011.       

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pennsylvania Civil Rights Attorney Don Bailey Will Sue Judges For Corruption

Civil rights lawyer Don Bailey under attack and he and clients to sue judges for corruption

Posted on August 9, 2011 by Admin

The paramount issue our legal system is presented with currently is the ongoing campaign, if you will, by a small clique of federal judges, and their state and federal political friends, to go after the law license of decorated war veteran, former congressman, former Pennsylvania Auditor General, and now prominent civil rights attorney Don Bailey.

Don got into the practice of civil rights over the fallout from his own victimization when, as Auditor General, he revealed substantial pubic corruption in the State of Pennsylvania at its highest levels. He was visited by state and federal officials, including the United States Attorney himself, and was, in essence, asked what it would take – what graft, gift, or favor – in order for him to back down and look the other way. Don refused, and stridently, with the truth behind him, assured these scoundrels that he would never be bought, and ever since that day, Don has been in a battle to reveal public corruption, and to fight for its victims. There is an extensive interview of Don that is recorded in his website, which is linked to this page.

To the best of our knowledge, Don is the only politician in American history to have prevailed in a defamation lawsuit against his political opponent (Barbara Hafer) that was the first civil rights lawsuit he filed after leaving public office. The case, Bailey v. Hafer, languished in the courts for a decade, and in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for years, before decided in his favor. While the case never did go to trial, it did settle favorably for Don, and, despite the fact that Don had his bright political future stolen from him unjustly, and lost everything he had, his only request was the Ms. Hafer apolgize to him, in writing, which she did. In the apology, Hafer admitted she lied about him, and pointed the finger at certain “federal officials”, one of whom was Martin C. Carlson, former United States Attorney, and now a United States Magistrate Judge, under Kane, Conner, and Jones, and the author of 2008 scandalous ans scurrilous attack on Don Bailey in a 56 page memorandum that was distributed through statewide media. Don’s reply was not.

The federal courts, and some of the political operatives who run them, including Marty Carlson, have taken up the cause for their political “friends”, and have joined in the effort to protect the corrupt politicians and judges, and to end the career of Don Bailey, and to cut off access to the federal courts for the many, many police officers, state and local officials, public employees, minorities, and others who have been victimized and abused by corrupt people and power structures, and Pennsylvania will be left to languish in the backward ways of thinking and behaving that have destroyed public confidence in the judiciary, and even in our elected officials. These judges are out to hurt and harm Don Bailey and the civil rights clients he represents because they, too, are beholden to the corrupt system that put them where they are – on the bench of our esteemed federal courts donning the powerful black robe, where they then use their tremendous power to protect the structures that got them there rather than foster their independence from those systems in recognition of the singularly-significant ability of a federal judge to influence cultural climates.

The claims of Don Bailey will be proven, and the proof is all there, and we hope to share this all with you through our initial efforts on this site. Don has had over $3,000,000.oo in verdicts awarded to his clients, from all walks of life, and significantly in recent years from the ranks of law enforcement themselves, by juries performing their roles and exercising their responsibilities as American citizens. All of these verdicts have been taken away as part of the plan to harm him and his clients. We do not cast aspersions on the judiciary lightly, nor do we wish to suggest that every judge is corrupt, because certainly most, hopefully, are not, but Don’s cases are being “fixed”, the old-fashioned, crooked way – by picking up telephones and through winks and nods, but the evidence is clear – from the $1.5 million verdict he was successful in obtaining on behalf of 2 state attorney general narcotics agents against, inter alia, the then-Attorney General himself, Mike Fisher, who now, of all things is a Judge on the Court, the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals, that threw out the verdict against him, to the recent decision overturning another case where a state trooper was a victim of wiretapping that was committed by his own State Police supervisors in a dishonest effort to hurt and harm him.

The further plan, which is already afoot through the, attack by Marty Carlson, and will be shown through evidence relating to Judge Conner, is to portray Don Baily as a disgruntled, malcontent, and “fallen star” who has imagined grand conspiracies to justify and validate the political losses that he suffered 20 years ago, but that is a lie, every word of it, and it is already out there as a myth that is believed by many. The Hafer apology came in the year 200o. At that time Carlson was United States Attorney, Jones was a co-campaign chairman/fundraiser with Tom Corbett for tom Ridge, Kane was on the federal bench in Harrisburg, and the Third Circuit Judge Mike Fisher case (cases/saga) were already in the courts or very near, annd the trial on those cases was in 2003. After that trial, an email circulated through then Attorney General Fisher’s office that “Bailey has caused a shit storm” in Harrisburg. Conner acceded to the federal bench in 2004, and immediately launched into what are obvious attacks by a political neophyte that have continued, unbroken, and coalesced with the others, and from there you will see an continuous chain of abuses, right through the day of this posting, and the hearings scheduled for August 11 and 12 in Harrisburg that will prove that this is indeed a conspiracy involving federal judges and others to harm the rights of innocent American citizens whose constitutional rights have been violated because of who their lawyer is and what he represents to them. Nothing can be more anathema to our entire system of justice.

The current strategem being employed is to use the sycophants in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board and its Disciplinary Counsel, life-long political lackey Paul Killion, to mount an attack on Don Bailey’s law license through an easily provable corrupt effort of these same federal judges in concert with their state political friends. The attachment to this post is what is called a petition in the Supreme Court’s “King’s Bench” or “extraodinary” jurisdiction, where the Supreme Court is asked directly to discipline itself, and to intervene in these corrupt proceedings and bring them to an end.

See also: Exhibit 3, Thom Lewis v. Jesse Smith, et al, Third Circuit motion contains the allegations for which Bailey is being charged

The Pensylvania Supreme Court, and the Lawyer’s Disciplinary Board, as well as the Judicial Misconduct Board have fallen into disrepute of recent due to the criminal prosecutions of Luzerne County Judges Ciavarella and Conahan in what was known nationwide as the “kids-for-cash” scandal. Recent commissioned reports have identified the failings in the system that had led to the judicial corruption scandal that gave the entire state a black-eye, and the Don Bailey discipline gives the Supreme Court a clear chance to prove its own integrity by addressing the same failings that exist in regard to Don Bailey, and to end the corruption that undermines the confidence we all have in our judiciary, and to usher in the reforms needed so that American citizens do not continue to be victimized by our courts for daring to do something about their victimization by their government, and those others “acting under color of law.”

Don Bailey is also in the process of filing a federal civil rights lawsuit, on behalf of himself and at least 25 of his victimized clients, who will be named as plaintiffs, and will be making very extensive accusations of corruption and unlawful behavior on the part of a wide-array of state and federal officials, including the judges who have worked specifically to hurt and harm him. These judges and other operatives have felt that because they can control the access to information to the public, and how it is presented, they could ostracize, isolate, and surround Don, and move quickly and easily in for the kill. Well, despite the fact that they have been known and out to get Don Bailey for nearly 20 years, they should know that his honesty is unshakable, his commitment to his clients is second-to-none, and the confidence that people have in him is unwavering, but of course they wouldn’t know that, because they are the people who he has been fighting against, and they woefully underestimate the motivation of honest American citizens to expose and oppose corruption in our government, and this site will continue to bring you the developments as the cases proceed.

The agenda is clear – stop Don Bailey, but more importantly, stop the civil rights clients he represents from having the courage to expose and oppose public corruption, and it is our goal to help shine the light that needs to be shone on the courts, and their efforts to keep the people from uncovering public corruption. This will be your site for the truth, and we hope the Courts, including the court of public opinion, will be the site for the justice.

Harrisburg federal courthouse issues reaches new lows as they go after PA attorney who is exposing public corruption

Don Bailey’s opening statement in defense of lawyers and your civil rights →

6 Responses to Civil rights lawyer Don Bailey under attack and he and clients to sue judges for corruption


CleanUpPACourtsNOW says:

August 9, 2011 at 8:49 am

It’s no secret that Chief Counsel Paul Killion was being harassed by Judge Christopher C. Conner to do something about Don Bailey. Connor was also haranguing an investigator named Bob Fulton, from the Philadelphia Office of the PA Disciplinary Board to do something as well. Then Judge John E. Jones, III, the flake who plagiarized an ACLU brief and also a commencement address for Dickinson, jumped in and pressured Paul Killion as well.

Their goal is simple – stop Don Bailey, and you stop all of the other civil rights complainants – because in Pennsylvania, you won’t find any other attorney who is willing to fight for your civil rights when cases involve crooked politicians and state agencies. All you have to do is pick up the phone and call 25 “attorneys” – tell them you were the victim of judicial misconduct or that you’d like to file a lawsuit against a judge or public official, and you’ll see every one of them turn you away.

Since there is nobody policing these courts, Don has become their number one enemy. The truth is only starting to come out about how corrupt this state really is. People need to start digging and questioning and protesting.



Sally says:

August 10, 2011 at 1:47 am

What a sad story. I remember Don Bailey as Auditor General and he was a good man. A decorated Vietnam vet who always remembered where he came from. He always supported the Vietnam vets and their issues. I thank him for his service. I hope these corrupt politicans are exposed. The Middle District has always been known for being corrupt. It all starts with that former US Attorney Carlson, who I now heard sits as a Magistrate Judge. Talk about a total disgrace to this state. I am sure he got his job, right out of the Chief Judge in the Middle District with his cronies in the Court. They all stick together. I hope you guys gets these corrupt people. I will be standing behind Don Bailey and wish him and his family the best.



politico_reporto says:

August 10, 2011 at 2:47 am

These judges are dismissing actions that were completely appropriate for many valid, lawful reasons. They don’t want to address the problem, because they are the problem. The dismissal of complaints and actions by these scumbag judges only further reveals their increased involvement in what is clearly judicial misconduct. It’s easier to get rid of the only attorney who fights them than to clean up the mess they’ve made. Besides, they receive too many lucrative benefits like gifts and immunity from the law. Why would they not fight tooth and nail to protect their little corruption club.



watchdog says:

August 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm

If we’re digging deeper, as CleanUp has suggested, we should also recognize the fact that these Judges are using the clients of Don Bailey as a way to settle scores from when Mr. Bailey was a U.S. Congressman and PA Auditor General. A lot of the animosity from these judges can be traced back to the political bitterness these new activist judges have for Bailey.



unfilteredmedia says:

August 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

It has become increasingly clear that our state and federal courts are not capable of disciplining themselves. In Don’s case they are denying him witnesses and quashing subpoenas that are critical to his case. Don has even been denied the right to subpoena the admitted complainant’s against him, and he has also been denied the right to view the complaint. Conflicts of interest are also clearly present in this case, yet motions for recusal were denied without discussion. A state cannot exclude a person from the practice of law in any manner which violates due process, and the violations here are too numerous to count. Don’s due process is being violated because the disciplinary board is failing to follow rules and procedures, resulting in extreme prejudice. Among the most egregious of the procedural errors is the denial of any and all discovery. The due process violations have further completely cut off Don’s rights to confront the witnesses against him, and to compel witnesses to appear and testify on his behalf in this quasi-criminal proceeding, which is clearly a 6th Amendment violation. The prejudice of these failings, and the prejudice to the administration of justice reflected by these proceedings warrants the dismissal of these charges standing alone. Don is being subjected to a selective and vindictive prosecution and prosecutorial misconduct, which mandate dismissal, and is a First Amendment violation as well.



James J. Vitaliano says:
August 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm

In my own way I clearly understand what Don is going through. Don represented me in a wrongful State job termination hearing, that I lost. Don’s firm handled my appeal to the Commonwealth Court. I was fighting for my rights to Unemployment Compensation. The case was decided on Perjurous testimony by a State Revenue Dept. employee. I waited 18 months with no financial compensation before the court ruled against me. I had selected Don as my attorney because I believed, and still do, that he is honest and a fighter for the little guy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Understanding Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman

Wayne Barrett did such a brilliant job at analyzing how Jonathan Lippman rose to the top of the New York State Unified Court System that I am re-posting his outstanding article below. Enjoy!

Betsy Combier

Paterson Duped Again: Shelly Silver Gets Childhood Pal Jonathan Lippman State's Top Courts Job

By Wayne Barrett, Village Voice, published: February 11, 2009

Two old L.E.S. friends, Shelly Silver and Jonathan Lippman, are celebrating their emergence as the mostpowerful duo in state government.

Jonathan Lippman and Shelly Silver grew up together on the Lower East Side in the 1950s, living next door in the insular Grand Street projects and sitting near each other's family in the neighborhood's Orthodox shul. After both graduated from law school in 1968 and drifted into low-level courthouse gigs in Manhattan in their early careers, one went on to become the longest-serving Democratic legislative leader in modern New York history, master of an unprecedented 107 to 43 majority in the State Assembly. The other remained largely unknown, except inside the state's vast court system.

Last month, the two old friends reunited in the Red Room in the State Capitol to celebrate their emergence as the most powerful duo in state government.

Below the political radar, the black-hatted, still religious, and gravel-toned Silver, who is celebrating his 65th birthday and 15th year as speaker this month, has been quietly boosting the more secular Lippman for years. Last month, he finally pushed Lippman from the series of back-office management posts where he had labored for years to the job of top gavel in the State Judiciary.

Appointed Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals in mid-January by the accidental governor, David Paterson, whose troubled tenure continues to erode his own ranking among the state's power elite, Lippman is awaiting virtually certain confirmation in the next few days from the new and narrow Senate Democratic majority. He will take over a court system that spends $2.3 billion a year, employs 21,000, and is likely to deal with issues like gay marriage, the housing foreclosure crisis, Wall Street criminality, and the still anti–city school aid formula during the six years he will reign until his mandatory retirement at 70.

A year younger than his boyhood friend, Lippman awaits State Senate confirmation before becoming the first chief judge since 1898 to lead the state's highest court without ever serving as one of the court's nine members [actually, there are seven seats -- ed.]. When Silver gave a short speech at Paterson's announcement of the appointment, Lippman quipped: "Two kids from the Lower East Side—not too shabby."

In fact, the story of how Lippman reached this pinnacle has its shabby side. He exudes an above-politics reform aura, but he did not climb to the top of the state's judiciary without making some stops in the dark along the way. His ally, Silver, helped clear that path to power, working a system whose anti-democratic ways have been rebuked by two federal courts.

Lippman has been a hardworking ambassador and manager of the courts for decades, visiting almost all of the system's 343 locations and acquainting himself with virtually every one of its 1,300 judges. But he has also been its consummate political player, seemingly more interested in influence than law.

Jonathan Lippman will soon preside over the most complicated and significant cases in New York, even though he's never practiced as a private attorney.

His legal career began in a judge's chambers as a law secretary and, when he turns 70 in six years, it will end there. In fact, he has spent so much of his career as a bureaucrat that he's written only 16 signed judicial opinions, 14 of them since Paterson's predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, made him the presiding justice of Manhattan's Appellate Division in 2007. With that scant a record as a jurist, it's impossible to know what his judicial philosophy is, and even his 24-year tenure in three appointive administrative posts offers no consistent thread about his judicial values or independence.

On one hand, he described himself in a 2006 speech as "unencumbered by parochial or partisan or political agendas," and is so widely considered a champion of court reform that New York's Bar Association found him "exceptionally well qualified" for chief judge, ahead of the "well-qualified" ratings it gave long-standing Appeals judges. The Times endorsed him, and he was given the Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence in November by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Judge John Roberts.

On the other hand, he is such a skilled and connected insider that when he ran for the first and only time in 2005, he was the only candidate in the state running for Supreme Court who couldn't be voted against. Lippman was on all five ballot lines: Democratic, Republican, Working Families, Conservative, and Independent. In fact, he had refused to allow his name to be put in the nomination unless every party backed him for the seat, which is the top trial court of the unified court system. (In New York, the "Supreme" Court is not actually supreme: The Court of Appeals is at the top of the judicial pile, above the Appellate Division and the Supreme Court, where major civil and criminal cases are heard.)

David Alpert, the onetime Democratic leader in Lippman's home county of Westchester, says the first time he ever heard of the man was when he got a call from a Republican, State Senator Nick Spano. Spano told him that he and a Westchester Democratic assemblyman, Richard Brodsky, had passed an amendment creating a new Supreme Court seat in Westchester, and Spano wanted Lippman "to be cross-endorsed for it." That meant Spano wanted the Democrats, Republicans, and other minor parties to all vote at their judicial nominating conventions to put Lippman's name on their ballot lines for this new, vacant seat, in exchange for which the Republicans would demand that the Democrats endorse at least one of their candidates.

"I didn't even know [Lippman] lived in Westchester," says Alpert, who was accustomed to promoting attorneys and county judges who had done their time for the party to Supreme Court slots. "I had breakfast with him, and the first thing he told me was that he and Shelly were raised together. He said he wanted to be cross-endorsed and that he wanted to go on to be an appellate judge." Alpert was just one of a legion of county leaders Lippman had to deal with over the years as he sought a Supreme Court seat—five counties with five parties occupy the 9th Judicial District—but Alpert says "we tried twice" (in 2000 and 2002, he believes) to deliver a multi-party cross-endorsement deal and couldn't.

Joseph Ruggiero, the Democratic leader from Dutchess County in 2002, said that on the day of the judicial convention when Democrats picked their Supreme Court nominees, Silver placed a conference call to a group of party leaders gathered at the Westchester headquarters and asked them to support Lippman. "We all said yes," recalled Ruggiero. How could they say no? With a Republican governor and Senate majority leader at the time, Silver was New York's top Democrat, and Denny Farrell, Silver's right hand in the assembly, was the state party chair.

When the current Westchester Democratic leader, Reggie LaFayette, finally did deliver a deal for Lippman in 2005, he explained Lippman's unusual candidacy—clearly more top-down than the typical grassroots designation—to his executive committee this way: "I told them I don't create judge seats. It was created higher up than me, by the two houses of the legislature. And someone yelled out, 'You mean Assemblyman Silver,' and I said, 'Well, he had to vote for it.' " But the bigger problem for LaFayette was cajoling his fellow leaders into giving up a seat in a cross-endorsement deal and backing a Republican. Cross-endorsements are easy when the two parties are competitive and no one knows who will win, but Democrats had won five of six judgeships in 2004, without any deals, and felt no need to give the GOP anything.

The executive committee understood LaFayette's argument and signed on, but a few weeks later, the price of the Lippman package deal got much steeper. The leaders could live with cross-endorsing the initial Republican candidate, a respected county judge named Stewart Rosenwasser. But just days before the September judicial conventions, the Republicans replaced Rosenwasser with a candidate that horrified many Democrats: Joseph Alessandro, also a county judge.

Alessandro had been found "not qualified" by the Bar Association and was dogged by tawdry tax and lawsuit charges. The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct is still investigating those charges, and Alessandro, who did become a Supreme Court judge, is now facing possible severe sanctions. Yet it was Lippman's demands that would put Alessandro on the bench.

Lippman wanted to be endorsed by all five parties, and that insistence created an opening for the county's most voracious party boss, Dr. Giulio Cavallo, who controlled the Independence Party. He wanted Alessandro, not Rosenwasser, to become Lippman's opposite number in the multi-party swap and get the cross-endorsements. LaFayette and the Republican leader, RoseMarie Panio, eventually decided to back Alessandro, but fights against the deal broke out on the floors of both of these ordinarily scripted and staid conventions. Challengers ran against Alessandro and, had he lost at either convention, Lippman's precious deal—and ultimately his route to the Court of Appeals—would have died.

The inclusion of Alessandro so offended Working Families party chair Pat Welsh that he endorsed Lippman but refused to back Alessandro, telling the Voice that the deal was "unconscionable." (Lippman ran on five ballot lines; Alessandro, apparently unconcerned about the Working Families Party, four.) A disgusted Rosenwasser wound up quitting the bench altogether.

At Lippman's January 2006 induction ceremony for Supreme Court in White Plains, Silver regaled the audience of bigwigs—at a special celebration separated from the swearing-in of the other new judges—with "our gang" stories from their first meeting at the age of six. Saying, "We have shared a common path," Silver joined in celebrating "with my colleagues in the legislature," many of whom were there, "who I say had a good hand in making today happen." While Lippman is now said to be downplaying Silver's role in his rise, he called him "family" in his speech and praised him for "marshaling the troops, and, boy, can he marshal the troops."

Lippman called himself "basically an apolitical person," and then thanked 16 party leaders, referring to each of the five from Westchester, including Cavallo, as "my leader," singling out Spano, who, he said, "vouched for me on the Republican side." Judge Gail Prudenti, the presiding justice in the Appellate Division covering Westchester, spoke on behalf of what she called "the many, many, many campaign advisers to the seemingly never-ending 'Lippman for Justice' campaigns."

The unexamined side of the Lippman saga is revealed in these salty Westchester tales, where the judge who pretends he is above self-serving politics played it as skillfully as his sidekick from the neighborhood who does it for a living. Lippman created the state's Judicial Campaign Ethics Center to guide candidates for elected judgeships, but he told Alpert, and many others, that he wanted the seat handed to him without the inconvenience of an election because it would be unseemly for the chief administrative judge to solicit contributions.

Yet he had no problem brandishing the calling card of Silver's friendship, or dialing up county leaders and other powerbrokers, some of whom, including Senate Assistant Majority Leader and onetime GOP boss Spano, were receiving lucrative patronage assignments from his courts. He even had no hesitation about going forward with the deal though he knew it would result in the elevation of an already tarnished judge, Alessandro, who may soon be repudiated by the Conduct Commission.

In fact, just as he began his efforts to secure a Supreme Court slot in 2000, he opened an elaborate office for himself in state space, across the street from the White Plains courthouse, and began spending a lot of time there, deeply involving himself in the judicial politics of that district. Shortly before that, he abruptly asked the district's administrative judge, Angelo Ingrassia, a Republican from a small county in the district, to step down a year before his mandatory retirement age. He even gave Ingrassia a car and chauffeur for his final year to induce him to do it.

He then split Ingrassia's job into two positions and gave both to Spano allies—one a Republican and the other an influential Democrat from Westchester, the populous center of the district. The new administrative judge, Frank Nicolai, denied in a Voice interview that he "campaigned for Lippman" in the long-running effort to secure a Supreme Court seat, as some sources contend. That would be a violation of judicial ethics, which only permit judges to campaign for themselves. "If someone asked," Nicolai said, "I'd say he'd be an outstanding judge." Asked if he might have initiated some of those conversations, Nicolai added: "I might have."

Nicolai presided at Lippman's 2006 swearing-in, where Lippman, Silver, and his other prestigious friends were so self-congratulatory it was almost as if he had actually won an election—when all he'd really done was collect chits and lean on the party bosses who'd installed him. With all the editorial hubbub about the judicial nominating process in New York, spurred by the federal court decisions that the process was an unconstitutional infringement of the franchise, Lippman the reformer had inadvertently established by his own experience how poisonously anti-democratic it was.

Yet, at his induction, he called his campaign "a unique experience," and even praised the mix of elective and appointive positions in New York's judicial system. Indeed, he has proven, from his Supreme Court fix to his culminating appointment as chief judge, that he is the master of both processes, each with their own brand of incestuous networking. If that is merit, then Lippman is what many of his supporters see him as, the embodiment of the merit system in our courts.

Lippman wanted a Supreme Court spot to make himself legally eligible for appointment to a second-tier appellate post, which he saw as a vital stepping-stone to the top-tier Court of Appeals. He had to do it then because his other sponsor, Chief Judge Judith Kaye, would have to step down when she turned 70 in 2008, and even a brief stint on the appellate bench would give him an opportunity to build a record as a scholarly jurist, though it would be quite a lean one in comparison with competitors who'd actually written opinions over lifetimes.

But his timely and controversial "election" was hardly the only awkwardly abetted step on his unprecedented career ascension. Prior to it, Lippman had only been a Court of Claims judge—an appointment bestowed by Governor George Pataki a few months into his first year in office (1995), when the Democrat Lippman managed to secure a spot despite the hunger of Republicans eager to grab judicial patronage slots after 12 years of Democratic rule.

At the time, Lippman was the top deputy in the Office of Court Administration, and all he had going for him were his Silver ties; an assiduously cultivated friendship with GOP Senate Judiciary Chair Jim Lack; and the backing of Judge Kaye, who argued that Lippman should hold a judicial title since she intended to install him, as she did a few months later, as the chief administrative judge.

Spano, who had just become the Republican county leader in Westchester in 1995, met Lippman in the few days between Pataki's appointment and the Senate's confirmation. Since Lippman was technically a candidate from Spano's home turf, he had to sign off and did, endorsing Lippman on the Senate floor and launching what he concedes became a series of efforts on Lippman's behalf that he would make over the coming years. Three of the pivotal party brass—Westchester Conservative Gail Burns, Rockland County Republican Vince Reda, and Cavallo—were on Spano-engineered Senate payrolls when Lippman collected his cross-endorsements in 2005, and the senator concedes that he spoke to them, as well as to Westchester Republican RoseMarie Panio, a close ally. "I'm sure I expressed support for Judge Lippman," Spano tells the Voice. "Anytime his name was up, I was an enthusiastic supporter."

In fact, Spano, who was widely viewed as the Senate Republican closest to Silver, confirmed his call to Alpert and acknowledged that he'd pushed midnight legislation through in 2005 and earlier, aided by Brodsky, that created new Supreme Court seats in the judicial district covering Westchester. The bill in 2005 was introduced by Pataki on June 24 and passed by both houses that day. While Spano said he didn't think "it would be fair to say" the seats were "created for anyone," he concedes that "Lippman's name came up" when the bills were adopted. Lippman needed more than one bill because the cross-endorsement deals with the Republicans fell apart, for reasons having nothing to do with him (once the Republicans demanded four Republican cross-endorsements for Lippman). He even went so far as to be nominated by the Democrats in 2002, only to file a formal declination when the deal with the GOP broke down.

A few months after Spano helped engineer Lippman's 2005 cross-endorsement, his brother, Mike Spano, an assemblyman mired in the hopelessly outmanned Republican minority, quit the Assembly and joined a premier Albany lobbying firm run by Silver's former chief of staff, Pat Lynch, who is perceived to be the lobbyist closest to the speaker. When Nick Spano was defeated for the Senate in 2006, he formed his own lobbying company that Lynch invested in and allowed him to operate until this month out of her Albany suite. Mike Spano eventually went back to the Assembly, but he later became a Democrat at a press conference attended by Silver. Nick Spano, who reported half a million dollars in lobbying fees in 2007, denies vociferously that his aggressive support for Lippman has anything to do with his current business. But his ties to Lynch, and Lynch's hiring of his brother (who was hardly an influential Albany player), are a measure of his alliance with Silver, who Nick Spano says he "might have talked to" about Lippman's candidacy over the years "in social settings."

All the while that Spano was aiding Lippman's candidacy, he was reaping at least $79,739 in fees as a "court evaluator," a person paid to measure the mental competency of someone named in a legal petition. Though Spano isn't a lawyer, he has received 31 of these assignments and four other referee assignments. OCA regulations require the disclosure of these fees, but Spano's fees in 15 cases aren't listed on the office's printout. While Lippman's OCA had nothing to do with choosing evaluators (individual judges do that), it did collect applications for appointments; approved evaluators, like Spano, for the list; and set the qualifications for appointment, which appear to permit just about any professional to sign up.

Evaluators look into the eyes of the subjects of these court petitions, many of whom are elderly and in nursing homes, and decide whether they should retain control of property and other assets, the value of which they also consider. Spano sponsored the law that created this position, and he and other pols in Westchester, including then Senator Guy Velella, wasted no time collecting assignments. Velella, who has since been convicted on unrelated charges, was another social friend of Lippman's, and dined with him and Senator Lack and their wives at Rao's, the famously exclusive restaurant in East Harlem. Even one of the restaurant owners collected 19 appointments as court evaluator.

Lack, however, never dipped into the evaluator till, but he did collect 66 court appointments as a guardian or referee while chairing the Senate Judiciary, 26 of which were from Judge Prudenti, who spoke about her adviser role in Lippman's never-ending campaign at the 2006 induction. A Court of Claims judge himself by then, Lack was also present at the swearing-in and was saluted by Lippman, though he'd left the Senate after chasing a woman to her home in a road-rage dispute and ducking under the garage door when she tried to hide from him. "Do I think it's a terrible thing that people involved in public office receive this?" Lippman once told Newsday, referring to judiciary patronage. "No, I don't."

There's no indication that Lippman did anything more than oversee this grab bag of goodies—with evaluators often earning $3,000 for a couple hours of work. But if Lippman was so concerned about the appearances of being political that he effectively exempted himself from the requirement that he actually compete in the electoral arena, he might have been a bit more careful about the appearances of his alliances with the beneficiaries of this dubious bonanza.

The day after Lippman became a Supreme Court Judge, in 2006, he asked Judges Kaye and Prudenti to name him to the Appellate Term, a job he would perform in addition to the administrative post he retained. This assignment—which allowed him to hear appeals of some lower court decisions—was his only way of acquiring appeal experience without being formally elevated by the governor to the full Appellate Division.

When a vacancy developed in the Manhattan Appellate Division and Spitzer selected Lippman as the county's presiding judge, howls were heard because two of the most respected sitting judges on that Appellate Division were bypassed by the screening panel of lawyers that vets judicial candidates, narrowing the governor's choice.

The same thing happened in December, when the screening panel for chief judge excluded two sitting Court of Appeals judges, as well as all women and Latino candidates—giving Paterson an invitation he couldn't figure out how to refuse. The panel included four Kaye appointees and one from Silver. Panel member Leo Milonas was so close to Lippman he spoke at the induction. Lippman saluted Milonas then as "truly my friend for life," calling their friendship, which began when Lippman worked for him at OCA, "an unforgettable relationship that, to my great benefit, continues today in every way."

Reminded of that by the Voice, Milonas saw it as no reason to have recused himself from anointing Lippman, noting that he was "more qualified" to help pick a chief judge "because I know people." The panel's chair, John O'Mara, a Pataki appointee, sat with Lippman on the court's Capital Construction Board for years.

An angry Paterson asked Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate the panel's exclusionary list of seven nominees, but he never released Cuomo's report or recommendations. Instead, he began openly associating the chief judge selection with the other grand decision that faced him—the choice of a new senator to succeed Hillary Clinton—sending the signal that he had to pick a woman for the Senate since the panel's list barred him from picking one for the court.

When Silver reversed course and supported Caroline Kennedy, insiders suspected it was all about his love for Lippman. At that point, the governor had also just about convinced everyone that he wanted Kennedy, and the assumption was that Silver got the message that if he wanted Lippman, he'd better sing "Auld Lang Syne" to his Kennedy animosity. Paterson was asked about this connection at the Lippman announcement and denied it, adding that he "actually did not know the extent" of Lippman's "relationship" with Silver until he called the speaker to tell him about the appointment—which would make the governor the only high-ranking New York official unaware of it.

Ironically, of course, Paterson deserted Kennedy, and even claimed, improbably, that he never intended to pick her, though he revealed how important he thought Silver's opinion was about his eventual choice, Kirsten Gillibrand (another woman, to balance Lippman), when he said at her announcement that he moved it up to Friday from Saturday so the Sabbath-observing Silver could attend. It would be par for the course in Paterson's stumbling regime that he would agree to Silver's choice for chief judge in return for Silver's support of Kennedy, and then not get her, only to be stuck with Silver's pal for judge.

Whatever the deal, Paterson appeared boxed in when he announced that he would choose from the screening panel's list for chief judge. But there is one school of thought, citing interpretations from the OCA, that suggests that Paterson could simply have chosen to do nothing when the January 15 appointment deadline arrived. These analysts argue that Paterson could have named no one until later this year, when panel chair O'Mara steps down. That would have meant that Carmen Ciparick, a woman and a Hispanic, who has been on the Court of Appeals for 15 years, could have continued serving as the acting chief judge, a position the other seven [actually five -- ed.] judges voted to give her when Kaye retired in January. The press office at the court says Ciparick is the chief judge "as long as the seat remains vacant." If Paterson had simply done nothing, he could have eventually asked the new panel for a new list, and Ciparick, who applied and was rejected by O'Mara's very politicized panel, might actually have gotten a chance to compete for the job.

The same is true should the Senate take no action now. In fact, several Democratic state senators have been making a fuss for weeks about the lack of Latino representation in positions of power—at any level of city or state government. It is an issue that threatened the Democratic takeover of the Senate majority at the same time that Paterson was deciding, unknown to anyone, to displace a sitting Latina chief judge he could have allowed to remain, and perhaps even wind up appointing. His simultaneous selection of the anti-immigrant Gillibrand for the Senate seat compounded Paterson's trouble with Hispanics.

The first black governor preferred the comfort of Silver and Kaye and Lippman and the old-line judicial establishment. Lippman had even been careful enough to establish a personal rapport with the governor when Paterson was the Senate minority leader, meeting with him on OCA issues. Unelected himself and unsure of the extraordinary powers of his office, Paterson seems to shrink in Silver's company, now blaming the millionaire's tax on him as if the speaker sets the budget agenda.

The graying gang from Grand Street rolled the neophyte governor from Harlem, and will soon double their choke hold on state government, a triumph of loyalty and intrigue, which, in old New York, adds up to just another measure of merit.