New York’s Lawyers and Judges Behaving Badly, From New York Law Journal

https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2018/12/30/lawyers-judges-behaving-badly/
Tara-Lenich-Article-201612051956
Tara Lenich, admitted to forging judicial orders to run illegal wiretaps on a fellow prosecutor and a New York City Police Detective, sentenced to one year in prison in early 2018.

Edmund-Duffy
Edmund Duffy’s five-decade legal career, during which he rose to prominence as the former heard of the China practice at Skadden, officially ended 02/08/2018, when he was automatically disbarred after he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

AP-Robert-Cicale-web
A Suffolk County District Court Judge was suspended from the bench after he was arrested and charged with burglary. He was caught with women’s underwear that he allegedly stole from a private residence.

Evan-Greebel-Article-201710202147
Evan Greebel, a former partner at Kaye Scholer and Katten Muchin Rosenman, was sent to prison for working with disgraced pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli to defraud investors.

ravelo-keila-Article-201810091948
Keila Ravelo was sentenced to five years for conspiring to defraud her former law firms and clients out of $7.8 Million, using bogus litigation vendors. Prosecutors said that the former Hunton & Williams and Willkie Farr & Gallagher partner used the money to fuel a lavish lifestyle.

Frank-Aquila-Article-201809281858
Prominent M&A partner Frank Aquila deleted his Twitter account after tellling White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders she should “Rot in Hell You Bitch” for defending Sen. Lindsey Graham amid the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Aaron-Schlossberg-Article-201805171926
Manhattan attorney Aaron Schlossberg’s rant against employees speaking Spanish at a Mexican Restaurant provoked a firestorm on social media.

Anna-Lushchinskaya-Article-201812142118
Another viral video captured a second New York City lawyer who directed racially charged comments at bystanders.

Gavel-and-Book-Article-201710162142
“Egragious and outragesou” conduct by ex-Mintz Levin associate Anthony Jacob Zappin during his pro se legal war with his former wife, also an attorney, led to his disbarment.

Judicial-Robe-Article-201712011528
New York’s high court unanimously said that Civil Court Judge Terrence O’Connor’s “intemparate” and “inappropriate” behavior in the courtroom were bad enough, but his decision to not cooperate with an investigation into his actions also contributed to his removal from the bench.

Attorneys of the Month for January thru March 5th, 2018.


The following Georgia attorneys were disciplined and/or disbarred for the month Of March, 2018:

March 5, 2018
S18Y0348. IN THE MATTER OF SAM LOUIS LEVINE

Sam L. Levine
S18Y0350. IN THE MATTER OF CHRISTOPHER AARON CORLEY
S18Y0383. IN THE MATTER OF ANDRE KEITH SANDERS
S18Y0559. IN THE MATTER OF WALTER LINTON MOORE

Februry 19, 2018:
S18Y0315. IN THE MATTER OF NATALIE DAWN MAYS
S18Y0434. IN THE MATTER OF CHERYL JOYCE BRAZIEL
S18Y0511. IN THE MATTER OF DONALD EDWARD SMART

February 5, 2018:
S18Y0484. IN THE MATTER OF ADAM LORENZO SMITH

Adam L. Smith

January 29, 2018:
S17Y1329. IN THE MATTER OF RICKY W. MORRIS, JR.
S17Y1918. IN THE MATTER OF CLARENCE R. JOHNSON, JR.
S17Y2016. IN THE MATTER OF CAMERON SHAHAB
S18Y0142. IN THE MATTER OF ROBERT JUTZI HOWELL
S18Y0256. IN THE MATTER OF LARRY BUSH HILL
S18Y0264. IN THE MATTER OF CHRISTOPHER MARK MILLER
S18Y0269. IN THE MATTER OF LORNE HOWARD CRAGG
S18Y0387. IN THE MATTER OF RICHARD V. MERRITT

Rich Merritt

If you want to know more, go to Supreme Court of Georgia, 2018 Opinion sand Summaries
The number on the left hand side above, is the case number for the attorney. The Attorney discipline is at the end of each section. If you click the case number, you can read the Order,

OPINION: The heightened pleading standard established in 2009 is based on faulty propositions. Arthur H. Bryant, The National Law Journal


National Law Journal
http://www.nationallawjournal.com/printerfriendly/id=1202758245088

‘Iqbal’ Brings Seven Years of Bad Luck for Plaintiffs

OPINION: The heightened pleading standard established in 2009 is based on faulty propositions.
Arthur H. Bryant, The National Law Journal
May 23, 2016

The seventh anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal was May 18. It’s a date that should live in infamy.
A 5-4 decision, Iqbal ignored reality — and the fact that truth is stranger than fiction. It flouted the process for amending the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. And it particularly limited access to justice for civil rights, employment discrimination and individual plaintiffs.
Seventy years before Iqbal, in 1938, the Federal Rules were adopted to get rid of “fact” pleading, which the rule-makers thought “led to wasteful disputes about distinctions that … were arbitrary or metaphysical, too often cutting off adjudication on the merits.” Under the new Rule 8, to start a lawsuit, the plaintiff had to file a complaint with “a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief.”
As the court later explained in Conley v. Gibson, the complaint did not have to “set out the facts in detail.” It just had to give the defendant “fair notice of what the plaintiff’s claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” A motion to dismiss would only be granted if “it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Then, the plaintiff could take discovery, to find out what the defendant and other relevant people knew and when they knew it. After that, the court would determine whether there was sufficient proof to require a trial.
In Iqbal, the court rejected a complaint alleging that high-level U.S. officials had a Pakistani Muslim and thousands of other Arab men illegally arrested and detained after the 9/11 attacks because of “their race, religion, and national origin … and not because of any evidence” of their “involvement in supporting terrorist activity.”
To do so, the court changed the rules. It held that, from now on, to “survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Dismissal no longer turned on whether the complaint provided “fair notice” to the defendant; it turned on whether the claim was “plausible on its face.” How were judges to determine that? By drawing on their “judicial experience and common sense.”
Motions to dismiss were immediately filed throughout the federal courts. Judges’ and lawyers’ workloads increased enormously. The lower courts and lawyers are still struggling to figure out how the new system is supposed to work — and, if they can, make it fair.
For three reasons, however, it’s become increasingly clear that Iqbal was a mistake.
First, whatever one thinks about the allegations in the case, the Iqbal pleading standard is based on a proposition — allegations probably aren’t true if they’re not plausible on their face — that is false. Reality keeps teaching us that. None of us, including federal judges using their “judicial experience and common sense,” would have believed that any of the following was plausible a few years ago:
• Donald Trump would be the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president of the United States of America.
• A prominent candidate for president would propose banning all Muslims from entering America or call women “fat pigs,” “dogs” and “disgusting animals.”
• Same-sex marriage would be legal nationwide.
• The U.S. government would obtain and be able to search virtually all Ameri­cans’ phone records.
• Olympic champion Bruce Jenner would become a woman, Caitlyn Jenner.
• Federal, state and local governments would battle over what kind of bathroom people such as Caitlyn Jenner could use.
Similar implausible things happen every day.
Second, Iqbal effectively rewrote the Federal Rules without following the legally established rules for amending them. Under the Rules Enabling Act, before rules are changed, detailed procedures must be followed involving the Advisory Committees to the U.S. Judicial Con­ference’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure; the Standing Committee itself; notice to and comment from lawyers, judges and the public; the U.S. Judicial Conference; the Supreme Court; and Congress — so the changes are fully considered and fair.
In 2002, the court unanimously rejected a company’s plea for a heightened pleading standard in employment discrimination cases, saying that result “must be obtained by the process of amending the Federal Rules, and not judicial interpretation.” It should have said that in Iqbal, too.
Third, Iqbal is especially harmful to civil rights, employment discrimination and individual plaintiffs. Last year, the most comprehensive study of Iqbal’s effects, “Measuring the Impact of Plausi­bility Pleading,” was published in the Virginia Law Review. It found that Iqbal increased dismissals of most cases by 10 percent, but employment discrimination and civil rights cases much more (16 percent and 19 percent, respectively). Cases filed by individuals were also dismissed far more often (18 percent), but not cases filed by corporations.
In theory, this could mean that only bad cases were dismissed more promptly. But, if that were true, a higher percentage of the cases remaining in court would succeed. They didn’t. These plaintiffs were just disproportionately denied a chance to prove their claims.
The high court should reverse the Iqbal decision. Whether cases proceed should turn on the facts and the law, not on whether judges think the allegations are plausible.
Arthur H. Bryant is the chairman of Public Justice, a national public interest law firm dedicated to advancing and preserving access to justice. His practice focuses on consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, environmental protection, and corporate and government accountability.

2016 STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH P. THOMPSON SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA January 27, 2016, 11 a.m. House Chambers, State Capitol

016 STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS
THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH P. THOMPSON
SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA
January 27, 2016, 11 a.m.
House Chambers, State Capitol

Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, President Pro Tem Shafer, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, members of the General Assembly, my fellow judges and my fellow Georgians:
Good morning. Thank you for this annual tradition of inviting the Chief Justice to report on the State of Georgia’s Judiciary. Thanks in large part to your support and the support of our governor, as we move into 2016, I am pleased to tell you that your judicial branch of government is not only steady and secure, it is dynamic; it has momentum; and it is moving forward into the 21st century with a vitality and a commitment to meeting the inevitable changes before us.
Our mission remains the same: To protect individual rights and liberties, to uphold and interpret the rule of law, and to provide a forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes that is fair, impartial, and accessible to all.
Our judges are committed to these principles. Each day, throughout this state, they put on their black robes; they take their seat on the courtroom bench; and they work tirelessly to ensure that all citizens who come before them get justice.


Our Judicial Council is the policy-making body of the state’s judicial branch. It is made up of competent, committed leaders elected by their fellow judges and representing all classes of court. They are assisted by an Administrative Office of the Courts, which is under a new director – Cynthia Clanton – and has a renewed focus as an agency that serves judges and courts throughout Georgia.
A number of our judges have made the trip to be here today. Our judges are here today because the relationship we have with you is important. We share with you the same goal of serving the citizens of this great state. We could not do our work without your help and that of our governor.
On behalf of all of the judges, let me say we are extremely grateful to you members of the General Assembly for your judicial compensation appropriation last year.


Today I want to talk to you about Georgia’s 21st century courts – our vision for the future, the road we must travel to get there, and the accomplishments we have already achieved.
It has been said that, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Since a new state Constitution took effect in 1983, our population has nearly doubled to a little over 10 million, making us the 8th most populous state in the country. We are among the fastest growing states in the nation, and in less than four years, our population is projected to exceed 12 million.
Because it is good for our economy, we welcome that growth. Today, Georgia ranks
among states with the highest number of Fortune 500 companies, 20 of which have their global headquarters here; we have 72 four-year colleges and universities; we have the world’s busiest airport and we have two deep-water ports. Georgia is a gateway to the South, and for a growing number of people and businesses from around the world, it is a gateway to this country.
All of this growth produces litigation – increasingly complex litigation – and just as our state must prepare for this growth by ensuring we have enough roads and modes of transportation, enough doctors and hospitals, and enough power to reach people throughout the state, our courts also must be equipped and modernized for the 21st
century.
While our population has nearly doubled since 1983, the number of Georgia judges has
grown only 16 percent. We must work together to ensure that our judicial system has enough judges, staff and resources in the 21st century to fulfill the mission and constitutional duties our forefathers assigned to us.
A healthy, vibrant judiciary is absolutely critical to the economic development of our state. Thanks to many leaders in the judiciary, as well as to our partnership with the governor and to you in the legislature, we are well on our way to building a court system for the 21st century.


This time next year, with your support, we will have put into place an historic shift in the types of cases handled by the Georgia Supreme Court – the highest court in the state – and by the Court of Appeals – our intermediate appellate court. Thanks to Governor Deal’s Georgia Appellate Jurisdiction Review Commission, this realignment will bring the Supreme Court of Georgia in line with other state Supreme Courts, which handle only the most critical cases that potentially change the law. Serving on the Commission are two of my colleagues – Justice David Nahmias and Justice Keith Blackwell – as well as two judges from the Court of Appeals – Chief
Judge Sara Doyle and Judge Stephen Dillard.
I thank you, Justices and Judges, for your leadership.
Under the Georgia Constitution, Supreme Court justices collectively decide every case that comes before us. Currently the state’s highest court hears divorce and alimony cases; we hear cases involving wills; we hear cases involving titles to land; and we hear disputes over boundary lines.
But the Governor’s Commission, and a number of reports by other commissions and
committees issued since 1983, have recommended that such cases should be heard by our intermediate appeals court, not by our highest court.
Both of our courts are among the busiest in the nation. But unlike the Supreme Court, which sits as a full court with all seven justices participating in, and deciding, every case, the Court of Appeals sits in panels of three. With your approval last year of three new Court of Appeals judges, that court will now have five panels, so it will have the capacity to consider five times as many cases as the Supreme Court.
Modernization of the Supreme Court makes sense. In a 19th century court system, when
most of the wealth was tied up in land, maybe title to land cases were the most important. Maybe they had the greatest implications for the public at large. But as we move into the 21st century, that is no longer true.
In answer to questions such as who owns a strip of land, what does a will mean, and who should prevail in a divorce settlement or an alimony dispute, most judicial systems believe that three judges are enough to provide the parties with a full and fair consideration of their appeal. It no longer makes sense to have seven – or nine – justices collectively review these types of cases.
There is no doubt these cases will be in good hands with the Court of Appeals.
Let me emphasize that all these cases the Commission recommended shifting to the Court of Appeals are critically important to the parties involved.
Let me also emphasize that the purpose of this historic change is not to lessen the burden on the Supreme Court. Rather, the intent is to free up the state’s highest court to devote more time and energy to the most complex and the most difficult cases that have the greatest implications for the law and society at large.
We will therefore retain jurisdiction of constitutional challenges to the laws you enact, questions from the federal courts seeking authoritative rulings on Georgia law, election contests, murder and death penalty cases, and cases in which the Court of Appeals judges are equally divided.
Significantly, we want to be able to accept more of what we call “certiorari” cases
which are appeals of decisions by the Court of Appeals. The number of petitions filed in this category during the first quarter of the new docket year is nearly 14 percent higher this year over last. Yet due to the amount of appeals the law now requires us to take, we have had to reject the majority of the petitions for certiorari that we receive.
These cases are often the most complex – and the most consequential. They involve
issues of great importance to the legal system and the State as a whole. Or they involve an area of law that has become inconsistent and needs clarification.
Businesses and citizens need to know what the law allows them to do and what it does
not allow them to do. It is our job at the highest court to reduce any uncertainty and bring consistency and clarity to the law.
Under the Commission’s recommendations, our 21st century Georgia Supreme Court will
be able to accept more of these important appeals.


As we move into the 21st century, plans are being discussed to build the first state Judicial Building in Georgia’s history that will be dedicated solely to the judiciary. We are grateful for the Governor’s leadership on this. The building that now houses the state’s highest court and the Court of Appeals was built in 1954 when Herman Tallmadge was governor. Back then, it made sense to combine the state judicial branch with part of the executive branch, by locating the Law Department in the same building.
But the world has changed since 1954, and the building we now occupy was not designed with visitors in mind. It was not designed with technology in mind. And it surely was not designed with security in mind. Indeed, it was designed to interconnect with neighboring buildings that housed other branches of government.
A proper Judicial Building is about more than bricks and mortar. Outside, this building will symbolize for generations to come the place where people will go to get final resolution of civil wrongs and injustices; where the government will go to safeguard its prosecution of criminals; and where defendants will go to appeal convictions and sentences to prison for life.
Inside such a building, the courtroom will reinforce the reality that what goes on here is serious and solemn; it is a place of great purpose, in the words of a federal judge. The parties and the lawyers will understand they are all on equal footing, because they are equal under the law.
There is a majesty about the law that gets played out in the courtroom. It is a hallowed place because it is where the truth must be told and where justice is born. The courtroom represents our democracy at its very best.
No, this building is not just about bricks and mortar. Rather it is a place that will house Georgia’s highest court where fairness, impartiality, and justice will reign for future generations.


We are no longer living in a 1950s Georgia. The courts of the 21st century must be
equipped to handle an increasingly diverse population. Living today in metropolitan Atlanta alone are more than 700,000 people who were born outside the United States. According to the Chamber of Commerce, today some 70 countries have a presence in Atlanta, in the form of a consulate or trade office. We must be ready to help resolve the disputes of international businesses that are increasingly locating in our state and capital. Our 21st century courts must be open, transparent and accessible to all. Our citizens’ confidence in their judicial system depends on it. We must be armed with qualified, certified interpreters, promote arbitration as an alternative to costly, courtroom-bound litigation, ensure that all those who cannot afford lawyers have an avenue toward justice, and be constantly updating technology with the aim of improving our courts’ efficiency while saving literally millions of dollars. For all of this, we need your help.


When I first became a judge, we had no email, no cell phones, no Internet. People didn’t Twitter or text, or post things on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. The most modern equipment we had was a mimeograph machine.
This past year, by Supreme Court order, we created for the first time a governance
structure to bring our use of technology into the 21st century. Chaired by my colleague Justice Harold Melton, and co-chaired by Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson, this permanent Judicial Council Standing Committee on Technology will lead the judicial branch by providing guidance and oversight of its technology initiatives.
Our courts on their own are rapidly moving away from paper documents into the digital age. At the Supreme Court, lawyers must now electronically file all cases. This past year, we successfully launched the next phase by working with trial courts to begin transmitting their entire court record to us electronically. The Court of Appeals also now requires the e-filing of applications to appeal, and this year, will join the Supreme Court in accepting electronic trial records.

Our goal is to develop a uniform statewide electronic filing and retrieval system so that lawyers and others throughout the judiciary can file and access data the easiest way possible.
Using a single portal, attorneys will be able to file documents with trial courts and appellate courts – and retrieve them from any court in the state. This is the system advocated by our partner, President Bob Kaufman of the State Bar of Georgia, and by attorneys throughout the state.
Such a system will not only make our courts more efficient at huge savings, but it will make Georgia safer. When our trial judges conduct bond hearings, for example, they often lack critical information about the person before them. They usually have reports about any former convictions, but they may not have information about cases pending against the defendant in other courts. The technology exists now to ensure that they do.
Also on the horizon is the expanded use of videoconferencing – another electronic
improvement that will save money and protect citizens’ lives. After a conviction and sentence to prison, post-trial hearings require courts to send security teams to pick up the prisoner and bring him to court. Without encroaching on the constitutional right of confrontation, we could videoconference the inmate’s testimony from his prison cell. Again, the technology already exists.
Our Committee on Technology will be at the forefront of guiding our courts into the 21st century.


As Georgia grows, it grows more diverse.
Our Georgia courts are required by the federal government to provide language services free of charge to litigants and witnesses, not only in criminal cases but in civil cases as well.
Even for fluent English speakers, the judicial system can be confusing and unwelcoming.
My vision for Georgia’s judiciary in the 21st century is that every court, in every city and every county in Georgia, will have the capacity of serving all litigants, speaking any language, regardless of national origin, from the moment they enter the courthouse until the moment they leave. That means that on court websites, signs and forms will be available in multiple languages, that all court staff will have the tools they need to assist any customers, and that court proceedings will have instant access to the interpreters of the languages they need.
Chief Magistrate Kristina Blum of the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court has been
working hard to ensure access to justice for all those who come to her court, most of whom are representing themselves.
Recently her court created brochures that provide guidance for civil trials, family
violence matters, warrant applications, garnishments, and landlord-tenant disputes. These brochures provide basic information about each proceeding – what to expect and how best to present their case in court.
Judge Blum, who is in line to be president of the Council of Magistrate Judges and is a member of our Judicial Council, has had the brochures translated into Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. Such non-legalese forms and tutorial videos that our citizens can understand go a long way toward building trust in the judicial system, and in our entire government.
The Supreme Court Commission on Interpreters, chaired by Justice Keith Blackwell, is
making significant strides in ensuring that our courts uphold the standards of due process. With the help of Commission member Jana Edmondson-Cooper, an energetic attorney with the Georgia Legal Services Program, the Commission is working around the state to educate judges,court administrators and lawyers on the judiciary’s responsibilities in providing language assistance.
The essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. Our justice system is the envy of other countries because it is open and fair to everyone seeking justice. By helping those who have not yet mastered English, we reinforce the message that the doors to the best justice system in the world are open to everyone.
Our law demands it. Our Constitution demands it.


The courts of the 21st century will symbolize a new era. A turning point in our history occurred when we realized there was a smarter way to handle criminals.
Six years ago, my colleague and then Chief Justice Carol Hunstein accompanied
Representative Wendell Willard to Alabama to explore how that state was reforming its criminal justice system. Back in Georgia, Governor Deal seized the reins, brought together the three branches of government, and through extraordinary leadership, has made criminal justice reform a reality. Georgia is now a model for the nation.
Today, following an explosive growth in our prison population that doubled between
1990 and 2011 and caused corrections costs to top one billion dollars a year, last year our prison population was the lowest it has been in 10 years. Our recidivism rate is the lowest it’s been in three decades. And we have turned back the tide of rising costs.
For the last five years, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform – created by the governor and your legislation – has been busy transforming our criminal justice system into one that does a better job of protecting public safety while holding non-violent offenders accountable and saving millions in taxpayer dollars. I am extremely grateful to this Council and commend the steady leadership of co-chairs Judge Michael Boggs of the Court of Appeals and Thomas Worthy of the State Bar of Georgia.
Throughout this historic reform, Georgia’s trial court judges have been in the trenches.
Our number one goal in criminal justice reform is to better protect the safety of our citizens.
Central to that goal is the development of our specialty courts – what some call accountability courts.
These courts have a proven track record of reducing recidivism rates and keeping our
citizens safe. Nationwide, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain free of arrest two years after completing the program, and the most conservative analyses show that drug courts reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options. Last year, these courts helped save Georgia more than $51 million in prison costs.
From the beginning, you in the legislature have steadfastly supported the growth in these courts, most recently appropriating more than $19 million for the current fiscal year.
Georgia now has 131 of these courts, which include drug courts, DUI courts, juvenile and adult mental health courts, and veterans courts. Today, only two judicial circuits in the state do not yet have a specialty court, and both are in the early stages of discussing the possibility of starting one. In addition to those already involved, last year alone, we added nearly 3500 new participants to these courts.
Behind that number are individual tales of lives changed and in some cases, lives saved.
Our judges, who see so much failure, take pride in these success stories. And so should you.

Chief Judge Richard Slaby of the Richmond County State Court, speaks with great pride of Judge David Watkins and the specialty courts that have grown under Judge Watkins’ direction. Today the recidivism rate among the Augusta participants is less than 10 percent.
The judges who run these courts are committed and deserve our thanks. We are grateful to leaders like Judge Slaby, who is President-Elect of the Council of State Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council; to Judge Stephen Goss of the Dougherty Superior Court, whose mental health court has been recognized as one of the best mental health courts in our country; to Chief Judge Brenda Weaver, President of the Council of Superior Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council. Judge Weaver of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit serves on the Council of
Accountability Court Judges of Georgia, which you created last year by statute. Its purpose is to improve the quality of our specialty courts through proven standards and practices, and it is chaired by Superior Court Judge Jason Deal of Hall County. Judge Deal’s dedication to the specialty court model in his community, and his guidance and encouragement to programs throughout the state, are described as invaluable by those who work with him.


We may not have a unified court system in Georgia. But we have judges unified in their commitment to our courts. Among our one thousand four hundred and fifty judges, Georgia has many fine leaders. I’ve told you about a number of them today. In closing, I want to mention two more.
When the United States Supreme Court issued its historic decision last year on same-sex marriage, our Council of Probate Court Judges led the way toward compliance. Three months before the ruling was issued, the judges met privately at the behest of the Council’s then president, Judge Chase Daughtrey of Cook County, and his successor, Judge Don Wilkes of Emanuel County. Together, they determined that regardless of what the Supreme Court decided, they would follow the law. Both Governor Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens also publicly announced they would respect the court’s decision, despite tremendous pressure to do otherwise.
These men are all great leaders who spared our state the turmoil other states endured. The bottom line is this: In Georgia, we may like the law, we may not like the law, but we follow the law.


The day-to-day business of the Georgia courts rarely makes the news. Rather judges,
their staff and clerks spend their days devoted to understanding the law, tediously pushing cases through to resolution, committed to ferreting out the truth and making the right decision. It is not easy, and they must often stand alone, knowing that when they sentence someone to prison, many lives hang in the balance between justice and mercy.
So I thank all of our leaders, and I thank all of our judges who are leading our courts into the 21st century.
May God bless them. May God bless you. And may God bless all the people of Georgia.
Thank you.

Agendas Acc0rding to the Federal Bar Association


I ran across this tonight, looking for something else, but it caught my eye and so I read it.
Knowing what I know about this country and being “awake”, I find the following pretty fucking interesting. What are your thoughts?:

FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION
2015-16 ISSUES AGENDA
http://www.fedbar.org/Advocacy/Issues-Agendas.aspx

Active Issues | Monitored Issues
ACTIVE LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

Independence of the Federal Judiciary

The Federal Bar Association reaffirms the importance of the independence of the judiciary, recognizing that judicial decisions are not immune from scrutiny, but are to be made solely on the basis of the law.

Funding for the Federal Courts

The Federal Bar Association supports adequate funding for the general and continuing operations of the federal courts, including an equitable level of rent and facilities expense consistent with actual costs, budgetary constraints, staffing needs and security considerations, to permit the courts to fulfill their constitutional and statutory responsibilities

Federal Judgeships and Caseloads

The Federal Bar Association supports the authorization and establishment of additional permanent and temporary federal judgeships, including bankruptcy judgeships, along with support personnel, as proposed by the Judicial Conference of the United States, when rising caseloads in the federal courts threaten the prompt delivery of justice. The Federal Bar Association also supports efforts to educate Congress, the legal profession and the general public about how the overwhelming case loads threaten the ability of the Third Branch of the federal government to function.

Federal Judicial Vacancies

The Federal Bar Association calls upon the President and Congress to act promptly and responsibly in nominating and confirming nominees to the federal appellate and district courts. The Federal Bar Association supports the development of strategies to reduce the time required to fill federal judicial vacancies.

Courthouse Security

The Federal Bar Association supports the adoption of adequate security measures to protect the federal judiciary, their families and court personnel in and outside the courthouse, while preserving meaningful public access to judicial proceedings.

Federal Judicial Pay

The Federal Bar Association support equitable compensation and regular periodic adjustments for the federal judiciary, as well as senior officials of the Executive Branch and Members of Congress, to promote the recruitment and retention of the highest quality public servants.

Respect for the Federal Courts

Declining public confidence in our courts undermines public respect for the courts and the legitimacy of their rulings. To counter that influence, the Federal Bar Association supports programming and other efforts to educate the public about the federal courts and the role they serve in assuring a just society.

Professionalism and Stature of Federal Attorneys

The Federal Bar Association supports and promotes efforts to improve the professionalism and stature of attorneys employed by the federal government, including: enhancements to the compensation packages of federal attorneys, including pay and retirement benefits, to assist in recruitment and retention; the expansion, consistent with applicable conflict of interest laws, of policies encouraging full participation of attorneys employed by the federal government in professional organizations and pro bono legal activities, including approval for use of administrative leave; enhanced federal funding for participation in continuing legal education and training programs, including paid tuition and administrative leave; and the establishment of programs for student loan deferral and repayment assistance for all federal attorneys, including federal law clerks, federal defenders and judge advocates of the Armed Forces, in support of recruitment and retention efforts.

Social Security Disability Appeals Backlog

The Federal Bar Association supports adequate funding and resources for the Social Security Administration to remove the significant backlog of disability benefit appeals awaiting adjudication and to assure the fair and timely administration of justice for all appellants.

Authority of Bankruptcy Judges in “Core Proceedings”

The Federal Bar Association supports amendment of bankruptcy law to expressly allow bankruptcy judges to issue proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law in core proceedings in which they are otherwise barred from entering final judgments under Article III of the United States Constitution.

Commission on Nazi-Confiscated Art Claims

The Federal Bar Association supports the Congressional creation of a commission to address identification and ownership issues related to Nazi-confiscated artworks, pursuant to the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, as signed by the United States and the international community.

Article I Immigration Court
The Federal Bar Association supports the transfer of responsibilities for the adjudication of immigration claims from the Executive Office of Immigration Review within the Department of Justice to a specialized Article I court, as established by Congress, for the adjudication of claims under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

Federal Criminal Sentencing
The Federal Bar Association supports efforts to advance fairness and consistency in federal sentencing, while preserving judicial independence and discretion to deal with the particular circumstances of individual cases.

Military Spouse Attorney Mobility
The Federal Bar Association supports state-level legal licensing accommodations, including bar admission without additional examination, for attorneys who are spouses of service members, i.e., members of the uniformed services of the United States as defined in 10 USC §101(a)(5), when: (1) those “military spouse attorneys” are present in a particular state, commonwealth, or territory of the United States or District of Columbia due to their service members’ military assignment; (2) they are graduates of accredited law schools; and (3) they are licensed attorneys in good standing in the bar of another state, commonwealth, or territory of the United States or District of Columbia.

Patent Litigation Reform
The Federal Bar Association supports legislation that curbs abusive patent litigation practices and other responsible measures to improve the quality and clarity of patents. The FBA opposes legislation that reduces judicial discretion in adjudicating patent actions or circumvents the Rules Enabling Act by mandating changes that depart from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in patent cases.

MONITORED LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

Courthouse Construction

The Federal Bar Association supports the full funding of courthouse construction proposed by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Cameras in the Courts

The Federal Bar Association encourages a discussion of the competing considerations vis-a-vis proposed legislation which would authorize federal judges, in their discretion, to permit photographing, electronic recording, broadcasting, and televising of federal court proceedings in appropriate circumstances.

Division of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Federal Bar Association opposes the division of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, consistent with its capacity to effectively and efficiently render justice.

Continuing Legal Education Funding for the Federal Judiciary

The Federal Bar Association supports the expansion of and enhancement of federal funding for continuing legal education and training programs for the federal judiciary.

Expansion of Federal Jurisdiction Over State and Local-Prosecuted Crimes

The Federal Bar Association advocates strict scrutiny of legislation proposing to grant original jurisdiction to federal authorities over crimes traditionally reserved to state and local prosecution.

Criminal Justice Act Panel Attorney Compensation

The Federal Bar Association supports Congressional funding to permit an increase in compensation rates for Criminal Justice Act panel attorneys.

National Security and Civil Liberties

The Federal Bar Association encourages the discussion of the competing considerations in the nation’s war against terror between the protection of civil liberties and the interests of national security.

Prevention of Epidemics and Civil Liberties

The Federal Bar Association encourages and contributes to a discussion of the competing considerations between governmental restrictions to guard against epidemics and pandemics and the preservation of individual rights, as well as the use of technology to ensure the continuance of participatory governance.

Safety of Administrative Judges

The Federal Bar Association supports the efforts by the Social Security Administration and the Executive Office of Immigration Review to take appropriate steps to ensure the security of their administrative law judges and immigration judges, and all others who participate in its proceedings.

Veteran Disability Claims Adjudication

The Federal Bar Association supports legislative and administrative improvements to the veterans disability claims process in the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to assure equitable and expeditious determinations.

Attorney Fee-Based Representation of Veterans

The Federal Bar Association supports proposals to expand the availability of fee-based representation of veterans in the disability claims process and to oppose any efforts to repeal the authority of attorney representation to veterans in the furtherance of such claims.

Frivolous Litigation

The Federal Bar Association opposes legislative proposals to eliminate judicial discretion in the imposition of sanctions for frivolous litigation, including proposals to revise Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by imposing mandatory sanctions and preventing a party from withdrawing challenged pleadings on a voluntary basis within a reasonable time.

Adopted by the Board of Directors
Federal Bar Association
July 10, 2015

The compass of FBA’s government relations program is its Issues Agenda, a roster of policy priorities to which the Association devotes its advocacy resources. The policy priorities embraced by the Issues Agenda are associated with active issues that concern the health and welfare of the federal judicial system and effective federal legal practice. For example, they concern the preservation of judicial independence, adequate funding and facilities for the federal courts, sufficient numbers of federal judgeships, equitable compensation for the federal judiciary, fairness and consistency in federal sentencing and a host of other matters

Daily Report and Andrew Phillips: Analyzing the Suit Over Georgia Voters’ Personal Data Leak

Analyzing the Suit Over Georgia Voters’ Personal Data Leak
Andrew Phillips, Daily Report
November 20, 2015
http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202743008663/Analyzing-the-Suit-Over-Georgia-Voters-Personal-Data-Leak?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=ALL


Andrew Phillips
Andrew Phillips is senior counsel in McGuireWoods’ Atlanta office, where he is editor of the firm’s “Password Protected” blog, in which a version of this article first appeared. His practice focuses on representing and counseling clients in a variety of class action and high stakes civil litigation.

John Disney/Daily Report

Did the Georgia secretary of state release the Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and dates of birth of every registered Georgia voter? Those are the allegations first made by putative class representatives Elise Piper and Yvette Sanders in a recently filed Fulton County Superior Court lawsuit and confirmed by recent statements by the secretary of state.

The office of Secretary of State Brian Kemp attributes the data leak to a “clerical error,” which it alleges involved the dissemination of CD-ROMs containing extraneous data to only 12 recipients and that the disks are in the process of being recovered.

Piper and Sanders also allege that, despite being on notice of the leak, the state failed to notify the affected voters, or credit reporting agencies, in violation of the Georgia Personal Identity Protection Act of 2007 (GPIPA).

As troubling as the release of this information may be to voters—who may be dubious that the leak has been contained and are concerned about the risk of identity theft or fraud—it is unclear what, if any, legal remedy is available to plaintiffs.

The Data Leak
Per the complaint, the Social Security and driver’s license numbers were collected as part of the voter registration process. However, the suit alleges that although the voter registration process only required the last four digits of each voter’s Social Security number, the Secretary of State’s Office nonetheless maintained “each voter’s complete Social Security and driver’s license number.”

Some voter identification information, such as names and addresses—but not Social Security and driver’s license numbers—is regularly maintained in a “voter file” which is routinely provided on CD-ROM to media members and political parties free of charge. The voter file is also available to the general public for a $500 fee. However, plaintiffs allege, when the October 2015 voter file was distributed, it not only contained standard voter identification information but also the Social Security number, driver’s license number, and date of birth for all 6,184,281 registered Georgia voters.

The Georgia Personal Identity Protection Act
Legally, the type of data released is a distinction with a difference. GPIPA—like many similar state data breach notification statutes—defines “personal information,” in relevant part, as “an individual’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following data elements,” including a Social Security number or driver’s license number. Thus, while the dissemination of the standard voter file containing voters’ names and addresses alone likely did not constitute a release of protected personal information, the alleged release of that information in conjunction with Social Security and driver’s license numbers could be deemed a breach.
Of course, even if the information was—as it appears to be—”personal information,” that is not the end of the inquiry. Other key questions include whether the Georgia Secretary of State is an “information broker or data collector” subject to the act, whether the release of the information was a “breach of the security of the system” within the meaning of the act, and whether the state failed to comply with the notice requirements of GPIPA.

Based on what we know, it would appear the answers to the first two questions are yes. GPIPA defines a data collector to include state agencies and actors as long as they are not maintaining records “primarily for traffic safety, law enforcement or licensing purposes or for purposes of providing public access to court records or to real or personal property information.” Assuming the Office of the Secretary of State cannot meet any of these exceptions—as seems likely—it is a “data collector.”

Likewise, the act defines “breach of the security of the system” to mean “unauthorized acquisition of an individual’s electronic data that compromises the security, confidentiality or integrity of personal information.” Again, based on the available information, this definition would appear to have been met by the dissemination of the personal information to media and political parties.

That said, the secretary of state may argue that the release of the information to a mere dozen people, followed by prompt efforts to recover the disks and contain the leak, did not jeopardize “the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personal information.” Of course, the fact that plaintiffs’ counsel apparently ended up with one of the disks undermines these arguments.

Turning to the next question, if GPIPA applies and the release was a breach, what was the Office of the Secretary of State required to do?
Under GPIPA, any information broker or data collector “shall give notice of any breach of the security of the system following discovery or notification of the breach” to Georgia residents whose unencrypted personal information was “acquired by an unauthorized person.”
With regard to timing, the notice shall be made “in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay, consistent with the legitimate needs of law enforcement.” Law enforcement may delay notification if “a law enforcement agency determines that the notification will compromise a criminal investigation.”

Finally, where, as here, a breach requires notification to more than 10,000 residents, the data collector must also inform “all consumer reporting agencies.” Per the complaint, the secretary of state’s office did not provide notice to affected voters or consumer reporting agencies in the approximately one-month since the release, which could constitute a lack of notice.

On the other hand, perhaps the state can argue that the length of time that has passed since the potential breach without notification was not an “unreasonable delay” in light of the facts surrounding the release.

As for the type of notice required, the act typically requires written, telephonic, or, with prior permission, electronic notice. However, where the cost of the notice, as here, would exceed $50,000 or the breach affected more than 100,000 individuals, “substitute notice” may be appropriate. This can include notice by email (when known), conspicuous notice on the entity’s website, and notification via statewide media.
Thus, in this case, the statute could likely be satisfied with a press release and conspicuous notification on the Secretary of State web page—an embarrassment, perhaps, but not a huge logistical hurdle.

Do Plaintiffs Have a Case?
Despite the possibility that the secretary of state’s office may have violated GPIPA, plaintiffs’ remedy, if any, is unclear. Notably, plaintiffs have not sued for damages—likely because GPIPA does not expressly allow damages, and, regardless, seeking damages would likely trigger a sovereign immunity fight. Rather, the suit seeks equitable relief requiring the secretary of state to comply with GPIPA’s notification requirements and “prevent future harm due to the disclosure,” and attorneys’ fees.

While it is difficult to imagine that GPIPA was enacted without any enforcement mechanism or remedy—unlike many other states’ data privacy laws—GPIPA does not expressly create an independent civil cause of action, contain any statutory remedies or provide for an award of attorneys’ fees.

Moreover, while the only two published cases that have examined the act have not foreclosed a private right of action, neither has expressly found one, either. In the first, Willingham v. Global Payments, the Northern District of Georgia held the act inapplicable because the plaintiffs in that case were not residents of Georgia.
More recently, in an opinion arising out of the In re Target data breach litigation, the court allowed plaintiffs’ GPIPA claim to survive a motion to dismiss because “Georgia’s data-breach-notice statute is silent as to enforcement” and “neither party cites any case regarding how a court should interpret silence as to enforcement under Georgia law.”

The plaintiffs’ chance of success is unclear based on the paucity of case law examining GPIPA—and the fact that no court has affirmatively found a private cause of action.

Lessons for Government and Industry
Although the merits of plaintiffs’ suit are an open question—both because the secretary of state may have a viable defense and because GPIPA may be relatively toothless—it still carries important lessons for businesses and others collecting and processing personal information.

First, the Secretary of State Office’s “clerical error” illustrates the risk of collecting more data than needed. If only the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers were necessary, then the retention of complete Social Security and driver’s license numbers appears to have been an unnecessary risk that, in this case, led to a substantial data leak and litigation.

Second, those collecting and processing personal information should know—and comply with—data breach notification laws. For larger companies, this likely means compliance with various states’ disclosure laws—many of which have much clearer penalties and enforcement mechanisms than GPIPA.

Finally—and perhaps most fundamentally—data collectors and custodians should have a robust information management program in place that is commensurate with the volume and sensitivity of the data at issue. Simply put, a data management system with sufficient checks and safeguards should prevent a “clerical error” from potentially putting millions at risk.

Andrew Phillips is senior counsel in McGuireWoods’ Atlanta office, where he is editor of the firm’s “Password Protected” blog, in which a version of this article first appeared. His practice focuses on representing and counseling clients in a variety of class action and high stakes civil litigation.

Read more: http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202743008663/Analyzing-the-Suit-Over-Georgia-Voters-Personal-Data-Leak#ixzz3sCITf37b

Just In From the Daily Report!!! “Judicial Ethics Chief Resigns After Daily Report Probes Billing Deal”

Damn, we cannot even trust the Judicial Ethics Chief to Not Cheat in Order to Get Extra Compensation!
Things are really bad when those who are in place to investigate Judges who have complaints filed against them, are themselves dishonest as hell. Does none of the judicial system and their investigators, not have to adhere to the laws that we are expected to adhere to?
Is that what it is all about? There are the citizens who are expected to follow rules and laws, then there are the judicial system that the same rules and laws don’t apply to?

Judicial Ethics Chief Resigns After Daily Report Probes Billing Deal
R. Robin McDonald, Daily Report
April 27, 2015 | 0 Comments
http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202724678640/JQC-Director-Resigns?kw=JQC%20Director%20Resigns&et=editorial&bu=Daily%20Report&cn=20150427&src=EMC-Email&pt=Afternoon%20News&slreturn=20150327165110


Ronnie Joe Lane
File photo

The director of the state judicial watchdog agency has resigned following revelations that he was being paid full-time wages of $120,000 a year for what he reported was part-time work to avoid having to defer his retirement benefits.

Lester Tate, chairman of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, said director Ronnie Joe Lane resigned Monday, the same day the Daily Report published details of Lane’s billing arrangement with the commission. The JQC polices the state’s judges and can recommend disciplinary action, including removal from office, if they stray from the state Code of Judicial Conduct.

“He has decided he wants to step down,” Tate said Monday afternoon. “Ronnie Joe does not want any cloud whatsoever … over the commission and over him. He served honorably in the military and honorably on the bench, and I think he did on the commission as well. He doesn’t want to be a distraction from the work we do.”

Tate said that Lane also asked—and Tate agreed—to waive the 60-day written notification required in order to terminate his JQC contract.

Tate said that he also is “taking every step to make sure that [ethics] cases are continuing to be moved, whatever their stage … and taking every step to make sure they are processed appropriately.”
Reached by telephone, Lane said he had no comment.

Lane retired as a Superior Court Judge in the Pataula Circuit last summer when JQC director Jeff Davis left the agency to become the executive director of the State Bar of Georgia.

In order to remain eligible to collect his judicial retirement—an estimated $84,000 a year—Lane told the Daily Report he billed the JQC $120 an hour for an estimated 20 hours per week of work, even though he was working at least 40 hours a week. State law (O.C.G.A. § 47-23-109) allows a state retiree who goes back to work for the state as either an employee or a contractor to collect retirement pay only if the retiree “performs no more than 1,040 hours of such service in any calendar year”—or about 20 hours a week.
Lane contended that any work he performed beyond 20 hours a week was donated to the state and therefore did not violate the 1,040-hour rule.

The executive director of the Judicial Retirement System told the Daily Report last week that the question of whether a retiree can write off as volunteer work any hours that exceed the 1,040-hour annual cap is “getting into a gray area” and that a state agency that hires a retired judge is supposed to report the hours he or she works. Neither the JQC nor Lane formally notified the employee retirement system in writing of Lane’s arrangement or the hours he anticipated working, another requirement of the state pension law.
In interviews with the Daily Report last week, the chairman of the Georgia House Judiciary Committee, a former JQC chairman and an Emory University ethics professor expressed serious reservations about Lane’s arrangement.

Lane’s resignation followed a commission meeting on Friday. Afterward, Tate wrote a letter asking James Potvin, the head of the state employee retirement system, for guidance as to whether the JQC’s contract with Lane was appropriate.

Tate told Potvin the JQC had only recently become aware of the state law setting the 1,040-hour cap. “Judge Lane is of the opinion that this limitation only relates to the number of hours of service for which he is paid,” Tate wrote. “Realizing that the job of director may require more than 1,040 hours of service in a calendar year, it was Judge Lane’s belief that he could donate, pro bono, any additional hours of service needed to perform his duties so long as he was only compensated for 1,040 hours.”

Tate did not mention in his letter that Lane was being paid the previous director’s full-time salary for what was, at least on paper, part-time hours.

“Is Judge Lane still entitled to collect his pension under this agreement?” Tate asked. “Are there any implications to the commission and its budget for employing Judge Lane in this manner?”

The Daily Report also made inquiries about Lane’s expenses before his departure on Monday. In five of his first nine months on the job, Lane sought more than $7,000 in reimbursements, more than double the $6,205 that Davis billed for all of fiscal year 2014. Those expenses included reimbursements for his 520-mile round-trip commute from his Donalsonville home to the JQC’s office in Monroe. Tate told the newspaper that if Lane billed the JQC to commute “just to get to the office,” he did not believe it was an appropriate expense.

On Monday, Tate said that whether Lane should have billed the commission remains “a point of disagreement.”
“It was not the intent of the commission to pay round trip for what I call a pure commute,” he said. He would not comment on whether Lane was asked to repay the JQC for the reimbursed mileage.

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