Utica, New York
August 14, 2014
Ferguson, Missouri is not an isolated example of civil rights atrocities in America today. Venture north and east and you will find yourself in Utica, New York, location of an ongoing ordeal faced by civil rights attorney, Leon Koziol, when he called for a federal probe into the assault of an African-American shooting victim by local police. Arriving at the scene of a domestic incident, officers tackled and injured a black man already shot by his lover. They acted on an assumption that a black male had to be the wrong-doer, thereby placing fellow officers and neighbors at further risk of fatal injury by the deranged woman still holding her weapon.
It all occurred in a city long noted for racist hiring and police practices. For more than two decades, Attorney Koziol had successfully litigated civil rights actions against municipalities and State of New York. It was only natural then for him to sponsor a civil rights forum on January 19, 2010 to bring attention to a growing racial divide in the community. He focused upon a phenomenon which makes African-American fathers an endangered species. While our federal government laments fatherless black communities, it has made it profitable for law enforcement to single out males for criminal prosecution through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Well ahead of the times, Attorney Koziol took testimony from victims of racial bias and sexist practices against fathers in New York’s family courts. What followed is an ordeal which reads like a John Grisham novel with the exception that the victims and perpetrators remain very real.
Several weeks later, Attorney Koziol’s law license was suspended after 23 unblemished years of practice. His work included not only citizen victims but police officers wrongfully targeted for political reasons. In a series of lawsuits dubbed the “Civil Rights Trilogy,” Mr. Koziol described his ordeal in federal court after this forum. In the end, Koziol’s own rights were mishandled to avoid public accountability within our third branch of government (family courts).
Secondary media and internet sources have already reported on many of these developments. On August 5, 2014, Mr. Koziol filed another federal civil rights action after a unanimous Supreme Court ruling showed that his prior actions (the “Civil Rights Trilogy”) had been wrongfully dismissed. The recent case, Koziol v King, is based on renewed licensing retributions taken due to Koziol’s testimony before the Governor’s (Moreland) Commission on Public Corruption at Pace University. There he disclosed a series of corrupt and incarcerated judges to show that the state Commission on Judicial Conduct had seriously lapsed in its public duties. He consequently called for its dissolution. Instead the reverse occurred, and the Moreland Commission was prematurely disbanded when corruption evidence began to implicate the Governor himself.
In legal papers filed in United States District Court in Syracuse supporting a preliminary injunction, 26 exhibits (A-Z) can be found. The very first item in exhibit A consists of a front page news story describing the racist shooting event. Additional articles show other victims including a former Koziol client who placed a belt around his neck in Utica city lock-up because he could not find a lawyer to represent him. This federal filing preceded the Ferguson event by only four days. Victims of civil rights violations rely upon our courts for recourse instead of violence and self help remedies. But what happens if members of our justice system are corrupt and insulated from accountability? The case of Koziol v King seeks to answer this question.