In the Wake of Recent Events, Litigants are Entitled to Better Accountability and Due Process.
By Dr. Leon R. Koziol
When New York’s Chief Justice, Sol Wachtler, was arrested and imprisoned for stalking a debutant and falsifying reports to authorities, it was clear to the world that he suffered from a severe mental disease. Several years ago, this convict was re-licensed as an attorney and assigned to teach ethics if you can believe that.
But there is much more to this story which the public has generally not known. For example, while serving in our third branch of government, Sol Wachtler directed paid staff in chambers to investigate a New Jersey lawyer for the purpose of impairing his law license. That lawyer had become too friendly with the debutant Wachtler had been secretly dating as a married man.
Such precedent has relevance to my ordeal as a civil rights attorney, unblemished for more than 23 years, when I began a reform campaign directed to our divorce and family courts. With each public criticism or formal complaint there arose a matching act of retribution which harmed my parent-child relations and professional livelihood, this coming from the branch of government charged with the highest duty of protecting First Amendment rights.
As fate would have it, the “ethics lawyers” employed by an appeals court in Albany, engaged in the witch hunt against me, were fired for falsifying time sheets in 2013, only weeks after admitting in a closed hearing that they had been targeting my website and formal complaints. As a defense attorney, I once had a client who was charged with a felony for alleged misuse of a city gas card amounting to $16. Yet here, the standard- bearers of attorney ethics, Peter Torncello and Steven Zayas, have never faced any public charges while I remain damaged by their misconduct.
Today we read about a deranged airline pilot who crashed a passenger jet into the French Alps. The public is rightfully demanding better mental health accountability. In our family courts, parents and children are being subjected to mental health evaluations every day on self serving accusations of a scorned litigant or state agency. As explained in prior posts here at Leon Koziol.com, such orders yield billions of dollars in fees and revenues for lawyers and bureaucrats.
But what about the judges, top jurists like Sol Wachtler, who issue such orders like burgers at a restaurant? Didn’t his court clerks have a duty under the ethics code to report his misconduct and seek a mental health evaluation before the public was harmed? Did anyone even raise the issue? Or do we conveniently assume that this was all an isolated series of crimes no longer relevant to our system of justice? Well think again, it’s only gotten worse.
In 2013, a Syracuse family judge, Bryan Hedges, was removed from the bench for admitting to sexual misconduct upon his five year old handicapped niece. At the same time, a Michigan judge admitted to an extramarital affair in chambers with a mother during a child support case which resulted in her pregnancy. Shortly before that, a family judge in Texas was exposed on video beating his teen daughter. In 2009, a state Supreme Court judge in New York City was imprisoned for taking a $9,000 bribe to fix a custody case against a fit mother, and two Pennsylvania judges were also sent to prison in the now infamous “kids for cash” bribery scandal requiring the reversal of 4,000 juvenile convictions.
These are only some of the shocking cases of judicial misconduct that we have featured here. When viewed individually, it’s alarming enough, but taken together, it raises a potential epidemic in our justice system. For example, how would you know that your opposing lawyer is not so connected as to fix a custody case? In the Michigan case, an unsuspecting father was prejudiced with monitoring devices and jail threats to the glee of his pregnant adversary. How many cases are out there today which will never be discovered given the brazen nature of these very recent incidents?
Make no mistake, it’s not just ethical misconduct being overlooked by our judicial commissions, but felonies and deranged actions of office holders held to the highest public trust. Children are being alienated and even removed from fit and loving parents simply because an unscrupulous lawyer with a paid psychologist is able to concoct some voodoo syndrome to explain human emotions inflamed by these very same needless and lucrative court proceedings.
Suddenly the children are at risk and court ordered evaluations are required as a condition for seeing one’s offspring. This is the gold mine that is causing people like investigator Joseph Longo to commit a murder-suicide that left three children without parents. How are such losses any different than those caused by an airline pilot or his German superiors. Shouldn’t deranged judges and lawyers who profit from their misdeeds be held similarly accountable with mental health evaluations?
In coming days, we will be exposing the deranged behavior of a family judge in Lowville, New York who goes by the name of Dan King. He is a quintessential example of incompetence, arrogance and evil which mars our system of justice and harms innocent children exploited as a means of retribution for public criticisms properly asserted against him. Hopefully, with enough public support, we can remove him like we did Bryan Hedges before more harm is inflicted upon families in family court.
Dr. Leon R. Koziol
Civil Rights Advocate