March 1, 2023
Leon R. Koziol, J.D.
1336 Graffenburg Road
New Hartford, New York 13413
This document contains suppressed, censored and alarming facts preserved in a 25-year record.
A controversial case is filed by conscientious attorney….
Systemic judge bias emerges to sabotage good-faith litigation….
Judicial policy is exploited to avert recognition of a growing epidemic….
A special master is avoided for navigating a precedent-seeking case…….
Extreme retributions target a whistleblower’s family and livelihood……..
Free speech exposes a pedophile custody judge and racist city judge……
Physical threats prompt attorney-whistleblower to seek asylum in Paris….
Family harm and collateral damage to society reach a breaking point……..
A blind eye to an epidemic is verified by faulty treatment of defendants….
Duty-bound jurists squander opportunities to set overdue precedent……….
Conclusion: An open message to our federal government……………………..
This law review alerts media, public officials and oversight advocates to a silent epidemic that continues to escalate in America today. It must be confronted by those genuinely concerned with the ongoing erosion of parental authority and its threat to civilized society. As a prominent civil rights attorney, I did exactly that but was persecuted to a point of death. This is my story.
There are 94 federal district courts originating with the Judiciary Act of 1789. Their paramount duty is to decide violations of the U.S. Constitution. Historically, reliance on these courts was made necessary to counter state abuses and a refusal or failure to honor federal rights. Among them is the “oldest” liberty interest in parenting, Santosky v Kramer, 455 US 745 (1982).
However, beginning with Troxel v Granville, 530 US 57 (2000), the Supreme Court made a stark departure from longstanding precedent by issuing a plurality decision with six different opinions on the continued status of this “fundamental right.” It is an ominous trend following the lead of the abortion right terminated in 2022. Both rights have no textual source in our Constitution.
But the two are highly distinguishable in that one preserves life whereas the other terminates it. One can be traced to the beginning of mankind which is impossible for the other. A gradual replacement of child rearing by the state is now leading to catastrophic criminal activity, diverse addictions, unwanted pregnancies, domestic violence and needless separation of parent and child.
A controversial case is filed by a conscientious attorney
On February 26, 2009, as an aggrieved father and accomplished attorney, I filed a watershed case, Parent v State, 786 F. Supp. 2d 516 (NDNY), in federal court to establish a constitutional limit upon the expanding power of the state to impair the decisional authority of parents. This analysis and news alert will show how it was converted into a tragic assault on human rights.
Originally framed as a class action, resort to federal court was made inevitable by a growing number of state agents acting on childrearing liberties in my divorce action. They were part of an ominous trend in domestic relations courts carried out under pretext of the “best interests of the child.” Such authority had morphed beyond its original purpose into a trillion-dollar industry.
Prior to filing, I tested the divorce process to conclude that state courts were failing to honor constitutionally protected rights. They were exploiting children for profit and revenues under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act (child support grants), hence the emergence of a judge bias against litigants. Needless forensic evaluations and excessive support orders were examples.
My first-assigned divorce judge refused to entertain such arguments, referring me to appeals or the legislature. I therefore initiated a reform movement featuring assemblies, lobby initiatives and news conferences critical of this systemic bias making judicial recourse a gesture in futility. This had the effect of stigmatizing me a whistleblower which, in time, led to horrific retributions.
Because they too were systemic, I was forced to move for recusal of each assigned jurist after my motion for a change of venue (location) was denied. Then, in the Parent case, it necessitated the naming of state actors in both individual and official capacities to overcome state sovereign immunity in federal court under the Eleventh Amendment, Ex Parte Young, 209 US 123 (1908).
I was simply complying with the law, my rights of recourse and free speech. Jurists already engaged in the challenged proceedings were included on grounds that they were “acting under color of law” and not above the law pursuant to 42 USC 1983 (Civil Rights Act of 1871). They were also named to acquire legal standing for personal liability and a comprehensive outcome.
Systemic judge bias emerges to sabotage good faith litigation
As the number of state actors and co-conspirators grew, so did the complaints I was forced to lodge. Less than two years after filing my 2009 “lead” case in Parent, police and state tax agents acting under authority of child support collection converged on my home in a swat-like manner to seize automobiles. Driver and law licenses were suspended to undermine support capacities.
This seizure violated the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to supplement the lead claims. It was executed contrary to a state court order issued two months earlier which limited enforcement authority to a home foreclosure. This necessitated filing of the 2010 “member” case identified and decided together by the federal court in an elaborate opinion on May 24, 2011.
Failure to add or originate timely complaints will result in a permanent waiver of rights. Indeed, the complexities in civil rights cases have proven sufficient to terminate countless valid claims. In my case, I added a due process violation based on an antiquated trial court structure featuring 11 tribunals which, according to a 2017 New York bar report, could confound any attorney.
Formal complaints in federal court are evaluated at the outset in a light most favorable to the filer. Such treatment is mandated under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), (6) and 56 to avert rash and wrongful dismissals. If the review of pleadings nevertheless results in the finding of a frivolous action, the complainant is typically fined and made to bear defense costs.
This was the outcome of a Donald Trump filing in 2022, but here none of the defense firms, government attorneys or the presiding judge raised the issue. In short, there was plausible merit to my action. Unfortunately, it fell victim to technical obstacles such as judge, state and law enforcement immunities. This precluded mandatory disclosures needed to prove my case.
But no obstacle was more sweeping than systemic judge bias. This form of ethics and due process violations is highly elusive and treated more extensively in another publication. There I make the case that circumstantial inference must be accorded greater weight in evaluating dismissal motions given the undue burdens that such bias wields on disadvantaged victims.
Systemic judge bias has no clear definition and is typically cast aside as a fringe accusation to protect the integrity of the judiciary. It does not arise in some clandestine fashion in chambers although it can be. More commonly, offensive speech or a damning record is the culprit rooted out by facts which compel a conclusion that an unjust outcome was prearranged.
Here the federal judge, David N. Hurd, acted on such bias. There is no direct evidence of this, but it is proven by suspect circumstances and a glaring omission of crucial cases in his ultimate decision. The parenting right is nowhere analyzed or respected. This would be akin to omitting the abortion right in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, 597 US ___ (2022).
Put simply, this federal judge diluted a fundamental right overriding all others raised by treating both the lead and member complaints in a light most favorable to the violators. Constitutional principle was sacrificed for political gain to achieve a miscarriage of justice harmful to a much larger segment of the population than the victims narrowly represented by this particular case.
Judicial policy is exploited to avert recognition of a growing epidemic
In broader terms, again from a circumstantial standpoint, no federal judge right up to the Supreme Court was going to unleash a highly experienced, personally aggrieved, and untethered attorney to investigate and expose an unknown number of potentially corrupt colleagues. Only with this unwritten policy can readers acclimate to a better understanding of this watershed case.
The immunities and jurisdictional defenses referenced above are typically raised by government defenders in civil rights cases that require the naming of violators in alternate capacities. When challenging constitutional abuses overlooked in domestic adjudications, access to federal court is plagued further by such written policies as Younger doctrine and domestic relations abstention.
Access is more daunting for pro se victims fleeced of resources in contentious divorce cases. Such obstacles handicap our federal courts from satisfying their duties independent of state bias. A hypocrisy emerges when municipal liability is evaluated from the top whereas wrongdoers who establish policy here are immunized, Koziol v Hanna, 107 F. Supp. 2d 170 (NDNY 2000).
This was the main workhorse exploited in Parent to dispose of a controversial case. Facts and law were marshaled to concoct a narrative that averted recognition of a growing epidemic while defaming a qualified whistleblower. That a gang assault on a dedicated father and conscientious attorney could be so grossly overlooked today has resulted in a disgrace to our system of justice.
It has thus become a rallying cry for reform as this judge was duty-bound to view a “totality of facts” before issuing his dismissive edict. Greater respect for my successive filings was required to assess whether state actors were dismantling a fundamental right. The Supreme Court has long applied this standard to Fourteenth Amendment cases, Rochin v California, 142 US 165 (1953).
But the restrictive approach was substituted for an expansive one instead, providing yet another fact corroborating a systemic bias carried over from the state court system. It was no doubt moved by a practical consideration of litigating complex matters against prominent figures and colleagues, this at the lead of a civil rights attorney driven by a quest for justice and reform.
In my case, the complexity of litigation arose through no fault of its filer. Presiding jurists, both federal and state, were well aware of this. But knowing that oversight was lacking and media could be duped, they exploited that complexity to shift focus and blame on the public messenger.
A special master is avoided for navigating a precedent-seeking case
If Judge David Hurd was truly committed to his oath of office, he would have dispensed with political complexities by appointing a special master to investigate this case while proceedings were held in abeyance. Precedent already existed in the one belatedly appointed to the highly lawyered Oneida Indian land claim spanning more than forty years in the same district court.
Assigned to a different presiding judge, that claim began as a widely neglected filing deemed to lack merit due to demands over tracts of land as large as 6 million acres and based on treaties violated as early as the 18th century. But its status changed dramatically when the Supreme Court gave approval in a 5-4 ruling in County of Oneida v Oneida Indian Nation, 470 US 226 (1985).
That change morphed into a complex case and a string of Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) gaming facilities across upstate New York authorized by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The first among them was the Oneida Nation Turning Stone Casino constructed by the only tribe of the six-nation Iroquois Confederacy which sided with the patriots during our Revolutionary War.
Opened in 1993, Turning Stone was marketed to surrounding landowners as a modest enterprise serving no alcohol and committed to weeding out criminal activity and gambling addictions. However, like the broken treaties at the core of its land claim, these promises were soon cast aside in favor of the Vegas-style, mega-resort with state-of-the-art sports betting that it is today.
Meanwhile, the 250,000-acre land claim languished with state and local officials balking at such high settlement figures as $500 million and 15,000 acres taken off the tax rolls after transfer to the Oneidas. Emboldened by their 1985 Supreme Court decision and growing influence, they moved to convert their federal suit into a class action to eject 20,000 landowners from that tract.
Outraged occupants countered with an intervention motion and later an original action in state court challenging the validity of the 1993 gaming compact. Like the 1794 land treaty violated by New York due to lack of federal approval, the counter-suit was based on the compact’s lack of approval by the state legislature. That compact had been financing the high cost of litigation.
As a prominent attorney beholden to no political interest, I was retained solely to strategize this counter-move. However, knowing the ominous challenges, I organized landowner assemblies to update thousands of organizational clients on our proceedings. This grew exponentially into protest caravans that surrounded the resort and, months later, the steps of the state Capitol.
It resulted in a 60 Minutes feature and the collapse of a pending settlement being nursed by this court-appointed special master, dean of Seton Hall law school, who had joined me on a tour of the region. The Indian-landowner war then escalated with Nation and United States attorneys moving to extinguish my challenges to the gaming compact in their now complex federal action.
In a highly unexpected decision, the judge denied that move and authorized me to proceed with my state case, Oneida Indian Nation v County of Oneida, 132 F. Supp. 2d 71 (NDNY 2000). But the success did not come without its elitism. I was inaccurately aligned with the law firm, Bond, Schoeneck and King, in that decision when published. This has remained a mystery to this day.
Extreme retributions target a whistleblower’s family and livelihood
My success also did not come without its devastation to my 2004 divorce and father-daughter relations particularly after I won a judgment the same year invalidating that 1993 (billion dollar) compact. Ultimately, collective litigation led to a 2011 extinguishment of the entire land claim and a global settlement in 2013, the same year my daughters were permanently alienated.
The casino litigation in Peterman v Pataki, 4 Misc 3d 1028(A) (2004) had been pending for years, producing a cloud on investments much like the land claim did to landowner deeds. State Supreme Court judge, John Murad, was assigned, a jurist that I had well known in city, county and other courts. He was part of that dysfunctional structure I later challenged in the Parent case.
To illustrate, after my venue change was denied in 2007, my child support case was litigated before an elected supreme court judge in an “acting family court” capacity who questioned his own jurisdiction on the record while my parenting rights were on trial before an “acting supreme court judge” elected to a limited jurisdiction family court in Syracuse 70 miles away.
All too common, split jurisdictional chaos becomes a due process nightmare for litigants but a gold mine for service providers. Over time, after undisclosed conflicts, more than 40 jurists were assigned to my domestic matters. Indeed, Judge Murad’s son, later elected to a judgeship, was among them. He properly declined his role in an assignment system that has no transparency.
Turning Stone was now boasting thousands of jobs being doled out to applicants in a depressed region. Judge contacts were no exception. But as my client citizens group continued to expose corruption, the pressure to maintain ethics grew with it. Judge Murad had imposed a stay on the casino case but lifted it after the federal decision. He then stepped down without explanation.
Judge Murad resurfaced after retirement to challenge me in a Democrat primary for state senate in 2006 despite a near unanimous endorsement. My candidacy was arranged to prevent a primary against District Attorney Michael Arcuri elected that year to Congress in a Republican district. Despite predictions of a landslide Murad victory, results were too close to call on election night.
Then Oneida County executive, Joseph Griffo, ended up victorious, and he holds that senate seat without challenge to the present day. However, in a bizarre twist of events, the retired judge contacted me the next year to challenge Anthony Picente for the office vacated by Senator Griffo, citing my professionalism in the primary and his offer to manage my campaign.
Unfortunately, opposition was already lining up on both sides of the aisle. As the Peterman decision detailed, the Oneidas were asserting their economic muscle in the region to dismiss my casino challenge. It forced me to invest six figures in both campaigns when donors dwindled. This, in turn, impaired my support proceedings being obsessively pursued by a scorned ex-wife.
After my lead and member cases in Parent v State were dismissed in 2011, retaliation on all fronts escalated. Even my long time, trusted office manager, was influenced to embezzle another six figures from my office which led to suspensions of my law licenses. Police and prosecutors refused to act until she was jailed in 2016 for identical crimes on later law office employers.
Free speech exposes a pedophile custody judge and racist city judge
Despite all this, I continued to press for accountability against judges, lawyers and officials. They included my pedophile custody judge, Bryan Hedges, 20 NY3d 677 (2013), publicly censured city judge, Gerald Popeo, and even ethics lawyers in the witch hunt against me allowed to resign for falsifying their time sheets (Peter Torncello, Steven Zayas and Elizabeth Devane).
The consequential persecution violated all manner of human rights. In two federal cases filed after the Parent decision, I was sanctioned for bringing frivolous actions. Once again, instead of a comprehensive review of a 10-year record (totality of circumstances), both assigned judges of the same district court manipulated, inter alia, preclusion rules to deflect all blame on me.
With courthouse doors now effectively closed, I was made an open target while leaving me to take the law into my own hands. The targeting was so relentless that I was summoned for one hearing and a 170-mile round trip to a remote family court to receive a decision that had already been issued. On nearly every occasion, judges humiliated me before the ex-wife and colleagues.
Other examples include a “prohibited alcohol related gesture” (wedding toast) in a December 2, 2013 decision when unfit parenting could not be established after a so-called “mini-hearing” without notice, college degrees never cited or earned that were used to elevate support orders for jail purposes, and conflicting child access conditions creating a risk of “contempt by ambush.”
In short, I was forced to “fight for custody” or surrender parental rights to avoid confinement in a human cage located in the county jail. The prior Sheriff there had settled a case for $300,000 that I filed on behalf of an African-American corrections officer. My choice was stressed further by a continuing lack of reliable standards in support cases, Turner v Rogers, 564 US 431 (2011).
With developed contacts, I became privy to inside information advising me to expect serious mistreatment. Jail terms were quickly imposed, but these were forestalled by payments from outside sources. When exhausted, I was forced to flee my lifelong home to Paris where I sought asylum. My ordeal was ultimately captured in my 2021 published book, Whistleblower in Paris.
Physical threats prompt an attorney-whistleblower to seek asylum in Paris
This incredible ordeal compares tragically with that of Chinese civil rights attorney Chen Guangcheng. He successfully obtained asylum here after being stripped of his livelihood, child contacts and basic liberties in retaliation for his public criticisms of China’s human rights record. Judge Hurd was not unaware of this and could have retained jurisdiction over my later filings
More compelling than Roe v Wade, 410 US 113 (1973), my filings implicated countless parents, families and unborn children with no capacity for preserving an existing human right in Congress or our legislatures. This much was proven by my public forums, lobby initiatives and reports culminating in a 2019 event featuring a march down Pennsylvania Avenue under police escort.
Any rational jurist, whether life tenured in federal court or elected in state court, could see that I was being persecuted beyond human capacity due to my lawful exercise of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. But through the cover of systemic bias, they were able to appease any moral conscience. In only one instance did an assigned judge attempt to mediate an end to the chaos.
Briefly, this judge, in my presence, reached out by cell phone to a family judge in 2015 to solicit a “global” settlement. A temporary stay of arrest was agreed upon so that home foreclosure could finally satisfy all support arrears pursuant to that 2010 state court order that my adversaries were circumventing to orchestrate incarceration. Only by chance did I discover this to be a set-up.
That family judge had been the subject of adverse website exposures at Leon Koziol.com. So offensive did he find them when raised in court that he issued a gag order on that site disguised as a protection order. It was removed when I challenged it at a higher level under circumstances showing a collusion between two courts to end a “colorable” First Amendment violation.
This humiliation only fueled more ire when that judge, Daniel King, stepped down days later and was replaced by city judge, Gerald Popeo. Anxious to avenge a 2015 public censure, judge # 40 secured center stage in a scheme to incite an innocuous emotional reaction to the growing abuse. It resulted in a secret bulletin which one traffic cop treated as a “shoot on site” support warrant.
Family harm and collateral damage to society reach a breaking point
On September 28, 2009, Joseph Longo, a police investigator in Utica, New York, left divorce court after an excessive support order to commit a murder-suicide at the marital home. It left four children without parents and the city with a $2 million wrongful death liability. The horrific crime was executed with a kitchen knife despite protection orders and confiscated weapons.
On June 15, 2011, Thomas Ball burned himself alive on the steps of a family court in Keene, New Hampshire to protest abusive custody, support and child protection laws that severed all meaningful ties with his daughter. It originated with a slap on the face intended as a disciplinary matter. No reform came of this horrendous event. They merely washed his ashes into a sewer.
On April 4, 2015, Walter Scott, an unarmed black father in South Carolina, was shot dead in the back five times by a white cop while fleeing a support warrant at a traffic stop. The scene was recorded by a concealed by-stander and motivated by revolving door jail terms on a civil debt according to a New York Times article. That cop is now serving a prison term for murder.
On April 28, 2018, two-year old Gabriella Boyd was murdered by her mother rather than give in to a custody change order that had not been timely enforced. And on January 17, 2020, eight-year-old Thomas Valva was left to freeze to death by his father in a garage after a custody judge callously dismissed the mother’s warnings without a hearing. Both are serving life sentences.
These five publicized cases are a mere sampling of the carnage occurring on an increasing scale in domestic relations courts. They have their common source in the custody and support orders mandated by the federal support standards act and incentive grants. These laws have discouraged private parental resolution in favor of an incendiary contest reminiscent of the Roman Coliseum.
These laws have also sabotaged shared parenting legislation across the country while subjecting children to an inverted order of co-parenting with the state fixated on custody. This, in turn, has aggravated criminal activity, unwanted pregnancies, drug addictions, disrespect for authority and unprecedented parental alienation. Suicides among both parents and offspring keep escalating.
On December 22, 2020, I was rushed by ambulance from an upstate emergency room to the Albany, New York medical center for a life-threatening condition caused by years of sadistic treatment at the behest of court beneficiaries. Murder can be committed directly by use of a weapon or indirectly through reckless abandon of duty to one’s children, livelihood and dignity.
The reckless abandon here was shared by all defendants named in Parent v State despite the means used to conceal and excuse it. There can be fewer devastations to constitutionally protected rights than the needless separations of parents from their children and fewer still when arrest and jail terms are employed for this purpose on a civil debt in violation of due process.
I lived daily under threat of demise given the examples set by such support obligors as Walter Scott. State police discovered my identity at a sobriety checkpoint on July 31, 2020, pressed false charges, assaulted me to a point of hospitalization, and concealed all events investigated by Internal Affairs. Although the charges were thrown out, my vulnerability was proven.
It was also predicted in a 2015 report to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch who testified with me at New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in 2013. Protests over the George Floyd tragedy on May 25, 2020 induced Cuomo to generate a law which required all state police to wear body cameras on duty. None was used in my case.
Far more tormenting was the kidnapping of my precious daughters under the guise of legitimate authority and euphemism of parental alienation. Not a sunrise occurred without my fixation on their well-being. For over a decade, I had taken advantage of my weekend warrior status to share such enjoyments as boating, hiking, Disney World, water parks, the ocean and even parasailing.
Then, suddenly, they were gone like the flicker of a candle. Making matters worse, after ten years of contempt threats regarding my presence at school activities, the mandated “custodial parent,” Kelly (Hawse) Usherwood, crafted an exit strategy from our region without notice of my daughters’ residence or college locations. I have spent no time with them since 2014.
How such a maternal human being came into existence is a question which defies all moral fiber. She spent years plotting this exit against a loving dad who sacrificed everything to be in his children’s lives. After exhausting all rational explanation, it can only be deemed satanic. Any justice system which could conspire with this invites a new world order bent on self-destruction.
A blind eye to an epidemic is verified by faulty treatment of defendants
Somehow an ominous trend managed to escape the learned review of a damning record by Judge Hurd. It can be summed up in a desperate defense he adopted that was concocted by a low-level support investigator, Darlene Chudyk. She was seeking quasi-immunity from liability for the home invasion. This defense applied only in the absence of an established constitutional right.
Here multiple rights were undeniable. They included free speech retaliation, Fourth Amendment unlawful seizure, and usurpation of my parenting interests at the core of her duties. Judge Hurd had already denied the dismissal motion of Charlotte Kiehle (erroneously “Kerr”) state tax agent, who joined Chudyk at my home on October 19, 2010, thus showing merit to the “member” case.
But the overriding parenting right, indeed my entire action, was mis-stated when Judge Hurd declared that “there is no right to refuse to pay child support.” This left-field adoption bordered on the insane, and it set the stage for dismissal of remaining claims. More than that, it maligned a proud, loving dad who had voluntarily increased support by 50% prior to state intervention.
The vast majority of jurists perform their crucial functions with dedication, qualification and ethics. Shamelessly, however, others assume a level of omnipotence that reflects no regard for the harm they inflict before moving on to their next hapless victims. It is the duty of our judicial commissions to assure oversight, but they have proven to be impotent and politically constituted.
Hence that duty falls upon qualified mavericks inside the system. But these are few and dwindling after the magnitude of retaliation I endured. Indeed, in my filings and publications, I compared my ordeal as a civil rights attorney to a Rodney King beating with the fists and batons replaced by orders and edicts. I did so again in Parent by reference to the Ku Klux Klan.
Judge Hurd took offense to this and may have therefore applied a further bias to his analysis. But ethics codes require jurists to exhibit restraint to assure consistent impartiality. This promotes a requisite high esteem for such office holders. Regardless, in the end, they remain public servants, and sadly, this base function was abandoned in the Parent deliberations throughout.
To be sure, the federal judges here betrayed a level of elitism that blinded them to rendering just and timely outcomes. They refused to treat each named party as a “person acting under color of law” to violate federal rights pursuant to the statute that gives victims recourse, 42 USC 1983 (Civil Rights Act of 1871) also known as the “Ku Klux Klan Act.” A few examples are in order.
Judge Hurd failed to recognize that each defendant had played a role, however remote, in harming a relationship with my daughters. Child support was merely a distraction. So when a “person” as high as a U.S. cabinet member, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services is named, she cannot be said to lack “personal involvement” for dismissal purposes.
At the time of relevant events, Ms. Sebelius was perhaps the most impacting “person” as she implemented draconian support enforcement practices that led to the kind of carnage cited here. She need not be present for court proceedings in countless civil rights cases, but like the staff lawyers sent to litigate them, a designee can be made routine to reconcile congressional intent.
The same is true for state end actors. A motorist is not disgorged of driving privileges in a vacuum. Here, defendant David Swarts, Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, is ultimately the director of his agents on the scene who impact child support capacities. Law enforcement is no exception when punishing civil rights lawyers without disciplinary responses from policymakers.
As for tax agents like Donna Costello and Charlotte Kiehle, they had no authority to aid the county support agent in charge of events at my home. Indeed, as stated, all three were acting contrary to a state court order in their prior possession and handed to one at the scene which limited support collections to a separate foreclosure procedure. That made them trespassers.
This raised a far greater issue than the seizure of automobiles. If aggrieved citizens cannot rely upon the effect and respect to be accorded to a state supreme court order, it invites self-help remedies and ultimately anarchy of the kind which manifested itself at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. As exemplified by the local land claim protests, the people have their limits.
Retaliation by ethics lawyers was not only anticipated, but their own misconduct corroborated a two-class disciplinary system. They were allowed to resign quietly by their employers and ultimate decision maker, defendant Third Department appeals court, for falsifying time sheets. These are the standard-bearers of attorney ethics charged with oversight of billing practices.
Lumping all attorney disciplinary actors into a single category of judicial status for “absolute” immunity purposes created a decisional anomaly insofar as a separation between prosecutor and impartial decision maker was compromised in further violation of due process. It harkened back to a day when “star chambers” beholden to the King dispensed justice in feudal England.
Absolute judicial immunity has no source in the Constitution or legislated law here in America. Like parens patriae doctrine (child’s best interests), it was given life by the Supreme Court in Stump v Sparkman, 435 US 349 (1978) as a carry-over from British common law. Such elitism strikes at the core of our Constitution drafted to cement a clean break from our mother country.
A lingering omnipotence was therefore allowed to contaminate extended litigation in Parent v State. The second federal judge to take up my constitutional challenges, Thomas McAvoy, applied an anti-civil rights disposition to dismiss my 2012 complaint, i.e. Lopez v Metropolitan Life, 930 F.2d 157 (2nd Cir. 1991)(an early case of mine focused on employment discrimination).
Finally, judges Gary Sharpe and Glen Suddaby, in a tag team beating, imposed sanctions and a conditional filing order. They overrode recusal sought, in part, on a human gene to be discovered “in another fifty years” to make decisions. I decried Judge Sharpe’s omnipotence as Hitleresque based on his rare and resulting removal in United States v Cossey, 632 F. 3d 82 (2nd Cir. 2011).
Duty-bound jurists squander opportunities to set overdue precedent
The Parent v State record and sequel opened the door for precedent in a number of crucial contexts. These included judicial and sovereign immunities, father discrimination, Title IV-D funding abuses, court structure, and attorney whistleblower protection. All were overlooked by jurists I metaphorically criticized “like zombies marching in an Independence Day parade.”
For too long, I have labored to secure legal protection for conscientious attorney whistleblowers, most recently a precedent-seeking case filed with the Supreme Court under docket no. 18-278 and captioned Leon R. Koziol v Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. Ahead of its time, it sought to permit circumstantial proof as a conventional means for establishing unlawful retaliation by judges.
Presently, even in misconduct cases, a tiny percent of which are actually investigated, two unwritten rules of evidence invariably emerge, one for judges and the other for complainants. Under the first, damning evidence is blocked in both overt and discreet ways to protect judicial stature. For the same reason, under the second, a higher burden of proof is effectively imposed.
Adherence to consistent proof standards would promote fearless reporting by those most qualified. Alternatively, an exception to the doctrine of judicial immunity would exclude malicious acts from its broad reach. Under current law, a judge could announce a hazard-causing decision against a litigant-adversary, yet remain protected from liability for any damage.
The DiFiore filing sought to remedy these dysfunctions, representing a check on the persecution of attorney whistleblowers. The protracted and depraved manner in which unlawful retaliation was carried out against me presented itself as an ideal case. As detailed in my book, the attorney disciplinary process was weaponized to achieve outcomes harmful to a civilized society.
To be sure, my disclosures were so justifiably offensive that the wrongdoers went to the extreme of sabotaging parent-child relationships in then pending family court proceedings. My petition for declaratory relief eventually fell victim to the Supreme Court’s practice of denying roughly 99% of all that are filed included a stay motion decided by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Despite these set-backs, I was later vindicated when the main defending party, New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, was forced to resign after investigation by a judicial commission. DiFiore was reported for a letter she sent to a disciplinary judge seeking the harshest outcome against the head of a court officer’s union in retaliation for his criticisms of her pandemic safety practices.
This audacious act shows how readily a judge will misuse authority behind the scenes to punish public critics. It is far from isolated. A predecessor chief judge, Sol Wachtler, may have mentored such elitism with brazen crimes committed 30 years earlier. He served a mere seven years in a medium security facility after being arrested for extortion, racketeering and blackmail.
Like DiFiore, Wachtler used high office to interfere with a licensing process of the attorney exposing his misconduct. It featured Wachtler’s mistress. Under a fictitious name, he made false reports to the FBI and threatened to kidnap her child. Ironically, Judge Wachtler was renowned for an opinion criticizing prosecutors who could “indict a ham sandwich” if they so targeted.
Wachtler was reinstated after his disbarment, hired as a law school professor, and rewarded with book royalties from his prison memoir, After the Madness. In it, he defended his misconduct because judges are supposedly trained to think of themselves as gods. This was a man being groomed for a Supreme Court appointment. It remains an untenable thought process today.
Continuing with our precedent-setting contexts, father discrimination remains subject to lip service despite Census Bureau reports still showing that some 80% of support obligors are men. A suspect class added to race and gender laws would promote genuine equality. Until serious institutional changes are implemented, we will continue down a path toward a fatherless society.
Chaotic court structure combines with funding abuses to require an overhaul in our domestic relations laws. Due process is a fluid concept, always a work-in-progress particularly when confronted with modern day challenges. Taken individually or collectively, precedent on this prong of our Constitution would go a long way toward ridding our society of systemic bias.
Sovereign immunity from suit in federal court derives from an outdated 11th Amendment drafted to retain state integrity in the 1700s. Even without an arduous repeal process, Congress has constitutional authority to legislate exceptions to that immunity which should occur more often. Absent that, I urged that state acceptance of Title IV-D funds operated as a waiver of immunity.
Next, circumstantial proof should be allowed to show lawless retaliation by judges. This overdue precedent was patently ignored in all decisions related to the Parent case, leaving countless victims without cause for treating these public servants above others evincing similar conduct. Yet another example of unmitigated elitism, it yielded yet another miscarriage of justice.
Here, an ethics probe was initiated on the same day as my appeals court arguments featuring protected lawyer misconduct. That court appointed ethics committee members which included my divorce opponent. It led to escalating false charges after 23 years of unblemished practice. Together with the foregoing, it allowed for a conclusion that judge corruption was widespread.
Despite its ultimate adverse outcome, Parent v State set unofficial precedent demonstrating the fallacy of judicial supremacy. On appeal to the U.S. Second Circuit, Judge Hurd’s dismissal was affirmed, but only after he was corrected on proper grounds in accord with the Supreme Court’s longstanding judicial policy of deference to state courts under the Younger abstention doctrine.
Then, only one year later, in Sprint Communications v Jacobs, 571 US 69 (2013), that policy was clarified to discredit the Second Circuit correction. The same high court admonished lower ones for abusing Younger to dismiss meritorious filings. Its three-part test was emphasized to apply only to exceptional cases where the state was essentially prosecuting an important function.
Conclusion: An open message to our federal government
This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the landmark decision which recognized the right of parents in the “care, custody and control of their children,” labeling it the oldest liberty protected by our Constitution, Meyer v Nebraska, 262 US 390 (1923). Supreme Court rulings since then have acknowledged the changing nature of family units but remained loyal to this natural right.
One need go no further than the court caption in Parent v State to verify the sheer number of persons and entities now engaged in the dismantling of this right as parental substitutes. A fair analysis of the Parent case here has shown how each was necessarily named for a complete outcome under our dual system of government. It cries out for action by all three branches.
Congress is called upon to convene oversight hearings to gain direct input from the countless victims of federal funding abuses in our domestic relations courts. The Justice Department is duty-bound to investigate civil rights violations that have been long neglected in these same courts. And it is high time for the Supreme Court to grant protection for attorney-whistleblowers.
The People of the United States have expressed time and again their contempt for the manner in which our nation has been governed in recent years. It is not a contempt based on gender, race or party affiliation. It is one demanding an honest performance of sworn duty when hardly a day goes by without some scandal or mass reaction by a disgusted constituency.
Herein lies an extraordinary opportunity for leaders to reverse this trend.