Thursday, November 18, 2010


One of the worst experiences you can have is to be reminded unexpectedly of a personal tragedy. This just happened to me.

I opened a file draw and inadvertently pulled out a “Congratulations” letter from the clerk of a Federal District Court in Louisiana, welcoming me, as a new officer of the court. 

I remember the sense of elation and anticipation I felt when I first received this item, years ago.

That was before I discovered that the Canons of Judicial Ethics mean nothing, and the Judicial Complaint Rules mean less than nothing.

I no longer have a law license. 

My three licenses were suspended after I filed a confidential complaint of misconduct against a federal district judge, who publicized my name as the lawyer, who had filed a confidential complaint of misconduct against him. 

This maneuver by the judge of course destroyed my effectiveness in either litigating or settling the matter at hand.

More than two years later, I was prosecuted by the Louisiana Disciplinary Counsel for having brought the confidential complaint against the federal judge. 

I was prosecuted successfully, of course; both of the lawyers on the three-person committee who adjudicated the complaint against me, were members of the lawyer organization who had gifted the judge. (This was one of several of my complaints about this judge – that he took gifts and did favors for his lawyer pals.)

The lawyers who found me guilty of misconduct of course knew what I should have known:

If you expect a judicial complaint to be taken seriously, you live in a world of illusion and delusion.

The attorneys who found me to be unethical for complaining about an unethical judge, practice before the very judge about whom I had complained. They knew there was no actual issue to be decided when it came to either punishing an officer of the federal courts for fling a truthful complaint about a judge versus stating, candidly and honestly, that the judge had done what I said he had done. 

I discovered, at the cost of my law licenses, in three states (Louisiana, Hawaii, Maryland), that no one associated with the legal system is going to criticize a federal district judge for flouting the judicial complaint rules. Why not? Those rules are not enforced by the Circuit Judges who are theoretically supposed to supervise the conduct of the judges below. The Circuit Judges set the tone and it is a very low tone. Inaudible. 

I was reminded of all this when I opened that file and found my “congratulations” letter together with my certificate of admission. I won’t be needing these items any more and don’t need to be surprised by them again. I put them in another file – a round one.           

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Justice Cardozo Ruled a Fool

Banished from solons’ many homes, I watch
Troops of scuffling scriveners crowd and plea.
The matters of the very poor they botch
And mutter to themselves their plaint: money.

My crime: insist a robed miscreant not
The matters of my many clients try.
Before him their dear interests can but rot
While his brother judges praise him high.

That judges judge a judge my foolish plea.
His crimes when done by others they condemn.
I interfered they said with just decrees,
A burden on lawyers who gifted him.

Gifts to the judge returned - Cardozo’s rule,
Now held to be the ravings of a fool

Thursday, September 23, 2010



"COOK, Richard Baldwin - Suspended for eighteen months by Consent for filing two motions to recuse the judge in a federal lawsuit for alleged misconduct which had no connection with his client’s case and for filing discovery requests in pursuit of this motion against individuals who were not parties to the lawsuit and who did not possess discoverable information. Respondent violated Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct 3.1 (meritorious claims and contentions), 4.4 (respect for rights of third persons), 8.4(a) (violation of Rules of Professional Conduct) and 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). There was no allegation or finding in the disciplinary proceeding before the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana that Respondent made any false statements about the federal judge in his motions to recuse or at any other time."

Couple questions:

1. Why ought it be  improper to complain about a corrupt judge? Why must an attorney demonstrate "a connection" between a dishonest judge's conduct and a client's case?

Even the required-connection principle ignores the fact that this judge presided in a matter effecting some 100 of my clients.

Why ought my clients or any other litigants be made to come before a court with a track record of departing from the FRCP to do favors for his pals and former law partners?

The finding that a lawyer can only come forward with a judicial ethics complaint when the questioned conduct involves that lawyer's case is a novel doctrine that has no precedence or, really, any point, except to penalize a lawyer for reporting judicial bad behavior.

2. It is common for attorney's to file discovery requests against individuals who are "not parties."

To have found these potential witnesses had no "discoverable information" is an assumption made without reference to the actual facts - the miscreant on the bench ordered that no information from them could be obtained.

To find this discovery attempt to be unethical belies the fact that I had been ordered to show cause why I should not be sanctioned by the miscreant judge.

It was both proper and essential that I discover information from the former managing partner of his old law firm, especially after the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council signaled it would do nothing to protect me from this judge, after he announced he was going to punish me for filing a (so-called) confidential judicial complaint.

At no time was my conduct improper.

What was improper - and ignored by the state judges in Louisiana, Hawaii and Maryland who have destroyed my legal career - was that a judge is not supposed to rule on discovery which is directed at his own finances and his own financial misconduct. Each and all of these judges simply ignore this stricture - which is binding upon their own conduct, and is probably the reason why they do not want to go anywhere close to the practice of gift-giving to judges by litigators who appear before them.

3. To rule that I violated various ethical strictures - while steadfastly refusing to do anything at all about my truthful complaints about the judge - belies a degree of cynicism, which ought to make the Louisiana, Hawaii and Maryland Judges embarrassed and ashamed of themselves.

Of course, there is no chance of that. But questions remain:

Why do state court judges subject a lawyer to discipline for complaining about judicial misconduct - in a disciplinary proceeding which, by rule, cannot examine the conduct of a judge?

Why are state judges set on protecting a federal district judge from the consequences of his misbehavior?

Why do state judges shield well-connected lawyers, whose documented behavior demonstrates they gifted a federal judge? Is it because state court judges also benefit from lawyer-largesse?

Why do state judges refuse to forward "allegations" of judicial misconduct to a competent prosecutor before throwing a demonstrably honest attorney under the judicial bus?

4. It is worth repeating the final statement of the Maryland summary - out of the mouths of the Maryland judges' chosen guardians of legal ethics:

"There was no allegation or finding in the disciplinary proceeding before the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana that Respondent made any false statements about the federal judge in his motions to recuse or at any other time."

Only judges who are indifferent to the truth and hyper-protective of a miscreant on the bench, would make this statement - while banishing an attorney from the legal profession. Did I say "profession" ? I meant to say "club."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Who is worthy of greater public condemnation, a lawyer who exchanges sex for a controlled substance or a lawyer who complains, truthfully, about the misconduct of a federal judge? 

Well, what you think doesn't matter. What matters is what the judges think. 

In Maryland, the judiciary, by a large margin, prefers the sexual predator with a law license to the honest lawyer, who files a formal complaint about a judge.

The sexual predator get a little frown from the judges, while the honest lawyer, who complains about the misconduct of a federal judge, gets to pick another profession. 

Arguably (as lawyers like to say) a Maryland attorney ought never to lose his/her law license, for making a truthful complaint about a federal judge. 

Arguably. But honesty is not the big deal you might expect it to be to the Maryland judiciary.

An attorney who does complain - about a federal judge who (1) ignores procedural rules to benefit his former law partners (2) takes money gifts from litigators (3) violates the federal judicial complaint rules and the Canons of Judicial Ethics and (4) is in business with lawyers in his court - a lawyer who objects to all this ought to be protected - if not congratulated - for coming forward. Arguably, but never mind. 

The Judicial apparatus in Maryland did not like the fact that I complained - truthfully - about the misconduct of a federal judge. My punishment  - 18 months suspended law license.

In fact, my suspension amounts to a disbarment. I am not going to apologize to Chief Judge Bell for coming forward as I did. I am not going to promise, from now on, to look the other way.

Judge Bell ought to apologize to me and restore my license - after admitting that I was telling the truth about the federal judge. But that is not the way our judicial system works.  

Strict adherence to the factual record takes a back seat, in Maryland, to another judicial value: protection of a miscreant judicial colleague - a fellow jurist who ignores the ethical strictures that are supposed to protect the interests of petitioners and attorneys, alike.  

The judge about whom I complained ought to have been investigated and replaced. My clients should have been protected from such a "judge." But Judge Bell and his employees among the disciplinary counsel could not even bring themselves to admit I was telling the truth. That sort of truth-telling is an embarrassment to Judge Bell. 

Never mind. Experience is wisdom. I am now wise to the bright line rule that governs judicial complaints in Maryland: the judges cover for each other. They prefer to destroy the career of an officer of their own court, than admit that a federal judge is a miscreant who ignores his serious ethical obligations.

Never mind and beware. 

Beware the sexual predator who is allowed to hang on to his law license after a little bitty Oh My, from the be-robed solons who run the judiciary in Maryland.

In Maryland, a lawyer who forces himself sexually on someone in exchange for a controlled drug is viewed in a much kinder light than a lawyer who complains - truthfully - about a judge-on-the-take. 

The soft light glows ever softer the second time around; this attorney had been suspended "briefly" (Baltimore Sun May 18, 2010) once before for sexual misconduct with a client.  

The sort of lawyer - two-times a predator - who coerce sex-for-drugs earns a 60 day suspension. Then it's back to 'business' as usual in the Maryland courts.

Disgusting?  But as legal as can be. 

Get sex for drugs or have sexual contact with a client if you can. But if you are an officer of he court, don't complain about a judge. Then, you are really going to be in trouble with the other judges.

In Maryland, judicial ethics and legal ethics are like the game of limbo: how low can you go?  

(Also posted at MARYLAND, MY MARYLAND) 

Friday, January 15, 2010


Do money gifts to judges effect their rulings?
Good question. Just don’t expect judges to answer it.
Some months ago Vernon Palmer, a professor at Tulane Law School, wrote to each of the Justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court to ask them to make available details of campaign contributions to the judges from litigators who appear before them and before the courts that the Justices supervise.
Professor Palmer received no response. A second letter from Professor Palmer likewise was ignored by the busy Justices.
No response to an inquiry is, of course, a response. None of your damn business.
A coordinated non-response is also revealing. When a covey of judges sitting on the same judicial bench, ignore a letter from a law school professor, it’s reasonable to conclude that those seven people have made a joint decision to stiff-arm the prof.
This set of state Supreme Court Justices are not about to respond when a law professor asks them to account for their ethics.  
The Justices will not even be polite when an inquiry is directed to them about their own conduct. They will not even answer the mail. Why let anyone get into all that when we can take the money and pretend the gift does not influence our decisions.  
And so, Professor Palmer, ignored by judges who would not facilitate his research, went a fateful step further. Working with John Levendis, associate professor of economics at Loyola University in New Orleans, the scholars tracked electoral contributions to the Justices against their decisions for or against the gift giver. In 2008, their study was published in the law review of Tulane Law School. Vernon V. Palmer and John Levendis, "The Louisiana Supreme Court in Question: An Empirical and Statistical Study of the Effects of Campaign Money on the Judicial Function," Tulane Law Review, Vol. 82, Issue 4, 1291-1314 (2008).
To the surprise of no one, the article’s conclusions pointed to a correlation between the gifting of judges and favorable decisions benefitting the gift givers. The conclusion was tentative. No one made a claim of a definitive association. More research would be required.
At this point hysteria set in at the Louisiana State Supreme Court. The Court engineered a fusillade of personally hostile critiques directed at the authors of the report.
A couple of Louisiana litigators hustled into print in the very next edition of the Louisiana State University law review with their own critique of the Palmer-Levendis study. The musings of a couple lawyers, with business before the very court that has been criticized, cannot be taken seriously as an objective critique of statistical research. Their article is worthless. 
The attorneys’ fly-by at serious research is nothing more than an acolyte's benediction. The lawyers' document, hurried into print at a fawning law journal, is a proffer of absolution, a solemn pantomime, the making of the dollar sign over the bowed heads of the judges. In the name of the gold, the sliver and the greenback. Aaaaamen. 
The Justices, blessed and renewed by this put-up job, transformed the acolytes’ encyclical into a press release and posted it at the high court’s website. See E. Phelps Gay and Kevin R. Tully, “Rebuttal of  ‘The Louisiana Supreme Court in Question: An Empirical and Statistical Study of the Effects of Campaign Money on the Judicial Function’,” June 12, 2008.  (If the document is removed by the time you look for it, let me know. You should also visit ) 
A transparently worthless diatribe against two scholars was not enough for the Justices. They were not yet satisfied that Professors Palmer and Levendis had been put in their place. Fortunately, Tulane Law School rode to the further rescue of the state Supreme Court Justices.
The age-old incestuous exchange of favors is taboo in some cultures. But according to our French Quarter and Uptown New Orleans observations, party-time happily happens between the be-robed and the be-deaned at the B-law schools of Louisiana. (Now. Now. I am a graduate of one of ’em.)  
Enough background. Lo, the (then) Dean of Tulane’s Law School sent a letter of “apology” to each of the Justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court. This was done even though reports in what used to be called “the press” find Professor Palmer standing behind his research. 
Never you mind. While the Justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court were pleased to ignore Professor Palmer’s earlier letters, they were so thrilled to receive Dean Ponoroff’s abject letter of apology that they post it, too, at the Court website.
In his letter, Dean Ponoroff implied that the authors of the Study essentially disowned their own research. Dean Ponoroff wrote that the scholars, now under attack by a dean or two, had “reviewed their underlying data” and then “advised the Tulane Law Review that there were numerous errors in the recording of the data that formed the basis of their study [. . .].”
Writing “on behalf of Tulane Law School” the Dean informed the wounded Justices that “the law review will issue an erratum on its website.” The same “erratum” will be sent, wrote the Dean, to all subscribers; electronic archives will likewise be “hyperlinked” to the erratum.
Wow. A “hyperlink” to an “erratum” means this could be serious business. Or is this erratum hyperlink merely a measure of the reach of state Supreme Court justices, who are seriously pissed? I move and second: seriously pissed.
What is also serious is that two supposedly scholarly publications at two law schools within the jurisdiction of a state Supreme Court, were pre-empted so as to placate the ire of the Justices.
The demeaning manipulation of the two publications (and their student staff) point to an entrenched subservience by important members of the Louisiana legal community.  Everyone on both banks of the Mississippi is just shocked at the notion that leading legal lights are judicial acolytes. For the past two years, this episode has been the buzz of Mardi Gras and JazzFest, too. Yeah. Right.  
But even a trivial “critique” and a so-sorry letter from a law school dean were not enough.
The justices realized that a rushed-into-print bogus rebuttal, written by beholdin’ officers of their own court, plus an abject apology by a law school dean, who had no part whatsoever in any scientific assessment of peer-reviewed research, might be seen as cartoonish. Yep. It is. 
So, the state Supreme Court engineered a further “study” by three economists, who zealously joined the chorus of denunciation.
It would be one thing for scientists (for the sake of argument, let us think of economists as scientists) to conduct their own study. This sort of professionalism would involve an extended period for research and at least an attempt to place their own results in a peer-reviewed journal, where a debate might be engendered about the impact of campaign contributions upon judicial decisions.
That is not what happened. Why not? An actual debate among scientists would not permit the Justices to retain control of the process of character assignation directed at those who had criticized them.
So, the three economists –Moe, Larry and Curley in this episode – published their work at . . . you guessed it . . . the website of the Louisiana Supreme Court.  (If the item has been removed by the time you hunt for it, go to:
How much public money did the Justices pay the economists for their “research?”
Good question. But that question likely will not be answered by the Justices. They receive and publicize letters that please them and ignore the rest of their mail. I bet they won’t even hyperlink this question to an erratum.
Louisiana State Supreme Court Justices “continually decide cases involving their own donors without recusing themselves” 
Worthwhile to emphasize is that the authors of the original study have not disowned the measured conclusions they reached. On Sept 15, 2008, Professor Palmer said, despite the court-sponsored criticisms, that “the study's conclusions, broadly speaking, are the same.” Palmer added that a central finding in the study has not been disputed: justices “continually decide cases involving their own donors without recusing themselves.  That right there is the most important part of the study.” See Note 10 and commentary at:
By the way, there is other research on the influence of gifts-to-deciders, which has not been engineered into print by lawyer suck-ups, and judges’ hired-gun hacks.
These studies indicate that gifts of any size create an unconscious inclination by the recipient to want to do favors for the gift-giver.
Recent studies of brain activity indicate that “Gifts affect the decision-making process in ways that are very hard to control,” said Michael J. Friedlander, director of the Baylor University neuroscience department. Friedlander, again: “Even when you are aware of it, even when you want to be objective, you can't help it.” (“Doctors moving to limit gifts from drug firms,” Baltimore Sun, May 20, 2008.) See also MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT by Richard Baldwin Cook (Nativa LCC, page 178, at or for e-book download.)
Moe, Larry and Curley apparently know nothing about these studies.
Wop. Wop. Wop.