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How to Legal: Part II: Judges & Lawyers Oaths, Codes & Rules

If you know the oaths and the rules you can identify the oath breakers and law breakers.
We found it very hard to believe that it was actually true, that so many judges were breaking the law. I mean, these are judges. They're lawyers. Judges interpret the law. They enforce the law. They don't break the law. But judges very rarely receive any kind of scrutiny, federal judges in particular. And they're used to being sort of the king and queens of their own domain. ---- James V. Grimaldi, The Federal Law That 138 Judges Have Broken, Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2021

Welcome back to How to Legal where you’ll learn how to use the good side of the Internet to combat the dark side in this online era of fake news, misinformation, disinformation, and/or defamation.

Picking up from How to Legal: The Rules, Part I, we’re moving on to where you can find the oaths, codes, and rules for judges and lawyers.

By knowing these things can help you debunk fake news against judges who live by their oaths, and show you the ones who don’t, like we saw in The Wall Street Journal’s,131 Federal Judges Broke the Law by Hearing Cases Where They Had a Financial Interest,” and Reuter’s “Thousands of U.S. judges who broke laws or oaths remained on the bench.”

* James V. GrimaldiCoulter Jones, and Joe Palazzolo of Wall Street Journal, and Reuter’s Michael Berens and John Shiffman broke the above stories.

Judicial misconduct undermines the integrity and trust in the justice system. It should concern everyone who respects the rule of law and wants to live in a civilized society where due justice for the rich and the poor can be achieved.

Judicial misconduct enables wrong doers. It robs innocents of their due justice. It burdens the ethical judges and lawyers who also have to deal with the fallout created by their oath breaking colleagues, as you can see here: “Federal Judge Files Recusal Notices in 138 Cases After WSJ Queries.

Moreover, judicial misconduct affects society as a whole. Imagine what life would be like without consumer protections, for example. We have consumer protections because of oath believing judges and lawyers holding wrong doers accountable under the laws of the United States.

As such, because we here at How to Legal (it’s just me actually) respect the rule of law, and the oath believing judges, and lawyers, and don’t want to see them harmed by fake news misinformation and/or defamation, in this installment we’ll learn:

  1. how to think like a judge is supposed to think;
  2. where to find the oaths and Code of Judicial Conduct;
  3. how to track dark money;
  4. what are “Super Lawyers?”;
  5. Duke Law: pay to play?;
  6. tip contact information to journalists exposing oath breaking, law breaking judges;
  7. how to identify oath breaking, law breaking judges;
  8. where to find attorney oaths and the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (governing lawyers);
  9. tip contact information to journalists exposing oath breaking, law breaking lawyers; and
  10. how to identify lawyers who should be sanctioned and possibly disbarred according to a Federal District Court Judge.

Remember, don’t burn out when you How to Legal. Pace yourself. You can bookmark How to Legal scroll down to whatever interests you, come back and grab more legal open source information later.

Let’s get to it.

How to think like a judge

As you learn How to Legal, and follow court cases, you need to think like a judge is supposed to think. Judges are required to remain impartial, and to faithfully and diligently perform their duties under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

Break Free from politicized media echo chambers. Take the 30-day challenge

In essence, to think like a judge you need to put aside any political views, bias, or preconceived notions, you may have about a case. So whether you like or dislike the plaintiff or the defendant for political, and/or whatever reason, is irrelevant. To think like a judge you need to remain impartial–neutral.

Referring to the judge’s oath(s) and the judicial canons, (see below) will help you think like a judge. At the same time, the oaths are reminders that show you how proper proceedings are conducted so you won’t be duped by fake news about ethical judges.

Judicial Oaths

For your convenience, following (again) are the oaths or affirmations that “each justice or judge of the United States shall take …before performing the duties of his[/her] office”:

From Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute:

28 U.S. Code § 453 – Oaths of justices and judges

“I, ___ ___, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as ___ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute

You can find the Constitutional oath below at the United States Supreme Court’s website with some history of the oaths as well.

5 U. S. C. § 3331 taken by all Federal employees, except the President.

“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

United States Supreme Court, Oaths of Office

Rapid Response Guide to Fake News – here’s the canons.

Remember in the second installment of How to Legal we learned about the “How-to Guide for Rapid Response to Fake News, Misleading Statements, and Unjust Criticism of the Judiciary, (“Rapid Response Guide”), regarding the importance of educating the public concerning the role of judges, “the application of the law, and the restrictions and responsibilities placed on judges in the canons and rules?” Yes? I linked it again above in case you missed it.

So where do you find the canons and the rules?

How to legal
Among the excellent pics from Pixabay

You can find them at the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Code of Judicial Conduct. Within the canons are rules. Following is an abridged version:

CANON 1: A judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

CANON 2: A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently.

CANON 3: A judge shall conduct the judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with the obligations of judicial office.

Lady justice is watching. How to Legal
Lady Justice sees all

CANON 4: A judge or candidate for judicial office shall not engage in political or campaign activity that is inconsistent with the independence, integrity, or impartiality of the judiciary.

Source: ABA’s Code of Judicial Conduct

To see the rules for judges, and an in depth discussion on the Code of Judicial Conduct, the U.S. Courts provide a Guide to Judiciary Policy here, and via a pdf download here.  See also, Text of Model Code of Judicial Conduct.

Remember the rules and canons may vary slightly to the ABA’s Code of Judicial Conduct, so if you’re following a specific case, or a judge, read the ABA’s Code and the rules in that jurisdiction.

To demonstrate, in the District of Columbia the Code of Judicial Conduct is here. Louisiana’s Code of Judicial Conduct is here, so on and so forth. Just do a search online for that state or district.

How to track dark money

Balancing out the scales of Justice
No balance, no justice.

Now that you know where to find the Code of Judicial Conduct, given the concerns about dark money, and funny business, influencing judges rulings, FollowTheMoney.org and OpenSecrets.org are sources where you can find out who donates to judges elections (state and supreme courts).

In addition, the Brennan Center for Justice is another organization tracking money that’s undermining the integrity of the justice system. See, “Money in Judicial Elections” to learn more about it.

It reads in part:

“Special interest money in state supreme court elections threatens the integrity of the judiciary. We’re tracking who pays for judicial races and analyzing how special-interest pressure and conflicts of interest threaten evenhanded justice in today’s courts.”

Brennan Center for Justice

The U.S. Courts “About Federal Judges” provides the information where you can learn how different types of Federal Judges are nominated and vetted, including magistrate, and bankruptcy judges. In part, it involves their peers, other officers of the court, some of whom might even be a “Super Lawyer.”

What are Super Lawyers and how are they picked?

“Super Lawyers,” according to their website, is a prestigious “rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.” Super Lawyers can help you find a lawyer if you need one.

Their selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.”

Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting a lawyer, we limit the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public.

Super Lawyers, Selection Process

You can read more about Super Lawyers here.

While I don’t cover U.S. politics anymore, for purposes of How to Legal, it’s worth pointing out that sanctioned, sued for defamation and deceptive trade practices, and possibly soon to be disbarred lawyer, Sidney Powell, has been a “Super Lawyer” for decades.

Marinka Peschmann's How to Legal Super Lawyer Sidney Powell
Super Lawyer, officer of the court, Sidney Powell

In part:

Sidney Powell was selected to Super Lawyers for 2003 – 2006, 2008 – 2021. Super Lawyers is an exclusive list of top-rated attorneys in specific practice areas who were chosen after thorough evaluation of numerous criteria.

Sidney Powell Super Lawyer

As such, as the Powell situation demonstrates, just because a lawyer is a “Super Lawyer,” it does not guarantee that they are not an oath breaking, law breaking lawyer. Like everything, to restore integrity in the legal profession, Super Lawyers can use this as an opportunity to identify more oath breaking, law breaking lawyers among their ranks, expose them, clean house and restore integrity within the legal profession.

The only people who would have a problem with that are other oath breaking, law breaking lawyers and the firms that try to pass them off as ethical, credible, decent human beings. Lawyers know the rules. They went to law school for years. No one should be forced to have to litigate against a law breaking, oath breaking lawyer for one day, let alone for months or years.

Stay with me here.

Pay to Play?

The more you look into campaign contributions, dark money, and funny business, it’s incredible to see some of the ways lawyers and judges can scratch each other’s backs so to speak.

For example, Duke Law published a study in May 2020 about what’s been happening in Harris County, Texas. The study is called “Pay to Play? Campaign Finance and the Incentive Gap in the Sixth Amendment’s Right to Counsel.” I linked it so you can read it.

In brief:

“A study of lawyer appointments has found that judges were more likely to appoint lawyers who had contributed to their election campaigns to represent indigent defendants than they were to appoint nondonors.”

According to the study these appointments are surprisingly lucrative. I didn’t know that. Look:

“The average donor lawyer earns about $31,000 in attorney fees from the donee judge, representing a 27-fold return on campaign contributions, the study says.”

Debra Cassens Weiss, “Lawyers who donate to judicial campaigns get more indigent defense appointments, study finds,” ABA Journal, June 2, 2020.

A 27-fold return on campaign contributions.

Let’s put that in perspective. Compare the return a lawyer can receive if they donate to a judge’s election campaign with stock market returns.

Lawyer: 27-fold return on campaign contribution– Pay to Play?

Everyday person: “The average 10-year stock market return is 9.2%, according to Goldman Sachs data.” — Insider, June 14, 2021.

Oh. And who suffers? In this example it’s the people the Sixth Amendment’s Right to Counsel was intended to protect.

The study also found that donor lawyers are less successful than nondonors in avoiding prison sentences and in attaining charge reductions, dismissals and acquittals.

Read a summary. Read the full study

And who cannot be a part of this “pay to play” 27% return? Everyone who is not an attorney, and that includes pro se (self represented) parties and “the poor.” Everyone who will never be a “Super Lawyer.”

As such, if you are following the money, what you likely won’t see are pro se parties, or the “poor,” but you will see dark money donors, special interest groups, PACs (Political Action Committees), foundations, organizations, and law firms.

Thus, it was not surprising to see in the Wall Street Journal‘s and the Reuter’s investigative reporting that oath breaking, law breaking judges were found in pro se cases and cases involving “the poor.”

News outlets exposing unethical, oath breaking, law breaking judges

As we discussed in the second installment of How to Legal, and here again above, among the solutions to restore trust and integrity in the justice system is through education, exposure and accountability. As such, we turn to media outlets who are doing that.

Reuters

How to Legal rules
Exposing judicial misconduct restores the integrity to the justice system

Journalists, like the Reuters journalists, Michael Berens and John Shiffman, who broke, Thousands of U.S. judges who broke laws or oaths remained on the bench,” Reuters, June 30, 2020, are seeking tips.

From “Holding judges accountable, The Teflon Robe,” a Reuters Investigation.

ALERT US TO WRONGDOING

Not all judges who have violated their oaths of office, broken the law or misbehaved on the bench have been brought before their states’ oversight commission.

If you know of a judge who may have committed misconduct, please send us details at tips@thomsonreuters.com. Include the name of the judge, the state, details of what the judge may have done wrong, and a way for us to contact you. Reuters investigates such tips and will contact you before publishing.

Thousands of U.S. judges who broke laws or oaths remained on the bench,” Reuters, June 30, 2020.

See also, some of the steps Reuters took as part of their investigation: Exploring the misdeeds of judges across America:

In the first comprehensive accounting of judicial misconduct nationally, Reuters identified and reviewed 1,509 cases from the last dozen years – 2008 through 2019 – in which state or local judges resigned, retired or were publicly disciplined following accusations of misconduct.

Exploring the misdeeds of judges across America, Reuters, June 30, 2020.

If you don’t know who to trust in the media, you might want to spend time at Reuters. The same applies to the outlets below.

Wall Street Journal

As afore-stated above, the Wall Street Journal‘s, “131 Federal Judges Broke the Law by Hearing Cases Where They Had a Financial Interest, James V. GrimaldiCoulter Jones and Joe Palazzolo are also doing the important work of restoring integrity and trust to the justice system.

See also: How the Journal Found Judges’ Violations of Law on Conflicts: Review accessed judges’ stockholdings, cross-checked with their court cases

See also:When Judges Abuse Public Confidence: Ethics rules prohibit the appearance of unethical conduct as well as actual unethical conduct,” Wall Street Journal (Opinion: letters-written by a judge), it reads in part,

“If a GS-12 contracting officer I advised knew not to share an expensive cab ride with opposing counsel from the courthouse unless they split the fare, federal judges can figure out their conflicts or get competent advice—or they shouldn’t be on the bench. Ethics rules prohibit the appearance of unethical conduct as well as actual unethical conduct.”

Wall Street Journal

Indeed, it will be the ethical judges who play a big role in holding their unethical colleagues accountable. Judges know the rules, canons and their oaths.

How to identify oath breaking, law breaking judges

As such now it’s your turn to know them too. The way to identify oath breaking, law breaking judges is to essentially flip the oath, the canon, rule or law. For example in Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges we learn Canon 3A(5) states:

Canon 3A(5). In disposing of matters promptly, efficiently, and fairly, a judge must demonstrate due regard for the rights of the parties to be heard and to have issues resolved without unnecessary cost or delay. A judge should monitor and supervise cases to reduce or eliminate dilatory practices, avoidable delays, and unnecessary costs.

Prompt disposition of the court’s business requires a judge to devote adequate time to judicial duties, to be punctual in attending court and expeditious in determining matters under submission, and to take reasonable measures to ensure that court personnel, litigants, and their lawyers cooperate with the judge to that end.

Code of Conduct for United States Judges

Thus, a judge who violates Canon 3A(5) is a judge who did not dispose of matters promptly, efficiently, or fairly. The judge did not demonstrate due regard for the rights of the parties to be heard and to have issues resolved without unnecessary cost or delay, and so on.

These judges also violate their oaths. Remember, essentially flip the oath. So to know if you have possibly stumbled across an oath breaking, law breaking judge, instead of a seeing a judge adhering to 28 U.S. Code § 453 – Oaths of justices and judges, and a proper proceeding, instead you will see a judge who did not administer justice with respect to persons; who did not do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and a judge who did not faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon [them]… under the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Oath breaking judge(s) undermine the integrity of the justice system.

So what have we learned? Based on ethical judges, we’ve learned that every day an oath breaking, law breaking judge doesn’t come clean, and seek redemption, is another day where these judge(s) know they are guilty of judicial misconduct, and their misconduct continues to undermine the justice system. It continues to rob innocents of their due justice. And it’s another day that they are choosing to be an oath breaking, rule breaking judge. As the Reuters and Wall Street Journal investigations tell us, their skewed rulings and improper procedures tell the tale.

As demonstrated above, there’s a big difference between the judges who follow their oaths, and the judges who don’t. Already The Wall Street Journal’s investigation is making it harder for oath breaking federal judges to remain hidden.

As such, this is great news for everyone who respects the law, wants to see integrity and trust of the justice system restored; and for all the victims (survivors) of judicial misconduct who can finally obtain long overdue justice.

I don’t know about you, but I need a music break. The harm oath breaking judges cause people and their ethical colleagues is stomach turning. Learning more about the different ways they do it takes a toll.

This time, for me, my music pick it’s Stromae – Sante. It’s in French (with subtitles) and it celebrates the people who can’t celebrate. What’s your music pick? See Stomae’s official website.

Oath and Rules:  Attorneys

Moving forward, if you wish to see the oaths lawyers take, following are the oaths of admission of all 50 States. This list was compiled by Judge Margaret Robb of the Indiana Court of Appeals.

As you can see below, by comparing the Alabama and Alaska oaths of admissions for lawyers, while there are similarities, there are differences, state to state.

Alabama:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will demean myself as an attorney, according to the best of my learning and ability, and with all good fidelity, as well to the court as to the client; that I will use no
falsehood or delay any person’s cause for lucre or malice, and that I will support the Constitution of the State of Alabama and of the United States, so long as I continue a citizen(or legal resident) thereof, so help me God.

Oaths of Admission of all 50 States lawyers

Alaska

I do affirm:

I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Alaska;

I will adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct in my dealings with clients, judicial officers, attorneys, and all other persons;

I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers;

I will not counsel or maintain any proceedings that I believe are taken in bad faith or any defense that I do not believe is honestly debatable under the law of the land;

I will be truthful and honorable in the causes entrusted to me, and will never seek to mislead the judge or jury by an artifice or false statement of fact or law;

I will maintain the confidences and preserve inviolate the secrets of my client, and will not accept compensation in connection with my client’s business except from my client or with my client’s knowledge or approval;

I will be candid, fair, and courteous before the court and with other attorneys, and will advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless I am required to do so in order to obtain justice for my client;

I will uphold the honor and maintain the dignity of the profession, and will strive to improve both the law and the administration of justice.

Oaths of Admission of all 50 States lawyers

Attorney Rules

Similarly, the same applies with the rules. The American Bar Association (ABA) provides the “Model Rules of Professional Conduct” governing attorneys, so if you’re looking at a specific case, or lawyer, be mindful that you are reviewing the ABA’s Model Rules and the local rules for attorneys where the court case (also known as a proceeding or an action) is located. You can typically find the rules at a court’s website.

When you know the oaths and the rules, it will help you identity whether or not they are being followed or broken in a court case. This way you will not get freaked out, disseminate fake news, or end up in prison because you believed oath breaking lawyers like these lawyers and storm the U.S. Capital or something.

Moreover, if you know the oaths and rules, then you would know that the Trump lawyers were not admonished, sanctioned, and/or (potentially soon to be) disbarred, because of politics, but because they broke their oaths, the rules, and the laws of the U.S. justice system.

See for example:

Rule 1.2: Scope of Representation & Allocation of Authority Between Client & Lawyer

(d) A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.

ABA Professional Rules of Model Conduct

As such, it’s your turn to know them too. I would also think it is reasonable to assume that no reputable law firm would want to be associated with a oath breaking, law breaking colleague at their firm.

Thus, it’s important to know these things. Barry Malone, explains why in “The Burden of Our Privilege,” at the American Bar Association.

Like every business, industry, institution and profession, it’s only as strong as it’s weakest link.

See also: “Letter from 1,500 attorneys says Trump campaign lawyers don’t have ‘license to lie’” Washington Post … according to the rules, not politics.

Like all the rules, the rules governing attorneys must be followed to ensure justice is served, to protect the integrity of the justice system, and to prevent more people from getting hurt.

News source exposes U.S. law firm

To find scores of news outlets covering lawyers who have been sanctioned, and/or are facing potential disbarment, just do an online search for names like “Sidney Powell” and “Rudy Giuliani,” “sanction,” “disbarment.”

Newspapers

In addition, there’s the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (“ICIJ”). ICIJ is a news organization that expose lawyers, the powerful, and corruption in the U.S., and around the world.

ICIJ engages in investigative, “impact” and “accountability” journalism. They work with approximately “280 investigative journalists in more than 100 countries to collaborate on in depth reporting.”

Among the litany of stories ICIJ broke, based on the Pandora Papers, for example, is they exposed a powerful U.S. law firm. See:Pandora Papers investigation prompts new scrutiny of law firms’ role in offshore abuses.

ICIJ, like Reuters, are also seeking tips:

Do you have a story about corruption, fraud, or abuse of power?

LEAK TO ICIJ!

ICIJ accepts information about wrongdoing by corporate, government or public services around the world. We do our utmost to guarantee the confidentiality of our sources.

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists 

While trust and confidence in the media is at all time lows, if you don’t know who to trust, for me, I’d be consuming news from journalists engaged in investigative, impact and/or accountability journalism over a talking head any day. But that’s just me. You do you.

How to identify lawyers who should be sanctioned and possibly disbarred according to a Federal District Court Judge

While we might be jumping ahead here, now that you know where to find the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the oaths lawyers take, a great way to learn about how to identify rule breaking, oath breaking lawyers is to learn from a Federal District Court Judge who holds them accountable.

Nobody learns everything in a day. Pace yourself.

That would be a judge who faithfully and impartially discharged her duties 28 U.S.C. § 453 and upheld and protected the Constitution of the United States, 5 U.S.C. § 3331. Not from one of those oath breaking judges we learned about above.

As such you should know about the following case, King v. Whitmer (2:20-cv-13134). The judge’s order is over 100 pages, but worth the read when you are ready.

See: the Hon. Linda V Parker’s order in King v. Whitmer (2:20-cv-13134).

If this case is too much information for you, just bookmark How to Legal, read more installments to keep familiarizing yourself with the legal system, and come back when you are ready. Nobody learns everything in a few days. Pace yourself. I’m always learning more.

Now that you know where to find the rules and oaths, let’s wrap this up, and move on to How to Legal: Freedom of Speech: What’s Slander? What’s Libel?

As always, I hope you found this installment informative and empowering so you won’t be duped by fake news or discount real news.

I also hope How to Legal  gives you an appreciation and respect for the judges, lawyers, all the officers of the court, who live by their oaths, and stand firm against corruption.

Dance and move around when you How to Legal
How to Legal’s writer and creator, second from the left. :-)

Signing off now with another music break. Get up and move around. Your back and neck will thank you.

This time for me, it’s Tears for Fear, “Shout.” What’s your music pic? See: Tears for Fears official website.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER +

None of the information on this website is legal advice.   This information is for educational purposes, and to serve as a public service to help combat fake news. If you need legal advice, please consult with a licensed professional.

If you would like to show support send donations here. Thank you. If you are stressed out by fake news, real news, or for any reason, check out Stuff for Stress. Here’s some merch too.

The Break Free from Media Echo Chambers 30 Day Challenge

If you are stuck in a politicized media echo-chamber, or know someone who is, check out The Break Free from Media Echo-Chambers 30-Day Challenge. It’s time to heal and live a fact based life where people can respectfully disagree.

There are problems on both sides of the political aisle and real problems that need to be fixed. Believing and acting on fake news just creates more problems that need to be fixed.

If you see any typos or mistakes, kindly send me an email so I can fix it. Thanks. No lawyers, like Sidney Powell. I’ve read the rules multiple times.