Gen X at 40

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Gordo -

I must say, it's very nice of the Law Society and the Lawyer's Association to take an active hand in promoting the book. You can't buy publicity like that and all that their public outrage is doing is stirring the pot so as to keep the book selling.

I can imagine there being an almost daily struggle between wanting to help folks in crisis and knowing that one could quite easily fleece them in the process. People are weak when presented with temptation like that. I'd be surprised if there weren't failings, but the governing bodies aren't doing themselves any favour by soft pedalling the weeding. Lawyers have a terribly bad rep in western society and unceremoniously dumping barratrous weasels could only help.

Alan -

There is absolutely no struggle unless you are crooked to begin with. The 99% of honest lawyers shake their head every time another bad apple is picked out, saying the line "how is it that the guy could not tell his left pocket from his right one?"

Chris Taylor -

It's not always a matter of crisis; sometimes it's just a willingness to turn a blind eye. I have known at least one solicitor who tread awfully close to the line of negligence in estate administration duties. Signed off on the execution of the will and the end of his duties when, in fact, it had just barely begun. He's retired now so it's hardly worth going after an old man, but were he still practicing, I'd have the LSUC string him up.

Alan -

By crisis I meant the client's, not the solicitor's. Handling estates are always matters of very much heightened family tensions involving property. A crooked lawyer could view the area of law as a gold mine. Wilful blindness is one point of the continuum of wickedness, especially by those in the position of a fiduciary.

FYI - matters of claims and the insurance supporting the good work of lawyers are handled by the profession generally, not by or according to the life span of each lawyer. Wills and estate work gone wrong often, by their very nature, only pop up years later yet claims are still possible.

Chris Taylor -

Well... you might consider estate stuff to be a crisis, but in this family it happens every other week. Part of the continuum of life, like spring cleaning and raking leaves in the fall. There's always <i>somebody's</i> stuff to be divvied up, that's why there's so few of us left. =)

I don't actually think he was crooked, per se. I think he assumed the estate was a lot simpler than it actually was, and took the path of least resistance -- knowing that he would retire shortly after the matter concluded. So he did his best to bring it to a swift conclusion rather than chase down every niggling detail as a younger gent might have. He didn't cost us five-figure sums so I'm not interesting in chasing him down for money; I'm really interesting in his license and a public flogging. But since he's retired and elderly, I lose on both counts.

Money can't buy the remedies I seek. Fiscal penalties are no big deal; you can always earn more money. It's a little harder to explain away censure from your peers, big scars on your back, and kids' memories of chucking rotten legumes at you in the stockade. =)

Alan -

Remind me not to cross you.

Kay Sieverding -

All of the issues of attorney misconduct and poor attorney regulation brought up in Lawyers Gone Bad are directly applicable in the U.S.
“The (defendant) approved (rules of professional conduct) in 1983…””But whether these rules really work or whether they work in the public interest—remains an open question…After all it is the bar itself that disciplines the bar and most citizen complaints end up going nowhere…The organized bar though seems to lack zeal for self policing.” P 469. American Law in the 20th Century Lawrence W. Friedman, Yale University Press, 2002.
Lawrence W. Friedman is the Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law at Stanford University and a member of the “Order of Coif” from the Association of American Law School.

Kay Sieverding -

I litigated in the U.S. federal courts and the defense strategy included 25 secret ex parte hearings. There are scans of defense affidavits that they had these secret ex parte hearings, (not in the official record, not scheduled, no transcripts) downloadable from Pacer at U.S. Court District of Colorado case 02-1950 document 1006 and exhibits. These include...<blockquote><b>[Ed.: <i>long list removed due to lack of editorial interest.</i>]</b></blockquote>

Alan -

Hi Kay,

You can stop now as this is not a forum for your personal case(s):<blockquote class="smalltext"><b>Lawsuit-happy woman now in contempt of court</b><p>
By Karen Abbott, Rocky Mountain News<br>
February 3, 2006<p>
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the arrest of Kay Sieverding after she failed to show up in his court to explain why she broke her promise to drop numerous lawsuits in exchange for her release from jail.<p>

Colorado U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham said the former Steamboat Springs resident, now of Wisconsin, is in contempt and that he won't let her out of jail again until he sees certified copies of documents dismissing the cases. </blockquote>

Kay Sieverding -

Are U.S. judicial case assignments made in a back room in secret even though they are supposed to be random? I think the FBI should look into lawyers paying clerks to rig the assignments to go to judges they can bribe, blackmail, or otherwise corruptly influence.

Kay Sieverding -

I believe that is was felony witness intimidation for Judge Nottingham to use force and intimidation to delay and deter our presentment in an official proceeding and our complaints that there was criminal collusion to deprive our statutory due process rights in our civil lawsuit before Judge Nottingham. The defense itemized 25 secret ex parte conferences and wrote to Judge Nottingham requesting that he have his clerks call them if they had questions. The Rocky Mountain News had the same lawyers as my defendant The Steamboat Pilot AKA The World Company. The U.S. code specifically prohibits detention of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government unless an Act of Congress was cited and none has ever been cited. I was not accused of misrepresenting even a little fact nor of misquoting a single case or law. I believe that Judge Nottingham violated the Anti Injunction Act and thought that he could get away with that because I didn't go to law school. The U.S. code has a list of permissable conditinos for release from jail and dismissing a civil complaint is not on the list. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Senn v. Tile Layer's Protective Union that there can be no right to a prohibition against acts that are legal. Filing and prosecuting a civil lawsuit without hiring a lawyer is a right by statute in the United States.

Kay Sieverding -

Proposed judicial reform in the United States

The Committee of the Judiciary House of Representatives--Senator Grassley,(a republican)...."ever since I chaired the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts in the early 1990’s, concerns have beenraised about compliance with judicial ethics rules and whether the
judiciary can adequately police itself....some people think that there is no need for a judiciary I.G. They believe that the current system of self-policingis adequate. Some believe that they can just legislate certain rulesfor the judiciary and that that is going to fix the problem. Legislating is one thing. Ensuring accountability is quite another. The judiciary’s current self-policing system is just not up to snuff. There are too many questions about how conflicts and financial interests are reported and how recusal lists are compiled and kept up to date. There are too many questions as to whether the judiciary’s current policy, which I understand is not uniform throughout the court system itself, is as effective as it should be. Transparency can only make the system better and make our judges more accountable to the people. But there isn’t a lot of transparency in our current system. I agree with some of my colleagues that one way to ensure that ethics are being followed is to allow more transparency with respect to judges’ financial holdings and potential conflicts. Improved access to judges’ financial information as well as recusal lists will promote transparency and check the judiciary. But beyond that, an independent office of inspector general can do a lot to keep the Federal judiciary on its toes and up to par with standards as expected.And the proof is in the pudding. The institution of I.G. in various agencies has significantly increased accountability. Based on their oversight role as well as oversight activities by Congress and the Government Accountability Office, many agencies have improved internally and have prevented more waste, fraud and abuse from happening. An inspector general is a simple, common-sense internal control and check on internal impropriety. An internal watchdog also actsas a deterrent for improper activity. Further, an inspector general’s office can do a better job when it has the cooperation of employees who aren’t afraid to raise concerns, so that brings about the necessity of strengthening whistleblowers’ positions and keeping the public trust. They step forward, they put their careers and reputations on the line, to just do one thing, to commit truth. And they deserve not to be retaliated against. Providing whistleblower protections to judicial branch employees will help our judiciary function better. The bill before you is a straightforward bill and I won’t go into the details of that, but it is going to ensure a fair and independent judiciary as a critical aspect of our constitutional system of checks
and balances and to make sure that they do their job right. Judges are supposed to maintain an appearance of impartiality. They are supposed to be free from conflicts of interest. And an
independent watchdog for the Federal judiciary will help judges comply with all of these requirements."