Subject: NYT-tale: Lawyer Who Brought Down a Judge
re: New York Times story - http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/20/politics/20JUDG.html
Micki Parker (and Adam Liptak and Steve Gillers),
I share your reaction to the mis-information in Adam Liptak's New York Times story. As I search Justice Bridge's opinion for the source of that mis-information, I find that in the discussion of RPC 1.6(c) [page 8 of 16], she stated, "However, Schafer, who waited three years from the time of first hearing of an alleged transgression on Anderson's part, apparently became frustrated only two and a half months after making the initial allegations and revealed his client's statements to the press." Is she suggesting that I should have reported to a tribunal or another authority Hamilton's wild statements ("milking an estate," "good deal," "repay him 'down the road'") in August 1992? That certainly would have brought immediate discipline -- but only of me! I had no real evidence of Judge Anderson's corruption until after I began investigating it in mid-December of 1995 to see if there was any substance underlying Hamilton's (who's nickname was "Wild Bill") wild comments. It was on Feb. 1, 1996, that the lawyer for Anderson's divorcing wife (Camden Hall of Seattle's elite Foster Pepper & Shefelman PLLC) told me to investigate how the Judge had obtained his Cadillac.
That sentence in Bridge's opinion is apparently what caused NY Times senior staff lawyer and reporter, Adam Liptak, to write, "Schafer did not inform the authorities of Judge Anderson's misconduct until three years after he learned of it -- when the judge sanctioned him for bringing a frivolous suit in 1995."
The last part of trial lawyer Liptak's sentence is apparently based on what Bridge wrote in her third paragaph, "Judge Anderson ruled that Schafer's petition was frivolous and without legal merit, and assessed $1,000 in attorney fees against Schafer's client." Contrary to Bridge's language, there simply was no "Schafer petition."
Don Barovic, with two lawyers, had been fighting his sisters over their father's $6 million estate for about two years before I (a non-litigator with a trusts and estates background) joined them in July 1995. One of those lawyers, Sean Hicks, filed a petition in November 1995 [click here for a PDF copy of it] objecting to the probate of an unsigned photocopy of a very old will of Barovic's father that Anderson had previously admitted to probate. Hicks had a schedule conflict and could not attend the hearing set by opposing counsel to challenge that petition, so I attended the hearing and argued for Barovic in support of Hicks' petition. Anderson ruled the petition was frivolous due to his prior ruling, made in the case many months before I had joined Barovic's team of lawyers. Anderson awarded $1,000 (a trivial sum, considering what was at stake) in attorney fees to Barovic's sisters and against Barovic. My name nowhere even appears on Anderson's order, a PDF copy of which is attached to this message.
Contrary to Liptak's NY Times' story, Anderson did not sanction me, nor did I ever bring a frivolous suit. And neither assertion is even supported by Justice Bridge's false and misleading opinion.
Defending oneself as not having a "bad" motive is like trying to prove a negative. The December 15, 1995, hearing on Hicks' petition was only the second time I had stood before Anderson. I had reviewed the court file of the Hoffman Estate (that he had plundered) after my first appearance before Anderson in late July 1995, and I checked-out that file and copied it after my second appearance before him. Does that mean I had a "bad" motive? What if I had checked it out a day before, or a week after, that second hearing? What if Anderson had granted Hicks' petition and I had still checked-out the Hoffman Estate file? What "bad" motives would jerks accuse me of then? Certainly they'd fabricate something!
Anderson's "ethics expert" lawyer, Kurt Bulmer (former state bar general counsel), spent years lying to everybody in private that my motive in exposing Anderson was retaliation against him for a ruling he had made denying me some fees at some hearing in September 1995. When LA Times journalist Barry Seigel in March-April 2000 insisted on some evidence of that, the hearing transcript and order that Bulmer then obtained showed that no such remarks or ruling against me were made, I was not denied any fees, and I had not even attended the hearing! It appears that people like Bulmer and Bridge are so determined to vilify that they fabricate vile motives to attribute to their targets. And like Professor Gillers says, "A motive makes a big difference here." In the justice business, even an imagined motive makes a bigger difference than do the real facts! That's the way the game of litigation is played in these modern times! Denigrate your opposition's character, and then the facts and law become irrelevant! Adam and Steve, surely you've both seen that play out in many lawsuits.
Adam, I'm surprised that you would seek comments from NYU Law Professor Stephen Gillers, as Steve has published very hostile views toward whistleblowers, most especially lawyer whistleblowers. See: http://www.law.com/jsp/newswire_article.jsp?id=1015973950942 Once again in this story, Steve's hostility towards those who report corruption, even judicial corruption, shows vividly -- makes me wonder about him. And his refusal to respond to any of the e-mails that I have sent to him in recent years has sensitized me to his hostility. Adam, you might find it interesting to read the praising rather than hostile views of Boston University Law Professor Susan P. Koniak, as posted (with her permission) on my website at: http://dougschafer.com/Koniak030417.html
Thanks for taking an interest in judicial corruption and honest lawyer ethics.
Keith & Micki Parker wrote (Sat, 19 Apr 2003 16:35 -0700):
Doug, The NY Times story just popped up on a Google search. I'm disappointed-- they made it sound as if you waited 3 years to tell when you only had a hint & didn't actually discover the fraud until 3 years later, when Hamilton was home safe from prosecution & you once again stood before the judge... The story really didn't get into the heart of the matter re lawyer ethics rules. Damn reporters! Fleeting glances do such an injustice to your story. I am sorry. Hearing your voice yesterday was reassuring -- we are pulling for you to get through this. Micki