Thursday, December 18, 2008
The Winter Of Our Discontent
A Massive Crisis Of Confidence
We are living through a period unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes. We are grappling with a Crisis Of Confidence; one which, in the financial realm, is virtually world-wide in scope. However, here at home, we are confronted, simultaneously, with a Crisis Of Confidence In Government at every level. The constant reminder that our most fundamental institutions, not merely our banks and major corporations, but also our courts, our legislatures, and our elected executive officials, are frequently shaky and not at all what we have relied upon them to
be, is unnerving and, for many, depressing.
In a few days, it will officially be winter, not merely a season, but a state of mind, particularly for those of us living in the northern latitudes.
Mental health professionals tell us that about 25 percent of our population suffers with seasonal depression. Shorter days, more darkness,
and the cold, combine to make some of us wish we didn’t have to get up in the morning. If only we could pull the covers over ourselves and hibernate ‘til spring.
Unfortunately, what’s concerning most of us, now, will still be with us come spring. We have been deceived and let down by far too many individuals and institutions who should have stood by us; none more significantly than our courts. No free and democratic society can long
survive without a fair and equitable judiciary. Citizens must believe that no matter what else may fail them, they can rely upon their courts to honestly and fairly interpret and enforce the law.
However, we discover, with ever-increasing frequency, that our State Courts in New York; the state whose civil law is opted for by corporations throughout the world for conflict resolution, are as corrupted and unconstitutional as any in the country. The Matrimonial Part of State Supreme Court is scandalous, awash with cases that time after time prove the axiom: As between any two parties to a matrimonial
action, the spouse with the money, and/or political connections, will have it his or her way.
On the Criminal Court side, in many counties, particularly Westchester, Queens, Kings (Brooklyn), New York (Manhattan), and Rockland,
locally, the County and Supreme Courts are radically and unconstitutionally biased in favor of the District Attorney’s Offices. Self-promoting so-called public servants, such as Robert Morgenthau, Jeanine Pirro, Charles J. Hynes, Richard Brown, and Janet Di-Fiore, operate fiefdoms in which the selection of trial judges is often anything but random, and the withholding of evidence, Brady and Rosario
violations, are the rule, and not the exception, and witness intimidation, evidence tampering, and subornation of perjury, are just as
Most de-pressing, with regard to our state courts, bar associations, the Grievance Committee For Attorney Complaints, and the Commission on Judicial Misconduct, are little more than wrist-slapping peer review clubs in 99 percent of cases brought before them. Only those cases that involve highly-publicized transgressions, such as the proven acceptance of bribes, or the co-mingling of funds, ever incur disbarment
and/or criminal prosecution.
Consider Albert J. Pirro, Jr., convicted taxcheating felon found guilty in federal court of 38 counts of tax evasion on June 20, 2000, but not acted upon by the Grievance Committee until May, 2003; and, then, not disbarred, but merely suspended for three years. Imagine anyone
other than a highly-connected wheeler-dealer like Albert Pirro, Jr., married to the District Attorney of Westchester, receiving a 29-month sentence for 10 years of tax evasion and serving only 11 months in prison.
Additionally, imagine receiving only a three-year suspension, not a disbarment, for 38 felony convictions, but nevertheless, continuing
to practice before municipal and other agencies representing him-self and others throughout the period of suspension, calling himself a consultant, and getting away with it.
More discouraging, still, imagine the Police Chief of the Town of Harrison retaining that same Al Pirro as his attorney to represent him in actions brought against him before the Harrison Town Board/Commissioners of Police. And, speaking about police, and police departments; what comfort or con-fidence is to be drawn by law-abiding citizens from the incestuous and tainted relationships between District Attorney DiFiore and Westchester police departments such as Harrison and Yonkers, in particular.
What confidence, indeed, when police brutality, in each of those departments, is condoned and rewarded by a District Attorney so corrupt
and incompetent as to prosecute the victims of brutality rather than the rogue police officers, as in the Irma Marquez and Rui Florim cases, and numerous other cases not as well known. Many ask, “How long must it take the FBI to complete its investigation into such matters?”
The corruption permeates the ranks of elected officials to the very top of the ladder, as well. Here, in the tri-state area alone, within the last couple of years, there was Connecticut’s Governor Rowland who went to prison for having accepted over $250,000 in home improvements,
New Jersey’s Governor Corzine, who nearly killed himself, and others, driving down the Turnpike at more than 100 mph, and, of course, our own
Eliot Spitzer, whose penchant for highpriced prostitutes was only exceeded by his penchant for political ones. So bad is the public perception of elected officials, so shaken has been our confi-dence, and our belief systems, that David Paterson, unexpectedly called upon to step up to the plate upon Eliot Spitzer’s humiliating exposure and departure, felt compelled, as did his wife, to publicly reveal each of their
numerous sexual dalliances for fear that they, too, might come under investigation by the federal government.
A thousand miles away, in Chicago, where the former governor went to prison, Governor Blagojevich was arrested last week, by the FBI, caught on a wiretap trying to sell the appointment to Barack Obama’s United States Senate seat to the highest bidder. Of course, mention of the federal government opens up a whole other can of worms. What comfort can be drawn from a Justice Department that fired a string
of United States Attorneys for having failed to prosecute enough Democrat elected officials, while serving the Republican George W. Bush/
Dick Cheney Administration?
How confident can any American citizen feel about a president who dragged us into war with false claims of weapons of mass destruction; telling us we would be “bringing democracy to the people of Iraq,” in exchange for the lives of thousands of our sons and daughters, not to mention the tens of thousands who would come home without arms and legs, only to be inadequately cared for by a Department Of Veterans’ Affairs, too antiquated and incompetent, and often too unwilling, to provide the care so desperately needed and deserved.
Let us not lose sight of the incredible erosion of human rights, of fundamental Constitutional guarantees that we have witnessed over the
last seven years, since 9/11. We have been made to understand that detention without formal criminal charges, isolation without legal representation, and torture, are all acceptable under our Constitution.
We have been told, “The ends justify the means.” We have stood by as the highest Court in the land has permitted the Administration
that has gained control over it, by appointment, to scrap one Constitutional guarantee, one promise of our forefathers, to us, after another,
to the point where even state and local municipal governments believe they can get away with stifling Free Speech and Freedom Of The Press, trampling the First Amendment.
It would be a sad day, indeed, for our nation, if despots such as Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzalez, and Phil Amicone, Mayor of our State’s fourth largest city, who refuses to deal with Yonkers police brutality, preferring instead to steal and destroy the distribution boxes of the
newspaper urging him to deal with the problem, were to go unchecked and unpunished. For that would turn the present Crisis Of Confi-dence into anarchy.