Former Pennsylvania Congressman Suspended From Practicing Law Due To Criticism Of Judges

220px-Donald_A._BaileyFormer Democratic congressman and Auditor General Don Bailey, 68, had his law license suspended for five years by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for allegations and criticism directed at judges in the state. Bailey denounced the ruling and said that he would challenge it in federal court while denouncing the state justices as corrupt and malicious. While some would agree with the case, there is a worrisome line of cases targeting lawyers who criticize judges.

Bailey has accused federal judges of malfeasance, charges found to be baseless. He said that he was targeted by several U.S. Middle District Court judges who set out to ruin his practice.

Bailey was a congressman from 1979 until 1983, when his Westmoreland County seat was eliminated through redistricting. He had a remarkable military career. He served with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions in Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars, two with the Valor device, one for meritorious achievement, Army Commendation Medal, with “V” for Valor, Air Medal, and a second Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service.

I have previously expressed concern over cases of discipline for both lawyers and laypersons criticizing judges. One troubling case is unfolding in Indiana where the Indiana Disciplinary Commission is recommending a one year suspension for Indianapolis attorney and blogger Paul K. Ogden, who criticized a judge in emails and refused to apologize for what he considered an exercise of free speech.

Ogden sent emails to another attorney accusing Hendricks Superior Judge David Coleman of mishandling an estate case. One particular email sent to opposing counsel Steve Harris of Mooresville said that Coleman “should be turned in to the disciplinary commission for how he handled this case.” That email is part of the position of hearing officer Robert W. York who finds that he “cannot stress enough the conclusion that (Ogden) has a profound lack of both insight into his own conduct and lack or respect for those who disagree with him in any way.” The case is disturbing on a number of levels including the commission’s position that Odgen should be punished because he believes he is “superior to the courts and the law” and that his criticism of Coleman was “filled with inaccurate claims and slanderous innuendo.”

Ogden insists that it was his criticism of the disciplinary process that led to the charges:

I have long felt that one of our responsibilities as attorney is to speak out about the need for reform of our legal system. While I have broached many topics for reform in the legal system, many times on this blog, it was not until January of 2011 when I first decided to touch the third rail and publish an article on the disciplinary process. That story included my research that during the last three years when the Disciplinary Commission was headed by Donald Lundberg, 397 of the 400 published disciplinary cases had been against small firm attorneys and sole practitioners. It was just a few months after that story that the relatively new Executive Secretary of the Commission Michael Witte began filing grievances against me which ultimately resulted in the charges that were heard yesterday.

I tend to favor the free speech values in such cases. In the Indiana, I fail to see how emails criticizing judges should be the basis for discipline. This is a matter of professional opinion. What do you think?

Source (for Pennsylvania story):

Penn LIve

48 thoughts on “Former Pennsylvania Congressman Suspended From Practicing Law Due To Criticism Of Judges”

  1. nothing changes until something changes. jonathan, what can be done? what could be a more noble task than to reform our judiciary?

  2. [Senate Hearing 106-399]
    [From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

    S. Hrg. 106-399 Pt. 2



    HEARINGS before the







    FEBRUARY 22, MARCH 23, APRIL 27, AND MAY 10, 2000


    Senator Specter. I would like to acknowledge the presence
    here today of Thomas Kline of the distinguished law firm of
    Klein & Specter, who is the chairman of the Pennsylvania
    Nominating Panel for the Eastern District who goes through a
    merit bipartisan selection process.
    Tom, if you would stand, we would appreciate it, to be
    acknowledged. arlen specter BEFORE THE

    13 years ago, tom kline, shanin specter’s law partner, recommended judicial candidates to shanin’s dad arlen, to seats on the bench of the u.s district court for the eastern district of pennsylvania. after their confirmation tom, shanin and arlen took cases before these hand picked judges and tried to persuade them to rule in their favor. guess how they fared?


  3. gregg haltermann;

    In a legitimate realm of justice, you are correct. It is against the Law to sit idle by. (18 U.S.C. $ 4 MisPrision of a Felony and 18 U.S.C. $ 3057(a); which commands Judges even point out bad faith of other judges, trustees and attorneys).

    Unfortunately, legitimacy takes a back seat to power & money.

    Counsels like Rick Convertino (a former Asst U.S Attorney), bloggers like Roger Shuler, International attorneys and tax activists like Richard Fine, or Mark A Adams Esq, former Congressman James Traficant, Governor Siegelman and the late GREAT Israel Weinstock (who actually had a Bill named after him presented to Congress) are all FANTASTIC American Patriots who paid huge prices for speaking out against corruption and bad faith.

    Common sense tells smart men/women that you don’t go before your realm and make accusations against a judge; without a mob of attorneys, DA’s, AG’s and others doing the same.

    Lest you find all your future clients screwed.

  4. This judge is terrible, and I shudder when I see that he has been assigned to a case I file. Even though he gives parties time to present argument, he makes up his mind quickly (if he hasn”t made it up before you open your mouth). He allows his prejudices to color the litigation, but puts on a good appearance of evenhandedness by appearing to be emotionally detatched. He does not follow the law when he knows he can get away with it. (e.g., when he knows the your client does not have the resources to pay for an appellate challenge). I would ordinarily give him a higher rating for scholarship, because it is clear he is smart, but he does not care about scholarship if he wants to get rid of your case. In other words, he is a sneak. I have also heard that when he was a public defender in Chester County, he was essentially a lap dog for the district attorney”s office. Overall awful. comment submitted by a defense counsel

    jonathan, where are the dutiful lawyers who MUST report judges when they learn of credible accounts of serious judicial misconduct? lawyers, generally speaking, are not known for timidity. just as don bailey was raped of his license to practice law for allegedly breaking a few rules, shouldn’t all lawyers face severe reperrcussions for ignoring similar infractions?

  5. Dear paulalombardi edwardo stumpf, gregg haltermann and other good people here;

    Thank you all for your efforts in pursuit of justice.

    Know that it is your right to seek to affirm culpability and accountability of those who delight in their bad faith pursuits; and I both applaud and would seek to encourage your efforts.

    As for the vex of the various troubling matters and the questions upon the facts that there seems to not be one single solitary lawyer or a possibility of any changes to come. To those dynamics, once again, I would seek to encourage you in the quests resolute.

    What you have to realize is that YOU are the change that may come;
    and that you ARE the attorney that needs be.

    What we must do, of course, is unite in our efforts.

    Please try to understand the reality of the complexities that we are dealing with here! I’ve learned the hard way that it serves no good purpose to compel honest & good people to be bold in their fiduciary duty. Only to have those decent persons wind up upon wind up on a hit list (as exampled by anonymous reflection of the tyranny of Judge Peck upon the noble counsel Lawless).

    In my decade plus battle against Romney & his RICO Gang I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing extraordinary people who try to serve goodness with honor and distinction, along with victims refusing to suffer in silence and events that would encourage U.S. all to have a greater hope for justice.

    If you wish to see a change in the world;
    ask yourself how far further you are willing to go to make such occur!

    Our enemies are autocrats, Tyrants, syndicated bosses, Robber Barons and betrayers of the public’s trust exceptional. They steal our money, media, liberties and more;

    but they can’t take the heart of you unless you permit them to do so.

    Don’t waste your time trying to convince bad people and Jacobite’s who have nothing else than a hell bent desire to defeat your honorable efforts.

    As I’m walking my amoeba arse up to the lion’s den and kicking him square in the proverbial’s (yours truly recent Haas v Romney Fed Court case); it is quite possible that the old adage of nixing the messenger to arrest delivery of the message may occur. As there are many dead in my saga already.

    I would therefore seek to implore you to understand that Robert Alber now knocking on heaven’s door after shooting Sesseyoff is the collateral damage of our (YOURS & mine) Civil War.

    Marty Lackner too, has given his life, whether freely Suicided or otherwise; as has John “Jack” Wheeler. With other fantastic people such as Anna Schaeffer in Minnesota and Harry Alexander doing what they could when they (purportedly) were dying of illness causes.

    Please stop being half-arsed about this affair?

    You ARE entitled to recompense, punitive damages and more; from the coffers of the nefarious hordes. You also damn sure ARE entitled to gripe about the injustices so prevalent among U.S.

    Please, I beg you all, stop being half arsed about these affairs and unite together? If you see you brother or sister combatant waning or in need – then DO SOMETHING (as you can) – About it!

    Unless you accept the fact that we are in a CIVIL WAR with enemies DOMESTIC and DESPOTIC assaulting the Constitution of the United States and its good citizenry;

    the bad faith parties will continue to win and slaughter others innocents!

  6. how many examples of tyranny and abuse are necessary to stimulate changes? why can’t or won’t a law school, a law firm or an individual attorney take action?

  7. juan r sanchez threatened to incarcerate me. “I mean it. I’ll do it.” i was pro se, a plaintiff in a civil case. it was the first time i appeared before him representing myself and had done nothing wrong. the next time i was before him, i asked him why he threatened me with incarceration and called me a criminal. he looked at defense counsel who said he had not heard him threaten me. he denied it and said he never threatened any one in a civil case with incarceration. who would like to see the transcript? anyone care to hear the court produced digital audio recording? judges who violate the canons and codes of conduct are to receive consequences.

    after one year i bypassed brad baldus and left a message for scirica at penn. i asked him if he had reviewed my complaint. a week later he dismissed it. 60 days was the limit of time he was allowed. in the meantime, he was teaching a law class in florence italy, all expenses paid.

    not one lawyer agreed to look into this matter. lawyer, too, are bound by their own codes to report judicial misconduct.

  8. Here’s a question for the good faith persons here.

    What system should we set in place;
    to reign over judicial conduct?

  9. Thank you for the reference to the Peck case.

    As detailed above, I’m familiar with many parties who are ostracized for their criticisms. Judge R.B. Sanders spoke out the words “tyrant” when then current “Acting” U.S. Attorney General Mukasey was in earnest effort (begging of sorts) that President Elect Obama understand GW Bush is a law abiding POTUS.

    After being boo’d by the crowd, Mukasey was emboldened to continue upon the line of incongruous self-serve. Resultantly, Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Sanders was compelled to bark out again “tyrany – TYRANT”!

    His honor was removed from the room – and became infamously known – due to the fact that U.S.A.G Mukasey passed out unconscious – at the podium.

    Later on, due to that and other stances of His Honor – Justice R.B. Sanders was blind sided with a false story by a nefarious ‘Seattle Times’ article; just 2 weeks before the final Re-Election was to occur.

    His Honor lost by several thousand votes.

    WHY WE SHOULD BE HONORED to have a justice such as “R.B. Sanders” and disdain for judges who abuse their position of trust; is that Richard (he always desires that I call him such – and not Your Honor {but I adore that I can do so “sincerely”} – is that Justice Sanders does not regret what he did. Though he does regret the possibility that his outspokenness might have frustrated U.S.A.G. Mukasey; his Honor Richard B Sanders only regrets that

    He had not done something more than just yell the words tyrant!


    Mark Adams, Israel Weinstock, Richard B Fine, James Traficant, Rick Convertino, Mary Alice Gwynn – all punished by the BAR or powers that be – for speaking out against tyranny, cronyism and corruption.

    We need to applaud their good faith efforts and ostracize the tyrants out of office who would dare deprive American citizenry of good quality public servants such as Don Bailey.


    The autocrats only get away with it – When we Allow them to Do So!

  10. “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”- James Madison

  11. seamus,

    If I had a dime for every lawyer I’ve heard tell that same story, only with differing details, I’d be Slim Picken’s best friend.

  12. No one should be beyond criticism when doing the public’s business: they’re judges, not gods. I agree with Mike at the top of the thread and Justice Holmes.

  13. seamus,
    I agree that it is safer to not respond on the judges. These judges need to be shown the door.

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