Daily Archives: August 16, 2011

Introduction

It is time to name names, as they say.  The man who actually physically raped Sephora Davis at knife point on December 8, 2003 is named Eric Harder.  He was, and perhaps is, a police informant.  As far as I know he still lives in Mount Morris, New York.  About six weeks later he and a then Mount Morris police officer named Dana Carson, who remains a police officer in Geneseo, New York, conspired to fabricate evidence and commit perjury to implicate Sephora in an armed robbery and “kidnapping” that took place in the hours after Harder had raped her.  Other police officers were involved, though I can’t identify them specifically based on particular evidence.  Strong circumstantial evidence indicates that the Livingston County District Attorney, Tom Moran, knew about and participated in this conspiracy from the beginning, perhaps even orchestrating it.  In any case it is 100% certain that Moran at the very least became aware that the criminal charges against Sephora Davis were based on perjury and fabrication but continued prosecuting her anyway.  Moran is still the Livingston County District Attorney, but – of course – he is running for judge this year (although the Monroe County Bar Association seems less than enthusiastic about that) as a Republican and presumably will win.  He is just the kind of person who often becomes a New York State Supreme Court judge.  His election will be perversely appropriate.

Several individuals who were judges at the time are also implicated.  Ronald Cicoria, who retired as a Livingston County Court Judge at the end of 2005 – and tellingly thereafter became a “special assistant” in the Livingston County District Attorney’s office under Moran – “presided” over Sephora’s prosecution until his retirement and refused to stop it, issuing an opinion in September of 2005 in which he refused to mention the allegations that Harder had raped her.  He was replaced by Monroe County Family Court Judge Joan S. Kohout, who eventually sent Sephora Davis to prison even though she knew her to be innocent, a rape victim and that the evidence implicating her was fabrication and perjury.  Several justices of the state Supreme Court serving on the Appellate Division, Fourth Department are involved:  Nancy Smith – who is up for re-election this year but probably unopposed – and justices Hurlbut, Centra, Pine, and Kehoe.  These five judges at one time or another presided over a special proceeding to prohibit Sephora’s continued prosecution in Livingston County Court.  Despite the fact that they knew she was a rape victim and that the charges against her were based on perjury and fabrication, they repeatedly refused to stop the prosecution.  In their written memorandum opinion finally dismissing the special proceeding and clearing the way for her imprisonment they deliberately misrepresented the factual record, also somehow forgot to mention the evidence that she had been raped, and ignored the governing law.  And the ground given for their determination – “mootness” – was preposterous:  within two weeks of that determination (which occurred on December 22, 2006), Sephora Davis was delivered into the hands of the New York State Department of Corrections as a prisoner, which a contrary determination by that court would have prevented.

What a strange thing, then:  a criminal act fully documented in the public records by the criminals themselves, all of them public officials.  A new low, even by the increasingly meager standards of the American judicial system.

Many other government officials in New York bear a degree of responsibility for this crime, notably former Attorney General Elliot Spitzer and former Attorney General – now governor – Andrew Cuomo.  But I’ll get to that more specifically as we go along.

It is also important to note that while this has been mainly a disaster for me, I have had help along the way from very unlikely sources – people who, unlike the many public officials, had no official or personal obligation to do anything.  Chief among these are members of the Grammatico family in Rochester – Rosanne, Lou (yes, that Lou Grammatico) and especially Nick.  It is hard for me to imagine how I would have survived to this point without their support and friendship – and indeed protection – which was extended to me with full knowledge of what I was facing and no real expectation of return.  Even so, I hope some day to be able to express my gratitude to them in more tangible terms than words.

I am also grateful to a few members of the Rochester legal community.  I won’t name them all.  Lamentably, this is for their own protection.  But the involvement of a couple of them – Don Thompson and Catherine Cerulli – is already known.  Kate provided her very important expertise in dealing with sexual assault victims pro bono; Don Thompson took over from me in Livingston County Court in 2006, probably sparing me from being arrested, prosecuted or even killed.

Last along these lines, I want to emphasize what a privilege it has been to represent Sephora.  She is a very brave young lady of very high character, for which the world has for some inexplicable reason mercilessly tormented her.

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Filed under financial crisis, Judicial lying/cheating, Striking lawyers, wrongful convictions

Who I Really Am

I’ve been operating this blog under a pseudonym.  As of today I’m identifying myself, because I’m going to try something new, although still related to the blog’s original purpose, that requires me to explain who I am.

Anonymity, or in this case pseudonymity, has its uses in public discourse, just like secrecy and deception have their uses in war.  Do the ends justify the means?  The usual answer is no.  Are there exceptions?  I think so.

We all have to decide for ourselves how much sin we can live with.

I have no illusions that the issues I’ve been dealing with will rise to the top of anyone’s list of things to do just because I start writing about them, with real names and in what we in the military used to call “real time”, on a blog, although more than that is involved here.

That said, and while it’s just my opinion so far, I think those issues should, at least for some people whose job it properly is.  Rise to the top of their list, that is.  I think the rule of law is important, not just for me and the people I represent or have represented, but for everyone.  And I also think that the rule of law in the United States, to the extent it still exists or there is any hope of its restoration, depends to some degree on the very specific problems I’ve been dealing with as a lawyer.  The rule of law is really everyone’s concern, but it is especially the concern of lawyers.  We support the continuing existence of the rule of law through the work that we do on the specific cases we take up.  Not every case implicates the rule of law in what you might call the larger sense; but some do.

The case I am going to describe, which yet has a ways to go before its conclusion, is a representative sample, and a particularly egregious example, of intractable problems, terrible problems experienced not just by me and my client but by many other lawyers and their clients.  And this class of problems is both deadly serious and dangerous for lawyers, but this is what we signed up for.  This is what we really signed up for, whether we realized it at the time or not.

Is trial ‘war’ for a lawyer?  No.  But it can be like war.  There is danger, including physical danger.  There are strategies and tactics.  These can involve deception and evasion.  Just like the outmatched combatant is more likely to rely on these tactics, so is the weaker litigant.  A direct confrontation between unequal forces has a predictable outcome.  Tactics and strategy dictate that the weaker force avoid such a confrontation in favor of better alternatives, even if those alternatives are unorthodox.

I have only represented weaker litigants.  In general, weaker litigants are individuals in a dispute with institutional entities.  In criminal cases that means the defendant, who is matched against the government.  In personal injury cases that means the Plaintiff, who is matched against an insurance company.

Litigation for weaker litigants is high risk economic activity for a lawyer, because while the risk of economic loss is high, professional obligations transcend economic concerns.  If you take that principle seriously – and I do, and every lawyer should – one case can pretty much financially ruin you.  And almost any case you take could turn out to be that one case, because there is almost always some uncertainty going in about just what is going to be required of you.

Such a case came into my office in 2004.

Let’s be clear about something.  Financial ruin is bad, but it’s not the worst thing that can happen to a human being.  And more importantly, financial ruin is not defeat.  It can lead to defeat.  It can look like defeat.  But it is not defeat.

My name is John Regan.  I graduated from Villanova Law School in 1988.  I passed the New York bar examination a couple months later and was admitted to practice in New York State in February, 1989.  I’m admitted in a number of federal courts, including the US Supreme Court.

I resigned as an attorney in New York in December of 2008, but my resignation was “rejected”, although I hasten to add that the purported rejection was not legitimate.  The reason I resigned was that the New York courts and the judges “serving” on them had made a frightful transition from the usual and run of the mill incompetence, bias, corruption, Machiavellian perfidy at one end and nearly inconceivable mental sloth at the other – all of which most any attorney will experience his share, as I certainly did over more than 15 years of practice – into overt, willful, intentional and serious criminal conduct.  I had and have no intention of going down this road with them, which is what I would be doing if I just continued on as an attorney, as if nothing had gone seriously wrong.  Respect for the rule of law, and for my own professional obligations, demanded my resignation, just as it demands what I have undertaken to do in the time since.

Just as it demands what I am doing now.

The victim of this official criminal conduct was a young woman I represented named Sephora Davis.  And by raping her violently, at knife point, and abusing their power to effectively attempt to murder her thereafter through provoking a suicide – not to mention concealing and lying and cheating every step of the way – the police, prosecutors and judges involved forced me, sworn to stand with her and against this malevolent and brutal official cruelty, into the position I am in today:  an impoverished and solitary refugee claimant in Canada.

There is an evidentiary hearing scheduled on my refugee claim in Toronto on September 29th beginning at 8:30 at which I will prove everything.  It is the first and only evidentiary hearing that has ever been held in the seven years that legal proceedings have been underway in relation to Sephora Davis:  in practical terms, no such hearing was possible anywhere in the United States because the United States will not permit hearings for victims of official criminal conduct if the officials succeed in charging their victim with a crime first, other than a trial of the victim herself.  Since the whole idea of getting their victim charged is precisely to put her in that disadvantaged position, it is incumbent on her attorney, whose basic job is to protect her rights to due process, to foil the efforts of the guilty officials.

On the surface, the hearing in Toronto on September 29th is about whether I will be able to remain in Canada as a refugee.  But it is also the trial of the judges and other officials involved in the Sephora Davis matter, at which they will have the opportunity to appear and defend themselves if they so choose.  Not that they will have any success if they do:  their guilt is a matter of official record and documentary proof.  If the facts matter, the hearing can have only one outcome.

It’s a shame that I’ve had to go to another country to get a hearing; but that, too, ought to be illuminating about just what has happened in – and to – the United States.

The plan is that there will be more on this.  Much more, though I am still dotting some i’s and crossing some t’s.

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Filed under financial crisis, Judicial lying/cheating, Striking lawyers, wrongful convictions