Despite periods of apparent inactivity, there is indeed a civil rights struggle that continues to proceed unabated in Pennsylvania, a real civil rights struggle, with the Bailey hearings and federal lawsuit providing all of the legal context for it. The story of that struggle will continue to be told here, and there is much that will be coming soon, as the August 11 and 12, 2011 hearing tapes are being transcribed, and the transcripts will be posted.
With little study, you will see clearly the nature of the abuses that led to these proceedings to begin with. Bailey, representing himself, was being repeatedly sidetracked by a constant intellectually dishonest dance between Disciplinary Counsel and Hearing Examiner to protect the testifying judges and obstruct the witnesses that Bailey called in his defense. One witness, Stephen Conklin, was threatened with arrest for disorderly conduct for trying to fully answer a perfectly appropriate and directly relevant question – threatened with a crime for testifying in a court of law! Other witnesses were obstructed, impeded, and frustrated, by the same dishonest dance. The implications of what occurred in the courtroom on August 11 and 12, 2011 are immense, and will be further brought to you as we follow the civil rights lawsuit that we have learned Conklin intends to file.
The struggle that endures, however, in periods of apparent docket inactivity, and inactivity here, are those struggles to try to maintain the causes of all of those American citizens, and even non-American citizens, who Bailey and his colleagues represent now, and have represented over the years. For the past 10 years, Bailey has been associated professionally with Andrew Ostrowski, a currently unlicensed Pennsylvania civil rights attorney, and sporadically with Sam Stretton, a West Chester attorney, and other attorneys from time-to-time. Ostrowski has a significant history of representing minority business owners, and we intend to bring light to the unresolved systemic issues that have kept historically disadvantaged populations presently disadvantaged as well. Ostrowski and Stretton were witnesses in the hearings, and more on their involvement in this struggle will be provided.
The point is that over the years, Bailey and his colleagues practiced in a way that many people do not expect anymore – with their commitment to their clients at the fore, and took cases and causes with as little hardship to the clients as possible – often for nothing – usually against persons and parties with unlimited resources, and even political access. Commitment to the cause of civil rights and civil liberties demands a different set of priorities. In that mix is the struggle behind the struggle.
There are rules that protect against abusive litigation practices – those that needlessly waste the resources of the parties and the courts – and we do not propose at this point that there is some need for wholesale rules changes to correct this problem; however, it is through this problem that the judicial misconduct issues raised and proved by Bailey become manifest, and why deliberate study is needed to ever understand the nature of the problem, particularly for the non-lawyer voting public. Judges are guided by what are called “standards of review” and “scopes of review” (we will bring you more on this in connection with the Debra Phillis/Harrisburg School District case in the near future), and it is through the abuse of these standards, i.e., the abuse of their “discretion”, that tolerance for practices of unlimitedly-resourced defendants, and their handsomely paid attorneys that duplicate time, effort, and expense to the already under-resourced plaintiff’s is fomented.
When there are judicial attitudes and predilections guided by old political thinking from otherwise unsophisticated legal minds that are politically or “philosophically” averse to the traditional “civil rights causes”, i.e., governmental oppression, the formula is one where every case becomes rife with duplication of effort, each effort taking away from every other – time and attention to detail for each case diffused, and further opportunities to exploit and abuse being constantly created and magnified. We will bring you specific examples of all of this, from “well-respected” and “high profile” attorneys and law firms, that will reveal these excesses. Add to this the millions of dollars in jury verdicts that are taken away, the sanctions that are piled on, and the intellectually dishonest throwing out of meritorious cases, not to mention the colossus that is this entirely bogus disciplinary proceeding, and the result is that the abuse that brought these individuals to their lawyers to begin with is more-often-than-not magnified when resort to the courts is sought. This is the daily struggle. This is the struggle you don’t see. We don’t see what the courts are doing – they sit silently since August 12, 2011 – but they know that this is the civil rights struggle foisted upon Bailey, his colleagues, and their clients.
Defendants budget to get sued, individuals budget to eat food – and buy clothes, and educate their children, and pay their mortgages, and take family vacations. Not one has ever budgeted to have their civil rights violated. People don’t run to courts in this field looking for handouts, and easy bucks – of course its happened, to be sure. The vast majority seek access to the courts because they feel mistreated, and their conscience drives them to ask more questions, to satisfy the justice they feel as part of their humanity, and, yes, to remedy the injustices and injuries that have been done because of the objection to an unlawful practice, the exercise of some protected right, or the possession of some trait that they were born with – which has cost them and their families their jobs, or got them arrested, or has had them ostracized and feeling abused. The harms that we are describing in this site are harms being inflicted immediately upon Don Bailey, and Don has suffered – his reputation, his family, his political future, his personal wants and desires – but more importantly hundreds of individuals with all of the same liberties as the others under our Constitution have been abused twice – once by their employers, police, and governments, and then again by their courts. The correction of, and future prevention against, that problem is everywhere our efforts are focused.
We must note that we do not speak for Don Bailey at the Pennsylvania Civil Rights Law Network; we speak only to the causes that he supports, and the story that his case, and those of his clients that we have permission to highlight, tells, and stand strongly behind them. The federal complaint (see Bailey Docket post), in which Bailey has named 25 of his clients as John and Jane Does, remains pending. That action relates all of the claims and abuses being described here to their basis in the United States Constitution. The brief that Bailey filed in opposition to the efforts to dismiss that case follows. We will keep you informed of all of the developments in this case as well.
We understand that efforts are underway for Bailey’s clients and others to organize behind their attorney, and all of their own causes, and to take whatever concerted action they can to support this cause. We will be making efforts to better organize at PCRLN as well. We will be bringing you updates on our political efforts, and suggesting ways for you to help.
For now, we thank you for your attention.