Truth About My Suspension

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(Maddox rejects published account about his suspension and Spitzer's claim).

After telling Rev. Al Sharpton to get lost after Eliot Spitzer lied to the Black community, Spitzer came up with the frivolous and lying claim that he would not oppose my reinstatement to practice law but I have failed to reapply for it. 

This misinformation could have been corrected if Sharpton had agreed to testify in federal court on my behalf about Spitzer’s shenanigans.         

In a current New York Amsterdam News column entitled “Paterson’s mission possible:  Giving muscle� by Nayaba Arinde, state Senate Minority Leader David Paterson and a candidate for lieutenant governor, on Spitzer’s back,  made this false assertion:  ‘Spitzer said that if he applied for his license he wouldn’t oppose it.  Alton Maddox has chosen not to.�         

The author of the article, Arinde, compounds the problem by making this assertion: Maddox has maintained for the best part of twenty years that he was punished for simply refusing to break attorney-client privilege regarding a Rev. Al Sharpton case. Maddox does not feel that he needs to apply for the license, maintaining that he was subject to judicial persecution.         

I was summarily suspended from the practice of law on May 21, 1990 two weeks after I had to appear in a Star Chamber proceeding and amid my pro bono representation of Rev. Sharpton in a 67-count indictment. I was asked to turn over the Tawana Brawley file and to give testimony against Sharpton and Brawley.         

This information would be handed over to the New York State Attorney General, Robert Abrams, who was actually prosecuting Sharpton in Manhattan Supreme Court before Justice Joan Carey and a jury.  New York believes in winning by any means necessary.     

By May 1990, many court observers had concluded that I had beaten back Abram’s case and that without some new scuttlebutt in the case, Sharpton would be going home. This would be a major defeat for New York. No one indicts a Black defendant for the fun of it.         

I have a long history of judicial activism in New York. Long before I had ever met Sharpton or Tawana, I had been a thorn in the state’s legal system. The cases of Tawana Brawley, Sharpton and the Central Park jogger case were the last straws that broke the camel’s back.       

When New York initiated a criminal prosecution against me in 1984, I had never met Brawley, Sharpton nor Michael Briscoe, the Central Park jogger defendant. This criminal prosecution followed several disciplinary investigations and a federal grand jury investigation initiated by U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.         

Arinde’s article is misleading. I filed a petition for reinstatement to practice law in July 2003. Spitzer entered the legal fray to stop me from forever practicing law in New York. He made an undecided motion under Rule 12 of the FRCP in Brooklyn Federal Court to dismiss the civil rights lawsuit.      

Unlike with a wrongfully-convicted defendant who may claim newly-discovered evidence or prosecutorial misconduct to secure a hearing on whether to vacate a judgment of conviction, an attorney has to admit guilt before he or she can gain reinstatement to practice law.       

If a wrongfully-evicted tenant were on the same footing as an attorney, a tenant would be out of luck. Every day, tenants file orders to show cause to vacate judgments. The typical claim is lack of personal jurisdiction. Attorneys are unable to allege any defense to a flawed disciplinary order.         

Attorneys are treated like inmates seeking parole. These inmates must admit guilt. This allows the parole board to put the inmate under surveillance after he or she returns to the civilian population and it confirms the legal rule that a king can do no wrong.

Similarly, a parolee enjoys no Fourth Amendment rights and may be returned to prison on a rumor. See, for example, the case of Darryl Littlejohn. This legal arrangement is akin to the convict-lease system which existed under the Black Codes.

There is a reason for putting a previously-disciplined attorney on a short leash especially an attorney with a political agenda. This attorney, unlike an attorney who is a kleptomaniac, is a threat to national security. The latest example is Lynne Stewart. See also the continued suspension of attorney Chokwe Lumumba.     

An attorney has the same powers as a legislative committee: that is, the subpoena power. This is an awesome power and it gives the attorney access to information that would expose state-sponsored corruption and misconduct. In fact, some legislative commissions have no subpoena powers. An attorney is never given a green light, however, to freely exercise this right.     

My petition for reinstatement to practice law was denied by the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department on November 25, 2003. I refused to admit guilt. This petition is referenced in and is a basis for Maddox v. Prudenti et. al, Civ. Action No. 5444 (U.S.D.C., E.D.N.Y., 2004).       

Instead, I demanded a hearing on a claim of prosecutorial misconduct of Robert Abrams and newly-discovered evidence. The Grievance Committee for the Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts successfully argued that my petition for reinstatement failed to comply with 22 NYCRR §691.11. I had no right to question Abrams and I had refused to offer an apology on my knees or otherwise.     

The Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department denied the petition in November 2003 because I refused to follow the protocol and get down on my knees. My petition was not for parole. It was for justice. My defenses of Brawley and Sharpton were not wrong.       

I will never represent Blacks on a short leash. The judicial system victimized me but the target was the Black community. Whites started the American Revolution because of “taxation without representation.� This right belongs to the people. The obligation to fight for this right belongs to the people.  This is a case of the victim fighting for the target.         

In other words, I would have to appear before a grievance committee and assert that Tawana Brawley is a liar and Steven Pagones was squeaky clean. This would let New York off the hook. Moreover, I would also have to show remorse in not joining New York in its effort to imprison Sharpton.       

In the future, I would have to join the ranks of other Black lawyers who have been secretly deputized as junior prosecutors. This rule also applies to white lawyers. Once upon a time, Blacks were lynched outside the courthouse.  Today, Blacks are lynched inside courtrooms.

Maddox v. Prudenti, et. al., Civ. Action No. 5444 (U.S.D.C., E.D.N.Y. 2004) was initiated to free a wrongfully disciplined attorney from the ranks of a parolee. A parolee’s “liberty� is subject to the whims of the parole board. Life is about control. The government in the United States is based on the system of checks and balances. 

This federal lawsuit is based on due process and equal protection grounds.  It seeks to give wrongfully-disciplined attorneys the same rights as wrongfully-convicted defendants or wrongfully-evicted tenants.  It was initiated to allow attorneys to live on their feet rather than on their knees.

When you review the court papers in Maddox v. Prudenti, et. al., you will find a notice of appearance from Spitzer opposing the federal lawsuit.  Paterson should get his facts together and demand that Spitzer honor his campaign promise or demand that Rev. Sharpton testify against Spitzer. 

This lawsuit has been very expensive and it has to be borne by a person who has been denied the right to earn a living. No elected official has supported my petition and no elected official has sought to raise funds to fight this case except New York City Councilman Charles Barron. Ultimately, this case is about Black parents and the safety of their children U.S.D.C. Judge Nina Gershon has recused herself in Maddox v. Prudenti et. al. She is no longer associated with this federal litigation.  No one asked Judge Gershon to recuse herself. To be sure, the case is a hot potato. 

It is rare that judges are sued by an attorney and it is even rarer that the case is successful. This litigation is well-founded and it would compel Abrams, Spitzer and former Gov. Mario Cuomo to be deposed by me. This would produce a scandal that would ultimately link Congress to the judicial mistreatment of Tawana Brawley.

I am at least thankful that Judge Gershon refused to pull the trigger. Several HNICs would have pulled it. Instead, Congress decided to elevate Abrams’ law partner, Brian M. Cogan, to the federal judiciary on May 4, 2006 and assigned the Brawley case to him. 

A legal lynching has obviously become a work in progress. Andrew Cuomo is running for state attorney general this year to succeed Spitzer as the custodian of the Brawley files. This is why Mark Green had no chance of becoming state attorney general.

I am facing multiple attacks for maintaining my promise to defend Tawana Brawley to the finish. Others made this promise on December 12, 1987 in Newburgh, NY.  In the Black community, you can cut and run and still be revered as a hero.  If I had chosen this option, I would be a hero.  The Black media would be protecting my flanks and I would be welcomed in all venues.  Blacks protect lapdogs while exterminating watchdogs.  This is abnormal.

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