Fed Judge Writes Character Letter for Ex Prosecutor

Fed Judge Writes Character Letter for Ex Prosecutor

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Fitzsimmons-Judge Holly

Judge Holly Fitzsimmons


The criminal defense bar in Connecticut is up in arms over the slap on the wrist 30 day jail sentence handed down to convicted felon former Federal prosecutor Harold James Pickerstein.  How did this happen?  Nobody seems to be able to figure out how a guy with a three year guidelines number got a mere 30 days.  But Larry Noodles has a theory.  Larry Noodles believes that it was because Pickerstein got the benefit of an 8 page handwritten letter signed by Federal Magistrate Judge Holly Fitzsimmons on April 2, 2016.  The media reported that Fitzsimmons was a “retired Federal magistrate.”  But according to the Connecticut Federal judicial website, “Effective April 2, 2015, the Honorable Holly B. Fitzsimmons retired from serving as a full time United States Magistrate Judge and assumed the status as a Recalled Magistrate Judge.  She will serve the court as a recalled judge as needed.”  She was retired as a full time judge, but was still on call when needed as a part time judge.  She was a Federal judge when she wrote a character letter for Pickerstein.

According the Federal Code of Ethics for Federal Judges, Canon 2 states:  “A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in all Activities (B) Outside Influence. A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others…. A judge should not testify voluntarily as a character witness.  Testimony as a character witness injects the prestige of the judicial office into the proceeding in which the judge testifies and may be perceived as an official testimonial. A judge should avoid lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others. For example, a judge should not use the judge’s judicial position or title to gain advantage in litigation involving a friend or a member of the judge’s family. A judge should not initiate communications to a sentencing judge or a probation or corrections officer but may provide information to such persons in response to a formal request.”

Judge Fitzsimmons wrote an eight page letter, in her own handwriting, voluntarily, not in “response to a formal request” as required by the Canon of Ethics.  She said of Pickerstein: “…judges never hesitated to call him when they needed someone they could count on…”  “To be Jim’s friend was to know absolutely that he had your best interests at heart… He was the first non-family member in my hospital room when my daughter was born… Child rearing advice (the whisky for teething was probably not a suggestion his wife would have approved of), a hug at a down time – his heart was as big as his voice… ”  Did Jim bring a bottle of Scotch to the maternity ward and do shots with the newborn infant?  Was Pickerstein the Richard Dawson of the Federal prosecutor’s office, providing hugs and kisses to fellow prosecutors “at down time?”

Larry Noodles reviewed every one of the 71 pages of letters in support of Jim Pickerstein’s.  Most were from former Federal prosecutors who knew Jim for over 25 years.  One letter came from a law firm that does nothing but collection work, the Law Offices of Howard Lee Schiff.  Larry Noodles found this strange because Pickerstein, in spite of stealing $600K, didn’t pay his AMEX bill and was sued by AMEX.  AMEX recently obtained a judgment against Pickerstein for $10K.  He is one of the many deadbeat debtors sued by law firms like Howard Lee Schiff.

Jim also received letters of support from members of the Tribe of Israel, of which he belongs.  Jim is a Conservative Jew who prays at the Beth El synagogue in suburban Fairfield.  Larry Noodles has a cousin who prays over there, but was unable to contact this cousin before press time to find out about Pickerstein.  Jim lived in the Jewish quarter of Fairfield, off of Fairfield Woods Road.  His house is worth $600K, the same amount of money he stole from his mobster client.  Larry Noodles grew up in the gentile section of town in Fairfield, and had to commute to the Jewish hood to go to Sunday School.  The goyim didn’t think much of the Jews and vice versa.  The town was segregated at the time.  Each section of town had it’s own high school, Roger Ludlowe for the goyim and Andrew Warde for the Jews. The Blacks and Spanish were confined to Bridgeport, right over the Fairfield border.  They usually got pulled over by the Fairfield cops if they strayed across the border, and sent back to Bridgeport, if they didn’t get locked up.  None of them had Pickerstein connections.

Jim was the gabbai (sexton) at the Beth El synagogue, and was President at one point.  This must be the reason Jim wants to go to the Otisville prison.  Otisville is the destination for many New York Jews. The shul is run by the Satmar Hasidim from the mean streets of Williamsburg, a different world than suburban Fairfield.  The current jail gabbai is a Satmar by the name of Herman Jacobowitz, who is doing 13 years.  Herman or “MShoolum” as they call him, runs the shul with an iron fist.  Jim will be lucky to get a seat in the shul with a thirty day sentence.  He might as well not even change into the green canvas prison clothing.  Jim won’t have many friends at Otisville.  Guys only become your friend if they think you got some green in your wallet.  Guys would even be willing to put aside the fact that you are a rat or an ex-prosecutor if you got money, or appear to have money.  Jim owes $10K on his AMEX bill, so he is pretty broke, he will be lucky to have enough money to pay for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on the commissary.  And he looks like a guy who likes to eat a lot of ice cream.

Jim is a criminal defense attorney, so guys will probably warm up to him to ask him for advice on their cases.  The prison rules say that you are not supposed to discuss your case with other inmates.  A rule that is almost impossible to enforce.  Jim will piss off a lot of guys if he says he is going to strictly follow the rules and not review their cases.  The 80 year old Satmar, Naftuli, will be the first to ask Jim for help on his many hopeless appeals.  Every time a new lawyer gets locked up Naftuli will be first to befriend him. Nafuli represents what is wrong with the system. They system has no mercy for an 80 year old man who gets 10 years and lets a guy like Pickerstein, who has no taste in ties, get a revolving door of 30 days.

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