Sunday, December 2, 2012

The case against Charles Harkin, John Harkin and Gary Shelton—The "Dockbuilders"

After sixteen days of proceedings and trial, starting last December, on July 30, 2012 a panel of the Trial Committee (Trial Committee) of the District Council of New York and Vicinity (District Council) of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) found Charles Harkin, John Harkin and Gary Shelton (Charged Parties) not guilty of misappropriation of funds and not guilty of defrauding members. The Trial Committee did find the Charged Parties guilty of Violating the Obligation and imposed a reprimand and monetary penalties.

The District Council then moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict of not guilty on the misappropriation charge and requested that we find the Charged Parties guilty of misappropriation.

The District Council did not ask us to reconsider the jury’s verdict of not guilty concerning defrauding the members. The Charged Parties opposed the District Council’s application concerning the not guilty verdict on misappropriation. The Charged Parties, in turn, moved for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the guilty verdict - - Violating the Obligation -- and requested a reconsideration of the penalties imposed.

On October 3, 2012, we issued our Decision on Post Hearing Motions, denying all motions. In doing so, we employed the traditional and demanding test that our duty on review is not to reweigh the evidence but to decide whether there is a sufficient evidentiary basis for that verdict.

The Review Officer and District Council each then advised that we erred in applying that standard and that the correct guide is Rule l3B(2) of the Trial Committee procedures.

The Rule provides: “The presiding officer... shall have the authority upon motion of a party to... enter a ‘judgment’ notwithstanding any decision of a Panel when such decision is contrary to the weight of the evidence.”

The Review Officer and District Council ask that the Presiding Officer in this matter conduct his own assessment of the evidence de novo and substitute his judgment regarding the sufficiency of the evidence for that of the jury.

On October 17, 2012, we granted the District Council’s motion for reconsideration of our October 3, 2012 decision. Before we decide this matter, it is useful to set forth the reasons for and against reconsideration.


This case consumed nine months. The first few months involved procedural matters. The jury then heard testimony and reviewed exhibits for fourteen days. There is no evidence of bias, prejudice, improper influences or the like. The panel paid attention, asked intelligent questions, and did not rush to judgment, but deliberated carefully. Hardly biased, it found the Charged Parties guilty of Violating the Obligation and imposed a reprimand and monetary penalties.

This panel was typical of other panels with which we have worked over the past two years, comprising members who have committed themselves to that sometimes overworked but valid phrase - - Carpenter Justice.

To reverse the verdict and now find the Charged Parties guilty of misappropriation or defrauding - - or innocent of Violating the Obligation - - would not simply be a miscarriage of justice, it would be a travesty, triggering substantial questions concerning our independence, our intelligence, and, in an intellectual sense, our integrity. It also would raise profound questions concerning whether the Charged Parties received a fair hearing within the meaning of the Landrum-Griffin Act. Finally, for all of us, including the Presiding Officers, it would raise the ultimate question: quis custodiet custodes?

Voiding the verdict would compromise both justice and the process that the District Council, Review Officer, jury panels, and the Presiding Officers, working together, have implemented, when there is no principled basis so to do. It would be a cruel paradox if our last act before departure would be to sully the extraordinary efforts of the many jury members - - Union members - - who have labored to achieve fundamental fairness. Their efforts and that success is one of the most significant accomplishments of this reform effort.

James Zazzali

Walter Mack

Decision on Reconsideration


    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase traditionally attributed to the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires (Satire VI, lines 347–8), which is literally translated as "Who will guard the guards themselves?" Also sometimes rendered as "Who watches the watchmen?", the phrase has other idiomatic translations and adaptations such as "Who will watch the watch-guards?" In modern usage, it is frequently associated with the political philosophy of Plato and the problem of political corruption, but the original source has no known connection to Plato or political theory. The original context deals rather with the problem of ensuring marital fidelity. It has also been questioned whether the text of this particular passage is authentically part of Juvenal's Satires or is a later addition to the manuscript. … noui consilia et ueteres quaecumque monetis amici, "pone seram, cohibes." sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? qui nunc lasciuae furta puellae hac mercede silent crimen commune tacetur. … I know the plan that my friends always advise me to adopt: "Bolt her in, constrain her!" But who can watch the watchmen? They keep quiet about the girl's secrets and get her as their payment; everyone hushes it up.

    1. Well , I guess I now know the reason Mr Mack and MR Zazzali were really dismissed by the R. O. and the District council. When someone does there job ,and refuses to conduct themselves as a Kankaroo court jester, they are of no use to Mr Walsh and the district council. This tells me that the rank and file members like my self have no chance to expect the District Council to operate in any fasion that benefits me or ensures the Democracy of the union I joined 30 years ago . To me , the excutive board of the District council is guilty of violating there obligation to the membership.As far as I am concerned, I can no longer remain a member of an organization that underminds the rights of the membership and abuses the basic constitional rights. After all , the District Council works for the members , not the other way around !!! I have seen Mr Walsh stomp on these rights for quite some time now , and I will not be part of this union any longer . The union I joined 30 years ago worked for the member , and the members had a right to vote on there own destiny. That's what UNION means . Other wise you are working for a company like Walmart.By removing Mr Mack and Mr Zazzali , no member has a chance at a fair hearing from there "hired guns" judge and jury of the District council. This week, I will seek advice from an accountaint and retirement planner , and request my retirement forms from the Benefits Dept.

      Good luck to all of you who have to work under this Dictatorship until you are eligible to retire . I wish you well!!

    2. two men of great integrity i thank them for there courage and committment to their craft, fairness and justice .not like walsh and the rest of hios prostitutes who will do all that he ask to keep their high paying jobs even lie.walsh who will watch the watcher. biello dainileson,and that group they are bought and paid for .case closed i hope the membership applies to jugde burman to keep mr mack and judge zazzali,without men who wont lower their standards no one will be able to get a fair trail .meet the new boss same as the old boss in fact walsh and hiis crew are far worse for tthe carpenters and the labor movement the forde and his crew.

  2. Amalgamated: You guys are screwed.


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