Last night, before a convention center filled with his followers in San Diego, presidential candidate Donald Trump chose to launch a lengthy diatribe against the local federal judge hearing the case against his Trump University. Trump said Judge Gonzalo Curiel, of the Southern District of California, should recuse himself, but cited no reasons for why other than that he had been appointed by Obama and had repeatedly ruled against Trump’s lawyers.
In his rambling remarks, Trump also referred to Judge Curiel as “Mexican”: the jurist, previously the chief federal prosecutor for drug cases in southern California, was born in Indiana. Stoking by repetition, as his crowd of thousands booed, Trump called the federal judge “a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” and said he should be placed under investigation by the court system. I wonder whether anyone will be shocked if the judge requests personal protection for himself and his family as the trial proceeds.
Obama’s 2010 State of the Union remarks railing at the Justices of the Supreme Court in their presence regarding Citizens United were bad. This is far worse: the case is still in progress, Trump is a party, and the attack is on a single judge who will now find his task of ensuring a fair trial complicated. Trump, who speaks regularly around the country, chose to unleash the diatribe in the locality where the judge and others who will participate in the case, such as jurors, work and live. [More: David Post]
Law professor Josh Blackman, active in the Federalist Society, writes as follows:
His jaw-dropping comments reflect an utter ignorance about what judges do, and amounts to a dangerous attacks on the fairness of our court system. Whatever negligible good will he built up by nominating a list of solid potential nominees to the Supreme Court was squandered with this scurrilous attack. Those who defended his selection process should immediately rebuke him for these baseless insults….
I am speechless. Absolutely, and totally speechless. I was highly critical of President Obama’s attacks on the Court. I cringe to think what will happen when the Supreme Court rules against [Trump].
This might be a good time to catch up, if you haven’t, on the legal saga of Trump University, which I’ve been following for more than a year (when I first looked into it as part of my research into the work of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman). Some coverage: Jillian Kay Melchior/NRO last July, Emma Brown/Washington Post last September, Ian Tuttle/NRO in February, Roger Parloff/Fortune, Joe Mullin and Jonathan Kaminsky/ArsTechnica. In the San Diego proceedings, one law firm ranged against Trump is Robbins Geller, descendant of convicted class-actioneer Bill Lerach’s Lerach Coughlin, and the subject of some less than flattering coverage in these columns over the years.
“WNEP-TV reports that Magisterial District Judge Craig Long of Columbia County has even put a new sign in his Catawissa Township office that he hopes will keep people from wearing pajamas in court. It reads, ‘Pajamas are not appropriate attire for district court.'” [York Daily Record, with picture and video]
“Sen. Sanders goes one step further. He would require that nominees publicly commit to case outcomes…. Although under President Sanders’ proposal judicial impartiality in fact and in appearance will suffer, there is a bright side. If President Sanders filled a majority of seats on the Court with pre-committed Justices, lawyers before the Court could significantly reduce the time and effort expended on the argument sections of their briefs.” [Raymond McKoski, Legal Ethics Forum]
Note also that Sanders managed to find a position on Citizens United worse than Hillary Clinton’s “Banning a critical movie about me should’ve been OK.”
- Study hyped as showing vaping serves as gateway to smoking doesn’t actually show that [Jacob Sullum]
- Your guano ticket to land-based wealth: 1856 law on bird droppings can help you claim an island [Mark Mancini, Mental Floss]
- Dignity of the bench: “Judge lied about claimed toilet-lid attack outside courthouse, jury finds” [ABA Journal; Waterloo, N.Y.]
- Someone’s using someone: “Providence using plaintiffs bar to become player in antitrust cases” [Jessica Karmasek, Legal Newsline, related]
- Competitive Enterprise Institute picks what it considers the nation’s six worst state AGs, most names are familiar to our readers [Hans Bader/CEI, more, full report in PDF, and thanks for link]
- “Frivolous Serial Pro Se Litigant Upset Journalists Portrayed Him As A Frivolous Serial Litigant” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
- Model of arbitration in Njal’s Saga: binding, provided it roughly tracks outcome of averted violence [Tyler Cowen]
“…Judge Responds With Heavily-Redacted Refusal” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
The Securities and Exchange Commission practice of trying many complaints before administrative law judges (ALJs) who are its own employees, rather than before federal courts, has grown increasingly controversial lately and now one defendant’s challenge to the practice has prevailed — at least for the moment. A federal judge in Atlanta has ruled that because ALJs are “inferior officers” under the constitution, they cannot be simply employed like other federal workers by an agency like the SEC. Writes Thaya Knight at Cato, “there is a fairly easy fix available to the SEC: the five commissioners can simply appoint the existing ALJs to their current positions…. [but] other agencies could face greater difficulties.” But Daniel Fisher quotes Prof. Philip Hamburger as saying the ruling could still prove “profoundly important,” leading to the unraveling of other aspects of administrative law arrangements within agencies. More: W$J (commission fighting off at least seven legal challenges; in one instance it “asked one of its own judges to submit a formal statement about whether he has ever felt pressure to favor the agency”), Adam Zimmerman/PrawfsBlawg.
Counsel’s Ninth Circuit arguments on behalf of copyright troll Prenda Law did not go well, to put it mildly. Trouble was evident even before Judge Pregerson commented, regarding the clients, “They should have asserted the Fifth Amendment because they were engaged in extortion.” [Ken at Popehat; Joe Mullin, Ars Technica] More on the Prenda Law saga here.
“After Wisconsinites vote to amend the state constitution to change how the state supreme court’s chief justice is selected, Shirley Abrahamson sues in federal court to keep her position under the old provision.” Abrahamson’s ten-year term as judge will continue in either case, but under the change just approved by Wisconsin voters, the position of chief judge will no longer be assigned by seniority. [Ann Althouse, whence also the “what democracy looks like” line; & welcome Instapundit readers] More: Rick Esenberg.