The bill is in for Orly Taitz, the California lawyer leading the “Birther” litigation: $20,000 for sanctionable conduct. U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land previously issued a stern warning to attorney Orly Taitz and others in the so-called “birther” campaign: do not file another such “frivolous” lawsuit or you will face sanctions. Land threw out the lawsuit filed on behalf of Capt. Connie Rhodes who is an Army surgeon challenging her deployment orders due to President Barack Obama’s alleged ineligibility to serve as President. Land (a Bush appointee) noted that “[u]nlike in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ simply saying something is so does not make it so.” In the most recent order, Land said that Taitz’s conduct “borders on delusional.”
Rhodes previously accused Taitz of filing new papers in Rhodes v. MacDonald without her approval and after she agreed to be deployed by the military. Taitz declared in one filing: “This case is now a quasi-criminal prosecution of the undersigned attorney.” She is already facing a California bar complaint and Rhodes is promising to file a new complaint against her for “reprehensible” representation.
When Rhodes learned that Taitz had filed a motion to stay deployment after she had decided to forego further litigation, she proceeded to fire Taitz by sending a remarkable letter from Office Max on the advice of “Tim who works in the District Clerk’s office.” She stated in the fax:
September 18th, 2009
To the Honorable Judge Land:
Currently, I am shipping out to Iraq for my deployment. I became aware on last night’s local news that a Motion to Stay my deployment had been entered on my behalf. I did not authorize this motion to be filed. I thank you for hearing my case and respect the ruling given on September 16th, 2009. It is evident that the original filing for the TRO and such was full of political conjecture which was not my interest. I had no intention of refusing orders nor will I. I simply wanted to verify the lawfulness of my orders. I am honored to serve my country and thank you for doing the same.
With that I said, please withdraw the Motion to Stay that Ms. Taitz filed this past Thursday. I did not authorize it and do not wish to proceed. Ms. Taitz never requested my permission nor did I give it. I would not have been aware of this if I did not see it on the late news on Thursday night before going to board my plane to Iraq on Friday, September 18, 2009.
Furthermore, I do not wish for Ms. Taitz to file any future motion or represent me in any way in this court. It is my plan to file a complaint with the California State Bar to her reprehensible and unprofessional actions.
I am faxing this as was advised by Tim, who works in the District Clerk’s office. I will mail the original copy of this letter once I have arrived in Iraq.
CPT Connie M. Rhodes, MD
In her Motion for Leave to Withdrawal as Counsel, Taitz suggested that her client is lying to the Court.
She states that she not only has a (rather obvious) conflict with her former client but may present evidence that is embarrassing to her:
The undersigned attorney comes before this Court to respectfully ask for leave to withdraw as counsel for the Plaintiff Captain Connie Rhodes. The immediate need for this withdrawal is the filing of two documents of September 18, 2009, one by the Court, Document 17, and one apparently by Plaintiff Connie Rhodes, which together have the effect of creating a serious conflict of interest between Plaintiff and her counsel. In order to defend herself, the undersigned counsel will have to contest and potentially appeal any sanctions order in her own name alone, separately from the Plaintiff, by offering and divulging what would normally constitute inadmissible and privileged attorney-client communications, and take a position contrary to her client’s most recently stated position in this litigation. The undersigned attorney will also offer evidence and call witnesses whose testimony will be adverse to her (former) client’s most recently stated position in this case. A copy of this Motion was served five days ago on the undersigned’s former client, Captain Connie Rhodes, prior to filing this with the Court and the undersigned acknowledges her client’s ability to object to this motion, despite her previously stated disaffection for the attorney-client
relationship existing between them. This Motion to Withdraw as Counsel will in no way delay the proceedings, in that the Plaintiff has separately indicated that she no longer wishes to continue to contest any issue in this case. In essence, this case is now a quasi-criminal prosecution of the undersigned attorney, for the purpose of punishment, and the Court should recognize and acknowledge the essential ethical importance of releasing this counsel from her obligations of confidentiality and loyalty under these extraordinary circumstances.
Orly Taitz, DDS, Esq.
California Bar ID No. 223433
FOR THE PLAINTIFF
Captain Connie Rhodes, M.D. F.S.
SATURDAY, September 26, 2009
“Quasi-criminal prosecution”? The judge had ordered Taitz to “show cause” why a sanction should not be imposed in the case. He had previously told Taitz that he would consider sanctions if she filed similar claims in the future. After the denial of the Motion to Stay deployment, Land said that the latest filing was “deja vu all over again” including “her political diatribe.” He noted:
Instead of seriously addressing the substance of the Court’s order, counsel repeats her political diatribe against the President, complains that she did not have time to address dismissal of the action (although she sought expedited consideration), accuses the undersigned of treason, and maintains that “the United States District Courts in the 11th Circuit are subject to political pressure, external control, and . . . subservience to the same illegitimate chain of command which Plaintiff has previously protested.”
Then the kicker:
The Court finds Plaintiff’s Motion for Stay of Deployment (Doc. 15) to be frivolous. Therefore, it is denied. The Court notifies Plaintiff’s counsel, Orly Taitz, that it is contemplating a monetary penalty of $10,000.00 to be imposed upon her, as a sanction for her misconduct. Ms. Taitz shall file her response within fourteen days of today’s order showing why this sanction should not be imposed.
I am frankly not convinced that sanctions would be appropriate for filing for a motion to stay deployment per se. At the time of his order, Land did not presumably know that the filing was made against the wishes of the client. If Rhodes was interested in appealing Land’s decision, which is her right, a stay is a standard request. However, the fact that the filing may have been made after Taitz was terminated as counsel and after she was told that Rhodes was abandoning the case is more cause for possible sanctions. Moreover, the low quality and over-heated rhetoric of the filing can support such sanctions. Her filings appear more visceral than legal. In demanding reconsideration of the Court’s earlier order, she used language that does cross the line:
This Court has threatened the undersigned counsel with sanctions for advocating that a legally conscious, procedurally sophisticated, and constitutionally aware army officers corps is the best protection against the encroachment of anti-democratic, authoritarian, neo-Fascistic or Palaeo-Communistic dictatorship in this country, without pointing to any specific language, facts, or allegations of fact in the Complaint or TRO as frivolous. Rule 11 demands more of the Court than use of its provisions as a means of suppressing the First Amendment Right to Petition regarding questions of truly historical, in fact epic and epochal, importance in the history of this nation.
She also (as noted by Land in his later order) essentially accused Land of treason, as she has in public statements:
Plaintiff submits that to advocate a breach of constitutional oaths to uphold the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, is in fact a very practical form of “adhering” to those enemies, foreign and domestic, and thus is tantamount to treason, as Defined in Article III, Section 3, even when pronounced in Court. The People of the United States deserve better service and loyalty from the most powerful, and only life-tenured, officers of their government.
Taitz is also facing a California Bar complaint, here. Ohio lawyer (and inactive California bar member) Subodh Chandra wrote the bar, stating “I respectfully request that you investigate Ms. Taitz’s conduct and impose an appropriate sanction. She is an embarrassment to the profession.” For that complaint, click here.
A complaint by a former client would likely attract more attention by the Bar. These are now serious allegations including misrepresentation, false statements to the Court, and other claims that will have to be addressed by a Bar investigation. This could take years to resolve — perhaps just in time for Obama’s second inauguration.
The court ruled that Taitz violated Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in filing frivolous papers. Declaring the filings as made in “bad faith,” the court concluded that Taitz’s legal conduct was “willful and not merely negligent.” Sanctions were warranted, he held, because “Counsel’s frivolous and sanctionable conduct wasted the Defendants’ time and valuable judicial resources that could have been devoted to legitimate cases pending with the Court.”
“When a lawyer files complaints and motions without a reasonable basis for believing that they are supported by existing law or a modification or extension of existing law, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law,” Land writes. “When a lawyer uses the courts as a platform for a political agenda disconnected from any legitimate legal cause of action, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law. When a lawyer personally attacks opposing parties and disrespects the integrity of the judiciary, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law. When a lawyer recklessly accuses a judge of violating the judicial code of conduct with no supporting evidence beyond her dissatisfaction with the judge’s rulings, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law. When a lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law, that lawyer ceases to advance her cause or the ends of justice. . .
Regrettably, the conduct of counsel Orly Taitz has crossed these lines, and Ms. Taitz must be sanctioned for her misconduct. After a full review of the sanctionable conduct, counsel’s conduct leading up to that conduct, and counsel’s response to the Court’s show cause order, the Court finds that a monetary penalty of $20,000.00 shall be imposed upon counsel Orly Taitz as punishment for her misconduct, as a deterrent to prevent future misconduct, and to protect the integrity of the Court. Payment shall be made to the United States, through the Middle District of Georgia Clerk’s Office, within thirty days of today’s Order. If counsel fails to pay the sanction due, the U.S. Attorney will be authorized to commence collection proceedings.
I expect that Taitz will appeal the decision, given her past statements. The opinion goes into considerable detail on her conduct and interaction with the court, as shown below.
For the decision, click here.
For the story, click here