A week after he was criticized by his state supreme court on a matter of judicial ethics, faux TV judge Alex Ferrer (aka “Judge Alex”) lost handily before real jurists on the Supreme Court. With a 8-1 ruling, Judge Alex can claim to have brought a rare degree of near unanimity on the divided Court in rejecting his legal claims.
Ferrer wanted to avoid arbitration under a contract that allows Preston to receive 12 percent of a contract. His contract stipulates such arbitration but Ferrer argues that California regulation of talent agents permits the state agency to review the legality of the contract. It comes down to both the binding elements of the arbitration clause and the preemption of the federal arbitration law over such state rules. Ferrer claims that Preston is not a licensed talent agent and that state law required that the contract be reviewed by the agency.
Notably, Justice Scalia cited his time as a law professor to question Ferrer’s claims: “I used to teach contract law,” Justice Antonin Scalia said. “And I am sure that when you say you’ll arbitrate, it means you won’t litigate.”
The justices seems to take Ferrer’s lawyer to task over his bald assertion that Preston is unlicensed. G. Eric Brunstad, faced questioning by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and others who noted that Preston says that he is licensed and Brunstad admitted that his brief should have been more clear on the point.
This discrepancy led Justice Anthony Kennedy to ask, “Shouldn’t we view with some skepticism what you tell us?”
The ruling turned on the preemptive effect of the Federal Arbitration Act.
“When parties agree to arbitrate all questions arising under a contract, the FAA supersedes state laws,” wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Only Justice Clarence Thomas sided with Ferrer, insisting that the Federal Arbitration Act does not apply to proceedings in state courts.
It is not a good month for Ferrer. Recently, the Florida Supreme Court chastised him for his decision to testify about a case that he handled as a state judge. (Click here).
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