Category: Courts

Four “Yutes” And Counting: Controversy Grows Over The Judge’s Comments In The Manafort Trial

ManafortBelow is my column in the Hill newspaper on the controversial statements of the judge presiding over the trial of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman. Judge T.S. Ellis III has raised growing concerns over his comments in court, particularly before the jury.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Four “Yutes” And Counting: Controversy Grows Over The Judge’s Comments In The Manafort Trial”

Mr. Manafort And His $15,000 Ostrich Coat

1531416683549The Justice Department received well-deserved pushback yesterday in the trial of Paul Manafort from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis who noted that it’s not a crime to be rich in America.   The Justice Department has been trying every possible way of introducing pictures and witnesses detailing Manafort’s “extravagant lifestyle” in the jury trial.  This includes such items as his $15,000 jacket that’s “made from an ostrich.”  On style values alone, many of us would be tempted to convict on the Ostrich jacket but that is hardly what Manafort is charged with. Nevertheless, the government got plenty by using lifestyle witnesses to confirm Manafort’s use of direct wire transfers from his many foreign accounts — a practice that was recalled as exceptionally rare by the witnesses.

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Republicans Need To Consider The Consequences Of A Rosenstein Impeachment

Rod_Rosenstein_Official_DAG_PortraitBelow is my column in the Hill newspaper on the calls for the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  While the key sponsors have indicated that they may be willing to delay this effort, many continue to advocate for a vote on articles of impeachment.  As I have previously said, that would be a mistake.  Putting aside the historical and constitutional reasons discussed below, this is the worst possible time for the Republicans to lower the standard for impeachment. The Democrats could well retake the house in November and the effort against Rosenstein could make it all the more easy for Democrats to pursue Donald Trump after the midterm elections. Continue reading “Republicans Need To Consider The Consequences Of A Rosenstein Impeachment”

Scratch A Lawyer, Find A Foe: Michael Cohen Releases Secret Recording Of Trump Discussing Payment To Alleged Mistress

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedBelow is my column in the Hill newspaper on release of the first Cohen tape and rumored seizure of many more such tapes by federal prosecutors.  I have previously stated that the secret taping of Donald Trump was, in my view, flagrantly dishonest and disloyal in dealings with a client.  While the American Bar Association relaxed the rule against secret taping from being per se unethical, few lawyers would contemplate what Cohen did to his client.  Indeed, New York is a jurisdiction that looks with disfavor on such taping as a routine matter.  Unless done for some clear societal benefit, it is a serious potential unethical act.  Michael Cohen continues to be an embarrassment to the profession in his low level of legal judgment and even lower professional standards of conduct.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “Scratch A Lawyer, Find A Foe: Michael Cohen Releases Secret Recording Of Trump Discussing Payment To Alleged Mistress”

Changing Dealers? MGM Resorts Sues The Victims In The Mandalay Bay Massacre

220px-The_ScreamMGM Resorts International has gone to an extraordinary point to forum shop for more sympathetic judges: it is actually suing the victims of last year’s Las Vegas concert mass shooting.  The move has outraged many as MGM shamelessly sues grieving families and individuals to get before the more conservative federal bench. It is a move that is a stark reminder of how corporations openly forum shop for judges as well as the view of the federal bench as being more sympathetic to corporate defendants.  What is all the more unsettling is that MGM and Mandalay Bay could well succeed.

Continue reading “Changing Dealers? MGM Resorts Sues The Victims In The Mandalay Bay Massacre”

Federal Judge Orders L.A. Times To Remove Information Of A Plea Agreement From Published Articles [UPDATED]

screen-shot-2018-07-17-at-7-22-46-am-e1531826624860.pngIn one of the most troubling orders issued by a court in years, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter issued an order on Saturday to the Los Angeles Times to remove information from an article describing a plea agreement between prosecutors and a Glendale police detective.  The detective is alleged to have been in the pocket of the blood-soaked Mexican Mafia.  The newspaper discovered the details in a posted order on PACER the online court database, which was supposed to be left under seal.  I have been in cases when such mistakes have occurred but the court’s actions in this case drive to the heart of press freedom in this country. In my view (which will hardly surprise our regular readers), the order is a direct and dangerous violation of the First Amendment. [UPDATE: After a national outcry, the judge has rescinded his order and says that he was not sure that the LA Times had obtained the material legally.]

Continue reading “Federal Judge Orders L.A. Times To Remove Information Of A Plea Agreement From Published Articles [UPDATED]”

“Perfectly Legal”: The Perilous Rhetoric Of Immigration Politics

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ICE Enforcement

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on continued claims about undocumented immigrants and their legal status.  There is a growing misrepresentation of the status issues that are deeply concerning.  While undocumented status can be treated as a civil matter, it is also a criminal matter when a person enters the country illegally.  Some politicians and commentators have been stating simply that all undocumented persons are non-criminals while others have suggested that persons are “perfectly legal” if they claim asylum even if they entered illegally.  The point is that not all such persons should be treated criminally, but rather these statements can be dangerously misleading for families considering an illegal crossing.  The Trump Administration has shifted enforcement toward greater criminal than civil enforcement.  As for asylum claims, they are not the majority of illegal entries but the numbers are clearly rising.  We are required under international law to consider such applications, but that does not mean that the entry was lawful or that such cases cannot raise risks of criminal enforcement.  With so many lives at risk, we need to be more accurate in how we describe the legal realities of illegal entry.

 

Here is the column:

Continue reading ““Perfectly Legal”: The Perilous Rhetoric Of Immigration Politics”

The Kavanaugh Nomination: Trump Selects A Robertsesque Nominee

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Whitehouse.gov

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.  It seems likely that Kavanaugh will be confirmed absent some earth-shattering disclosure in the confirmation process.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “The Kavanaugh Nomination: Trump Selects A Robertsesque Nominee”

President Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh To Replace Justice Kennedy

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Whitehouse.gov

President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to replace retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.  Kavanaugh was opposed by some conservatives and is not viewed as strongly anti-abortion as Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. However, he is highly intelligent and accomplished.  I have a column out this morning in The Hill newspaper.

Continue reading “President Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh To Replace Justice Kennedy”

Why Big Fierce Nominees Are Rare

Supreme Court
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on why the most creative and productive individuals are often disfavored in our modern confirmation system.  With the announcement of the new nominee this evening by President Donald Trump, we will have the state of a counterintuitive process that favors those who are the least forthcoming or open about their views.

Here is the column:  Continue reading “Why Big Fierce Nominees Are Rare”

Catching Roe: Republicans Face The Peril Of Success Of A Pro-Life Majority

Supreme CourtBelow is my column in USA Today on politics over Roe and the Supreme Court vacancy.  The new vacancy and the the earlier pro-life pledge of President Donald Trump is something of a bill come due for Republicans. It is a bill that some Republicans privately do not want to pay.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Catching Roe: Republicans Face The Peril Of Success Of A Pro-Life Majority”

Manafort Moves For Venue Change From Liberal Alexandria

301px-Seal_of_Alexandria,_VA.svgAttorneys for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort have asked a federal judge for a venue change on the rather dubious grounds that Alexandria Virginia is simply too liberal.  Manafort wants a jury in Roanoke where there are more Republicans.  It is an exceptionally weak motion and would be unprecedented to shift jurisdiction based on the political views of the local electorate as opposed to using voir dire to spot bias.  Attorneys Kevin Downing, Thomas Zehnle and Jay Nanavati told the “It is not a stretch to expect that voters who supported Secretary Clinton would be predisposed against Mr. Manafort or that voters who supported President Donald Trump would be less inclined toward the Special Counsel.” If it is “not a stretch” politically, it is a stretch legally. In fairness to the defense time, however, it was Judge T.S. Ellis III who raised the possibility of a venue change to Roanoke or Richmond.  Ellis however has a reputation for making controversial statements from the bench.  In most courts, I would expect this motion to be denied fairly quickly.

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Constitutional Time Out? Mueller Becomes Latest Basis For Opposing Any Trump Nominee

440px-Director_Robert_S._Mueller-_III440px-Official_Portrait_of_President_Donald_TrumpBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the latest rationale for opposing any nominee of President Donald Trump: that any nomination or confirmation must wait until the completion of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  It is a claim being voiced by both politicians and academics despite the absence of constitutional or historical support.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “Constitutional Time Out? Mueller Becomes Latest Basis For Opposing Any Trump Nominee”

The Kennedy Retirement Leaves The Court Without A Center of Gravity and Grace

225px-Anthony_Kennedy_OfficialBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the legacy and vision or Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.  The departure of Kennedy will leave the Supreme Court more calcified and rigid in its ideological division. Chief Justice John Roberts now assumes the role of the swing vote with a center of gravity that will likely move further to the right.  His voice was unique and often profound.  He applied a conservative jurisprudence that emphasized the protection of individual rights and identity.  Time will show that Kennedy saw a horizon for our society that we are still struggling to attain.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “The Kennedy Retirement Leaves The Court Without A Center of Gravity and Grace”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks