Category: Courts

Lack of Consensus: Trump Calls Announcement Of His Own Agencies On Census Question “Fake”

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedThere certainly seems to be a lack of consensus in the Trump Administration over the census question.  Yesterday both the Commerce Department and the Justice Department confirmed that the Administration would drop the controversial census question over undocumented status after the stinging defeat before the Supreme Court. Even conservative justices threw up their hands by the lack of foundation laid by the Trump Administration on the need or rationale for the question. Now there is utter confusion as the President insists that this Administration will litigate the issue again.

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Washington Owes Neil Gorsuch An Apology

Below is my column on the end of the Supreme Court term and the one outstanding piece of business: an apology to Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. After this column ran, Gorsuch again voted with the liberal justices on a critical due process issue. He has already carved out a principled legacy on the Court that follows his convictions rather than the predictions of his critics.

Here is the column:

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Turley To Speak At 2019 Judicial Conclave In New Mexico

Today I have the honor of delivering a keynote speech to the 2019 Judicial Conclave in New Mexico at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque. I will be discussing the history, cases, and evolution of the “cultural defense” in federal and state courts. The speech is at 11:15 am on Friday at the conference held at the Hyatt.

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The Politics and Pathology of The House Litigation Addiction

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on rejection of the lawsuit by the House of Representatives against the order issued by President Donald Trump to build the wall on the Southern border under the National Emergencies Act. I had previously testified against this lawsuit as a reckless and unnecessary move by the house. It is part of a litigation strategy that is clearly driven more by political than legal calculations.

Here is the column:

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Utah Judge Suspended Six Months For Anti-Trump Comments

We recently discussed a federal judge who gave a public speech excoriating President Donald Trump. While we discussed how the comments of Judge Carlton Reeves would violate judicial ethical rules, no discipline has been brought for the comments. Indeed, Reeves is back in the news for his ruling to enjoin the Mississippi anti-abortion law. Taylorsville Justice Court Judge Michael Kwan received a six-month suspension for his anti-Trump comments last week.

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Trump Administration Ignored Internal Legal Opinion In Withholding Tax Records

I recently testified in the House Judiciary Committee that the Congress must challenge the refusal of the Trump Administration to turn over certain records and to bar certain witnesses from oversight investigations. While I also disagreed with some of Congress’s actions, the Trump Administration has cannot withhold material from oversight authority on the basis of undeclared privileges or ill-defined objections. This is the case in the refusal to turn over tax records demanded by Congress. As I stated earlier, the House has made only generalized claims of a legislative purpose for such records. Nevertheless, the law clearly favors Congress in seeking such material. Notably, the Trump Administration has not claimed executive privilege but only that the Committee lacks a legislative purpose. That is not enough. Now, it appears that the Administration was warned by its own confidential Internal Revenue Service legal memorandum that it would be violating the law by withholding the records without an executive privilege claim. It ignored the legal memorandum and refused the congressional demand.

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Federal Judge Rules Against Trump On Subpoena For Financial Records

U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta has issued a 41-page opinion in favor of the House Oversight Committee in its subpoena of the accounting firm Mazars USA to obtain financial documents related to President Donald Trump. It is a significant victory for the Congress in its fights with the White House given the ambiguously stated legislative purpose behind the demand. However, as I testified last week before the House Judiciary Committee, Congress is likely to win such fights over legislative purpose and courts are unlikely to entertain challenges based on alleged improper or political motives by Congress. It is important however to note that this was a subpoena of a private party to gain private records of Trump as an individual. Far more difficult questions are raised by a subpoena for someone like Don McGahn who did not appear today at the House Judiciary Committee.

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A Question Of Contempt: Why The Barr Vote Could Prove Costly For Congress

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the vote of the House Judiciary Committee to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress. There are a number of conflicts with the Administration that present favorable grounds for Congress in a court challenge. This action is the least compelling and could ultimately undermine congressional authority with an adverse ruling.

I am honestly confused by some of the criticism including the recent column by Andrew Napolitano in where he states “Barr knows the DOJ is not in the business of exonerating the people it investigates. Yet he proclaimed in his letter that Trump had been exonerated.” I like and respect Napolitano a great deal but that is not what the letter said. What the letter said was “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’” That is true. Indeed, it was odd that Napolitano would focus on the collusion/coordination issue when many people have accepted that the conclusion of no criminal conduct was clear from the report. At no point does Barr say that Trump was exonerated. Indeed, he included the most damaging line from the report on obstruction in saying that Mueller expressly did not exonerate him on that question. Barr was addressing the conclusions on criminal conduct and I still do not see where, as stated by my friend Andrew, where Barr in the letter was “foolish,” “deceptive,” “disingenuous,” or “dumb and insulting.” Those are powerful accusations against any lawyer and should be tethered to a clear example in the letter of a false or deceptive statement.

The Napolitano letter also ignores Barr’s statement that the report would have been released relatively quickly (removing the need for the summary) if Mueller complied with his request and that of Rod Rosenstein to identify grand jury material. It remains inexplicable that Mueller allegedly ignored those reasonable requests from his two superiors. As a result, Mueller’s people had to go back through the report to identify the Rule 6(e) material, a previously requested.

Update: The Democrats are now arguing that they are not demanding the redacted Grand Jury information despite weeks of calling for the full and unredacted report — and a subpoena that demands the entire unredacted report. They now insist that they want Barr to ask the Court to release the small percentage of Grand Jury information. That is not likely in light of the long record at the Justice Department.

Here is the column:

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Cohen Goes To Prison After Prosecutors Refuse To Meet With Him

I was hiking on my birthday when Michael Cohen finally went to prison. By the time that he made the walk, few of Michael Cohen’s former clients or associates are likely returning his calls these days. After revealing that he taped clients without their consent and confessing to various felonies, Cohen is radioactive. However, one group of people joining the “lose my number” list is apparently chilling for Cohen: the federal prosecutors. Cohen’s counsel Lanny Davis has confirmed that Cohen has repeatedly tried to arrange meetings to share new information with prosecutors in the hopes of delaying his prison stint beginning tomorrow or securing a reduction in his sentence. They have refused. For a man who has made his career on being willing to do anything for powerful figures, Cohen is in the one place that he most feared: he is alone and out of options. In his final statement as a free man, Cohen again dangled the prospect of his sharing more information — a repeated suggestion that must truly irritate prosecutors and congressional investigators who have been repeatedly told by Cohen that he has shared everything that he knows.

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Judge Indicted For Allegedly Aiding Illegal Immigrant Evade Arrest by ICE

We previously discussed the controversy surrounding Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph who allegedly helped an illegal immigrant evade ICE agents in April 2018. Joseph and court officer Wesley MacGregor were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting and obstruction of a federal proceeding.

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Chalk One Up For The Fourth Amendment: Court Rules Parking Enforcement Officers Are Trespassing On Tires

In a surprising decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the little chalk mark placed on your tire by parking enforcement officers is a violation of your constitutional rights. The Sixth Circuit describes Alison Taylor as a “frequent recipient of parking tickets” who challenged the practice as a warrantless trespass by the government and won under an extension of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400 (2012), a case barring the placement of GPS devices on cars. Whether the Supreme Court would agree with the extension (or consider this a de minimus trespass) is a good question.

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Federal Judge Attacks Barr Over Creating Public Doubts Over Report

Today will be the long-awaited release of the Special Counsel report. (I will be in New York doing analysis for CBS and BBC). District Court Judge Reggie Walton however did not wait for the release of the report or the press conference planned by Attorney General Bill Barr for the morning. Walton made a surprising statement in court on Tuesday criticizing Barr. Walton objected that “The attorney general has created an environment that has caused a significant part of the public … to be concerned about whether or not there is full transparency.” Walton did not explain what precisely Barr did to create such public doubts, but the comments appeared immaterial to the merits. A few days ago, we discussed another federal judge attacking President Trump at an awards ceremony. Walton’s comments are not nearly so problematic but they were unfortunate and untimely in my view.

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Columbia Professor: Barr Can Release Grand Jury Information But Does Not Want To Do So

As we await the release of the Special Counsel report, there are some curious standards being suggested for the release of grand jury information. Various media organizations have featured experts insisting that Barr could release such information called Rule 6(e) information. That is news for me. I was counsel in one of the largest Rule 6(e) cases, the Rocky Flats Grand Jury case, years ago in Denver. Yet, the Nation has posted an explanation by Columbia University Law Professor Jeffrey Fagan that the rules for such disclosure are “elastic” and Barr could be “creative” in making releases. In my view, that is in direct contradiction with not just long-standing but recent precedent. There should not be just a wildly different account by legal experts on such a question so I would like to explain why such views are misplaced.

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“He Is Our Property”: The D.C. Establishment Awaits Assange With A Glee And Grudge

Below is my column in USA Today on the Julian Assange arrest. We are still learning more about Assange’s confinement, including bizarre accounts of Assange’s conduct in the Ecaudorian Embassy in London. The key question will be the highly generalized allegation in the single count indictment from the Justice Department that Assange played an active role in the hacking. That would cross the Rubicon for journalists and make this an even more difficult case for those worried about free speech and the free press. Yet, the indictment is strikingly silent on details or an assertion that Assange actually used the password. We will likely learn more as the May hearing approaches for his extradition.

Here is the column:

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