Former Trump campaign aide Carter Page on Friday has filed a $75 million lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and former high-ranking officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, and Andrew McCabe. The complaint includes eight claims that range from violations to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Federal Tort Claims Act, a Bivens claim, and Privacy Act. It is very well written, but it will be challenging given the discretionary authority of justice officials in some of these actions. For full disclosure, I previously discussed Page’s case with both Page and his counsel (particularly after a column on his case). I have been a critic of his targeting for years and have spoken with Page on the investigation. I view Page as a victim of an abusive federal investigation and ideally he should be afforded relief for his treatment. Federal case law however presents barriers for people in his position. If he were to prevail, it could create important precedent protecting citizens and civil liberties for the future.
A deeply disturbing case in Los Angeles could raise some difficult legal questions. The police have released a video of three vehicles hitting that same man in the middle of a road and then fleeing the scene. The question is how to charge the drivers once they are apprehended. Continue reading “LAPD Searches For Three Drivers in Successive Hit-And-Runs Involving Same Victim”
In celebration of Thanksgiving, I give you our annual Turkey Torts of civil and criminal cases that add liability to libations on this special day (with past cases at the bottom). Many criminal defense attorneys and torts attorneys give special thanks for a holiday that can involve copious amounts of alcohol, strained family relations, over-the-hill amateur football players, “Black Friday” sale stampedes, and novice cooks. These cases are why Johnny Carson said “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.”
Best wishes for a happy and safe holiday.
President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a pardon for his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn this week. As someone who has long opposed Trump’s pardons of Trump associates like Roger Stone and Joe Arpaio, I do not come easily to the idea of pardon for someone like Flynn. However, the strongest case for a pardon for Flynn was not made by his lawyers as much as his judge, the Honorable Emmet Sullivan. Sullivan’s continued controversial actions in the case could be cited as a credible, if not a compelling basis, for a pardon of Flynn. Continue reading “The Best Case For A Flynn Pardon May Be The Conduct Of The Court Rather Than The Defendant”
We have been discussing the use of the criminal code by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) to threaten people who post videos on alleged voter fraud or legislators who raise such objections in the state. These threats are coercive and abusive, particularly when targeting opponents of your party who are challenging the victory of your candidate for president. Yet, as shown by a congressman seeking to disbar dozens of Trump lawyers, such threats are popular in today’s rage-filled politics. So, Nessel continued her threats of prosecution on Monday in warning that a former state senator could be prosecuted for alleging possible voter fraud at a meeting of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers. So, raising voting fraud at the board overseeing voting is now a possible basis for prosecution in Michigan. Continue reading “Michigan Attorney General Resumes Threats Of Criminal Prosecution Against Those Alleging Voter Fraud”
We have been discussing the campaign of The Lincoln Project and others to harass and abuse lawyers who represent the Trump campaign or other parties bringing election challenges. Similar campaigns have targeted election officials who object to counting irregularities. Now, the Michigan Attorney General and others are suggesting that Republicans who oppose certification or even meet with President Donald Trump on the issue could be criminally investigated or charged. Once again, the media is silent on this clearly abusive use of the criminal code target members of the opposing party in their raising objections under state law.
The press conference held by the Trump legal team was not for the faint of heart. The team alleged a global, Communist-backed conspiracy to “inject” and “change” votes through the use of the Dominion computer system. It was exhausting and breathtaking. I was critical of the press conference as being long on heated rhetoric and short on hard evidence. Dominion issued a statement categorically denying the allegations. The question is whether Dominion itself will now sue. The company denied the allegations but I often measure such denials by whether anyone actually sues. Dominion could do so and force the Trump team to reveal the evidence supporting their allegations or face potentially significant liability. These are not just colorful but criminal allegations against named companies and by implication corporate officials and political allies.
Just as you thought that the 2020 election could not get more bizarre, the controversy in Wayne County over the certification of the election took a new turn on Wednesday after two Republicans — Monica Palmer and William C. Hartmann, on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers sought to rescind their votes to certify. They claim that they were coerced by threats against them and their families by Democratic voters. The threats against Palmer and Hartmann are all-too-familiar in an election where Democratic members are calling for blacklists and others denounce any questioning of the Biden victory as akin to “Holocaust denial.” The Lincoln Project has led a national effort to harass any lawyers who represent Republicans or the Trump campaign. While it will be difficult to rescind such a vote, the silence in the media and from Democratic leaders on this harassment is chilling. Indeed, Democratic leaders have joined in the personal attacks. Continue reading “Two Republican Michigan Officials Attempt To Rescind Certifications Of Election Results”
Attorney Bryan Lee Simmons, 50, has been sentenced to 48 months in federal prison for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. What is most striking is that Simmons cannot engage in the practice of law for three years. However, while unlikely to resume practicing in that time, it is a striking contrast to the alleged misconduct.
From July 2019 to August 2019, Simmons was part of a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in the Cass County Jail. He used attorney-client meetings to distribute the drugs while, on at least one occasion, traveling with a Colt MK IV .45 caliber pistol.
The plea agreement will result in the dismissal of a number of counts including two linked to the weapon.
Since his sentence is for four years, the three year bar on practicing law is likely to be easily satisfied. What would be interesting is whether advising other inmates as a “jailhouse lawyer” would be included. That is not necessarily “practicing law” since he is not filing papers or standing in a formal representational capacity. Moreover, he is free to represent himself in filings as an individual.
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the growing pressure on prosecutors during the lame duck period to move forward in their investigations into the Russian investigation or Hunter Biden. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff again strongly suggested that such investigations should end with the entry of a Biden Justice Department. Schiff told MSNBC that investigations of a president-elect constitute “tearing down our democracy” and a way to “delegitimize” a president. This is precisely what I raised in my column on the expected effort by some to scuttle the Biden related investigations. The statement was only the latest indication that Democrats are likely to push to end any investigations touching on the Bidens, including statements from individuals known to be under consideration for Attorney General. In doing so, they will likely have the support of many members of the media who would be embarrassed by any findings of wrongdoing after insisting that there was nothing to cover and refusing to ask Biden specific questions on the campaign trail on these allegations.
Here is the column:
I have been commenting on the ongoing challenges to the presidential election. While I have not seen evidence of systemic voter fraud, there are hundreds of affidavits alleging localized fraud, including cases of deceased persons voting. The challenges should be heard and the evidence should be examined. However, the most worrisome response came out of Michigan this week where Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Office of Public Information threatened a website, Big League Politics, with criminal prosecution if it did not take down a video of alleged voting fraud. The video may indeed be misleading or false. However, the threat of criminal prosecution by the Michigan Attorney General’s office is a chilling escalation of the crackdown on free speech in this country and the calls for censorship on the Internet.
One can have an interesting debate over the most self-defeating political statements in American politics. There was Bill Clinton’s not-so-clever answer about his affair with Monica Lewinsky as depending what “the meaning of ‘is’ is.” There was John Kerry’s statement that he was for the Iraq war before he was against it. There was Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. However, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer may have taken the crown with his yelling on the streets of New York that “Now we take Georgia, then we change the world. Now we take Georgia, then we change America.” It is a quote that will live in political infamy — and play endlessly in Georgia. Now adding to the Democratic problems are liberal figures openly encouraging Democrats to move to Georgia to stack the vote in the runoff elections. So Georgia just started a hand recount in the midst of claims of voting irregularities but figures like New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman are calling for liberals to move to Georgia to influence their election. In other words, Friedman and others are sending the self-destructive message is that Jon Ossoff and Raphael G. Warnock might not have enough Georgians to vote for them so they need New Yorkers and Californians to come and vote as Georgians. The New York Times, which has run repeated pieces on alleged vote suppression by the GOP, has had nothing to say about Friedman’s call for vote stacking in Georgia.
I have long been a critic of Northwestern University and its president Morton Schapiro for policies undermining free speech and academic freedom. In the past, I have contrasted the vastly different approaches of my two alma maters, Northwestern and University of Chicago, the latter taking a courageous stand in favor of free speech rights. Chicago rejected the premise of safe zones on its campus. Conversely, Schapiro has ridiculed those questioning the need for “safe zones” as “lunatics” and denounced “absolutist” views of free speech. At the same time, his school has refused to discipline students who prevent professors from teaching objectionable classes. Now, Northwestern students have moved from attacking classes on campus to assaulting police in downtown Evanston. Schapiro is expressing shock at the conduct despite his controversial history of enabling students who are intolerant of opposing views.
Here is my annual list of Halloween torts and crimes. Halloween of course remains a holiday seemingly designed for personal injury lawyers around the world and this year’s additions show why. Halloween has everything for a torts-filled holiday: battery, trespass, defamation, nuisance, product liability and more. This year, one potential danger has been eliminated in Japan where the Japanese mob has been banned from handing out candy. However, there are still some notable additions.
We have been discussing the continuing blackout on the Hunter Biden story, even as reports have surfaced that the FBI not only rejected claims that the story was “Russian disinformation” but confirmed that it has an ongoing investigation into possible money laundering. Now, NBC has finally responded with an expose into allegations against the Biden. However, the article entitled “How a fake persona laid the groundwork for a Hunter Biden conspiracy deluge,” does not deal with the laptop or its content. It instead focuses on an obscure document that no one has covered or discussed. The value for the Bidens was simply the headline, which was immediately used to warn people not to follow up on the Biden story as Chinese disinformation.