There is an interesting case out of Ohio where the state Supreme Court has ruled that Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge Eugene Lucci erred when he gave Manson Bryant, 35, an added six years after Bryant called him “racist as f**k.” The outburst followed his initial sentencing for robbery, kidnapping, and weapons charges relating to an armed burglary.
Last week, many of us initially celebrated the reinstatement of the Center for the Constitution Director Ilya Shapiro as a belated but important victory for free speech and academic freedom. Then we all read the rationale from Law Dean William Treanor, who adopted a technicality that not only avoided a full endorsement of Shapiro’s rights but left a menacing uncertainty as to his (and any other conservative’s) future protections at Georgetown University Law School. Shapiro has elected to leave Georgetown to take a position with the Manhattan Institute given the lack of support for his right to speak freely at the law school. Unfortunately, most schools want to avoid litigation (and the controversy) over terminating dissenting faculty. The preference is to make life on faculties so hostile or intolerable that faculty will simply resign.
Below is my column in The Hill on the subpoena war raging in Washington as the Jan. 6th Committee prepares for its first public hearings this week. This weekend, the Justice Department announced that it would not be prosecuting former chief of staff Mark Meadows and social media director Dan Scavino. As noted below, they took a wiser course of limited cooperation. The refusal to prosecute triggered a backlash from Rep. Adam Schiff who wanted to see more criminal charges out of the Biden Administration.
We previously discussed the cases of attorneys Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, who were accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail into a police vehicle in New York. They were facing domestic terrorism charges and the possibility of 30 years in jail. This week, the Biden Administration agreed to a massive reduction of the charges in a plea agreement that will likely result only in a couple years of jail time. What is particularly bizarre is that the plea agreement reduces an earlier plea agreement for a more serious offense.
In yesterday’s massive defamation award to actor Johnny Depp, his ex-wife Amber Heard was left holding a bill for $15,000,000. Even after a reduction for her own award and a statutory reduction of the punitive damage portion, Heard is still looking at $8,350,000 in damages. Many view that amount (which is $1.35 million more than her divorce settlement) to be justified in light of the damage caused to Depp’s reputation and career. However, the stain of this verdict should be shared with others, even if they avoided the sting of actual damages. That includes many in the media (including the Washington Post staff) who rushed to paint Heard as a victim and Depp as an abuser. Yet, the greatest condemnation should be reserved for the organization that not only pushed that narrative but actually helped draft the defamatory column: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Continue reading “The Depp Trial and the Demise of the ACLU: How a Celebrity Trial Exposed the Collapse of a Once Celebrated Group”
The acquittal of Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann has been the subject of furious debate among politicians and pundits. Some have argued that the case collapsed from lack of evidence while others have alleged that prosecutors faced as biased judge and jury. For his part, Sussmann claimed that the jury found that “I told the truth.” The truth is more complex and few would assume that the verdict was based on Sussmann’s veracity. However, a statement from a juror immediately after the verdict fueled speculation of the impact of juror bias. According to the Washington Times’ Jeff Mordock, the juror reportedly said “I don’t think it should have been prosecuted. There are bigger things that affect the nation than a possible lie to the FBI.” If that statement had been made during voir dire, it is likely that the juror would have been challenged.
Below is a slightly expanded version of my column in the Hill on Sussmann trial and what it revealed about the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the combined Russian collusion investigations. It also looks down the road at whether Special Counsel John Durham will be allowed to write the same type of public report that concluded the Mueller investigation.
Below is an expanded version of my column in The Hill on the implication of Hillary Clinton in false Alfa Bank claims of Russian collusion. While most media ignored the testimony of Clinton’s former campaign manager in the Sussmann trial, it adds to a damning record on how the Clinton campaign was behind arguably the most successful disinformation campaign in American political history with both the Steele dossier and the Alfa bank claims. Ironically, despite Sussmann efforts to conceal his connections to Clinton in the FBI meeting, it was his counsel who effectively outed Clinton in the scandal. Former Clinton Campaign manager Robby Mook then violated the Eleventh Commandment of Democrats: Thou shalt not name a Clinton in a scandal.
Here is the column:
I have the pleasure this morning of speaking with the Federal Bar Association in Utah. The keynote address is entitled “Dangerous Times for the Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court in the Age of Rage.” Ironically, the topic was selected months ago, but the recent leaking of the draft opinion on abortion and doxing of justices adds a particularly menacing element to the topic.
Below is my column in the Hill on the leak and the refusal of President Joe Biden to denounce such conduct. It is a defining moment for his presidency that, even in the face of such a disgraceful and unethical act, the President cannot muster the courage to condemn it. He then magnified that failure by refusing to condemn the doxing and targeting of justices and their families at their homes.
Here is the column:
Recently, National Public Radio’s Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg was widely criticized for a false story about Justice Neil Gorsuch allegedly refusing to wear a mask during oral arguments despite a threat to the health of his colleague Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She also suggested that Sotomayor had to watch the oral arguments virtually due to his conduct. Gorsuch and Sotomayor issued a joint statement that called Totenberg’s story “false.” Now, Totenberg has made another bombshell report that “the leading theory” is that it was a conservative law clerk who leaked the opinion. While most of us have discussed this as one of the possible scenarios, Totenberg reports that it is now the “leading theory” in the investigation. Totenberg’s reporting, however, did not suggest that she has any factual basis or evidence to make that claim. She simply says that it is “the only one that makes sense.” It may be the only “sensible” choice for some, but it is hardly the “most likely” theory based on the available evidence.
The leaking of a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has rocked the Court and Washington. The 98-page draft opinion is dated Feb. 10, 2022 and authored by Associate Justice Samuel Alito. I have two columns (in USA Today and The Hill) today on the opinion and the disgraceful leak from within the Court. Continue reading “Leaked Draft Opinion Rocks the Court and Washington”
Here is the column:
There is a bizarre report in The Daily Beast that former Trump Counsel Michael Cohen is laying down an Ultimatum for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr.: indict Trump or I’m leaving you. Cohen warned that, if Bragg does not use the current grand jury to indict Trump, he will no longer cooperate. It is a curious threat since he could be called before a grand jury and would have to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to refuse further testimony.