The Redacted Mar-a-Lago Affidavit DOJ Should Submit

As you may know, DOJ is ordered by Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart to submit a “suggested” redacted version of the warrant affidavit for the Mar-a-Lago search executed on August 8, 2022.

The federal magistrate judge who authorized the warrant to search Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate emphasized Monday that he “carefully reviewed” the FBI’s sworn evidence before signing off and considers the facts contained in an accompanying affidavit to be “reliable.”

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart offered his assessment in a 13-page order memorializing his decision to consider whether to unseal portions of the affidavit, which describe the evidence the bureau relied on to justify the search of the former president’s home.

“I was — and am — satisfied that the facts sworn by the affiant are reliable,” Reinhart said in the order.

Reinhart ruled last week that he would consider unsealing portions of the affidavit after conferring with the Justice Department and determining whether proposed redactions would be sufficient to protect the ongoing criminal investigation connected to the search. But in his order, Reinhart emphasized that he may ultimately agree with prosecutors that any redactions would be so extensive that they would render the document useless.

The last sentence of that quote is the key. Unless DOJ is going to capitulate to the clicks and reads voyeurism of the overly exuberant political press, nothing whatsoever should be released unless and until charges are filed against some defendant, whether it be Trump or otherwise. Why? Because that it how it is done, and properly so.

Reinhart has received abuse and threats. Is his willingness to even entertain a “redacted version” sound under such threat? His decision will yield the answer to that question.

In the meantime, I have a proposed example of what DOJ should submit to Reinhart. Yes, this example is from CAND, not SDFL, but it is exactly what ought be handed over to Reinhart. And if Reinhart grants any “redacted version”, DOJ should appeal immediately and fully. Leave the affidavit sealed. The voyeuristic public, and press, thinks they have an interest because Trump. But they really do not. Do it the right and normal way.

“It’s a Tremendous Amount of Information:” The Details about Alex Jones’ Phone

Hours before the jury awarded over a $4 million compensatory damages against Alex Jones, his attorney Andino Reynal made a desperate attempt to get a mistrial based on his own fuckup.

As part of the exchange that ensued, plaintiff’s lawyer Mark Bankston laid out the dilemma facing Reynal upon discovering he had sent the crown jewels to the plaintiffs. What Bankston got sent included highly confidential records from the Connecticut plaintiffs, records he shouldn’t have had.

He says I will work on preparing you a new link. In other words, the idea here, your honor, because I don’t think this is true is that what he was wanting to provide to me was maybe I guess some last minute supplemental production, right, before this trial, days before this trial?

I don’t think that’s what was happening. And the reason I don’t think that’s what was happening is because Mr. Reynal never worked on preparing me a new link. He never ended up sending me, here is the correct material. Instead, he went to trial, and waited until after his client got off the stand and now says, Oh I meant to send him more materials. So what we’re basically hearing is that Mr. Reynal, at that point, if that story is true, knew that he was supposed to supplement his discovery, knew he was supposed to provide those materials to me, and when I alerted him that he failed to do that and provide me something else, he just ignored it, decided I’m not going to supplement discovery. So if that’s true, if that story is true, we have a willful violation of discovery by Mr. Reynal, to allow this case to go to trial with documents that he says he needed to provide to me. That in and of itself is sanctionable.

But that’s not the real story of what happened here. It’s just not. We know what happened here. Norm Pattis, up in Connecticut, was passing this file along to Mr. Reynal. And I know that because the directories contain SharePoint OneDrive backups of Norm Pattis’ computer. He’s providing it to Mr. Reynal and that, your honor, is also independently very troubling. Because Mr. Reynal talks about these medical records — that’s what he’s concerned about. These medical records. Well, one thing I can tell you right now, your honor, when I figured out that I had the confidential psychiatric records of all nine Lafferty plaintiffs and their confidential depositions? I immediately destroyed them. And I told Chris Mattie, plaintiff’s lawyer up there that I’ve done that. He is on notice that those materials are not in my possession. But I told him, look, I trust my staff. They’re good people. And I trust that those materials were never leaked. But nonetheless, that is a significant data breach against his clients. And what’s most concerning is that Mr. Reynal has not yet made an appearance in the Lafferty case. Mr. Reynal is not allowed to have those documents.

[snip]

The other problem, your honor, is we have Mr. Reynal now asking you to seal up an entire universe of things which should have been produced at minimum six months ago. One of the things you also, I know you remember, is that for multiple prior discovery hearings, beginning as early as October of last year, we’ve been talking about text messages. Every single hearing. And then you remember we had that hearing in January where we had the disclosure that, wait a second, that Don Salazar or Nico Acosta, the producer up in Connecticut had produced some text messages up there that should have been responsive, should have been on Rob [LNU] phone, Alex Jones’ phone. Why don’t we have them. What’s going on? And you’ll remember in those series of hearings, right, when Mr. Reynal came here in March, and told you, no, those were only on Mr. Acosta’s phone. Mr. Jones — we’ve searched his phone, he doesn’t have text messages that are responsive.

So again, not only is this a fig leaf, to cover up the things he has broken with his client, this is a fig leaf to cover up that he had been misrepresenting to you for months, telling you that these things did not exist.

I’d like to summarize what was said in response, Axios style, to make it more accessible for further reporting.

  • Reynal’s legal assistant sent a file transfer link to Bankston, another of the plaintiff’s attorneys, as well as Reynal and another Jones attorney. The link led to a variety of other files, including confidential psychiatric files on the Connecticut plaintiffs
  • The entire file was around 300GB of material
  • 2.3GB of it is phone material, including “intimate messages with Roger Stone”
  • Reynal claims that based on his review, Jones’ phone “is not in there,” but instead a review copy of text messages of a six month period between August of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020
  • This happened once before, but in that case, Jones’ lawyers successfully identified privileged material and clawed it back
  • Judge Maya Guerra Gamble agreed that the material should have been turned over a year ago
  • Bankston has been asked by January 6 Committee to provide the phone and the plaintiff’s counsel in Lafferty (the latter of which can be shared under an information sharing order)
  • Gamble suggested Reynal has made 17 requests for a mistrial and that Bankston has spent so much time in trial he has had no time to search on the material

Update: Jurors have awarded $45.2 million in punitive damages against Jones, though it seems this will be capped under Texas law.

Something Stinks about Kentucky but It’s a Complex Stink

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

There are a bunch of people running around hair on fire right now bitching loudly and often about Biden fail.

Unfortunately much of this is a bunch of reflexive self sabotage by people who aren’t slowing down to take a fucking breath and think things through.

Take a moment and inhale deeply, then exhale. Take a second to relax before the questions after this jump.

~ ~ ~

What would you trade for 30-40 federal judgeships nominated by Biden and approved by the Senate before the end of this congressional term?

Would you trade one judgeship?

Now imagine if all of the 30-40 vacancies are filled with judges who have solid cred with Democratic Party values (read: pro-choice, pro-voters rights, pro-human rights).

Would you trade one future judgeship nominating an anti-abortion judge in a state which leans GOP for these vacancies?

That’s the deal Biden is reported to have made with Mitch McConnell over a single federal judgeship picked by the Federalist Society earmarked for the next (not currently open) seat in Kentucky.

~ ~ ~

Here’s where it gets all fucked up:

There’s no obvious open pre-emptive communications from the White House about this deal and what’s on the table. I imagine Biden didn’t want to piss off McConnell or the rest of the GOP in order to pull off this deal so the White House went mum. There’s no open seat so why get people rattled about this one seat while everyone is still extremely anxious over SCOTUS’ bullshit Dobbs decision overturning Roe.

The media is doing is usual bullshit; Gannett-owned Courier-Journal in Kentucky is the originating source for this story, and it’s solidly locked behind a paywall as most local Gannett papers tend to do. I can’t tell exactly what the sourcing was for this reporting because I can’t read it. For all I know the source was The Federalist Society itself, intent on fucking with Biden’s approval rating. Or McConnell who so far has done plenty to trash Biden’s approval with wall-to-wall obstruction holding all 50 GOP senators by the short hairs. Or perhaps even Rand Paul being his usual prickish self. Nobody running around yelling right now can offer any more details about sourcing.

Now G/O Media outlet Jezebel is running around trashing Biden based on Courier-Journal’s reporting:

Biden’s latest, deeply hypocritical move comes after he claimed to be fiercely defending women’s right to abortion now that states have been given the green light to ban it outright.

It’s as if they didn’t read the sourcing of their own fucking reporting, like this bit right here:

The federal courts are extremely important right now. The Republican Party’s (read: Mitch McConnell’s) entire strategy for the past few years has been to pack them with conservatives who will shut down any lawsuit attempting to defend abortion rights. Biden is under a lot of pressure to fill the current court vacancies he has with judges who are friendly to reproductive rights. And instead, he is making deals with McConnell to allow more anti-abortion judges into the fray.

The link is to a piece in Bloomberg Law, which reports,

Progressives want the White House and Senate Democrats to move faster. The usual summer congressional slowdown and November midterm campaigning leaves limited time for committee and floor action before a lame-duck session to end the year.

Senate Democrats, who have confirmed 16 circuit nominees in the first year and a half of Joe Biden’s presidency, are aiming to nearly double the tally in the next six months.

But filling all available vacancies is unlikely without changes to how the majority manages vetting, said John Collins, a George Washington University professor who tracks judicial nominations. “I just don’t think there’s enough time,” Collins said.

The hazard for Biden is that a Republican-controlled Senate would confirm few, if any, of his appellate nominees during the final two years of his first term. The 13 circuit courts are the last word on virtually all federal appeals.

Progressives wanted more federal judgeships faster.

Senate Dems want to confirm 32 before the end of the year.

If the Democrats can streamline vetting, there are at least 40 vacancies to be filled — not a one of them in Kentucky.

McConnell wants one future judgeship vacancy in his state in order to facilitate rapid approval.

But that’s not what Jezebel wanted to tell you. Oh no — it’s easier to fall back on the tried-and-true the “Biden’s Busted” variant of “Dems in Disarray” crap because the media in general has conditioned its audience not to question this. You the reader are meant to be braindead and go with it because you’ll have to pay to validate the reporting of one story to get to the bottom of this and you the audience may not know where and how to look for the number of federal judgeship vacancies.

Like here.

Just look at all the pretty red state vacancies!

~ ~ ~

Now the caveat: because the White House hasn’t issued formal communications about this alleged deal, it’s just that, an allegation — pure vaporware. We do not know with a degree of certainty who agreed to what in order to accomplish their aims.

Until we see something formal directly from a party to the agreement, this should be treated as speculation.

And it’s speculation Jezebel fell for, hook, line, and sinker.

(Side note: Probably doesn’t hurt to recall G/O Media is the successor to Gawker. Gawker’s Gizmodo outlet  fell for bullshit about Facebook being biased against conservatives just in time to get played before the 2016 election really heated up and Gawker went bankrupt thanks to Peter Thiel.)

~ ~ ~

There are a LOT of “Biden/Dem Fail” stories out there right now kicking around social media. Do NOT take them at face value. Dig in, looking for sourcing and attribution, business model if any involved; always ask, “Cui bono?

For crying out loud we all know the right-wing continues to follow Bannon’s playbook, “flooding the zone with shit”; they’re desperate to push both the House January 6 Committee hearings and the anger of childbearing people off the front page and out of social media.

That’s not to say the Democrats at various levels of the party ecosphere aren’t screwing up. Communications are a massive problem; they’re not bringing their A-game even though they know the right-wing ecosphere is well organized, well funded, and willing to be extremely nasty. Yet Dems top to bottom, elected to grassroots are still bringing butter knives to AR-15 gunfights instead of embracing the Chicago Way.

(As much as I respect Michelle Obama and her ethic, “We go high,” it doesn’t work with Nazis and Nazi enablers. Punch Nazis literally and figuratively. Concede no ground.)

Most — not all, thank you Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, for example — are making huge mistakes with fundraising right now off the back of the Dobbs decision. Stop it. Just stop.

Make instead an ask for action, tell Democratic voters what they can do first in order to beat back the fascist GOP’s attacks. Make money an ask at the end, not first.

And for dogs’ sake, get the fundamentals right, like copy editing and proofreading. Nothing makes any ask look more like a phishing attempt than half-assed communications.

But elected and appointed Dems, and Democratic Party officials with the DNC or state parties aren’t the only ones fucking up.

We are when we swallow bullshit without questioning it first, without pushing back whether there’s any merit to the bullshit or not, when we share the bullshit like stenographers without making a truth sandwich first a la George Lakoff, and when we don’t do our bit to be the left-wing media ecosphere we don’t otherwise have because we don’t buy big corporate media machines like the right-wing does. Share good, accurate news, rinse, repeat. Focus on driving constructive action.

Stop letting the right-wing kick our asses. Pull up your big people panties and fight back like you mean it. Make sure you’re aiming at your opposition not your own team.

Open Thread: SCOTUS End of Term Releases

This is an open thread focused on Supreme Court orders and decisions released this week, the final week of the court’s term.

Check these Twitter accounts for more updates and analysis:

SCOTUS updates: https://twitter.com/USSupremeCourt – Updates

SCOTUSblog: https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog – Analysis

Steve Vladeck: https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

Chris Geidner: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

If you want to suggest any other Twitter accounts to follow for SCOTUS news and analysis, please share in comments.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

All comments related to the House January 6 Committee hearings should be shared in those dedicated threads, not here

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

28-JUN-2022

Ardoin, LA Secretary of State, et al. v. Robinson, Press, et al.

Certiorari Granted

Stay granted 6-3 by SCOTUS, essentially fucking over Black voters in Louisiana for this mid-term election by way of the shadow docket.

~ ~ ~

29-JUN-2022

Oklahoma, Petitioner v. Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta

5-4 decision, Kavanaugh majority opinion, Gorsuch with dissent

Blackhawk’s next tweet encapsulates much of the problem with this particular SCOTUS iteration:

This court is not legitimate because it fails to recognize previous SCOTUS decisions, undermines fundamental human rights, and tears at democracy, while re-colonizing Native American nations without the express approval of U.S. legislature, or the re-colonized by nation, or by bodily autonomy.

It is a superlegislature supplanting the role of the legislative branch while frustrating the executive branch’s ability to fulfill functions outlined in legislation.

Given what it has already done this term, what are the odds this same court further destroys the executive branch’s long-recognized functions in its last decisions on West Virginia v. EPA and Biden v. Texas this term?

~ ~ ~

29-JUN-2022

Le Roy Torres, Petitioner v. Texas Department of Public Safety

5-4 decision, Breyer majority opinion, Kagan concurring, Thomas dissent

SCOTUS finds in favor of U.S. veterans’ rights. Texas agreed upon becoming a state that its sovereignty was subordinate to federal policy; this will tweak the noses of Texas secessionists.

The disturbing part of this decision:

It’s as if the four dissenters don’t realize they’re arguing against their own legitimacy. If federal law isn’t supreme, why is their court supreme?

Or is that the point, they’re making yet another argument for states’ rights?

~ ~ ~

Open Thread: SCOTUS Release Day 2 of 2

This is an open thread focused on Supreme Court orders and decisions expected to be released today, Thursday June 23, 2022.

Check these Twitter accounts for more updates and analysis:

SCOTUS updates: https://twitter.com/USSupremeCourt – Updates

SCOTUSblog: https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog – Analysis

Steve Vladeck: https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/1539971356204212226 – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

Chris Geidner: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/1539971614690840576 – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

If you want to suggest any other Twitter accounts to follow for SCOTUS news and analysis, please share in comments.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

All comments related to the House January 6 Committee hearings should be shared in those dedicated threads, not here

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

 

Open Thread: SCOTUS Release Day 1 of 2

This is an open thread focused on Supreme Court orders and decisions expected to be released today, Tuesday June 21, 2022.

More will be released on Thursday, June 23.

Follow Chris Geidner for SCOTUS news:

Check these Twitter accounts for more updates and analysis:

SCOTUS updates: https://twitter.com/USSupremeCourt – Updates

SCOTUSblog: https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog – Analysis

Steve Vladeck: https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/1539244516615540736 – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

Chris Geidner: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/1539239966911471616 – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

If you want to suggest any other Twitter accounts to follow for SCOTUS news and analysis, please share in comments.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

All comments related to the House January 6 Committee hearings should be shared in those dedicated threads, not here

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

 

The Rittenhouse Verdict

This will be quick, but I did not want Marcy’s thread overcome by Rittenhouse discussion. So, just as a lead in, I’ll quote a comment on the other thread by Rugger:

“Indeed, that’s been the chatter elseweb for a while especially after Judge Schroeder ditched the gun charge because of the barrel size.

However, does Rittenhouse have any liability for transporting his gun across state lines in federal court?

Somehow there is something wrong with a justice system that allows killings to be washed away, no foul. This time it’s Rittenhouse, but the Breonna Taylor case as well has a potential similar outcome (the boyfriend reasonably considered the plainclothes cops as intruders, and the cops reasonably considered themselves in danger once they were fired upon) of no one held accountable as if it were a traffic accident. That’s not right.”

I am not sure the facts support that he transported the weapon across state line. The evidence is that a friend bought it for him in Wisconsin.

Self defense is what led Breona Taylor’s boyfriend to be a free man. This case was about one defendant in one set of facts. It is not about anything else, and should not be painted as such. A serious jury deliberated, reached a verdict and delivered it. It should be respected and not made a stalking horse for the brazen claims of either side.

Have at it.

The End Of Roe v. Wade

Is the title of this post alarmist? No, not really. That is effectively what the new Texas law has done, and has now been fulsomely endorsed by the Supreme Court, without even the courtesy of full briefing, oral argument and a merits decision. It was known this was coming when SCOTUS let this bunk take effect yesterday morning without action, it was just a question of what the backroom dynamics were in that regard. Now we know.

Here is the “decision”. As anti-climatic as it is, it is important. This is decision on a law, and the words count.

It is madness upon not just in Texas, but the entire country. These earth shattering decisions used to come only after full briefing and argument. No longer, now the shadow path is supreme.

Agree with Mark Joseph Stern in Slate when he says this:

At midnight on Wednesday, in an unsigned, 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe v. Wade. The five most conservative Republican-appointed justices refused to block Texas’ abortion ban, which allows anyone to sue any individual who “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks, when the vast majority occur. There is no exception for rape or incest. The decision renders almost all abortions in Texas illegal for the first time since 1973. Although the majority did not say these words exactly, the upshot of Wednesday’s decision is undeniable: The Supreme Court has abandoned the constitutional right to abortion. Roe is no longer good law.

Texas’ ban, known as SB 8, constitutes a uniquely insidious workaround to Roe. It outlaws abortion after six weeks, but does not call on state officials to enforce its restrictions.
Instead, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent, the law “deputized the state’s citizens as bounty hunters, offering them cash prizes for civilly prosecuting their neighbors’ medical procedures.” Random strangers can sue any “abettor” to an abortion anywhere in Texas and collect a minimum of $10,000, plus attorneys’ fees. The act’s language is incredibly broad, encompassing any friend, family member, clergy member, or counselor who facilitates the abortion in any way. Every employee of an abortion clinic, from front-desk staff to doctors, is liable as well. And when an individual successfully sues an abortion provider, the court must permanently shut it down.

What other questions does this action, really inaction, by SCOTUS generate? A lot. Peterr asked this elsewhere:

Next up, perhaps, in the Texas legislature, now that SCOTUS has affirmed (5-4) their new approach to enforcement of state laws . . .

Texas declares that black and hispanic people shall not be allowed to vote, and delegates enforcement to any citizen, allowing them to sue for at least $10,000 if they can prove a black or hispanic person voted.

Texas declares that marriage is reserved to one man and one woman, and delegates enforcement to any citizen, allowing them to sue any same-sex couple who presents themselves in any form or fashion as “married” for at least $25,000 . . .

etc. etc. etc.

Again, not hyperbole. For now though, it is crystal clear that Roe is gone. There will be different laws in different states, at best. That is it.

What happens when states like Texas/their citizen plaintiffs start trying to enforce their craven law as to conduct occurring in other states? I don’t know, but that is the next horizon.

At any rate, this is going to be a problem for a very long time. If SCOTUS will do this though, given their clear previous precedent contrary to today’s order, means you can kiss voting rights cases goodbye.

It is a not so brave, nor honorable, new Supreme Court world.

Mirriam Seddiq, Dulles Justice and New Effort For Afghan Evacuees

Woke up to see that one of our favorite commenters, Eureka, noted Marcy’s retweet of MirriamZary from late last night. There are so many new folks here, and such a hurricane of strife, in the four and a half years since Trump set the first Muslim Travel ban that I thought a little backstory would be good about now. So, here we go.

@MirriamZary is her Twitter handle, but her real name is Mirriam Seddiq, and she is totally kick ass. I’ve twitter known her forever, there are a certain group of criminal defense attorneys that have long known and interacted with each other, on and off of twitter, and she has very long been one.

The day Trump instituted the Muslim ban in 2017, Mirriam, her partner at Seddiq Law, Justin Eisele, and some local attorney colleagues founded Dulles Justice and camped out at Dulles airport protesting the way Muslims were being detained and denied legal immigration assistance. They gave advice to families concerned, and laid a lot of the initial basis that soon got the Muslim ban set aside. Also inspired similar efforts in international airports all over the country, including here.

It was so inspiring that, after getting some tips from her work, I got off my butt and went and joined some other friends at our local Sky Harbor airport to do the same. That occurred all over the country. Thankfully, it was not that much of a legal problem here, and most of our time went into protesting (and it was a pretty big one) for news cameras and reporters, and not into having to address legal issues and problems. Soon the travel ban was set aside, and a lot of the impetus on the ground started with Mirriam and Dulles Justice. She is a hero, and is clearly now back at it. By necessity, yet again.

So, that is the back story of MirriamZary. Updates will likely be necessary as events are unfolding quite fast. How the Afghan evacuees are treated in the US, and elsewhere, will be an ongoing story and concern for quite some time.

As a coda, for now anyway, I’d like to point out how awesome women criminal defense attorneys are. You may remember me mentioning it here at EW. I took after Kathleen Walsh almost immediately on Twitter because I was so outraged and disgusted by her demeaning article. That was just the start, I kept on for a bit, because Walsh deserved it. Another one of the evil criminal defense attorneys, my pal Scott Greenfield, did a fantastic post on Walsh’s uninformed nonsense. What Kathleen Walsh doesn’t understand is what defense attorneys, and women are a core part of them, really do. They kick ass and take names, and Mirriam Seddiq is a prime example of that.

Wegman and NYT on Judge Katzmann

I noted this on Twitter, but there is a really important opinion piece at the NYT by Jesse Wegman on Judge Robert Katzmann, who passed away this week far too early at age 68. Usually, when NYT or WaPo etc. are brought up they are being bashed, but not today. Jesse Wegman has penned a magnificent, and compact, honor to Judge Katzmann, and you should read it.

I will not overly quote it because I want you to go read Jesse’s work. Suffice it to say that most of the world knows Robert Katzmann as the dissenting judge in a 2-1 2nd
Circuit opinion on Brady v. NFL, the Deflategate opinion, that got it right. But he was so much more than that. One of the most brilliant of judges, and best writers, of a couple of generations. Yes, the exact kind of judge you want on the bench. As Mr. Wegman intones, we need more Katzmanns on the bench. Even under Dem Presidencies, the country is not getting enough of them.

Without further adieu, here is a taste:

“The complicated humanity of others — whether judges, litigants, citizens or lawmakers — was at the heart of Judge Katzmann’s understanding of the world. He saw it in the work of Congress, where laws that are supposed to serve as clear guideposts are often vague, ambiguous or self-contradictory, like the people who wrote them. Some jurists see all that messiness as irrelevant if not dangerous, and steer as far from it as possible. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the leading advocate of this approach, known as textualism, and refused to consider anything that was not in the black-and-white text of the law in front of him.

Judge Katzmann, the first ever federal judge with a Ph.D. in political science, worked from a more balanced perspective. Laws are “expressions by the people’s representatives of this nation’s aspirations, its challenges, and approaches to those challenges,” he wrote. “When judges interpret the words of statutes, they are not simply performing a task. They are maintaining an unspoken covenant with the citizenry on whose trust the authority and vitality of an independent judiciary depend.”

Go read the whole thing. It is a portrait of what you want a judge to be. Katzmann was superlative. But he is not alone, there are many judges out there trying to do the right thing, and not getting enough credit for it. I see them in court, and have for a very long time. Even know a few. But it is harder to see from the 30,000 feet airplane view of the internet. Robert Katzmann was special, but there are others too.

image_print