Trump judge trumps basic procedure but may get trumped

Most judges, even those appointed by an extremist president, from a carefully vetted list of extremist judicial candidates, follow procedure and apply the law, most of the time, based on the facts demonstrated by evidence.  J. Nicholas Ranjan is one such lifetime federal judge, appointed by F POTUS DJT.   Ranjan eventually dismissed an evidence-free, conspiracy theory-based, voting fraud lawsuit brought by the RNC and the corporation representing F POTUS’s campaign, going out of his way to brief the Appellate Court on the total lack of merit of the case.  

Ranjan had been confirmed 80-14 by the Senate (Kavanaugh’s 50-48, thanks Joe Manchin [1], was the slimmest confirmation margin since 1881) and lived up to the faith members of both parties placed in him to be a fair and impartial arbiter of the law.   

In most cases the evidence (or lack of evidence) leads to a certain legal conclusion and there isn’t much wiggle room for even the most ideologically dogmatic judge (until think tank theories like ‘the non-delegation doctrine’ come into play, but that’s only at the appellate and Supreme Court levels).  That said, there are judges willing to do anything to advance their ambitions and their biases.

The aforementioned Boof Kavanaugh leaps to mind, an ambitious and supremely entitled man, he was not on the preliminary Federalist Society list of 25 carefully vetted ideologues to replace Anthony Kennedy.   He was not on the second list.  He auditioned by being the loudest, shrillest, most brazen extremist on the federal bench, working his network of influential contacts, getting Leonard Leo and Don McGahn on board, and suddenly — he was number one (though redolent of number two) on the new list.  As a Supreme Court justice he’s lived up to his reputation as the angry, paranoid, brash, truth-challenged partisan asshole he showed himself to be when he unleashed a temper tantrum to demonstrate his judicial temperament during his confirmation hearings.   Read any of his opinions on the Supreme Court if you have any doubt of his extreme partisanship and genuine asshole cred. 

Kavanaugh’s replacement on the DC circuit court of appeals, Neomi Rao, is a chip off the old Kavanaugh block.  Recall she ruled that a federal judge planning to hold a hearing before allowing DOJ to drop charges against good guy Mike Flynn, a friend of F POTUS who had already pleaded guilty to a felony, was a “usurpation of the prerogatives of the Executive Branch”, and a no-no for a loyal judge appointed by the head of that Executive Branch.   She granted extremely rare legal relief after arguments in court that established not one of the three conditions that always must precede the relief she granted.  The trial court judge appealed, the entire DC appeals court met, and her decision was overturned 8-2,  Rao and the colleague who’d signed on to the original, asinine ruling — well written, though it was — were the only dissenters.  It was not that any legally compelling reason for the relief sought had been produced by Bill Barr and Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell, it was that, as the en banc court wrote: All three requirements must be satisfied, and the absence of any one compels denial of the writ.   

In the end the reversal became academic, F POTUS pardoned the guy and that was that.

In American legal proceedings, notice is a big, big deal.   You can’t file something in court without serving a copy on your adversary.  It’s basic fair play to send your specific legal complaint to the people you are complaining of in a lawsuit.  You make charges, send them to your opponent, the judge sees both parties in court and sets a schedule for you to respond to your opponent’s charges.   Basic rule of the game.   In a recent filing F POTUS’s crack new legal team submitted papers to a judge F POTUS had appointed after he lost the stolen election.   They did not submit proof of having served a copy on the DOJ (because they hadn’t served DOJ).   They also did not make any argument for why they were filing in her courtroom as opposed to the courtroom of the magistrate down the hall who was already in charge of the search of Mar-a-Lago case.   They also did not make it clear what relief they sought or what the basis for jurisdiction was (without jurisdiction a court can’t hear a case).   She ordered them to fix these defects before she’d consider the case.

The lawyers fixed some of the defects, at least to the satisfaction of the judge, Aileen M. Cannon (appointed after F POTUS lost the election victory that was stolen from him).   It was not clear from reporting whether they’d served a copy on DOJ, their adversary in the case.   Like Neomi Rao before her, Cannon made a quick, purely partisan decision, scheduling a hearing and writing that she likely intends to grant F POTUS’s bizarre and long belated request to try to stop DOJ from reviewing documents they seized during a legal search of Mar-a-Lago that F POTUS (and seriously, F that F’ing malignant polyp) has been denouncing as an armed robbery witch hunt personal vendetta by Hunter Biden as fake and vicious as the stolen election and the claim that he is not, today, the rightful goddamned POTUS.

DOJ is going to speak through its response to the desperate, frivolous, weeks’ too late filing.  They have asked the judge for forty pages to set out, in detail, all the things that are sickeningly wrong about this too late attempt by F POTUS to seek more delay, more confusion, to spread more manure.  One point they are sure to raise first is that the relief Judge Cannon signaled readiness to grant — appointing a Special Master — (although DOJ still hadn’t seen the motion) is moot, dead, kaput.  DOJ has already reviewed everything with a filter team that flagged anything that might be protected by any legal privilege F POTUS could claim (except for Executive Privilege, which the Federalist Society Supreme Court ruled does not apply to F POTUS) and those few pages have already been removed and will never be seen by the team reviewing the mishandled documents for possible criminal charges.  DOJ has probably filed their speaking response as I’m typing these words.   Good for them. 

[1]  Manchin was the sole “Democrat” to vote yea for Kavanaugh.   Here’s a mysterious position in a close, multimillion dollar confirmation fight:

Vote withdrawn, but opposes nomination

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska

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