Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
John Roberts, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, says in a year-end report that he has "complete confidence" that federal judges behave in an ethical fashion. One prominent legal journalist calls the Roberts report a "whitewash." We would call it a sign that Roberts is living on Fantasy Island. More importantly, it's a sign that oversight is needed in courts because judges clearly cannot be trusted to police themselves.
Roberts' report comes at the end of a year marked by questions about the ethical standards that apply to federal judges, including those on the nation's highest court. Critics have argued that at least two justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan, have conflicts that should force them to step down from hearing any constitutional challenges to President Obama's health-care law. But we've seen no sign that either justice will recuse him or herself-- and in our current system, such decisions are left up to the judge.
Questions related to Obamacare only skim the surface of ethical problems with the federal judiciary. We have shown that Bush-era political prosecutions, such as those involving former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and Mississippi attorney Paul Minor, were enabled by numerous unlawful rulings from federal trial-court judges. We also have shown that federal appellate judges unlawfully upheld those rulings, apparently more interested in protecting their judicial brethren than in ensuring that the law is applied correctly and fairly.
In my own legal world, 2011 was filled with examples of federal district judges ruling contrary to law on matters that are clear and simple--and with judges from the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta mostly upholding findings that are contrary to long-standing precedent. In the first few months of 2012, I will be presenting ample evidence from my own legal battles that show our federal courts are infested with corruption.
A key issue in my experience has been discovery. Specifically, federal judges have repeatedly allowed opposing parties to get away with not turning over relevant documents in discovery--or in one case, a federal judge actually ruled on summary judgment when no discovery had been conducted in the case at all. That simply cannot be done under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but an 83-year-old Reagan appointee did it anyway. We encourage you to stay tuned in 2012 for indisputable evidence that our federal courts are a cesspool.
So how does John Roberts reach his conclusion that all is hunky-dory in our federal courts? Answer: He's trying to protect his turf, and he isn't interested in making sure courts actually serve the public and uphold the law. Andrew Kreig, a journalist, lawyer, and director of the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project, puts it in stark terms: