The Donald and the Judiciary

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JUDICIAL JOUSTING-Because the judiciary is surrounded with mythology, Americans are unable to intellectually deal with significant issues that involve the court system. The vast majority of Americans do not even know that we have two separate court systems: (1) the federal judiciary and (2) fifty state court systems. To confuse people more, at times the two court systems are mutually exclusive and at other times, their powers overlap. (Photo above: AG speaks after federal judge in Seattle issues restraining order on President Trump’s travel ban.) 

The vast majority of Americans only want a court to validate their personal opinions. I call this the Judge Judy approach to courts. People want a bitchy, know-it-all avenging angel (devil) to wreak havoc on the villains. Increasingly, the TV courts have taken on the aura of a Roman circus, influencing the public’s beliefs about how the court system should function. 

At the same time, the public operates on myths about the impartiality of judges and an alleged respect for Due Process. When someone is promoted as thoughtful, he or she is referred to as “judicious,” or “sober as a judge.” 

On the other hand, we had a brief moment of reality in January 2015 when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that the California State court system suffers from an “epidemic of misconduct.”  The California Supreme Court also requires its lower courts to enforce arbitration awards which are based on Alternative Facts and work a substantial injustice on the victim. See Moncharsh v. Heily & Blase (1992) 3 Cal.4th 1. One should note that the federal court criticized the entire California state system and blamed the “epidemic of misconduct” on the judges and justices. 

Into this muddled sea of confusion over what the courts should be and what the courts actually are, waddles the befuddled Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s idea of a fair court is limited to judges who agree with him 100%; he believes that only judges with his same ethnic background are qualified to judge him. As a result, The Donald repetitively criticized federal trial court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, charging that since Judge Curiel was a “Mexican,” he was a “hater” and that the judge was “giving us [Trump University] very unfair rulings." 

Donald Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel were in line with the public’s “Judge Judy philosophy” – a judge is good only if he or she agrees with one’s position. Unlike the federal court which singled out the California judicial system under Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye for creating an epidemic of misconduct -- where people were railroaded into prison on the basis of lying jailhouse informants and perjury -- The Donald’s attacks on Judge Curiel were based on the judge’s heritage and his belief that Judge Curiel was out to get him. 

In this toxic mixture of public ignorance, judicial corruption, and the personal rants of an Enfante Terrible, the nation finds itself in constitutional crisis due to Trump’s Muslim ban which alleges that Muslims from seven countries are not being properly vetted. Interestingly, Trump has no known business interests in those nations, none of which have sent us a Muslim who has killed any American on American soil. 

However, the Muslim ban excludes Arab nations from which terrorists have come to the U.S. and murdered thousands of Americans. And Trump does have extensive business interests in some of those un-banned countries such as Saudi Arabia. Thus, exemptions for some Muslim countries raise questions as to whether President Trump is using his power as President to advance his personal business interests. 

Within hours, federal judges began to restrict the scope of the Muslim ban. For example, on January 28, 2017, federal Judge Ann Donnelly found that retroactively applying the ban to people who have held American Green Cards for years was beyond the power of an executive order. 

On February 3, 2017, federal Judge James L. Robart, issued a temporary nationwide injunction against the Muslim ban, prompting an angry President Trump to tweet, “The opinion of this ‘so-called judge,’ which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” 

We shall leave aside the fact that Judge Robart issued only a TRO which would hold the status quo until a Three Judge Panel could hear the matter. President Trump called into question the legitimacy of Judge Robart by his use of the words “so-called judge.” What does that even mean? Is James L. Robert some guy off the street who snuck into the federal court house and issued an order while pretending to be a judge? 

In a nation where we learn weekly on shows like 20/20, 48 Hours, and Dateline about people who’ve been convicted using falsified evidence composed of lies, deceit and bigotry, we are beginning to realize that we have a serious problem with a corrupt judiciary. A huge number of judges are former prosecutors. When they preside over criminal trials and watch former colleagues parade lying jailhouse informants in front of juries in order to obtain convictions, these judges know exactly what is happening.  

Here we are, two years after the federal court accused California judges of creating an epidemic of misconduct, and we have a new federal investigation into the on-going use of lying jailhouse informants in Orange County, California. Judges in Los Angeles County have also created an environment in which Fiction becomes Fact and Facts disappear altogether, and where attorneys who “refuse Jesus Christ” are removed from cases. But no one will deal with the implications of the epidemic of judicial wronging in California, just like no one will deal with the implications of Donald Trump’s wheeling and dealing with judicial nominations. 

At the same time that President Trump has launched his attack on federal Judge James Robart, he is nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. As we have seen with Judge Curiel as well as with Judge Robart, Donald Trump wants what he wants and that is all that matters. During the campaign, when asked by The Hill’s Peter Sullivan what he thought about the “sanctity of life,” Trump said, “I will protect it and the biggest way you can protect it is through the Supreme Court and putting people in the court.” On Tuesday night, in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, Trump said he will appoint Supreme Court judges in order to make abortion illegal. “I have become pro-life,” Trump told O’Reilly, “And the reason is, I have seen, in my case one specific situation, but numerous situations that have made me to go that way.” 

Trump habitually reminds the world that everything is a deal. His life appears to be based on his 1987 ghost-written book, The Art of the Deal. The question arises: what deal did Judge Neil Gorsuch make with Donald Trump in order to be nominated? It is a no win situation for the nation and an equally no win situation for Judge Gorsuch. If he did make a deal to get the nomination, would he admit it? 

Because the entire world sees that President Trump lacks self-restraint when acting in public, it would be naive to believe he had the self-restraint in private not to make a deal with Judge Gorsuch. It is hard to believe Trump would make any appointment without a deal. 

All the way from the faux TV court shows to the U.S. Supreme Court, the nation’s judiciary is in disarray. California is fatally ill with “corruptionism,” while much of the general public cares naught for due process or human rights. If a judge does not endorse its bigoted fears and hatreds, the public can refer to him as a “so-called judge.” What will the world think of a nation where the President himself calls into question the legitimacy of the federal judiciary – and who rails against a judge who, by all accounts, is a jurist of exemplary character?   

In Trump’s America, a man is no longer judged by the content of his character, but by his loyalty to the most powerful.

 

(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.)  Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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