Judge Refuses To Allow Government To Substitute Counsel In Census Citizenship Question Case.
I’ve previously written about the judicial clown show the Trump Administration has brought onto itself in regards to this case. The self inflicted wounds continued today as a United States District Court Judge Jesse Furman, denied what is normally treated as a routine request to reassign the attorneys associated with this debacle, and assign new attorneys to the case. You can read Judge Furman’s short, three page, decision HERE. I have never hard of such a request being denied. This is truly exceptional.
Superficially it’s not that bad for the government. Judge Furman simply stated the government had not adequately supported their request with the required affidavits and other representations needed to approve the request. This leaves open the possibility the government could resubmit the request, with the required support, and have it considered. However, when you dig deeper into the denial, it’s clear this judge is irritated with the government and is seriously considering sanctions against the government attorneys.
First, Judge Furman challenges whether substituting counsel is practical under the tight deadlines of the court. Judge Furman notes “this case has been litigated on the premise — based “in no small part” on Defendants’ [the government’s] own “insistence” — that the speedy resolution of Plaintiffs’ claims is a matter of great private and public importance.”
What follows is a litany of potential impending doom for the government, all on short fuses, that the court suggests means it is too late to change horses midstream. The government is required to file a brief against Plaintiff’s most recent motion in just three days, and another brief against an anticipated motion for sanctions by the end of July.
Speaking of sanctions, the court sets a precondition for any new motion to substitute counsel that should send a chill down the spine of the government attorneys. Judge Furman requires that any withdrawing attorney “submits to the jurisdiction of this Court with respect to that motion and any future motions (or orders to show cause) regarding sanctions.” The Judge also requires that any withdrawing attorneys ensure their availability regarding any future hearings on motions for sanctions.
Notably, the Plaintiffs have not actually filed for sanctions yet. They have just stated their intent to do so. This sure sounds like the judge is going to give that anticipated motion for sanctions some serious consideration.
The judge is pissed. What should the government do? They should drop the case to avoid the very real risk of sanctions that would amount to true judicial humiliation. The government can’t, because an irrational chief executive is ordering them to tilt at legal windmills.