Sunday, October 24, 2021

You Can Throw Your Friends Under the Bus; Not Your Enemies

You may recall that in 2018, Andrew G. McCabe was the F.B.I’s deputy director and had an active role in the Russia investigation. Then-President Trump excoriated him over that role, referring to him as an agent of the deep state. 

Jeff Sessions, the attorney general at the time, fired Mr. McCabe on March 16, 2018, literally hours before his pension was to vest. Trump cheered the firing, tweeting: “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy.

McCabe filed suit, claiming that his firing was political retaliation. In other words, this was Trump using his presidential office to punish an enemy. The lawsuit proceeded in typical fashion, but then things got quiet. This is often an indication of action occurring behind the scenes—which was exactly the case.

Last week we found out why it had been so quiet. The Justice Department settled the case, which included reversing McCabe’s firing.

Under the terms of the settlement, McCabe will now officially retire, receive his pension and other retirement benefits AND receive around $200,000 in the pension benefits he should have received since he was improperly fired.

There’s more. Any mention of his firing in the personnel records of the F.B.I. are going to be expunged and he will receive the typical plaudits given a senior executive who retires with honor: cuff links and a plaque with his mounted F.B.I. credentials and badge.

It took three years, but Andrew G. McCabe was vindicated.

We also know how Jeff Sessions was rewarded for doing Trump’s bidding in the McCabe firing. Trump endorsed his opponent, Tommy Tuberville, in the ensuing Alabama Republican Senate primary.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Do-It-Yourself Sometime Works

 A little background first.

Filing a lawsuit usually means paying upfront court fees. There are exceptions, however, the most notable of which is when a person demonstrates poverty. In these cases, the fees may be waived if you file an IFP Application, IFP standing for in forma pauperis.

Juan Carlos Chavez successfully used this approach. So far, this isn’t particularly noteworthy. Juan’s problem was that he didn’t know the names of the people he was suing. That isn’t particularly noteworthy either. Lawyers typically sue “John Doe” until the identity of the defendants can be determined.

Juan clearly isn’t a practicing attorney, so he can be excused for not knowing the “John Doe” maneuver. So, he sued CAUSE YALL TOOK MY PHONE I DONT KNOW THEIR NAMES. Yes, the lawsuit is officially listed as Juan Carlos Chavez v. CAUSE YALL TOOK MY PHONE I DON’T KNOW THEIR NAMES.

Remember that the judge granted his motion to proceed without paying fees. The moral here is that if you are a truly genuine person with a legitimate claim, the courts will help you out. That’s the American judicial system at its best.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Sex Trafficking and Pre-trial Maneuvers

Ghislane Maxwell will shortly go to trial for sex trafficking related to Jeffrey Epstein. Her pre-trial motions give a behind-the-scenes look at how her lawyers are trying to shape what the jurors will hear.

We are all familiar with “Objection, Your Honor!” being used at trial to keep jurors from hearing a specific line of questioning.

However, before a trial even begins, the judge may set rules that are specific to a particular case, often because of pre-trial publicity. The purpose of these rules is to make sure that what the jury hears does not interfere with them making an informed and proper decision.  Prosecutors want the jury to hear everything. Defense attorneys want to block as much as possible.

In Ghislane’s case, there are some allegations that use powerful language. The terms “victims,” “minor victims” and allegations of rape occur with frequency. Naturally, as part of the “special rules” for this case, she would prefer that the prosecutor would never use those terms.

The way to ask for “special rules” is a motion in limine. To the extent that the judge grants this motion, any violation of the special rules by the prosecutor may be enough to have a mistrial declared.

It is completely within a judge’s discretion whether or not to grant a motion in limine. It remains to be seen whether the judge will allow the prosecutor to use terms such as “minor victim” during the trial. The judge's ruling on this motion, as obscure at it may appear, will have a dramatic effect on how the trial unfolds.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Yep, I’ve Got a Fool For a Client

Abraham Lincoln famously stated “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Of course, that was before Google. Now, some people think that they can do a bit of online research and gain enough information to beat the system without the necessity of being represented by a professional. They are still fools.

At this point in the prosecution of the January 6 rioters, there are at least six defendants who believe that can go it alone. Brandon Fellows is one of them. At his bond hearing last week, the judge patiently tried to explain that he would be better served by listening to the advice of his court-appointed counsel.  He decided against that—which was his first mistake. 

Brandon’s second mistake was not recognizing the difference between a bond hearing and an evidentiary hearing. 

Brandon’s third mistake was trying to use a “loophole” he found on line to disqualify the judge. This loophole turned out to be a felony.

Brandon’s fourth mistake was not recognizing that anything he says in court can be used against him in further proceedings. 

So now Brandon is not only still in custody but also faces additional felony counts for things he said under oath in court. 

A fool indeed. 

There is an implied fifth mistake as well. Brandon, as well as many other defendants, are claiming that they should not be held responsible because they were simply trying to promote Donald Trump’s position concerning the election. These valiant political soldiers were under the impression that Trump would protect them or at least pay a portion of their legal fees. After all, it was Trump himself who said "It was a loving crowd, too, by the way. There was a lot of love."

Brandon and his friends are learning that expressions of love don’t pay the bills.