Category Archives: legal news

We’re waiting on AG … patiently

A nation’s patience appears to be running a bit thin as it awaits some key decisions by its chief law enforcement officer … the attorney general of the United States.

AG Merrick Garland is a meticulous man and I am glad to have someone as thoughtful and as deliberate as Garland on the job at the Justice Department.

Am I among those who want Garland to act sooner rather than later? Not really. In truth, my mind and my interests are drawn to more personal matters these days, as my wife struggles with a serious medical condition.

However, were I free to think more frequently about Garland’s probe into the activities of Donald J. Trump my belief would be to let the man proceed at his own pace and at his discretion.

He already has appointed two special counsels to probe Trump’s pilfering of classified documents to his glitzy joint in Florida as well as the classified documents found in President Biden’s home in Delaware. I’ve declared already that I do not consider the incidents to be equal; the Trump matter is much more egregious than what I believe the president allowed to occur.

Garland, though, came to the DOJ after serving for many years on the federal bench. President Obama wanted Garland to take a seat on the Supreme Court, but Senate Republicans made sure that wouldn’t happen. His reputation as a jurist was that he was fair, dispassionate and — well — judicious.

He brings those traits to the Justice Department.

Garland also has declared that “no one is above the law” and has affirmed that statement merely by repeating what he has declared that “no one” can escape justice. By “no one,” I am going to presume he means that even former POTUSes are in the crosshairs.

Let us remember, too, that Garland has received a referral from the House 1/6 committee to pursue criminal indictments relating to the insurrection. He’s working on that matter, also with all deliberate speed. And … we have the Fulton County, Ga., district attorney, Fani Willis, who is examining whether to indict Trump on election tampering in the 2020 presidential election.

All of this requires patience, folks. I happen to possess plenty of it. How about you?

Trump’s not off the hook

Some political and legal experts suggest that President Biden’s embarrassment over the discovery of classified documents in his home might forestall any effort to prosecute Donald J. Trump for the same thing.

Hah! Make that a hah, hah!

Those who are suggesting Trump is in the clear had better check the record. The ex-POTUS is being investigated for a greater number of alleged misdeeds than just the document caper that involves his taking of classified documents from the White House as he was vacating the presidency.

Attorney General Merrick Garland well might forgo a criminal indictment on that case.

But wait! Trump also has the matter of inciting the 1/6 insurrection. He’s also facing a potential indictment in Fulton County, Ga., for pressuring election officials in Georgia to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The dude is still lost deep in the criminal justice woods.

As for whether Donald Trump can still stand trial for violating federal law by squirreling away classified documents, I believe that is a real possibility.

The man’s troubles are just beginning.

Does one ‘scandal’ affect the other?

Donald Trump’s classified document scandal is the real thing; a president leaves office and takes with him hundreds of pages of documents that do not belong to him.

Joe Biden’s classified document matter is different: he served as vice president, left that office, and squirreled away a few pages of classified documents.

Trump has challenged efforts to retrieve them; Biden has cooperated fully with the feds.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed two special counsels to examine these matters. Question of the day: Should one scandal affect the investigation of the other? My answer: No.

More specifically, special counsel Jack Smith’s work on the Trump matter should proceed with all deliberate speed. Robert Hur’s work on the Biden matter also should proceed.

One investigation must not affect the other one. More to the point is that Smith’s probe into the Trump scandal — which differs, in my mind, greatly from what is occurring with the Biden matter — must continue to its conclusion.

In my view, that conclusion should include an indictment of the ex-POTUS on allegations that he has obstructed justice and committed an illegal theft of government property.

But … that call belongs to AG Garland and his team of legal eagles. He vows to proceed with meticulous caution, which is all right with me. Garland has to get it right, understanding as I am sure he does the gravity of indicting a former POTUS and charging with enough criminal behavior to put him behind bars — if he’s convicted — for the rest of his sorry-ass life.

The Biden matter might complicate the probe into Trump’s scandal, but it must not derail it.

Let’s see who is ‘weaponizing’ justice

Republicans in Congress have adopted a goofy notion that Democrats — starting with President Biden — are “weaponizing” the Justice Department in an effort to bring down Donald J. Trump.

Well, let’s see how that plays out.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has named Robert Hur as special counsel in a probe into whether Biden broke the law when he held classified documents in a think tank and in his Wilmington, Del., garage. The documents come from his time as vice president.

Hur is a U.S. attorney endorsed by Trump. Hmm. Will the prosecutor follow the law, or will he back the Trump allies’ campaign to subvert and destroy Biden? If it’s the latter, then just who is “weaponizing” the Justice Department?

I believe Garland did the right thing by appointing a special counsel. He had no choice, given that he did the same thing when he appointed a special counsel to examine whether Trump broke the law when he took documents out of the White House and hid them in his Florida home.

One of many key differences in these cases lies in the principals’ response. Biden vows to “cooperate fully” with authorities; Trump has sought to block any effort to return the documents to the National Archives, where they belong, on the specious grounds that they are his property. That is pure crap!

Who is guilty of weaponization? It’s not AG Merrick Garland and President Joe Biden. If Robert Hur does his job dispassionately and without bias, then the whole weaponization mantra will be rendered moot.

Not the same, folks

Joe Biden’s critics have begun their “aha!” bellowing over the discovery of classified documents stashed away in a Washington, D.C., think tank.

Why, shoot! This is no different than what Donald Trump did when he spirited classified documents away from the White House and hid them at Mar-a-Lago, the Biden critics are yammering.

Hold on. Yeah, it’s different. It’s not right and Biden’s document kerfuffle needs to be probed thoroughly. Attorney General Merrick Garland has handed the matter to a U.S. attorney — a Trump appointee, by the way — to investigate. Garland may yet decide whether to launch a full Justice Department investigation into the matter.

Why is this different than what Trump did? Because Biden reportedly didn’t know the documents were stored away from the National Archives. He returned them immediately upon learning of their existence. Trump, though, has lied — imagine that! — about what he turned over to the feds after the FBI seized the documents at his Florida mansion.

Biden is cooperating fully with the feds; Trump is stonewalling.

And … Trump has all but acknowledged publicly that he did something illegal.

None of this will stop President Biden’s critics from falling into full “gotcha!” mode.


Tamping expectations

Try as I have done to tamp down expectations on what will occur Monday when the House select committee makes its criminal referrals on the insurrection and assorted crimes relating to the 1/6 insurrection, I admit to difficulty doing so.

However, I am prepared to acknowledge that the House panel charged finding truth behind that violent chapter in our nation’s history only is going to recommend criminal charges be brought against those who were responsible for the onslaught.

The heavy lifting will occur in the offices of the Department of Justice and the special counsel who is examining the evidence.

I believe the referrals will include Donald Trump. He incited the assault on 1/6. He refused to stop the assault, even as the treasonous assailants were shouting “Hang Mike Pence!”

Let us remember that the House committee has no power to issue indictments. That power rests solely within the executive branch of government, which means the DOJ and the man who is serving as special counsel in this probe.

Still, I am certain that Americans who decide to tune in Monday will be treated to some riveting TV watching. I look forward to watching this drama unfold.

Defamation, anyone?

Defaming a fellow public official’s good name is difficult to fight in a court of law, I suppose, which might explain why we haven’t seen many defamation lawsuits filed in this age of extreme political anger and vilification.

I mention this because of the hideous lie that U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, a Republican, said regarding fellow Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat.

Jackson put a tweet out there that accused Porter of saying that pedophilia isn’t a crime. She didn’t say that. She said nothing of the sort. Porter said gays have been treated unfairly as pedophiles and “groomers.”

Has Jackson, the GOP rep who lives in Amarillo — the city I once called home — apologized to Porter? Hah! Nope.

That brings to mind the hideous statements that have flown from the pie holes of the QAnon/MAGA cabal of public officials. They have accused high-ranking Democrats of peddling children for sex. Yes, there have been lawsuits and the victims of that hideous epithet have won judgments.

Jackson needs to be slapped with a lawsuit for the constant barrage of moronic messages he has fired off via Twitter on any number of Democrats. The guy is a disgrace to the office he occupies and to the governing body where he serves.

What’s more, the overwhelming majority of Twitter messages that come from Jackson seek to denigrate those on the other side of the great divide. Any constructive notion, any positive comments about legislation he either authors or supports are not to be found.

All of this is my way of suggesting that those he denigrates — such as Rep. Porter — ought to ponder whether it’s wise to take this clown to court. To put words in someone’s mouth for the purpose of embarrassing her, as he did with Katie Porter, surely can be grounds for defamation.

Biden finishes a bold move

When he served as vice president of the United States, Joe Biden got way ahead of the Barack Obama administration on the issue of same-sex marriage.

President Obama had opposed it publicly. Then Biden blurted out on national TV that he thought that gay couples are entitled to the same marital rights as heterosexual couples. Indeed, the Constitution backed up Biden’s assertion, which reportedly didn’t go over well in the West Wing of the White House.

Obama left office in January 2017. Joe Biden became president in January 2021. This week, he put his signature on a law that finishes what the president started with his assertion that same-sex marriage is protected by the Constitution.

Oh, and his signature also has codified rules allowing mixed-race couples to marry, which is another huge step toward preserving our nation’s guarantee that all citizens are entitled to “equal protection under the laws.”

“Marriage is a simple proposition. Who do you love? And will you be loyal to that person you love?” the president asked from the South Lawn as he signed the Respect for Marriage Act. “It’s not more complicated than that.”

I never thought of President Biden as a trailblazer until that moment in 2012 when he stepped out in front of the administration he served. He was right then, and he was very correct this week when he signed legislation approved by congressional members of both parties. The Supreme Court would rule in 2015 that same-sex couples had a legal right to marry, setting off celebrations across the country

The signing this week also seeks to forgo a bizarre threat offered by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who — after the court struck down the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion — hinted that the court might take aim at same-sex and interracial marriages. Yep, that’s weird coming from a Black justice who happens to be married to a white woman. He need not worry now about whether the court is going to make his marriage illegal … you know?

Joe Biden’s firmness is a welcome sign of reason and resolve in a government plagued too often in recent times by chaos and confusion. Well done, Mr. President.

SCOTUS needs ethics rules

What in the name of judicial ethics will it take for the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt a code of ethical behavior that it insists that lower court judges must follow?

Good grief. We now are witnessing two justices on the nation’s highest court violating what would appear to be clear ethical rules governing their conduct as jurists. They both are conservatives, Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

Justice Thomas — the court’s longest-serving member — has been ruling routinely on matters related to the 1/6 insurrection even though his wife, Ginni, took part briefly in the rally that day preceding the frontal assault that Donald J. Trump incited. Thomas has been a lonely voice in standing up for Trump while his colleagues — liberal and conservative — have ruled against the ex-POTUS.

I have said many times that Justice Thomas should quit the court, not just recuse himself. His behavior has been nothing short of disgraceful.

Now we hear that Justice Kavanaugh has been keeping company with far-right-wing activists who belong to organizations that have brought matters before the Supreme Court. Huh? What? Are you kidding me?

How in the world does Kavanaugh rule impartially and without bias when he pals around with MAGA types? He cannot do it.

Back to my original point. The Supreme Court has punished jurists for unethical conduct over many decades. And yet the justices are not held to any sort of code of conduct that requires them to follow ethical rules of behavior.

How in the world does the nation’s top judicial bench justify that? How does Chief Justice John Roberts explain that lack of ethical standard? He doesn’t because he can’t.

This lack of ethical code is beyond absurd. It is reprehensible.

It’s all about ‘equal protection’

Let’s set the record straight on a key constitutional point: the nation’s founders didn’t get it entirely correct when they drafted the U.S. Constitution in the late 18th century; it has needed amendments designed to provide for a “more perfect Union.”

The 14th Amendment, enacted in 1868, states, “nor shall any State … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The Equal Protection Clause contained in the first part of that amendment, therefore, means that no one shall be denied the right to marry the person they love. Period. Full stop.

That also means the U.S. Senate acted correctly this week when it cast a bipartisan vote to codify that same-sex and interracial marriage shall be part of the federal statutes.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Equal Protection Clause when it endorsed same-sex marriage in 2015. That protection, though, is in jeopardy, given the court’s recent ruling to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion. Conservative justices have hinted they might be inclined to strike down the Equal Protection Clause, too, the benchmark for the ruling that allowed same-sex and interracial marriage.

That cannot be allowed to happen.

It’s also instructive that two of the “no” votes in the Senate came from Texas’s two Republican senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both of whom profess to be legal scholars. They, instead, are revealing their partisan stripes, appealing to the wild-eyed base within the GOP’s lunatic voters.

I could have predicted that Ted Cruz would have voted that way. Cornyn’s “no” vote is deeply disappointing. At least, though, they’re both on the record saying that they are unwilling to offer protection to all Americans, giving them the constitutional right to marry the person they love.

Next comes the House of Representatives. May that body show the wisdom demonstrated by most of their Senate colleagues and then send this legislation to President Biden’s desk for his signature that makes it the law of this great land.