Category Archives: legal news

Class-action lawsuit possible?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If ever there could be a case for a class-action lawsuit against a high-profile public figure, I am beginning to think that elections officials throughout this great nation might have one.

The former Slanderer in Chief has defamed the reputations of county, state and local elections officials everywhere by insisting that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged,” that it was fraught with “widespread voter fraud” and that it was “stolen” from him.

Class-action suits usually are filed by large numbers of people or groups who contend they have been damaged by allegations made in public that defamed their character.

POTUS 45 has done all of that, and more, by suggesting the 2020 election didn’t really deliver the presidency to Joe Biden, that the former POTUS actually won in a “landslide.” Has he produced a scintilla, a shred, a sliver, a smidgen of proof for any of this? No! He just says these things and others believe him.

I do not believe anything that flies out of the liar’s pie hole.  Nor should anyone else … but they do, to their shame.

I have known too many dedicated elections officials in counties where I have worked over nearly 40 years in daily journalism. They all take their jobs seriously. They all take an oath to defend the Constitution and have followed that oath to the letter.

I realize I am not King of the World. For that matter, neither is the former POTUS who once declared that “I, alone, can fix” what is wrong with the nation. The stark truth is that he hasn’t fixed a damn thing. Just maybe there might be enough justice left in this world for local elections officials whose reputations have been damaged to take legal action against an individual who embodies political corruption in its lowest form.

No need to pack SCOTUS

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hell hasn’t exactly frozen over, but the rare moment of my agreeing with a conservative legal scholar has arrived.

Jeremy Dys writes in The Hill that there exists no clear reason to expand the ranks of the U.S. Supreme Court, or to “pack” it to make it more palatable to us liberals.

I happen to agree with him.

Furthermore, I wish the lefties among us would just pipe down and let the judicial branch of our federal government do the job granted to it by the U.S. Constitution.

Dys and I come at this from different perspectives. He believes the court’s “center-left demise” has been exaggerated. I happen to believe that elections have consequences, as we learned to our dismay — I hasten to add — with the election in 2016 of the moron who got impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives.

He exited the White House in disgrace. However, he was able to nominate three individuals to the high court and much to the surprise of many of us, the judicial troika he selected hasn’t fallen in lockstep with whatever judicial philosophy POTUS 45 wanted them to follow.

No reason to pack the court | TheHill

Justice Stephen Breyer is not sending any strong signals that he is about to retire from the court. The liberal justice’s successor would not change the ideological balance on the SCOTUS. I do have a fear that if the GOP gets control of the Senate after the 2022 election that its leadership will stall any nomination process the way it did in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died and the Senate denied President Obama the chance to select a successor to the conservative judicial icon.

But that’s how it goes.

I just dislike the notion of monkeying around the size of the Supreme Court because the politics of the moment do not suit one side of the political divide.

Yep, elections have consequences

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The old saying about how “elections have consequences” is playing itself out on the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Biden’s immediate predecessor was able to nominate three justices to the nation’s highest court during his single term. This week, we saw the effect of those nominations present itself in real time with a ruling that makes it more difficult to stem the Republican tide that seeks to make voting more difficult for Americans.

The court ruled 6 to 3 — with conservative justices winning the fight — on a ruling out of Arizona that keeps in place strict voter requirements that critics suggest aim to make it harder for traditionally Democratic citizens to vote.

So the battle will be joined.

The ruling makes it harder for ethnic and racial minorities to challenge the Arizona law, which places many restrictions deemed critical to the political balance of power.

These appointments to the nation’s highest court have reignited calls to expand the court from its current nine justices to, oh, 13 or 15. That’s a bad idea and I do not support such a drastic move. President Biden isn’t warm to the notion, either. He pledged to appoint a blue-ribbon commission of conservative and liberal legal scholars to find a way to reform the federal judiciary.

However, electoral consequences have this way of presenting themselves when courts make these difficult decisions.

Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed to the court in 1994 after being nominated by President Clinton, might retire soon. Breyer is among the liberals on the court. A nomination by President Biden isn’t going to change the court’s ideological tilt should he get the chance.

These key court rulings do make it imperative that we understand the consequences of electing presidents. They are huge, especially when the court system swings too far in the wrong direction.

In my humble view, it has done so.

Cosby walks on a technicality

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When word came out today that Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction had been overturned, my thoughts turned immediately to a sign I once saw way down yonder in the office of the Liberty County, Texas, district attorney.

It spoke to the desire to see a conviction “upheld on a technicality.”

Of course, that never happens. Technicalities usually result in situations such as what happened today.

Cosby is going home after serving two years of a sentence in which he was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman after giving her high-powered drugs. The technicality? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Cosby was denied due process because a prosecuting attorney had said there was insufficient evidence to bring the case to trial. That prosecutor left, was replaced by someone else, who then brought the case to a trial that produced a conviction for the still-disgraced former comic and film/TV icon.

Bill Cosby was denied his constitutional Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination, the court said in its 79-page opinion.

Bill Cosby Released From Prison After Sexual Assault Conviction Overturned (msn.com)

Two things about this case deserve brief mention.

One is that a conviction reversal involving someone with the kind of celebrity status as Bill Cosby has pushed most of the other grim news aside; the nation now is going to talk about Cosby rather than talking about other stuff, such as phony election theft and related matters.

The other thing is that Bill Cosby is — in many Americans’ eyes — still a convicted sexual assailant despite the court’s decision to overturn the conviction. to my way of thinking, the legal technicality that sprung Cosby loose from the slammer does not wipe away what a trial jury concluded.

How did he fall so far?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When historians write the final chapter of this era — if that is possible — they will be challenged to explain how a former New York mayor fell so far from grace and plunged head first into the dustbin of history.

Rudy Giuliani has been suspended from practicing law in New York. Why? Because he has fomented The Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election, contending without a shred of evidence that the disgraced former president was booted from office as a result of phony electoral theft.

It does boggle my noggin how Giuliani has become such a laughingstock.

NY Court Suspends Rudy Giuliani From Practicing Law Over Trump Lies | Common Dreams News

He was NYC mayor when terrorists struck at the nation on 9/11. He stood tall and proud as the leader of a city grieving over the horrendous events of that day. Time magazine named him its Person of the Year in 2001. Let us not forget, too, that he also once was a hard-charging federal prosecutor who took down a number of mob bosses.

That was many lifetimes ago. He has plummeted downhill ever since.

Now he is known as the promoter of lies. He has lent his voice to efforts to overthrow our democratic process.

I do not condone a single thing this individual has said about the election, its integrity or the Big Lie he continues to keep alive along with the disgraced former POTUS. I only lament how someone many of us once admired has become such caricature, a cartoonish loon has sidled up next to someone with no understanding of the government he took an oath to defend and protect.

Will this legal suspension lead to disbarment? It is quite possible, if not probable. Given how far Rudy Giuliani has fallen, the legal profession would benefit from his removal from its ranks.

Justice Breyer should ignore the pressure

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Someone will have to explain to me why congressional progressives are getting all wound up over whether Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer needs to retire.

As in this summer when the current term ends.

Breyer is one of them. He’s a progressive justice on the nation’s highest court dominated these days by conservatives. The right wing holds a 6-3 majority on the high court. Breyer usually votes with the liberal wing comprising justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Breyer is getting a bit long in the tooth to be sure. He was nominated by President Clinton in 1994 and was approved overwhelmingly by the U.S. Senate.

Liberals in Congress want him to retire, paving the way for President Biden to select another — presumably much younger — liberal justice.

I need to stipulate that a Breyer retirement and an appointment by Biden won’t change the court’s political tilt. It would remain  6-3 conservative-leaning panel.

Among the progressives calling for Breyer’s retirement, quite naturally, is the New York firebrand U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the second-term congresswoman who — for reasons that escape me — has become the go-to voice among progressives in Congress.

I have argued that Justice Breyer needs to listen to his own counsel on this one. That is why the framers created an ostensibly “independent” federal judiciary. Justices shouldn’t have to listen to others yap and yammer over what they should do. Do they stay or do they go?

As near as I can tell, Stephen Breyer still has his wits about him. He is able to do the job and he’s doing it well.

As for AOC and other progressives, they need to tend to their own business, which is writing laws and enacting them. The judiciary is an independent branch of government, which tells me that federal judges don’t need others to tell them when they should call it a career.

Bring the AGs to Congress

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr say they were “unaware” of any effort by the Justice Department to snoop into the records of key congressional Democrats during the administration of the individual they both served.

Hmm. I believe they need to be summoned to Capitol Hill and forced to testify under oath that they are telling the truth.

We have a case here of a president flouting the rule of law, of ignoring the separation of powers, of intimidating his political adversaries. Sessions and Barr contend they weren’t party to anything of the sort.

I do not believe them. Nor do I discount the reporting of major media outlets that the ex-president ordered the Justice Department to dig up dirt on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and his Democratic colleague Eric Swalwell.

We have a reprehensible example of a president not caring one damn bit about the oath he took to protect and defend the Constitution.

There needs to be a full accounting of who know what and when.

Bring the ex-attorneys general to Capitol Hill and make ’em tell the truth about what the heck happened during their time on duty.

AG Garland makes critical vow

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Attorney General Merrick Garland has given good-government adherents something to cheer.

He spoke at length today vowing to do all he can to protect the rights of all Americans to vote, to take part in the democratic process. Moreover, he pledged to dramatically increase the civil-rights division staff of lawyers to guard against efforts to disenfranchise American voters.

“There are plenty of things up for debate in America, but the right of all eligible Americans to vote is not one of them,” Garland said.

Do ya think?

Garland appeared today to draw a bead on Republican-led efforts in  legislatures across the land — and that certainly includes Texas — to make voting a good bit more arduous for many Americans than it ever should be. As NBC News reported: The staffing surge would occur over the next the next 30 days, he said, and the beefed-up unit will use all laws at its disposal “to ensure that we protect every qualified American seeking to participate in our democracy.”

Garland says Justice Department will scrutinize new GOP-led voting restrictions (nbcnews.com)

Merrick Garland came to the Justice Department after a stellar career as a federal judge. He knows the Constitution and has spent a good bit of his professional life interpreting what issues pass constitutional muster. Accordingly, he asserted today that the DOJ will investigate effort whether statewide efforts cross a constitutional line they shouldn’t cross.

The 2020 election had many important features. One of them was the remarkable spike in the number of ballots that were cast. All told, nearly 160 million Americans voted for president. The most important feature, of course, was that Americans elected Joe Biden as president, who in turn nominated a towering judicial figure — Merrick Garland — to lead the Justice Department.

Today, the nation got a glimpse of the wisdom of President Biden’s choice of the nation’s top legal eagle.

“So far this year, at least 14 states have passed new laws that make it harder to vote,” Garland said.

“We are scrutinizing new laws that seek to curb voter access and where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act. We are also scrutinizing current laws and practices in order to determine whether they discriminate against Black voters and other voters of color,” Garland said.

Yes, Mr. Attorney General. You have the floor.

Justice Guzman to seek AG’s office? Hmm

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It might be time for a mea culpa from your friendly blogger.

I might have spoken a bit too soon in lamenting the lack of legal standing among politicians seeking to become Texas attorney general.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman is about to become a former justice … with an eye toward running for Texas AG in the 2022 Republican Party primary. Her last day on the state’s highest civil appellate court is Friday. Then what?

Eva Guzman – Wikipedia

Justice Guzman represents a tremendous boost in the legal credentials of a political candidate seeking to become the state’s top law enforcement officer.

The incumbent Ken Paxton wants a third term. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has declared he wants to defeat Paxton in the 2022 GOP primary. Both men have, shall we say, sparse legal cred. Paxton has been indicted for securities fraud and is awaiting trial; he also is the subject of a FBI probe into allegations of criminal wrongdoing in his office. Bush has a limited legal career under his belt, but has served as land commissioner for the past six years.

Now we have Guzman. She is the daughter of immigrants from Mexico. She grew up in Houston. She attended the University of Houston and got her law degree from Duke University. She has served on the state court of appeals and has been named appellate judge of the year.

Guzman has built a stellar legal career.

To be clear, she hasn’t declared her attorney general candidacy.

At least not yet. Stay tuned.

Get to work, grand jury

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The grand jury has been seated, sworn in and given its task.

It works for the Manhattan, N.Y., district attorney’s office and is being asked to determine whether to indict Donald Trump, the company he owns, anyone who works for him and perhaps even members of the ex-president’s family.

The grand jury is looking for criminal misbehavior.

Hmm. Now I don’t how you look at this, but I would consider this to be a serious wakeup call for Donald Trump that the Manhattan DA’s legal eagles are in hot pursuit of criminality involving the the former POTUS.

To be sure, Trump calls it all “political” and part of what he calls the “greatest witch hunt” in human history … or words to that effect.

He offers no evidence of pure partisanship other than just to call it what he alleges it to be.

I feel the need to remind readers of this blog that grand jurors swear to look objectively at evidence presented to them. Failure to be impartial carries criminal penalties of their own. What sane individual would take such an oath with no intention of being faithful to it?

Oh, wait! Trump took an oath, too,  to defend the Constitution and to serve the country with honor and honesty. Do you think he was faithful to his oath? Well, me neither.

Which suggests to me that the grand jury is going to take great care in its pursuit of potential criminal liability in Trump’s business dealings.

So, with that … time to get busy, grand jurors.