The federal judiciary routinely hears (and often dismisses) lawsuits filed by workers who have suffered soul crushing disrespect, humiliation and abuse from an employer.
This is one reason why the recommendations of The Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Group matter.
The group this week re-committed to the promotion of an “exemplary workplace” for the 30,000 employees of the federal court system “through engaged leadership and more expansive education in the areas of civility, respect and communication.”
Historically, federal judges have graduated from elite colleges and law schools to high-paid jobs in private law firms representing employers to the bench. There, they are exempt from federal discrimination laws. And they have lifetime tenure and can’t be forced to retire.
The federal judiciary’s workplace was the antithesis of democratic. Federal judges were the equivalent of kings in their chambers, and many young law clerks were treated more like serfs than workers.
After several high profile cases where staff complained of sexual harassment and workplace bullying by federal judges, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2018 appointed the workplace conduct group to improve the environment in which federal employees work.
If federal judges must treat their workers with dignity and respect, perhaps they will expect this of other employers?
Here’s the latest from the bullying, virtue signaling, mostly Democratic, anti-President Donald J. Trump segment of the legal profession.
Superior Court Judge Craig A. Karsnitz of Baltimore ruled last week that former Trump adviser Carter Page could not be represented by his choice of legal counsel, L. Lin Wood, in a defamation case stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
Judge Karsnitz said a couple of hyperbolic tweets by Wood in support of Trump’s claims of election fraud “no doubt” helped “incite” the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. It’s not clear how Judge Karsnitz knows this, let alone know it to a certainty. He did not point to any actual evidence that Wood’s impassioned (some would say inflammatory) tweets incited anything but backlash against Wood.
No Election Fraud?
Judge Karsnitz’ ruling bordered on breathless.
For one thing, he concluded there was no election fraud in Georgia and that Wood’s lawsuit to that effect was “without basis in law or fact.”
Georgia U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten’s ruled that Wood, who was only a party in the Georgia lawsuit, lacked standing to bring the case. Moreover, Batten’s ruling is being appealed.
The case primarily involves age discrimination but includes a sex discrimination claim.
The sex discrimination claim gave rise to a venue dispute involving where the lawsuit could be filed.
The federal government said the case had to be transferred from Arizona to Nevada because of a special venue provision in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination.
The plaintiff, an Arizona woman who is proceeding pro se, argued in court papers that the case should be moved to California, which would be more convenient for her and would not inconvenience the federal government. Alternatively, she asked to amend her complaint to drop the Title VII claim that gave rise to the venue dispute so the case could remain in Arizona.
The presiding judge was U.S. District Court Judge James A. Soto, 67, a Hispanic who was appointed to the bench in 2014 by former President Barack Obama. The job of a federal judge is to follow the law. Federal judges are paid more than $200,000 a year to put aside their personal bias and prejudice and to be fair.
It was not complicated. Federal courts have ruled that venue should be interpreted broadly in civil rights cases because Congress intended to afford citizens full and easy redress of grievances. Federal rules encourage judges to”freely” grant leave for a Plaintiff to amend her complaint, barring evidence of ill motive.
Judge Soto agreed that venue was proper in both California and Arizona (if Plaintiff dropped the conflicting sex discrimination claim). However, he ruled, without elaborating, that “judicial efficiency dictates that a transfer to the District of Nevada is in the interest of justice.” Continue reading “The Problem with Federal Judges Who Bully”