The Unprepared Judicial Nominee [Updated]

 

Matthew S.] Petersen, a lawyer serving on the Federal Election Commission, was one of five President Trump judicial nominees to be questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Senator John N. Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, subjected Petersen to questions regarding basic litigation law, such as the Daubert standard, which has to do with qualifying expert witness testimony, the definition of a motion in limine, and several other bits of information a junior litigator would have to have in his memory banks. The potential judge told the Senator that he had never tried a case or argued a motion in court. He said he last read the Federal Rules of evidence in law school. “I understand that the path that many successful district court judges have taken has been a different one than I’ve taken,” Petersen said.

Naturally, being a Trump nominee, Petersen is being widely mocked in the news media and by Democrats. Some legal experts have been more sympathetic, like Judge Wayne R. Andersen, who was a federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois for nearly 20 years. He told reporters  that there was a continuing debate within the legal profession about the qualifications required of a trial judge, saying, “Anyone who steps to the federal bench lacks a huge amount of federal experience necessary to do the job,” and that Senator Kennedy’s questions, while fair, “would eliminate 80 percent of the nation’s lawyers and many of the most talented lawyers.”

Lawyer/Blogger John Hinderaker wrote in part,

The lawyers who have the most thorough understanding of substantive areas of the law–real estate, taxes, corporate governance and so on–are generally not litigators. Do we really want to say that all of these non-litigators–the majority of lawyers–are unfit to be trial judges?…does it mean that one of my non-litigator partners would be disqualified from such an appointment, no matter how good a lawyer he or she might be? I don’t think so.

… Newly-appointed judges attend “judge school,” where they are taught the finer points of the rules of evidence….Most lawyers who are appointed to the bench in both federal and state courts have backgrounds in litigation. No doubt that is appropriate. However, it is by no means rare for non-litigator lawyers to be appointed, or win election, to the bench. In my opinion, that is a good thing. I don’t see why a minority of lawyers–litigators–should have a monopoly on the bench. I don’t know whether Matthew Petersen will make a good judge or not. But in my view, he doesn’t deserve to be ridiculed because his highly-successful law career has been conducted outside of the courtroom.

I agree; he shouldn’t be ridiculed for that. Continue reading

A Congress Of Assholes*? Maxine Waters Demolishes Basic Principles Of Ethical Comportment

*The headline relates to this and related posts.

I’ll spare you the horror of having to watch the entire video above, and display the transcript of Watts Rep. Maxine Waters as she abused Treasury Secretary  Steve Mnuchin at a House Financial Services Committee hearing this week. Waters continued to interrupt Mnuchin as he attempted to answer her hostile cross-examination. Her mantra “reclaiming my time” expressed her ridiculous position that any words from the guest of the committee that didn’t specifically address her questions to her satisfaction was an intrusion on her time for shameless grandstanding. Note the committee chairman’s explanation to Mnuchin that while the rules can direct how testifiers should be treated, they cannot dictate how they will be treated. In other words, if a member is determined to behave like a rude, disrespectful jerk, she will.

Here’s the mind-blowing transcript. It didn’t literally blow my mind, hence no KABOOM! designation, because Waters is such a well-known and beyond a shadow of a doubt hyper-partisan fool and embarrassment to the nation that pretty much nothing she might do or say can shock me sufficiently. Does it not occur to Africa-American majority districts that electing Representatives this incompetent, shrill and offensive is not in their best interest, even though the Democratic Party and the news media bend themselves in half to pretend she isn’t a disgrace.

Transcript:

Continue reading

The NSA Scandal: And THIS Is Why We Can’t Trust The Government

Businessman Crossing Fingers

From Tuesday’s House Intelligence Committee hearings on the NSA domestic spying issues:

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., Chairman: “Does the NSA have the ability to listen to Americans’ phone calls or read their emails under these two programs?”

NSA Director General Keith Alexander: “No, we do not have that authority.”

That’s right. Alexander not only didn’t answer the question that was asked: he answered a different one, with a “no,” that would make the casual listener believe that the answer to the question that was asked was also “no.”

Meanwhile, neither Rogers nor anyone else on the committee stopped him, corrected him or  asked again whether he had the ability, not the authority, to “listen to Americans’ phone calls or read their emails under these two programs.”

I have the ability to throttle my neighbor to death with a bat, but not the authority. I have the ability to have wild tempestuous adulterous affairs, but not the authority.

The fact that the head of the NSA would pull a verbal sleight of hand like this before Congress is proof, in my mind, that transparency in this administration is neither its intent or manner. Its intent and manner is deception and obfuscation.

The fact that Congress, even when such a ploy is pulled before its eyes on national television, is either so complicit or so dim-witted that it doesn’t insist on candor on behalf of the American public it purports to represent is, one way or the other, disheartening and disgraceful.

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Pointer: Shep Smith

Facts: International Business Times