Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Liberal activist judge in NSA surveillance case: gross conflict of interest

From the New York Slimes:
The federal judge who ruled last week that President Bush’s eavesdropping program was unconstitutional is a trustee and an officer of a group that has given at least $125,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan, a watchdog group said Tuesday.

The group, Judicial Watch, a conservative organization here that found the connection, said the link posed a possible conflict for the judge, Anna Taylor Diggs, and called for further investigation.

“The system relies on judges to exercise good judgment, and we need more information and more explanation about what the court’s involvement was in support of the A.C.L.U.,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, which gained attention in the 1990’s for ethics accusations against President Bill Clinton.
Two observations here:

1. If this isn't a gross conflict of interest by Judge Taylor, then I'm a ham sandwich; and

2. Notice how the Slimes calls Judicial Watch a "conservative organization"? Whenever Judicial Watch sues or goes after a Republican target, the MSM suddenly extends them credibility by referring to them as a nonpartisan "watchdog group." Yet let the target of JW be a leftist, and they magically morph back into a partisan "conservative organization." Proof here. Nope, no liberal media bias! Or, in the case of the Detroit Free Press, just pull a John Kerry and characterize JW as both conservative AND nonpartisan.

Anywho, continuing:
Questions about a possible conflict of interest appear likely to raise new concerns. The Web site for the group that supported the A.C.L.U., the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan in Detroit, lists Judge Taylor as its secretary and a trustee. It indicates that trustees make all financing decisions for the organization, whose assets exceed $350 million and which gives grants for a variety of community projects.

Judge Taylor declined to comment on the matter on Tuesday, and the foundation did not respond to a message for comment on what role if any she had in awarding the civil liberties grants.
Federal law requires judges to disqualify themselves from hearing a case if their impartiality “might reasonably be questioned” based on factors like a financial or personal relationship with a party in the case.
"Reasonably" be questioned? Well, to paraphrase the master of word parsing Bill Clinton, I suppose it depends on what the meaning of the word "reasonably" is. Observe:
Stephen Gillers, who teaches legal ethics at New York University, said he did not think there were grounds for Judge Taylor to remove herself from the case.

“The question is whether her impartiality might reasonably be questioned,’’ Professor Gillers said, “and the fact that she sits on the board of a group that gives money to the plaintiff for an otherwise unrelated endeavor would not in my mind raise reasonable questions about her partiality on the issue of warrantless wiretapping.”

But he said it would have been wise for Judge Taylor to disclose the issue to the participants in the case. “If there’s any doubt,” Professor Gillers said, “disclose, because it avoids suspicion later.”
Wow...just, wow! "The fact that she sits on the board of a group that gives money to the plaintiff" means that questioning her partiality is unreasonable?? Amazing. But if it is "unreasonable" to think she may be partial to a plaintiff that she raises money for, then why does this pinhead professor think she should have disclosed anything? I mean, she didn't do anything wrong or "unreasonable", right?

All this means is that Judge Taylor's activist ruling will be overturned sooner rather than later, and now there are multiple grounds on which the overturning can be based. Given this woman's track record of conflicts of interest and unethical behavior, one has to wonder why she hasn't been removed from the bench yet.

By the way, if you want to read the whole NYT story (you sadistic bastards! LOL!) but don't want to register with the Slimes just to read it, remember to use BugMeNot.

Judge Taylor showing her handiwork...