February 21, 2014

"Judge rips feds in Sherrod-Breitbart lawsuit."

Now, this is interesting. From Josh Gerstein at Politico:
A federal judge delivered a severe tongue-lashing to a Justice Department lawyer Thursday, slamming the Obama Administration for its handling of demands for government records in the libel lawsuit fired Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod filed against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

During a 40-minute hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon repeatedly ripped into the government and DOJ trial counsel David Glass for resisting requests from both sides in the case for government files and e-mails that might be of use in the litigation....
Release the email! We here in Wisconsin are deluged with internal emails relating to Scott Walker. Freedom of information is a bitch.
At the outset of Thursday's hearing, Leon lit into Glass for filing a 21-page statement outlining the government's position—a filing submitted electronically just after midnight Thursday along with a stack of nine exhibits. The judge called it "a self-serving pleading, not requested by anyone" and repeatedly suggested it was filed for "public relations" reasons rather than because it might be useful to the court....

"This is not a typical case.....This case involves someone who was fired by a cabinet officer....The government is not going to be able to slow roll this case," the judge insisted.
Leon, by the way, is the judge who ruled last December that the NSA surveillance program is a likely violation of the 4th Amendment, saying "I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen...." He's a George W. Bush appointee and a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.

"Slow roll" is an intriguing expression to hear from a judge. It seems to originate in poker and to refer to some annoying taunting approaches to revealing your winning hand.

ADDED: Instapundit says:
I believe I said when this suit was filed that the discovery was likely to be interesting. If DOJ is stonewalling, it must be.
David Lat, quoting the government's memo, says:
The government is willing to produce the evidence that is directly relevant to matters actually at issue in the litigation. But as a non-party, it doesn’t want to get dragged into this mess more than necessary....

Eighty-three categories of document requests, plus a raft of deposition subpoenas, issued to a third party? This sounds a bit like a fishing expedition to me.

26 comments:

gerry said...

That's Pigford, right?

Another thing Obama must hide, if I am correct.

Birches said...

This is refreshing.

Birches said...

And does Sherrod even have a case suing Breitbart? I remember reading the initial post and seeing the video. Breitbart's point was that the audience was happy she wasn't going to help a white man, not that she didn't help him. I think he even wrote in the initial post that she ended up helping him.

It appears that the government fired her because they watched an edited video and didn't read the actual story. So shouldn't she be suing the government for wrongful termination?

RecChief said...

birches, are you suggesting that a leftist would blame other leftists for her firing instead of the left's favorite boogeyman at the time?

rhhardin said...

Aileron rolls and snap rolls are easier.

RecChief said...

In the context of this administration doesn't "slow roll" mean to drag out the process so that, at some point in the future, government officials can say, "That was a long time ago," and "At this point, what difference does it make?"

Curious George said...

"Slow roll" is an intriguing expression to hear from a judge. It seems to originate in poker and to refer to some annoying taunting approaches to revealing your winning hand."


Do you think judges don't play poker? Ever see Rounders?

Ann Althouse said...

Suing for defamation makes sense if you want to clear your reputation. She presumably genuinely feels besmirched by the revelation of her own confession of having mistreated a man because of his race. Later, she decided not to do that sort of thing, and she'd like the whole story to always be told, not the bad part of it. I think it's shockingly chilling to free speech if you can get sued for damages for cherry-picking parts of speeches when there are other parts of that speech that put the speaker in a more flattering light.

She's trying to include in her damages the fact that the government fired her, so we need to know why they in fact fired her. She's trying to get that discovery too. Breitbart is in kind of a positive position being a defendant, because even though there's a risk of having to pay damages, there's a tremendous benefit to getting into these govt documents and also in portraying itself as a free-speech champion. And what it did to Sherrod just doesn't seem wrong, at least not to most people who might read Breitbart.

Ann Althouse said...

"Do you think judges don't play poker?"

No. I think they do, but I think using poker slang, especially in the context of lambasting the government, is intriguing, especially that term, which I can't remember previously seeing in the legal context.

There's an old Rehnquist opinion that uses the term "hole card."

Ann Althouse said...

"An objection on the spot may force the prosecution to take a hard look at its hole card, and, even if the prosecutor thinks that the state trial judge will admit the evidence, he must contemplate the possibility of reversal by the state appellate courts or the ultimate issuance of a federal writ of habeas corpus based on the impropriety of the state court's rejection of the federal constitutional claim."

Fen said...

She's suing Breitbart's widow, right?

cherry-picking parts of speeches

Cherry-picking is not accurate.

True or False:
Sherrod admitted to an instance of racist bias?

True.

And hey, its great that you corrected it. Doesn't mean you didn't do it though.

EDH said...

"Slow roll" is an intriguing expression to hear from a judge. It seems to originate in poker and to refer to some annoying taunting approaches to revealing your winning hand.

Intriguing because it suggests the government has a "winning hand" to reveal?

The Crack Emcee said...

"Release the email! We here in Wisconsin are deluged with internal emails relating to Scott Walker. Freedom of information is a bitch."


Yeah, but I noticed you're not getting into what's in those emails, are you?

"One, forwarded from Walker’s ex-chief of staff, Thomas Nardelli to Rindfleisch – his deputy – is a joke about an African American “negro” who discovers he is a minority in other ways. “I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted Jewish homosexual,” the email says, “but please, oh dear God, don’t make me a Democrat”.

Another, sent to Rindfleisch from someone outside Walker’s staff, joked that welfare recipients were “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who the r [sic] Daddys [sic] are”. “That is hilarious,” Walker’s deputy chief of staff replied. “And so true!”



Nice crew you've got over there, Ann,….

Fen said...

There's no "there" there, Crack.

And we're all outraged that you didn't choose to defend the handicapped, or the addicts, or the homosexuals. Its always about race for the racists, yes?

Birches said...

Oh please don't let another thread be ruined. . .

Chef Mojo said...

Man, Crack has really gone back to being a one-trick pony with a vengeance.

Whassamattah, Crack? Can't find any Mormons to throat punch?

gerry said...

Man, Crack has really gone back to being a one-trick pony

Aren't one-trick ponies a protected minority?

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mitch H. said...

Aren't one-trick ponies a protected minority?

I think you're thinking of those ponies on that island off the coast of Delmarva.

tim maguire said...

The first video I saw (and I think it was the first video released) gave the context she claims was missing. I remember thinking as I watched her switch from racist story to uplifting moral, "oh, look at that, she finally noticed the cameras."

And why should she get to decide how much context Breitbart is obligated to include? The video included her, but it was not about her. There was nothing misleading about what Breitbart did.

William said...

I thought she got fired in such a premptory way because the administration didn't want to draw further attention to Pigford.......Consider the time and attention that is being spent on Bridgegate,and the studious way the Pigford improprieties are ignored. You would think that journalists would want to dig deeper into this story if only because Pigford is such an arresting name for a scandal.

Ann Althouse said...

"Intriguing because it suggests the government has a "winning hand" to reveal?"

Well, but that can't be what Leon meant, can it? It's more that the govt is stalling and it's irritating as a waste of time, and not some jackassery used by a person who knows he's about to win to get some sadistic pleasure.

Marshal said...

Birches said...
It appears that the government fired her because they watched an edited video and didn't read the actual story. So shouldn't she be suing the government for wrongful termination?


She was fired because she admitted to administering a government program in a racially discriminatory fashion, a civil rights violation. The fact that she later repented in one instance does not change this fact.

Don M said...

Its my understanding that Breitbart did not edit the video. Any damage that occured from editing the video would be the responsibility of the person that did it, not Breitbart who showed the whole thing.

Of course the damage done by firing here was the responsibility of the cabinet official who did it, again, not Breitbart.

Serge L. said...

"Intriguing because it suggests the government has a "winning hand" to reveal?"


It is a winning hand, because the pro-longed judicial process is the victory in itself for the slow roller. Government has the resources to slow role, until the issue has been so diluted that they can either proclaim "what difference does it make", or watch the other party go bankrupt, publicly lynched, or sometimes even dead...

Donald Gooch said...

That this case stil exists is amazing to me. Like the NRO / Mann case, I just don't understand how these cases survive the initial review. It's even worse here, as truth is an absolute defense against defamation, and the only somewhat false assertion made by Brietbart was describing her as a federal employee at the time of her statements (she was a state employee) then. But the problem is that, even if we view that in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, what was false didn't defame, and what defamed wasn't false. Ergo, the suit should be dismissed. D.GOOCH