Trump's Attack on California Judge's 'Conflict' Puts Spotlight on His Lawyers

History isn't on the side of GOP contender's O’Melveny team if they seek to oust judge.

, The National Law Journal


Donald Trump's remark that a California federal judge has a "conflict of interest" because of his Hispanic heritage runs counter to a string of cases rejecting similar arguments to disqualify judges, and the comments present Trump's lawyers with a potential ethical quandary.

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What's being said

  • Dottie Hamilton

    I the whole scheme of legal life, Donald Trump is not a threat to this individual judge‘s career. Far more frightening, however, have been the two circumstances I have personally seen in Federal cases where "all guns blazing" assaults on the character have been made against U.S. District Court judges by big dollar corporate and conservative interests in serious environmental and oil/gas industry cases. While it‘s tough to disqualify a Federal trial judge it is easy for an angry corporation and its friends to make the trial judge‘s life miserable inside and outside the court room.And then there is the truly odious system in California where Superior Courts in each county have a Presiding Judge who is often subtly political partisan through social connections. I‘ve watched one Presiding Judge who is so infamous and partisan she has her own Wikipedia page describing her exploits BEFORE becoming a Presiding Judge. That Presiding Judge (when she was merely Assistant Presiding Judge) pulled out the knives and totally destroyed the judicial career of a brilliant, scholarly trial judge in a department which exclusively dealt with local government, environmental and writs issues. The trial judge‘s offense? Enforcing state environmental laws too frequently against real estate developers and their puppets, morally corrupt local elected officials. The "final straw" was the trial judge finding that a certain Democrat city councilman conspired with city planning employees to take physical actions (post-hearing-file-stuffing) to deny the councilman‘s constituents substantive due process rights. The trial judge had the temerity to find that fact, in writing, when the councilman was running for mayor. That was the last straw for the good trial judge, who was literally "sent to the court house basement" with no court room, no staff and no calendar. There have been further kerfuffles in that one, huge California Superior Court where the local government/environmental judges have angered the wrong people, those with the personal phone number of the Presiding Judge. We‘ve got judges depressed and frightened of enforcing the state‘s environmental and ‘freedom of information‘ laws too often. We‘ve got judges going on sick leave rather than tangle with the Presiding Judge. We‘ve got judges checking their retirement accounts and retiring with no advance notice after a run-in with politically motivated Presiding Judges. We‘ve got a Presiding Judge assigning conservative judges ‘with an ax to grind‘ to court department where the state‘s open meeting law, the state‘s public record law, the state‘s planning, zoning, environmental and election laws are supposed to be enforced. An entire county‘s judicial system can be hijacked by outside-of-court political/corporate stick their hands into the assistant presiding judge and presiding judge election process and literally lobby and politic for the selection of judges with pro-corporate/big business mind sets to run the local courts. California is not alone with this problem.Donald Trump was a fool to publicly shoot off his mouth against Judge Curiel. There are so many other more sophisticated, tried-and-true lawful ways he could have made the judge miserable and gained some level of satisfaction in doing so. To Trump‘s lawyers credit, they took no such steps against Judge Curiel, unlike many of their more aggressive corporate counsel bretheren.

  • Kurt L Hanson

    Curiel is a member of a pro-Latino, pro-Hispanic group of lawyers affiliated with the parent group La Raza, that is, THE RACE. Why would anyone who was born and educated and then employed within the U.S. judicial system also seek to be identified as a pro-Latino, pro-Hispanic group member? To emphasize how corrupt the judicial system is today, imagine the bias of the one who placed Curiel on the case knowing of his pro-Latino, pro-Hispanic demeanor. There are dopey attorneys, and then there are brilliant attorneys.But i digress. Rule 11 is all that matters.

  • Walli Haley

    W. Haley. As a woman, I am deeply offended by Mr. Trump. As an attorney, I am mystified as to how someone born in the U.S. could be referred to as a "Mexican judge," by Mr. Trump. But, if a person‘s ethnicity alone is a reason to disqualify a judge, then I can foresee a time when others seek to recuse their judges based on the color of their skin or their ancestors‘ birthplace. For example, Mr. Trump‘s sister is a federal appeals court judge: should every person of color who has a case before her now assume she‘s biased against them?

  • J.L. Thiel

    Donald Trump is thinned skinned- His lawyers need to come up with a better reason to have the judge recuse himself- The parameters for Rule 11 have not been meet

  • Lolena

    As a woman, I support Mr. Trump. I feel his concern for impartiality may be justified with regard to Judge Curiel.

  • Benjamin Soffer

    Obviously, Mr. Trump believes that Judge Curiel cannot be impartial in light of Trump‘s bigotted comments about Mexico and "Mexicans." One supposes that Trump would also believe that no female judge could be impartial. (Well, perhaps no so; as he likes to proclaim, he loves women, so what reason could they possibly have to not love him back?)

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