Thursday, March 14, 2024

Judge Orders That Floyd Bennett Field May Be Used as a Migrant Center

Floyd Bennett Field's migrant shelter

NYS Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said, 

 “I participated in this lawsuit because federal parkland should not be used for housing anyone, let alone parkland that is in a recognized flood zone with nearly no resources. This is a federal problem and no matter how you feel, it is clear that Floyd Bennett Field is an inhumane location to house migrants and should not be allowed.”

I agree. Taxpayers should have a voice in where and how our taxes are spent. 

I hope the almost 40 elected officials and civic leaders who filed the lawsuit will appeal.

Just sayin'...

Betsy Combier

Floyd Bennett Field Lawsuit Dismissed

Bt John Schilling, The Wave, March 13, 2024

 After months of court proceedings, the Floyd Bennett Field migrant camp lawsuit has been dismissed by Judge Peter Sweeney, NYC Councilwoman Joann Ariola’s office announced on Wednesday, March 13.

The lawsuit, which stemmed from a Sept. 19 injunction filed by NYC Councilwoman Joann Ariola, NYS Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, NYS Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato and 36 other elected officials and civic leaders, challenged New York State’s authority to house migrants on Floyd Bennett Field, a national park site.

“We are extremely disappointed to learn of Judge Sweeney’s decision to dismiss our case in the Floyd Bennett Field lawsuit,” Ariola said. “We ask that Judge Sweeney publish the memorandum explaining exactly why he has decided this way, and we will continue to do what we can to push for an immediate closure of the tent complex at Floyd Bennett Field.”

“I am appalled by Judge Sweeney’s decision to dismiss our case, and disgusted to learn that he did so without notifying either party or the public,” Williams added. “We would love to know why he feels it is prudent to place 2000 human beings in a flood zone in the middle of a National Recreation Area. This is a disgrace and an insult to every tax paying citizen whom resides in the area around Floyd Bennett Field, and a disservice to the people who are being forced to live in this compound.”

“I believe Judge Sweeney made the wrong decision by dismissing our case against the poorly planned and ill-conceived housing for migrants at Floyd Bennett Field,” Pheffer Amato said. “I participated in this lawsuit because federal parkland should not be used for housing anyone, let alone parkland that is in a recognized flood zone with nearly no resources. This is a federal problem and no matter how you feel, it is clear that Floyd Bennett Field is an inhumane location to house migrants and should not be allowed.”

Saturday, May 6, 2023

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Did Not Recuse Herself From Cases Involving Her Own Publisher, Penguin Random House

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor failed to recuse herself from several cases involving her publisher, according to a report.
penguin random house

This seems to be a case of a conflict of interest in the highest Court in America.

Quite shocking.

Betsy Combier

Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog

Supreme Ethics Conflict: Radical Justice Took $3M from Book Publisher, Didn’t Recuse from Cases

by Victor Nava, May 4 2023, NY POST

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor didn’t recuse herself from multiple cases involving a book publisher –  Penguin Random House – which paid her more than $3 million since 2010, according to a report. 

The copyright infringement cases, in which Penguin Random House stood to suffer financial damage if the court ruled unfavorably, were not taken up by the high court but justices voted on whether or not to hear the cases. 

Altogether, Sotomayor earned $3.6 million from Penguin Random House and its subsidiaries for agreeing to let them publish her 2013 memoir, “My Beloved World,” and numerous children’s books since then, the Daily Wire reported on Thursday. 

The same year that her memoir came out, Sotomayor voted on whether the high court should take up Aaron Greenspan v. Random House.

Her liberal colleague at the time, Justice Stephen Breyer, recused himself from the case, having also received money from Penguin Random House. 

The court does not reveal how justices vote in deciding whether to hear arguments in a case. 

In 2020, Sotomayor also took part in deciding on a petition filed by fellow children’s author Jennie Nicassio, who argued that Penguin Random House was selling a book nearly identical to one she had already written and published. On the same day that the petition was delivered to the justices, Penguin Random House cut Sotomayor a check for $10,586, according to the Daily Wire. 

Again, Breyer recused himself from the case that the court declined to take up. 

Sotomayor, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, disclosed the income from her book publisher on her annual disclosure forms. The report on Sotomayor’s possible conflict of interest on the bench comes amid an effort by lawmakers on Capitol Hill to force the high court to revamp its code of ethics

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have vowed to establish a new code of ethics and conduct for the Supreme Court justices if they refuse to come up with one themselves. 

The push for ethics reform comes after several media reports related to conservative Justice Clarence Thomas and his close friendship with Republican megadonor Harlan Crow. 

Last month, Thomas confirmed reports by ProPublica that he had repeatedly accepted travel from Crow over their more than two decades of friendship without disclosing it. 

Thomas contends that he did not have to report the gifts on annual financial disclosure forms. 

The outlet also reported that Crow purchased property from Thomas and his relatives. 

On Thursday, ProPublica published another report alleging that Crow also paid for the private school tuition of Thomas’ grandnephew. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Ho Says He Will No Longer Hire Yale Law Students


James Ho Cancel Cultures Yale Law FedSoc Because Other Students Are Mean To Yale Law FedSoc Students

Avalon Zoppo Brad Kutner Christine Charnosky, September 29, 2022

A federal judge who said he will no longer hire clerks from Yale Law School garnered criticism from the legal community, one of whom said his comments could create ethics problems.

Legal ethics adviser and University of Miami Law professor Jan Jacobowitz said comments from Judge James Ho of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit criticizing Yale could create recusal problems in the future.

At a speech Ho gave Thursday to the Kentucky Chapters Conference of the Federalist Society, he pledged not to hire students who “want the closed and intolerant environment that Yale embraces today,” referencing a March event hosted by Yale’s Federalist Society chapter that featured Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom. Conservative outlets claimed protestors, who opposed Waggoner for her anti-LGBTQ views, were so loud and violent that police needed to be called. Other reports suggest the scene was less dramatic.

Calling Ho’s refusal to work with Yale grads because of the incident “irony 2.0,” Jacobowitz said future Yale Law graduates who go before Ho for hearings could fear the judge is biased against them.

“Any party who retains a Yale law school graduate or happens to be a Yale graduate might reasonably believe that they would get a fair trial in the judge’s courtroom,” she explained.

Ho’s talk about resisting cancel culture accused Yale of tolerating and actively practicing the cancellation of opposing views. The judge has himself hired at least two clerks who graduated from Yale Law School in the past, according to a LinkedIn search and a Claremont Institute announcement. In his speech, Ho said his pledge wouldn’t apply to current Yale students.

Former U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of the Northern District of California, who is the executive director of Berkeley Judicial Institute, said that while there are issues that need to be addressed on civility, Ho’s efforts will be viewed as partisan.

“The speakers to whom Judge Ho refers are identified with conservative or libertarian viewpoints, and he singles out Yale Law School as a particularly intolerant environment with respect to those views,” Fogel said. “In that context, the boycott he proposes inevitably will be seen as partisan.”

“At the same time, there is an underlying reality that our law schools and society generally need to address, which is our growing inability to deal civilly with deeply-felt differences,” Fogel said. “Law schools can be leaders in making a serious commitment to inclusion and respect for differences of all kinds and in helping students to develop the concrete communication skills that can make that possible.”

“Sometimes that means being able to listen to things that are upsetting, and sometimes it means making a genuine, thoughtful effort to understand why people are upset,” Fogel added.

Yale Law declined to comment.

In his speech, Ho said his refusal to hire Yale clerks is no different from standing orders that some judges have issued stating they will give more oral argument time to younger lawyers, or a push from jurists to appoint diverse attorneys for lead counsel in class action litigation. Ho also appeared to reference a “statement” from Justice Samuel Alito in the denial of review in the 2013 case Martin v. Blessing, where the justice criticized a trial judge’s “highly unusual” practice of using race and sex when picking class counsel.

“If judges can tell litigants which lawyers they should hire—and presidents which judges they should appoint—then surely I can say whose graduates I will hire as law clerks in my own chambers,” Ho said Thursday.

But those who would be impacted by Ho’s threat were unimpressed by his musing.

“Judge Ho has always been free to make hiring decisions as he sees fit,” a Yale law student, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “I very much doubt that any liberal-leaning students had any desire to clerk for him, so his decision ironically only adversely impacts conservative-leaning Federalist Society members who agree with him ideologically.”

“Yale Law School is still the No. 1 ranked law school in the country and I fully expect that my peers and I will have no trouble finding prestigious clerkships and high-paying jobs,” they said.

Ho is not the first judge to criticize Yale. Senior Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sent an email in March to all Article III judges suggesting that student-protestors who interrupted an on-campus Federalist Society event should be identified and disqualified from federal clerkship positions.

Also among those to criticize Ho for his comments was Georgia State University law professor Eric Segall. He called the jurist’s comments “insanity” before suggesting Ho failed to realize that cancel culture impacts both sides of the political spectrum.

“His arrogant view that this decision will somehow hurt Yale Law School is as unpersuasive as his judicial opinions,” Segall said.

Some questioned the irony of Ho’s comments, saying he is canceling Yale at the same time he condemns cancel culture. But the judge said in his speech that such observations miss the point.

“I would say that I’m doing the exact opposite of what Yale is doing. Cancel culture is about excluding people. I want institutions of higher learning to include people,” he said.

“I don’t want to cancel Yale. I want Yale to stop canceling people like me,” Ho added a short time later.

Ho was appointed to the bench in 2018 by former President Donald Trump, and is known for writing some fiery writing, including one concurrence last year where he accused his colleagues of applying a “woke Constitution.” Some ethics experts criticized a speech he gave earlier this year in which he said affirmative action policies that aren’t color-blind are “offensive and un-American.”

But he isn’t without supporters. Among those who lauded a Yale boycott is South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman.

“One judge cannot make a difference, but a critical mass of judges could force Yale to change its ways,” he said. “That school (Yale) lives on the prestige of federal clerkships, and will only respond when there is a threat to that prestige.”

Among those Ho lauded during his speech was Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow and director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute.

“Ilya is not the only legal scholar to face campus vitriol, for doing nothing more than standing up for mainstream principles,” the jurist said of the conservative commentator who was embroiled in a hiring controversy with Georgetown Law before taking a job with the institute.

Shapiro called Ho “brave” after the speech was made public.

“Something has to be done to disrupt the toxic atmosphere polluting too many law schools,” he added.

Supreme Court reporter Marcia Coyle contributed to this report.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Texas Judge Rodney Gilstrap Violated Judicial Ethics By Using His Office For Financial Gain

Judge Rodney Gilstrap

Judge Rodney Gilstrap Sets an Unwanted Record: Most Cases With Financial Conflicts

By Joe Palazzolo, James V. Grimaldi and Coulter Jones, Wall Street Journal