Why men like Judge Jed S. Rakoff should matter to us

Justin Maxon / The New York Times

“We’re a nation of laws, not men.” Thus sayeth John Adams, verily coining America’s lofty definition of “the rule of law.” I hate to tell John but we’re a flawed nation, founded on poetic promises of fairness and objectivity we’re wholly incapable of delivering. If we were truly “a nation of laws, and not men,” who would care what judge got assigned to hear your case? The judge is just a law vendor right, a person who matches facts that the jury decided, with the right mix of law. Why should it matter then which judge you got? And what about those instances where judge A rules for plaintiff, and with nothing more than a new judge, the outcome flips. Is the law so loosey goosey that it’s like jello, it can apply both ways, merely because a different set of eyes applied it?

If we’re truly “a nation of laws, and not men” then why would corporations go the trouble of “purchasing” our judges, governors, legislators, members of congress, senators and so on? State Farm “purchased” a judge and put him on the Illinois Supreme Court to reverse Avery v. State Farm, a billion dollar consumer fraud case. Massey Coal “purchased” a pimp judge in West Virginia and installed him on their Supreme Court to reverse a $50 million dollar verdict against it. Right now, Senator Max Baucus holds our health care fate in his hands yet big insurance “purchased” him with $3 million in campaign cash. If we’re really “a nation of laws, and not men,” all these corporate predators are they’re wasting their money, and all the lobbyists can park their cash wheelbarrows for good.

Take the situation in our own Supreme Court. One of the judges elected to the Court received the unheard of sum of $2.2 million in campaign funds. He was elected as a tort reformer, pledging allegiance to big insurance, big medical, big pharma, etc. After the election, he showed up as a guest of the notorious insurance shill, Robert Hartwig, at a big insurance confab.

Let’s examine what happened next at Mississippi Supreme Court. Alex Alston, an esteemed senior member of the Mississippi bar who’s practiced on both sides had this to say:

During the past 4 1/2 years, according to my research, an astonishing 88 percent of all jury verdicts in favor of the wronged victims have been reversed by the state Supreme Court. Continue reading “Why men like Judge Jed S. Rakoff should matter to us”

Anyone else remember that Federal Judge that actually lives up to his oath of office

Justin Maxon / The New York Times

I sure do as the blogger who would become known as Bam Bam Bigelow authored the post on him for Slabbed late last month. Yesterday Judge Jed S. Rakoff lowered the boom on both Bank of America and the captured (and toothless) regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Nowdy, I sure do miss that SEC employee who had plenty of time to come here and trash the Rigsby sisters back in 2008 before George Bush and his band of idiots had to vacate DC taking their political hacks with them. After all what was evidently more important at the SEC in 2008 than trashing whistleblowers? It sure as hell wasn’t regulating these companies that took us all to the verge of bankruptcy last year.

The New York Times has the story with a hat tip to Professor Russ Abbott who was kind enough to link our earlier coverage. Welcome to slabbed Russ:

As President Obama traveled to Wall Street on Monday and chided bankers for their recklessness, across town a federal judge issued a far sharper rebuke, not just for some of the financiers but for their regulators in Washington as well.

Giving voice to the anger and frustration of many ordinary Americans, Judge Jed S. Rakoff issued a scathing ruling on one of the watershed moments of the financial crisis: the star-crossed takeover of Merrill Lynch by the now-struggling Bank of America.

Judge Rakoff refused to approve a $33 million deal that would have settled a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against the Bank of America. The lawsuit alleged that the bank failed to adequately disclose the bonuses that were paid by Merrill before the merger, which was completed in January at regulators’ behest as Merrill foundered. Continue reading “Anyone else remember that Federal Judge that actually lives up to his oath of office”

Here’s a judge who took an oath of office, and lives up to it. An anonymous guest post.

Justin Maxon / The New York Times

The judges name is Jed S. Rakoff, and he “sits” in the US District Court of Manhattan.  He’s a man I could address as “Your Honor,” and sincerely mean it.  He isn’t shy about stating that the public must be able to “see” what our court system is doing if they are to have any confidence in it at all.  He’s adopted strict rules limiting what sort of materials may be kept confidential in cases before him.  He calls this “transparency,” but what he’s really saying is this . . . every time a court does something under the table, (like sealing State Farm’s documents without any basis whatsoever), it demeans the justice system and destroys people’s belief in their government. 

We all know how corporate defendants constantly game the system with their pseudo “trade secret” claims.  Good God, think of the horror stories posted on this blog alone.  Sadly, these shameless lies presented in signed court papers governed by Rule 11 honestly standards are rarely subjected to the mandatory test for excluding discoverable information: (1) the movant has the burden of proving everything they withheld is a bona fide trade secret; and (2) a record finding must be made, based on facts and/or testimony, and the controlling law in discovery cases; and (3) all of this must be preserved in a public court record, susceptible to appellate review. 

Contrast Judge Rakoff’s “transparency” with what happened in Birmingham, corporate rat’s nest of the South.  Not only were documents concealed, hell, the entire case against Cori and Keri Rigsby was ginned up to keep evidence of federal flood program fraud a secret, and at the same time persecute and defame the Rigsbys and Dick Scruggs as document thieves.  Imagine that.  What would people like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Benjamin Cardozo do if they were alive to witness an Article III Tribunal, a United States Federal Court involved in this sordid and illegal mess?  Imposing personal jurisdiction over persons not even within the court’s constitutional power . . . for the purpose of concealing a multi billion dollar fraud upon the US Treasury? Continue reading “Here’s a judge who took an oath of office, and lives up to it. An anonymous guest post.”