|Man Without Qualities|
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, has reportedly resigned from that court in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program. Since the critics of the president's orders have argued that the disputed surveilance should have been authorized by a warrant of exactly the court from which Judge Robertson resigned, the resignation is a peculiar form of protest - to say the least.
Judge Robertson has not always been so picky regarding possible "taints" of his judicial office. This site contains quite a bit of information on Judge Robertson's rather extensive collection of highly questionable - and highly politicized - activities on the bench, including this pearl from the Washington Times (2/10/00):
The Judicial Council of the D.C. Circuit, in a terse two-paragraph ruling, ordered acting Appeals Court Chief Judge Stephen F. Williams to determine why a random computer assignment system at the court was bypassed in four campaign fund-raising prosecutions and a tax-evasion case against Clinton pal Webster L. Hubbell. Chief District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson abandoned the computer system to send the cases to judges appointed by Mr. Clinton. She has declined public comment on the decision, but told The Washington Times in a letter last month she was authorized to assign "protracted or complex criminal cases to consenting judges when circumstances warrant," although she did not elaborate. The new investigation was sought by Rep. Howard Coble, North Carolina Republican and chairman of a House subcommittee that oversees the courts, and Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm…….Mr. Coble's concerns focused on cases involving Mr. Hubbell, former associate attorney general; Arkansas businessman Charles Yah Lin Trie; Democratic fund-raiser Howard Glicken; Thai lobbyist Pauline Kanchanalak; and Miami fund-raiser Mark B. Jimenez. The judges were Paul L. Friedman, James Robertson and Emmet G. Sullivan, all of whom were named to the bench by Mr. Clinton in 1994; and Henry H. Kennedy Jr., appointed by Mr. Clinton in 1997And there's also this nugget from the Washington Post (6/28/00):
A federal appeals court yesterday reinstated the conviction of a Tyson Foods executive for providing an illegal gratuity to former agriculture secretary Mike Espy, ruling that Archibald R. Schaffer III was not entitled to a new trial…... A jury convicted him nearly two years ago, but a series of appeals delayed his sentencing……..Schaffer, director of government and media relations for the poultry giant, was convicted of providing Espy with $2,500 worth of air transportation so the agriculture secretary could attend a May 1993 Tyson family party in Arkansas. U.S. District Judge James Robertson overturned the verdict, saying prosecutors failed to tie favors to official acts on Espy's part. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last year that Robertson erred and sent the case back for sentencing…….The defense then sought a new trial, saying that Espy now was available to testify. At the time of Schaffer's trial, Espy was awaiting trial himself on gratuities charges. A jury acquitted Espy, who then offered to testify that Schaffer did nothing wrong.......Robertson ordered the new trial but was reversed once again yesterday.There's so much more, even though the site is a bit out of date.
More recently, Judge Robertson ordered the Military Commission to stop hearings in the conspiracy case against Salim Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden. That order was reversed by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (with now-Chief Justice Roberts joining the opinion), a decision that the Supreme Court has agreed to review. Here's more on the Hamdan case.
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