Federal judge slaps Obama eligibility attorney with $20K sanctions
By Linda Bentley | October 14, 2009
‘A mere seven days after losing in Texas, Ms. Taitz
filed the same action in this court’
COLUMBUS, Ga. – On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Clay D. Land issued an order fining Attorney Orly Taitz, well-known for filing lawsuits across the country challenging President Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility, $20,000 in sanctions and directed the clerk of the court to forward a copy of his 43-page ruling to the State Bar of California.
Citing Goldfarb v. State Bar, Land wrote, “Competent and ethical lawyers ‘are essential to the primary governmental function of administering justice.’ For justice to be administered efficiently and justly, lawyers must understand the conditions that govern their privilege to practice law. Lawyers who do not understand those conditions are at best woefully unprepared to practice the profession and at worst a menace to it.”
Land accused Taitz of filing complaints and motions without a reasonable basis for believing they are supported by law and abusing her privilege to practice law.
He stated, “When a lawyer personally attacks opposing parties and disrespects the integrity of the judiciary, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law. When a lawyer recklessly accuses a judge of violating the Judicial Code of Conduct with no supporting evidence beyond her dissatisfaction with the judge’s rulings, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law. When a lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law, that lawyer ceases to advance her cause or the ends of justice.”
Based on Taitz’s response to the court’s show cause order, Land said it was regrettable that Taitz had crossed those lines and “must be sanctioned for her misconduct … as a deterrent to prevent future misconduct and to protect the integrity of the court.”
As a basis for his order, Land cited Taitz’s action filed on behalf of Army reservist Major Stefan Frederick Cook, seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent his deployment to Afghanistan based on the allegation the orders were void and unenforceable because Obama was not eligible to hold the office of President and thus was not the legitimate Commander in Chief.
Land wrote, “These allegations were based on counsel’s conclusory allegations that the President was not born in the United States. As a national leader in the so-called ‘birther movement,’ plaintiff’s counsel has attempted to use litigation to provide the ‘legal foundation’ for her political agenda.
Even though Cook’s orders were revoked, he said Taitz “insisted on pursuing the claim.”
Land said that confirmed her focus was not to obtain legal relief on behalf of Cook but rather “to maintain a legal action in federal court in hopes of having a federal judge permit discovery that would require the President of the United States to produce a ‘birth certificate’ that was satisfactory to counsel and her followers.”
Land noted Taitz’s pursuit of similar litigation across the country and cited the Capt. Connie Rhodes case filed in the Western District of Texas where Judge Xavier Rodriguez promptly denied plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order, finding that “Plaintiff has no substantial likelihood of success on the merits.”
He said, “A mere seven days after losing in Texas, Ms. Taitz filed the same action in this court.” Two days after the hearing Land said he issued “an admittedly strong order dismissing the action on abstention grounds” finding the action “legally frivolous.”
Taitz subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration and sought recusal of Land from the case for what Land called “baseless speculation” that he may have engaged in ex parte communication with the Attorney General; fictitious allegations that he has a financial interest in the outcome based on ownership of stock in Microsoft and Comcast; frivolous argument that the court cannot issue monetary sanctions as a penalty to deter future misconduct under Rule 11; and frivolous contention that the court is biased based upon the tone of its previous rulings and the expedited nature and substance of the court’s rulings.
Land addressed and refuted, in detail, each of Taitz’s allegations.
He then stated, “Our founders provided opportunities for a President’s qualifications to be tested, but they do not include direct involvement by the judiciary.”
Pointing out a President can be removed from office through impeachment, or, if he were elected to office by knowingly and fraudulently concealing evidence of his constitutional disqualifications, Land noted “a mechanism exists for removing him from office.”
Land stated, “Except for the Chief Justice’s role in presiding over the trial in the Senate, the mechanism does not involve the judiciary.”
In conclusion, Land wrote, “The court takes no joy in reaching the conclusions it has reached in today’s order,” as he quoted the observations of Northern District of California Judge William Schwarzer:
“Of all the duties of the judge, imposing sanctions on lawyers is perhaps the most unpleasant. A desire to avoid doing so is understandable. But if judges turn from Rule 11 and let it fall into disuse, the message to those inclined to abuse or misuse the litigation process will be clear. Misconduct, once tolerated, will breed more misconduct and those who might seek relief against abuse will instead resort to it in self-defense.”
Taitz was ordered to pay the $20,000 sanctions within 30 days.