Leaderboard 728 X 90

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Owner of ranch where Scalia died received favorable treatment in the form of an unpublished opinion, long before his company's case reached SCOTUS


Antonin Scalia's wealthy hunting buddy,
John B. Poindexter
(From nytimes.com)
A Texas businessman who owned the remote ranch where U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died last month, received a favorable ruling last year in an unpublished opinion before a federal appellate court.

Multiple news outlets have reported that John B. Poindexter, owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch and the Houston-based manufacturing firm J.B. Poindexter and Co., received a favorable outcome when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on an employment-discrimination case involving one of his subsidiaries. According to news reports, Scalia's expenses-paid hunting trip to Poindexter's ranch was a "gift."

Was it a possible kickback for court-related favors the justice had provided? The answer to that question is not clear, but it is clear that Poindexter's favorable treatment in the discrimination case (James Hinga v. MIC Group) started long before SCOTUS refused to hear the case.

How? The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) upheld a trial court's dismissal of Hinga's discrimination claim on summary judgment. Here is the alarming part: The Fifth Circuit issued an unpublished opinion in Hinga. Based on our experience and research, that can be a sign a ruling is suspect.

We aren't the only ones who hold that opinion of unpublished opinions. A scholar who was considered the "father of modern legal ethics" also had a low opinion of unpublished opinions. (More on that in upcoming posts.)

How do we know the Hinga opinion was unpublished? Well, different courts do it different ways. In the Eleventh Circuit (covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) such opinions usually are stamped near the top "Do Not Publish." It's hard to miss. The Fifth Circuit apparently is a bit more subtle about it.

The Hinga opinion includes an asterisk near the name of the justice who authored it, with the following explanation at the bottom of the first page:

* Pursuant to 5TH CIR. R. 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5TH CIR. R. 47.5.4

A SCOTUS docket chart for August 2015 also shows that the opinion was unpublished.

Why might an unpublished opinion emit a foul odor? In so many words, the "unpublished" designation suggests issues in the case were so clear-cut that the outcome was obvious and the case deserves to be buried because it has no precedential value.

That might actually hold true in some unpublished cases. But we've seen signs that "Do Not Publish" on an opinion can be a way to cover up judicial skulduggery.

In the Hinga case, it almost surely meant that his appeal was dead on arrival at SCOTUS. Did Scalia do Poindexter a favor, not by making sure the nation's highest court did not hear the case, but by making sure the Fifth Circuit ruled in his hunting friend's favor--and did so in an unpublished fashion that the public was unlikely to notice or question?

How can that happen? We will explain in an upcoming post--and we also will show why a leading legal scholar was not high on unpublished opinions.


(To be continued)

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank God...a real meaty post. These AM posts have made me feel like a voyeur in to another persons life that I really don't care about. This is the stuff that matters to me. Just one woman's opinion. THIS is injustice.

Anonymous said...

Roger, has a man named Sonny Posey been involved in any legal action against you or other area journalists in the past five years? Maybe I am spelling the name wrong but you know what a stalking horse is, right?

Anonymous said...

Never before did I realize that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power.

Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become.

Hitler an example. Fair makes the old brain reel, doesn't it?

Here's a clue: first Wednesday of each month.

legalschnauzer said...

Sonny Posey is a new name to me, @10:54. He hasn't been involved in any legal action against me, at least on the surface. God only knows who is acting behind the scenes in some of the legal action against me.

What is a stalking horse? New term to me.

Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting, LS, look forward to more on the Scalia story. I think much remains unknown about circumstances surrounding his death.

Anonymous said...

FYI...

A stalking horse is a figure that tests a concept with someone or mounts a challenge against someone on behalf of an anonymous third party

Anonymous said...

Stalking horse is someone who acts for a secret third party.
Sonny Posey or Possey, Roger. Well placed.

Anonymous said...

A stalking horse is a hunting aid more commonly today used as metaphor for hidden agenda, more specifically to describe someone concealing the interests of a third party or hidden agenda. In hunting, the term describes a screen made in the shape of a horse behind which a hunter can stay concealed when stalking prey.

It's a term often used in politics or business to describe someone trying to aid someone else in a deceptive way, to perhaps test a strategy, or shape the political landscape, or manipulate it to favor another. They conceal that they are trying to aid the third person.

People have theorized, or they did at one point, that Donald Trump (a long-time not-very-conservative person and friend of the Clintons) might have entered the Republican race for nomination as candidate for the presidency as a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton, with a hidden agenda to ease Hillary Clinton's path to the whitehouse by screwing around with the GOP race. He knocks out contenders, changes the conversation, sucks up publicity time, though he doesn't (or didn't at first) intend to actually end up with the nomination, but it's a nice publicity stunt for himself and aids his friend. Some people still think this might have been the case, but he did better than expected and now his ego has changed his goals, and he simply means to burn down the party if he can because he isn't conservative. Some people think this still is the case: he was in the race as a self-promotional stunt and a spoiler, and still intends to pave the way for Hillary's election, or a weakened GOP.

It doesn't really matter now, it's a distinction without a difference whether he is a stalking horse or very genuine - the effect his running was to knock out GOP-preferred and tea-party candidates, to make the race smoother for Clinton, and if he should succeed in gaining the nomination, weaken the party, and if he should gain office, alter the party.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the AM stories.They bring back happy memories of my childhood.
Foghorn J. Leghorn (Roger) takes a fence post and strikes George P. Dog (lawyer)on the ass.

Tatiana Neroni said...

Every appeal from a civil rights case I know of that comes before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit is decided through an unpublished summary order where the court "presumes familiarity of parties and counsel with facts and procedural history of the case" and affirms "for substantially the same reasons" as the district court had dismissing the case, usually before discovery and before an answer is filed.

And, the civil rights lawsuits in question raise issues of public concern, such as judicial corruption, access to court, misconduct of various government officials.

The interesting part is that appellants in federal courts pay the same filing fees (pretty hefty now), but their cases are arbitrarily set either into the "opinion" track, or the "fast-and-sloppy" track where staff drafts a quick "unpublished opinion", likely without much reading of the record (as I could judge from some unpublished opinions) and judges, mostly of senior status, close to 80 years old who preside over such "unpublished opinions", quickly rubber-stamp such things.

Unpublished opinions is simply a policy of federal courts to stop civil rights litigation.

Federal appellate judge Alex Kozinski was quoted as saying that it takes exponentially more time to prepare an opinion than an unpublished summary order. So, those whose cases are dismissed through unpublished summary orders are financing those who are entitled, under the same law, and for the same filing fee, for a full-fledged pecedential opinion. Usually it is poor civil rights litigants who are financing corporate clients. Corporations get full opinions (if they are benefited), and unpublished opinions (if that is needed to affirm a dismissal in their favor). Civil rights litigants invariable get a dismissal through unpublished opinions. This way courts do not have to review, analyze and rule on sensitive issues that strike too close to home.

Anonymous said...

Awesome great work!

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for an informative comment, Tatiana. I have at least two more posts coming on the subject of unpublished opinions.

legalschnauzer said...

Glad you like the AM stuff, @12:05. There is much more to come.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for the info on a stalking horse. I should have known what that was because I've certainly been targeted in that manner--at least that's what evidence tells me.

Who is Sonny Posey, BTW? Still not familiar with that individual. Someone in Alabama?

legalschnauzer said...

First Wednesday of each month, @10:59? You've lost me.

Anonymous said...

Roger, can you use Google?

legalschnauzer said...

No, I have no idea how to use Google. Would you please show me how?

Anonymous said...

Got it! The lines from above are from one flew over the cuchoo's nest.
First wednesday of month .They have a new drug(invega sustenna) for schizophrenia, where you get a shot,once per month.

Anonymous said...

A former vice president of the United States continues to be involved in corruption and cover-ups. Wouldn't be surprised if his people are monitoring you now.

Anonymous said...

Google Sonny Posey. He is "mayor" of Jasper.

Anonymous said...

The Church of The Highlands has a service they call "First Wednesday". Church services are held on the first wednesday of each month.If I attended The Church of the Highlands and
needed a memory aide as to when to get my shot, I would get my shot the first wednesday of each month before I went to church.

Anonymous said...

Wow stunning :-)

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/03/results_birmingham_mayors_son.html

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting. I didn't realize Bell's son is an attorney. Wonder what kind of law he practices.

legalschnauzer said...

Looks like their is some Drummond blood running through Mayor Posey's veins.

legalschnauzer said...

I have a friend who is showing signs of having schizophrenia. I will be sure to pass this info along to him.

Anonymous said...

While we were watching an anonymous commentator flameout,another attorney Roger is familiar with, had a flameout in a Lee County courtroom.Baron Coleman had his flame extinquished by Mike Hubbard and the Yancey clan.
In his Feb 29 article,Roger lists the economic damages he has suffered.A smart-ass (his words) commentator jumps in trying to trick Roger into saying the damages were his own fault. In the period of one week,the commentator went from someone who sounded like an attorney trying to intimidate a witness on cross;to a bumbling idiot spouting profanities. How could this happen? Simple-the Yanceys. On March 9 in the Feb.29 article's comment section,@5:59 starts his profanity laden rant about someone in Jasper,Alabama. In the march 10 article's comment section,@10:54 introduces Sonny Posey and a stalking horse.@11:37 gave the definition of a stalking horse. A google search will show Sonny Posey as the mayor of Jasper,Alabama.But if you research the Rebel Underground,You will find that Mayor Sonny Posey has been a guest speaker at The Sons of Confederate Veterans meetings many times. Where you have a Confederate Veteran, you will find a Yancey. A Yancey overheard The Mayor telling someone that he had a confederate trying to trick Roger for a third party.Our flamedout commentator only knew that someone in Jasper had hired him.
What third party would gain by Roger not having any economic damages? Only one answer-The Riley Machine.But why now? Only one answer.The only way the prior-restraint imprisonment of Roger could survive a higher-court challenge,would be with an unpublished opinion.The man behind that curtain died Feb.13.But what caused our anonymous commentator to flameout in one week? @10:59 on march 10 explained that with a riddle. Our anonymous commentator needs his medication on the first wednesday of each month.Some one prevented that.
The Yanceys are helping Roger because they need Roger to help them.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is showing signs of having schizophrenia. I will be sure to pass this info along to him.

Yes, I heard your "friend" is named Roger Shuler.

legalschnauzer said...

Oh, so I'm Roger Shuler, and I have a friend named Roger Shuler. Makes a lot of sense.

Do you even know what schizophrenia is? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so I'm Roger Shuler, and I have a friend named Roger Shuler. Makes a lot of sense. Do you even know what schizophrenia is? I doubt it.

I was implying that you are the one suffering from schizophrenia.

Yes, I'm well aware of the symptoms of schizophrenia, Roger.

Anonymous said...

So, @8:41, you are implying that Mr. Shuler has schizophrenia because he has reported about Antonin Scalia's death or because he's reported about individuals whose names appear at Ashley Madison. You think that points to schizophrenia? You really are clueless if that is the basis of your statement.

Anonymous said...

James Hinga had a snow balls chance in hell to win his case. I would like to know who paid his legal fees. Powerful people get bored if they can not use their power.This case was manipulated to make it appear some one is POWERFUL.The Riley Machine does the same thing .Shelby Co. v.Holder was a "LOOK WHAT I CAN DO".Decided June 25 ,2013. In July 2013, Riley gets a wild hair up his ass and decides to go whole hog.I CAN GO AGAINST 200 YEARS OF ROCK SOLID ESTABLISHED LAW and threw Roger in jail. The Supreme Court is part of the problem. They are bored too. The POWERFUL are playing games with the legal system for amusement only.

Anonymous said...

@9:21 - Sorry to break it to you, I am the "smart-ass" that you refer to in your post, but the other posts you referenced are not mine.

Anonymous said...

Smart-ass
noun
1.A person who is irritating because they behave as if they know everything.
2.Francis
noun
1.An academic bibliographic data base which covers the academic literature in the humanities and social sciences with special emphasis on European literature.
2. a talking ass

Anonymous said...

John Poindexter, a Houston businessman and multimillionaire, didn't go looking for an old fort to convert into a lodge when he bought this property in the early 1990s. He wanted a ranch and liked this one's terrain, climate, scenery and highway proximity. When he started to restore the three crumbling forts on it, he realized it would cost so much, he'd have to turn it into a business venture.

Get your facts straight you motherfucking pervert.

legalschnauzer said...

Looks like you know how to use Google, @11:42. Congrats. That must be a major achievement for you. Meanwhile, why don't you tell us what facts I don't have "straight." I don't see any. Share more of your wisdom, old foul-mouthed one.