Thursday, February 25, 2016

Reports about Antonin Scalia's excursion with secret hunting society show his disdain for ethics--and his love for hanging out with Republican elites

Members of the International Order of St. Hubertus
Reports about Antonin Scalia's death among members of a secretive hunting society have focused largely on the group's history and strange customs. Some focused on unusual circumstances surrounding Scalia's death itself. But the real story is this: It reveals that a member of the U.S. Supreme Court had zero respect for basic legal ethics. And it shows that Scalia specifically never met a conflict of interest he did not embrace, especially when it meant he could hob-nob with big-money Republicans.

The story raises serious questions about the integrity of the nation's highest court. And this might be the most serious question of all: If SCOTUS tolerates, even flaunts, such conflicts of interest, how rampant and brazen must ethical violations be on lower courts, at both the federal and state levels?

It's intriguing, even amusing, that Scalia was hanging out with members of a hunting fraternity that dates to the 1600s in Austrian. But here is the troubling part: The friend with whom Scalia traveled to Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas was prominent Washington, D.C., lawyer C. Allen Foster--and he's had business before the Supreme Court.

Ranch owner John B. Poindexter had declined to identify Scalia's companion, but the information came from an incident report by Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez. Ironically, Yahoo! News reports, Poindexter had told Dominguez that he had no jurisdiction over the case. That must have been surprising news to the sheriff. Ranch owners make these kinds of determinations in Texas?

Dominguez' incident report provides all sorts of intriguing information about the events surrounding Scalia's death. In fact, it's the sheriff's report that identifies C. Allen Foster as Scalia's traveling companion. From Yahoo! News:

Poindexter has previously said Scalia traveled to the ranch with a friend but declined to name the companion. Dominguez's report identifies him as Allen Foster.

The report provides no details on Foster's background, but C. Allen Foster is a Washington, D.C., lawyer who has previously represented clients in cases before the Supreme Court. When contacted Wednesday at his law firm, a secretary said he was traveling out of the country and unavailable until his return on Thursday. He did not respond to an email seeking comment.

C. Allen Foster
In 1993, Foster argued a case before the Supreme Court in which he represented Hispanic Republicans challenging Florida's state redistricting plan.
According to his firm's website, Foster has served as special litigation counsel to the Republican Party.
Here is Scalia, who took an oath to uphold the law in an objective way, hanging out with special counsel for the Republican Party. Gee, I wonder if Foster was involved in the Bush v. Gore free-for-all of 2000.

That's not all. Here's this from The Post:

Planes owned by Wallace “Happy” Rogers III and the company of A.J. Lewis III left from San Antonio and arrived at the ranch just after noon Feb. 12. The planes departed the ranch about 30 minutes apart Feb. 14, according to flight records provided to The Post by FlightAware.

Rogers owns the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum in San Antonio. He has donated $65,000 to Republican candidates since 2008. Lewis is the owner of a restaurant supplier company, also based in San Antonio. He has given $3,500 to GOP candidates since 2007.

Rogers and Lewis have both served as prior officers in the Texas chapter of the International Order of St. Hubertus, according to Texas business records. Rogers spoke to a Post reporter briefly on the phone and confirmed that he was at the ranch the weekend of Scalia’s death. He declined to comment further.
Lewis did not respond to several attempts for comment.

Again, you have Scalia hanging out with big-money GOP donors. Most first-year law students probably know that the general standard for judges is to avoid "even the appearance of impropriety." Why didn't Scalia know that--or why did he not practice it? Was Scalia so arrogant that he didn't think ethical considerations applied to him?

In death, Scalia might have done the country the kind of favor he hardly ever did in life--he's helped to show that our nation's "justice system" is a sleaze pit from top to bottom.


Anonymous said...

Kudos to WaPo for some serious reporting--and top-notch analysis, LS. This story is just getting started, IMHO. The reluctance of Foster and Rogers to talk--and Foster's in Argentina!--speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

We need term limits for Supreme Court justices. I believe that is being discussed in some circles.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, term limits are being discussed, and polls show that most Americans favor it. One reform group advocates an 18-year limit. As the truth comes out about Antonin Scalia's death--and his actions in life--I think this movement will pick up steam.

Term limits, if they happen, should apply to all federal judges. No way should people like Bill Pryor and Bill Acker in Alabama have lifetime appointments, with virtually no oversight:

Anonymous said...

From ABA Journal report:

"Justice Antonin Scalia suffered from coronary artery disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, degenerative joint disease, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, obesity and other health problems, report the Associated Press and USA Today, which included details from the AP story."

This guy had no business being on the court, with all of these health problems. Term limits!

legalschnauzer said...

I think Wayne Madsen nails it here:

"At the very least, Scalia's apparent conflict-of-interest in accepting a free trip from a Supreme Court litigant demands a federal law enforcement investigation. Perhaps it was Scalia's possible violation of ethics and the law that created the kerfuffle surrounding the lid being placed on details concerning his sudden death."

Anonymous said...

Glad you keep up with Madsen, LS. He has been in Presidio County lately. Here is part of his report on the handling of Scalia's body:

"The funeral director who embalmed Scalia said it is standard procedure to flush bodily fluids, including blood and urine, into the municipal sewage system. Sheriff candidate Melendez said that is not the normal procedure in Presidio County where Scalia died because with a high water table there is always the potential for contamination from sewage system leeching potentially dangerous fluids into the fresh water supply. Arid desert counties like Presidio take clean water seriously. Someone obviously wanted Scalia moved out of Presidio County to El Paso where there would be no trace of blood or other bodily fluids that could have later yielded clues as to what drugs were in his system when he died."

Anonymous said...

I hope this story isn't drowned out by the Obama murder conspiracy. Maybe this is the reason Obama didn't attend the funeral. Who wants to celebrate such a corrupt individual who never got caught and set a bad expame for our court system?

legalschnauzer said...

Dow Chemical, in the wake of Scalia's death, decides to settle price-fixing case by paying $835 million. Was Scalia a whore for big business? Yes, he was--and Dow Chemical knew it.

legalschnauzer said...

New York Times reports that Scalia took hundreds of "free vacations." In the end, he won't be famous for "originalism." He will be known for "judicial whoreism."

e.a.f. said...

Judges obviously are not held to a very high standard in the U.S.A. including those on the Supreme Court. Taking freebies, ought to be out of the question.

Scalia always reminded me of a thug and it would appear he had some personality traits common among thugs.

All judges ought to be required to retire at 75.

Canada retires its Senators at 75 as it does it Supreme Court of Canada Justices. it brings fresh blood to the court and new attitudes. A Supreme Court has to stay current and the very old, frequently do not stay current. It would also give Presidents more of an opportunity to appoint Justices and those who are't quite working out, well they do retire. Perhaps at one time appointing judges for life was O.K., people didn't live that long.

Judges are best retired at age 75, as are most politicians.

Anonymous said...

I'm a political independent. So bashing both parties when they deserve it, is easy for yours truly. Any justice has opinions and ideas that shape their constitutional views unless they're a robot. Influence can be purchased however, it seems. We all have freedom of association but lawmakers and interpreters should at least have an appearance of inpropriety and avoid conflicts of interests. Appointment for life to the SCOTUS is just begging for cronyism and Ol boy systems.
I love to hunt ducks and quail too. I have to have the money, time and energy all at the same time to go and that's hard to come by sometimes. No one is kicking down my door to offer free or discount hunting trips to me. Judges and lawyers have plenty enough of their own money to fund the fun they want. Ranch, preserves and outfitters shouldn't even want any filthy politicians or lawyers on their property, you'll wake up with fleas and butthole knats on you after inviting a power broker thru your door. Fear may motivate some to allow good Ol boy excursions, favors are never free. And if some kind of shennanagans come to light, guess who's gonna get the blame most of the time. So both parties to this are not wise.