|Jeff Sessions and Jake Proctor|
Jake Proctor, a 2016 graduate of the University of Alabama, started working as a staffer in the United States Senate on January 3 of this year, according to his Facebook page. The post does not say he was employed with Luther Strange at that time -- in fact, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley did not announce Strange's appointment to the Senate until Feb. 9 -- but Judge Proctor said his reason for recusing was that someone "related" to him had gone to work for Strange.
A number of questions remain unanswered about the circumstances behind Proctor's recusal, but this much seems clear:
* The unnamed relative was Jake Proctor, the judge's son;
* Something is fishy, or at least highly curious, about the dates related to Proctor's recusal and his son's employment in the Senate;
* Jake Proctor, according to his Facebook page, also has worked for former U.S. Senator and current Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Judge Proctor wrote in the order recusing himself that his relative had worked for Sessions before joining Strange's staff.
That last item might be the most important of all, in light of Judge Proctor's serial conflicts in our case. It also gets interesting, timely, and of national scope when you consider this question: If young Mr. Proctor considers Jeff Sessions to be "a warrior for the conservative movement," how does that square with last night's Washington Post story about Sessions' meetings with a Russian envoy during the 2016 campaign? How does that square with evidence that Sessions lied to Congress about the meetings? Does young Mr. Proctor have any clue that his "conservative warrior" is a profoundly corrupt individual?
In a caption to a photo of himself with Jeff Sessions, Jake Proctor writes the following:
April 12, 2016
This morning I was reflecting on my time in DC last summer. It was such an honor to work for Senator Jeff Sessions. Being on the defense team, I was able to see first hand the dangers our country faces, but I was also able to see the great work that Senator Sessions and his staff do for the people of Alabama. He is truly a warrior for the conservative movement and works daily to make this country a better place.
Notice the date on the caption -- April 12, 2016 -- and its reference to the previous summer. The words indicate Jake Proctor worked for Jeff Sessions in summer 2015. That was long before we filed our complaint in "The House Case" on March 26, 2016. It means Jake Proctor had worked for Sessions well in advance of our filing -- and Judge Proctor had every reason to know that at least four defendants in our case were closely aligned with his son's boss.
Bottom line: The moment "The House Case" was filed, Judge Proctor knew he had a conflict that required his recusal. But he stayed on the case, even after we had filed one recusal motion that should have jogged his memory about any conflicts. Judge Proctor did not step down until after we had filed our second recusal motion in early February -- and he claimed it was due to Strange's recent staff hirings, even though the judge's conflicts date at least to his son's employment with Jeff Sessions in summer 2015.
|Jake Proctor at Trump ball|
* Jake Proctor says he went to work as a Senate staffer on Jan. 3, 2017, but Luther Strange was not appointed to the Senate until more than one month later. Was Jake Proctor working for Sessions, even though the latter already had been nominated as Trump's attorney general, and then switched to Strange? Did someone know, well in advance, that Bentley was going to appoint Strange to fill Sessions' seat, and that made Jake Proctor comfortable about getting an early start on the job?
* Judge Proctor claimed in his recusal order that he dismissed "The House Case" before the issue of his son's employment with Strange came up. But if Jake Proctor was working in the Senate on Jan. 3, and his boss was Luther Strange, that isn't true. To be precise, Judge Proctor dismissed our case on Jan. 13, 10 days after his son went to work for somebody in the Senate. The latest version we can find of Sessions' Senate staff directory does not list Jake Proctor -- and one wonders why Sessions would make a new Senate hire when he knew he had been nominated as attorney general. All of that suggests Jake Proctor went to work for Luther Strange on Jan. 3 -- before Strange formally had been announced as Sessions' successor -- and Judge Proctor flat-out lied in a court order.
Either way, a disqualified judge decided our case -- and that isn't a matter of discretion for Proctor; a disqualified judge must step down, and he didn't do it.
While many questions remain about Judge Proctor's recusal, there is little doubt that he was disqualified from the outset of our case; it's only a matter of whether he admits it in his recusal order. The important thing is this: All of Proctor's orders in "The House Case," and in the related "Jail Case, must be vacated.
Proctor's name always tends to bring the word "deceit" to mind, so let's leave on this note: Why did the judge fail to reveal that the relative was his son, and his name is Jake Proctor? Was Judge Proctor wanting to give the impression that it was a distant relative, someone he barely knows? Was Judge Proctor trying to paint a picture that he's only mildly corrupt, rather than wildly corrupt?
We'll let readers decide that question for themselves. For me, it points to a judge who is dishonest to his core.