|Virginia Emerson Hopkins|
We've already shown that Hopkins acted corruptly when denying our Rule 59 Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment in our "House Case," currently on appeal before the Eleventh Circuit. Now, we examine Hopkins' actions in denying our Rule 60 Motion to Vacate in the same matter.
The first sign of Hopkins' laziness is found simply from looking at the dates on the documents involved. Our Rule 60 motion was filed at 2:30 p.m. on March 13, 2017, and it raised a number of substantive issues, including fairly complex constitutional matters like due process and equal protection of the law, as found in the Fourteenth Amendment. But Hopkins' order denying our motion is time stamped at 10:43 a.m. on March 17, 2017; in other words, it took a federal judge (whom one assumes has a fairly heavy docket) less than four days to churn out an order on a motion that presents some pretty deep foundational issues. How can that be?
You can begin to form an answer when you view Hopkins' order, see that it is less than four pages long, and contains less intellectual heft than most fortune cookies. (The Rule 60 motion and Hopkins order are embedded at the end of this post.)
The issue in our motion is relatively simple: When a judge issues a number of orders in a case, and it's then found that he had a conflict that should have forced recusal, his orders generally are due to be vacated. A case styled Liljeberg v. Health Services Acquisition Corp, 486 US 847 (Supreme Court, 1988) deals with a violation of the federal statute (28 U.S.C. 455) that requires a judge's recusal. From Liljeberg:
These facts create precisely the kind of appearance of impropriety that § 455(a) was intended to prevent. The violation is neither insubstantial nor excusable. Although Judge Collins did not know of his fiduciary interest in the litigation, 868*868 he certainly should have known. In fact, his failure to stay informed of this fiduciary interest may well constitute a separate violation of § 455. See § 455(c). Moreover, providing relief in cases such as this will not produce injustice in other cases; to the contrary, the Court of Appeals' willingness to enforce § 455 may prevent a substantive injustice in some future case by encouraging a judge or litigant to more carefully examine possible grounds for disqualification and to promptly disclose them when discovered. It is therefore appropriate to vacate the judgment unless it can be said that respondent did not make a timely request for relief, or that it would otherwise be unfair to deprive the prevailing party of its judgment.
It's undisputed that we made a timely request for relief, via Rule 60. It's also undisputed that original trial-court judge R. David Proctor made the laughable claim that his conflict had arose only after he had dismissed our case. Our motion shows that Proctor's contention is, to put it bluntly, bullshit. And our motion touches on issues that are very much in the news, via the evolving Donald Trump-Jeff Sessions KremlinGate scandal. From the Rule 60 motion:
In his recusal order . . . , Proctor acknowledges that a member of his family worked for then-U.S. Senator and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- and had a financial interest in Sessions' office.
In their recusal motion No. 2 . . . , the Shulers state that at least four defendants in the instant matter -- Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Rob Riley, Cliff Sims, and Yellowhammer News -- had strong political, professional, and financial connections to AG Sessions. Proctor did not deny this in his recusal order.
Based on publicly available documents, Judge Proctor's son, Jake Proctor, worked for then-Sen. Sessions in summer 2015.
Based on publicly available documents, Judge Proctor's other son, Luke Proctor, entered the U.S. Military Academy in roughly 2009, with the assistance of then-Sen. Sessions.
Both of Judge Proctor's sons have financial/professional connections to Jeff Sessions, and those ties date back eight years or more.
The conflicts go well beyond Proctor's kids:
Judge Proctor himself, while in private practice, represented Sessions (then Alabama AG) in a case styled USX v. Tieco that dates to the mid-1990s. That means Judge Proctor has financial connections to Sessions, and it's likely Judge Proctor owes his judicial career to Sessions. Court documents indicate Proctor and his firm were hired in USX specifically to help Sessions get black federal judge U. W. Clemon off the case, adding to Sessions' already dubious record on matters of race.
Our little case touches on international intrigue because of Proctor's ties to Jeff Sessions, who could plunge into disgrace because of his undisclosed ties to Russian figures who might have manipulated the 2016 presidential election:
The Washington Post recently disclosed that Sessions made false statements to Congress regarding meetings with a Russian ambassador, raising questions about Sessions' ethics (not to mention possible criminal charges) and those of individuals affiliated with him - including members of the Proctor family and at least four defendants in the instant case. In his recusal order, Judge Proctor acknowledges that his son, Jake Proctor, now works for Luther Strange, a defendant in this case and Jeff Sessions' replacement in the U.S. Senate. Judge Proctor recused himself based on this clear conflict, but claimed the conflict arose after he had dismissed the Shulers' complaint on 1/13/17 . . . . Publicly available documents indicate Jake Proctor went to work in the U.S. Senate on 1/3/17. Jake Proctor presumably went to work at that time for Luther Strange, although Strange was not formally appointed until February 2017. Public information indicates Judge Proctor is mistaken, or he is flat-out lying, about the start date of his son's employment in the U.S. Senate, presumably with Luther Strange. The 1/3/17 start date means, by Judge Proctor's own admissions, he was disqualified when he dismissed the Shulers' complaint on 1/13/17.
Could Judge Hopkins be bothered to seriously examine such fundamental issues of justice. Apparently not. Her order, which can be viewed below, says almost nothing and analyzes even less.
Her order does accomplish one thing: It unmasks the kind of laziness that likely would get you or me fired