October 27, 2009

Bad Advocacy - Vol. 2

The second entry in our continuing "Bad Advocacy" series belongs to lawyer Orly Taitz (whose, name, when I look at it quickly, always appears to me as "Taly Ortiz" until I focus on it for a few seconds). Ms. Taitz is a so-called "birther," or one who doubts that Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen of United States. If you're a fan of law books and the Constitution swathed in a wavy American flag, click here to check out "Dr." (she's apparently also a dentist, but I'm no anti-dentite) Taitz's website.

Taitz has filed at least three different lawsuits on behalf of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen challenging their deployment orders to Afghanistan and Iraq. Her argument, in essence, is that the deployment orders are invalid, having been issued by a man who is not constitutionally qualified to occupy the Commander-in-Chief role.

These cases caught my eye several months ago given their relationship to this past year's ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition problem. That (fake) set of facts involved a challenge by United States congressmen to the President's blatant disregard of a statute directing him to withdraw all troops from the Iraq-like "West Baltizstan." The first issue in the case was whether the congressmen even had standing to bring the suit, and one of the questions that invariably came up in oral argument was whether the suit would have been better brought by a solider with deployment orders.

Any-who, Taitz's advocacy skills wore thin on United States District Judge Clay Land, who, on October 13, sanctioned Taitz to the tune of $20,000. The opinion is a must-read, but this was my favorite part, especially from an oral-argument standpoint:

In the midst of a jury trial of another case, the Court nevertheless rearranged its schedule, along with the schedules of jurors and other attorneys, so that Captain Rhodes’s matter could be heard during an extended lunch break. ... Instead of arguing pertinent legal authority supporting her position, counsel reverted to “press conference mode,” repeating political “talking points” that did not answer the Court’s questions or address the Court’s concerns. Specifically, counsel was unable to explain why this Court should not abstain from deciding this case based upon well-established precedent, and she was unable to articulate clearly how the alleged cloud” on the President’s place of birth amounted to a violation of her client’s individual constitutional rights. Rather than address these two important questions, counsel retreated to her political rhetoric. When the Court admonished her for not addressing the legal issues presented by her Complaint, counsel accused the Court of unfairly badgering her and implored the Court to ask Defendants’ counsel questions instead of her. Ms. Taitz’s performance confirmed to the Court that her focus was not to pursue a legitimate legal cause of action to obtain relief for her client but was to use the Court to force the President to produce a “birth certificate” satisfactory to her and her followers. Her other purpose appeared to be to use litigation as a means of drawing attention to her political agenda. During the hearing, Plaintiff’s counsel threatened that if she did not get the opportunity to obtain the relief she sought (discovery of a birth certificate), then a wave of subsequent similar actions would be filed in this Court until she obtained what she wanted.

Yeah, that's good strategy. I may impart that on my students. "OK -- if you don't know the answer to a judge's question, go 'Taitz' on him: Accuse him of badgering you, tell him to ask questions of the other side instead, and then threaten to bury the court's docket in further frivolous filings if he doesn't let you argue what YOU want to. That ought to win you some points."

1 comment:

Paul said...

Was the $20K fine enough? Maybe when Taitz becomes a real lawyer she will appreciate what just happened. I wonder if she is a mail order bride, just like her law degree? She is perfect reporter material for “Fake News”, where unfounded rumors and innuendo reign supreme , unlike a our US courts of law, where you need to present documented facts, not half baked lies (prepare for more failures). When flies get too close to the lights they get burned, Taitz just got burned, thing is, like a fly she will continue, no end in sight. Poor little Birthers they are haters not debaters.

A lawyer, dentist, realtor and black belt, wow I must say a JACK of all trades master of none.