Not So Fast: Michael Cohen’s Plea Agreement Did Not Necessarily Implicate The President


Our courts and judges must always be transparent no matter where they stand politically

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Many people are probably eager for the Robert Mueller investigation to wrap up. It has been going on for a long time and has not resulted in any evidence of collusion against President Trump. It has, however, led to charges against other individuals, including Paul Manafort, who is currently in trial.

Many Conservatives appear to think that Mr. Mueller charged Mr. Manafort for the sole purpose of obtaining information against President Trump.  Many of these same people are also hoping for an acquittal. While an acquittal would be damaging to Mr. Mueller’s “grand plan” to implicate President Trump, the presiding judge in the case should tread carefully and refrain from allowing his personal feelings about Mr. Mueller, his team, and the motivation behind the suit from tainting his judgment, the jury, and/or the decorum in the courtroom (or creating the appearance that this has happened).

From the inception of the Manafort case, Judge Ellis has publicly voiced his personal thoughts/opinions about the case:

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” Ellis said during the preliminary hearing. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”

According to a recent article on Fox News, Judge Ellis has been very critical of the Mueller legal team throughout the trial. At one point, the judge made a comment suggesting that one of the prosecutors was crying in the courtroom. Another time, the judge advised the lawyers that, although judges should be patient, he was not patient, and it was a mistake to confirm him. While judges are given leeway and are permitted to use colorful language at times, they are obligated to remain patient and respectful of the litigants and the lawyers pursuant to Canon 3, Section (A) of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.

Therefore, while patience is a relatively subjective term, it is normally not a good idea for a judge to publicly proclaim that he is not a patient person, regardless of whether this is said in front of the jury.

On another occasion, Judge Ellis allegedly interrupted the prosecution’s star witness during his testimony and interjected his own remarks.

During the trial, Gates testified that Manafort “was good at knowing where the money was and how to spend it.”

Ellis interjected, saying, “he wasn’t that great at it” if Gates was able to steal money from Manafort without him noticing.

Canon 2 (A) of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges compels judges to avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety in all activities. The Commentary to this Cannon explains:

Canon 2A. An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. This prohibition applies to both professional and personal conduct.

Judge Ellis needs to tread carefully. While he is clearly within his right to instruct the jury, rule on the admissibility of evidence and on objections made during trial, and decide any other questions of law, he is not permitted, nor should he, provide commentary or personal opinions that could be perceived as impartial. As the presiding judge in a jury trial, he should remain neutral and cannot allow his personal feelings to taint his judgment and/or conduct. As a matter of fact, he recently apologized for criticizing prosecutors in front of the jury.

Judge T.S. Ellis said he was “probably wrong” for criticizing prosecutors over one of their witnesses, IRS revenue agent Michael Welch, being in the courtroom observing the trial leading up to his testimony, according to CNN.

Manafort prosecutors get what they wanted:

Judge Ellis tells the jury he was wrong in criticizing prosecutors yesterday for having a witnesses, an IRS agent, in the room to hear other witness testimony.

“Put aside any criticism. I was probably wrong in that,” Ellis said

Judge Ellis is a seasoned, smart, and very capable judge. However, he must use care not to come across as bias, given the fact that he has been particularly critical of the Mueller team. From a legal standpoint, a judge can be as tough as he/she wants, so long as the law permits. However, there is a distinction between how a judge rules and what a judge says!

Republicans should agree that politics have no place in our courts and that our judges should remain neutral/transparent at all times. For example, many Republicans have publicly voiced their concern with the 9th Circuit, which is one of the most liberal courts in the country and one that has been a sore spot for Conservatives for years.

“Critics have slammed the 9th for being too big, too liberal and too slow at resolving cases.

They’ve also mocked it mercilessly, calling it the “Nutty 9th” or the “9th Circus,” in part because many of its rulings have been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. This includes an infamous 2002 ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because of its use of the phrase “under God.” The court over the years also has knocked down state bans on assisted suicide and ruled that no American has the constitutional right to own a gun.

Between 2010-2015, the Supreme Court reversed about 70 percent of the total cases before it — the 9th Circuit’s reversal rate was higher at 79 percent, though the highest in the nation was the 6th Circuit, which covers Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky and clocked in at 87 percent.

During the court’s 2016 term, however, the reversal rate for the 9th jumped to 88 percent.”

While the 9th Circuit’s reversal rate is not necessarily the highest in the country, it is not far from the top.  From a practical standpoint, this indicates that the court is getting things wrong.  It could be applying the wrong legal standards, allowing personal judgments/bias(es) to shape its rulings, misinterpreting the law, etc.  While it is not necessarily unusual for a judge (or a panel of judges in the case of an appeal) to be reversed on occasion, the reversal rate for the 9th Circuit seems to suggest that something more than the occasional, innocent mistake(s) is going on.  One need only look at the political makeup of this court to understand what, and why, this is happening.

“Based in San Francisco, the 9th Circuit covers nine western states, has 29 active judgeships and seven vacancies, with an eighth coming in August. Its current political split is 16-6.

“The Ninth Circuit is out in left field and has been since a major expansion of the court allowed President Carter – and Senator Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) – to pack its left wing in the late 1970s,” Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said.”

Politics have no place in our courts, which should always remain transparent. Republicans should agree with this no matter how they feel about Robert Mueller, the never-ending and seemingly baseless Russian collusion witch-hunt, and/or the tactics that the Mueller team might be using during the trial. If the shoe was on the other foot, and a liberal judge was presiding over the Manafort case, Republicans would undoubtedly expect neutrality.

Judge Ellis should continue to run a tight ship in his courtroom. However, he should be careful with what he says and how he acts so as to not give prosecutors another bite at the apple should the need arise.

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. You should not take, or refrain from taking, any legal action based upon the information contained in this article without first seeking professional counsel.

Mr. Hakim is a writer and a practicing attorney.  His articles have been published in World Net Daily, American Thinker, Sun-Sentinel, and other online publications.

Twitter: @Elad3599



Ron DeSantis – A solid conservative voice for Florida’s next governor

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In the great state of Florida, Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis are involved in a contentious battle for the coveted title of governor. Mr. Putnam is a life-long politician, who has been involved in politics since he was 22-years-old. Mr. DeSantis, while new to the game, brings a fresh and truly conservative voice to the people of Florida and has a legitimate chance to become the state’s next governor.

Mr. DeSantis is a genuine leader with a very impressive background! He is an Iraq veteran and a former JAG officer at Guantanamo Bay. He is a family man and is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Unlike many career-politicians, Mr. DeSantis provides a fresh and much-needed change to the typical political “lifers” in Congress.

For example, he supports term-limits, which many life-long politicians oppose, and does not believe that judges should engage in “judicial activism” from the bench. He also opposes to those who engage in judicial activism. Mr. DeSantis is tough on illegal immigration and supports strong and secure borders as well as mandatory e-verify.  He also firmly supports the rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment, which is a very important issue to many Republicans.

As a former military officer and Iraq veteran, Mr. DeSantis understands the needs of military members, veterans and their families. He is also a staunch supporter of Israel, and helped lead the efforts to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His support of Israel is important to many people, especially in places like Palm Beach and Boca Raton, which have a large Jewish population.

Floridians have the chance to elect a Republican with genuine conservative values who truly cares about their well-being and what is best for the state of Florida. Mr. DeSantis provides a sense of relief and “freshness” to the people of Florida because he is not a “career politician,” speaks from the heart, tackles the tough issues, and is a genuine leader. He has been endorsed by President Trump, and has the support of some very well-respected and knowledgeable people, including but not limited to Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino, and Mark Levin. According to Mr. Levin:

“This guy is the real deal. He’s principled, he’s honorable, and he’s not your typical politician. He does what he says he’s going to do. And he’s very solid,” Levin continued. “I wish he was running for governor of my state of Virginia, quite frankly. You folks in Florida, you’re lucky.”

Based on his record to date, it is evident that Ron DeSantis is a no-nonsense and genuine leader who will work hard to tackle the difficult issues that Floridians are facing. Given his impressive credentials, his sound conservative policies, and his various endorsements, he has a real shot of becoming the next governor of Florida.

Mr. Hakim is a writer and a practicing attorney.  His articles have been published in the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Florida Jewish Journal, World Net Daily, American Thinker, and other online publications.

Twitter: @Elad3599