Judge orders lying DOJ lawyers to take ethics classes

A federal judge issued a scathing ruling against lawyers for the Department of Justice who have been litigating the suit by 26 states against the president's executive orders on immigration.

The DOJ lawyers had assured the judge that there had been no implementation of the orders, but as it was later discovered, more than 100,000 illegal aliens had been granted reprieves from deportation.

David French calls Judge Andrew Hanen's order "one of the most stinging court opinions I’ve ever read."

Washington Examiner:

A federal judge has ordered annual ethics classes for Justice Department attorneys as a punishment for being "intentionally deceptive" during litigation over President Obama's executive immigration orders.

"Such conduct is certainly not worthy of any department whose name includes the word 'Justice,'" U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen wrote in a withering order released Thursday.

Justice Department attorneys misled the court about when the Department of Homeland Security would begin implementing President Obama's executive order granting "deferred action" to illegal immigrants whose children are citizens. In doing so, they tricked the 26 states who filed a lawsuit into "foregoing a request for a temporary restraining order," according to the judge.

The facts of the deception are not in doubt, Hanen emphasized. "[DOJ] has now admitted making statements that clearly did not match the facts," he said in the May 19 opinion, first noted by the National Law Journal. "It has admitted that the lawyers who made these statements had knowledge of the truth when they made these misstatements ... This court would be remiss if it left such unseemly and unprofessional conduct unaddressed."

As punishment, Justice Department attorneys who wish to appear in any state or federal court within the 26 states that brought the lawsuit have to undergo annual ethics training. "At a minimum, this course (or courses) shall total at least three hours of ethics training per year," he wrote.

In another case, such "egregious conduct" would lead him to strike the government's pleadings, but Hanen decided not to take that step because the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in April.

"The national importance of the outcome of this litigation outweighs the benefits to be gained by implementing the ultimate sanction," Hanen wrote. "Striking the government's pleadings would not only be unfair to the litigants, but also unfair, and perhaps even disrespectful, to the Supreme Court as it would deprive that Court of the ability to thrash out the legal issues in this case."

Hanen cited multiple instances in which Justice Department attorneys claimed that Department of Homeland Security directive announced in November of 2014 would not be implemented until February 18, 2015, even though they knew that DHS had begun implementing a portion of the order that pertained to the original "deferred action for childhood arrivals" policy announced in 2012.

Hanen order these other steps that need to be taken by the administration:

  • Provide the court with a list of all of the aliens who were given benefits under the Obama amnesty plan.
  • All DOJ attorneys stationed in Washington, D.C., who appear in the courts of any of the 26 states that filed this lawsuit must take a yearly ethics course taught by someone unaffiliated with the DOJ – and the attorney general must file an annual report with Judge Hanen for five years listing all of the DOJ attorneys who have appeared in those 26 states, certifying their attendance at this ethics course.
  • Attorney General Loretta Lynch must file a comprehensive plan within 60 days “to prevent this unethical conduct from ever occurring again.”  She must ensure that “Justice Department trial lawyers tell the truth – the entire truth.” 
  • Because he believes that whatever the Office of Professional Responsibility at DOJ is doing “has not been effective,” Hanen ordered Lynch to inform him within 60 days of the steps she is taking to “ensure” that OPR “effectively polices the conduct of the Justice Department lawyers and appropriately disciplines those whose actions fall below the standards that the American people rightfully expect from their Department of Justice.”
  • Finally, Hanen said that the court “does not have the power to disbar the counsel in this case, but it does have the power to revoke the pro hac vice status of out-of-state lawyers who act unethically in court.”  Pro hac vice refers to lawyers getting permission to appear in a particular court even though they are not licensed in that particular state.  Hanen issued a separate, sealed order barring the DOJ lawyers in this case from appearing in his courtroom again.  It seems clear from Hanen’s statement that if he had the power to disbar the DOJ lawyers who were involved in this case, he would likely have done so.  They obviously dodged a bullet.

The shock isn't that the DOJ lawyers lied to a federal judge.  The shock is that they actually believed they could get away with it.  It's rare for that kind of royal arrogance to be called out by a federal judge, and Hanen spanked them well and good.

Don't expect any disciplinary action from the DOJ.  The lawyers will probably be promoted.

A federal judge issued a scathing ruling against lawyers for the Department of Justice who have been litigating the suit by 26 states against the president's executive orders on immigration.

The DOJ lawyers had assured the judge that there had been no implementation of the orders, but as it was later discovered, more than 100,000 illegal aliens had been granted reprieves from deportation.

David French calls Judge Andrew Hanen's order "one of the most stinging court opinions I’ve ever read."

Washington Examiner:

A federal judge has ordered annual ethics classes for Justice Department attorneys as a punishment for being "intentionally deceptive" during litigation over President Obama's executive immigration orders.

"Such conduct is certainly not worthy of any department whose name includes the word 'Justice,'" U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen wrote in a withering order released Thursday.

Justice Department attorneys misled the court about when the Department of Homeland Security would begin implementing President Obama's executive order granting "deferred action" to illegal immigrants whose children are citizens. In doing so, they tricked the 26 states who filed a lawsuit into "foregoing a request for a temporary restraining order," according to the judge.

The facts of the deception are not in doubt, Hanen emphasized. "[DOJ] has now admitted making statements that clearly did not match the facts," he said in the May 19 opinion, first noted by the National Law Journal. "It has admitted that the lawyers who made these statements had knowledge of the truth when they made these misstatements ... This court would be remiss if it left such unseemly and unprofessional conduct unaddressed."

As punishment, Justice Department attorneys who wish to appear in any state or federal court within the 26 states that brought the lawsuit have to undergo annual ethics training. "At a minimum, this course (or courses) shall total at least three hours of ethics training per year," he wrote.

In another case, such "egregious conduct" would lead him to strike the government's pleadings, but Hanen decided not to take that step because the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in April.

"The national importance of the outcome of this litigation outweighs the benefits to be gained by implementing the ultimate sanction," Hanen wrote. "Striking the government's pleadings would not only be unfair to the litigants, but also unfair, and perhaps even disrespectful, to the Supreme Court as it would deprive that Court of the ability to thrash out the legal issues in this case."

Hanen cited multiple instances in which Justice Department attorneys claimed that Department of Homeland Security directive announced in November of 2014 would not be implemented until February 18, 2015, even though they knew that DHS had begun implementing a portion of the order that pertained to the original "deferred action for childhood arrivals" policy announced in 2012.

Hanen order these other steps that need to be taken by the administration:

  • Provide the court with a list of all of the aliens who were given benefits under the Obama amnesty plan.
  • All DOJ attorneys stationed in Washington, D.C., who appear in the courts of any of the 26 states that filed this lawsuit must take a yearly ethics course taught by someone unaffiliated with the DOJ – and the attorney general must file an annual report with Judge Hanen for five years listing all of the DOJ attorneys who have appeared in those 26 states, certifying their attendance at this ethics course.
  • Attorney General Loretta Lynch must file a comprehensive plan within 60 days “to prevent this unethical conduct from ever occurring again.”  She must ensure that “Justice Department trial lawyers tell the truth – the entire truth.” 
  • Because he believes that whatever the Office of Professional Responsibility at DOJ is doing “has not been effective,” Hanen ordered Lynch to inform him within 60 days of the steps she is taking to “ensure” that OPR “effectively polices the conduct of the Justice Department lawyers and appropriately disciplines those whose actions fall below the standards that the American people rightfully expect from their Department of Justice.”
  • Finally, Hanen said that the court “does not have the power to disbar the counsel in this case, but it does have the power to revoke the pro hac vice status of out-of-state lawyers who act unethically in court.”  Pro hac vice refers to lawyers getting permission to appear in a particular court even though they are not licensed in that particular state.  Hanen issued a separate, sealed order barring the DOJ lawyers in this case from appearing in his courtroom again.  It seems clear from Hanen’s statement that if he had the power to disbar the DOJ lawyers who were involved in this case, he would likely have done so.  They obviously dodged a bullet.

The shock isn't that the DOJ lawyers lied to a federal judge.  The shock is that they actually believed they could get away with it.  It's rare for that kind of royal arrogance to be called out by a federal judge, and Hanen spanked them well and good.

Don't expect any disciplinary action from the DOJ.  The lawyers will probably be promoted.