Last night I reported that a federal judge in Seattle, James Robart, has issued a sweeping nationwide order temporarily blocking the Trump administration from enforcing key parts of President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration. Today, we are learning more about that judge . . . and some of it is unsettling.
For example, last August, the Seattle Times reported that Judge Robart had favorably cited the “black lives matter” movement in a ruling on a civil dispute:
U.S. District Judge James Robart, pointedly reacting to the Seattle police union’s rejection of a tentative contract, said Monday he would not let the powerful labor group hold the city “hostage” by linking wages to constitutional policing.
“To hide behind a collective- bargaining agreement is not going to work,” Robart said during a dramatic court hearing he opened by laying out a path for police-accountability reform and closed with an emotional declaration that “black lives matter.”
. . . .
Robart ended the hearing with deeply personal remarks, in which he noted a statistic that showed, nationally, 41 percent of the shootings by police were of blacks, when they represented 20 percent of the population.
“Black lives matter,” he said, drawing a startled, audible reaction in a courtroom listening to the words coming from a federal judge sitting on the bench.
Also troubling are Judge Robart’s attempts to dictate the terms of proposed statutes, based in part on the “expertise” of “consultant” Merrick Bobb, a hack who runs around posing as a police expert when he knows next to nothing. From the Seattle Times story:
During Monday’s hearing, [Judge Robart] provided a blueprint for what he would like to see in the legislation, based on various proposals produced by city officials, the Community Police Commission (CPC) and the court-appointed federal monitor, Merrick Bobb.
My eyes are rolling so hard I could probably knock down bowling pins with them.
But wait, there’s more! Judge Robart also denied a request for a man (“John Doe”) expelled from Amherst to depose and obtain records from a “victim” of sexual assault — records that might show that the woman was the aggressor and that Doe was expelled improperly — because it would hurt the “victim’s” feelings. Robby Soave at Reason.com explains the background:
The incident in question took place years ago, during the late night / early morning hours of February 4-5, 2012. Jones was Doe’s girlfriend’s roommate at the time. Jones went to Doe’s dorm room and sexual activity ensued: Jones performed oral sex on Doe.
But Doe was blackout drunk at the time—a detail that Amherst administrators deemed “credible,” on subsequent review. Of course, it’s questionable whether a blackout drunk student can actually provide the level of consent that Amherst’s sexual misconduct policy requires.
Other factors cast doubt on the idea that Jones was the victim and Doe the perpetrator. After leaving Doe’s dorm room, Jones texted another male student and asked him to come to her dorm room for sex. She also texted a residential advisor about her “stupid” decision to engage in sexual activity with her roommate’s boyfriend. In these text messages, Jones admitted that she was “not an innocent bystander.” She also complained about how long it was taking this second male student to do anything sexual with her. She did not file a complaint against Doe until two years later.
Doe was expelled. He then sued Amherst, and subpoenaed Jones for a deposition and for “documents and records of statements she made about the alleged assault.” Judge Robart denied the request because of Jones’s feelings:
An in-person deposition of boundless scope would impose a substantial burden on Ms. Jones. (Subpoena at 1; see also Resp. at 7 (“Until a deposition begins, it is very difficult to know where it will lead and impossible to predict all the topics that may be explored with a witness.”).) The deposition would force Ms. Jones to relive a night in which she asserts Mr. Doe sexually assaulted her. (See, e.g., Clune Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. 4; Resp. at 6-7.) It would also reraise the subsequent investigation, hearing, and period of publicity that Ms. Jones has endured. (Id. ¶ 3, Ex. 5 at 11-12; Am. Compl. ¶¶ 54, 56.) It takes no leap of logic to reason that a live deposition would impose emotional and psychological trauma upon Ms. Jones.
I would imagine that being expelled over a B.S. allegation would also “impose emotional and psychological trauma” on someone. But when you’re a male accused of sexual assault in a college environment, facts often don’t matter. You’re presumed guilty — and even in a civil proceeding which is all about determining whether you actually did what you were accused of, you’re not entitled to key evidence on that question.
According to this judge.
These decisions do not instill confidence in the judgment of this particular jurist.
We’ll see what happens.