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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Documents unsealed in Trump University lawsuit

On Friday, Donald Trump spent more than ten minutes of a campaign rally to criticize (and highlight the ethnic origin of) the judge in a class action against Trump University, mainly because the judge had issued various rulings against the defendant, a clear (according to Trump) indication that the judge was biased and should recuse. That same day, the judge has ordered unsealed a number of documents presented to the court on a class-certification motion. The court emphasized the public interest in the case (which suggested the need for public access to the documents), noting Trump's status as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination and that Trump had "placed the integrity of these proceedings at issue" in that race.

I guess judges do have ways to protect themselves against political attacks.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 29, 2016 at 03:40 PM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink


What you mean may not be clearly conveyed by the idea that "judges can protect themselves against attacks." Even putting it in purely defensive terms, we wouldn't say that "the townsfolk can protect themselves against attacks through the ordinary operation of the mountain ranges" -- but we would say that they do so by building a wall, and so forth. It's hard to read the notion of discretion and reaction out of it. Happy for the clarification, though.

Posted by: Ed | May 31, 2016 1:29:48 PM

I was in no way suggesting retaliation. My point, which I thought was clear enough, was that judges can protect themselves against attacks through the ordinary litigation tools at their disposal.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | May 31, 2016 1:22:54 PM

Your closing line -- "I guess judges do have ways to protect themselves against political attacks" -- might be misread as suggesting that the judge ordered the release of the documents at least in part as a reaction to Trump's attacks.

Perhaps that's so, but: (1) it's not immediately apparent that the order came after the attack (and I would guess, without looking into it, that the sequence is the opposite); (2) it seems like a thoughtful order, prepared after briefing and argument were completed, and must have been in the works for a while anyway; (3) it was not sua sponte, but in response to a petition by the Washington Post, and the order explains how extrinsic events (like the posting of similar information on the web) also prompted its decision.

Basically, I think your post might be misread or, if you meant to suggest judicial retaliation, it'd be unproven and likely wrong.

Posted by: Ed | May 31, 2016 1:20:41 PM

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