But, before Judge Knoll is going to retire at the end of the year, she left a slimy trace in the history of Louisiana judicial system.
Two slimy interweaving traces, actually.
Two disgraceful and disgusting traces.
First, Judge Knoll wrote a blistering "opinion" criticizing her colleagues' decision to force her recusal - there is no basis for her to write opinions regarding a court's decision to force her recusal, but she did that anyway.
Well, her judicial colleague who was also forced to recuse from the same case, judge Jeff Hughes actually outdid Jeannette Theriot Knoll by filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against his colleagues who ordered him to recuse from that case.
Imagine what kind of stakes were involved and what kind of promises may have been made by the judges if they fought recusal they way they did.
Thankfully, in Louisiana - unlike New York - judges challenged with a motion to recuse do not get to decide motions to recuse on the merits. Otherwise, imagine what judge Knoll and Judge Hughes would have done to those who made the motion.
Judge Knoll in her accusatory "opinion" against her colleagues blasts that they recused her because her colleagues allegedly succumbed to the influence of "interest groups".
The motion to recuse was reportedly filed by lawyers for three oil companies - ExxonMobil Corp., BP America Co. and Chevron Corp.
These three oil companies legitimately raised the appearance of impropriety for Judge Knoll to preside
The interesting part was that the Louisiana Supreme Court then voted not to take up the "legacy lawsuits" in question, 4 days after forcing the two judges, Hughes and Knoll, to recuse.
The jist of the motions was reportedly that Judge Hughes accepted large PAC campaign contributions from the plaintiffs' lawyers in 2012, and that Judge Knoll's husband represented parties suing oil companies in several similar "legacy lawsuits" in the past.
Once again, that was enough for the Supreme Court for the State of Louisiana to force recusal of Judge Hughes and Judge Knoll.
And here is how Judge Knoll struck back.
In her "objection opinion" Judge Knoll accused of impropriety both her colleagues who ordered the recusal, and the attorneys for the oil companies.
Judge Knoll also engaged in a loving tribute protecting reputation of her husband - once again, in an opionion which was completely procedurally uncalled for - but that does not bother Judge Knoll when personal interests are at stake:
What did the Martindale-Hubbel rating of her husband had to do with the decision as to whether she had a conflict of interest to preside over a case because her "successful" attorney husband handled similar cases on the plaintiffs' side (and derived income from those cases) - is anybody's guess.
Judge Knoll goes further with even more flowery language, now extolling her own virtues and reputation:
Nothing like patting yourself on the head.
So, Judge Knoll praises herself for her own:
- dedicated ability to "serve the judiciary" - at least she is honest in that she is serving not the public, but the judiciary, her words, not mine;
- for serving the judiciary "with integrity" - in the way integrity understood by the judiciary that gifted itself with immunity for malicious and corrupt acts in violation of their oath of office, while at the same time presuming integrity of their actions on the bench.
- with a clear head, and
- with strong traces of common sense and kindness
It appears to be so with Judge Jeannette Theriot Knoll.
The only kindness I noticed in Judge Knoll's concurring opinion in Christine Mire's case is to Judge Keaty and other judges whose recusal Christine Mire requested.
- clear head;
- common sense, and
It was obvious that Judge Knoll was high-strung on the issue of her own forced recusal and ready to strike against any other attorney who, unlike attorneys for oil companies who made a successful motion to recuse Judge Knoll, do not have the political clout and support.
And it was obvious that Judge Knoll was a loose cannon and should not have been allowed to sit in panels on any decisions involving sanctions against attorneys for making motions to recuse, because her mind was made up on the ISSUE, on personal grounds, without regard to IDENTITY of the attorney subject to discipline.
Judge Knoll found such a victim and scapegoat to strike at in retaliation - in young female minority attorney Christine Mire.
Christine Mire dared to make a motion to recuse Judge Knoll's long-time friend judge Phyllis B. Keaty.
Judge Knoll's second slimy trace in the history of Louisiana court in 2016, the last year on the bench, was her "concurring" opinion in the order denying rehearing to attorney Christine Mire, see yesterday's press-release here - compare analysis by Judge Knoll with analysis by Judge Weimer in his scathing dissent, and the prior dissent of the same Judge Weimer against sanctioning Christine Mire.
Christine Mire was previously sanctioned - with Judge Knoll's unrecused participation - for making a motion to recuse Judge Knoll's friend Phyllis Keaty and for a writ application to the appellate court that preferred to ignore misconduct of Phyllis Keaty based on overwhelming appearance of impropriety.
The appearance of impropriety was obvious when Judge Keaty's non-existent disclosure of conflicts of interest suddenly surfaced by being added into an audio tape of court proceedings - which was confirmed by testimony of technical experts.
Judge Keaty was also forced to recuse from Christine Mire's case when Christine Mire made the motion to recuse, because in Louisiana, judges challenged on such a motion do not get to decide it on the merits.
Which did not help Christine Mire.
Instead of Judge Keaty sanctioning her, her friend Judge Knoll did, and then added insult to injury by casting a decisive vote in denying her a rehearing of her discipline - for making a legitimate motion to recuse on behalf of her clients against Judge Knoll's friend.
In her "concurring opinion" supporting denial of the petition for rehearing, Judge Knoll outdid herself in flowery language, and I will address that below, but what caught my attention the most is that Judge Knoll allowed herself to offer unsworn testimony as a character witness in support of Judge Keaty who is, reportedly, Judge Knoll's personal friend, while blasting attorney Christine Mire.
It goes without saying that both judge Knoll and Judge Keaty are elderly white women while attorney Christine Mire is a young and beautiful minority woman - which, I think, added a lot of female jealousy and racism into the equation.
Judge Knoll's arguments, with her legal training and all, were actually 100% matching in tone, probative value and retaliative intent, the recent "arguments" offered in hate comments on my blog regarding the suspicious house fire of my friend and critic of the government in Delaware County, New York, Barbara O'Sullivan - by a wife and a girlfriend of firefighters.
The statement in the blog article, based on eyewitness accounts, was - the firefighters refused to make an efforts to extinguish the fire and let the house burn.
Here are the firefighters wives' arguments: I am a liar, because, while they were not at the site of the house fire, and my sources, the eyewitnesses, were, their husbands/boyfriends will NEVER.
Here are the hearsay statements of firefighter's wife Sharon Reichert-Morgan - "I was not there, but my husband 'would never'".
Here are even more simplistic statements of a firefighter's girlfriend Colleen Church - "I was not there, my firefighter boyfriend was not there, but I know those people, they would NEVER, and, by the way, you are a stupid mail order bride bitch, and gloves are off against you for reporting the way you did".
Translation - I bite you because I don't like you and because you dared to bite my friends.
What Colleen Church said about describes exactly what Judge Knoll did to Christine Mire.
Judge Knoll killed Christine Mire's chance for rehearing of unconstitutional sanctions imposed upon her because Christine Mire bit at Judge Knoll's friend Judge Keaty with a motion to recuse.
A well-founded motion - as the dissenting judge pointed out, in great detail.
The essence of Judge Knoll's concurring opinion is: "I was not there, but I PERSONALLY know Judge Keaty's stellar reputation, and this is an attorney with a 'checkered past'" - and that allegedly 'checkered past' (where the instances of "checkered past" are refuted by evidence in the record) somehow explains why irrefutable evidence of Judge Keaty's APPEARANCE of misconduct (which is enough to make a motion to recuse) should have been disregarded by Christine Mire.
Remember the Rule #1 of whistle-blowers in this country? As expressed by the government criticized by those whistle-blowers?
Keep your head low, don't whistle-blow. Or else - feel the "burn".
Happens all the time, to female whistle-blowers especially.
And "the burn" did come upon Christine Mire - in bricks.
Here is the gist of Judge Knoll's concurring opinion, in snippets of that opinion:
No mentioning that Keaty was also a friend, and that reviewing her work for many years was thus inappropriate for Judge Knoll to begin with.
"Sterling reputation" is not a defense on a motion to recuse for an appearance of impropriety where actual conflicts of interest did exist, where there was sworn testimony that the judge's disclosure of a conflict of interest was added into the audio of the hearing by a tech company outside of court proceedings, and where another judge actually ordered Judge Keaty to recuse.
So, this is content-based regulation of speech which is absolutely protected by the 1st Amendment - no mentioning of the U.S. Constitution here - compare it with Judge Knoll's outburst in her "objections to forced recusal" where she lovingly offers unsolicited unsworn testimony about her husband and raises constitutional questions on her own behalf.
Here is also Judge Knoll's scathing criticism of justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in making a decision legitimizing same sex marriage - which can easily be deemed as "besmirching the reputation" of the justices who made the majority decision.
The nature of conduct being diligent investigation of Judge Knoll's friend Judge Keaty's conflict of interest (which were confirmed), due diligence investigation of doctored audio of a hearing where disclosure of such conflicts were added onto the tape (which was confirmed by testimony) and making a motion to recuse on behalf of a client which was attorney Christine Mire's duty to do.
Judge Knoll's personal knowledge of Judge Keaty for 30 years was enough to disqualify her from presiding over the case where Judge Keaty was the complaining witness, but no - Judge Knoll is not known for recusing herself voluntarily in cases involving conflicts of interest, and she had an agenda to "show them" for forcing her to recuse from the "legacy cases" in November of 2015 in the first place.
See how the same "egregious conduct" was characterized by the dissenter Judge Weimer in yesterday's dissenting opinion:
In other words, there were 3 recording devices recording the hearing, and the proffered explanation that they ALL malfunctioned at the very time Judge Keaty was making disclosure of her conflict of interest making the "audio splicing" necessary defies all odds and common sense.
By the way, each time I ask for security video tapes in New York state courts, something happens to the equipment - it either prematurely overwrites the requested footage, or malfunctions and does not capture the footage in the first place.
So, this particular trick is well known.
For being a trick.
Moreover, as Judge Weimer pointed out that the "reasonable person"'s opinion in the situation - that of a recording technician testifying at Christine Mire's discipinary case was that:
Moreover, Judge Weimer points out that the majority opinion's speculation that malfunction occurred on 3 recording devices simultaneously, thus "reasonably" requiring splicing, was not supported by facts - where the stenographer did not report that any malfunction on recording devices occurred:
And, the order to stenographer was to produce a FULL COPY of what was already on record - not to order "splicing" when conflicts of interest of a judge were raised on a motion to recuse, and the stenographer then went to extraordinary lengths, even filing a lawsuit against Christine Mire and her client trying to prevent her from obtaining the record of proceedings at all.
Let's restore the history of the case.
An attorney, Christine Mire, had a reason to believe that a real estate company owned by a presiding judge in the case had an interest in selling the property being divided by that judge in a divorce proceeding.
That was a disqualifying conflict of interest.
The judge did not make that disclosure.
The attorney sought tapes of the court hearing to prove that the judge did not make the disclosure.
That's where the "ordinary" procedure stopped and the Orwellian nightmare started, for the attorney who asked for tapes of court proceedings to which her client was absolutely entitled.
The stenographer who was asked for the tapes, sued the attorney and her client in response to request for tapes - which was completely out of the ordinary.
The stenographer did not have any right for such a lawsuit, because, as it turned out, nothing from other hearings was on the tape, what was on the tape was only pertaining to proceedings of Christine Mire's clients.
Surely the stenographer knew about that before bringing the lawsuit.
And, Christine Mire experienced intimidation from the stenographer's attorney even before the lawsuit was brought.
The lawsuit of the stenographer produced a court order against the stenographer - requiring the stenographer to produce a full copy of the proceedings to Christine Mire.
The order was as clear as bell.
Yet, here the irregularities continue.
While making an appointment for "copying" and while not stating that any of the 3 recording devices from which the copy was supposed to be made, the stenographer ordered "splicing" of the audio - but did not offer any explanation as to why she did that.
Again, as part of due diligence, Christine Mire had an expert analyze the "splicing" and found that something was added into the tape, and that "something" was - surprise, surprise! - Judge Keaty's disclosure of conflicts of interest that were not made on the record, upon the memory of Christine Mire and her client.
And, after Christine Mire made more than necessary steps in her due diligence preparation to make a motion to recuse, that was still not enough, and she was still sanctioned with loss of her livelihood for "egregious conduct" in "besmirching" reputation of Judge Keaty, and those appellate judges who covered up her "appearance of misconduct".
There is a concept in law called RES IPSA LOQUITUR - would not have happened without negligence.
Tell me, please, WHO ELSE would have ordered the "splicing" of the audio tape BUT judge Keaty for whom this episode was very damaging, especially during her elections?
The stenographer herself?
Let's be realistic.
Disciplinary authorities putting pressure on Christine Mire, openly stating to her, reportedly, that her motion to recuse were badly timed during Judge Keaty's election campaign, and that they wouldn't have brought the disciplinary petition "but for" the timing of the motion to recuse.
And, Christine Mire has public records showing that at the time when pressure was imposed upon Christine Mire to "cease and desist" criticizing Judge Keaty during her election campaign, 5 governmental bodies expressed interest in activities of Christine Mire.
One of them was the local fire marshal.
The fire marshal visited Christine Mire's office, told her that she has "too many locks on the office door", which may be a "fire hazard", forced her to remove a lock - and the very next couple of days Christine Mire's office was broken into, and somebody went through her office files, for which there is a police report.
The only person who knew that Christine Mire removed the lock that was so strong that "could have been a fire hazard" was the fire marshal.
Somehow, these facts - which should have triggered CRIMINAL investigation about ORGANIZED CRIME where part of that organized criminal enterprise are Louisiana courts, attorney disciplinary authority and even a fire marshal, did not result in criminal investigation of corruption, and did not find their way into the judicial decisions regarding Christine Mire.
After all, these pesky facts did not mesh with the accusatory tone and the obvious decision to pre-judge and punish Christine Mire for breaking the taboo, raising the APPEARANCE of CRIMINAL ACTIVITY of a judge, as was Christine Mire's DUTY TO HER CLIENT to do, in ensuring her client's constitutional right to impartial judicial review.
It is easier to just slam an honest attorney doing her duty with a slimy claim that she has a "checkered past" - and for that reason is not entitled to any constitutional rights, obviously.
Former judge Andrew P. Napolitano described the phenomenon of what happened to Christine Mire - in a book published 5 years prior to what happened to Christine Mire.
It appears that judiciary has its gloves off in striking against those who dangerously raise the issue that there is an appearance of CRIMINAL misconduct on behalf of a judge or judges.
Without any traces of common sense - or loyalty to the law.
But with a lot of loyalty to members of their own class.
In all of Judge Knoll's zeal to punish Christine Mire for biting her friend with a motion to recuse, what was completely left out of the decision was - how did the sanction against Christine Mire's for making a well-founded motion to recuse against a judge on behalf of a client co-ordinate with the declared purpose of attorney regulation (and discipline) - protecting consumers?
It was Christine Mire who protected the consumers, right?
And it was the criminal cartel consisting of her competitors who disciplined her for that, right?
And where are the feds for this criminal cartel, including Judge Keaty and Judge Knoll? And the fire marshal? And those who broke into Christine Mire's office? And those who pursued discipline against her on the complaint of Judge Keaty because Christine Mire made a motion to recuse during Judge Keaty's re-election campaign and refused to "cease and desist" (shut up)?
Criminal behavior is not immune, even if the criminal is a judge?
So where are you, the FBI?
How long will the legal consumers be waiting for the feds who are paid by taxpayers to clear corruption in the government to do their jobs?