I’ve mostly stayed away from the birther on birther Liberi v. Taitz libel suit, a hugely nasty action that has dragged on for years. Judge Andrew J. Guilford has pretty much had it with the litigants in the case, on both sides, saying [Order, October 22, 2012, Docket 574]:
This case has wasted huge amounts of time, but very little time has been focused on the substance of the actual dispute at issue. Instead, both sides have expended incredible amounts time calling each other names and fighting over peripheral issues.
Phil Berg, on the side opposing Taitz, was recommended by a disciplinary board to be suspended from the practice of law for a year (status apparently still pending), and he’s made his own ethical claims against Taitz. The judge ordered:
Concerning the pending ethical matters, the parties are ORDERED to inform the Court immediately of any actions taken on pending ethical, disciplinary, or related matters concerning any of the parties now appearing in the case.
That was in October. On November 1, Orly Taitz was dinged $4,000 by Judge Marginis in Orange County Superior Court in Taitz v. Obama for improperly dragging non-party Occidental College into court over a subpoena. I intentionally used the non-technical term “dinged” and more about that later.
Another hearing occurred in the Liberi case and the issue of Taitz’ not disclosing disclose the Orange County order was raised. Here’s the Court’s version of it:
On January 14, 2013, the Court was alerted to a possible unreported sanction against Orly Taitz. Taitz said in Court that the sanction was for discovery. The parties have since subjected the Court to a flurry of papers, which the Court dismisses as irrelevant except for the sole issue now of whether Taitz lied to the Court when she said the sanction was for discovery. Some evidence has been presented to the Court that the sanction involved far more than discovery.
So now the OCWeekly writes, and the Huffington Post derives a story that says: “Orly Taitz faces possible sanctions from federal judge.” The problem with those two articles, is that they leave a big gaping hole where reporting should have discussed the merits of the claim that Taitz lied, a claim which I think has no merit.
First, the order to inform the Court dealt with “pending” disciplinary actions. The activity that led to Taitz’ sanctions was not “pending” on October 22, 2012. It was a week later. If that interpretation is correct, Taitz wasn’t required to report anything about this case.
The Fogbow “Boots on the Ground” ™ report on the Taitz v. Obama hearing had this from eyewitness Raicha:
Then [Judge Marginis] tells Taitz that he is awarding sanctions not as a punishment but for cost shifting, to shift Oxy’s costs to her. Orders $4,000 to be paid personally by Taitz to Oxy, to Mr. Ritt’s client trust account. Mr. Ritt to give notice of the ruling.
…the court may in its discretion award the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred in making or opposing the motion, including reasonable attorney’s fees, if the court finds the motion was made or opposed in bad faith or without substantial justification or that one or more of the requirements of the subpoena was oppressive.
While Judge Marginis catalogs many reasons why the motion to compel was improper, the phrase “bad faith” was never used, nor were there any allusions to ethical violations. In fact, the statute doesn’t even use the word “sanction.” The Orange County Court described what Taitz did as an “’ex parte’ motion to compel production of records,” which “sounds” like discovery to me, and while Orly Taitz is technically a lawyer, she has demonstrated time and time again that she doesn’t know how discovery works, even less than your average Obot, so it probably sounded like discovery to her also.
The disciplinary action, as far as Taitz is concerned, that Judge Guilford apparently had in mind when he issued his order was something in the 9th Circuit regarding Taitz’s representation that Berg had been suspended from practicing law in Pennsylvania (which upon best information hasn’t happened).
I am not a lawyer, but I really don’t see how Taitz is in the wrong on this particular point, nor that she intentionally lied to the Court in the Liberi case. I think the OCWeekly and the Huffington Post coverage was sloppy and misleading.