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Strunk hit with staggering $177,000 legal sanction

I’m going to have this thing overturned and I’m not going to pay a dime.

The New York Daily News reports that the amount of legal sanctions to be imposed on persistent New York litigator Christopher-Earl : Strunk is $177,000, by far the largest birther penalty imposed to date. Strunk is also barred from suing a long list of individuals in the New York Court System.

Prior to this, the birther sanctions record was held by Orly Taitz at $20,000 and $4,000, and seconded by $10,565.23 against the Liberty Legal Foundation and a distant third by Linda Jordan at a reduced amount of $3,500.

Strunk, who lives on a modest retirement income from Social Security has, according to prior court filings, no assets of note.

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Settlement reached in Jordan v. Reed

Linda Jordan and the Attorney General of Washington State agreed, according to a report at Obama Release Your Records, on a settlement by which Jordan would pay  the State $3,500 for the cost of their defending a frivolous appeal filed by Jordan. The State had previously been awarded almost $13,000 in costs, but this amount had been appealed by Jordan’s attorney Richard B. Sanders.

According to ORYR, Jordan had already received donations towards her sanctions that exceed the settlement plus her attorney fees. So much for the theory that actions have consequences.

ORYR spins interview with Justice Sanders

Reality Check Radio had a great show last night (I briefly called in), featuring former Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders.

Sanders is representing birther plaintiff Linda Jordan before the Washington State Supreme Court in the matter of fees assessed Jordan as a result of her filing a frivolous appeal in the Jordan v. Reed lawsuit trying to prevent Barack Obama from being on the ballot in Washington State.

You can listen to the entire show below, or read the transcript:

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What Sanders emphasized was that he came late to the case and that his sole concern was the amount of the costs assessed against Jordan, whether they should be a market rate or the actual cost (which was about 1/3 of what the Court used). Sanders himself didn’t seem to be a birther and said essentially (and you can listen to his exact words) that anyone who wanted to prove Obama was foreign born “had a long way to go.” It seemed at first that Sanders thought he was on a birther program and was being reserved in what he said so as not to stir up an argument.

The birther spin machine at Obama Release Your Records accuses the Obots of putting words in Sanders’ mouth. I think RC did try to press Sanders on some points, but Sanders is an experienced attorney and judge, and can speak for himself. He had ample opportunity to say what he wanted to say. ORYR features a 13-minute excerpt, but also links to the full interview.

I am embarrassed in second-guessing myself when I said that Jordan had been involved with birther litigation since 2009 when she testified for Orly Taitz in Atlanta in the case of Farrar v. Obama. The reason for my hesitation was that while I was listening, I went back to this web site and searched for Jordan, finding nothing before 2011. So I was half right. Jordan did testify in Farrar but that case was in 2011-2012 with the hearing on January of 2012, and when Jordan should have known that the things she alleged in her own lawsuit would not be effective in court. To add to the confusion, Susan Daniels also testified at that hearing.

At the Farrar hearing Jordan testified that she used E-Verify to check Obama’s number on August 17, 2011 [Transcript P. 20, Lines 20-24], however, her Affidavit [Page 55] shows that the used she SSA Self Check system.

More argument on Jordan v. Reed appeal costs

Normally a birther lawsuit is gobbledygook, legal nonsense, crazy logic, and worthy of universal condemnation; this includes those from a certain birther attorney. It was also the case with Linda Jordan’s pro se complaint and appeal in the case of Jordan v. Reed. The court rightly dismissed the suit, upheld on appeal, and the Washington Secretary of State rightly requested and was granted costs for defending a frivolous appeal, costs of nearly $13,000.

However, the amount awarded the State was not the actual cost of the defense but rather a market rate times the number of hours. The award was about 3 times the actual expense. Some think this is a windfall for the State. True or not, there is another windfall in this story and that is the intervention of a real lawyer, a former Supreme Court of Washington justice Richard B. Sanders, arguing that the costs awarded by the court were excessive.

The argument is whether the costs are punitive or compensatory, and what the standard is for computing the costs. My article on the State’s brief is “Washington AG makes strong case for sanctions.” I am not a lawyer, so I won’t give an opinion, but here’s something better than you’ve probably ever seen in a birther lawsuit:

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Washington AG makes strong case for sanctions

The Attorney General of Washington State filed a brief with the Supreme Court of the State of Washington, making a strong case that sanctions in the amount of $12,675 assessed by the court in the matter of the appeal in Jordan v. Reed were reasonable and proper, and that the Court should reject Jordan’s request for a reduction in fees.

The AG makes several points:

  1. Sanctions are meant to be a deterrent against future misconduct.
  2. Jordan had been warned by the trial court and the Attorney General that her appeal was frivolous.
  3. Plaintiff Jordan herself, through multiple filings, multiplied the effort that was required of the State to deal with her appeal.
  4. Market rates are the established method of calculating attorneys’ fees in Washington State.

After reading so much incompetent rambling in birther lawsuit filings, it is always refreshing to read a clear, concise well-argued brief well-founded in the law.

I bear Linda Jordan no ill will and no doubt she engaged in her reckless pursuit of a frivolous appeal partly encouraged by a long list of birthers who got away with the same thing. Still she was warned, and for birthers as well as everyone else, actions have consequences.

Read the brief:

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Former Washington State Supreme Court judge pleads for reduced fees in Jordan case

As previously reported here, Linda Jordan was assessed costs of nearly $13,000 for a frivolous appeal of her lawsuit against the Washington Secretary of State, alleging Obama’s ineligibility to be President. Losing the original case, Jordan was asked to pay “statutory costs” in the amount of $200. She appealed, and the Washington Attorney General’s office, defending the Secretary of State, warned Jordan that if she pursued the appeal that the AG would ask for actual costs of litigation. Jordan persisted and lost the appeal.

The costs in the case were computed based on the number of hours recorded and the billing rates of the attorneys involved. One attorney charged at $250/hr and the other at $175. Jordan is asking the court to reconsider the judgment and the award.

ObamaReleaseYourRecords has published a letter purported to be by Richard B. Sanders, and former justice on the Washington State Supreme Court, stating:

Photo of Judge SandersFor the first time in 17 years, 15 of those sitting on the Washington Supreme Court, I have agreed to represent a private citizen. And I am pleased to lend Linda Jordan a helping hand.

In good faith Ms. Jordan commenced an action to question President Obama’s name on the ballot. She did the best she could with limited resources and no legal training. The government’s response was immediate and in some respects heavy handed. Having obtained a summary dismissal of her case, and then her appeal, the attorney general went further to demand the Secretary of State be reimbursed, claiming attorney fees amounting to almost $13,000. However what the attorney general did not tell the court is that the Secretary never actually paid this amount, nor was he billed this amount, nor probably anything close to it. The number is made up, pure fiction. The AG did not disclose the actual amount to the court probably because the objective is to get a punitive judgment for as much as he can without regard to actual expenditures which were much less.

My motion to modify and reduce the court clerk’s award of almost $13,000 will attempt to direct the court’s attention to the truth of the matter: that once again the government is hiding the ball to oppress a patriotic private citizen of modest means because she exercised her right to access the courts. This is not compensatory but punitive. It is not justice but oppression. Moreover $13,000 is truly an outlandish sum to obtain dismissal of an appeal the AG claimed was entirely lacking in merit. No wonder people mistrust the government, lawyers and the court system. It’s time to fight.

Richard B. Sanders

I haven’t seen the appeal documents yet, and I don’t know whether Judge Sanders has any evidence to back up the suggestion that the costs were inflated.

Sanders was defeated for re-election to the Court in 2010, and in an attempt to regain his seat in 2012.

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