I would like to make several observations about former Justice Jim Jones’ comments made under the headline “Judge bashing harms our system of government” (Feb. 14). Although Judge Jones was supporting the “disheartening” and “demoralizing” comments of Judge Gorsuch directed at President Trump’s tweets regarding federal Judge James Robart’s decision on the TRO (temporary restraining order) on Trump’s travel ban, the same two words could just as well have been ascribed to Robart’s decision, as well as the 9th Circuit’s affirmation of that decision. The decisions were not in accord with either federal statutory law or the Constitution, and neither court’s decision mentioned either the statutory law or the Constitution.
Jones defends Robart as an appointee of President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate. Federal district judges are customarily appointed upon the recommendation of the senior senator of the state, and that nomination is honored by the rest of the Senate on a bipartisan basis. In the state of Washington, an extremely liberal senator made the nomination, and following custom Judge Robart was appointed to the federal district court in Washington.
The Washington court along with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is extremely liberal/progressive. Some 80 of the cases appealed from the 9th Circuit are reversed. That is the reason there has been an effort for many years to create a new circuit out of the current 9th Circuit, which has been supported by Idaho. Judge Jones described the three-judge panel in affirming the district court as reviewing “the record carefully and asked searching questions of both sides. The hearing was not ‘disgraceful’ but conducted with fairness and dignity.” And the panel completely ignored the federal statutory law and the Constitution, which is in keeping with the way the 9th Circuit does things.
Also, Judge Jones states that after serving 12 years on the Supreme Court, he was impressed that magistrates, district judges and appellate judges had never made a decision “based on ideology or personal beliefs.” While Idaho has many fine judges, I can say after 40 years of being a litigator in most of the courts in Idaho and throughout the West, I have witnessed many cases decided on bias, prejudice, ideology and personal belief of the judge involved. Judges are, after all, human.
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However, having appeared a number of times before Judge Jones, I think he was describing himself and perhaps wishing all judges acted like himself.
Richard L. Harris is a retired attorney who practiced in Caldwell for 40 years, 10 of which were spent as the Canyon County prosecuting attorney.