Benchslaps, Federal Judges, Rank Stupidity

Benchslap of the Day: The Lawyer Loves Me… Lawyer Loves Me Not

Periodically, we catch wind of bizarre lawsuit filings, usually pro se, and seemingly from the the minds of people with serious mental problems. We don’t write about these lawsuits, because presumably they never go anywhere. They are not newsworthy; they are just sad.

Thus, it is quite unusual to come across a 30-page district court ruling devoted entirely to addressing far-fetched Da Vinci Code-style conspiracy allegations.

The judges handling this case must go home every night and weep while drinking Jameson from the bottle. I do not envy them.

In our Benchslap of the Day, let’s watch a federal magistrate judge shoot down complaints that his judicial colleague is part of a “large, amorphous conspiracy” — like a boss…

The details of Charles Breslin et. al. v. Dickinson Township et. al. are mostly irrelevant. What’s interesting is the plaintiff’s incessant attempts to get the presiding judge to recuse herself.

In a ruling from earlier this week, Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania doesn’t waste time tearing the plaintiff apart (citations omitted):

This case, which comes before us for consideration of Plaintiffs’ motion that this Court recuse itself in this case, inspires “a profound sense a tragedy”, compels us, once again, to consider the unfortunate professional trajectory of plaintiffs’ counsel, and requires us to reflect upon the recurring, and wholly regrettable, themes that now mark his practice in this and other litigation before this Court.

At the outset, this motion reveals the apparent inability of counsel to take to heart the Court’s prior admonition to consider, “the wisdom of Albert Einstein, who once stated that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the highest form of folly.” Here, counsel pursues Einstein’s folly by filing a motion which is essentially identical to several pleadings that were previously considered-and rejected-by this Court in this, and other cases. Indeed, in this motion counsel repeats an argument which counsel himself conceded one year ago had no basis in fact.

This sounds painful. Not even Einstein would want to spend 30 pages shooting holes in allegations that a federal judge’s prior work as a prosecutor is “emblematic of participation in some far-reaching, decades-spanning cabal.”

The best part of the opinion deals with the plaintiff’s accusations that Judge Yvette Kane was biased and unfair. Because it is hard to call someone unfair just a few weeks after you say you love them. In court, plaintiff’s counsel said things like:

I love my fellow man, believe it or not. You probably wouldn’t even believe that I love you.


You haven’t done anything improper. I’ve been impressed with you, not only your affability, but your fairness. So judge, I’m not complaining at all. I will swear.

Sadly, as the poet said, the parties were caught in a bad romance. From Judge Carlson’s recent opinion:

Ironically, in the current recusal motion the plaintiffs actually imply that their own counsel was being dishonest when he made these statements to the Court, characterizing his remarks as “obsequious comments.” We reject the plaintiffs’ efforts to disparage the honesty of their own counsel on this score. Indeed, any claim that counsel is “obsequious” in his dealings with the Court simply lacks credibility. Therefore, we reject this particular effort by plaintiffs to impeach their own counsel.

Has someone made a judicial facepalm meme yet? I could use one right here. And so could a bunch of other judges, apparently:

Quite the contrary, we presently find ourselves, literally, in the company of dozens of other jurists and public officials all of whom have found themselves recklessly accused of a fantastic array of misconduct by plaintiff’s counsel simply because they have performed their duty under the law.

Hopefully this legal lovers’ quarrel will be resolved soon. The plaintiff’s attorney should remember, though, it’s a little hard to play the “he said, she said” game when a stenographer is recording your every word.

Breslin et. al. v. Dickinson Township et. al. [U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania]

(hidden for your protection)

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