There’s a U.S. Second Circuit judge, Denny Chin, who might be able to set Donald Trump straight on his allegations against the district judge Gonzalo Curiel—but so could any second-year law student who has remained awake during professional-responsibility class.
Zero plus zero equals zero.
Most lawyers would call the 1998 case this lesson comes from, Macdraw Inc. v. CIT Equipment Financing, an “ordinary case”—one company agreed to help another finance a large sale of industrial equipment. The deal went south, the buyer went bankrupt, and the borrower sold the collateral. The lender, Macdraw, sued for its claimed share, and the case had dragged on for six years in a New York federal district court by the time Chin had to school Macdraw’s lawyers on legal ethics and judicial impartiality.
There was nothing ordinary about those lawyers. The lead attorney was Larry Klayman, the founder of the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch and the force behind dozens of politically minded lawsuits, including a recent one claiming that the Obama Administration engineered the spread of Ebola to exterminate the “Caucasian race and Jewish-Christian religion.”
Eventually, Chin dismissed Klayman’s client’s case with a few choice words for the way counsel had conducted it. Not long after, the judge got a letter from Klayman and his co-counsel, Paul Orfanedes, asking a few “questions” about the judge’s Asian American background and mentioning another case they had brought against the Clinton administration. They then filed a brief questioning the judge’s impartiality:
Mr. Klayman and Mr. Orfanedes became concerned that because the Court was a recent appointee of President Clinton … and Mr. Klayman had been prominently mentioned in the media for his role in the Commerce Department case, which focused in part on the White House, the Democratic National Committee, John Huang, Melinda Yee, and other persons in the Asian and Asian–American communities, and because the lawsuit had elicited such angry responses from the White House, Democrats and the Asian–American community, that the Court might be angry at them and unable to be fair and impartial ...
In a written response, Chin noted that he hadn’t been aware of Klayman’s other lawsuit. As for the questions about his race, he said, “This sentiment is absurd and demeans me individually and the Court as a whole.”