The Robe to Hell
Jan 25, 2014 at 12:09 am
Two days after Judge Weisberg's ruling in the Mann vs Steyn case, the offers to chip in for a legal defense fund are still pouring in. I'm genuinely touched by the kindness and generosity of readers. As most of you know, I resisted such offers during my Canadian travails and suggested instead that anyone who wanted to show financial support should take out a subscription to Maclean's. But the scale of expenditures down here is so much greater I may have to break my rule and pass the hat. We'll make a decision in the next few days. In the meantime, if you've got a few bucks to toss my way, there's an autographed copy of my book on free speech with your name on it, or some other item from the SteynOnline store. That way we all win: I get enough funds to fight a full-strength defense; you get some great reading matter, or listening matter, or chest-hugging matter.
The other thing I've been tremendously moved by is the number of lawyers offering their services. I'm thinking this one through very carefully after what happened this last year, but I am poring over the various bits of legal advice. One thing that's not going to change, though, is my inclination to speak up when judges play fast and loose. As I said to Mother Jones:
After many years in America, I have never felt so foreign as reading the pile-up of commentary from supposedly sophisticated persons tutting about how my "assailing" the judge will not be "helpful" to the case. This absurd prostration before the bench is one of the biggest structural defects in this country. Jim writes to Mark's Mailbox as follows:
So it's "human nature" for a judge to go into a big queeny huff because one of his supplicants is doing insufficient robe-kissing? So much for judicial temperament. David Appel headlined his post on the case "Who Knew? Judges Don't Appreciate Insults From Defendants" - implying (without evidence) that Judge Weisberg's ruling is some sort of pique at my dismissing his colleague Combs-Greene as an incompetent. As Mr Appel's first commenter responds:
Exactly. Or as Tyler Null tweets:
Quite so. At the very least, if a judge's amour propre is so easily unsettled, he's in the wrong business. As Jim mentions, I'm familiar with courtrooms around the Commonwealth, where I would say the attitude to the bench is rather healthier (especially when one considers how highly politicized the judiciary is in America). Six years ago, during my battles with the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission, I discovered that Judge Hadjis had agreed to the CHRC's demand that Marc Lemire's Section 13 trial be held in secret:
Julian wrote a terrific motion, indeed referencing Viscount Haldane and Ambard v Attorney General for Trinidad and Tobago and whatnot. And Judge Hadjis gave up his dirty little secret trial in favor of an open hearing, at which yours truly, my Maclean's colleagues and a roomful of Ottawa bloggers filled the benches. But my favorite part of that winning motion was this passage, where Julian called out the judge directly, by name:
Hadjis was a lazy hack who had hitherto been the same obliging rubber-stamp for the CHRC as the FISA judge is for America's NSA, and had faithfully upheld the CHRC's 100 per cent conviction rate on Section 13. Once Julian had opened up his courtroom to sunlight, he changed his tune very quickly, to the point where he suddenly decided Section 13 was unconstitutional and announced its immediate suspension.
Julian is a courtly Queen's Counsel, a world away from these tough-talking attorneys down here. But, when it counted, he had no fear about taking it to the judge direct, and reminding him that his performance would also be on trial. I wish we'd had him at the DC Superior Court, instead of kissing judicial butt for a year and getting nowhere. And I wish my colleagues at National Review had understood that "the keyhole to justice requires eyes" - and, as Maclean's did, sent a reporter to the courtroom.
I like to think I'm a reasonably assimilated immigrant, but, when it comes to fawning and groveling before judges, sorry, I pass.
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