Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Busy day at the 11th Circuit

Four published opinions already and it's not 2:30 yet.

The most interesting is Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta v. The Florida Priori of the Knights Hospitallers of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, the Ecumenical Order.

This is the case that Paul Clement argued.  Judge Wilson wrote the opinion and Judge Pryor wrote a partial dissent.  Lots of juicy stuff here including this line:  

The district court attributed this confusion to the “unimpressive” amount of money each group raised for charitable purposes, which led the court to believe that the members of both organizations 'are more interested in dressing up in costumes, conferring titles on each other and playing in a "weird world of princes and knights’ than in performing charitable acts."  During the trial, the judge opined that it was “tragic” that all Dr. Vann had done in her life was study the Knights of Malta and their records. (D.E. 145, 8:1–6.) He also expressed his disbelief that two charitable organizations would spend their time and money on litigation. (D.E. 144, 34:5–7.)
These remarks are wholly inappropriate in the context of a judicial proceeding and a published judicial opinion. Although a judge is not required to check his or her sense of humor at the courthouse door, we must be mindful that the parties rely on the judge to give serious consideration to their claims. Litigants are understandably frustrated when they are subject to the sort of unnecessary belittling commentary about which the parties complain here.

Yet, this wasn't enough for the Court to reassign the case:

We think the district court’s remarks, though offensive to both parties, do not rise to the level of conduct that warrants assignment to a different judge on remand. We are hard-pressed to surmise actual bias in favor of, or against, one party over the other. Moreover, we are confident that, on remand, both parties will be treated with the respect they deserve and that the district court will be able to freshly consider the remanded claims notwithstanding its previously expressed views. And, given the fact-intensive nature of this case, any reassignment would necessarily require duplication of resources expended by the parties and the court. Accordingly, we deny Plaintiff Order’s request for reassignment on remand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, of Course. You NEVER see the Eleventh Circuit belittle any party or make fun or light of any case before them in a published opinion. [I assume the opinion was not written by Judge Carnes]