In a stunning ruling, the judge overseeing the challenge by 26 states to President Obama’s executive action in immigration has ordered all lawyers “employed at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. who appears, or seeks to appear, in a court (state or federal) in any of the 26 Plaintiff States annually attend a legal ethics course.”
In lambasting their conduct, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen wrote, “Such conduct is certainly not worthy of any department whose name includes the word ‘Justice.'”
Accusing the DoJ lawyers of deliberate acts of untruthfulness, Judge Hanen wrote, “The United States Department of Justice has now admitted making statements that clearly did not match the facts. It has admitted that the lawyers who made these statements had knowledge of the truth when they made these misstatements.”
Judge Hanen’s order reads, in part:
Therefore, this Court, in an effort to ensure that all Justice Department attorneys who appear in the courts of the Plaintiff States that have been harmed by this misconduct are aware of and comply with their ethical duties, hereby orders that any attorney employed at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. who appears, or seeks to appear, in a court (state or federal) in any of the 26 Plaintiff States annually attend a legal ethics course. It shall be taught by at least one recognized ethics expert who is unaffiliated with the Justice Department. At a minimum, this course (or courses) shall total at least three hours of ethics training per year. The subject matter shall include a discussion of the ethical codes of conduct (which will include candor to the court and truthfulness to third parties) applicable in that jurisdiction.”
In a footnote, Judge Hanen noted this was not the first time the DoJ has faced such an issue:
Just recently, the Sixth Circuit expressed a similar conclusion. It wrote:
In closing, we echo the district court’s observations about this case. The lawyers in the Department of Justice have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws—all of them, not just selective ones—in a manner worthy of the Department’s name. The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court [like the attorneys representing the DHS in this Court] falls outside that tradition. We expect that the IRS will do better going forward. And we order that the IRS comply with the district court’s discovery orders of April 1 and June 16, 2015—without redactions, and without further delay.
Concluding the order, Judge Hanen wrote, “This Court would be remiss if it left such unseemly and unprofessional conduct unaddressed.”
You can read the entire order here.