APR 16, 2021
At LIT, we know all about the poisonous and prickly United States District Court Judge Lynn Nettleton Hughes. Like most people and as confirmed below, we are also ragin’ that this Outlaw in a Robe is still allowed to practice law.
Sure, we recently gave a hat tip to new Fifth Circuit Judge Cory Wilson for reprimanding Judge Hughes and removing him from those two cases, reversed on appeal. However, just before that case, Wilson had sat on a panel with Judge Carolyn King, who said Hughes did nothing wrong when he was in violation of the rules by looking up the plaintiff’s business and then incorrectly making false accusations against the plaintiff in chambers. We know exactly why she sided with Hughes (when you read the details of the case). Her own son, attorney Stephen Randall, was benefitting from her position and gained work as an appointed public defender on recommendation by judges at S.D. Texas. The plaintiff in Hughes case was questioning these type of hand-picked appointments.
So why is he allowed to sit on the bench, or in Hughes case, sit in his chambers and have a waiting room brimming with lawyers and litigants which he’s no doubt about to abuse – well, at least one side that he’s already prejudged before they’ve even walked into his room?
The answer is judicial [absolute] immunity.
How so? Well, ask yourself the following:
How do you hold federal judges accountable when they self-govern and are judged by their peers? How do you control corruption when judges are appointed for life and there’s only ever been 15 federal judges impeached in history? Where is the sanction when serious misconduct is resolved by the judge resigning on full pension and benefits and the complaint is dismissed as moot? How do you stop blatant corruption when your only route for an external review is criminal prosecution and the prosecutors share the same buildings and are sworn and deal daily with the same judge(s) they are being asked to indict? How can you expect a chief judge to rule on a colleague’s alleged misconduct when s/he is guilty of exactly the same types of egregious and bias behavior?
By comparison, there is no commercial business that would be allowed to operate such a system of fraud and perjury, which is exactly what it has become. In a business, your accounts are open to internal audit but the final financials have to be audited and signed off by an external firm of qualified accountants. That is to prevent internal fraud. There is no such security system with judicial immunity which is kept firmly in the hands of fellow judges at all times.
With this untouchable immunity, it has led to an ever increasing bullish behavior by judges towards parties they abuse. Judges can pitch that they are constitutionalists and everyone deserves a fair hearing and an impartial judge, however the opposite is often the stark reality where they flout the rule of law, judicial oath, canons and constitution and in doing so, pervert the administration of justice. But as it stands, you’re out of luck if you are seeking the truth and for justice to be served.
How can you, when your last resort is the very outlaws in dirty robes themselves?
It is absurd and it’s time for change.
Let’s Check in on Judge Hughes and the Texas Senate Delegation
MAR 2, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: APR 16, 2021
According to Law360, The Fifth Circuit quietly dismissed a complaint against Judge Hughes in November of 2019, six years after it was filed, Fix The Court said Tuesday. The order does not name Judge Hughes, though it does quote directly from a 2013 ethics complaint filed against him by the Texas Civil Rights Project.
And from Fix The Court itself: Complaint update (14 April, 2021). FTC lodged three complaints against federal judges in February — two informal, one formal — and here’s the latest. First, there’s no update on the formal one against Judge Dawson and the informal one against Judge Pratt.
But we did locate the 2013 complaint (05-13-90044) against Judge Hughes for his racist remarks.
Turns out three more formal complaints (05-18-90035, 05-16-90116 and 05-13-90046; see this) may have been levied against him subsequently, and all four were closed on the same day in 2020 (!), with no fanfare.
In the first order, Hughes said he’s “committed to being more careful in the future.” (He hasn’t been.)
We don’t know for sure it’s Hughes in the other three because the orders just say “judge” — that should be fixed — but read the orders yourselves and see what you think.
Last month Fix the Court sent a letter to the Fifth Circuit asking them about an unresolved 2013 complaint against notorious S.D. Tex. Judge Lynn Hughes.
In the intervening years, there have been countless examples of Judge Hughes saying things in court that flout judicial ethics standards and common sense, but our thinking was let’s start with the oldest complaint, see if and how it was resolved, and then decide if we need to file a formal complaint stemming from the 2013 incident or any of the subsequent incidents.
As of today, we still do not know if it has been resolved but remain in touch with the circuit clerk on the issue.
Meanwhile, we also figured that given the judge’s widely publicized racist and sexist statements, Texas’ U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, would have weighed in to condemn those comments. Texas’ senators neither run FEMA nor do they sit on the House Judiciary Committee, where judicial impeachments begin, but as with any going concern, their words carry weight.
Sen. Cornyn has had a lot to say:
– Hughes has “promoted wild conspiracy theories and openly bashed people […] he happens to disagree with.”
– Called Hughes “combative and insulting” and “radioactive.”
– Said about Hughes, “We could all learn a little lesson here, I think, about increasing the civility and the way we treat each other in a very polarized country.”
Sen. Cruz added: “He seems to have been unusually prolific in that he seemed to go out of his way to try to piss everybody off.”
Those are the things that Sens. Cornyn and Cruz have said about OMB Director nominee Neera Tanden. (Switch the “he” to “she,” etc., in the above quotes.)
What we actually found from Cornyn and Cruz on Hughes: crickets.
Yet here are just a sample of Hughes’ racist and sexist statements:
Hughes discounted racists’ use of fried chicken as a racial insult and said, “That’s surprising to Colonel Sanders,” adding, “No Black individually and no Blacks collectively owns [sic] the sensitivity rights to fried chicken or anything else.”
Hughes told an Asian lawyer to “move to North Korea.”
Hughes was overturned on appeal for his decision that belittled the time women spend at work breast-feeding and wanting a private area in which to do so, flippantly saying “the law does not punish lactation discrimination.”
Hughes scolded a female attorney for a mistake she made and told her, “It was lot simpler when you guys wore dark suits, white shirts and navy ties. […] We didn’t let girls do it in the old days.”
Hughes commented about a university’s diversity director position, “And what does the diversity director do? Go around painting students different colors so that they would think they were mixed?”
We eagerly await proper condemnation from Texas’ senators.
LIT COMMENTARY RE JUDICIAL COMPLAINTS AT THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
APR 16, 2021
At LIT, we grew frustrated with the Fifth Circuits intentionally slow and obscure page design for displaying the results of disposed judicial complaints, so we scraped the page and made it much more user friendly. What happened next explains the mentality of the Fifth Circuit. They maliciously took the page offline and then proceeded to change the page structure and content. This was executed with one sole purpose – to break LIT’s judicial complaints page – which was coded to allow for dynamic update of new complaints by the Fifth Circuit.
That’s how small minded and petty the judges are on this court. It’s quite pathetic.
A message for the IT #Texas Don: https://t.co/oezYGegABI#lawprof #appellatetwitter @JusticeWillett @JudgeDillard @HoustonChron @abc13houston @KPRC2 @dallasnews @ExpressNews @statesman @NewStatesman @washingtonpost @nypost @MiamiHerald @MotherJones @BLaw @HuffPostPol @Reuters pic.twitter.com/8OcVBcTTo9
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) November 23, 2020
Hon. Lyle W. Cayce,
Clerk of the Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
F. Edward Hebert Building
600 S. Maestri Pl.
New Orleans, LA, 70130-3408
Delivered via e-mail
February 16, 2021
Dear Clerk Cayce:
According to press reports, a formal complaint under Rule 6 of the Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings was filed against Judge Lynn Hughes of the Southern District of Texas in 2013 for making biased and bigoted statements.
To my knowledge, this complaint was never concluded via dismissal or referral to a judicial council or via other corrective action.
In 2015, 2018 and 2019, Judge Hughes allegedly made biased and bigoted comments similar in nature to those made in 2013, so it is possible that the 2013 complaint remains open. Either way, it is in the public interest to disclose the status of the 2013 complaint and any others that may have been filed against Judge Hughes in the intervening years, and I request that the Fifth Circuit do so.
Currently, the Fifth Circuit web page that houses reports related to complaints made against its judges is bifurcated into “Reports of Judicial Conduct Proceedings Filed Prior to September 17, 2015” and those “Filed On and After September 17, 2015.” The former includes no complaints against Judge Hughes, and the latter is a dead link.
Should the 2013 complaint still be open, I reserve the right to file a complaint against the former Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit for not “expeditiously reviewing” it (cf., 28 U.S.C. §352(a) and (b)). I also reserve the right to file a complaint against Judge Hughes should I learn that the Circuit has failed to undertake disciplinary action to ensure that the pattern of bigotry displayed by Judge Hughes ceases.
Thank you for your attention to the matter. Sincerely,
Fix the Court
Texas Civil Rights Project accuses Judge Lynn Hughes of making racist comments in court
FEB 6, 2013 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: APR 16, 2021
A law blog featuring Judge Lynn Hughes has resulted in a call for his resignation.
Inside the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse in Houston last November, Judge Lynn Hughes was hearing pretrial testimony in the case of a former state employee who claimed he was discriminated against when he was laid off. What Hughes said then caused the man’s attorney to ask for his recusal.
“Considering that he is a judge — a United States federal judge in a courtroom — it is entirely inappropriate,”
said Amin Alehashem with the Texas Civil Rights Project.
Alehashem admits he wasn’t at the hearing, but says he’s poured over transcripts from it. He says Judge Hughes at one point quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, saying “staffs of one color always work better together.”
In a discussion about hiring practices, Alehashem says Hughes also appeared to make fun of those hired to promote diversity, allegedly asking, “What does a diversity director do? Go around and paint students different colors so that they would think they were mixed?”
Alehashem claims neither statement has a place in court.
“His clearly stated beliefs and opinions about race and religion are now bleeding into his judicial decision-making authority,” Alehashem said.
Federal judges are appointed for life. Unlike state judges, they never have to worry about re-election or public opinion.
KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy says federal judges are given wide latitude in their actions from the bench.
“This is trial. Trial is about having your views being challenged,” Androphy said.
Androphy has tried many cases before Hughes. He says Hughes is outspoken and will challenge the attorneys, noting that — in his opinion — Hughes usually is a great supporter of individual rights.
Androphy says he has always felt Hughes was fair.
Hughes did not return our calls and emails seeking comment. It is the policy of federal judges not to talk about pending cases.
If the appeals court confirms any misconduct, Hughes could be publicly or privately censured or could be impeached.