Meet Judge Jill A. Pryor, Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit

BREAKING NEWS;

FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 2020:

JUDGE JILL PRYOR ORDERS SEALING OF MOTION TO DISQUALIFY;

IN BREACH OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT

EMAIL FOLLOW-UP FOR 3 MISSING JUDGE REPORTS; 17TH APRIL, 2020

APPELLANTS BURKES’ MOTION TO DISQUALIFY JUDGE JILL A. PRYOR

Appellants, Joanna Burke and John Burke (“Burkes”), now file a motion to disqualify Circuit Judge Jill A. Pryor.

 

DISCLOSURE

In the Burkes’ first electronically filed initial brief (stricken due to a 90-day extension of time[1]), they alerted the court of the request for the judges’ financial disclosure reports which were requested but pending. Those reports, in the majority have now been received in a letter dated January 13, 2020.  In the letter[2], it was advised that 3 reports for the fiscal year 2018 were not included and would be sent when ‘released’. Judge Jill A. Pryor is named in that list.

 

ARGUMENT

When you’ve been in private practice as a successful lawyer with your husband and law partners and then you receive a call to serve as an appellate judge[3] on the federal bench, with a lifetime tenure, there is a time for serious consideration of the role you’re about to embark on. Certainly, due to political shenanigans, Jill Pryor, the lawyer, had 803 days to consider that proposition due to the delay in her appointment.[4] The position, a federal judge, embraces public service and with that role comes prestige, authority and the understanding this ‘black robe’ position requires unquestionable impartiality.[5] This judicial appointment comes with a higher level of public scrutiny as citizens expect judges to rule from the bench whilst adhering to the model code of judicial conduct and ethics.[6]

Without doubt, citizens are not expecting servitude[7], but they are entitled to expect divestiture of assets which may taint a judges’ impartiality[8] on the bench or confer that unwanted impression. (See Exhibit P).

Citizens are also entitled to have a judge on the case who is not pro-business[9] and one who mimics[10] her past private attorney undertakings, by constantly seeking out and maintaining an active role in promoting corporations and high-net worth businesses over seeking allowed positions on consumer-focused groups and committees.

Furthermore, the Burkes are entitled to request a judge be disqualified who appears to be a shareholder of entities which are currently in prickly litigation before the US Tax Court for attempting to claim a charitable donation tax exemption to avoid material financial payments to the government, e.g. IRS tax liabilities. The Burkes having reviewed the docket and the tax judges’ Orders in December 2019, can confirm – it’s not going well (See Exhibit T).

The Burkes have invoked their rights to review the financial disclosure record(s) of Judge Jill A. Pryor. As highlighted, the Burkes can only currently review 2017[11] as 2018 was not supplied. That itself is alarming as is indicative that the filing is tardy, there can be no other logical reason for the missing annual report.[12]

Even so, relying upon this single and redacted financial disclosure report combined with a rather ‘low-level’ audit of the same, what they have seen is discouraging and of grave concern as to why recusal[13] was not automatic for this judge. In support thereof, would show as follows:

 

THE LAW ON RECUSAL OF AN APPELLATE 3-PANEL JUDGE

The Appellate Judge and legal ‘Omnipotence’ Will Decide this Disqualification Motion

 

In the federal court system, a federal statute governs judicial recusal.[14] The statute describes two categories for disqualification. The first being that a judge “shall disqualify himself  herself in any proceeding in which his her impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

The second situation in which recusal is necessary arises if  a judge (1) has actual bias or prejudice concerning a party; (2) has a direct financial interest, however small, in a party; (3) has served as lawyer in the matter in controversy while in private or governmental practice; or (4) has a spouse or child who is a party, lawyer or witness in the proceeding.[15]

The Burkes have studied these ‘ground rules’ and have considered them prior to filing this motion. In 2020, the judicial system in the United States still allows the judge whose recusal is sought to decide whether she is biased and whether her impartiality[16] might reasonably be questioned.

In the underlying case, there has been great public interest garnished and which revolves around the government watchdog, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The question which is creating this publicity relates to the “separation of powers”, insofar as Director Kraninger of the CFPB can only be removed ‘for cause’. As documented, she agrees in her own words that her position is ‘unconstitutional’.[17]

In a similar case, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit determined that the FHFA is also ‘unconstitutional’ for the very same reason[18];

“Congress created FHFA amid a dire financial calamity, but expedience does not license omnipotence

(A majority of judges on a 16-member panel opined). Thus, it is inconceivable to these citizens of the United States, how judges can reach this decision when they also rely upon ‘omnipotence[19] and, in effect, are ‘unconstitutional[20] themselves.[21]

That stated, the benchmark for this filing relies upon the recusal standards applicable to intermediate appellate judges, which are the same as those applicable to trial court judges. The Burkes have found many cases wherein appellate courts hold trial judges have abused their discretion in failing to recuse because, in the appellate courts’ view, the trial judges’ impartiality reasonably might be questioned.

In summation, the Burkes are left to rely upon the judges’ own ethical compass, combined with the Judicial Oath and Canons[22] when asking the judge to recognize the legitimate arguments and concerns presented by the Burkes’ in this motion and in conjunction with the legal definition of 28 U.S.C. § 455(a)[23], which the Burkes rely upon[24] along with a reminder that ‘the duty to sit’ rule was repealed in 1974.

 

 

THE JUDGES’ QUESTIONNAIRE FOR CONGRESS (2012)

The Disclosed Entities and Assets

In her nomination Questionnaire, the following entities were listed; Jill A. Pryor P.C. (former law firm); Top Mall USA LLC (internet sales business); 6616 Midnight Pass Road, LLC (was formed to own rental property but currently owns none); 1088 Country Lane, LLC, (was formed to own rental property but currently owns none); 1933 Kilburn Drive, LLC, (was formed to own rental property but currently owns none); Silver City Land Co., LLC, (owns undeveloped residential lots); Sussex Properties, L.L.C., (owns rental property); and Zephyr Land Corporation, an offshore company, c/o Butterfield Bank, Nassau, Bahamas where she is President and Director (Corporation owns residential beachfront lot).

 

THE JUDGES’ FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE REPORT (2017)

The Disclosed Entities and Real Estate Assets

When Judge Pryor submitted her Questionnaire to Congress, it was not redacted. That cannot be said about the 2017 Financial Disclosure Report[25]. As such, the audit relies, in part, upon the Fifth Circuits favorite, the “erie guess” doctrine;

‘Erie guesses are just that—guesses.

Hopefully we get them right, but sometimes we get them wrong.’

As admitted – but without correction to the homeowners – by Gregg Costa, Judge in Priester v JPMorgan.[26]

This audit attempts to marry the entities as disclosed in 2012 with the real estate assets and disclosures from the 2017 report below.

Please note; All property sales were in joint names of Jill A. Pryor and Edward B. Krugman per the relevant States’ property records.

The properties in question and respective audit report is attached as Exhibit P.

 

THE 2017 FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE REPORT FOR JUDGE PRYOR SHOWS CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

 

As the Burke’s advised this court in late 2019, a request was made for financial disclosure reports for Judges on the Eleventh Circuit. On or around the 18th of January, 2020, the Burkes’ received most but not all of the requested reports. The Burkes, now aware of the 3-Panel judges in this case, namely Pryor, J., Martin, B., and Wilson, C., reviewed the reports received. At this time, there is only one redacted report for Judge Jill A. Pryor for the fiscal year 2017, 2018 was not included as discussed above. One questions why that is, as all reports should have been available, as was the case with the Burkes’ request for Fifth Circuit judges’ reports.

 

Several Investment and Rental Properties with Mortgages and Loans

Below is a screenshot of Judge Pryor’s listed liabilities, all of which relate to her portfolio of rental and vacation properties, with perhaps the exception of the American Express credit card.

In the report, the first red flag was the Ditech mortgage for a rental property. Ditech is a non-bank which has recently been involved in a lengthy bankruptcy where they attempted to convince the court it could sell the company, however, in order to complete any sale, they would remove the legal and contractual protections the current mortgage borrowers are entitled to. Due to the overwhelming legal objections and public outcry, this was rejected by the judge and an alternative agreement was reached. You can read more about it in short form on Bloomberg,[27] which also highlights the Burkes’ second issue with the Ditech mortgage Judge Pryor disclosed. Namely, Ditech purchased 9.6 Billion dollars of MSRs from OCWEN is 2015. It is not clear whether the judges’ Ditech mortgage is serviced with OCWEN. Note; The other listed mortgages with Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America do not specify who is servicing the loan, so it could possibly be OCWEN for any of these mortgages as servicing rights are transferred, sold and bought like shares on the stock-market today – frequently.

 

A Real Estate Investor is Biased and Should not be a Judge in this case

OCWEN is a non-bank. As clearly outlined in the Burkes now refiled initial brief, it is involved in all aspects of real estate from Zillow like portals to MSRs to offshoring staff and its executives to St Croix and similar. It has affiliations and contracts with nearly every major US bank and investment bank.

Property Investors rely upon banks to fund mortgages and as you can see, this is certainly the case with the judges’ investments. The fact that Pryor and Krugman are serial and long-term property speculators and investors – even with the liquidation of several of the property assets in 2018/2019 and which is discussed further in this motion – the Judge should have recused herself from this case which, at its’ core, is about consumer and homeowner rights against entities who invest in real estate, REITS, RMBS and more on the back of the misery of homeowners due to the illegal takings of their homesteads. As a property investor and judge, how can you appear impartial and independent when you’ve mortgages and loans with the key perpetrators, the bankers? (This is distinct from a mortgaged main residence.) In short, you can’t.

 

The Redacted ‘Positions’ in Disclosed Entities (LLC’s and Corporation)

The Burkes knew nothing about Judge Jill Pryor, prior to this appeal. That has changed.  The Burkes have performed a ‘low level’ audit of the financial report, yet even with this initial audit review, they have some very serious and material concerns.

Without sounding like a mix between Wikipedia, Ballotpedia and a State Bar Journal article, a synopsis of the judge and her personal life (to some extent) is necessary for this audit report and request for disqualification to have substance. Disclaimer; This audit only relies upon data and disclosures obtained from public records.

To the best of the Burkes findings, Judge Pryor is currently married[28] to attorney Edward B. Klugman. He is a partner in the law firm Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore LLP (“Bondurant”) where Judge Pryor is/was a Partner as well.

The positions section of the financial report is redacted, but from the available information, it is obvious she is a MEMBER (shareholder) of several LLCs as well as President/Director of one, which is a company in Nassau, Bahamas (Zephyr Land Corporation) and uses a c/o Butterfield Bank address. In relation to the Butterfield association, this is a conflict of interest due to;

  • this Banks’ relationship with Deutsche Bank, and where it plans to further that “partnership” with Deutsche Bank to provide trust products to Deutsche Bank’s clients on an ongoing basis. Deutsche Bank is well-documented as an adverse party of the Burkes, and;
  • Judge Pryor was in a recent March 2019 case where Deutsche Bank National Trust Company[29] was a party – and where Deutsche Bank prevailed, and;
  • In the Burkes’ initial brief, they outlined the fact that OCWEN founder William C. Erbey is living in St Croix and sets up tax-havens and offshore companies to reduce or avoid taxation in the United States.

With Judge Pryor replicating OCWENs’ tax planning and offshore investments, it can only be viewed as prejudicial, as she patently executes the same real estate and tax strategies as those of OCWEN, admonished to the tune of $3 billion[30] since the financial recession.

Furthermore, the judge lists in line 64 of her report, Excelerate Discovery, LLC, which recently rebranded and changed name to TrustPoint International, LLC (line 65). The core business services for these entities relies upon providing legal outsourcing e.g. paralegal type services from offshore staff in India and similar countries who provide low-cost labor. Generally, this high margin cash incentive for the company comes with a caveat, poor quality work due to lack of professional study and training in the legal field and understanding of American law.

Pryor is a shareholder in this dubious company which offers paralegal legal services using cheap offshore and unregulated staff, which provides a mammoth billing opportunity and profit to legal firms in the USA.

The analogy would be that Pryors’ chosen company is similar to the ‘Wilbur Ross system’, wherein he (as a former director) and OCWEN hired offshore staff to reduce costs and maximize profit at the expense of consumers and customers who registered tens of thousands of complaints about the poor services provided by OCWEN’s offshore customer service teams.

 

THE DISCLOSED ENTITIES AND THE TWO $8M+ DOLLAR US TAX CASES

This audit leads the Burkes onto the current tax court case involving 2 entities which are disclosed in the judges’ financial report which is detailed in Exhibit T.

After reading Exhibit T, you will note on the 10th of December, 2019, the tax judge in the case(s) ordered the case proceed to trial. The IRS assessed an $8.3 million dollar adjustment to income based on 2010 filings by the Rivers entity and $8.6 million for the Dashers entity, wherein the IRS determined they did not qualify for a claimed charitable contribution deduction.

After the scheduled trial in 2020, any subsequent appeal[31] would be heard by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the Order. That proposition must be a very uncomfortable one for her and her fellow Circuit Judges. Certainly, depending on the amount of shareholding and potential to financial liability, it may well be why there has been a mass liquidation of real estate assets in both 2018 and 2019 by Pryor and Krugman. “It wouldn’t look good”, if appealed.

The Burkes erie guess is;  this flurry of activity, namely selling the portfolio of approximately $5.38 million dollars of real estate owned by Pryor and Krugman was triggered in order to repay any IRS tax liability these entities may be due, depending on the result of the cases and to avoid any embarrassment of the IRS filing for tax liens against any and all real estate, should there be a personal liability incurred from the resulting tax case(s).

The Burkes believe that a judge involved in questionable tax court cases would prejudice the Burkes. Whilst the IRS is making an adjustment for a 2010 filing (before Pryor was a judge), the fact she is and was a lawyer, leads the Burkes to believe that as a self-proclaimed ‘high net worth client’ lawyer[32] who is involved – in her own words – in very complex legal cases, she would have known the tax deduction was an attempt to ‘game the system’, in this case the game being the turkeys, to obtain a substantial tax break for which the entities of which she has a financial interest. The tax judge cites 5th Circuit and 11th Circuit case law and Jill Pryor, even in 2010, would have known the deduction was unlawful. But to avoid even entering a financial numerical value in a required IRS tax form is beyond comprehension.  Ultimately, the judge would financially benefit if the donations had not been audited. It’s fair to say, $8.3m and $8.6m are not small charitable tax deduction claims.

In the Burkes opinion, it has more than just the appearance of impropriety. Significantly, it’s a material sum, a calculated tax avoidance and a big burden to US taxpayers if the accounts had not been audited by the IRS. As such, the Burkes request the disqualification of Judge Jill A. Pryor.

The Burkes acknowledge that their opinions herein partially rely upon the erie doctrine, for example, relative to  intent. However, as former Texas Supreme Court Justice Tom Phillips recently stated at a partisan Federalist Society chapter meeting in Texas in 2019, when discussing his opponent taking substantial political contributions ($120k) and then reversing a case decision in favor of that donor, the opponent denied any wrongdoing and Phillips stated; ‘I took him at his word, but it didn’t look good’.[33]

Returning to the tax court judges’ Orders, the Burkes recite this part of one of the two orders (both the same, just the parties and values are different as disclosed above);

  1. Dasher’s Bay Argues the Regulation is Invalid.

As an alternative argument to their assertion that they complied with section 1.70A-14(g)(6)(ii), Dasher’s Bay argues the regulation is invalid.

When testing the validity of a regulation, we generally look to the two-part test established under Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. The first prong of that test is “whether Congress has directly spoken to the precise question at issue.” If Congress has not spoken to the precise question at issue, the second prong requires the Court to determine whether the regulation “is based on a permissible construction of the statute ” The Supreme Court later clarified that courts must treat Treasury regulations with the same deference as other agencies’ regulations and that regulations promulgated under specific grants and regulations promulgated under general grants are not treated differently.

The Burkes requested lower court intervention, which is now on appeal in this court, involves a case between a government watchdog, the CFPB, and a non-bank, OCWEN. The case is among several nationwide which have garnished enormous public and media attention due to the related case of Selia Law. That case is currently before the US Supreme Court and which this court is aware, in part, due to the several motions filed and denied by the Burkes, requesting a stay pending the Selia Law case decision.

This is mentioned as the tax court judge had to address a defense by both Dashers and Rivers which questioned the legislative branch and the judicial branch (the tax judge in this case) had to interpret Congress’s meaning of the statute and relied upon 5th Circuit and 11th Circuit precedent to do so.

The tax judge rejected the arguments of the respondents. It is fair to say, that alone is sufficient to call into question any and all decisions which Judge Pryor has and will take in the Burkes appeal.

LEGAL STANDARD FOR DISQUALIFICATION

The governing standard under Section 455(a) is well settled: “It is of no consequence that the judge is not actually biased because § 455(a) concerns not only fairness to individual litigants, but, equally important, it concerns “the public’s confidence in the judiciary, which may be irreparably harmed if a case is allowed to proceed before a judge who appears to be tainted.”” In re Kensington, 353 F.3d at 220 (quoting Alexander v. Primerica Holdings, Inc., 10 F.3d 155, 162 (3d Cir. 1993), in tum quoting In re School Asbestos Litigation, 977 F.2d at 776) (emphasis added by this Court). “[A]ny tribunal permitted by law to try cases and controversies not only must be unbiased but also must avoid even the appearance of bias.” (quoting Haines v. Liggett Group Inc., 975 F.2d 81, 98 (3d Cir. 1992), in tum quoting Lewis v. Curtis, 671 F.2d 779, 789 (3d Cir. 1982)).  Recusal is required if “a reasonable person knowing all the circumstances would harbor doubts concerning the judge’s impartiality.” (quoting Jones v. Pittsburgh Nat’l Corp., 899 F.2d 1350, 1356 (3d Cir. 1990)).

 

CANON 3C ALONE WOULD WARRANT DISQUALIFICATION

The drafters of Canon 3C of the Code of Judicial Conduct clearly intended an appearance-of-bias standard.

The Reporter’s Notes to the Code state that “[a]ny conduct that would lead a reasonable man knowing all the circumstances to the conclusion that the judge’s ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned’ is a basis for the judge’s disqualification.”[34]

Further, the Notes indicate that disqualification would be required if “participation by the judge in the proceeding . . . creates the appearance of a lack of impartiality.”

The legislative history of the 1974 amendments also supports the use of an appearance-of-bias standard.[35]

 

CONCLUSION

Public confidence is essential to effective functioning of the judiciary because, “possessed of neither the purse nor the sword,” the judiciary depends primarily on the willingness of members of society  to  follow  its mandates.[36]

Individually, the Burkes’ list of judicial breaches present insurmountable hurdles for this judge and when reviewing the appearance of bias.

Cumulatively[37], Judge Jill A. Pryor cannot ethically withstand the legal and judicial standards to prevent disqualification. It is an impossibility – if you adhere strictly to the law when reviewing one’s own impartiality.

Human nature is protective by default. It is difficult to see fault in oneself. Ultimately, this judge will be allowed to select one of two options; (i) the legally right choice, or (ii) the biased and legally flawed choice.

The Burkes now ask for due process[38] of law and  for this ‘court’ to decide which option it will be.

Respectfully submitted as pro se and is also submitted as an affidavit of the entire contents of this motion.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Refiled on 26 January 2020 (without disclosure).

[2] Cover Letter from the Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on Financial Disclosure is included as “Exhibit A”.

[3] Prior to her nomination, Jill A. Pryor was in private practice, never having served as a magistrate or federal judge at any time in her career.

[4] On February 16, 2012, President Obama nominated Pryor to be a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit  She received her judicial commission on September 9, 2014.

(Credit: Wikipedia)

[5] One of the most fundamental and self-evident principles of any fair system of justice is that judges must be neutral and impartial. In the United States, the Constitution requires that a “neutral  and  detached  judge”  preside over judicial  proceedings. Ward v. Village of Monroeville, 409 U.S. 57, 62 (1972); In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133, 136 (1955).

[6] See USCourts.gov and ABA.

[7] “Judicial service—public service—is just that: service. Judges know that going in. It involves personal sacrifice. But public service should not be public servitude.” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht, The State of the Texas Judiciary, an Address to the 86th Legislature, Feb., 6th, 2019.

[8] See ABA Canon 1.

[9] From Judge Pryor’s Congressional Questionnaire, p. 18 (2012); November 22. 1994 – Presentation on Ethical Considerations in the Representation of Organizations at the Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia’s Complex Litigation Seminar.

[10] See ABA Business Law Section. Pryor’s 2019 appointment to the ABA ‘Business Law’ Section requires the applicant(s) to request the position e.g. it is not assigned.

[11] Exhibit A2.

[12] See ABA reporting requirements.

[13] From Judge Pryor’s Congressional Questionnaire, p. 13 (2012); “December 10, 2009 – Panel discussion on “Recusal in Georgia Post-Caperton” for the Atlanta Bar Association CLE Committee’s CLE by the Hour” series.

[14] 28 U.S.C. § 455 (Current through P.L. 116-78 (12/05/2019))

[15] See 28 U.S.C.  § 455(b)

[16] See ABA Canon 2 with emphasis on 2.2.

[17] See Covington article

[18] Collins v. Mnuchin, No. 17-20364 (5th Cir. Sep. 6, 2019).

[19] “Omnipotence is the quality of having unlimited power.” – Wikipedia

[20] See Dmitry Bam, Our Unconstitutional Recusal Procedure, 84 1135 (2015).

[21] The example being that Judge Pryor will read and rule on this disqualification motion and that decision is final e.g. without any further independent review, except for separate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

[22] For example, Canon 3.

[23] See Potashnick v. Port City Constr. Co., 609 F.2d 1101, 1115 (5th Cir. 1980); 13A WRIGHT &

MILLER, supra note 15, § 3551, at 630.

[24] Section 455 – Disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge; (a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

[25] Exhibit A2.

[26] Priester v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, 927 F.3d 912 (5th Cir. 2019)

[27] Alternatively, the case; In re Ditech Holding Corp., No. 19-10412 (JLG) (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. July 19, 2019)

[28] That was questioned during the audit, due to the dissolution of much of Pryor and Krugmans’ portfolio in such a short timeframe, e.g. after being jointly held (in the majority) in their married names for 10-20 plus years these assets were successively sold in 2018 and 2019.

[29] Zamore v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., No. 18-13635 (11th Cir. Mar. 25, 2019)

[30] See VIOLATION TRACKER (It’s in excess of $3 billion when you add Altisource and related entities).

[31] FRAP 13 Appeals from the Tax Court and FRAP 14 , per 11th Cir. IOP, Aug., 2019

[32] From the judges’ former law firm’s bio (Exhibit B):

Jill Pryor is known for trying large, complex business cases to juries. Her wins include a plaintiffs’ jury verdict totaling nearly $300 million and a defendants’ jury verdict in a case seeking almost $400 million in damages.

Jill represents her clients in high stakes trial and appellate business litigation in the areas of business torts, contracts, corporate governance and shareholder disputes, class actions, trade secrets, intellectual property (including patent infringement), fraud, and the Georgia and federal Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations acts (RICO).

A respected leader of the Georgia legal community, Jill currently serves on the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors and on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Legal Services Program. She is a former Chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar, served for many years as a member of the Lawyers Advisory Committee of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and is a past President of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL).

Jill is a frequent seminar speaker and has addressed business litigation topics such as trial techniques, litigation cost saving strategies for in-house lawyers, use of technology in litigation, appellate practice, RICO, and trade secrets.

[33] Referencing the ‘Justice for Sale’ documentary about how the democrats lost their seats on the Texas Supreme Court as a result of the 60 minutes documentary and where the current Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, along with Tom Phillips, benefitted (31 years ago).

[34] See E. THODE, REPORTER’S NOTES TO CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT 60 (1973) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 455(a)).

[35] See H.R. REP. No. 1453, supra note 52, at 6354-55.

[36] Kaufman, Lions or Jackals: The Function of a Code of Judicial Ethics, 35 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 3, 5 (1970) (quoting Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 267 (1962) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)).

[37] The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that “the question is not whether the judge is impartial in fact” but whether a reasonable person might doubt the judge’s impartiality on the basis of all the circumstances.

See Rice v. McKenzie, 581 F.2d 1114, 1116 (4th Cir. 1978); accord United States v. Ritter, 540 F.2d 459, 461-62 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 951 (1976); United States v. Cowden, 545 F.2d 257, 265 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 909 (1976).

This standard makes disqualification more likely than the bias-in-fact test, and therefore is consistent with one of the main purposes of the 1974 amendments – to  broaden  the grounds for judicial disqualification.  See H.R. REP. No. 1453, supra note 52, at 6351.

[38] Due process may require recusal, even if a judge has no actual bias, in situations in which the objective probability of actual bias is too high to be constitutionally acceptable. See Rippo v. Baker, 137 S. Ct. 905 (2017).

EXHIBIT P

Judge Jill A. Pryor Real Estate Audit (2020)

1088 Country Lane, LLC  (Rental Property #1)

(2012 declaration: was formed to own rental property but currently owns none)

Atlanta, Rental property #1 is the address listed as 1088 Country Ln, NE, Atlanta, GA 30324 with a current valuation of $470k is was purchased by Jill A. Pryor on 30th March 1993 for $104,000, per Dekalb tax records and she is the current owner. The property is listed as ‘off market’.

Despite there being a matching LLC, the 2012 Congress disclosure defies this or any rental property as being inside that LLC. It is included here as a keyword match but perhaps the rental was ‘reassigned’ for tax purposes into another LLC.

In the 2017 report it disclosed annual rental income category E, which falls into the $15-50k p.a. income earned range.

 

1933 Kilburn Drive, LLC (Rental Property #2)

(2012 declaration: was formed to own rental property but currently owns none)

 

Atlanta, Rental property #2 is the address listed as 1933 Kilburn Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30324 with a current valuation of $508k and generally seeks a rental of $2k per month. It was last removed from listing for rental on 1 July 2019.

Despite there being a matching LLC, the 2012 Congress disclosure defies this or any rental property as being inside that LLC. It is included here as a keyword match but perhaps the rental was ‘reassigned’ for tax purposes into another LLC.

In the 2017 report it disclosed annual rental income category E, which falls into the $15-50k p.a. income earned range. The report disclosed this property as having a Ditech mortgage in the range of $100-$250k.

 

Sussex Properties, L.L.C.  (Rental Property #3)

(2012 declaration: owns rental property)

Per the 2017 report, the that income and valuation, it suggests the real estate in question is commercial; based on the rental income. The building is referenced in the report as;

‘VII lines 3 & 11; Member. This entity owns a residential apartment building.’

This would be the following business asset; the commercial apartment building at 1164 Alta Ave., Atlanta, Georgia was purchased for $910,000 on 24 June 2002 and it was sold, on 5 Jan 2018 for $2,160,000.

In the 2017 report it disclosed annual rental income category G, which falls into the $100k- $1M p.a. income earned range.

 

No Entity Assigned  (Rental Property #4)

One of the other Sarasota, Fl., rental properties is tentatively assigned to be the lower rental income producing property, namely Rental property #4. This is assumed to be the current residence of the parents of Jill Pryor, who submitted an amended Quit Claim Deed in 2008 wherein the family home is in her name and ‘Joint tenants with rights of survivorship’ clause added. That property is 2512 Cardwell Way, Sarasota, FL 34231 valued at 333k.

In the 2017 report it disclosed annual rental income category D, which falls into the $5-15k p.a. income earned range.

 

6616 Midnight Pass Road, LLC (Rental Property #5)

(2012 declaration: was formed to own rental property but currently owns none)

 

The audit revealed a Florida rental property which was purchased in 1999 for $265k and sold in February 2019 for $667,500. The property address; 6616 Midnight Pass Rd, Sarasota, FL 34242.

Despite there being a matching LLC, the 2012 Congress disclosure defies this or any rental property as being inside that LLC. It is included here as a keyword match but perhaps the rental was ‘reassigned’ for tax purposes into another LLC.

In the 2017 report it disclosed annual rental income category E, which falls into the $15-50k p.a. income earned range.

 

The Inlet #37, LLC (Rental Property #6)

(2012 declaration: this LLC was not listed in 2012.)

Rental property #6, is a vacation home. The address; 9200 Midnight Pass Rd, #37, Sarasota, Fl., 34242. This was purchased in 2005 for $432k and also sold very recently by Pryor and Klugman in August 2019 for $380k.

Records show ‘The Inlet #37, LLC’ as being registered by Klugman as managing member with a principal address which is the same as the vacation property address (sold) and now showing inactive status.

It is another keyword match to the named LLC but despite husband and wife signing off on the legal documents, the LLC shows only Klugman (on the information available), as the managing member.

In the 2017 report it disclosed annual rental income category D, which falls into the $5-15k p.a. income earned range.

 

Zephyr Land Corporation

(2012 declaration: c/o Butterfield Bank, Nassau, Bahamas

President and Director (Corporation owns residential beachfront lot)).

 

Silver City Land Co., LLC

(2012 declaration: owns undeveloped residential lots)

The audit could not determine any information on the residential lots.

 

 

Krugman Edward B &
Pryor Jill A

1034 ROBIN LN NE

ATLANTA GA 30306

Sold by Krugman/Pryor for $2,175,000 – Oct. 2019

The (former) main residence

Whether the property is or was listed inside an LLC is undetermined. Also, whether it was classified by the judge as a rental property for tax purposes is undetermined (See  IRS).  What the audit did reveal is the property address is 1034 Robin Lane, NE, Fulton, Atlanta, GA, 30306, USA. Valued at $2.2m, it was purchased in 2009 for $1.9m and in 2017 it was still the main residence. However, this home sold very recently, October 2019 for $2,175,000.

Zillow Valuation; $2, 215,000

Property Tax Information

Ownership Details

EXHIBIT T

The Fishers & Dashers Tax Court Cases

Audit & Law Review

THE DISCLOSED ENTITIES AND THE TWO $8M+ DOLLAR US TAX CASES

This audit leads the Burkes onto the current tax court case involving 2 entities which are disclosed in the judges’ financial report.

The first is Dasher’s Bay at Effingham, LLC,  which is listed in the United States Tax Court Docket No. 4078-18;

 

A search reveals related cases for Dasher’s Bay Management Group, LLC as shown below. It is unknown if the judge has any shareholding in this entity.

 

The second is River’s Edge Landing, LLC which is listed in the United States Tax Court Docket; Docket No. 1111-18

In the financial report, you will note below there are 3 LLC’s (lines 66-68), namely; (i) River’s Edge Landing, LLC (“Rivers”) (ii) Ledbetter Lake Investors, LLC (iii) Dasher’s Bay at Effington, LLC. (“Dashers”)   It would appear (i) and (iii) are involved with the Tax Court, the Burkes could not locate any case against entity (ii).

It should be disclosed, the registered owners of these entities, unlike the residential properties and commercial apartment building as listed separately in the 2017 financial report, do not name Jill A. Pryor or her husband, Edward B. Krugman. Nor do the entities involved provide any multi-member shareholding information in any annual filings. However, these entities are listed on the 2017 report and as such, it would indicate that these are multi-member LLCs’ where Jill A. Pryor retains a shareholding in the entities. Furthermore, the case at the tax court indicates there is a “Partnership” in place based on the filings to the IRS and that the valuations of the shareholding/partnership have been materially understated, in fact, the entities never even put a ‘numerical’ valuation on the required IRS form field.

This is a “conservation easement” tax case involving a 2010 donation of an easement to the National Wild Turkey Federation, Inc. At question is taken from the tax court judges’ own summation;

Rivers filed Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income, for 2010 reporting the conservation easement as a deductible partner-level charitable contribution of $8,309,000. It reported no partnership-level income or deductions.

Along with this return, Rivers filed Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, describing the contribution. Item 5(f) on Form 8283 requests the donor’s cost or adjusted basis in the contributed property. Rivers did not provide a numerical answer in box 5(f) on Form 8283.

The same tax court discussion was applied to the Dashers entity Order, the sum being the only difference, which is $8,619,000.

On the 10th of December, 2019, the judge in the case(s) ordered the case proceed to trial. The IRS assessed an $8.3 million dollar adjustment to income based on 2010 filings by the Rivers entity and $8.6 million for the Dashers entity, wherein the IRS determined they did not qualify for a claimed charitable contribution deduction.

Jill Pryor is known for trying large, complex business cases to juries. Her wins include a plaintiffs’ jury verdict totaling nearly $300 million and a defendants’ jury verdict in a case seeking almost $400 million in damages.

Jill represents her clients in high stakes trial and appellate business litigation in the areas of business torts, contracts, corporate governance and shareholder disputes, class actions, trade secrets, intellectual property (including patent infringement), fraud, and the Georgia and federal Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations acts (RICO).

A respected leader of the Georgia legal community, Jill currently serves on the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors and on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Legal Services Program. She is a former Chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar, served for many years as a member of the Lawyers Advisory Committee of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and is a past President of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL).

Jill is a frequent seminar speaker and has addressed business litigation topics such as trial techniques, litigation cost saving strategies for in-house lawyers, use of technology in litigation, appellate practice, RICO, and trade secrets.

Representative Work

Represented David McDavid in obtaining a $281 million jury verdict against Turner Broadcasting System for breaching an agreement to sell McDavid the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Thrashers professional sports teams and the operating rights to Philips Arena. The jury verdict is the largest compensatory damage award in Georgia history.

As lead counsel in a jury trial in which the plaintiffs sought more than $120 million in compensatory damages, trebled, obtained a complete defense verdict for her clients, a former CFO and Sr. V.P. of a nursing home conglomerate, who were accused of accounting fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and violation of Georgia RICO

As lead counsel for a company with approximately $1 billion in revenues, defeated certification of a class of approximately 1,000,000 consumers.

As new counsel on appeal, obtained reversals of multi-million default judgments for corporate clients in two unrelated cases.

Conducted an internal investigation involving the CEO of a high profile non-profit corporation.

Won an appeal establishing Georgia law on waiver of work product and whether a corporation can maintain an unjust enrichment counterclaim against a shareholder who obtained his shares in a merger where the acquired company allegedly defrauded the acquiring corporation.

In arguments in both the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia, defeated on appeal a RICO claim against Georgia title pawn brokers.

Represented parties in fraud, RICO, breach of fiduciary duty and other business tort cases that have resulted in confidential settlements for her clients.

Represented TASER International, Inc. and 40 of its largest shareholders in a lawsuit alleging that eight Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, engaged in naked short selling and illegal conversion and flex option trades that artificially depressed TASER’s stock price. The case was resolved through a confidential settlement.

Professional Activities

Atlanta Bar Association (Chair: Judicial Selection and Tenure Committee; Member: Litigation, Intellectual Property, Women in the Profession Sections)
State Bar of Georgia (Board of Governors; Vice Chair, Access to Justice Committee; Member, Business Courts Committee; Past Chair: Appellate Practice Section, Member: General Practice and Trial and Business Law Sections) American Bar Association (Member: Council of Appellate Lawyers, Antitrust, Business Torts, Litigation and Law Practice Management Sections)
Board of Directors, Georgia Legal Services Program, Inc.
Member, Lawyers Advisory Committee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (1996-2009) Member, Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (President: 2000-2001)
Member, National Association of Women Lawyers Lawyers Club of Atlanta
Fellow, Lawyers Foundation of Georgia Member, Leadership Atlanta Class of 2007 Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America Advisory Panel, Attorney at Law Magazine

Honors & Awards

The Best Lawyers in America
Leader in the Field of General Commercial Litigation, Chambers USA Georgia’s Legal Elite, Business Litigation, Georgia Trend Magazine Top 100 Georgia Super Lawyers, Atlanta Magazine
Top 50 Female Georgia Super Lawyers, Atlanta Magazine Georgia Local Litigation Star, Benchmark Plaintiff 2012-2014
Atlanta Bar Association’s Outstanding Woman in the Profession Achievement Award
Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Kathleen Kessler Award for service, mentoring and professionalism Top Georgia Verdicts of 2010 – #2 (over $20 million)

Edward B. Krugman, Partner
Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP

1201 West Peachtree Street NW
Suite 3900
Atlanta, GA 30309

For more than thirty years, Edward Krugman has been achieving optimal outcomes for both plaintiffs and defendants in cases involving trade secrets and unfair competition, copyright, trademark and patent litigation, antitrust (litigation and counseling), employment (litigation and counseling), corporate governance (litigation and counseling), and direct selling (litigation and counseling). He has significant experience representing direct selling, manufacturing and financial services companies.

Chambers USA has recognized Edward as a leading lawyer in the fields of general commercial litigation and antitrust and he has been honored as an Atlanta Super Lawyer every year since the award’s inception. He is a frequent lecturer, and has published numerous articles on trial practice and corporate litigation issues such as covenants not to compete and internal investigations.

Edward currently serves on the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors, Formal Advisory Opinion Board, and the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures Committee.

REPRESENTATIVE WORK

Lead counsel on behalf of defendant in breach of contract and fraud case brought by representatives of major direct selling company seeking in excess of $10,000,000. The district court granted my client’s motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claims and the case settled following a trial on the defendant’s claim for attorney’s fees.

Lead counsel in AAA arbitration filed on behalf of a family-owned business against its exclusive distributor alleging breach of contract and Lanham Act claims. The panel awarded my client damages and attorneys’ fees in excess of $1,000,000 and injunctive relief under the Lanham Act.

Lead counsel on behalf of public company and two employees it had hired from a competitor defending claims alleging theft of trade secrets. Lawsuits were filed in three different jurisdictions. The plaintiff eventually dismissed all cases.

Part of trial team that won jury verdict for defendant in federal court on a breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty action seeking over $100,000,000 in actual damages and additional punitive damages. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment on appeal.

Co-counsel representing one of several defendants in antitrust class action filed in federal court by purchasers of cigarettes from the major tobacco companies. The district court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment on appeal.

Co-counsel in breach of contract case representing a major telecommunications company against its exclusive supplier of consumer electronics equipment. The district court rejected the supplier’s challenge to the exclusivity covenant. That ruling led to a settlement in which my client was paid $200,000,000.

Co-counsel for one of several defendants and liaison counsel for defendants in nationwide consumer class action alleging price fixing in the domestic airline industry. The case eventually settled on favorable terms.

Lead counsel representing former officers and directors of a public company in a class action filed in federal court on behalf of shareholders of the company. The district court granted client’s motion to dismiss under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal on appeal.

Co-counsel on behalf of the plaintiff in a copyright case in federal court alleging infringement of home designs. The case settled for more than $18,000,000.

Co-counsel in state habeas case challenging the conviction of a death row inmate in Georgia. The Georgia Supreme Court reversed the conviction and after the District Attorney elected not to retry the case, the inmate was released from prison.

Co-counsel on behalf of female plaintiff who filed Title VII claim after denial of promotion to partnership at major Atlanta law firm. The district court dismissed the complaint and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal. The case settled after the United States Supreme Court reversed the dismissal, holding that Title VII applies to partnership decisions by law firms.

Lead counsel representing former employee sued by public insurance company for breach of restrictive covenants. The litigation settled following favorable rulings by federal courts in Georgia and New York.

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

Member, State Bar of Georgia, Antitrust, General Practice and Trial, Labor and Employment, Intellectual Property and Computer Law Sections

Board of Governors, State Bar of Georgia, 2009 – present

Formal Advisory Opinion Board, State Bar of Georgia, 2003 – present (Chair, 2006 – 2010)

Disciplinary Rules and Procedures Committee, State Bar of Georgia, 2008 – 2012, 2013 – present (Chair, 2008 – 2009)

Member, Atlanta Bar Association, Litigation, Intellectual Property, and Labor and Employment Sections

Member, American Bar Association Antitrust, Business, Intellectual Property and Litigation Sections

Board of Directors, Anti-Defamation League, Southeast Region, 2009 – present

Executive Committee, Lawyers Club of Atlanta, 2006 – present

Lawyers Club of Atlanta, President, 2013 – 2014; First Vice-President and President-Elect, 2012 – 2013; Second Vice-President, 2011 – 2012; Treasurer, 2010 – 2011; Secretary, 2009 – 2010; Member of Executive Committee, 2006 – present

Master, Lumpkin Inn of Court, 2005 – present

Fellow, Lawyers Foundation of Georgia

Fellow, American Bar Foundation

Fellow, Atlanta Bar Foundation

Adjunct Professor, Trial Advocacy Program, Emory Law School, 1995 – present

Midtown Alliance Leadership Program

Board of Trustees, Atlanta Ballet, 2012 – present

Board of Advisors, WCLK Radio Station, Clark-Atlanta University, 2006 – present

Firm Representative, Pro Bono Roundtable, 2008 – present

Firm Chair, United Way Campaign, 1999 – 2010

U.S. District Court
Southern District of Florida (Miami)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 1:15-cv-20884-UU

United States of America v. Stein
Assigned to: Judge Ursula Ungaro

Case in other court:  USCA, 16-10914-BB
USCA, 18-14625-G

Cause: 26:7401 IRS: Tax Liability

Date Filed: 03/04/2015
Date Terminated: 10/23/2018
Jury Demand: None
Nature of Suit: 870 Taxes
Jurisdiction: U.S. Government Plaintiff

 

Date Filed # Docket Text
05/22/2019 65 MANDATE of USCA (certified copy). AFFIRM Order of the district court with court’s opinion re 61 Notice of Appeal, filed by Estelle Stein; Date Issued: 5/22/2019; USCA Case Number: 18-14625-GG. Bill of Costs: Costs are hereby taxed in the amount of $40.67 against Appellant and are payable directly to Appellee. (apz) (Entered: 05/22/2019)
11/04/2019 66 WRIT OF CERTIORARI DENIED by US Supreme Court re 61 Notice of Appeal, filed by Estelle Stein. (apz) (Entered: 11/12/2019)

Laws In Texas is a blog about the Financial Crisis and how the banks and government are colluding against the citizens and homeowners of the State of Texas and relying on a system of #FakeDocs and post-crisis legal precedents, specially created by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to foreclose on homeowners around this great State. We are not lawyers. We do not offer legal advice. We are citizens of the State of Texas who have spent a decade in the court system in Texas and have been party to during this period to the good, the bad and the very ugly.

Copyright © 2020 Laws In Texas. | All Rights Reserved.

To Top