How would the judge for a hypothetical Trump trial be chosen?
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  How would the judge for a hypothetical Trump trial be chosen?
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Author Topic: How would the judge for a hypothetical Trump trial be chosen?  (Read 377 times)
Christian mosh pit go mosh
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« on: August 09, 2022, 12:04:32 AM »

Like would his appointees be ineligible or just expected to recuse themselves if chosen?

FWIW I looked at the DC District Court and it's definitely not friendly to him, he only has four appointees on it, and only one of those (Trevor McFadden) has a reputation for being particularly hackish and even McFadden hasn't been super-friendly to January 6 defendants even if he's the laxest judge toward them (just in terms of giving out weak sentences, he's refused to throw out charges and even found a notable one guilty who opted for a bench trial.) Timothy Kelly has been pretty harsh against Proud Boys, Carl Nichols presided over Steve Bannon's trial and was regarded as pretty fair, and Dabney Friedrich has a pretty conservative record in ideological cases but was pretty brutal toward Brandon Straka. It wouldn't shock me if all of them would recuse themselves anyway.
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GM Team Member NewYorkExpress
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2022, 02:06:43 AM »

I imagine being the trial judge or sitting on the jury for a Trump trial is literally signing your death warrant.

No security in the world would protect the judge or the jury from MAGA assassins, especially if Trump gets convicted.
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Born-again Cristian
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2022, 05:31:09 PM »
« Edited: August 09, 2022, 05:43:10 PM by Donerail »

No, they would likely not be required to recuse themselves. The standard is 28 USC § 455(a), which requires a judge to recuse himself in "any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." It is binding precedent in the District of D.C. that "[h]earing a case involving the conduct of the President who appointed [the judge] will not create in reasonable minds, reasonable inquiry would disclose, a perception that [the judge's] ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality, and competence would be impaired." In re Executive Office of the President, 215 F.3d 25, 25 (D.C. Cir. 2000).

In general, there is a strong presumption that judges act impartially, "separate themselves from politics when going on the bench," and do not have a meaningful relationship with their appointing president (because they are insulated by life tenure). See MacDraw, Inc. v. CIT Grp. Equip. Fin., Inc., 138 F.3d 33, 38 (2d Cir. 1998). The District of D.C. has denied a recusal motion made on the basis of a hostile relationship between the litigant and the judge's appointing President, Klayman v. Judicial Watch, Inc., 744 F. Supp. 2d 264, 277 (D.D.C. 2010), as well as one in a case against the Chief Justice where the district judge was appointed by the Chief Justice to a specialized court. Reddy v. O'Connor, 520 F. SUpp. 2d 124, 128 (D.D.C. 2007).

Obviously there would be unique concerns in the context of a criminal action against a former President, but the case law is pretty strong here in concluding that recusal is not required, even when the appointing President is involved in the case. For what it's worth, my impression is that all of the Trump appointees on the District of D.C. take their responsibilities seriously and would do their best to preside over the trial fairly — these people are not hacks.

If a federal prosecutor is reading this board I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, please obtain your own counsel and do your own research before deciding whether to move to recuse a judge in this hypothetical case.
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