Monday, September 07, 2015

Practicing law like a 3 year old with a loaded gun

Mmmmmmm...fresher* donuts!

NTodd beat me to it, but there's still some choice stuff here:

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who's refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, on Monday asked the Kentucky governor to immediately free her from jail, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

"We would like them to release her from jail and provide reasonable, sensible accommodation so she can do her job," one of her lawyers, Horatio Mihet, said in a statement. "That would be taking her name off of marriage licenses in Rowan County and allowing her deputies to issue the licenses."

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's office said Monday he won't respond, noting that the conflict was a "matter between her and the courts."
At this point Kim Davis would be better off pro se (representing herself).  These guys are morons.  Worse than that, they are a positive danger to their client.  What, they might have a legal argument?  First, I would remind the Court that these are the legal geniuses that said the clerk has to sign marriage licenses or they are void.  Not, however, according to the Rowan County Attorney. (Or according to the license itself; see comments below.)

So now we have this "legal opinion:"

One of Davis's lawyers, Mat Staver, founder and chariman of Liberty Counsel, said Beshear could issue an executive order to solve the problem.
It's my understanding that the duties of the County Clerk, an elected office, are set by statutes, so I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say:  No, the governor of Kentucky can't do that.  But apparently that's what her lawyers have been telling her, because her husband last Friday spilled the beans:

Staver said Davis has no plans to resign and would remain in jail until a compromise is reached. He said his client would be willing to issue licenses if her name and title were not on them.

Davis' husband, Joe, told reporters Friday that his wife was willing to stay in jail until that proposed compromise happened.

"As long as it takes," Joe Davis said. "Hopefully (Kentucky Gov. Steve) Beshear will haave the guts to do his job."
I'd been wondering what Gov. Beshear had to do with this; now I think I know.

Which brings me back to my original aassessment of the plight of Kim Davis.  I've wanted to be somewhat gracious to her lawyers and think they were either making a legal argument in good faith, or just, as a retired judge once put it, "preaching it round and square."  But I've decided they are venal idiots committing malpractice as publicly as I've ever seen it done.  Mat Staver is a man in a round room trying to find the corner to sit in.  Problem is, he's got his client with him.

*WEEKEND UPDATE:  And it turns out it's worse than I thought.  Davis' lawyers didn't make any appeal to Bashear; they've filed an appeal with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals asking the Court to issue an emergency injunction against Bashear's statement to all Kentucky County Clerks that they comply with the Obergefell decision.  So now it's the governor's fault that Kim Davis is in jail!

I can think of a fairly large number of objections to this pleading, but the main one is:  this is the argument they tried once before, and it was already rejected.  What they want is some reason for Kim Davis not to have to comply with Obergefell.  What they have, is the same argument over and over.  Time to change the record, fellas.

So, three things: Kim Davis isn't getting rich off of this anytime soon (the story is turning into her pathetic legal case, not her heroic martyrdom); her lawyers are committing malpractice in a way I truly never thought I'd see; and the federal courts are going to lost patience with them any day now.

I've seen pro se defendants with more legal sense than this team of lawyers has.


  1. It's too bad there's no way to penalize a lawyer for being such a dishonest jerk, wasting court time and the time and attention of the people.

  2. The federal court can (and should, when this is over), pull Staver's license to practice in federal court, along with the federal licenses of all the other lawyers. They should lose their ability to argue before the Supreme Court, too.

    And then the states where they are licensed should consider their standing before their bars. That's less likely to happen, but it should. These guys aren't fit to practice; they're a positive menace to their clients.

  3. Statues set the duties?

    1. Sure. They're set in stone.

  4. Didn't Judge Bunning offer this arrangement to Kim Davis as an alternative to going to jail? That she could go back to work so long as she didn't stop the deputy clerks from issuing marriage licenses? So now she appeals to the governor to let her out of jail (which he has no power to do) on the advice of her attorneys, and marriage licenses will be issued without her name on them. I'm confused. Is Davis' name on the marriage licenses that have been issued while she's in jail?

  5. You're confused, and I can't avoid typos.

    No, her name is not on the licenses ; that's why her lawyers argued the licenses were invalid. Now somehow the Gov. is the reason she has to sign them.

    It's everbody's fault but hers.

  6. Thank you. And Huckabee will join the circus tomorrow, so all is good. I would not be overly surprised if a couple of other clowns surprised everyone by joining Huck.

  7. June,

    Unless the form has changed in the past eight years or so, marriage licenses in Rowan County do not contain the signature of the County Clerk. They merely state that the license was signed "in" the office of the clerk, whose name is typed in, and record who the issuing deputy clerk was, which person also initials the form.

    Here is a copy of Kim Davis' own marriage license signed by a deputy clerk at the time when Kim's mother was County Clerk. It's hard to see what her problem with this form is, if she were truly being genuine. The form doesn't say "by the power of Kim Davis" or "under the authority of Kim Davis," just - "signed in the office of Kim Davis, Rowan County, County Clerk."

    What is the operant principle here? Does she believe that the Lord be fooled on Judgment Day if he reviews these licenses and doesn't see her name on them while her office continued to issue licenses to homosexual couples? Does she think He will say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou managed to keep thine sweet $80,000 a year government job whilst not issuing licenses to same-sex partners by having thine underlings do it instead"? Because the fact is her demands have been simply capricious; they've traversed the spectrum from the morally absolutist position of "My office won't issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it is against God's law" to "my office can issue licenses to same-sex couples but my name can't be on them" or failing that "the county executive can issue licenses to same-sex couples (as long as I keep getting paid $80,000 a year for doing what is now half the work)" - all the while continuing to issue marriage licenses to divorced individuals, individuals whose relationship arose out of adultery, and recording all sorts of documents for well-known thieves, drunkards, self-abusers, and others whom the New Testament very explicitly states will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

    That seems like an awfully he selective interpretation of one's Christian obligations in performing the duties of one's job.

    I understand that the RFRA does not require the examination of an individual's beliefs based against a particular scripture for coherence or completeness, but the reality is everyone else observing this case is naturally examining her beliefs based against scripture to try and determine the level of her sincerity versus the possible bigotry at play - and when people begin weighing her salary versus the suspiciously narrow application of her Christian convictions while performing her duties many will conclude that she is a hypocrite, a fame-seeker, or both. The more closely people began examining her claims or those of her lawyers the more likely this is going to backfire and set public sentiment against others who make claims of religious objections at work...

    - which is as it should be, for otherwise there would be anarchy if everyone used religious beliefs to try and exempt themselves from doing their jobs and or deny civil liberties to others in the process.

  8. Trex, thanks for the link to the license. Davis is the one who dragged God into this mess, and my guess would be that God wants no part of it. If I had watched the CNN video, I'd have seen that Davis' name is not on the licenses being issued now. I still wonder why she didn't take up the judge's offer. Although her shyster attorney says she's happy and peaceful and sleeps well, perhaps Davis thought jail would be a better place.

  9. Thanks, trex.

    This whole thing makes less and less sense, the more I examine it.