A federal court in New York has sanctioned the widow of a 9/11 victim as well as her attorney, for filing “a series of offensive insinuations, unmistakably anti-Semitic.” California Attorney Bruce Leichty and Appellant Ellen Mariani were both chided and fined by the court in an 11-page decision dated May 15th. The case, Ransmeier v. UAL Corporation, et al., was heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. “We conclude that Appellant and her attorney’s conduct in prosecuting this appeal was frivolous and offensive,” the court proclaimed, “and therefore warrants the imposition of sanctions.”
Our October 2012 run-down ‘9/11 Widow Faces Sanctions For Objecting To Judges Israeli Ties‘ was dubbed an “excellent article” by the Ellen Mariani Legal Defense Fund and explains how the 9/11 widow and her lawyer were threatened with sanctions for “deeply troubling personal slurs” against U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein. [Editor’s note: It is republished below.]
The court’s decison filed Wednesday chides Leichty for making “personal slurs against Judge Hellerstein and his family” and alleges “In fact, on closer observation, Leichty’s real argument is that Judge Hellerstein cannot be impartial because he is Jewish.”
The court also sanctioned Mariani, one of the few 911 survivors who had the nerve to refused to be paid off. They noted that Mariani “is a veteran of federal court litigation” and that she signed a motion which included “some of the most offensive allegations against Judge Hellerstein.” The court concluded therefore that “Mariani, too, is therefore jointly responsible with her attorney for the double costs imposed by this Order.”
As we previously reported, Mariani’s April 19, 2012 brief noted in part that “Judge Hellerstein and his wife Mildred are known to be active supporters of Israeli causes, and it is implausible that Judge Hellerstein would not at least be on inquiry notice of the affiliations of his son’s law firm and the connections of his son’s clients to Israeli and Israeli-linked defendants in a case before him, particularly in a case of the magnitude of the 911 case.” It continued “It is not plausible that Judge Hellerstein, a highly-educated and connected supporter of Israeli causes, was unaware of the connections of his son’s law firm.”
Ironically, in their May 15th decision, the court in the Mariani case repeatedly referred to Gallop v. Cheney, another case in which a 9/11 victim sued the government, only to have her case thrown out and financial sanctions imposed. [See Bush court dismisses 9/11 suit against Bush officials, orders sanctions, globalresearch.ca.]
The court closed the decision noting that they were actually being easy on the two, once again referring to the April Gallop case: “Although we have authority to impose additional sanctions in the form of fines or attorney’s fees on Mariani and Attorney Leichty, see Gallop III, 660 F.3d at 586, we decline to do so at this time. We trust that this relatively public reprimand will suffice to prevent similar transgressions in the future.”
Below are some of the highlights (or rather lowlights) of the courts excoriating admonitions of the Plaintiff and Counsel who ‘dared’ to question the integrity of a public servant. The entire PDF of the ruling can be see here.
Our other concern with Mariani’s second appeal was the disturbing manner in which she and her counsel prosecuted it. We noted, in particular, the ‘discreditable tone’ of her filings. Ransmeier, 486 F. App’x at 893. We also wrote that her briefs featured ‘an escalating series of ad hominem attacks on opposing counsel and bombastic challenges to the integrity of the district court,’ id., which culminated with the particularly offensive Motion to Supplement the Record to introduce ‘newly-discovered evidence’ of the district court’s alleged partiality. Id. This purported ‘evidence’ consisted of little more than a series of offensive insinuations, unmistakably anti-Semitic, about Judge Hellerstein, his family members, their professional work and some of their personal charitable activities. We therefore ordered Mariani and her counsel to show cause why they should not be sanctioned in the amount of double costs.””…we also impose sanctions where the conduct of the sanctioned litigant or attorney evinces bad faith or an egregious disrespect for the Court or judicial process. We recently sanctioned attorneys who ‘repeatedly and in bad faith accused the Court of bias, malice, and general impropriety.’ Gallop v. Cheney (Gallop III), 660 F.3d 580, 584 (2d Cir. 2011) (per curiam),…””These technical deficiencies, however, pale alongside the ludicrous arguments Leichty makes in support of the Motion. Leichty’s main argument is, in sum, that Judge Hellerstein is partial to defendants and must recuse himself because his adult son, an attorney, at one point was employed by a law firm in Israel that at some time represented two companies that might have an indirect connection to some of this case’s defendants. He also makes reference to certain religiously-oriented philanthropic activities of the family, which he says evince partiality.”
“…This leads us to the question of why the Motion was brought. Leichty’s behavior belies the possibility that he was motivated by a belief that the Motion would be successful. Rather than making good-faith legal arguments, his Motion seems to us to be nothing more than a vehicle for making personal slurs against Judge Hellerstein and his family. In fact, on closer observation, Leichty’s real argument is that Judge Hellerstein cannot be impartial because he is Jewish. The papers filed in support of the Motion reflect anti-Semitism in a raw and ugly form. For a private citizen to make such spurious and offensive suggestions is bad enough. For an attorney admitted to this Court to make them in court pleadings is unpardonable. We note, of course, that no law or court may prevent Leichty from believing what he chooses to believe. In most contexts, he may also say the things he says. What he is not allowed to do, however, is to let his misguided views cloud his judgment regarding what arguments may properly be made to this Court. In other words, we do not sanction him here for harboring anti-Semitic views. Rather, we impose sanctions against him because he allowed those views to prompt him to submit frivolous and grossly insulting arguments to this Court. See Gallop III, 660 F.3d at 585-86 (sanctioning an attorney who allowed ‘his emotional reaction . . . to further undermine his legal judgment and interfere with his duty to provide thoughtful and reasoned advice to his client’).To deter Leichty from acting similarly in the future, and to warn other lawyers about the consequences of similarly egregious behavior, we impose sanctions on Attorney Leichty in the form of double the costs incurred by Ransmeier in responding to the Motion…”
‘The rule that the sins of the lawyer are visited on the client does not apply in the context of sanctions,’ and we therefore must ‘specify conduct of the client herself that is bad enough to subject her to sanctions.’ Gallop III, 660 F.3d at 584….Mariani, however, is a veteran of federal court litigation, and she affirmatively admits that she ‘worked closely’ with Attorney Leichty in preparing the Motion to Supplement the Record. Decl. of Ellen Mariani in Support of Motion at 1. Indeed, it is the declaration filed under her name, and signed with her signature, that includes some of the most offensive allegations against Judge Hellerstein. Mariani, too, is therefore jointly responsible with her attorney for the double costs imposed by this Order.
For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED that Appellant Ellen Mariani and her attorney Bruce Leichty are SANCTIONED in the amount of double the costs incurred by Ransmeier in responding to the Motion. They shall be jointly and severally liable for the amount, which shall be paid within sixty days of entry of this order. Although we have authority to impose additional sanctions in the form of fines or attorney’s fees on Mariani and Attorney Leichty, see Gallop III, 660 F.3d at 586, we decline to do so at this time. We trust that this relatively public reprimand will suffice to prevent similar transgressions in the future.
Sent to us by Greg Bacon.