Judge Jerry Smith hits an anti-mask order complaint

US Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith

A judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is facing frustration over his insistence that an attorney for the Biden administration remove his mask during in-person arguments Wednesday. US Circuit Judge Jerry SmithOne Ronald Reagan appointee, emphasizing that the Attorney of the Ministry of Justice Joshua Koppel showed his face during an argument, ignored the objections of his attorney, and contradicted the local mask regulations in the home.

Koppel argued on behalf of the federal government on an appeal before a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit. The case is Zummer v. Salleta case brought by the lead FBI agent who investigated the former Louisiana District Attorney Harry Morel Jr. after the agent was refused to extend his security clearance.

At the end of December, Koppel made a move, asked the court to allow him to argue the case remotely. Koppel explained that traveling from Washington DC to the courthouse of the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, Louisiana, would require “close contact with a large number of people at a time when there is community transmission of COVID-19 high, and much is still unknown about the omicron variation. Koppel explained in court that his request was based not only on the DOJ’s guidance that work should be conducted remotely when possible, but also on his individual needs. The lawyer explained that while he is fully immunized, he has two young children who are not eligible for the vaccine and that he wants to minimize the risk of transmitting infection to them. Koppel’s motion is refuse without comment from the court.

Slate Mark Joseph Stern details what happened during the day of oral arguments when Koppel approached the judges to present his case.

Judge Jerry Smith: “Take off your mask if you wish.”

Koppel: “I want it to continue if—”

Smith: “We want you to delete it, thank you.”

Koppel: “Excuse me?”

Smith: “We want you to delete it.”

Stern included an audio recording of the exchange in his tweet, in which Koppel could be heard clearly even before taking off his mask.

Stern noted that with his mask, “Koppel’s voice was not muffled” and that, in his estimation, the “only plausible explanations” for Judge Smith’s direction “was cruelty.” , COVID denial or a combination of the two”.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 5,360 new COVID-19 cases in the week of January 20 to January 26. It also reported 61 COVID-19 deaths, 1,891 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized, and 161 patients currently on ventilator.

City of New Orleans recover its in-house mask mission on January 11. It specifies:

The masking mandate will apply to all indoor public spaces, including all K-12 schools and healthcare facilities throughout Orleans Parish. Masks will also be required for public transportation use, as detailed in federal guidance, for all residents 2 years of age and older. COVID-19 mitigation measures taken for certain businesses that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry will still apply.

Noting that hospitals in the area are overwhelmed, the health ministry recommends, “Everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, should wear a mask indoors when with people who are not family members. their.” The 5th District Court is located in New Orleans, and there is no exception in the mask mandate for federal buildings or courts.

The nonpartisan reform advocacy group Fix the Court has filed a formal application complaint against Judge Smith with the clerk of the court in connection with the case. Complaints without words:

Given that older Americans – a category that most federal judges fall into – are more likely to get sick and die
from COVID more than anyone else, wearing a mask should not be considered an act of defiance or disrespect in
courtrooms, especially at a time when Omicron is raging and its severity is still poorly understood. And since neither the judiciary in general nor the Fifth Association, to my knowledge, has entrusted vaccines and boosters to its judges and all those who appear in person in the courtroom. Their judgment, not knowing the vaccination status of the board or of others in the courtroom at the time, led Koppel to decide to wear a much more benevolent mask.

It continued, arguing that “if Judge Smith did not take COVID seriously, even if his average 2,500 Americans died each day and nearly 900,000 Americans died from it, it is likely that he would be unbiased. if the case occurs. regarding the illness to his courtroom. “

The complaints don’t stop there. After noting that Judge Smith is not the place to force advisors to remove their masks, it also had words for two other judges — Judge Jennifer Walker ElrodOne Mr. George W. Bush appointees and judges Andrew S. OldhamOne Donald Trump appointee — who did not speak during Smith’s exchange with Koppel. Indicating that judges who witness misconduct are obligated to point it out or risk disciplinary action in their own right, the complaint says, “I do not include board members. The January 6 agreement of Judge Smith, Judge Elrod and Judge Oldham is here and will leave it to Chief Justice Owen to make any such determination.”

Mr Koppel declined to comment when asked by Law & Crime.

“Our office assists the Chief Justice and Judiciary Council with complaints of judicial misconduct,” Vikram Chandhok, the Fifth Circuit’s lead mediator, told Law & Crime. “Because the complaints process is confidential, we cannot comment on or share information with you about the existence or status of any particular claim.”

Secretary of Fifth Street Lyle Cayce answered Law & Crime’s question about the court’s face covering policy by providing Copy of the Chief Justice Priscilla Owen’s general order. The terms of that order require lawyers to wear masks while in court and in the courtroom, unless they are presenting an oral argument. The order does not restrict any person from wearing a mask if they choose to be anywhere in the court at any time.

Law & Crime reached out to Judge Smith staff for comments but received no response.

[screengrab via The Federalist Society]

Is there a trick we should know? [email protected]

https://lawandcrime.com/covid-19-pandemic/watchdog-group-files-judicial-conduct-complaint-against-fifth-circuit-judge-who-forced-lawyer-to-remove-mask-during-oral-arguments/ Judge Jerry Smith hits an anti-mask order complaint

James Brien

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