The federal government is pushing back against efforts by right-wing conspiracy theorist and author Jerome Corsi to have his lawsuit against special counsel Robert Mueller and others assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Corsi is suing Mueller and several other federal government defendants for $350 million over allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, leaking confidential grand jury information by way of special counsel press officer Peter Carr–and for “ongoing illegal, unconstitutional surveillance” of Corsi “at the direction of Mueller and his partisan Democrat, leftist, and ethically and legally conflicted prosecutorial staff.”
In a Monday filing on behalf of Mueller, federal trial attorney Elizabeth Tulis, who represents the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), accuses Corsi of “judge-shopping” by attempting to have his current lawsuit overseen by Judge Leon.
Corsi argues that his case against Mueller and the multiple agencies-defendants is “related” to a prior series of lawsuits filed by attorney Larry Klayman on behalf of Verizon Wireless subscribers who allegedly had their wireless metadata bulk collected by the federal government–with the help of private entities like Verizon, Facebook, Google and others–in violation of the Fourth Amendment and various other statutory and constitutional safeguards. These high-profile cases initially reaped dividends for the plaintiffs under Judge Leon’s purview, who found that the federal government had, indeed, likely violated the Fourth Amendment.
I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval … Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.
The cases ultimately went nowhere, however, as later rulings eventually determined that none of the plaintiffs had standing to sue.
Effectively, Corsi believes that those cases involve issues substantially similar to his own lawsuit against Mueller and the above-mentioned agencies. So, instead of having the lawsuit assigned to a random judge under the rules of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Corsi has moved for what’s known as a Local Rule 40.5 procedure–an exception to the random judge assignment rule which aims to keep “related” cases overseen by the same judge until the underlying legal controversy has been dealt with in full.
As noted, those earlier Klayman cases–and a similar case filed against then-FBI director James Comey–were all dismissed but the decisions are currently being appealed. Therefore, Tulis argues, they are no longer “pending on the merits” and thus do not qualify for the 40.5 exception. Furthermore, the federal government doesn’t think those earlier cases involve the “same parties” or the “same subject matter” as Corsi’s current litigation.
Why? Because Corsi was never a plaintiff in the first three cases and Mueller was never a defendant in any of them. Additionally, none of the earlier Klayman cases had anything to do with the “improper disclosure of grand jury information,” which is a central aspect of Corsi’s present lawsuit.
But the federal government wasn’t quite finished there. The filing caustically notes:
The general thematic overlap between the Klayman cases and Plaintiff’s spare putative Fourth Amendment claim is not sufficient to establish that the cases “involve common issues of fact,” let alone that they “grow out of the same event or transaction.” Indeed, Plaintiff’s putative Fourth Amendment claim includes no specific factual allegations whatsoever, and appears to be nothing more than an effort to bootstrap this matter to Mr. Klayman’s earlier cases for purposes of Local Rule 40.5.
Why does all this matter? Judge Leon is seen as one of the most conservative-friendly judges on the D.C. District Court. Leon has been described as a “Republican conservative who worked in the Justice Department during the Reagan years” and “served as special counsel to the House Banking Committee’s Whitewater investigation, before George W. Bush appointed him to the federal bench, in 2001.”
Corsi having his case assigned to Judge Leon would be an arguable boon for the plaintiff here.
In a Monday afternoon filing stylized as an interim reply to the government’s motion, Corsi and Klayman weren’t shy about their preference for the judge in question.
“Plaintiff and his counsel find it ‘curious’ why Defendants would strain so hard to have this case assigned to another jurist, given this Court’s considerable expertise involved,” Klayman notes in an aside. “Perhaps it can only be that they hope to obtain a less independent-minded and more politically-disposed jurist.”
There’s also some characteristic sarcasm:
Defendants conveniently overlook in their “analysis” that Klayman I, II and III involved illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of Plaintiff’s counsel along with his clients, which is present here as well. There are several other common issues of law and fact which will be amplified at the upcoming hearing.
That hearing–against a recent Mueller protest–is currently scheduled for January 3.
[images via Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images, Alex Wong/Getty Images]