Vintage First Draft: Trump Violates The First Rule Of Litigation

In my quest for Vintage First Draft posts that are still relevant, I found this beauty from 2016. It shows that Trump’s messing with judges is nothing new. It’s an established pattern be it a civil or criminal case.

I begin the post with a story about one of my best law school professors and move on to the Trump University case.

I’m not claiming to be a prophet, but I nailed the menace of the Kaiser of Chaos in this 7 year old post.

Set the Wayback Machine for 6/3/2016:

I learned an important lesson on my first day of law school. It was my first Civil Procedure class with one of the most entertaining Professors I had in law school, Gary Roberts. He’s a tall, lanky Midwesterner with a sardonic sense of humor and a voice that sounds like Jimmy Stewart’s. It was from Roberts that I learned the first rule of litigation: NEVER PISS OFF THE JUDGE. I learned other useful things in that class including the second rule of litigation: IF YOU LOSE, YOU’RE SCREWED. I made “never piss off the judge” my watchword even if the latter sounded better in Jimmy Stewart’s voice. I did a wicked Gary Roberts impression, y’all.

That was a long-winded way of saying that Donald Trump has violated the first rule of litigation: he’s pissed off the Judge. Always a bad idea but, being the world’s largest toddler, Trump took it even farther by making racial and political slurs about Judge Gonzalo Curiel:

“The target of Donald Trump’s latest barrage of attacks is no stranger to ugly threats.

Back in the late 1990s, Gonzalo Curiel — then a federal prosecutor, now the federal judge handling two high-profile cases against Trump University — was believed to have had a hit placed on him by one of Mexico’s most dangerous cartels.

“This is typical Trump bullying tactics, but they’re not going to work on a man who survived a contract taken on his life by the Arellano Felix organization,” Jason Forge, a lawyer representing the challengers in a class-action lawsuit against Trump University, told TPM.


“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel. And he is not doing the right thing,” Trump said, later suggesting Curiel was “Mexican.”

“I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself. I think it is a disgrace he is doing this,” he continued, adding, “They ought to look into Judge Curiel because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace.”

Curiel was actually born in Indiana, though he is of Mexican descent. But perhaps the greatest irony in Trump’s attacks is that the Indiana University grad cut his prosecutorial teeth going after a major cartel that had been terrorizing communities around the U.S-Mexican border.”

It’s vintage Trump: an attempt to crush an opponent by demeaning and seeking to dominate them. It’s won’t work with this or any other federal judge. They have the hammer/gavel and Judge Curiel brought it down on Trump’s head by releasing a flood of documents in the Trump “University” case:

Curiel that same day ordered documents in the Trump University case to be unsealed in response to a request from the Washington Post. In his order declaring that Trump University “playbooks” be released this week, Curiel noted Trump’s past criticisms of the court in the case.

“Defendant became the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue,” Curiel wrote in the order.

Trump is not the only one who can play hardball. I’m glad the Judge rubbed his nose in the dump he took on the judicial rug by engaging in a different kind of dump: a document dump, which, of course, rhymes with Trump.

I realize that the Insult Comedian thinks he’s above the rules, but Federal Judges are demigods in their courtrooms. They don’t like it when litigants violate the first rule of litigation: NEVER PISS OFF THE JUDGE.

The document release was entirely appropriate and it’s hurting Trump rather badly. Trump “University” seems to be even sleazier than expected with high pressure sales techniques straight out of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glenn Ross.

It will be interesting to see how the Trump “University” case plays out over the course of the campaign. It makes it even more imperative than Donald Trump be defeated in the general election. At best he’s a huckster, at worst he’s a criminal. We’re certain that he’s a vengeful, lying bigot.  It brings the second rule of litigation into play: IF WE LOSE, WE’RE SCREWED.

People on the nihilist far right and left may think the idea of “blowing up the establishment” is cute but it’s ordinary people who will feel the blowback. I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy the poor and elderly being collateral damage of those who want to “blow up the system.” Additionally, we cannot put the power of federal law enforcement in the hands of a vengeful and angry creep like Donald Trump who will be worse than Nixon if elected. He’ll make J Edgar Hoover look like a civil libertarian.

Repeat after me: IF WE LOSE, WE’RE SCREWED.

The 2023 last word goes to The J Geils Band: