Talk about an irate judge.
There’s a clear takeaway for government attorneys doing business in Texas federal judge Andrew S. Hanen’s court.
And that is this: Don’t lie.
If you do, expect a bit of blowback.
In late 2014, President Obama used his executive powers to bar the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants from the United States. Twenty six states objected to that, suing the president. The matter ended up before Hanen, who issued a stay early last year.
Although the case is presently before the United States Supreme Court, certain things regarding the behavior of U.S. Department of Justice attorneys arguing before Hanen continued to bother the judge over a period of months.
And thus it was that the Hanen weighed in last week with what The New York Times termed a “rare, public condemnation of government lawyers,” noting that he could not let their conduct go unpunished.
In a “blistering order,” the judge barred DOJ attorneys who had argued before him during the case from appearing again before him or in any court — state or federal — in any of the 26 states challenging the president’s executive action absent first completing an ethics course.
And not just any ethics course. The judge wants those lawyers to complete a three-hour course annually for the next five years.
And, additionally, he is demanding that U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch timely submit a plan detailing how the DOJ will prevent further lapses in ethical conduct in the future.
The moral of the story: If you’re an attorney appearing before a federal judge, stay on his or her good side.