Monday, November 01, 2004


Impeach Judge Piersol

Judge Lawrence Piersol (U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota) was recommended for the federal bench by Tom Daschle. Judge Piersol is now (as in right this minute) hearing a case brought by Tom Daschle seeking to bar Republican poll-watchers for the election. Based on that, you might question Judge Piersol's impartiality. Of course, Tom Daschle has served in Congress for 26 years, the last 18 in the Senate, so he may have had a say in every judge sitting on the bench in South Dakota. But that's not the half of it. Judge Piersol represented Tom Daschle during the litigation over Daschle's first election to the House. That's right. Tom Daschle got his own prior lawyer to act as judge in a case he filed.

This is a gross violation of Canon 3.C. of the Canons of Judicial Conduct

There are five specific prohibitions stated in that Canon (subdivisions 1(a) through 1(e)), none of which contains this sort of activity, but the Canon ("A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned") is broader than that. The Canon does explicitly provide for a waiver of disqualification in any circumstances other than the specific subdivisions, but that requires that the judge disclose on the record the basis for disqualification and all parties consent in writing or on the record to the judge remaining on the case.

Without such disclosure and consent, which does not appear from any articles I have seen about the case, the judge's behavior is grossly improper.

Here's a detailed review of the proceedings.

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