Birther lawyer Taitz slapped with $20,000 sanction

A federal judge, fed up with the attorney's antics, has imposed a hefty fine

By Alex Koppelman
October 13, 2009 7:01PM (UTC)
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U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land is not a happy man these days. Appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia by then-President George W. Bush, Land generally has pretty important matters to consider. But lately, he's been forced to deal with Orly Taitz, the rather eccentric lawyer-slash-dentist who's become the de facto leader of the Birthers. And he wants that to stop.

To that end, on Tuesday morning Land issued a lengthy order addressing Taitz's conduct and imposing a $20,000 sanction on her as punishment for her having repeatedly filed frivolous actions and motions.


The order, which can be downloaded in PDF form here, clocks in at 43 pages and is brutal, to say the least. Land clearly anticipates an appeal, and wants to lay out his case for imposing as large a sanction as he did in order to make the facts plain and a decision easy for the appeals court. It seems, too, that he might have done this with further sanctions against Taitz in mind; he forwarded his ruling to the bar in California, where Taitz is licensed to practice.

"The Court finds that counsel’s conduct was willful and not merely negligent. It demonstrates bad faith on her part. As an attorney, she is deemed to have known better," Land writes in his ruling. "She owed a duty to follow the rules and to respect the Court. Counsel’s pattern of conduct conclusively establishes that she did not mistakenly violate a provision of law .... Her response to the Court’s show cause order is breathtaking in its arrogance and borders on delusional. She expresses no contrition or regret regarding her misconduct .... Counsel’s bad faith warrants a substantial sanction."

At one point, Land also slams Taitz for having compared herself to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who successfully argued to end school segregation in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. Land writes:


Quite frankly, the Court is reluctant to even dignify this argument by responding to it, but it captures the essence of counsel’s misunderstanding of the purpose of the courts and her misunderstanding of her own claims .... To suggest that an Army officer, who has received a medical education at the expense of the government and then seeks to avoid deployment based upon speculation that the President is not a natural born citizen, is equivalent to a young child, who is forced to attend an inferior segregated school based solely on the color of her skin, demonstrates an appalling lack of knowledge of the history of this Country and the importance of the civil rights movement. Counsel’s attempt to align herself with Justice Marshall appears to be an act of desperation rather than one of admiration. For if counsel truly admired Justice Marshall’s achievements, she would not seek to cheapen them with such inapt comparisons.

The whole ruling is filled with writing like this; it's striking, really, for how thoroughly Land picks Taitz and her arguments apart, and for how much time he obviously devoted to this attempt to ensure that Taitz will stop clogging the courts. As he acknowledged, though, even the sanction he imposed -- twice the $10,000 fine he originally considered -- isn't likely to stop her.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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