The federal courts are perceived as being political. Any news account of a court opinion that has political implications is certain to point out whether the judges are Republicans or Democrats.
The politicization of judges is wildly overstated. Nearly all federal judges try to apply the law fairly. However, the few bad apples are sufficient to sustain the taint of a politically driven court system.
Over the weekend I had several email exchanges involving an unforced error that undermines the credibility of the federal courts. This one is a real head-scratcher that comes from the District of New Jersey.
Normally, to appear in a federal district court you have to be a member of the court, which in turn means you have to be a member of the bar where the court is located. However, an attorney can be to be admitted pro hac vice (for this time). The rules for this vary widely. Many state courts discourage the practice to avoid an O.J. Simpson-style courtroom circus. The federal courts tend to be more lenient.
The basic process is that a member of the court files a motion to have the non-member admitted pro hac vice and pays a fee.
In the New Jersey District Court:
(3) The order of the Court granting a motion to appear pro hac vice shall require the out-of-state attorney to make a payment of $150.00 on each admission payable to the Clerk, USDC.
However, last Friday the New Jersey District court put in place a China Virus temporary measure that attorneys who have already paid for one pro hac vice admission do not have to pay for subsequent admissions.
But there is a major catch: The waiver only applies for an "immigration detainee habeas case".
If you want to sue Donald Trump to get an illegal alien out of immigration detention, the New Jersey District Court wants your business and will give you a volume discount on the price.
That then begs the question, if the New Jersey District Court is going give a price cut for this one specific type of case, how is it predisposed to rule on that kind of case?
I am sure that there were some pragmatic issues behind the decision. However, the New Jersey District Court has fed the perception of judicial bias through an administrative action, rather than through its judicial actions.
Furthermore, it is highly unseemly for a court to have a fee structure that favors one specific type of case over others. The chief justice should take note.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in doing a habeas case, the New Jersey District Court has a sale going on.