May 20, 2024

1.

Trump Railroad

Trump’s Manhattan railroad trial concluded this week with the defense cross-examining porn pin-cushion Stormy Daniels. Her testimony was fundamentally and entirely irrelevant. The case is about documents, not Daniels. The prosecution called her to plant negative feelings in the jurors’ minds, not to prove any fact about the allegations – thus her testimony was both more prejudicial than probative and irrelevant. 

Nonetheless, and on balance, the defense painted her as a liar and part of the “get-Trump” crowd. Questions about writing porn scripts about fake sexual encounters were effective. Under normal circumstances, her testimony would have been a plus for the defense. Alas, this is a kangaroo court, so it might not make a difference for the trial court, but her testimony did create another reversible error. 

2.

Kangaroo Court on Campus

Heather Mac Donald wrote The Diversity Delusion.” One chapter titled The Campus Rape Myth discusses Title IX administrative law hearings aka Kangaroo Courts. In essence, those hearings make the accused prove innocence and ignore even basic due process. If a coed has sex with a man and she has consumed any alcohol, it is presumed she can’t consent. Colleges today presume no personal agency on the coed. She cannot be held responsible. Ever. College kangaroo courts have wrecked many a life. 

In 2017, “John Doe” and Jane Roe were students at USC. They had sex. He was arrested for rape. That charge didn’t even make it past a preliminary hearing. It was dismissed. Roe admitted that it wasn’t rape. The act was fully consensual. But that didn’t stop USC. USC conducted a hearing in which Doe was not allowed to have copies of “evidence”, and its Kangaroo Court found Doe guilty –  and summarily expelled him. Later, case law declared such hearings lacked basic due process, so USC reversed its decision and allowed Doe to graduate. But USC still wanted its pound of flesh. USC banned Doe from campus and put a hold on his transcripts because his attorney had contacted a witness to prepare for the administrative hearing. Although USC had agreed that there was no rape and no crime, it still claimed this act of trying to prepare for the administrative hearing was an egregious act that required punishment. Although an LA County trial judge found that USC acted properly, the court of appeals disagreed and reversed. It ordered the trial court to remove all sanctions against Doe, including the expired transcript hold (that Doe would have had to reveal to potential employers) and the “permanent ban” from USC. 

The Court of Appeals noted that Doe was in a no-win situation, a virtual Catch-22. He didn’t do the act alleged, but USC also wouldn’t allow him to prepare for a defense, and by trying to prepare he had violated a “no contact” order when his attorney was trying to talk to a witness. The Court recognized this policy as absurd. USC just would let this man move on with his life.  

Seven years later and likely $250,000 poorer, John Doe, who didn’t do anything wrong, will have his life back.  

3.

This week’s  “This Can’t Be Real” case

Na Wang rented a commercial property from Farshad Rabbine. Two years later she was using it to live illegally there. Rabbine got a lawful order of eviction. Rabbine and Deputy Sheriffs evicted her. She had 30 minutes to remove her stuff. She piled some items into her car and drove off.  

Two years later Wang sued Rabbine. A bench trial was held. Wang claimed  she left behind (1) Two Dell laptops inside her backpack, (2) Clothing worth approximately $13,000, (3) Furniture worth approximately $3,000, (4) Business documents worth between $2,000 and $3,000, (5) Her software stacks, for which she paid approximately $300,000 to others to develop and for which it would cost about $200,000 to recreate, (6) Photographs and personal documents worth approximately $3,000, (7) Manuscripts worth between $2,000 and $3,000, (8) Stock certificates for 1,000 shares of Shanghai Maritime, and for 2,000 shares of Rongan Real Estate, worth approximately $100,000, (9) Jewelry, including earrings, pendants, precious stones, and necklaces, worth approximately $155,000, (10) Chinese herbs worth approximately $2,000, and (11) Computer equipment and ‘electronic gadgets.’ 

Wang claimed she left behind items worth or valued at a total of $781,000. And, she waited two years to sue.   

At trial, Rabbine produced photos of what was actually left behind by Wang in her illegal “home”: 

Three broken desks, an old sofa, a small refrigerator, a rice cooker, a hot plate, and some personal junk. 

Unsurprisingly, the trial court said “Na” to Wang’s absurd story. The trial judge placed the value at “less than $300,” for items which Rabbine legally and, after following legal requirements, dumped in the trash. 

Wang appealed. The Court of Appeals didn’t believe her either. Wang just reargued the same nonsense that she claimed at trial. That isn’t allowed on appeal.

The trial judge and the court of appeal panel probably got a kick out of their break from actual disputes – but Wang wasted court resources and everyone’s time. This entire process, from renting the place to the Court of Appeal’s decision, took 10 years.