sunny.png
Thursday December 5th, 2019 9:39AM

Judge blocks government lawyers from quitting census fight

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — The Justice Department can't replace nine lawyers so late in the dispute over whether to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census without explaining why they are doing so, a judge says.

U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman, who earlier this year ruled against adding the citizenship question, put the brakes on the government's plans on Tuesday, a day after he was given a three-paragraph notification by the Justice Department along with a prediction that the replacement of lawyers wouldn't "cause any disruption in this matter."

"Defendants provide no reasons, let alone 'satisfactory reasons,' for the substitution of counsel," Furman wrote, noting that the most immediate deadline for government lawyers to submit written arguments in the case is only three days away.

The judge said local rules for federal courts in New York City require that any attorney requesting to leave a case provide satisfactory reasons for withdrawing. The judge must then decide what impact a lawyer's withdrawal will have on the timing of court proceedings.

He called the Justice Department's request "patently deficient," except for two lawyers who have left the department or the civil division which is handling the case.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the judge's decision Tuesday night, questioning whether the attorney change denial was unprecedented.

"So now the Obama appointed judge on the Census case (Are you a Citizen of the United States?) won't let the Justice Department use the lawyers that it wants to use. Could this be a first?" Trump tweeted.

The new team came about after a top Justice Department civil attorney who was leading the litigation effort told Attorney General William Barr that multiple people on the team preferred not to continue, Barr told The Associated Press on Monday.

The attorney who was leading the team, James Burnham, "indicated it was a logical breaking point since a new decision would be made and the issue going forward would hopefully be separate from the historical debates," Barr said.

Furman's refusal came in a case that has proceeded on an unusual legal path since numerous states and municipalities across the country challenged the government's announcement early last year that it intended to add the citizenship question to the census for the first time since 1950.

Opponents of the question say it will depress participation by immigrants, lowering the population count in states that tend to vote Democratic and decreasing government funds to those areas because funding levels are based on population counts.

At one point, the Justice Department succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to block plans to depose Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Nearly two weeks ago, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the plans to add the census question, saying the administration's justification for adding the question "seems to have been contrived."

Afterward, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau began printing census questionnaires without the question and the Department of Justice signaled it would not attempt to continue the legal fight.

It reversed itself after Trump promised to keep trying to add the question.

The Justice Department then notified judges in three similar legal challenges that it planned to find a new legal path to adding the question to the census.

Furman said the urgency to resolve legal claims and the need for efficient judicial proceedings was an important consideration in rejecting a replacement of lawyers.

He said the Justice Department had insisted that the speedy resolution of lawsuits against adding the question was "a matter of great private and public importance."

"If anything, that urgency — and the need for efficient judicial proceedings — has only grown since that time," Furman said.

Furman said the government could re-submit its request to replace attorneys only with a sworn statement by each lawyer explaining satisfactory reasons to withdraw so late. He said he'll require new attorneys to promise personnel changes will not slow the case.

___

Associated Press Writer Mike Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Supreme Court News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Financier in sex case went from math whiz to titan
Jeffrey Epstein has long been an enigma, his rags-to-riches ascent shrouded in mystery
5:38PM ( 12 minutes ago )
GOP-led Virginia Legislature abruptly adjourns gun session
Less than two hours after beginning a special session called in response to a mass shooting, Virginia lawmakers abruptly adjourned and postponed any movement on gun laws until after the November election
5:35PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Former USC gynecologist's bail lowered in sex assaults case
A Los Angeles judge has reduced bail for a former University of Southern California gynecologist accused of sexual assault
5:30PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
'Giant sucking sound': Perot's quips over the years
H. Ross Perot, who died Tuesday at his home in Dallas, was known for memorable quips, especially during his run for president as a third-party candidate in 1992
5:10PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Attorney: Girl fell to death from open window on cruise ship
An attorney for the family of an 18-month-old Indiana girl who fell to her death from the 11th story of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico says she plunged from a window inexplicably left open in a children's play area
5:09PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Trump defends Acosta but will look into Epstein plea deal
Trump defends Acosta, but says he'll look into Epstein plea deal
5:08PM ( 41 minutes ago )
AP National News
H. Ross Perot rose from poverty to self-made billionaire
H. Ross Perot rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty to become a self-made billionaire who twice ran for president with a mixture of folksy sayings and simple solutions to America's problems
4:36PM ( 1 hour ago )
With 19 aces, gutsy comeback, Serena reaches Wimbledon semis
Serena Williams dealt with an injured ankle and a third-set deficit before coming back to beat Alison Riske in the Wimbledon quarterfinals
4:30PM ( 1 hour ago )
Tom Steyer launches 2020 campaign after saying he wouldn't
Reversing course, billionaire investor and activist Tom Steyer decides to launch Democratic presidential bid after all
4:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online National News
Financier in sex case went from math whiz to titan
Jeffrey Epstein has long been an enigma, his rags-to-riches ascent shrouded in mystery
5:38PM ( 12 minutes ago )
GOP-led Virginia Legislature abruptly adjourns gun session
Less than two hours after beginning a special session called in response to a mass shooting, Virginia lawmakers abruptly adjourned and postponed any movement on gun laws until after the November election
5:35PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Former USC gynecologist's bail lowered in sex assaults case
A Los Angeles judge has reduced bail for a former University of Southern California gynecologist accused of sexual assault
5:30PM ( 19 minutes ago )
The Latest: Manfred denies Wahoo conspiracy for All-Star bid
The Latest: Manfred says MLB did not make agreement with Indians on Wahoo logo
5:27PM ( 22 minutes ago )
New Pentagon leadership to be in hands of Senate soon
The Pentagon says that acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper expects to be formally nominated for the top job very soon, setting off a complicated leadership replacement shuffle at the top levels of the Army, Navy and senior Defense Department
5:27PM ( 22 minutes ago )