Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Tony Mauro reports in the National Law Journal that a judge with ties to Jewish organizations angrily rejected a motion urging him to recuse himself in an immigration case brought by a Palestinian-American woman. Invoking the name of judges ranging from Louis Brandeis to Leon Higginbotham and Michael Mukasey, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman said the motion “strikes at the very heart of a federal judge’s pledge to administer impartial justice, and does so with careless and rank speculation.” Supporters of plaintiff Rasmieh Odeh crowded Borman’s courtroom as he announced his order. The recusal dispute came to a head as Israeli and Palestinian forces are locked in combat.
Judicial ethics experts generally agreed that the recusal motion was off the mark. "A judge who contributes generally to causes aimed at improving the lives of Jews and Israelis does not strike me as casting doubt on his fitness" to hear the Odeh case, said Charles Geyh, a professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law–Bloomington, "any more than a Catholic judge's contributions to Catholic charities would cast doubt on his fitness to hear an altar boy's claim that he was abused by a parish priest."
Amanda Frost of American University Washington College of Law criticized Borman for showing his resentment in his order.
The motion was filed on behalf of Odeh, a Palestinian-American woman accused of immigration fraud. The U.S. government asserts that when she applied for citizenship in 2005, Odeh concealed the fact she had been imprisoned in Israel for 10 years for her role in terrorist bombings in Israel. In defense, Odeh claims Israeli troops tortured her, and she wants her arrest and imprisonment excluded from evidence at trial.