So I spent my Saturday affirming four separate times that I did not, in fact, call someone a dinosaur. Yeah, it was one of those days…
Overall, I’m very happy with the way the trial went. True, seven hours was a little tedious, but in hindsight I’m glad we made absolutely certain that we did everything we could to make our case. Those who complain about the petty politicking and ridiculous process battles are naive; they are the natural result of the process and the only thing that keeps the UJ (or any other regulatory body) from descending into a complete kangaroo court. Does that mean they’re off-limits for poking fun at? Of course not. Let’s make sure we don’t demonize the very important institutions of judicial review and procedure though.
Nelson and Noam benefited from a very strong counsel, and I’m not talking about myself. I was only asked to serve as counsel an hour before the trial began; Nelson’s call was actually what got me out of bed. Therefore, I had no time to develop lines of argument of my own or to coordinate strategies with Brian Paternostro (Nelson’s other counsel) or Ryan McElhaney (Noam’s counsel). My main role was to talk directly with Nelson and follow and expand upon lines of questioning he proposed. Brian and Ryan came up with the overriding structure of the argument, and I feel they articulated it with great skill; I, at least, was convinced.
While I don’t feel that Andrew Brooks had much of a case to begin with, it didn’t help his cause that he was poorly coordinated with Taylor Shiells, his counsel. Their strategy was constantly shifting, and by the end of the trial, some of the arguments they were making were completely absurd. Taylor actually tried to make the point that any statement with the goal of electing Noam would be potentially harmful to Andrew’s reputation by losing him an election, thus making everything we said libelous; I doubt any judges found this particularly convincing. The definition of libel kept changing throughout the trial, and there was even a debate among their side whether to actually argue the libel charges or not. There’s no denying Shiells’s considerable procedural skill, however, and I don’t know what more he could have done. Brooks himself was also well spoken, and he might have been better off taking the case himself or having someone like Asher Tananbaum counsel.
Overall, the Judiciary did a great job of moving things along and preventing any violations from either side. Chief Justice Rachel Graham Kagan kept an orderly courtroom despite some difficult circumstances (printer jams, switching rooms, a rock band playing loudly downstairs). At times, I feel she let her own impatience exert undue influence on the proceedings, but she was no more guilty of that than any of us (both Paternostro and Brooks were cited for becoming argumentative). If there was any bias in any of the Justices, I didn’t see it, and I’m confident that they will reach a fair verdict untainted by personal opinions.
It would be easy for me to rail against Brooks; I still feel his case has absolutely no merit. However, I think he must be commended for trying to keep his arguments as fair to us as possible. He didn’t bring up the “racist” misquote Sahar cited from the Justice, and he went out of his way to tell Noam he was sorry that she had to be pulled into a case he originally tried to make only against Rutrick. The two people I feel come out looking the worst are Zach Pyle and Michelle Minkoff. Pyle could remember everything about his meeting with Rutrick and the elections commission except exactly what he course of action he recommend Rutrick take. Nelson clearly recalls him saying that Noam and Kaamila should receive only a warning, which is exactly what happened. I find it highly doubtful that Zach Pyle remembers everything that happened except the one thing that makes Rutrick look good; as it is, he just looks like a hack for Brooks. Minkoff was obviously using the trial as a forum to get back at Rutrick for not including her on the elections commission. She claims this to be a sign of bias on his part; however, his inclusion of Amanda Hecker, who also ruled against him in Round One elections, proves otherwise.
Who, then, comes out looking the best? I’d say it’s Nelson Rutrick himself. It was only through facing the charges of bias thrown at him that I realized how truly unbiased and fair he was in his decision making. Yes, there were obviously a few mishaps in the Round Two elections (only one vote in the 2011 Senator race, mistakenly granting UJ candidates a first-round mandate with >50% of the vote), but when it comes to his judgments, he made use of every available resource to ensure a non-biased decision, including those he had no obligation to turn to (former elections commissioners). It’s unfortunate that he had to stand up to these attacks, but I think he’s emerged with his reputation untarnished.
Prediction? We’ll win this easily.