Alabama judge to weigh sanctioning LGBTQ lawyers for ‘judge shopping’ | Reuters

Eleven attorneys involved in LGBTQ rights litigation must appear before an Alabama federal judge beginning on Monday to determine if they should be punished for attempting to steer to other judges their challenge to the state’s ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.

The proceedings followed the unsealing in March of a report by a three-judge panel from each of Alabama’s district courts that said the 11 lawyers attempted to circumvent procedures designed to have cases randomly assigned a judge.
The report said they did so because they viewed Burke as a “bad draw” who likely would rule against them. He did not, though, and eventually enjoined the law’s enforcement, though the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later reinstated it.
Burke, in an order announcing the hearings, said the lawyers’ conduct implicated prohibitions against “attempts to manipulate or circumvent the random assignment of judges” and invoked the courts’ power to sanction lawyers for conduct that “abuses the judicial process.”

Most of the attorneys hail from civil rights and LGBTQ advocacy organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, while some worked at law firms working pro bono on the litigation.
Burke in a series of extraordinary earlier orders threatened some of the lawyers with jail if they did not turn over a document prepared during a probe of their conduct and found some may have committed fraud.
According to the judges’ report on April 8, 2022, plaintiffs represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAD, and other groups sued in Alabama’s Northern District to challenge a ban on gender-affirming care that Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed into law that month.
A separate lawsuit was filed in Alabama’s Middle District on April 11 by lawyers at the ACLU and other groups. The ACLU sought to have its case assigned to U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, an appointee of Democratic former President Jimmy Carter, by marking it as “related” to a closed 2018 case in which he had ruled in favor of transgender rights.
The case was instead assigned to another judge who, with the eventual consent of the parties, transferred it to the Northern District, where the first case had been assigned to U.S. District Judge Annemarie Axon.
Both cases were then transferred to Burke, causing surprise and “panic” among the plaintiffs’ lawyers, according to the report, by U.S. District Judges W. Keith Watkins, R. David Proctor and Jeffrey Beaverstock, all appointees of Republican presidents.
Both legal teams voluntarily dismissed their cases. NCLR, GLAD and their co-counsel then filed a new one in the Middle District with new plaintiffs to avoid the appearance of judge shopping and to avoid Burke, the report said.
The case was instead, at the direction of U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker, reassigned to Burke.
The case is Boe v. Marshall, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, No. 22-cv-184.

Source: Alabama judge to weigh sanctioning LGBTQ lawyers for ‘judge shopping’ | Reuters

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