You may have heard about True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips being tossed in jail for contempt of court, for failing to disclose names of those who supposedly “hacked” Konnech’s systems.
Konnech is an outfit that runs election coordination systems. It appears they were caught sending all the data to China. Konnech sued Engelbrecht and Phillips. The judge ordered the disclosure… for Konnech.
The Fifth Circuit had already ordered their release. Now a Fifth Circuit panel has completely vacated the contempt charges. But why they did it…
Such a demand makes perfect sense when made by a plaintiff in discovery. But the record does not reveal what sort of emergency justified the district court’s demand for that information before the parties could file Rule 12 motions, before the defendants could file an answer, before the parties could file their initial disclosures, or before discovery could begin let alone conclude in the ordinary course. See Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) (“A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.”). Much less did the district court explain what sort of emergency could warrant jailing the petitioner-defendants for not making such immediate disclosures. Rather, the district court made clear that it was imposing its disclosure requirements because it —the district court— wanted to add defendants to the lawsuit. That is not how the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure work.
By formal court standards, the panel just ripped the district judge a new asshole.
The 5th panel found that the judge did this. Before discovery started. All on his (so far as court filings show). The judge — supposedly an unbiased referee — litigated on behalf of Konnech. Breaking nearly every applicable Circuit rule.
Methinks someone needs to take a very close look at the judge’s personal finances. There must be some reason the judge decided to act as Konnech’s agent in this matter.
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