My latest lawsuit, against EDC music festival promoter Insomniac, was filed in the U.S District Court located in Los Angeles (each state is divided into 1 or more federal districts, and Los Angeles is in one of California’s 4 districts called the “Central District of California”). Last Tuesday, I filed that complaint as well as a motion for a temporary restraining order, and was shocked (and somewhat impressed) that the judge ruled on the motion the same day it was filed. His ruling was that there is enough time to give the opposing party time to reply before the music festival, and so a temporary restraining order (which is a type of injunction heard without the other side) was inappropriate.
Fair enough — so I re-filed 2 days later, serving the motion on the other parties and asking the judge to reconsider the motion as a preliminary injunction (which is a type of injunction heard with the other side). Again, a same day reply, but this time less impressive: motion denied with no reason given.
I was a bit surprised, as this kind of rapid bouncing of all documents was not typical of my experience in other U.S. District Courts (by my count, this is the 16th case I’ve filed in these courts). So, I went to look up what other people had to say about the judge on The Robing Room — basically, Yelp for judges, where litigants who appear before (mostly) federal judges can rate their judge and write feedback. But, right on the front page, I see this:
There are over 600 U.S. district judges, and while the federal courts up by San Francisco in the Northern District of California (N.D. Cal.) are ranked at the top, 5 of the 10 worst ranked federal judges in the country are in the Central District of California (C.D. Cal.). The judge assigned to my case is the Hon. Philip S. Gutierrez, who ranks the 8th worst federal judge in country according to The Robing Room’s users.
Why have people ranked these 5 judges so low? Here’s a look at some of the choice commentary:
“As a former colleague of Judge Keller’s, who observed him behind the scenes of the bench, I am very sorry to say that he lacks intellect, patience, and impartiality, and always has been arrogant and ill-tempered. He was, and continues to be, a disgrace to the bench on which he stubbornly continues to serve.”
–Anonymous Criminal Defense lawyer regarding the Hon. William D. Keller (ranked #1 worst), posted September 6th, 2012. Judge Keller is a Reagan appointee who has been on the bench since 1984.
“I sat in the courtroom as an observer to a trial regarding securities laws. I was appalled at the behavior, conduct, and knowledge of the law (or rather the lack thereof) of this ‘judge.’ He is rude, and sleeps most of the time, only to open his mean eyes occasionally to bark at the lawyers or those who testify. At times he is completely disoriented and does not understand or follow the details of the case.”
–Anonymous Unspecified Commenter regarding the Hon. Manuel L. Real (ranked #2 worst), posted October 24th, 2013. Judge Real is an LBJ appointee who has been on the bench since 1966 (!!). By my calculations he is 92 years old, and has apparently been removed from several cases for bias.
“Judge Wright bullied the defendants’ counsel, no retrain in exhibiting his blatant bias towards the prosecution, paraded around the courtroom waving a baseball bat, pushing said bat into his crotch while facing defendants female counsel, acting if he was about to strike the lawyers with it all outside the presents of a jury, referred to the people of California as ‘morons’, said marijuana defendants should be slapped around for a bit before being forced into a boot camp until they would no longer break the law.”
–Anonymous Unspecified Commenter regarding the Hon. Otis D. Wright, II (ranked #3 worst), posted June 7th, 2014. Judge Wright is a Bush 43 appointee who has been on the bench since 2007. The bat comment was corroborated by a second commenter the next day.
“I’ve been a litigator in state and federal courts for 37 years. Without question, Judge Anderson is the most offensive, laziest, most arrogant, insulting and imbalanced judge that I have ever had the misfortune to stand before.”
— Anonymous Civil Litigator regarding the Hon. Percy Anderson (ranked #6 worst), posted December 12th, 2013. Judge Anderson is a Bush 43 appointee who has been on the bench since 2002.
…and finally, the judge assigned to my case:
“He is a very nice man, but he is not a very good judge. He looks for any excuse to get rid of civil cases and doesn’t care about the effect that has on the litigants and counsel. If you draw him, good luck.”
— Anonymous Civil Litigator regarding the Hon. Philip S. Gutierrez (ranked #8 worst), posted August 25th, 2015. Judge Gutierrez is another Bush 43 appointee who has been on the bench since 2007. This comment is corroborated by other posters who say that he “comes up with wacky ways to get rid of cases” and “[l]ooks for any reason to get rid of a case no matter how flimsy.”
Ah, that explains my motion being promptly denied without actual consideration.
Well, I filed the fastest Notice of Appeal in my experience on Friday, just 3 days after opening the case. Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will have a look at the motion for preliminary injunction and Judge Gutierrez’ rapid denial of it without explanation.
Still, what’s with the concentration of low-ranked judges in this district?