‘Recusal is required’ when judge exhibits ‘high degree of favoritism’.
A Christian minister who brought a defamation case against MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow, alleging she maliciously asserted the preacher advocated the execution of homosexuals, is asking that the judge in the case be removed because of her biased comments.
“Recusal is required when judicial remarks create the appearance that the court’s impartiality may be called into question, and ‘could suggest, to an outside observer, such a ‘high degree of favoritism or antagonism’ to defendants’ position that ‘fair judgment is impossble,”” says an affidavit filed with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia concerning the actions and statements of Judge Joan Zeldon.
WND was told by one of Zeldon’s staff members that she was out of the office, but a message was left requesting a comment from the judge on the issue.
The case was brought by a Christian preacher whose ministry features hard rock, high school seminars and an occasional letter exchange with Barack Obama. Attorney Larry Klayman brought the action on behalf of Bradlee Dean and his You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International ministry.
The case alleges Dean endured death threats after Maddow’s “malicious” criticism of him and his work.
Maddow’s “outrageous and maliciously published statements have severely harmed not only plaintiffs’ reputations, but also their financial well-being,” said a motion in opposition to Maddow’s request that the case be dismissed.
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The lawsuit contends left-leaning interests were trying to undercut Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign by attacking people with whom she associated, including Dean’s ministry. Bachmann’s unsuccessful campaign was focused on a return to traditional values regarding marriage, fiscal policy and government.
The complaint by Dean, a former heavy metal rocker, is based on Maddow’s assertion that Dean advocated the execution of homosexuals.
The original complaint explained the characterization started with reporter Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent, even though those parties are not named as defendants.
It said Birkey took a special interest in Dean and YCR because “he is a secularist and/or atheist and gay activist with a politically left ideology who despises people of faith, including but not limited to the congresswoman Michele Bachmann, MN, who is running for the presidency of the United States, and is a conservative Christian as well.”
The case said following the first statements about Dean by Birkey and the Minnesota Independent, “Rachel Maddow, and NBC and MSNBC, in concert with others, have set out to and did willfully and maliciously harm the presidential campaign of congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Not coincidentally, Rachel Maddow is also of a leftist political ideology, who as a committed and also proud lesbian is active in the so called ‘gay rights’ movement. She views plaintiffs and congresswoman Bachmann a threat to ‘gay rights,’” the claim explained.
It continued: “On information and believe … [in defaming] plaintiffs Dean and YCR and holding in a false light plaintiff Dean, all of the defendants, each and every one of them, maliciously set out to and did harm not only the plaintiffs but by extension also the presidential campaign of congresswoman Michele Bachmann.”
In May 2010, Birkey wrote wrote an article titled “GOP-linked punk rock ministry says executing gays is ‘moral’” that tried to link Bachmann to the ministry. Bachmann had praised the ministry previously.
The complaint said it was Maddow who later “outrageously disparaged Bradlee Dean’s physical appearance, his first name and his profession as a heavy metal entertainer and his standing in the community and represented that he and YCR had advocated the execution of gays.”
But when Maddow asked the court to dismiss the complaint on a variety of grounds, Klayman’s opposition explained why it only would be fair to allow the case to continue.
“There are no justifiable bases to contend that plaintiff has not been placed in false light and defamed. What is most horrifying, however, is the effect defendants’ statements had on viewers, leading many viewers to not only discredit Dean but to also threaten Dean’s life. … As a father of four, nothing was more petrifying to Dean that continuously receiving death threats, such as one particular disturbing Internet threat that warned, ‘Now I’m gonna have to kill you! I thought we were gonna cut each others’ hair then have sex, but you stood me up! I am so upset that I think I may just have to blow up your ministry instead!’” the filing explained.
“Making the threats more imminent is that some radical homosexual activists went as far as posting a picture and plaintiffs’ physical address, providing a roadmap to where plaintiffs can be found and harmed,” the filing said.
The filing explains Maddow “altered plaintiffs’ previous statements and distorted them in order to defame plaintiffs and place them in a false light.”
According to a ministry statement today, since the defendants had cited the DC Anti-Slapp statute in their defense, and a recent federal court decision in Washington said that law was not applicable there, the plaintiffs sought to remove the case from the DC courts and refile in federal jurisdiction.
Zeldon responded by praising the defense attorneys and ordering Dean to pay some $24,000 in defense legal fees before she would be allow the case to be dismissed, even though that defense work would be equally applicable in the new filing in federal court, the ministry explained.
The move to another court was a “tactical, strategic decision,” the ministry statement said.
“However, Judge Zeldon, who it became apparent had hoped to rule against Dean and YCR and in favor of Maddow and MSNBC given her leftist ideology, sought to punish plaintiffs and throw a monkey wrench into the voluntary dismissal of the case before her. Judge Zeldon ruled that the case before her could not be dismissed unless Dean and YCR paid over $24,000 in attorneys fees and costs to Maddow … claiming that the defendants attorneys should be compensated for the legal work they did in her case.”
When Dean challenged the payments, the judge said he was not even allowed to ask questions about the billings. Klayman said a hearing on such fees is routine, but the judge refused even that.
“Incredibly, despite Dean and YCR having argued that Maddow and MSNBC’s fees and costs were fraudulent, Judge Zeldon stated in her order that defendants lawyers are ‘distinguished,’ and to the contrary disparaged Dean and YCR and their counsel, Larry Klayman. Because this, and other biased statements in the order, unmasked her prejudice, yesterday Dean and YCR filed pleadings to disqualify Judge Zeldon and have her order vacated…,” the filing said.
Dean said, “This is a new turn of events that was not anticipated when I brought the suit against Maddow and MSNBC. Judges are to enforce the law, not to defend lawbreakers and then award them money. This generation is being taught that wrong is right and right is wrong. As a preacher, I am combating that ideology, and in my view, I have learned that this ideology is often taught and put into effect by a judicial system that aligns itself with corrupted attorneys and lawbreakers.”
In an affidavit in support of the move, Dean wrote, “It became clear to me that the judge, Joan Zeldon, harbored an extra-judicial bias and prejudice against me and YCR stemming from our conservative Christian advocacy against the so-called gay and lesbian political agenda, which is based in part on teaching young children in public and private schools and homosexuality is ‘normal’ societal behavior. … Specifically, it became clear to me, based on Judge Zeldon’s statements and actions, that she favored defendant Rachel Maddow…”
He noted the judge’s comments “are offensive and quite personal, and … denigrate, disparage, berate, and mock my counsel and me.”
He cited Zeldon’s mockery of Klayman’s health issues, and he accuses her of “unprofessional and injudicious” cheap shots.
The affidavit continues, “It is evidence that Judge Zeldon held and continues to hold a bias against the plaintiffs and in favor of defendants [making her] unable to impartially rule upon this case.”
Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and now of Freedom Watch, affirmed his filings were in good faith.
“This case is filed as a matter of principle,” he said. “We need more Bradlee Deans in the world and hateful left wing television commentators must be made to respect not only his mission but the law.”
Dean became a Christian after suffering a hard life as a young boy and has dedicated his life to his ministry’s mission.
Klayman said: “Maddow and MSNBC clearly defamed my client. Maddow went way over the line, particularly in her second broadcast by claiming that Dean and Republicans like then-presidential candidate Michele Bachmann are ‘bloodthirsty’ and want to see more gays and lesbians killed. This was outrageous and harmful and for this, Maddow and MSNBC will be held legally accountable.”
You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, founded by Dean, has reached more than 500,000 young people across the country with a message of truth and hope. His message focuses on basic constitutional issues. He’s also spoken at churches, festivals, prisons, detention centers and on radio and television programs.
Dean also is drummer for Junkyard Prophet, which has sold more than 40,000 albums in the Minneapolis area alone. Bradlee is endorsed by companies such as Sonor, Buttkickers, Beatnik (including his own signature drum pad), Hornet Drumsticks (including his own signature sticks) and Soultone Cymbals.
His letter exchange with Obama came just months ago when he asked the president to pursue a restoration of traditional morality in the United States.
In response, Obama, who has openly promoted homosexuality and other alternative sexual lifestyle choices in the Oval Office, said he appreciated Dean’s “perspective.” He said he takes such opinions “seriously.”
“Please know that your concerns will be on my mind in the days ahead,” he wrote.
Bradlee Dean is the co-host of Sons of Liberty talk radio show, which airs on GCN Monday-Friday 2:00-3:00pm Central Time. Listen to the show On Demand. In addition, catch the Sons of Liberty on Saturdays 2:00-4:00pm CT.