FoxNews is now reporting about the nomination of Robert Chatigny to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The editorial is unfair, but nicely summarizes Judge Chatigny's handling of the Michael Ross case. Let's discuss why Judge Chatigny should not be elevated to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Michael Ross was a murderer who was sentenced to death. After spending years on death row, he decided he had enough of life on death row. He was willing to forfeit his appeals, and face death on his own terms. He may even have believed in God, and thus was willing to face his Maker.
Anti-death-penalty lawyers fought Mr. Ross's efforts to end his appeals. They tried claiming that Michael Ross was incompetent to decide for himself whether to forfeit his appeals. Their theory? Oh, this is rich.
By definition, the lawyers argued, anyone who forfeits his appeals is mentally ill. They even named this "disease" Death Row Syndrome. Michael Ross rightfully pointed out the idiocy of this position, and had a lawyer appointed to help him die.
Enter Judge Chatigny, a arbiter who must, as Chief Justice John Roberts testified before Congress, only call balls and strikes. Judges are umpires, not player. Rather than call balls and strikes, Judge Chatigny stepped up to the bat, and swung for Michael Ross's lawyers.
Judge Chatigny threatened Michael Ross's lawyer with disbarment for advocating on Mr. Ross's behalf. On a conference call, Judge Chatigny said:
"And you better be prepared to deal with me if in the wake of this an investigation is conducted and it turns out that what [a prison inmate] says and what this former program director says is true, because I'll have your law license."
There are more details here, but don't let the details confuse the narrative: Judge Chatigny exercised his will to power in an attempt to thwart legal processes.
You, like me, might not support the death penalty. Yet when you swear, as Judge Chatigny did, to uphold the law, you must subordinate your will to your office. Instead, Judge Chatigny sought to exercise his will over a lawyer who did nothing but advocate on Michael Ross's behalf.
Judge Chatigny is not fit for elevation to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.