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Tenth Circuit Declines Kavanaugh Ethics Case, Stays Course In Others

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 17, 2019 6:00 AM

Unlike some federal appeals courts, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has not changed a lot during the current administration.

President Trump has appointed two justices to the 12-member court, but there are no pending nominations and no room for another judge. In terms of Democrat and Republican appointees, the Democrats have a 7-5 advantage.

But the political numbers don't always matter, unless of course there is a split decision. And while the appeals court has been largely united in three recent cases, one politically-charged case left a lone Democrat in the dissent.

First: Kavanaugh Ethics Case

The Tenth Circuit ruled 6-1 that it does not have jurisdiction to consider ethics complaints against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. That was not the answer Democrats were looking for when Chief Justice John Roberts sent the matter to the appeals court for consideration. According to reports, 83 ethics complaints had been filed against Kavanaugh for making allegedly false statements under oath during his confirmation hearing for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and for making inappropriate and disrespectful statements in his hearing for the Supreme Court.

Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, a Clinton appointee, dissented in the decision to decline jurisdiction. She said that the entire council should be disqualified, and that a judicial conduct committee should review the case.

More: Ponzi Scheme Case

Meanwhile, the Tenth Circuit affirmed a trial court's order to appoint a receiver over a company involved in an alleged Ponzi scheme. According to the complaint, Traffic Monsoon makes its money selling internet advertising packages to its members. Purchasers of the "Adpack" qualify to share in the company's revenue. In Securities and Exchange Commission v. Traffic Monsoon, the SEC says the program is an illegal Ponzi scheme.

Still More: University Sexual Harassment Case

In proceedings against a state university, the Tenth Circuit refused to dismiss cases by two former students who allege the university acted indifferently towards their sexual assault claims. A trial judge rejected the defendant's motion to dismiss, and the appeals court affirmed in a unanimous decision in Farmer v. Kansas State University.

The appellate judges said the plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged the university made them "'vulnerable to' sexual harassment by allowing their student-assailants -- unchecked and without the school investigating— to continue attending KSU along with Plaintiffs."

The civil suits follow the conviction of Jared R. Gihring, a former student at the university, for raping one of the plaintiffs. Gihring was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

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