Reality Check Radio had a reporter in place at the hearing today before the Honorable Judge Arthur M. Schack in the New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, NY. Judge Schack scheduled the hearing at 2:30 PM EDT to determine what costs should be awarded to the defendants in the case he has declared to be frivolous. In his earlier Decision and Order on April 11 in Christopher-Earl Strunk, in esse v New York State Board of Elections et. al., Schack declared the case to be frivolous, awarded costs to the defendants and barred Strunk from filing future litigation against all of the defendants named in the case. Here is the text of the decision (courtesy Jack Ryan at SCRIBD):
Strunk Hearing Report : [Provided by "Intrepid Reporter" - Earlier updates are included below]
I arrived very early and Strunk arrived a few minutes later. I recognized him from the picture Dr. Conspiracy posted this morning. While I’m not sure of his age, he appears to be somewhere around 70. He was appropriately dressed in a subtly plaid navy double-breasted suit, white shirt and a conservative navy tie featuring a small pinkish pattern. He’s around 6′. He almost appears to walk with a slight limp, although compensating for what had to have been a 30 pound briefcase over one shoulder might explain the gait.
A young attorney arrived soon after and struck up a conversation with Strunk. I didn’t hear much of it but got the impression that this particular attorney did not intend to seek fees. When he’d seated himself to wait for the room to open, I asked who he was representing and he answered he was there for McCain-Palin.
Seated on the same bench was AskESQ! Very nice guy. He was actually there for another matter and didn’t get a chance to stop in on the Strunk hearing.
A long marble hallway with benches every 15 or 20 feet serves as the waiting area. Strunk took up a position 2 or 3 benches down from me, and various attorneys stopped by to chat with him. I heard Apuzzo’s name go by several times but could not hear the conversation clearly enough to understand the context.
The room opened at 2:30 but the judge did not appear for several minutes. It was a very small room with pew seating for 20-25 people. It was packed! I was the only one who appeared to be a spectator. The judge called another case first. That case took an hour and a half.
Strunk is a very chatty fellow. He was seated about 10 feet from me and I couldn’t hear much of what he was saying as two attorneys behind me were having a loud conversation. But I did catch snippets of a conspiracy about Mussolini and he went on at some length about a mortgage suit.
The attorney for all of the Obama defendants was seated next to me. He was very successful at not allowing Strunk to rope him into a conversation, although he did speak to him a little bit. I asked if Strunk usually utilized these pre-hearing lulls to reiterate his litany of conspiracy theories and got a definite yes. :)
Strunk seemed to have run out of conversational topics somewhere around 3:30, and one of the attorneys behind me said to the attorney next to him that he did not want to talk with Strunk because once Strunk got started, he didn’t want to stop.
Around this time, Strunk slid down the pew to engage the attorney for the Obamas in a discussion about the aforementioned mortgage suit. He’d dragged out a netbook by then, possibly because he wanted to reference some file?
While we were waiting, Strunk passed out photocopies of Apuzzo’s May 6 blog post titled “The New York State Court Should Not Sanction Pro Se Plaintiff, Christopher Earl Strunk, for His Natural Born Citizen Litigation”. He only gave copies to attorneys and did not offer them to spectators. At the time, there were a few attorneys who identified themselves as spectators because they were waiting for attorneys involved in the first hearing. Strunk had what appeared to be at least a dozen extra copies. When I saw what he was distributing, I couldn’t help myself and burst out laughing. I tried to be quiet about it, but I just found this hilarious.
While we were waiting, the court reporter asked everyone there for the Strunk case to please supply her with a business card.
Finally, Strunk’s case was called at 4:00. Due to the size of the room and the number of attorneys present, most of the attorneys were seated in the jury box. The two attorneys representing the state of New York and the Campaign Finance Board sat at one of the tables.
There were 8 or 9 attorneys present. I believe it was ultimately 9, as one gentleman had left near the end of the previous hearing and joined us while the hearing was in progress. The introductions were very quick and not everyone was asked to spell their names. I’m going to have to go back and look at the April 11th decision in order to find everyone’s names and which defendants they were there to represent. Not everyone was asked to give the complete list of parties they represented, perhaps because it was clear to most in the room. As they introduced themselves, they also were asked to explain whether or not they were seeking fees and if they had brought a statement of those fees.
The attorney for the Brzezinski served Strunk with a detailed statement of services.
Keith Corbett, attorney for Obama, Pelosi, Biden, Obama For America and the Obama Victory Fund, said he will seek fees but needed to finalize the statement.
Todd Phillips (might be misspelled), attorney for McCain-Palin and the McCain campaign, did not have authority to give a statement or seek fees.
Teri Seigel, attorney for George (didn’t catch the last name), not seeking fees. [I believe this is George Soros! RC]
Erika Burk, did not catch who she represented, brought a statement of fees and costs.
The attorney for the Campaign Finance Board was not seeking costs.
Joel Graber, Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York, representing the Controller, etc., submitted a statement of fees.
The attorney for the Socialist Workers Party (and another party I did not catch) did not submit costs but reserved the right.
*I have a feeling I may have missed someone*
Strunk was asked (I think by the court reporter) to please spell his name as he had not afforded her the courtesy of providing the requested business card. Strunk replied that he never distributes business cards. Before he could launch into the reasons why (which I suspect are related to some sort of Sovereign Citizen doctrine), the judge gave his name to the court reporter.
Judge Schack began by reviewing his 4/11 Order. Strunk shook his head several times while the Judge was speaking.
Judge Schack then addressed the response Strunk filed late last week. He advised that Strunk should read the papers and explained that today’s hearing was not an opportunity for him to regurgitate or reiterate his arguments or why he “disagrees, to put it mildly” with the decision. This hearing was about sanctions.
At this point, Strunk moved to enter Apuzzo’s blog post as an amicus brief and said that it explained why the Judge is “really reaching” in sanctioning him. Apparently, Strunk had emailed this to all the attorneys over the weekend and given them hard copies today. (Which explains the snippets of conversation I had heard in the hallway.)
Judge Schack did not appear to recognize Apuzzo, although the Assistant Attorney General seemed to as he was rolling his eyes, but said he would take a look at the blog post. No one objected.
Strunk began trying to say that certain actions taken in the case should mitigate any sanctions. At this point, there was a discussion between Strunk and the Judge regarding a motion Strunk filed in February, apparently asking that Judge Schack recuse himself. The motion also contained a “diatribe” against a Judge in Georgia, according to Judge Schack. A hearing was scheduled for April 23 to address it. Strunk did not show up, and it was “marked off.” Strunk insisted it had been adjourned to June 18. Judge Schack was correct.
They then discussed a motion regarding an appeal that both agreed was now moot, and Judge Schack maintained was also irrelevant.
I didn’t fully understand the discussion about the next motion. Apparently it related to jurisdiction, and Strunk was saying things about “fraud and spoliation.” The Judge jumped in, mentioned Arpaio had been raised in that motion, and that Arpaio has no jurisdiction here in New York.
The Judge then explained that Strunk had an incorrect interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. He continued to these cases based on that interpretation “on and on.” *I have a note here that “on and on” is a favorite of this Judge* He points out that Strunk filed a similar case in Federal court in 2008.
Strunk jumped in and said that case was never heard because all of the filings were deficient. ( I think this was Strunk v. Board of Elections.)
Judge Schack continued and read footnote 6 from page 6 of Judge Ross’s decision.
Up until this point, both Judge Schack and Strunk were fairly calm.
Something about this footnote angered Strunk. He interrupted the Judge and raised his voice considerably (and it remained raised for most of the hearing). He argued that Judge Ross essentially told him to file this case in state court. I think he was trying to say that he filed in state court based on his understanding of Judge Ross’s decision.
Strunk went off the rails here.
He said that Judge Ross was the head counsel for GM. To which Schack cheerfully replied, “Good for her!”
Strunk maintained that Judge Ross was getting back at him for his mortgage suit.
The beleaguered court reporter has to ask them to stop for a second. I couldn’t blame her as this was devolving into two people talking simultaneously. All the attorneys were highly amused.
Strunk, still obviously angry and on the verge of yelling, demanded a recusal! He fired off the many ways that he perceived he’s been wronged so quickly that I only have notes:
-You “cherry-picked” pieces of Strunk’s arguments
-You “gave favor where favor was not to be given”
-The Assistant Attorney General represented you in your pay raise action. *wide range of attorney reactions to this one, everything from utterly perplexed to disinterested*
The Assistant Attorney General (I think answering a question from the Judge, but not sure) explains that he represents New York state officials all the time and this was no different. Judge Schack and th AAG have a little conversational back and forth about the pay raise case. Apparently Judge Schack got his raise, but not for a long time after the decision was reached. Perhaps Judge Schack thought this little diversion would allow Strunk [to calm down.]
Strunk hadn’t even hit a speed bump yet. …
Strunk began an elaborate and mainly indecipherable diatribe about “strawman arguments” Judge Schack supposedly made in his Decision and Order. Something about “you took x argument and made it y argument when my main argument was x argument.” Yes, he was saying “x argument and y argument.”
Judge Schack explained that he is the sole arbiter of his own recusal. He mentioned he needed to look a case he wished to cite (People v. Morena?) He saw no need to recuse himself.
Strunk said the Judge has delayed the case too long.
By now it was 4:30. The Judge wanted to wrap this up in the next 15 minutes.
He started off ” About your argument of two citizen parents..”
Strunk yelled, “That’s not my argument, it’s yours! I have nothing else to say.” He was so angry that when he sat down again, the keys hanging from his belt actually jingled on the chair.
Judge Schack wrapped up: 30 days to submit costs, etc. He then gave Strunk an opportunity to have the final word. Like a petulant child, Strunk responded, “No!”
Strunk quickly reconsidered and announced that he was going to bring legal action against Judge Schack, the word investigation went by. Everyone was looking pretty surprised at this turn of events. The Secretary interjected that Strunk was in contempt.
Judge Schack immediately told the court reporter to strike that. He was quite calm. He encouraged Strunk to do whatever he felt he had to do.
Strunk continued, nearly yelling, “You don’t know your history. Your own straw-man arguments will be seen around the country.” Something about the effect this will have on future pro se cases. I don’t recall what he said, but the sentiment was that pro se litigants are treated unfairly.
Strunk then requested that all these cases being cited by the Judge be added in their entirety to his case, to make it easier for Strunk to find and review them. Judge Schack patiently explained to him that he has the cites, he could go copy those cases himself. There are references to the existing volume of paper in this case.
Strunk was still yelling. “The Constitution is not a dictionary.”
He then launched into a new diatribe about New York State being the basis of natural-born citizen. He went on about some provision of early NYS law and who could and could not lease coal and copper mines. Judge Schack responded, but I didn’t note what he said. He was calm though.
Strunk said, “You’re opinions are all wrong.” Something about “there’s been no fair hearing.”
Judge Schack wrapped up. “You make all these statements in court and walk out a free man.” He explained that this is what makes our country great.
[Thanks to "Intrepid Reporter for taking time from his busy day to attend the hearing and provide the updates and reports. RC]
Update #1: Everyone is in place. There are around 11 attorneys and 3 spectators. Chris Strunk is passing out copies of Apuzzo’s blog post defending him to the attorneys. [That should help! :)]
Update #2: The hearing didn’t start until about 4PM and ran for 40 minutes. Strunk did not play his DVD [I am not sure if the judge did not allow it or Strunk decided not to show it]. Some of the attorneys brought statements of fees. Some decided not to bother. At least one attorney said they needed time to finalize fees. Judge Schack gave everyone 30 days to submit final statements on costs. No word on the vex lit determination. Intrepid Reporter will finalize his notes and submit a report later. [realist at the Fogbow commented that Judge Schack had already declared Chris Strunk a vexatious litigant and that was not at issue today. Any future filings by Strunk against the named must be approved by the NY state court system. RC]