NOTE: “Catholic Beast” Is Not a Legal Term of Art

LTB default 777x437

Further, using this term in a brief to refer to a judge in your case is not recommended. In fact it is super-highly unrecommended.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that a civil-rights group has filed a bar complaint concerning the conduct of a Minnesota lawyer who used that term, and many others, to describe those involved in a bankruptcy case in which the lawyer represented the debtor. Rebekah Nett and her client are already facing a possible $10,000 in fines for contempt, which seems low for this startlingly bad conduct.

The papers in question are completely benign until paragraph 5 of the brief, at which point they go utterly batshit crazy:

5. … Debtor seriously questions [the trustee's] motive in informing Debtor of the wrong time for the hearing. Was it to make the job of the black-robed bigot that much easier? … Across the country the court systems and particularly the Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota, are composed of a bunch of ignoramus [sic], bigoted Catholic beasts that carry the sword of the church. Judge Dennis O’Brien is a Jesuit, Judge Nancy Dreher is a Catholic Knight Witch Hunter, U.S. Trustee Colin Kreuziger is a priest’s boy, and the infamous Chapter 7 Trustee Nauni Manty is a Jesuitess. … Since Debtor has been vocal in exposing their dirty deeds, these dirty Catholics have conspired together to hurt Debtor.

8. … Given what these dirty Catholics are capable of and particularly since there is no law to protect the minority, Debtor is concerned about what their secret plans are for the December 6, 2011 hearing. Catholic deeds throughout the [sic] history have been bloody and murderous.

10. … Given the track record of injustice in this case, it seems that Debtor will never see justice until the matter is addressed in an international court in Beijing, China.

Paragraphs 11 through 23 then revert to being completely normal legal argument, and the brief then concludes: "[Debtor] respectfully requests that this Court issue an Order rescinding and vacating the Order dated November 18, 2011." (Emphasis added.)

As Judge Dreher's order to show cause notes, this outburst originally stemmed from, of all things, a motion to continue a hearing, normally not the kind of thing that sparks religious fury. The order directs Nett and her client to show cause why they should not be fined and/or potentially disbarred for the conduct.

The judge also points out in a footnote that "I have never been Catholic."

There isn't room or time to discuss all the other errors in this brief, but here are a few that are fairly obvious. First, I could find no record that "Catholic Knight Witch Hunter" was ever an official title, so only "Catholic" should be capitalized there. Second, it is almost certain that the trustee is not a "Jesuitess"; according to the OED, that is an actual word, but the order of nuns who aspired to be female Jesuits were never officially recognized and were "suppressed" by the Vatican in 1631. Since I don't want to give Dan Brown any ideas for yet another terrible book, I'll just leave it at that. Third, although "Catholic deeds throughout [] history" have indeed occasionally been bloody and murderous, so have everybody else's; and I could find no reports of any religious murders being committed at a bankruptcy hearing. Finally, Debtor is not likely to get more justice in Beijing, China, especially if she keeps talking to judges like this.

The hearing on the order to show cause is set for early January, so I'd try to get tickets now.

Previously: Why not to refer to appellate judges as "ass clowns."