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Federal District Judge Alan A. McDonald:
Biased, Racist, Arrogant, Entrenched

by John Rasmussen

Please read a disclaimer for the statements I make on this website accusing judges, politicians and activists of criminal actions.



The First Rule of Being a Judge: Protect your Fellow Judges.

         Federal District Judge Alan A. McDonald is a good example of how dishonest federal judges are almost impossible to remove from their positions of power. On another webpage, I've described the way judges protect one another at the expense of the rights of innocent citizens. Judges have formed a fraternity of traitors, or perhaps their irrational support of each other is better described as the most powerful labor union this nation has ever experienced. In the case of this labor union, the "radical labor union members" are our federal judges, and the "company" is We-the-People of the United States of America. Nothing in the Constitution or the law allows judges to commit crimes from the bench, but that is what is happening because of the irrational support of dishonest judges by their fellow judges. Just like a strong labor union irrationally supports its weakest and most undeserving members, the judges of our federal courts support their weakest members at the expense of the Constitution, the laws, and the rights of the American people. After all, dishonest federal judges like Barbara Jacobs Rothstein and Betty Binns Fletcher have no worries about being held responsible for their participation in the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme so long as they can keep blatant racists like Federal District Judge McDonald on the bench. Keeping the weakest and most obviously dishonest federal judges on bench works as a buffer for the less obvious dishonesty of other federal judges. (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

The Sad, Pathetic, Story of Federal Judge Alan A. McDonald.

         I have a friend of more that forty years who has a law practice near Yakima, Washington. Over the years we have often talked about our families and our careers. It has been a long time since he told me about his experience with Judge McDonald, but I believe this is a fair recounting. A number of years ago my friend was appearing with a client before Federal District Judge Alan A. McDonald in Eastern Washington Federal District Court. During the trial, Judge McDonald made a prejudicial statement about my friend's client, implying that my friend's client was a liar. McDonald made this statement in front of the jury. That is a clear violation of judicial ethics. On the insistence of his client, my lawyer friend filed a complaint of misconduct against the judge. When the transcript of the proceedings was produced by the court reporter, the prejudicial comment was no longer there. The judge had arranged for the court record to be "cleaned up". When my friend obtained the tape recording of the court session, the judge's statement had been erased. (Please stick the word "allegedly" at the appropriate places in this paragraph, or I'll get sent off to rot in prison for accurately describing the dishonesty of a federal judge.) An expert determined that the tape had been tampered. The complaint against McDonald was valid, but when the three judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court heard the matter, they irrationally supported their fellow federal judge. The Ninth Circuit panel then barred my friend from practice in federal court for a year, and forwarded the matter to the Washington State Court for review and similar punishment. In this case, the disciplinary panel for the Washington Courts rejected the recommendation of the federal panel, and refused to discipline my friend in State court. As a result, he was able to continue to practice law in the State, and was barred only from federal court for a year. A lawyer barred from state and federal court for a significant period can easily lose his law practice and be forced out of the legal profession.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

         Judge McDonald was never held responsible for this unethical act from the bench, which should have caused his impeachment. He passed away in July 2007.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

         But there is more to this sad story. It appears that Judge McDonald had an old personal grudge against my friend that inspired his prejudicial comment from the bench. The remainder of that story takes us back to a time before Judge McDonald became a federal judge. It takes us to a time that Lawyer McDonald represented my friend and his wife as clients. I'll describe the grudge (or perhaps alleged grudge) at the bottom of this page, but first I'll display several articles that have been printed about this arrogant and racist jurist.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

The 2002 Reader's Digest article about Judge McDonald.

     Dale Van Atta wrote the following words about Judge McDonald in the October 2002 "Reader's Digest" Magazine.

      "BENCHABLE OFFENSES"

      "Broken Gavel Nominees are evaluated using a list drawn, in part, from American Bar Association and state codes of judicial conduct.

      Criminal conduct; Unprofessional behavior in the courtroom; Undignified conduct outside the courtroom; Demonstration of bias; Sexual misconduct; Substance abuse; Undisclosed conflicts; Failure to follow the law; Use of office to grant or receive favors; Lack of candor or cooperation with authorities.

      Alan McDonald, Yakima, Wash. - U.S. District Judge Alan McDonald had an unusual way of amusing himself in court:  exchanging offensive notes with his longtime deputy court clerk, Pam Posada.  In hundreds of courtroom comments they disparaged Jews, Hispanics, African Americans, Chinese and Mormons who appeared before the judge.

      McDonald's court reporter, Kathryn Blankenship, testifying in a co-worker's discrimination claim against the federal court in Washington State, spoke of the judge's "regular and excessive profanity, sexist and racist jokes and comments."

      A few days after her testimony, Blankenship alleges that McDonald confronted her and said, "You serve at my pleasure, and you aren't pleasuring me anymore."  She was encouraged to transfer jobs, but declined.  The judge has said the attempt to transfer her was due to poor work performance.

      McDonald's courtroom conduct was made public when the Spokane Spokesman-Review published some of the notes passed between him and Posada.

        - In one exchange, Posada wrote of a Mormon witness, "He's been a con man for a long time!"  The judge replied, "Yes, and in my experience, a Mormon money man makes the Jews and Chinese look like rank amateurs!"  (McDonald said later that he probably "made that remark out of respect for the Mormons I know.")

        - During a case involving Hispanic defendants and lawyers, Posada slipped the judge a note, which was passed on to Blankenship:  "It smells like oil in here - too many 'greasers'."  (McDonald says he never saw the note.)

        - McDonald described one plaintiff, a black former bank vice president, as "Old Shoeless Jesse."  During the man's testimony the judge passed a mocking note - this time to Blankenship - that read, "Ah is Im po tent!"  (McDonald claimed later it was a self-deprecatory remark.)

      The judge's most thorough public explanation came in an interview with the Spokane newspaper, in which he said the notes were "misinterpreted."

      His behavior was condemned by the Washington State Bar Association, and a panel of fellow federal judges reprimanded McDonald for conduct "prejudicial to the effective administration of the business of the courts."

      Nonetheless, Judge McDonald, 74, continues to sit as a federal judge in Yakima, drawing a salary of $150,000."

     I understand that it takes an act of congress to remove a federal judge. In our present political environment, removing a dishonest federal judge is essentially impossible. The refusal by Congress to remove crooked judges only encourages the federal judiciary to further deviate from its constitutional duties. It provides an atmosphere for judges, like Alan McDonald, to arrogantly exhibit their biases and racist prejudice from the bench, without fear of impeachment. Here is an article from the Seattle Times that is typical of the articles about Judge McDonald over the last few years.
    (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

The Seattle Times April 25, 2003

      "Hispanic plaintiffs win bid for judge to recuse himself

      By The Associated Press

      YAKIMA — A federal judge has voluntarily removed himself from a case involving Hispanic plaintiffs at the request of their lawyer.

      U.S. District Judge Alan McDonald signed an order yesterday asking that the case be reassigned, his office confirmed.

      Seattle lawyer Matthew Metz said he believed he had to ask McDonald to recuse himself after learning that the judge had been reprimanded by the 9th U.S. Circuit Judicial Council three years ago for passing offensive notes with a clerk in court.

      Among the notes was one written by McDonald's clerk during a Yakima trial that said: "It smells like oil in here — too many 'Greasers.' "

      While the council determined McDonald was not prejudiced against any religious, racial or ethnic groups, it said the notes created an appearance of bias and undermined public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.

      "We're very pleased by his decision to withdraw," Metz said yesterday.

      Metz represents Julio Romero, a Mexican immigrant and the lead plaintiff in a proposed class action that could include about 300 Yakima-area residents. Most are recent immigrants.

      Last month, they sued the Northwest Area Foundation of Minneapolis, founded by the heirs of railroad magnate James J. Hill.

      Two years ago, the foundation said it would consider investing $15 million to reduce poverty in the Yakima Valley. The project was part of a plan to spend $150 million in 16 communities in eight states.

      The foundation asked local Hispanics, including Romero, to work on an anti-poverty plan for Yakima. But in August, it rescinded the offer, saying residents hadn't developed the plan quickly enough."

Here is another article from the Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times October 1, 2000

      "Reprimand of judge poses new questions

      Mark N. Trahant
      Seattle Times staff columnist

      Federal judges rarely comment on the behavior of other judges. It's not polite.

      Such propriety makes sense when you consider the powerful nature of a lifetime appointment. These are modern lords. Federal judges are the third branch of government - akin in authority, prestige and power to the president or Congress.

      So why would any judge say something critical of another judge? The Constitution doesn't give the courts, even appellate courts, the authority to discipline other judges. All a court can do is write a reprimand or hint that Congress ought to impeach a colleague. There is no punishment prescribed by law that means much of anything, short of removal.

      But we can ask questions. We can even probe this business of lifetime appointments and wonder if it is still a good idea.

      Take the case of Judge Alan McDonald from Yakima.

      The Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit - a group of federal appeals-court judges - issued an order on Sept. 11 reprimanding McDonald, "having concluded that (his) conduct is prejudicial to the effective administration of the business of the courts."

      The Spokesman-Review in Spokane had obtained copies of notes passed back and forth from the judge to his courtroom deputy. The notes were made, perhaps in boredom, while witnesses or lawyers talked. Maybe it was a way to pass the time while the judge chalked up his $141,600-a-year salary.

      The notes included racial jokes, disparaging comments about African Americans, Asian Americans, Mormons and Hispanics. Basically a lot of "offensive banter," according to the Judicial Council report.

      "It is undisputed that the notes supplied to the Committee were either written by Judge McDonald on the bench, or by his former courtroom deputy, in the courtroom," the report says.

      A judge, according to a canon of conduct, should "act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality . . . a judge should be patient, dignified, respectful and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity."

      There is little dignity and respect in a judge and his deputy passing notes. The notes have been described in previous news reports, and the insulting language and stories aren't worth repeating here.

      But it is worth noting that even other judges were bothered enough by McDonald's disregard for the canon that they issued the reprimand and ordered it made public.

      "A public reprimand like that is fairly severe," says Maria Blanco, a San Francisco attorney working for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She filed one of two complaints against Judge McDonald.

      But what happens when someone has to appear before the judge on a discrimination matter? Will someone be confident in blind justice if they're a member of a minority group, particularly one which was a subject of the judge's so-called humor?

      This could be a basis for the judge removing himself from any case involving discrimination, says Blanco. But will the judge automatically opt out? Or will he have to be asked each and every time? And what will be the test for a fair trial in his courtroom?

      The judicial reprimand itself provokes questions about fairness. In issuing the report, McDonald's colleagues said they could not find any evidence that he was "biased against any ethnic, racial or religious group." It even reported - rather intellectually and dispassionately, as judges tend to do - that there was a "dispute" about the author of some of the derogatory notes. Was it the judge or his deputy?

      We might never know that answer. Federal judges are still awfully polite to one another."

Here is one more article from the Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times February 23, 2000

      "Court rejects worker's civil-rights complaint

      The Associated Press

      SPOKANE - The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to review a federal-court employee's contention that her civil rights were violated by a judge she says retaliated against her after she unwittingly accused him of misconduct.

      The court denied without comment a review sought by Kathryn Blankenship, who was fired as a court reporter after testifying - under subpoena - against U.S. District Judge Alan McDonald of Yakima in 1994.

      Blankenship, now 57, disclosed McDonald's habit of writing disparaging notes in court, a practice that recently triggered a judicial misconduct investigation by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a resolution in Congress by House Democrats condemning McDonald.

      McDonald's note-writing wasn't investigated by other judges after the 1994 hearing and wasn't disclosed to the public until The Spokesman-Review published a Jan. 30 story based on copies of some of the notes.

      The notes, exchanged in court by McDonald and a clerk, contained derisive and disparaging comments about people in McDonald's court, including blacks and Hispanics. McDonald said the notes were private, were never intended for the public and were being misrepresented.

      By refusing to hear Blankenship's October 1999 petition for review, the court declined to rule whether judicial-branch employees can bring a civil-rights case against their employer.

      Blankenship's lawyer, Victoria Vreeland of Seattle, said the high court's rejection of Blankenship's case says "that federal judges are essentially free to violate their employees' constitutional rights with impunity, even though they are sworn to support and defend the Constitution."

      McDonald's office wouldn't comment and referred questions to his lawyer, Wally Meyer of Yakima, who was not available.

      Blankenship has been trying for years to get her case into federal court. She contends she was fired in retaliation for reporting McDonald's conduct during a personnel hearing involving another court employee.

      U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush, now a semiretired senior judge, was chief judge of the Eastern District of Washington at the time.

      "I asked Judge Quackenbush for an outside review of what was happening in Yakima. I was a sworn officer of the court, but I never got my own hearing," Blankenship said.

      Quackenbush and Judge William Fremming Nielsen, who succeeded Quackenbush as chief judge, said Blankenship was fired only after she refused their offer of a job transfer back to Spokane, which she has said was a demotion.

      In 1997, Blankenship filed a lawsuit and a federal tort claim against McDonald and a federal-court clerk not involved in the note writing.

      Last May, the 9th Circuit said she couldn't sue because she didn't use an internal-grievance process available to all court employees. The court also said Congress didn't intend further civil-rights remedies for judicial employees.

      Vreeland argued that Blankenship should not have been forced to use the court's internal process because it was used against her.

      "Judicial employees are the one group of people who have no remedy," she said.'Even persons in this country illegally have more rights than Kay.'"

Instead of the U.S. Congress impeaching Judge Alan A. McDonald, we get this limp resolution.
    (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

U.S. House of Representatives February 7, 2000

      HRES 416 IH

      106th CONGRESS
      2d Session
      H. RES. 416

      Condemning the conduct of U.S. District Judge Alan McDonald for bringing the appearance of improper racial, ethnic, and religious bias upon the Federal Judiciary, urging the Federal Judiciary to protect against the perception of racial, ethnic, and religious bias within their ranks, and calling for the nomination and confirmation of candidates to the Federal bench that reflect the diversity of American society.

      IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

      February 7, 2000

      Mr. CONYERS (for himself, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, and Mr. WEXLER) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

      RESOLUTION

      Condemning the conduct of U.S. District Judge Alan McDonald for bringing the appearance of improper racial, ethnic, and religious bias upon the Federal Judiciary, urging the Federal Judiciary to protect against the perception of racial, ethnic, and religious bias within their ranks, and calling for the nomination and confirmation of candidates to the Federal bench that reflect the diversity of American society.

      Whereas the House of Representatives should not countenance statements by Federal officials that evidence prejudice or bias towards individuals on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation;

      Whereas official news publications have confirmed accounts from staff members and attorneys stating that, during official proceedings of his court dating back to 1990, Judge Alan McDonald made or participated in numerous communications that referred to racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in demeaning, stereotypical, and racist language;

      Whereas Judge McDonald has declined to apologize for his conduct and sought to explain such communications as private, despite the fact that they were made during open court;

      Whereas Canon 2 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges cautions a judge to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, specifically noting in commentary that a judge's duty `applies to all the judge's activities, including the discharge of the judge's adjudicative and administrative responsibilities. For example, the duty to be respectful of others includes the responsibility to avoid comment or behavior that can reasonably be interpreted as manifesting prejudice or bias towards another on the basis of personal characteristics like race, sex, religion, or national origin';

      Whereas the U.S. Federal Courts have a history of under-representation of women and minorities, particularly African-Americans and Latinos, that raises issue with regard to the fairness and impartiality of the judicial system;

      Whereas a recent Georgetown University study revealed that during the 1997-98 congressional term, 14 percent of white nominees failed to be confirmed, while 35 percent of minority nominees failed to be confirmed; and

      Whereas there are no African-Americans on the 1st, 4th, 7th, 9th, 10th, and Federal Circuit Courts and no Hispanics on the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and D.C. Circuit Courts: Now, therefore, be it

        Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

          (1) condemns the conduct of U.S. District Judge Alan McDonald for bringing the appearance of improper racial, ethnic, and religious bias upon the Federal Judiciary;

          (2) urges the Federal Judiciary to protect against the perception of racial, ethnic, and religious bias within their ranks; and

          (3) calls for the nomination and confirmation of candidates to the Federal bench that reflect the diversity of American society.

Did Judge McDonald act on a grudge with his prejudicial comment?

         There is more to the relationship between my lawyer friend and Federal District Judge Alan A. McDonald than is seen in the Ninth Circuit's resolution of the judicial complaint. Before Judge McDonald became a federal judge, he was a very successful lawyer in Yakima, Washington. More than twenty years ago, my lawyer friend was married to an anesthesiology who was being sued for malpractice. They hired Alan A. McDonald's law firm to represent them. It has been a long time since I heard this story, but I believe it went as follows. During the trial, my friend was on the witness stand and being questioned by the attorney from McDonald's law firm when he gave an answer that the lawyer disliked. In frustration, the attorney from McDonald's law firm asked the judge to treat my friend as a "hostile witness". This made McDonald and his firm the laughing stock of the Yakima legal community for treating their own client as a hostile witness. Later, when my friend appeared before Judge Alan McDonald in federal court, McDonald apparently was taking out his vengeance with a prejudicial comment against my friend's client. It's unforgivable for a judge to harm an innocent party in court, in retribution against his lawyer. When my friend tried to hold McDonald responsible for the judge's prejudicial action against his client, my friend was threatened and harmed by McDonald and his fellow Ninth Circuit judges. Lawyers who bring complaints of judicial misconduct are automatically going to lose in the Ninth Circuit. The labor union of federal judges is simply too strong.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

         I apologize if I don't have the facts of McDonald's misconduct exactly right. I cannot ask my friend to confirm and correct what I have written here, because it would then be his words, and he will be subjected to the wrath of judges who care only about protecting their fellow judges, and not cleaning up the corruption in their midst.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

What if...?

         I ask this question. What if Judge McDonald had rightly been censored or impeached when my friend filed and presented his complaint of misconduct against the judge about twenty years ago? It might have stopped Judge McDonald from continuing his racist and arrogant attitude toward parties before him in federal court, as shown in the newspaper articles above. Instead, Judge McDonald was irrationally protected and supported by his fellow ninth circuit judges. Congress failed the American people by not impeaching this dishonest judge. He confidently continued to harm innocent parties in federal court until his death in July 2007. Our courts exist to serve we-the-people. So, why did this arrogant racist continue to sit on the federal bench after demonstrating his distain for the rights of Americans?
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)