Ya know, there are some people that you can just blow off, and not take any heat. But then again, there are some people that it is better not to irritate. For instance, telling your principal after a schoolyard fight that his mother dresses him funny is not a good way to keep your parents from getting a phone call. And telling a cop at your car window, “Hey! Aren’t you a public servant? Then quit standing around and get me a burger and a coke” is not a good way to avoid a trip to traffic court.
Judges tent to fall into the latter category. It’s funny when you think about it. In poll after poll, two of the most despised professions on the planet are politicians, and lawyers. But what is a judge? In 90% of the cases, a judge is a politically active lawyer. Therefore, one would think that judges would have the public approval of pond scum . But presto-chango! You throw a $30 black polyester robe over a politician lawyers head, and suddenly they’re gifted with the wisdom of Solomon.
Judges really like that image of themselves. Judges like the prestige that the job holds. Kimba Wood is a judge. And from everything I have read, she is a very good, fair minded judge. But she is also a very hard nosed, no nonsense judge. And right now, Michael Cohen is pissing off Judge Kimba Wood every time he breathes.
The first time was last Friday. Judge Wood was not sitting behind her bench on a Friday afternoon, listening to the kids scream in the playground because she was bored. She was sitting there, listening to lawyers spout Perry Mason word salad because Michael Cohen thought he was getting a raw deal. And where was poor, downtrodden, justice starved Mr Cohen? Sitting in an open air atrium of a swank hotel, blocks away, sucking on a Cubano fat boy, and schmoozing it up with cronies. The fact that you could safely store Red baron pizzas in the frost from her demeanor when she demanded his presence at 10 am Monday morning showed her displeasure with his cavalier dismissal of her importance to him and his cause.
Fast forward to Monday morning. Judge Wood demands to know the name of Cohen’s third “mystery client.” Cohen’s attorney tries to deflect her with an “Aw, I dunno Judge, that client told me that I shouldn’t say anything.” Judge Wood literally “lays down the law,” and out pops the name Sean Hannity. Issue over, right? Except no, all Judge Wood has to do is to turn on her radio on her lunch break to hear Sean Hannity say that Michael Cohen is full of shit, Cohen never represented him, Hannity never paid him a dime, there was no retainer or agreement of representation, and besides, he hardly knows da guy. What in the hell is going on here?
This is bad news for team Cohen for two reasons. First, Cohen’s attorney wasn’t just telling Judge Wood this over a cold one at a roadhouse on a Friday night. Cohen’s lawyer made an affirmative statement, in open court, in an official hearing that was in active session. Judges don’t appreciate very much being lied to in open court. Either Hannity is Cohen’s third client, or he isn’t, which is it? If the judge determines that Cohen’s lawyer was less than forthright, she could sanction the lawyer, and even possibly lodge a formal complaint with the state bar. I wonder if Michael Cohen’s lawyer is wishing he had stuck with personal injury cases right about now.
Sean Hannity has the edge here. Hannity has no business in front of judge Wood, no axe to grind. It is perfectly understandable that he would not want his name associated with Cohen in this matter. Also, Hannity is not under oath. But judges don’t live in an information vacuum. There is no way that Judge Wood is unaware of the existence of Donald Trump, Stormy Daniels, and Elliott Broidy. Cohen’s “reputation proceeds him” so to speak, As does his casual dismissal of Judge Wood’s importance to his life on Friday. This is not a good place to be in for Cohen.
But the second reason is much more critical to Cohen’s survival. I mentioned above that if Judge Wood determines that Cohen’s attorney was untruthful, she could sanction him. But verbally chastising the lawyer on the record, or even hitting him in the pocketbook with a fine will likely not be very satisfying , nor would it tend to balm Judge Wood’s wounds to her image very well.
Why is Michael Cohen in front of Judge Wood in the first place? Because the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s home and office, and took away all of Cohen’s deepest, darkest secrets with them. Cohen is desperate to keep them from looking at it. Judge Wood is there to decide two things, how much of the confiscated materials the FBI and the prosecutors get to see, and the mechanism that determines how it is decided what they do and don’t get to see. That’s it.
If Judge Wood decides that Cohen and his mouthpiece are jerking her around, and if her ire at them is great enough, then her most satisfying recourse is her ruling. She can simply rule that the current system in place works, that a neutral, non investigation team of FBI agents and DOJ lawyers will go through the contents, with no input from Cohen or his attorneys, and determine what the prosecutors and investigators may see and use. Cohen may scream bloody murder, but if the judge puts enough common sense, logic, and legal precedent into her ruling, it is unlikely that the ruling would be overturned on appeal, especially given the high profile of the case, nobody else will want to be left holding the bag in the court of public opinion. This would be Judge Wood’s revenge for Cohen’s impudence.
You know what my dream scenario in all of this is? Judge Wood decides that Sean Hannity was not Michael Cohen’s mystery third client, and as a sanction for his lying, she gives the prosecutors the keys to the kingdom. They use it to bury Cohen, and maybe even Trump. And only then does it come out in the media that Hannity actually used Cohen to “fix” some petty personal scandal. Cohen goes to prison, maybe Trump gets impeached, and possibly becomes Cohen’s cellmate, and Hannity gets canned by FOX for his own scandal, and for trying to cover it up with FOX. Ain’t payback grand?