Federal Judge in Missouri CRT Suit Now Going After the Plaintiff’s Lawyer

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

Earlier in the month, PJ Media told you about a ruling by federal district judge Douglas Harpool in a Missouri lawsuit over mandated CRT training in a Springfield school district. Two teachers, Brooke Henderson and Jennifer Lumley, brought the suit against the district because they disagreed with being forced to undergo the indoctrination. Henderson and Lumley contended the training violated their civil rights and that they believe that people should be “colorblind.” Harpool, an Obama-era appointee, not only ruled against Henderson and Lumley but sent a clear message that future dissent would not be brooked by hitting them with a fine of over $300,000. That sum was designated to help the district recoup its legal costs. Theoretically, there is nothing to see here. A left-wing judge is pushing left-wing values to maintain his bona fides and keep his lucrative seat on the bench. And levying a stiff fine as punishment against anyone daring to disagree.


Related: California Church that Defied Mask Mandate Must Pay $1.2 Million in Fines

But Harpool is not done. Henderson and Lumley are being represented by the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF), specifically attorney Kimberly Hermann, who is serving as co-counsel. SLF assisted the teachers in the suit. Hermann is planning an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. And she made two television appearances talking about the case. Just the News reports that Hermann was on Newsmax on April 12 and Fox News on April 13. Harpool maintains that by talking about the case to Fox and Newsmax and issuing a press release, SLF and Hermann are in violation of judicial rules. The press release from the SLF stated in part, “This is an effort by a lone agenda-driven federal judge to deny concerned teachers and parents the right to seek redress in court and to protect so-called ‘anti-racist’ training in Missouri’s public schools.”

Harpool wants to sanction SLF and Hermann for the public remarks. On Newsmax, Hermann said that the ruling would “close courthouse doors” and prevent future First Amendment claims from being brought to court. She made similar remarks on Fox. The videos and the release were on the SLF site but have since been removed.

Just the News says that Harpool is leaning on Missouri judicial rules, which state that lawyers “shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.” The rules also say that a lawyer “shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge…” And because the SLF is headquartered in Roswell, Ga., Harpool is also taking advantage of a judicial rule there that states a lawyer “shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a person would reasonably believe to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.”


Interesting, since one of Hermann’s assertions is that Harpool ignored evidence in the original case. Incidentally, Hermann has until April 20 to show why she should not face sanctions. I’m no litigator so I would not be the best one to determine if Hermann and the SLF colored outside of the lines. But I do know that lawyers love talking to the press. When I was a reporter, I talked to lawyers all the time about pending cases. In fact, one lawyer was so well-known for his sound bites, I had to start recording even before I dialed his office because I knew he was already geared up to deliver a statement on behalf of his client. The first thing out of his mouth was, “Are you rolling tape?” It’s been done thousands of times, and you know that because you’ve seen it as well.

It isn’t as if this is the first time a lawyer in a high-profile case has talked to the press. But from the Left’s point of view, this was the “wrong” lawyer talking to the “wrong” press with a “wrong” point of view. And I would bet my next three paychecks that if the lawyers for the school district had opined in public, the response from the bench would have been crickets.


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