Hearings for 11 attorneys suing the State of Alabama over its Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act (VCAP) engaged in "judge shopping" will be held next week. 

In April 2022, Gov. Kay Ivey signed VCAP (SB184) into law, which prohibits doctors in Alabama from performing transgender operations or prescribing cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers to individuals under 19. VCAP went into effect on May 8, 2022, but was blocked by U.S. District Judge Liles Burke a few days later. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the injunction in January.

Burke said in a filing last week, “Last October, a three-judge panel unanimously found “without hesitation” that eleven attorneys had purposefully attempted to subvert the orderly administration of justice by judge-shopping.” 

“In reaching that conclusion, the Panel unanimously rejected the Respondents’ explanations, unanimously discredited their testimony, and unanimously found that one Respondent—who was under oath—lied to them outright,” he added.

Burke Order by Caleb Taylor on Scribd

The show-cause hearings related to the possible sanctions will be held in Montgomery on June 24, 27 and 28.

Showcausehearings Alabama News

U.S. District Judges W. Keith Watkins, R. David Proctor and Jeffrey Beaverstock said in a report unsealed in March that the plaintiffs' attorneys attempted to manipulate which judge heard the VCAP lawsuit. Burke was nominated to his seat by former President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in 2018.

"The Panel is not naïve. Lawyers sometimes consider potential judicial assignments in determining where to file a case, and there may be reasons why in certain cases some judges may be considered more favorable draws than others. So, the Panel does not condemn the lawyers for fretting about their chances of success before a particular judge. Of course, the irony here is that counsel ultimately succeeded before Judge Burke. But in this case, counsel did more than fret. They made plans and took steps in an attempt to manipulate the assignment of these cases," Watkins, Proctor and Beaverstock said in the report.

Left-wing groups the attorneys represent include the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, National Center for Lesbian Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Possible sanctions include suspension from practice in the Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama, censure, public or private reprimand, disqualification, ineligibility for appointment as court-appointed counsel, ineligibility to appear pro hac vice or on behalf of the United States in the Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama, and monetary sanctions.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.