The good news for the Mongols in the club’s racketeering case titled USA v. Mongols Nation, an Unincorporated Association is that a judge has been appointed to decide a proposed reassignment of the case to a judge Mongols’ attorney Joseph Yanny thinks may be more impartial. The bad news is that the judge who will decide that issue is 90-year-old U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real.
Real has had a reputation as one of the nation’s most controversial and ill tempered federal judges for decades. He was appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. Real was chief judge of the Central District of California from 1982 to 1993. He has been effectively censured eleven times. In 2006, his 50th year on the bench, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner tried to have Real impeached. Eventually, Sensenbrenner gave up.
Los Angeles attorneys, speaking anonymously, tell stories about Real’s reprehensible conduct in open court. One pointed anecdote concerns the time Real expelled a Sikh from his court for wearing a turban. As a tenet of their faith, Sikh men must not cut their hair and must wear a turban. According to a source, Real told the Sikh, “Get that towel off your head or get out. I don’t let Jews in here with yamakas and I’m not going to let you wear a towel on your head.”
In recent years Real was formally censured by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006 and was formally criticized by the Ninth Circuit in 2009.
In August 2009, the Los Angeles Times ran a 1700 word feature titled “Critics want to bench Judge Manuel L. Real.” The Times characterized Real as “an active judge with a full caseload, stirring fresh complaints of imperious behavior as well as a high number of reversals by appellate courts.”
USA v. Mongols Nation is a racketeering case that is essentially a recapitulation of 2008’s US v. Cavazos et al. The government’s primary goal is to strip the Mongols Motorcycle Club of its name and insignia – a stylized rendering of a medieval Mongol warrior in bell bottom jeans, sunglasses and boots seated on a rigid framed motorcycle and brandishing a scimitar.
Last week Yanny, who is the second attorney to represent the Mongols in this case, moved to disqualify Judge Otis D. Wright II from presiding over the case. In his motion Yanny wrote, “Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, LLC respectfully submits that comments, which have been memorialized in the public record, unquestionably display Judge Wright’s bias against the sole defendant in this case, the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, which bias was formed before properly receiving one shred of evidence in this case, regarding this defendant, as a consequence of Judge Wright’s prior exposure to the charges, proceedings and the voluntary guilty pleas of forty separate criminal defendants in a previous matter over which he presided, entitled US v. Cavazos.”