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November 23, 2014

84-year-old magistrate annoyed about being forced to interrup this holidays

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Judge Griesa: bad-tempered and easy to anger?

US District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan appears to be easily angered. And yesterday’s hearing with Argentina’s lawyers seemed to prove that point yet again.

First, the 84-year-old judge was reportedly angry because the most recent chapter in the country’s debt saga interrupted his holidays.

Then, he expressed doubts about the good faith of Argentine representatives and made it clear he was worried that new negotiations were just another attempt by the country to stall.

“You can talk about negotiations. But I believe there has to be a legal mechanism to prevent what I’m talking about, because we do not want another charade,” Griesa said during the hearing according to Reuters.

But it seemed he had already decided which side he was going to support in November 2012, when he seemed to suggest that he believed the holdouts were right.

“I don’t know literally what the intentions of the republic are,” Griesa said during a hearing. “But I have had some modest amount of experience, and that is that the republic will not comply with the judgments which have been entered against it.”

In the now-famous ruling, the judge went on to say that “Argentina owes this and owes it now.”

Yesterday, during a long hearing that extended for more than an hour, he said the speech by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner transmitted via nationwide broadcast was “unfortunate.”

Two cases

A long-time Republican, Griesa was appointed to the bench in 1972 by President Richard Nixon.

In the early nineties, he took part in the sentencing of ruthless businesswoman Leona Helmsley, best known as the “Queen of Mean,” who was was convicted for evading millions in federal income tax.

“It’s time for you to get realistic,” Griesa told the hotel queen back then. “There is a nation out there, and a community, and my job is to take into account the nation and the community in the enforcement of the law,” he said, making clear she would get no special treatment from him.

The holdouts case is hardly the only time Griesa has sided with corporations over a government. In 2009, Griesa froze all parts of an expanded “bottle bill” from the state of New York — a key victory for beverage companies that also marked a big blow for the state’s budget, as New York failed to collect the US$115 million that it planned to receive from the measure that year.

A Christian Scientist

Those were unusually harsh decisions from the New York judge, who belongs to the Christian Science Church, an organization founded by Mary Baker Eddy that grew rapidly early in the twentieth century but is now estimated to have fewer than 150,000 members.

This church enjoyed a place in US religious life well beyond its numbers, mainly because of its unique doctrine, journalist Peter Steinfels wrote in a 1992 story in the New York Times. Some its leaders “taught that illness and injuries were only aspects of an illusory material world and could therefore be healed by prayer and Christ-like living rather than by standard medicine,” the journalist added.

Does his religious background have anything to do with his overly frustrated attitude?

Mark Twain, a contemporary critic of Eddy’s, wrote in 1907: “From end to end of the Christian Science literature not a single (material) thing in the world is conceded to be real, except the Dollar.”

Herald staff with Reuters

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