Bill Plourde slumped down next to my desk. We had a court date set for November 8, 1988 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The November date would make it very difficult to get a ruling by the end of the year. The stakes were high. The Lexus LS400 was to be introduced with a huge public relations push at the Detroit Auto Show the first week in January of 1989. But Plourde was equally worried about the judge assigned to the case, David N. Edelstein.
Judge Edelstein worked in the claims division of the Justice Department during World War II and became an assistant United States attorney just after the war in 1945. He was nominated to be a Federal Court judge by President Harry S. Truman in 1951. His nomination was opposed by both the American Bar Association and by several bar groups in New York; nevertheless, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Federal judges normally retire at 65, but some serve until they are 70. However, there is no age requirement for a federal judge to step down. It is a lifetime appointment. Judge Edelstein was the longest sitting federal judge at the time. He was 78 and would continue until he was 83.
He was considered unreasonable, biased, and one of the worst federal judges in the court system. In a rare rebuke, the Court of Appeals removed Judge Edelstein from an IBM anti-trust case stating, “We think it manifestly clear that a reasonable observer would question the judge’s impartiality on the pending issue.”
Throughout his career Judge Edelstein showed particular disdain for big companies. Plourde was right to be worried. The judge was anti-big-business and anti-Japanese, and his rulings were often unfair and reflected his bias.
“I have noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt!” Ecclesiastes 3:16 (NLT)
While Judge Edelstein was hearing the case in New York, it got very personal for me in California. Jack W. Simpson would try to destroy me by finding a way to reach Dr. Toyoda in Japan to get me fired.
(To be continued in “A Dark Day for Dave Illingworth—You’re Fired!”)
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5