Mongols Motorcycle Club seeks to remove ‘biased’ judge from trademark case
LOS ANGELES >> Attorneys for the Mongols Motorcycle Club want to disqualify the judge presiding over a case that will determine the future of the club’s trademarked logo and patch.
The motion for the disqualification of federal Judge Otis Wright II asks that a random judge be assigned to the landmark case. Attorney Aaron Kupchella, who represents the Mongol Nation Motorcycle Club, LLC., filed the paperwork and several declarations Friday.
Trial is scheduled for March 25.
“...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,” the motion reads. “(That) bias was formed before properly receiving one shred of evidence in this case.”
Justice Department spokesman Thom Mrozek declined to comment on the motion and its emphasis on Wright.
“Wright has a long history of disregarding the civil rights of (The Mongols) including the right to a full and fair trial and an impartial judiciary before finding criminal culpability and passing sentence,” Kupchella alleges.
Five years after ATF agents busted 80 Mongols, including onetime club President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos, in a sweeping racketeering case, federal prosecutors remain focused on forcing the group to turn over their trademarked logo.
Each of the defendants in the case entered guilty pleas that remain under seal. Kupchella said those pleas could become an issue in the trademark case, and since Wright facilitated several of them, there is potential he could be a witness.
Prosecutors’ were unsuccessful in their attempt to take the Mongols trademarks in the Cavazos case. In that case Wright ruled that the government wasn’t entitled to the club’s registered trademarks. In no uncertain terms Wright made it clear he didn’t like the Mongols, but said he reluctantly ruled in their favor.
The comment is at the heart of the motion to disqualify the judge.
In May 2013, Wright garnered some bit of national attention when his published ruling in a porn case began with a quote from Star Trek’s Spock. A former Marine Corps sergeant and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, Wright, a George W. Bush appointee, was confirmed in 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The current case, titled “U.S. v. Mongol Nation” re-alleges several acts of violence and deviant behavior, such as murder, attempted murder, drug deals and unusual sex acts. And implies that criminal organizations shouldn’t hold trademarks that are designed solely to intimidate.
Members of the Mongols, including President David “lil Dave” Santillan, see the government attempt to take their patch as a serious limit on free-speech rights and believe they are misunderstood and stereotyped as criminals because they believe in freedom and liberty.
In a separate declaration, Santillan defended members of the club, many of whom are vets.
“The Mongols Nation Motorcycle club consists of over 700 members worldwide. Our members include doctors, lawyers, professionals of all sorts, business owners, and loyal employees of others,” Santillan said. “I am and informed and believe that many if not the majority of our members were formerly members of the U.S. armed forces.”