WASHINGTON (CN) – Sparks flew in court Monday as one of the Russian firms charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller lobbed bias allegations at a federal judge.
The hearing in Washington kicked off this morning with U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich complaining about multiple references to pop culture that have cropped up as of late in filings by Reed Smith attorney Eric Dubelier.
From “Casablanca” to “Animal House,” Friedrich cast Dubelier’s “clever quotes” as “unprofessional, inappropriate and ineffective.”
“I’ll say it plain and simple,” Friedrich told Dubelier. “Knock it off.”
Dubelier, who is representing the Russian oligarch-owned firm Concord Management, did not take Friedrich’s instructions in stride.
“There appears to be some bias on the part of the court,” Dubelier said after remarking that his clients may want to replace him as counsel since the court finds him so unprofessional.
Raising her voice, the Trump-appointed Friedrich bent in to the microphone to deny Dubelier’s claims of bias. As the court scheduled another hearing for March, however, Dubelier managed to work in another quip.
“Assuming I’m still representing the client that day should be fine,” he said.
Concord, which Mueller has accused of funding the troll farms that interfered in the 2016 presidential election, is the only one of multiple Russia-based defendants to respond to the charges against it.
The company has brought multiple challenges to Mueller’s authority and moved most recently to compel discovery on how Mueller obtained confidential information.
As to a protective order that Judge Friedrich granted in June to prevent Concord’s attorneys from sharing case details with third parties, Concord has also sought clarification on what kind of information deemed “sensitive” can be litigated in open court.
Dubelier has claimed that the protective order prevents the defense from adequately planning for trial.
While Friedrich said today that she is “concerned about security breaches,” she compelled the two sides to sit down and communicate more openly about how exactly the protective order should work now that the case has left early stages.
Friedrich said Dubelier would prevail in his requests “if and only if the facts and the law are on your side.”