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Who Yelled 'Tyrant' at Mukasey at Black-Tie Dinner? Turns Out It Was a JudgeWashington Supreme Court Judge Richard Sanders has admitted that he was the one who stood up and yelled "tyrant!" at U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey during a speech in which Mukasey later fainted. At a black-tie dinner on Nov. 20, the AG defended the Bush administration's war on terror. Sanders, who said he felt compelled to voice his disagreement with those policies, said he had already left the event before Mukasey's collapse, and did not learn of it until the next day.
2008-12-01 12:00:00 AM
A Washington State Supreme Court judge has admitted that he was the one who stood up and yelled "tyrant!" at U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey during a speech in which Mukasey later fainted.
Judge Richard Sanders says he was speaking his conscience when he interrupted Mukasey at a black-tie dinner Nov. 20 in Washington, D.C., for The Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.
Sanders said he had already left the speech before Mukasey collapsed, and did not learn of it until the next day.
In his speech, Mukasey offered a defense against criticisms about the Bush administration's policies in the war on terrorism.
Sanders said he "passionately" disagrees with those policies and felt compelled to say so. Sanders, who is a Federalist Society member, said that he wasn't heckling Mukasey, and left shortly after his outburst.
"I believe we must speak our conscience in moments that demand it, even if we are but one voice," he said in a statement Tuesday.
Sanders initially dodged reporters' questions about the incident this week, refusing to comment on anything he might have said at the event.
A video on the Federalist Society's Web site shows that Sanders' outburst came just over 17 minutes into Mukasey's speech, after Mukasey talked about what he said was the "casual assumption among many in media, political and legal circles that the administration's counterterrorism policies have come at the expense of the rule of law."
Shortly after that point on the video, a voice is clearly heard yelling: "Tyrant! You are a tyrant!"
Mukasey can be seen briefly stopping and looking up from his speech. A few minutes later, Mukasey began shaking and slurring his words.
His FBI security detail ran to catch him as he fell. He was released from the hospital the next day and his office said he had suffered a fainting spell.
"It should go without saying that, despite our vastly different views on what constitutes upholding the rule of law, I hope he continues to recover and remain in good health," Sanders wrote.
Chief Justice Gerry Alexander said Tuesday that he was very concerned about the outburst's potential damage to Sanders' reputation, and to the court.
Alexander said he planned to speak privately to Sanders to express his disapproval about the incident, but said he has no authority to discipline him.
"People have a First Amendment right to speak, but that's not conduct that I would like to see judges display," Alexander said.
Sanders first was elected to the Supreme Court in a 1995 special election, and was re-elected in 1998 and 2004. He next faces voters in 2010.
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