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In CNN"s July 20, 2023 See ex-GOP lawmaker's reaction to Trump's trial date after 07:50 is the following exchange between CNN's Anchor and Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid when discussing US District Judge Aileen Cannon's setting of a trial date for the classified document's case:

BASH: What does it tell you though about can we read any tea leaves into the judge's decision to kind of split the difference between putting it on the calendar in a place where we are pretty confident that the Republican primaries are going to be over, but not before the general election?

REID: So we have to remember, and I saw this in court on Tuesday. This is a judge who was eviscerated by the bar and by other judges of her decision that she made related to this case several months back when it appeared that she was really leaning in favor of former President Trump by offering to agreeing to give a special master to go through the classified documents.

I assume that "eviscerated" refers to the expression of strong criticism rather than a medical procedure, but when it comes to "the bar" I'm confused. It seems to me there are two different interpretations:

  • Wikipedia's Bar (law): "In law, the bar is the legal profession as an institution."
  • Wikipedia's Bar association: "A bar association is a professional association of lawyers as generally organized in countries following the Anglo-American types of jurisprudence."

Both have the capability to publicly criticize decisions of judge's decisions, as well as the judges themselves, but I'm not sure both did in this case, so I'd like to ask:

Question: Which "Bar" eviscerated US District Judge Aileen Cannon after granting the special master review of documents?

If both did somehow, but one did in a substantially more public and vocal way, that one would still be the preferred answer.

2 Answers 2

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As you have found "The bar" (in a US context) means "The legal profession, as an institution", sometimes (as here) in contrast to "the bench" = the judiciary. The line merely means that she was criticised by many members of the legal profession.

No particular testing and qualification association was mentioned. Had the speaker wanted to refer to a bar association they would have used "the state bar" or "the Californian Bar association" or a similar phrase. So there is no reason in English to assume that this refers to a formal association. Indeed it would be very surprising if a Bar Association were to publicly criticize a lawyer or Judge, as their job is to guard entry to the profession, not to act as a political organisation or pressure group.

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    I'm answering this based on a normal reading of the English words. Formally it is ambiguous, but the only way to resolve that ambiguity would be to ask Reid. However the meaning is pretty clear to this native speaker.
    – James K
    Jul 22, 2023 at 7:13
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    As another native English speaker and U.S. lawyer, I would concur with you that you have interpreted this correctly.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 22, 2023 at 7:26
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    State or more local bars do act as pressure groups for lawyers, though, as they do have power to discipline members, including terminating membership (not for judges, and the judge here is a federal appointee anyways). There are multiple lawyers that have been considered for disbarment over Trump-related issues since Jan 6th for multiple cases, besides any additional judicial sanctions. Jul 22, 2023 at 19:24
  • @Clockwork-Muse exactly, they can dicepline lawyers, not judges, so they have no place to be publically criticising either. If a lawyer has broken ethical rules its not for the bar association to complain about it in the press.
    – James K
    Jul 22, 2023 at 20:52
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    @JamesK "As a layman, I interpret" is the key phrase.
    – RonJohn
    Jul 23, 2023 at 21:25
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From this context, the term "the bar", I think, refers to the broader legal community, including fellow judges, lawyers, and legal scholars. This community is often referred to as "the bar" in a general sense, particularly in the context of public commentary or criticism of legal decisions.

I'd say that "the bar" here wouldn't refer to a specific organization, like a bar association, but rather to the legal profession as a whole. It's a way of saying that Judge Cannon's decision was widely criticized within the legal community.

Without more specific information, it's impossible to say whether any particular bar association or other legal group also issued a formal statement or criticism of Judge Cannon's decision. But in general, the use of "the bar" in this context suggests a broad, collective criticism from within the legal profession.

Also the word "eviscerate" in this context is hyperbolic and is used to convey the depth of the criticism Judge Cannon has received from her peers for her decision. It does not imply any formal action or sanction against the judge.

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