Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Trump Judicial Nominee Hunts Ghosts

Last week Trump judicial nominee Brett Talley withdrew his nomination after questions arose regarding his qualifications and a possible undisclosed conflict of interest. Here at Augoeides, though, what's most notable about Talley is that he's a paranormal investigator. Talley was involved with the Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group from 2009-2010. It's possible that he may be the first judicial nominee ever to be a ghost hunter, or at least the first to acknowledge being one publicly.

The appointment of Brett Talley, 36, for a lifetime post as an Alabama federal judge is raising eyebrows because he has never tried a case, BBC reported on Wednesday. It also emerged he failed to disclose on a conflict-of-interest questionnaire that his wife is a White House lawyer. But he did divulge his Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group membership.

Talley was approved last week by the Senate committee on a party-line vote, and he is likely to be confirmed by the full chamber soon. His nomination is part of President Trump's efforts to expand the presence of conservative jurists in American courtrooms, say analysts.

Note that this quoted article was written before Talley withdrew his nomination. He will not become a federal judge.

The Harvard-educated lawyer was unanimously deemed "not qualified" by the American Bar Association to serve an appointment on the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Talley, who has practised law for three years, has written right-wing blog posts critical of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, whom he labelled "Rotten", according to US media. He also maintains a horror blog online, when not searching for ghosts.

In a questionnaire form submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Talley revealed his 2009-10 affiliation with the phantom chasers. The Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group searches for the truth "of the paranormal existence" in addition to helping "those who may be living with paranormal activity that can be disruptive and/or traumatic", according to their website.

While Talley strikes me as an under-qualified right-wing ideologue who I would never want on the bench, it's interesting that ghost hunting is now mainstream enough that it is not considered immediately disqualifying for a federal appointment. This probably has to do with the success of television programs like Ghost Hunters, and the Tuscaloosa group appears to follow a similar approach to that seen on the show. They try to debunk everything they can with normal explanations before concluding that activity they observe is paranormal, employ similar equipment like EMF meters, and so forth.

I can see some advantages of having a good ghost hunter serving as a judge. Someone experienced at working out normal explanations for apparently paranormal phenomena might have better insight into complex cases that involve unusual situations, and consider possibilities others might immediately dismiss. I have no idea whether Talley would have brought such a perspective to his work, but it looks like we won't be finding out now.

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