Sen. Julianne Ortman (
by Steve Timmer
Aug 9, 2013, 5:30 PM

A legend in her own mind

Behold the power of delusion

Hold the phone! Stop the presses! See the updates below!

There were a couple of arresting tweets by Michael Brodkorb of late, starting with this one:

And then, this one:

Julianne Ortman is the recently announced Republican candidate to try to unseat Al Franken. You can find her campaign website here. When I checked it Friday afternoon, it included this statement:

Julianne is an experienced attorney, and began her practice in 1989.  Julianne started her own law firm, Ortman & Associates in 1994, in the back of her home –so she could be at home with her 3 children, then all under 3!  When she built the business sufficiently to support the entire family, Ray joined the firm as her Partner.  Together, they successfully represented small and medium sized businesses for 12 years, including several very high profile and ground-breaking cases in state and federal court, and in the United States Supreme Court.

As Michael says, you can look high and low and not find a record of Julianne Ortman ever appearing in any federal court appellate opinion [but see the update], much less the Supreme Court of the United States.

But what about the state courts, both the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court?

Hmmmmmmmm . . .

If you do a Google Scholar appellate state court search for cases with the word “Ortman” anywhere in the opinion, you get four case results. One is Ortman v. Ortman, which doesn’t involve Julianne Ortman or her husband at all. There are two cases involving the Voter ID amendment, one in which Ortman is a party, and another in which she is mentioned — the companion case.

There is a single reference to Julianne Ortman, or her husband, as counsel, in the entire reported state court jurisprudence in Minnesota. That case is Workman v. Serrano, where Julianne and husband Ray represented, not a business, but a Republican politician, in a defamation action. They won, sort of, but the appellate decision was not “high profile” or “ground-breaking.” It was so unremarkable that the court designated it as “unpublished.” Meaning that it adds nothing, one way or another, to precedental jurisprudence.

I have asked the Ortman campaign for comment on this story, but I’ve received none.

This is titanic puffery, to put it charitably. Chicanery and dissembling are other words that come to mind.

Update: Tony mentions Ortman’s feats of legerdemain in the Wrap today, including the response by Andy Parrish, the person responsible for fencing Ortman’s language to an unsuspecting public. Parrish, the E.B. White of Minnesota politics, said this to local flexian, Cyndy Brucato:

Ortman’s campaign manager, Andy Parrish, maintained the statement is correct, if the reader follows the punctuation and wording carefully. Ortman’s husband, Ray, has argued before the Supreme Court through a law firm for which he worked in 1994 and both Ortmans had submitted an amicus brief to the high court in 2002, he said.

For more on the “flexian” Brucato, go here.

Further Update: Upon further examination, a federal circuit court case (meaning in an appellate court) where Julianne Ortman was listed as counsel has been found. Not the Supreme Court, though. I’d cite the opinion for you, kids, but it is published on the private database, Lexis, not in the Federal Reporter. Which means that the judges thought that the per curiam opinion would just be detritus on a library shelf. But if you are really curious – and I know some of you are – the case is Patterson v. Bob Ryan Oldsmobile, Inc., Eighth Circuit docket 97-4256 (1998).

The case involved an unseemly tug of war between a customer and a used car salesman over a tax refund check. Guess who JOrt represented? Anyway, she won.

But the case was not “high profile” or “ground-breaking,” unless you were the guy who couldn’t get his tax refund check back.

It is entirely possible that there are more unreported cases like this that don’t show up in a Google Scholar search. But I don’t intend to spend the money to find them.

And yet a third Update: We’re getting into Glenn Greenwald territory here, although his record is, I think, over a dozen updates to a post, so I am still just a pretender, in the update department, anyway.

For those of you who are not lawyers, nor versed in the ways of the brethren and sistren of the bar, I should explain that all of the discussion above is about appellate court cases. In terms of “high profile” or “ground breaking” cases, that is where the action is.

“Julianne Ellen Ortman” does appear in 42 records of district court — the trial level — cases in Minnesota, according to one database we consulted. Perhaps a third of them were on behalf of the aforesaid Bob Ryan car dealerships. Someone should ask JOrt what her maiden name was.

Don’t misunderstand. Representing a car dealership is great work for a lawyer. Steady, too.

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