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Baked Alaska and birthday cake: Memorable lines from the Manafort trial judge, T.S. Ellis

Posted at 3:55 PM, Aug 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-05 15:55:50-04

Judge T.S. Ellis is known as a colorful judge who is not afraid to interrupt prosecutors, interrogate witnesses and even poke fun at himself along the way.

Whether repeatedly urging prosecutors to “move along” with their questions or joking about the free lunches provided to jurors, Ellis has injected the trial of former Trump campaign chairman with bursts of humor and sharpness.

Here are some of Ellis’ most memorable quotes:

On free lunches provided to the jury: “I hope you will not hurry to slit your wrists. There is a positive side. The court will provide your lunch, every day. Don’t, however, look for the Baked Alaska. You won’t find it. But the menu will be palatable stuff.”

On the jury potentially bringing in cake to celebrate a birthday: “I stopped having those. My wife is younger and I’m waiting for her to catch up.”

On his request that lawyers control their facial expressions: “It’s been reported to me that lawyers on both sides upon leaving the bench, roll their eyes, communicating to those who are watching them, essentially, ‘Why do we have to put up with this idiot judge?’ … Rein in your facial expressions.”

On some journalists rushing out of the courtroom during back-and-forth about Manafort deputy Rick Gates’ potential testimony: “(They) scurried out of here like rats out of a sinking ship.”

On his decision to block prosecutors from showing jurors photos of Manafort’s luxury goods: “Mr. Manafort is not on trial for having a lavish lifestyle.”

On his push to move the trial along: “It’s my job to see we get this thing done with the least amount of wasted time. To submit more documents than necessary is inappropriate.”

On his demand that lawyers avoid using the term “oligarchs” to describe Manafort’s patrons in Ukraine: “Mr. (George) Soros would then be an oligarch … so would Mr. (Charles) Koch … but we wouldn’t use that term.”

On the use of technology: “I’m not a person of this century. And maybe not last century. I don’t have an email account. I never have and never will.”

On his family’s history: “My mother’s family came from a shtetl in a part of Russia that became Poland, that became Russia, that became Poland. You know, I learned from them that a lot of Ukrainians hate Russians and the Russians hate the Ukrainians. And then, of course, then my mother’s family were Jews. Everyone hated them.”

On the courtroom’s white noise machine: “It sounds like waves breaking gently on some distant beach.”

On relations with the press: “I’m not much for the press. I never speak to any member of the press. But I’m sensitive to the fact the public understands what happens. I know many members of the press here work hard to bring that about … Anyway, you all do your job and I’ll do mine.”

On the length of proceedings: “We are close to the end of this process — because I’m hungry.”