[Ed. note: We now turn the floor over to the fabulous Laurie Lin, of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, for a guest post on the D.C. Circuit clerk book proposal controversy. This post was originally scheduled for publication yesterday afternoon, when Laurie was holding down the fort while we were offline and in transit. Sadly, technical problems — yeah, we know, we’re working on it — prevented timely publication.]
We know the DC Circuit’s caseload is notoriously light, but we had no idea the clerks were jonesing so hard for something to do! Two current clerks in Judge A. Raymond Randolph’s chambers recently circulated a book proposal on habeas corpus and the war on terror, a topic about which they claimed to have some expertise — as a result of the high-profile cases to which they currently have access in Randolph’s chambers! Read on for more about this ethical morass:
The problems arose when their proposal, which was emailed to constitutional scholars across the country, surfaced on a blog. University of Miami professor Steve Vladeck raised questions about how this affected their work as clerks for a Judge A. Raymond Randolph. Randolph, of course, not only authored the most recent decision about the Guantanamo detainees, Boumediene v. Bush, but was also the scribe for two cases already overturned by the Supreme Court, Rasul v. Bush and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.
It was a connection the two clerks flaunted, noting that they brought a “unique perspective” to edit submissions because “they have spent a year in the legal trenches” as clerks on the D.C. Circuit “during a year that saw several landmark detention decisions likely to end up before the Supreme Court.”
But the two men forgot one key thing: to tell (or, rather, to ask permission from) their judge.
More on this controversy, including Judge Randolph’s official reaction to his clerks’ jaw-droppingly poor judgment, after the jump:
The men referred comments to Randolph who said in an interview, “They messed up and I have instructed them to withdraw it.”
Asked whether he thought the proposal created a conflict of interest, Randolph replied, “The most I’ll say is maybe there is a technical way to defend it, but it doesn’t comport to my standards.”
We’re guessing Randolph may have had stronger words for his clerks in the privacy of chambers.
We love these guys for being self-starters, but seriously — at least wait until after the clerkship to cash in with a dishy book.
Just to be clear: The clerks’ proposal was for a volume of essays that they would edit; apparently they did not actually plan to write the substance of the book themselves. We’re not sure that changes the analysis, though; it sounds like they still should have run the plan by Judge Randolph.
Bonus: One of the chastened clerks has a moderately slick personal website that highlights his passion for national security — and all-male a cappella singing!