3rd Circuit

Chambermaid 2 Saira Rao Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg(And if you’re REALLY good, we’ll reward you with more Nina Totenberg stories. Ask and you shall receive!)
Another day, another blog post about Chambermaid, the controversial clerkship novel by lawyer-turned-writer Saira Rao. The latest post is by Professor Scott Burris, who clerked for Third Circuit Judge Dolores K. Sloviter — Rao’s former boss, widely rumored to be the basis for the central villain of Chambermaid, the tyrannical Judge Helga Friedman.
But Burris — unlike, say, fellow law prof and ex-Sloviter clerk Mike Rappaport — takes issue with the scuttlebutt equating Sloviter and Friedman:

What I really object to in the whole affair is the way Rao and some of her blogging readers have negotiated the delicate question of Judge Friedman’s correspondence with Judge Sloviter, and the rationale offered in several quarters for “outing” mean judicial bosses….

Aside from a couple of tics, Helga Friendman is not a portrait, nor even a recognizable caricature, of Dolores Sloviter. Hell, I didn’t even recognize Rao’s Center City Philadelphia.

Additional discussion — if this issue doesn’t interest you, just stop reading here — appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chambermaid: ‘Cause We Know You Want Another Post About This”

Chambermaid 2 Saira Rao Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgJust a quick follow-up to our recent post about Saira Rao and Chambermaid, her novel about a law clerk’s challenging year clerking for a federal judicial diva. A tipster writes:

I just left a lunch where Saira Rao spoke to the South Asian Bar Association of Delaware, and she clarified something [from the recent Philadelphia Inquirer article].

I believe the article said something to the effect that she was pushed out of Cleary once people found out what her book was about. [Ed. note: Here’s the quote from the Inquirer: “[Rao] left her New York law firm, Cleary Gottlieb, in November when the subject of her book became known, and, she said, the firm made her feel unwelcome.”]

According to her, it appears the opposite was true. She mentioned that the firm was actually accommodating to her needs as a writer and essentially created a new position for her so that she could concentrate more on the book. She also said she received two months off to allow her to finish up some edits on the book as well. She actually said she loved the firm and had a wonderful experience…. [Ed. note: For more, see this comment.]

In addition, she also mentioned that the book was recently optioned to be turned into a television series, so be on the lookout. No word yet on how involved she will be beyond the title of “consultant”.

With respect to the account of Rao’s departure from Cleary, our understanding is that the “firm made her feel unwelcome” statement wasn’t based directly on anything said by Rao herself, but reflected the article writer’s interpretation of events.
We love to engage in juicy speculation about workplace departures as much as (if not more than) the next guy. But it’s best when the scuttlebutt is actually accurate.
Update: We have an email in to Carlin Romano, the Philly Inquirer book critic who wrote the article. We’ll let you now if and when we hear back from him.
Lifetime raises Sunday stakes [Variety]
Earlier: Chambermaid: Judge Sloviter Speaks

Chambermaid 2 Saira Rao Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgToday is our lucky day in terms of media coverage. In addition to the great WaPo shout-out, Above the Law is also mentioned in the Philadelphia Inquirer (front page, above the fold).
The article, by Inquirer book critic Carlin Romano, is all about Chambermaid, the highly entertaining debut novel of Saira Rao, loosely based on her clerkship for Judge Dolores Sloviter of the Third Circuit. You’ve probably already read tons of blog posts and articles about this buzz-generating book.
But this piece is different. It includes some choice comments from Judge Sloviter herself — who, until now, has remained silent about her former clerk’s literary endeavors (as far as we know).
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chambermaid: Judge Sloviter Speaks”


Dolores Sloviter Judge Dolores K Sloviter Chambermaid Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgCheck out the woman at right. She is the Honorable Dolores K. Sloviter, and she sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Judge Sloviter seems like a kindly old lady, doesn’t she? We’ve seen her on the bench, at multiple oral arguments. Based on her grandmotherly appearance, we once quipped to a colleague: “She seems so nice! When is she going to descend from the bench and feed us homemade cookies?”
Answer: not anytime soon (unless the cookies are laced with arsenic). From one of Judge Sloviter’s former clerks, Professor Mike Rappaport:

In 1985, having just graduated from law school, I arrived for my first day of work as a law clerk to Dolores K. Sloviter of the Third Circuit….

My two co-clerks, who had arrived a week earlier, took me to lunch. I asked how things were going, and they looked kind of uncomfortable. They explained that on their first day, a week earlier, they had gone to lunch with the holdover clerk, and had asked her, almost making small talk, how her year had been. [T]hey listened as she spent the next hour and a half detailing the horrors of the experience, and how she wasn’t sure how she had gotten through it.

That law clerk’s year of hell turned out to be quite similar to our year….

(That’s just an excerpt. You can read the entire post by clicking here.)
But should any of this come as a surprise? As regular ATL readers surely recall, Dolores Sloviter is the alleged inspiration for the nightmarish Judge Helga Friedman, central villain of Saira Rao’s delightful new novel, Chambermaid.
Additional thoughts on hellacious clerkships, plus a call for reader tips, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judicial Clerkships From Hell: Submissions, Please”

Judicial junkies, here are two quick items about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit:
Chambermaid 2 Saira Rao Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg1. New Novel. The eagerly anticipated Chambermaid — a roman a clef novel set in the Third Circuit by Saira Rao, a former law clerk to the totally terrifying Judge Dolores Sloviter (3d Cir.) — is now in bookstores. It has arrived a few weeks ahead of its original publication date of July 10. Our earlier discussion appears here.
A very interesting interview with Saira Rao, followed by a comments clusterf**k lively reader discussion, appears at the WSJ Law Blog.
We recently read Chambermaid, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We’ll probably review it in the near future, either here at ATL or for a print publication.
(Shameless plug: If you’re an editor in need of a book review, please email us.)
Law Blog Q&A: Saira Rao [WSJ Law Blog]
Chambermaid by Saira Rao [official website]
Earlier: A ‘Devil Wears Prada’ for the Law Clerk Set
Shalom Stone Shalom D Stone Third Circuit Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg2. New Nominee. After Judge Noel Hillman (D.N.J.) was mysteriously pulled as the presumptive nominee for Justice Samuel Alito’s former Third Circuit seat, we wondered: What’s up with that Third Circuit seat?
Now we know (or think we do). According to media reports, the likely new nominee is Shalom Stone (at right). Here’s a brief bio:

Stone, a former chairman of a state bar committee on federal practice and procedure who handles a wide swath of issues, including insurance, RICO, real estate and ethics, has been practicing for 20 years. He’s now a partner at the Roseland firm of Walder Hayden and Brogan.

More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Some Third Circuit Scuttlebutt”

Noel Hillman Noel L Hillman Noel Lawrence Hillman Noel Laurence Hillman judge Above the Law.jpgBack in December, we suggested that Judge Noel Hillman (D.N.J.) was probably going to be nominated to the Third Circuit. We wrote: “[N]ominating Judge Hillman to the court of appeals actually makes political sense for the White House — especially in its current, weakened state…. Picking a nominee who made it through the Senate just a few months ago would be a shrewd move. Since the two New Jersey senators supported Hillman for the district court, it would be awkward for them to oppose him for the circuit court now.”
But things appear to have changed. From the Newark Star-Ledger:

In an abrupt about-face, President Bush has decided against nominating Noel Hillman, a veteran prosecutor and now federal judge in Camden, to the seat on the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that was held by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr….

Hillman confirmed the news. He said the speculation about his possible elevation to the court of appeals was “flattering,” adding he now has “every confidence that our president will choose someone for the current vacancy worthy of his trust, worthy of the position, and worthy of Senate confirmation.”

Some questions for our readers:

1. What’s behind the White House’s change of heart? Was it, as suggested by the Star-Ledger, concern “that Hillman’s Senate confirmation hearing could become an inquisition into the behind-the-scenes operations of the Justice Department”? Or is there something more here, perhaps specific to Judge Hillman?

(If the White House is worried about Hillman hearings turning into another fishing expedition into the DOJ, we can hardly blame them. After all, look at all the dirty laundry that got aired when former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified yesterday. What a mess!)

2. Now that Judge Hillman is out of the running, who is likely to get the nod?

Please send us your tips by email (subject line: “Third Circuit”). Thanks.
The Auditor [Newark Star-Ledger via NJ.com]
President Intervened in Dispute Over Eavesdropping [New York Times]
Earlier: A Third Circuit Update

Yes, we did catch Judge Marjorie O. Rendell on the Food Network earlier this week (see screenshot above). As we previously mentioned, she recently appeared on Dinner: Impossible, in her capacity as First Lady of Pennsylvania.

Chef Robert Invine was given a challenging task. He was directed “to prepare a stately array of hors d’oeuvres,” to be served at the Inaugural Ball of Judge Rendell’s husband, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell.

The number of guests: 4,000. The amount of time available to him: 24 hours. Despite the difficulty of the project, Chef Irvine completed his mission.

But we were a little disappointed with the episode, for a number of reasons….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Advice for Clerkship Seekers: Bring Duck and Apple Wontons to Your Interview With Judge Rendell”

Marjorie Rendell Midge Rendell Judge Marjorie O Rendell Above the Law Blog.jpgIf the answer is no, that’s about to change, as of tonight. A culinarily-minded tipster alerts us:

Tonight at 10:30 EST, the fabulous Judge Midge Rendell will appear on the Food Network. Check out tonight’s episode of Dinner: Impossible:

“Chef Robert Irvine faces his most daunting assignment yet. In a surprise meeting, the governor of Pennsylvania [Ed Rendell] challenges Robert to prepare a stately array of hors d’oeuvres for his Inaugural Ball. In just 24 hours Robert has to create and prepare Pennsylvania delicacies to feed 4,000 attendees!”

Television commercials reveal that Judge Rendell will appear on the show. I suspect that it will be diva-licious!

We agree. And perhaps Judge Rendell, who has given musical guidance to Jon Bon Jovi, can teach Irvine a thing or two about cooking.

If you need to be reminded of this judicial diva’s prowess in the kitchen, we direct you to her nomination blurb as a Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary:

By day, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell of the Third Circuit develops groundbreaking precedents affecting fundamental constitutional rights. By night, First Lady Marjorie “Midge” Rendell of the Governor’s Mansion develops… recipes!

Yes, now you too can whip up a feast consisting of Judge Rendell’s Savory Meatloaf, Broccoli-Chicken Casserole (yummy but fattening — that’s a lot of cream cheese!), Stuffed Mushrooms, and Lowfat Raspberry Souffle. Your Honor, this is delish!

Have any of you — maybe there are some former Rendell clerks among you — sampled Judge Rendell’s cuisine? If so, we’d love to get your firsthand report.

P.S. If you’re such a huge Judge Rendell groupie that you want to see her in person as well as on television, check out this event, taking place in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. It sounds fantastic.

We would have loved to watch the legendary Miguel Estrada and David Rudovsky argue before a star-studded bench. But when we called yesterday to reserve a seat, we were informed that seats are no longer available.

If you hang around outside the entrance, though, maybe you can catch a glimpse of judicial hottie Rendell as she enters or exits the building. Good luck!

Dinner: Impossible [Food Network]
Peter Jennings Project: Law and Order in 2015: A Case Set in the Future [National Constitution Center]
Judge Marjorie O. Rendell bio [FJC]

Earlier: Judge Rendell: She Gives Love a Bad Name

Jon Bon Jovi Judge Marjorie Rendell Marjorie O Rendell Midge Rendell.JPGThe latest item for Eyes of the Law, our legal celebrity sightings column, is a doozy. From the AP:

Rock band Bon Jovi, Harrisburg restaurants and school bands from all over the state were part of yesterday’s daylong celebration of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s inauguration for a second term….

Even more talented than Rendell was his wife, Midge Rendell [aka Third Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell], who capped the concert by singing a duet with rock star Jon Bon Jovi of “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”

The performance brought the night’s first standing ovation. Rendell ambled up on stage afterward and marveled that no other first lady could sing with Bon Jovi.

“Take that Maria Shriver,” he bellowed, referring to the wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Please correct us if we’re wrong. But this is, as far as we know, the first time a federal circuit judge has sung a duet with Jon Bon Jovi.*

In addition to her musical prowess, the Honorable Marjorie Rendell also deserves props for being the Stylish Marjorie Rendell.

The attractive Judge Rendell, a federal judicial hottie, wore a gown by noted designer Paula Hian to the inauguration festivities.

For hard-core fashionistas, a lengthy description of the frock appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Rendell: She Gives Love a Bad Name”

Terrence Boyle Terry Boyle Terence Boyle Terrence W Boyle Judge.jpgHere is some late-breaking judicial nomination news:
1. An update to our prior coverage of the withdrawal of the “Radioactive Four.” As one of you points out, it seems that Judge Terrence Boyle (E.D.N.C.), nominated to the Fourth Circuit, wanted to continue fighting.
From the latest version of the AP story:

William Haynes, William G. Myers III and Michael Wallace all asked to have their appointments withdrawn, these officials said. Judge Terrence Boyle was informed of the White House’s decision, according to an ally….

Lars H. Liebeler, a Washington lawyer, said in a telephone interview that Boyle, unlike Wallace, Haynes and Myers, did not submitted a letter asking to be withdrawn but was told of the president’s intentions.

This makes some sense. Considering that Judge Boyle (above right) is (1) 61 years old and (2) already a sitting federal judge, he’s not really going anywhere — and he doesn’t have much to lose from further fighting. But the White House apparently decided that continuing to push his nomination, in a Senate controlled by the Democrats, wasn’t worth the possible loss of face (or expenditure of political capital).
2. The White House released two more slates of judicial nominees today. See here and here.
The most notable and/or controversial nominees:

(a) Judge Thomas Hardiman (W.D. Pa.), renominated to the Third Circuit, who is the subject of a tempest in a teapot (item #3);

(b) Peter Keisler (OT 1988/Kennedy), renominated to the D.C. Circuit, who isn’t problematic personally, but has a “seat issue” (for years Republicans were saying that the last seat on the D.C. Circuit is unnecessary);

(c) Judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant, renominated to the District of Connecticut, who received an “unqualified” rating from the ABA; and

(d) James Rogan, renominated to the Central District of California, who once served as a floor manager in the Clinton impeachment fight, back when he was in the House of Representatives.

These nominees aren’t THAT controversial, at least compared to the Radioactive Four. We think that they ultimately can (and should) make it through the Senate Judiciary Committee, then win confirmation by the full Senate.
But the ascendant Democrats may want to flex their muscles. And one way to do so would be by delaying, or defeating, one of these nominations.
3. Here’s an AP article about Leslie Southwick, nominated to the Fifth Circuit seat formerly held by Judge Charles Pickering Sr. (the seat that Michael Wallace was up for, before he withdrew).
Southwick is a former state appellate judge in Mississippi. As Howard Bashman notes, maybe the third time will be the charm for this hard-to-fill seat.
Bush Judicial Nominees Ask to Withdraw [Associated Press]
Senators say Bush nominating Southwick for 5th Circuit [Associated Press]
Nominations Sent to the Senate for the Judiciary [White House via How Appealing]
Nominations Sent to the Senate [White House via How Appealing]
Earlier: And They Will Back Down

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