3rd Circuit

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

Chambermaid cover art Saira Rao Chambermaid Saira Rao.JPGSaira Rao, who wrote the New York Post article we discussed this morning, has a juicy debut novel coming out this summer. Check out the blurb for Chambermaid:

The devil holds a gavel in this wickedly entertaining debut novel about a young attorney’s eventful year clerking for a federal judge. Sheila Raj is a recent graduate of a top-ten law school with dreams of working for the ACLU, but law school did not prepare her for the power-hungry sociopath, Judge Helga Friedman, who greets her on her first day. While her beleaguered colleagues begin quitting their jobs, Sheila is assigned to a high-profile death penalty case and suddenly realizes that she has to survive the year as Friedman’s chambermaid — not just her sanity, but actual lives hang in the balance.

With Chambermaid, debut novelist Saira Rao breaks the code of silence surrounding the clerkship and boldly takes us into the mysterious world of the third branch of US government, where the leaders are not elected and can never be fired. With its biting wit and laugh-out-loud humor, this novel will change everything you think you know about how great lawyers, and great judges, are made.

Saira Rao is well-equipped to write about the world of the federal judiciary. She previously clerked on the Third Circuit for Judge Dolores Sloviter — who has been described as a “judicial diva” and a “tough cookie”.
After clerking for Judge Sloviter, Saira worked at Cleary Gottlieb. She’s a graduate of UVA and NYU Law School.
“Chambermaid” sounds delicious. We’re counting down the days until July 2007!
Chambermaid: A Novel [Amazon.com]
Saira Rao bio [Findlaw]
Saira Rao profile [Friendster]
Update (4:55 PM): The WSJ Law Blog has put up a post that also links to Saira Rao’s NYP article and the Amazon blurb for her forthcoming novel.
Earlier: Biglaw Associates: Take the Money and Run

michael lee mike lee christopher paolella chris paolella matthew schwartz matt schwartz gordon todd.JPGsamuel alito jr samuel a alito jr justice alito.jpgSorry it has taken us so long. As promised months ago, we now begin our series profiling current Supreme Court clerks (aka the “October Term 2006″ or “OT 2006″ law clerks).
We’ll be going chambers by chambers, starting with the most junior justice. Here are the four law clerks to Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

1. Michael S. Lee (BYU ’97/Benson (D. Utah)/Alito)

2. Christopher J. Paolella (Harvard ’99/Alito)

3. Matthew A. Schwartz (Columbia ’03/Alito)

4. Gordon D. Todd (UVA ’00/Beam)

As a member of the Alito extended family explained to us, here’s the key to understanding the Alito chambers: 3:1. This golden ratio perfectly captures the demographics of the OT 2006 Alito clerks. Consider:

1. Familial status: three are married with children, one is not (Chris Paolella — married, but no kids yet).

2. Undergraduate institution: three are Princetonians, one is not (Michael Lee — BYU).

3. Prior Alito clerkship: three previously clerked for then-Judge Alito on the Third Circuit, one did not (Gordon Todd).

4. Religious affiliation: three are Christian,* one is not (Matthew Schwartz — he’s Jewish).

5. College debate: three were gods of the parliamentary debate circuit, and former presidents of the American Parliamentary Debate Assocation (APDA); one was not (Michael Lee).

But we wouldn’t want such commonalities to overshadow the individuality of these gents. Check out our profiles of Messrs. Lee, Paolella, Schwartz, and Todd — after the jump.
* Mitt Romney footnote: Michael Lee is Mormon, which we consider to be Christian. Presidential candidate Romney hopes that evangelical Christians voting in the Republican primaries will agree with us.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Alito’s OT 2006 Law Clerks”

Third Circuit 3rd circuit 3d circuit 3d cir.jpegA few quick updates on our former stomping grounds, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit:
1. There’s been some speculation about who might be nominated for the Third Circuit seat previously held by Justice Alito. What we’re now hearing is that it’s probably going to Judge Noel Hillman, a former high-ranking Justice Department official, just confirmed to the District Court (D.N.J.).
This might be surprising, considering that Judge Hillman has barely warmed the district court bench. His investiture as a district judge took place only a few weeks ago.
Noel Hillman Noel L Hillman Noel Lawrence Hillman Noel Laurence Hillman judge Above the Law.jpgBut nominating Judge Hillman to the court of appeals actually makes political sense for the White House — especially in its current, weakened state. President Bush doesn’t have a great deal of political capital right now, and he’ll be dealing with a Democrat-controlled Senate come January (assuming Sen. Johnson hangs in there).
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.
Of course, this is just a rumor. And rumors can be wrong. So stay tuned.
2. Judge Kent Jordan, formerly on the Delaware district court bench, was sworn in as the newest Third Circuit judge on Friday morning. The ceremony was small and private. Judge Jordan was confirmed by the Senate earlier this month, by a vote of 91-0, before the end of the 109th Congress.
3. Another Third Circuit nominee, Judge Thomas Hardiman (W.D. Pa.), may not be as easy a sell as one might have thought. Senate Democrats are tut-tutting him for making political contributions to Republican candidates before he was nominated for his district judgeship.
Call us cynical, but this strikes us as no big deal. Making (perfectly legal) campaign contributions to U.S. senators? How else do you become a federal judge?
Seriously, this is not a new practice. Political patronage goes back to, like, the Jackson Administration. And strategic campaign giving has been engaged in by judicial nominees on both sides of the aisle (PDF).
This is why we were unimpressed with Salon’s “four-month investigation” showing that, lo and behold, politicians reward their contributors with federal judgeships. We could have told you that in four seconds.
Noel L. Hillman bio [FJC]
Senate Confirms Kent Jordan to 3rd Circuit, Replacing Senior Judge Jane Roth [Legal Intelligencer]
Judge Kent Jordan Confirmed to the Third Circuit [How Appealing]
Kent A. Jordan bio [FJC]
Another Bush judge on the hot seat [Salon.com via How Appealing]
Thomas M. Hardiman bio [FJC]
Riding Circuit — In a Taxicab? [Underneath Their Robes]
Non-Scandal [Committee for Justice Blog]

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