“In the per curiam opinion in LA County v. Retelle (PDF), we get a nice discussion of racial harmony in the context of naked white people being awakened early in the morning by cops executing a search warrant on a house that was previously owned by black criminal suspects.”
From the Court’s unsigned opinion, joined by seven justices:
“Because respondents were of a different race than the suspects the deputies were seeking, the Court of Appeals held that ‘[a]fter taking one look at [respondents], the deputies should have realized that [respondents] were not the subjects of the search warrant and did not pose a threat to the deputies’ safety.’ We need not pause long in rejecting this unsound proposition.”
“When the deputies ordered respondents from their bed, they had no way of knowing whether the African-American suspects were elsewhere in the house. The presence of some Caucasians in the residence did not eliminate the possibility that the suspects lived there as well. As the deputies stated in their affidavits, it is not uncommon in our society for people of different races to live together. Just as people of different races live and work together, so too might they engage in joint criminal activity. The deputies, who were searching a house where they believed a suspect might be armed, possessed authority to secure the premises before deciding whether to continue with the search.”
Some time ago, we posted an anecdote about the family travel mishaps of Judge Marsha Berzon, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Many ATL readers enjoyed the story. But Judge Berzon’s colleague, Judge Alex Kozinski — one of the federal judiciary’s most brilliant thinkers and talented writers — was less pleased. He sent us an open letter criticizing the story and our decision to publish it.
We posted Judge Kozinski’s letter here, and we promised a more detailed response.
We intended to publish a response much earlier. But having to respond to a benchslapping at the hands of a brilliant federal judge tends to induce “writer’s block.” Who’d have thunk it?
Anyway, we finally got over our writer’s block. Our response appears after the jump.
We feel a bit like Senator Joe Biden must feel right now, after his ill-advisedcomments about Senator Barack Obama. In case you haven’t heard, Sen. Biden paid Sen. Obama’s presidential candidacy some backhanded compliments:
“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
Take foot (or, in our case, keyboard). Insert into mouth. Then push, as far as it will go.
Yesterday we published a post about a recent plane trip made by Judge Marsha Berzon, of the Ninth Circuit, and her family. It was supposed to come across as playfully irreverent (and yes, slightly snarky). But instead, it turned out to be rather mean-spirited, at least in the eyes of some readers — such as Judge Alex Kozinski.
In a later post, we will explain various aspects of that original post (and vigorously defend the decision to publish in the first instance). But for now, we would like to point out that the timing of our post could not have been worse.
The following email is representative of others we’ve received. It’s from a former clerk of Judge Berzon (who, by the way, thinks very highly of her and enjoyed the clerkship):
Judge Berzon’s brother passed away Tuesday quite suddenly and unexpectedly. So, whereas I would be bothered by such a post about someone I so thoroughly revere as a general matter, I wouldn’t normally object to its very existence — I’d just fight back. Given current circumstances, however, I do think it is in especially poor taste this week, a point you might want to consider as you post further on the subject.
Point well-taken. Obviously we had no idea of the passing of Judge Berzon’s brother at the time we published our post. It was a story we had on hand for a while — non-time-sensitive stuff, or what we in the biz call “evergreen” material — and we didn’t get the chance to write it up until yesterday. So it was pure (and unfortunate) coincidence that it appeared at such a terrible time for the Berzon family.
We send our sincerest condolences to Judge Berzon on the passing of her brother. And we apologize if we have in any way made such a difficult time for her family even more trying. Update: Some interesting comments here. Please be sure to read our clarification of the point of this post. Thanks. Earlier: Flying the Friendly, Federal Judicial Skies: An Open Letter from Judge Alex Kozinski Flying the Friendly, Federal Judicial Skies
Yesterday we put up a post about the mishaps of a federal judge and her family on a recent plane trip. You can read that post by clicking here.
A number of you found it amusing. But not everyone was so pleased.
This morning we received an email from Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Kozinski is one of the most highly respected members of the federal judiciary. He is a brilliant thinker, a great writer, and a colorful character. He is a top-ranked feeder judge, and a former Supreme Court clerk himself. Most importantly, he is the reigning Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary.
We reprint Judge Kozinski’s letter below (and after the jump). We are running the letter without interruption, in unredacted form. In a later post, we will reprint his letter again, but with our paragraph-by-paragraph commentary.
And now, Judge Kozinski:
I’ve been a long-time fan of your efforts to demystify and humanize the federal judiciary. Which is why I was so shocked and disappointed by your recent posting about my colleague, Judge [Marsha] Berzon. The part dealing with the incident on the airplane is a vicious and wholly gratuitous personal attack on Judge Berzon and her family. Assuming it bears some nodding resemblance to the truth, which I seriously doubt, it is so laden with pejoratives and half-witticisms that it seems designed only to wound and deride, rather than to enlighten. Federal judges may be public figures who must endure whatever criticism is leveled at us for our work product, but what possible justification is there for holding up members of our families for public ridicule?
Will a single one of your readers have been enlightened or helped in any way by learning what a lawyer who may be nursing a grudge against the judge based on his appearances before her, thinks about her family’s airplane demeanor?
We reprint the rest of Judge Kozinski’s letter after the jump.
The story we’re about to share with you is great, gossipy fun. But we must warn you that it’s not for everyone. It’s on the long side, and it’s aimed at a rather narrow demographic.
It’s most likely to entertain (1) current or former Ninth Circuit clerks and (2) people who follow the federal judiciary very, very closely. If you were a reader of Underneath Their Robes back in the day, then this story is for you.
In recognition of its “inside baseball” nature — and so as not to inflict it upon people who just want Biglaw salary info — we’ve placed the complete story after the jump.
The 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.
* Oh good, Cully says pro bono is ok again. [Washington Post; Washington Post (letter to the editor) via WSJ Law Blog]
* “Two things made Christopher Willever’s drunken burglary of a Tobacco Hut even worse as he crawled across the store floor — a lousy belt and his camera-loving backside.” [MSNBC]
* U.S. Attorneys’ increasing rate of attrition. [Wall Street Journal via WSJ Law Blog (departures generally); WSJ Law Blog (Kevin Ryan)]
* Tennessee is tennetaxin’ illegal drugs. [Time]
* Time for new business cards and letterhead over at Wiley Rein & Fielding [Legal Times]
* The mystery raised here has been answered. Richard Posner isn’t the only federal government official who likes to blog. [Opinion Juris]
* Gay Sullivan & Cromwell partner David Braff, to the New York Times: “I’ve been openly gay since I arrived at this firm in 1984. There’s absolutely no atmosphere of hostility toward gay people here.”
[New York Times via DealBook]
* The fight over whether Judge Stephen S. Trott’s seat on the Ninth Circuit belongs to Idaho or California has been resolved — for now. [How Appealing]
Federal judges represent some of the best and brightest minds the legal profession has to offer. Although there are exceptions, federal judges generally have incredible credentials and adhere to the highest ethical standards.
In contrast, state court judges tend to be icky. When you read in the news about a judge who sexually harassed a secretary, got arrested for drunk driving, or used a penis pump behind the bench, the odds are high that it will be a state rather than federal judge.
When a former state judge gets confirmed to a federal judgeship — as is increasingly the case, since state court judges are often “safe” picks in these politically charged times — does she shed her icky ways?
Not necessarily. Consider the tale of Judge Deborah L. Cook, a member of the Sixth Circuit since 2003. From Muckraker/CIR:
A federal judge identified by the Center for Investigative Reporting for making campaign contributions while on the bench has apologized for violating the judicial code of conduct.
Judge Deborah L. Cook of Ohio made two political donations after she was appointed by President Bush to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003. A CIR report and story for Salon.com on Oct. 31 revealed that both Cook and a Clinton-appointed judge, Dean D. Pregerson of California, had apparently given campaign contributions, though federal judges are prohibited from doing so.
A pretty dumb-ass mistake. The limitations upon political activity by members of the judicial branch are familiar even to rookie law clerks. It’s something you learn about at clerk orientation.
Ah, orientation — that’s where Judge Cook lays the blame for her mistake:
“I violated this proscription against federal judges making political contributions early in what I hope will be a long tenure,” Cook wrote in her letter of apology [to Chief Judge Danny Boggs], which was filed with Judge Boggs’ order [resolving the complaint]. “Though not an excuse, my misstep here resulted from habit and a lack of awareness of the prohibition.”
Cook wrote that she was used to making contributions as a state judge. According to her letter, she did not attend the “New Judges School” after she was confirmed as a federal judge and “thus missed being alerted there to the federal canon.” The “Baby Judges School,” as it is often called by judges, is a non-mandatory training and orientation for newly appointed judges.
“Baby Judges School”: Ignore it at your peril.
A little bit more, after the jump.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
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