9th Circuit

A photo op with two of the nation’s most distinguished jurists: Ninth Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Alex Kozinski!
(Judge Reinhardt seemed a bit skittish about the taking of this picture, but Judge Kozinski’s enthuasism was infectious. Or maybe it was just hard for Judge Reinhardt to say no to the incoming Chief Judge of the court.)
Federalist Society gala 3.jpg

Alex Kozinski Alex S Kozinski Judge Above the Law hot hottie superhottie federal judiciary.jpgFor the limited but passionate segment of the ATL readership that avidly follows the federal judiciary and clerkship news, the past week has been a good one.
First, there was this very interesting Legal Times article by Joe Palazzolo, about the debacle known as the law clerk hiring process. Executive summary: “As in most family feuds, it’s the kids who suffer most. In interviews, newly hired law clerks rated this year’s hiring frenzy on a scale from ‘unfortunate’ to ‘an utter mess.’”

At the D.C. Circuit, lights shone in the windows of some judges’ chambers before dawn on Sept. 19. They had scheduled their first interviews between 6:45 and 7 a.m.

[Yale Law School Professor Christine] Jolls, who is a member of a committee of professors and deans that advises the Judicial Conference on the hiring process, says she got a 2 a.m. e-mail from one of her students who had just emerged from an interview with a 2nd Circuit judge. The judge had scheduled the interview for Sept. 19 at 12:01 a.m.

If you know, feel free to identify the judges who scheduled these insanely early interviews, in the comments.
Second, for those of you follow clerkship bonus developments, on Tuesday the ever-helpful Law Clerk Addict posted an updated Vault 100 clerkship bonus chart. You can access it here.
Third, today the National Law Journal serves up a delightful profile of the nation’s #1 judicial superhottie (male), Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit. As of December 1, make that CHIEF Judge Kozinski. Congratulations, Your Honor!
Links to the aforementioned sources, plus excerpts and commentary on the Kozinski profile, appear after the jump.
Update: Also after the jump, some scuttlebutt about which judges were conducting the midnight and early morning interviews.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Freshly Baked Crack for the Clerkship Addicts Among You”

Larry Craig small Larry E Craig Larry Edwin Craig gay senator Idaho Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s a little riddle: What do these three senators have in common?

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho)

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

First, they’re all Republican senators from underpopulated sparsely populated states.
Second, they’ve all run into ethical, legal, or political problems. You know all about Senator Craig — in fact, more than you ever wanted to. As for Senator Stevens, see here and here. As for Senator Murkowski, see here.
What’s the third thing they have in common? Find out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Ninth Circuit Curse”

diarmuid o'scannlain diarmuid f o'scannlain.jpgWe linked to this interesting MSNBC article, about possible replacements for outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in Morning Docket.
We’d now like to link to it again, and draw your attention to the very end of the article. Doug Kmiec, a top Justice Department official in the Reagan and Bush I administrations, is quoted as follows:

“[T]he president might be well advised to pick a senior court of appeals judge appointed by Reagan; perhaps, Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the Ninth Circuit, Kenneth Ripple of the Seventh Circuit, or Edith Jones of the Fifth.”

[Kmiec] said, “The integrity of these individuals is unquestioned; by virtue of judicial office, they have been freed of partisanship for some time, yet, by virtue of appointment, would be acceptable to the base of the President’s party.”

Judge O’Scannlain for Attorney General? What a fabulous idea!
Having clerked for Judge O’Scannlain, we’re admittedly biased. As we previously wrote:

During two decades of distiinguished service, Judge O’Scannlain has established himself as a shining star in the federal judicial firmament. We had the honor and pleasure of clerking for Judge O’Scannlain during the 1999-2000 judicial year. He was a wonderful boss to us and our co-clerks, and he continues to be a great mentor and friend to this day. (He’s also quite handsome, in a Paul Newman sort of way; see photo at right.)

But you don’t need to be a former O’Scannlain clerk to recognize the soundness of Kmiec’s reasoning. (As for the other two judges Kmiec mentions, we’re not that familiar with Judge Ripple. Judge Jones, while diva-licious, she might be a tough sell to a Senate controlled by the Democrats.)
So we hereby issue this official ATL endorsement: Judge O’Scannlain for Attorney General!
(Psst, Nixon Peabody peeps: Can you do up a theme song?)
Senate confirmation hearings promise drama [MSNBC]

meet an inmate Above the Law blog.jpgA relationship between a prisoner — falsely accused, natch — and a compassionate woman on the outside, crusading for his release. What could be more romantic?
Well, if the woman happens to be a court clerk, with responsibility for handling prisoner filings, the situation goes from romantic to problematic. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

A deputy clerk at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has been fired after striking up a romantic relationship with – and trying to help win the release of – a Washington man serving life in federal prison, court documents show.

Jane Cross, 57, came under scrutiny in June, after she filed a Washington State Bar Association complaint against Kurt Hermanns, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tacoma who handled the prosecution of William G. Moore on methamphetamine and other charges in the mid-1990s. She was placed on leave and subsequently fired last week.

In the immortal words of Def Leppard: Love bites.
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Practice Pointers: Clerks, Don’t Date the Prisoners”

collarbomb_horz.jpg* Charges coming in “collar bomb” case. [CNN]
* Size matters. And bigger isn’t always better, as the Ninth Circuit demonstrates. [Los Angeles Times]
* That’s some hardcore pwnography. [Click 2 Houston (KPRC, Houston NBC affiliate)]
* Deal reached in Libya foreign medics AIDS trial, with details to come tomorrow; Libyan Supreme Court had been expected to uphold death sentences. [Jurist]
* Facing child sex charges, but don’t want that fact to slow down your legal career? Check out the Solomon Islands. [CNN]

Ebony and Ivory Above the Law blog.jpgSeveral commenters drew our attention to the Supreme Court’s quasi-amusing decision today in Los Angeles County v. Rettele (PDF). We also received reader email about it:

“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.”

The SCOTUS reverses the Ninth Circuit? Happens multiple times each Term. Boring.
The SCOTUS summarily reverses the Ninth Circuit, in a per curiam opinion? Happens a few times each Term. Uninteresting.
The Supreme Court benchslaps the Ninth Circuit, for not being politically correct enough? PRICELESS.
(For more substantive analysis of Rettele, check out this post, by Orin Kerr.)
Los Angeles County v. Rettele [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
Supreme Court Reverses Ninth Circuit in Out-of-Bed-Naked Search Warrant Case [Volokh Conspiracy via SCOTUSblog]

Alex Kozinski.jpgDespite his recent public criticism of blogs, we’ve always viewed that colorful legal genius, Judge Alex Kozinski, as a great friend of blogging.
Judge Kozinski’s nomination of himself as a “judicial hottie” played a crucial role in the development of our original blog, Underneath Their Robes. And he has been a supporter of our blogging over the years. Even his criticism of us has been constructive and well-intentioned (even if harsh).
But if Judge Kozinski has soured on blogging, perhaps it is showing through in his jurisprudence. Check out today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit in Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com (PDF).
We haven’t finished reading the opinions just yet. But based on Robert Loblaw’s this write-up, which provides a helpful summary and pellucid analysis, the decision doesn’t look like good news for bloggers — or any other websites that host user-generated content.
Sigh. This whole “blogging” thing ain’t as much fun as it used to be.
Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC
[U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (PDF)]
Important Ninth Circuit Decision on Websites’ Legal Immunity under the CDA [Decision of the Day]
Earlier: Kozinski On Blogs: “Hateful Things”

Federal Judges on a Plane.jpgSome 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Response to Judge Alex Kozinski”

We feel a bit like Senator Joe Biden must feel right now, after his ill-advised comments 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

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