9th Circuit

Kozinski.jpgSomeone’s July 4th weekend is off to a good start. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, has been cleared of misconduct by the panel of Third Circuit judges that was tasked with investigating him. As you may recall, Chief Judge Kozinski called for an investigation of himself, after it was revealed that he had a “website” — which wasn’t really a website, for reasons previously explained by the judge’s wife, Marcy Tiffany — containing some sexually explicit material.

The Third Circuit Judicial Council’s unanimous opinion, authored by Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, is available here (PDF). It was actually filed on June 5, but only made public today. It’s thorough and lengthy, weighing in at 38 pages, and describes in detail the extensive investigation conducted by the council (with the assistance of outside lawyers, from Dechert and Morgan Lewis, and a technology consultant).

To those with a deeper familiarity with the facts of the case, as opposed to just the headlines, Chief Judge Kozinski’s vindication is not surprising. The judge violated no law; rather, the “website” — actually just a private family file server, although imperfectly secured for a period of time, as explained in the opinion — was a personal matter unrelated to his judicial duties. To the extent that the (overblown) public controversy created a problem in an obscenity trial that Judge Kozinski was presiding over at the time, any problem was obviated when the judge recused himself. And let’s not forget that the whole controversy was originally kicked up by a disgruntled litigant, Cyrus Sanai, who tried peddling the story for months before someone finally bit — and who “has been targeting Kozinski for years,” as noted by Ted Frank.

So congratulations, Judge Kozinski, on putting this matter behind you. We look forward to catching up with you at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference later this month.

A few updates and links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chief Judge Kozinski Cleared of Misconduct By Judicial Panel”

Thumbnail image for John Ensign Senator John Ensign.jpgRemember the Ninth Circuit Curse? We wrote about it back in 2007, noting that “anyone who tries to mess with the Mighty Ninth eventually finds himself (or herself) in deep doo-doo.” Several politicians who have advocated splitting the Ninth Circuit — a sprawling court that can be challenging to administer, to be sure — have found themselves in some form of trouble or another. E.g., Senators Larry Craig, Ted Stevens, and Lisa Murkowski.
Now they’re joined by another. Although his sex scandal is being overshadowed by that of another Republican politician, Nevada Senator John Ensign (pictured) is watching his popularity plummet, after he admitted to an affair with an ex-staffer (who was once on the Ensign payroll, along with her husband). He may face an investigation into his conduct.
If anyone was going to fall victim to the Ninth Circuit Curse, it would be Senator Ensign. As noted on his website, “Senator Ensign has… taken the lead on legislation to split the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.” Not only did he push hard for splitting the circuit, but he actually testified in support of the split, at the time of the last big push for dividing the court.
The full tally of victims, after the jump.

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


* Legal experts write a letter to Congress suggesting term limits for Supreme Court justices. [The Washington Post]

* SCOTUS will discuss whether judges should excuse themselves from voting in cases involving big campaign contributors when they hear a case involving a West Virginia judge. [Detroit Free Press]

* 3 jurors who convicted Alfred Trenkler of a bombing that killed a Boston Police officer wrote letters begging the judge for a new trial, after a book about the case convinced them of his innocence. [The Boston Globe]

* Today in Houston, U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent will go on trial, facing accusations that he fondled two female court employees. [The Associated Press]

* Madoff‘s investors wont have an easy time in court; securities law is not on their side. [The Washington Post]

gavel.jpg*Some important notes about Cyber-Bullying from David Lat. [Portfolio]

* Senator Schumer has recommended that Obama choose his chief counsel Preet Bharara as Manhattan’s next U.S. attorney. [The New York Times]

* In other New York news, the state senate confirmed Judge Johnathan Lippman to replace Judith Kaye as chief judge. [Newsday]

* South Africa’s high court ruled that South Africans living abroad should get the right to vote, which could affect likely president Jacob Zuma. [The Los Angeles Times]

* Monday we wrote about extraordinary rendition; yesterday the House and Senate introduced bills that would limit the President’s “state secrets” privilege. [The Boston Globe]

* A state-ordered suspension of jury trials in New Hampshire to save money during the recession could prevent justice from being served. [Bloomberg.com]

* A-rod may not be the only outed baseball star, the California 9th circuit court will soon decide whether the list of 104 players that tested positive for steroids in 2003, will be admissible in court. [MLB.com]


* The U.S. government may force GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy to ensure re-payment of the $17.4 billion bailout to taxpayers. [Bloomberg]

* A hearing today before the Ninth circuit in San Francisco will provide insight in to the administration’s views on extraordinary rendition–the secret transfer of a terror suspect from one state to another. [ABC]

* The Italian Senate will discuss a “Right-to-die” bill designed to keep an Italian woman on life-support. [The International Herald Tribune]

* When will the baseball steroid scandal ever end? Sportsfans are up in arms about reports that Alex Rodriguez used steroids in 2003. [Reuters]

* A new book “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice,” sheds light on a forgotten hero in the civil rights movement and the legal fight to de-segregate busses. [The Associated Press]

* Need a job? Attorney Michael D. Hausfeld, who once represented Holocaust victims against Swiss banks, started a law firm that focuses on protecting businesses against global cartels. [The Washington Post]

Alex Kozinski David Lat Los Angeles.jpgIf you missed our recent event with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) in Los Angeles, and if you’re here in New York, feel free to swing by Columbia Law School at around noon tomorrow:

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence

When: Thursday, January 22, at 12:10 PM
Speakers: The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Ninth Circuit; David Lat, Founder, Above the Law
Where: JG 106, Columbia Law School, 435 West 116th St. (at Amsterdam Ave.)
Cost: Free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

Thanks to the Columbia Law School Federalist Society for hosting the event. We hope to see you tomorrow.

Update: If you missed the talk, here’s a write-up, from Ben Hallman of the American Lawyer.

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence [Columbia Law School Federalist Society]

Earlier: Kozinski & Lat: The Podcast

california dreaming.jpgWhile David Lat’s west coast rampage continues — he just finished speaking at UCLA — the good people from the Federalist Society furnished us with a podcast of Lat’s lunch talk yesterday with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.).

If you weren’t able to make it yesterday, or you live in the part of the country that the Sun God Ra has marked for eternal suffering, check out the podcast below.

Update: A write-up of the talk is available here.

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence [Federalist Society]

Ninth Circuit Judges Remain Collegial, Kozinski Says [Metropolitan News]

Alex Kozinski David Lat.jpgSometimes readers complain that Above the Law focuses too much on the East Coast. Since our headquarters is here in New York, and since we lived in Washington from 2006 to 2008, we may have an East Coast bias.

But we do try to run a national legal news site. Even if we’re physically located in New York, wherever two or more lawyers are gathered in our name, there we are.

In recent months, we’ve been making a conscious effort to do more for the West Coast. For example, we’ve started posting — later in the day, to account for the time difference — material aimed at a West Coast / California audience.

And next week we’ll be in L.A., to participate in three events (all kindly sponsored by the Federalist Society). One is with a leading light of the federal judiciary, and another is with a top law professor/blogger. Here are the details:

1. A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence

When: Tuesday, January 13, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Speakers: The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Ninth Circuit; David Lat, Founder, Above the Law

Where: Omni Hotel, 251 South Olive Street, Los Angeles

MCLE Credit: One Hour

Cost: $38 if paid in advance; $40 if paid at the door. Public employees, students and law clerks may pay the discounted rate of $15.

2. Cocktail Reception with David Lat

When: Tuesday, January 13th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Where: Bel Air Bar and Grill, 662 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles

MCLE Credit: No. This will not be educational in the least — just gossip and booze.

Cost: Cash bar. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served. YUM.

3. How Bloggers Changed the Legal World

When: Wednesday, January 14, 12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Speakers: Professor Stephen Bainbridge, Warren Professor of Law, UCLA; David Lat, Founder, Above the Law

Where: UCLA Law School, Room 1357

Cost: Free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided.

Please come to any or all of these events. We look forward to seeing you!

A Judge in Full: Personality and Jurisprudence [Federalist Society - Los Angeles Lawyers Chapter]

How Bloggers Have Changed the Legal World [Facebook]

Two Events / One Day with Chief Judge Kozinski and David Lat [Facebook]

fruitcake.jpg* The chairwoman of a Chinese dairy company pleaded guilty to selling tainted milk. [Reuters]

* A federal judge declined Tuesday to release two detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, finding that the U.S. government had proved that they were enemy combatants. [The Washington Post]

* Senate Democrats will not accept the appointment of Roland Burris because he is tainted by the corruption of Gov. Blagojevich. Obama publicly agreed with their decision, despite Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D-IL) contention that the U.S. Senate shouldn’t turn away a black man. [The Associated Press]

* The 9th Circuit rejected the outrageosly long 28-years-to-life-sentence for a California sex offender who registered his address late to local police. The court says it was “cruel and unusual punishment” for a technical violation. [Los Angeles Times]

* Instead of sending their client’s fruit baskets for the holidays, Boston firm Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford donated $10,000 to a local charity. [The Boston Globe]

* An 85-year-old man from New Jersey admits he passed U.S. nuclear secrets to Israel after gaining access to a military library in Dover, New Jersey. [Bloomberg]


* The White House has raised the prospect of “pushing the cars into a managed bankruptcy as a solution to save the companies from financial collapse.” [The International Herald Tribune]

* The Iraqi journalist who threw the shoe at President George W. Bush will go on trial for insulting a foreign leader, which could get him up to two years in prison. Another case may be brought against the people who beat him after the incident. [The Associated Press]

* “Deep Throat” W. Mark Felt Sr., the second highest official in the FBI during Watergate, and the famous anonymous source who led journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein through the “crimes and coverups” of Richard Nixon died yesterday at 95. [The Washington Post]

* The 9th Circuit ruled that the U.S. courts might not be the appropriate place for Papua New Guinea citizens to sue British mining company Rio Tinto for inciting a “savage” ten- year civil war. [Courthouse News Service]

* A California jury acquitted surgeon Dr. Hootan Roozokh, who was accused of trying to accelerate an organ donor’s death. [The Los Angeles Times]

* Remember DC Judge Roy Pearson’s pants suit? The D.C. Court of Appeals rejected it yesterday…no surprise there. [The Associated Press]

* First there was the recession, then there were the bankruptcy’s, followed by the lay-offs, and now here are the scandals. The DOJ charged four people in an insider trading scheme incolving a Lehman broker.[CNN]

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