9th Circuit

We’re down to your last two ATL Idols: FROLIC AND DETOUR and SOPHIST. It’s time for them to face off in the third and final head-to-head round of ATL Idol, the reality-TV-style talent search for Above the Law’s new editor. You know the drill, but if you’re just tuning in, here’s how this round will work:

ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol smaller.jpgThe head-to-head round is designed to serve as a test of pure writing ability. We’ll publish the contestants’ different takes on the same (assigned) story. The head-to-head round is designed to show how the bloggers write up the same story, to eliminate any advantage from story selection. Story selection is an important skill for bloggers, but it’s one that the contestants have demonstrated in their features and freestyle posts.

Just like the past two weeks, this round will be reviewed by ATL’s panel of celebrity judges: Ann Althouse, Tom Goldstein, and Dahlia Lithwick.
Check out the bloggers’ contributions, after the jump.

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Kozinski.jpgWe have. So, barring major new developments, we’re cutting back on our coverage of the controversy surrounding Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit. As we suggested yesterday, the story is petering out anyway; but if you’re still interested in following it, check out Patterico’s Pontifications, which has been offering excellent, wall-to-wall coverage.
Before we take our leave of this tale, here are a few notable links:
1. Judges Named To Head Kozinski Inquiry [AP]
This is the only real news to emerge since our last post. Chief Justice John Roberts, responding to Chief Judge Kozinski’s request for an investigation, has named five jurists to the investigatory panel: Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, Judge Marjorie Rendell, and Judge Walter Stapleton, of the Third Circuit; Chief Judge Harvey Bartle III (E.D. Pa.); and Chief Judge Garrett Brown Jr. (D.N.J.). This is a solid group of judges; expect their investigation to be thorough and proper.
2. Cyrus Sanai: Kozinski investigation “is part of a litigation strategy” [Overlawyered]
The Kozinski archenemy who tipped off the Los Angeles Times to the judge’s website — L.A. lawyer Cyrus Sanai, who has been feuding with the judge since 2005 — is a real piece of work. At Overlawyered, Ted Frank chronicles how Sanai has been benchslapped by numerous judges, both federal and state, at the trial and appellate levels. Sanai blames the mountain of adverse on rulings on bias. Frank writes:

One has much sympathy for Cyrus Sanai, who has suffered the extraordinary misfortune of four trial judges in three different jurisdictions who are biased against him, and that does not include the appellate judges like the Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, Gerry Alexander; Washington State Court of Appeals judges Marlin Applewick, Anne Ellington and William Baker; or Judge Kozinski on the Ninth Circuit, all of whom Sanai has accused of bias. We wish that a just result is reached in Sanai’s various appeals, and pray that a just result is reached if a California legal disciplinary body ever decides to investigate what biased judges have been saying about Sanai.

3. Who’s at Fault For the Kozinski Kerfluffle? [Simple Justice]
Scott Greenfield writes:

David Lat, who has feasted on unsubstantiated gossip at Above the Law as well as his blog dedicated to sifting the salacious from the judicious, Underneath Their Robes (where he blogged anonymously as Article III Groupie, or A3G as he came to be known), joins the chorus [of Kozinski defenders]. But does the former AUSA explain his sudden conversion? Isn’t this the guy who is first on line (and online) to publish a smear of any lawyer or judge? In fairness, Lat’s connection to Kozinski is well-known to his long-time followers, but the new reader would be left out in the cold.

As Greenfield suggests, we view our connection to Chief Judge Kozinski as very well-known, and therefore not worth belaboring. But if he wants some sort of formal disclosure, here it is.
Disclosure: We have a great deal of respect and affection for Chief Judge Kozinski, whom we consider a friend. He helped launch our blogging career with his support of our first foray into the blogosphere, Underneath Their Robes (started four years ago this month). Our coverage of him is biased. If you’d like to read harsh personal attacks upon Chief Judge Kozinski, you should look elsewhere.
Above the Law is an independent blog. Unlike MSM-sponsored blogs such as the WSJ or the BLT, ATL makes no claim to “objectivity.” Considering that we opine daily on all sorts of topics, in ways that would be unacceptable for pure news reporters to do, we don’t see how anyone could mistake ATL for an objective news source. But if you want an express disclaimer of objectivity, consider this it.
Finally, we’d like to clarify our views of the “Kozinski Kerfluffle,” as Greenfield aptly dubs it. Consistent with our general antipathy to privacy, we don’t entirely agree with observers who see what Sanai and the L.A. Times did as an egregious privacy violation. On this we agree with Ted Frank:

I don’t think I fully endorse Lessig’s view on this — accessing a directory on a public website may be slightly creepy, but it’s not the same as breaking and entering a house to peer inside the photo albums in the den; it’s not even at the level of obnoxiousness as a guest inspecting the medicine cabinets of a host’s bathroom.

What we do think, however, is that the whole matter has become completely overblown. All it shows is that federal judges enjoy the occasional dirty joke and have risque material on their computers — in other words, “they’re just like us.” Considering that we launched a blog devoted to this very proposition four years ago, we find it hard to get that excited about it now.
4. Defending Judge Kozinski, and Online Privacy [The Lede / NYT]
ATL gets a shout-out from Mike Nizza in the Lede, a New York Times blog, in this concise round-up of the latest developments.
Judges named to head Kozinski inquiry [AP]
Cyrus Sanai: Kozinski investigation “is part of a litigation strategy” [Overlawyered]
Who’s at Fault For the Kozinski Kerfluffle? [Simple Justice]
Defending Judge Kozinski, and Online Privacy [The Lede / New York Times]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (scroll down)

Alex Kozinski small Alex S Kozinski Judge Above the Law hot hottie superhottie federal judiciary.JPGApologies for the downtime. We were off being interviewed by CNN Headline News about the controversy surrounding Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit. We’ll post a link to the interview if and when it becomes available.
Speaking of Chief Judge Kozinski, here’s the latest news:

The 9th Circuit judge, who posted sexually explicit material on his own site, according to a Los Angeles Times story yesterday, has just released this statement:

I have asked the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit to take steps pursuant to Rule 26, of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and Disability, and to initiate proceedings concerning the article that appeared in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times. I will cooperate fully in any investigation.

Is it unusual for a judge to call for an investigation of himself? Sure. But it’s a testament to Chief Judge Kozinski’s integrity and forthrightness; he’s not trying to hide anything underneath his robe. This is a smart move, a lesson in good crisis management.
Kozinski Calls for Investigation of Himself [WSJ Law Blog]
Judge wants panel to investigate his porn postings [Associated Press]

supreme court small with heart above the law atl.JPGTo San Francisco, apparently, to clerk on the Ninth Circuit.
We hope that the author of this email is clerking for one of court’s slave-driver judges. He needs to be kept busy, so he won’t have time for any more literary endeavors.
“Pleaded” or “pled” may be a matter of personal preference. But turns of phrase like “I had to have breakfast with my unit” and “the inadequate salve of an orgasm” ought to be criminalized — even in the Ninth Circuit.
Correction: We’ve heard from the woman who received the email. As it turns out, she works for the Ninth Circuit; the sender does not (although he is an attorney, in southern California). She construes the references to the Ninth Circuit to mean “that the job he currently has is *his version* of the Ninth Circuit — that is, his dream job.”
“It Was A Risk — Dating You. Risking My Reputation. Where Was Respect For That?” [Jezebel]

Stephen Yagman Steve Yagman Stephen G Yagman Above the Law blog.jpgSo it looks like no bail for Stephen Yagman, the colorful and controversial civil rights lawyer who was convicted last year of tax evasion, bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. Yagman will start his three-year prison term later this month.
Yagman asked to remain free on bail while appealing his conviction (to the Ninth Circuit — a court with which Yagman has a long and tortured history). But the district court denied his request.
Perhaps the court didn’t want Yagman out and about, dropping $2,000 on shoes and $262 on dinner — as he allegedly did just hours after filing for bankruptcy, as part of a scheme to avoid paying more than $200,000 in state and federal taxes.
High-profile LA lawyer denied bail [Associated Press]

The judicial fiefdom of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski is about to expand. From today’s Recorder (via How Appealing):

An extra seat for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared Congress on Tuesday and is headed to President Bush’s desk.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Court Security Improvement Act on Monday night, and the House of Representatives approved it on a voice vote Tuesday. Buried in that bill is language that removes one seat from the D.C. Circuit and moves it to the 9th.

Makes sense to us. Any court that takes the summer off, as the D.C. Circuit essentially does, isn’t exactly overwhelmed. Meanwhile, the Ninth Circuit is by far the nation’s largest and busiest federal appeals court. It’s so huge that it has been the subject of repeated attempts at a split (so far unsuccessful, perhaps because of the Ninth Circuit Curse).
As Dan Levine’s article notes, “the seat won’t materialize until Jan. 21, 2009 — the day after President Bush leaves office.” We have no doubt that President Hillary Clinton will be able to fill it with a distinguished jurist.
Indeed, President Clinton may be able to reshape the Ninth Circuit, in the same that President Carter reshaped it — in a way that still endures today, as reflected in the court’s strong leftward tilt. Many of the liberal lions who are eligible for senior status but have declined to take it, such as Judges Harry Pregerson and Stephen Reinhardt, may finally be willing to do so, once they know that the court’s future is in President Clinton’s capable hands.
Congress OKs Extra Seat for 9th Circuit [The Recorder via How Appealing]

Alex Kozinski Alex S Kozinski Judge Above the Law hot hottie superhottie federal judiciary.jpgThis Friday, at the Ninth Circuit courthouse in San Francisco, a ceremonial “passing of the gavel” will be held. The court’s outgoing chief judge, Mary M. Schroeder, will hand over the gavel to her successor, Alex Kozinski. Details about the ceremony appear in this press release (PDF).
From How Appealing (additional links collected below):

Judge Kozinski was able to sneak some humor into the news release:

“The chief judge of the circuit assumes the position based on seniority. The chief judge is the judge in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who are (1) 64 years of age or under; (2) have served for one year or more as a circuit judge; and (3) have not served previously as chief judge. Judge Kozinski also believes that looks count, though he can provide no support for that proposition.

That last sentence, we’re guessing, is a nod to Judge Kozinski’s victory in our Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary contest. With such a robust sense of humor, is it any surprise that Judge Kozinski has his own Facebook fan club?
The Ninth Circuit’s press release states that “still and video cameras will be permitted” at the gavel passing ceremony, which is taking place on Friday, November 30, at 4 p.m., in Courtroom One of the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse. If an ATL reader (or readers) would be willing to take pictures or videos and send them our way, we’d be most grateful. Thanks!
Ninth Circuit Attempts to Prepare Itself for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski [How Appealing]
‘Hottie’ Judge Kozinski Continues Joke in Press Release [ABA Journal]
Apochiefosis [Volokh Conspiracy]
Gavel Passing to Mark Changing of the Guard for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF) [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth 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.

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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.

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