Alex Kozinski

The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, has a favor to ask of Above the Law readers….

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For a long time, Jonathan Lee Riches reigned as Craziest Pro Se Litigant in America. But at a certain point, JLR jumped the proverbial shark. His handwritten complaints, making bizarre allegations against everyone from Michael Vick to Martha Stewart to the late Benazir Bhutto, were just too clever by half. And once he passed the 1,500 mark in lawsuits, his shtick got… old.

Fortunately we have a new favorite pro se party for you. Meet Deborah Frisch (or Deborah E. Frisch, Ph.D., as she identifies herself in court filings). Frisch appears to be something of a loon, despite her doctorate and past teaching positions at such schools as the University of Oregon and the University of Arizona. Ironically enough, or maybe not so ironically, the nutty professor teaches… psychology.

Here’s the charming opening paragraph from a document that Frisch filed last week in federal district court in Oregon:

Plaintiff shall henceforth refer to self as litigant since she is defendant, appellant or plaintiff, depending on which shyster-vermin she is dealing with. Litigant files this response to the order filed by Docket Clerk Brinn and signed by USDC-OR Magistrate Coffin deeming all pending motions… moot since the frocked cowfucker in San Francisco denied the plaintiff’s appeal.

The “frocked cowfucker” appears to be the Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, who served on a panel that rejected a Frisch appeal. For the record, his chambers are in Pasadena, not San Francisco.

Let’s look at the rest of Frisch’s filing, shall we?

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Practice pointer: don’t refer to judges as ‘frocked cowf**kers.’

When we filed our last column, we were full of anticipation over Chelsea Clinton’s then-upcoming wedding. And the New York Times did not let us down with its wall-to-wall coverage of the big day. In case you missed it, you can read the NYT on Chelsea’s dress, Chelsea’s wedding planner, the secrecy, the confidentiality agreements, the feeding frenzy, the frustration of the fashion media, the interfaith angle, the rabbi’s spiritual journey, and the reaction in the town of Rhinebeck. Oh, and there’s a slideshow.

And now, on to this week’s couples (we’re including one standout from mid-July that we’d missed):

1. Emma Mittelstaedt and James Burnham

2. Dace Caldwell and Roman Martinez

3. Anne Stephens and Preston Lloyd

Read all about these couples and their exploits, after the jump.

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Chief Judge Alex Kozinski gives a thumbs up to privacy for the poor

A user’s manual that’s 200+ years old can be difficult to apply to modern technologies. Thus, it’s been a challenge for judges interpreting the Fourth Amendment as it applies to police surveillance via GPS tracking devices on cars.

There has been a plethora of precedents set across the country as to whether slapping a GPS tracker on a car is considered a “search” and whether a warrant is needed. A Wisconsin state court decided last year that warrantless GPS surveillance is okay. Within a week of the Wisconsin decision, a New York state court disagreed. More recently, the D.C. Circuit ruled that GPS tracking is indeed a search, and introduced what the Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr called a “mosaic theory of the Fourth Amendment,” i.e., that a series of discrete facts may be public, but their aggregation may violate privacy rights. Kerr dissed the D.C. Circuit’s mosaic ruling, but Cato’s Julian Sanchez was a fan.

The Ninth Circuit got in on the GPS-Fourth Amendment throwdown too. As noted by How Appealing, a Ninth Circuit panel — consisting of two of the court’s more conservative members, Diarmuid O’Scannlain and Randy Smith, and Judge Charles Wolle (S.D. Iowa), sitting my designation — ruled that police officers who placed a GPS device on the underbed of a suspected drug dealer’s car while it was parked outside of his house did not violate his constitutional rights.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski was not happy about their decision. He wrote an angry dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc, accusing the judges of “cultural elitism,” by granting privacy rights to the rich but not to the poor…

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Calls his fellow judges ‘cultural elitists’ when it comes to privacy.

Last week, I wrote (with great pleasure) about whether women lawyers should wear peep-toe shoes to court. In my informal poll of seven federal judges, the vote broke down roughly as follows: four in favor, two opposed, and one in the middle. (See the update — Judge Susan Graber seemed agnostic on peep-toes, but advised lawyers, male and female alike, “to consider comfort and color” in footwear choices.)

One of the judges who dissented, lodging her opposition to a litigatrix sporting peep-toe shoes in court, was Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (9th Cir.):

My view is that if you have a question about the appropriateness of your attire, don’t risk it. Women appearing in court should never wear anything that draws attention to their anatomy over the merits of their case. You just never know how your audience — judges, jurors, clients or senior partners — will react. It’s better to play it safe in formal settings and save the peep-toes for after hours.

But don’t get the wrong impression about Judge Wardlaw, who is fierce and fabulous (see my earlier interview of her). She is not some fashion fuddy-duddy. Although she recommends against lawyers wearing peep-toes to court, she owns many pairs of herself, which she happily wears in chambers.

Check out these photos of Judge Wardlaw modeling peep-toe shoes, sent to Above the Law by her colleague on the Ninth Circuit, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski….

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A portrait of Judge Kozinski as a young man.

* Hans Bader of CEI is fine with the bar exam — congrats to everyone who just finished, by the way — but wants to ditch the requirement of graduating from law school. After all, “[e]ven students who seldom studied, and reputedly were on drugs, managed to graduate from my alma mater, Harvard Law School.” [DC SCOTUS Examiner]

* For people who profess to hate law school, they sometimes act like they’re still in it: anti-law-school bloggers get caught up in a catfight. [Confessions of a Laid-Off Lawyer]

* A collection of entertaining legal opinions. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski appears multiple times, of course. [Google Scholar Blog]

* Chipotle is delicious — but does it violate the ADA? [Cato @ Liberty]

* Can Wall Street wipe out street language? [Law and More]

* Attention litigators: McKool Smith is hiring for its New York office. [ATL (sponsored content)]

America thrives on competition; Barbie, the all-American girl, will too.

– Alex Kozinski in a Ninth Circuit opinion [PDF] throwing out the Mattel victory in Barbie v. Bratz.

Gavel bang: FedCourtJunkie.

Alex Kozinski and David Lat at CEI Dinner

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) and your above-signed writer, at the 2010 Annual Dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.


Last Thursday, June 17, I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 annual dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in Washington, D.C. In case you’re not familiar with it, CEI is “a public interest group dedicated to free enterprise and limited government” — i.e., a libertarian think tank.

At this year’s dinner, the honoree was a legal luminary with libertarian leanings: Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Given my adoration of Judge Kozinski, the proximity of Washington to New York, and the fact that I was already going to be in D.C. — for a dinner of the Society of Professional Journalists (Kash and I wrote a magazine story that was nominated for an award) — how could I not attend?

A write-up of the proceedings and a slideshow, after the jump.

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Ignorance has never stopped a federal judge from expressing an opinion.

– Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit, after professing limited knowledge of antitrust law during a humorous speech about (you guessed it) antitrust law, at the annual dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute last night.

The Supreme Court routinely relies on such express instructions. And some of our nation’s hottest jurists have called for their more frequent use. See, e.g., Alex Kozinski, Should Reading Legislative History Be an Impeachable Offense?, 31 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 807, 819 (1998).

– Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, the #1 Male Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary, dissenting in Khatib v. County of Orange (9th Cir. May 3, 2010).

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