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).
We’re hoping the Harvard Law School email controversy has run its course — and we suspect that it has. (But we still invite you to take our reader poll on whether Crimson DNA’s email was racist or offensive.)
Before we close the door on this story, we’d like to give you the background on how it all got started. It’s disturbing — and a cautionary tale for all of us.
Our initial report on this story was missing some important pieces of information, which we did not acquire until later. This post will attempt to provide a more complete report of how one Harvard 3L’s personal email message, shared with just a handful of friends, became national news….
UPDATE: We’ve added a statement from one of the principal players, “Yelena,” after the jump.
Thumbs up to cameras in the courtroom from Judge Alex Kozinski and our own David Lat
The Ninth Circuit sent waves through the legal community earlier this year when Judge Vaughn Walker proposed broadcasting the Prop 8 trial. In January, the Supreme Court swept in and shot down that idea.
The right to an open and public trial is guaranteed by the Constitution, and understanding what’s going on in our courts is a crucial part of democratic self-governance. The standard for closing a courtroom to the public is very high, and justifiably so. We the People should be allowed to know — and to hear, and to see — what is transpiring within our courts. After all, these are our laws being interpreted, our rights being adjudicated, and our taxpayer dollars at work.
And in this age of videoconferencing, YouTube, blogging, and Twitter, the distinction between physical and virtual attendance of court proceedings is becoming increasingly artificial.
Kozinski is a fierce advocate of cameras in the courtroom. On Monday, he stopped by Fordham Law School to talk about why courts need to admit cameras (before Congress forces cameras on them). Beyond the public’s “right to know,” he focused on the fact that cameras are impartial observers that are becoming increasingly necessary as the media devolves into a bunch of highly-subjective blogger-types…
* Would ash sway a jury? A judge in Iowa thought so. [Beliefnet via ABA Journal]
* Spanking judge Herman Thomas was acquitted on charges of sexually abusing inmates, but yesterday he was disbarred. [Associated Press]
* CHECK YOU EMAIL SCAMS. [ABA Journal]
* Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski laments the death of the Fourth Amendment. [Pogo Was Right]
* Snarky justice is better than no justice. More on Judge Rakoff’s ruling on the Bank of America-SEC settlement. [New York Times]
* Another lawyer show, this time with Jim Belushi. [Reuters]
What should a female Solicitor General wear to the U.S. Supreme Court? It’s a hot-button issue. For some excellent analysis, see Dahlia Lithwick.
The topic of SCOTUS-appropriate attire for a Solicitrix General keeps coming up. It popped up yesterday in Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s interview with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in Monterey.
From an attendee (who stayed at the conference longer than we did; we left the day after our panel):
In case you are not here, David: the solicitor general was just asked what she will wear at the Court, and she declined to say. But Judge Kozinski followed up to ask — expressly on your behalf [David Lat fka Article III Groupie] — whether she would be wearing Jimmy Choos. She said “no,” because the heels are too high to stand in while she argues.
Thought you’d want to know this breaking fashion news!
Someone’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.
We previously linked to Eilene Zimmerman’s article in Morning Docket, but in case you missed it, check it out here. An excerpt:
Although many associates are angry about the freezes, others are relieved, said David Lat, founding editor of AboveTheLaw.com, a blog about law firms and the profession.
“There is this sense that firms didn’t act prudently during the boom and now they are getting religion, and that it’s better late than never,” Mr. Lat said. “Many associates we have spoken to think the freeze probably saved jobs.”
This article, by Alex Aldridge, focuses primarily on the social networking and blogging scene over in the U.K., but there is some discussion of what’s going on here in the States:
[T]he US legal blogging community is a fascinating case study in itself, having grown up in the wake of the controversial lawyer message boards Greedy Associates. So influential did the irreverent site come as a means for junior lawyers to pass around information that they were regarded as playing a key role in the pay wars of 1999 and 2000, as news of tit-for-tat pay rises among US law firms raced around the web.
The always-playful legal Web site Above the Law asked readers to answer an online poll. About 48 percent blamed Roberts, just 17 percent blame Obama, and 35 percent said yes to the statement, “They both sucked.”
If 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.
While 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.
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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.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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