Some 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.
- 9th Circuit, Airplanes / Aviation, Alex Kozinski, Blogging, Clerkships, Federal Judges, Judicial Divas, Kids, Marsha Berzon, Screw-Ups
Some 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.
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
Yesterday we put up a post about the mishaps of a federal judge and her family on a recent plane trip. You can read that post by clicking here.
A number of you found it amusing. But not everyone was so pleased.
This morning we received an email from Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Kozinski is one of the most highly respected members of the federal judiciary. He is a brilliant thinker, a great writer, and a colorful character. He is a top-ranked feeder judge, and a former Supreme Court clerk himself. Most importantly, he is the reigning Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary.
We reprint Judge Kozinski’s letter below (and after the jump). We are running the letter without interruption, in unredacted form. In a later post, we will reprint his letter again, but with our paragraph-by-paragraph commentary.
And now, Judge Kozinski:
I’ve been a long-time fan of your efforts to demystify and humanize the federal judiciary. Which is why I was so shocked and disappointed by your recent posting about my colleague, Judge [Marsha] Berzon. The part dealing with the incident on the airplane is a vicious and wholly gratuitous personal attack on Judge Berzon and her family. Assuming it bears some nodding resemblance to the truth, which I seriously doubt, it is so laden with pejoratives and half-witticisms that it seems designed only to wound and deride, rather than to enlighten. Federal judges may be public figures who must endure whatever criticism is leveled at us for our work product, but what possible justification is there for holding up members of our families for public ridicule?
Will a single one of your readers have been enlightened or helped in any way by learning what a lawyer who may be nursing a grudge against the judge based on his appearances before her, thinks about her family’s airplane demeanor?
We reprint the rest of Judge Kozinski’s letter after the jump.
One of you recently commented: “Retire this feature until the spring, dude. No one gets married in December.”
We beg to differ — unless you consider one of the Elect to be a nobody. A surprisingly high number of lawyers got hitched on the weekend before New Year’s Day. We even had to make some cuts.
Here are the three couples from the December 30-31 weekend that we will review:
Random aside: The best tidbit from the December 31 wedding announcements appeared in the write-up for two non-lawyers, Darcy Wolcott and Thomas Proctor:
Mr. Proctor’s forebears, the Hood and Towne families, settled the towns of Topsfield and Ipswich, Mass., in the early 1600′s. One ancestor, Mary Towne Easty, was hanged as a witch in 1692 in Salem.
If you can claim an ancestor who was executed for being a witch, you get an automatic 10 for your “Family” score.
Scores and commentary for the newlywed lawyer couples, after the jump.
Yesterday we put up a list of all the Supreme Court clerk hiring news that we have so far (for October Term 2007). We will update this post, or republish the list in a full post, as we receive more information.
After we put up the list, we received several corrections and additions (for which we thank you). We’ve revised the original list accordingly. But for those of you who haven’t looked back at the list since we first published it, we’d like to highlight these changes:
1. We’ve added the information that Stephen Cowen, a future clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, is currently clerking for Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg (D.C. Cir.). This is information we already had, since Cowen was featured a few months ago in Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. We apologize for omitting it on the first go-round.
(Bloggers work quickly, and we don’t have a separate fact-checking department. Mistakes were, are, and will be made. Sorry.)
2. We’re advised that William Consovoy is now clerking for Justice Clarence Thomas in October Term 2008 (a possibility hinted at in the Wiley Rein press release). So that leaves Eric McArthur, Carrie Severino, Heath Tarbert and Leila Thompson — who has “awesomely fun hair,” we’re told — as the CT clerks for OT 2007.
3. Heidi Bond is a 2006 grad of Michigan (not a 2005 grad, as originally reported). Also, she used to blog at Letters of Marque. Now that she’s clerking for Judge Alex Kozinski, she has neither the time nor the ability to continue blogging (or sleeping or showering).
Do you have further corrections or additions — maybe some hiring news from Chief Justice John Roberts, on whom we have nothing so far? If so, please email us. Gracias.
Earlier: More SCOTUS Clerk Hiring News: October Term 2007 Hires
- Alex Kozinski, Copyright, Eyes of the Law, Hotties, Intellectual Property, Law Professors, Law Schools
Two hotties for the price of one: Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, the #1 Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary; and our super-cute correspondent, Justin, a student at the DePaul University College of Law.
West Coast folk, don’t say we neglect you here at Above the Law. Earlier today, we wrote about some Ninth Circuit benchslappery. And now we bring you a delicious judicial sightation, of an Article III celebrity from sun-kissed California: Judge Alex Kozinski, the hottest federal judge in all the land.
Earlier this week, Judge Kozinski visited DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, where he was a guest lecturer in Professor Roberta Kwall’s Copyright/Trademark class. One of the students in that class, Justin (pictured above), provided us with a witty and insightful report about the proceedings.
Justin describes how Judge Kozinski conducted the class (brilliantly), mentions the jurist’s weakness for a certain carbonated beverage, and provides the backstory behind the photograph above. It’s a fun and interesting read, not to be missed.
Check out Justin’s full write-up, after the jump. You won’t be sorry!
- Alex Kozinski, Ann Althouse, Celebrities, Federal Judges, Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, Richard Posner, Stephen Breyer
It’s another amazingly beautiful day here in New York, and we’re blogging from Bryant Park. The temperature is in the low 70′s, there’s not a cloud in the sky, and a slight breeze is blowing. Life is good.
We don’t have much time — we’re about to run off to another New Yorker Festival event — but after sleeping on it, and reviewing our notes (’cause that’s what they’re for), we’d like to revise our earlier assessment of Justice Breyer’s interview with Jeffrey Toobin yesterday.
Although it could have been more fun, if Justice Breyer had been more forthcoming, there were actually quite a number of interesting stories and humorous moments — more than we remembered. Yesterday’s take may have been influenced by the fact that the interview’s highlights were clustered toward the beginning of the talk, and more of the bland civics-lecture material was near the end. So immediately after leaving the talk, it was the dry stuff that stuck in our mind. We’ll have more to say later about the best parts of the interview.
In the meantime, check out Ann Althouse’s great question:
David Lat gets antsy when an interview with Justice Breyer is insufficiently confessional. Why can’t he be more like Justice Scalia (or Judge Posner or Judge Kozinski)? Is there some reason the conservative judicial stars are more fun? Do liberals always have to demonstrate their circumspection?
It’s a fascinating inquiry, and one that we’ve entertained often ourselves. Do you have thoughts on why today’s leading judicial “rock stars” tend to be conservative? If so, please place them in the comments. (We’d like to see more robust debates in the comments here at ATL, like at other blogs.)
Three thoughts that we’d like to offer, before you accuse us (and Professor Althouse) of being biased in favor of conservatives:
1. There are a number of charismatic, colorful, outspoken federal judges who are quite liberal. Four examples, off the top of our head: Judge Stephen Reinhardt (9th Cir.), Judge Guido Calabresi (2d Cir.), Judge Jack Weinstein (E.D.N.Y.), and Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass.). So, in fairness to the left wing, let’s admit that they too have their icons.
2. Today the top judicial celebrities tend to be conservative. Is this just because the Republicans have been in power for quite some time — and because the most recent Supreme Court nominees, as well as any SCOTUS nominees in the near future, will probably be conservatives?
(Or maybe not. Judge Kozinski or Judge Posner are both brilliant, but they are unlikely Supreme Court nominees, perhaps because they are so outspoken and larger-than-life.)
3. It wasn’t always like this. Two of the most enjoyable and entertaining Supreme Court justices of the twentieth century were Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan — and they don’t come more liberal than that. (So don’t accuse us of refusing to recognize fascinating figures of the judicial left. We just feel that the best ones aren’t around today.)
Okay, gotta run. Apologies for typos or sloppy (or sloppier than usual) writing; we haven’t proofread this. Hasta luego.
Justice Douglas played poker with FDR, as Justice Scalia noted in his refusal to recuse himself over his duck-hunting trips with Vice President Cheney. Scalia himself has a famous poker game that once included regular attendees Justice Rehnquist and William Bennett. Judge Kozinski often hosts poker nights for law students when he’s on the road. Blogging law professors Stephen Bainbridge, Victor Fleischer, and Josh Wright have admitted to the poker jones. Northwestern professor Steven Lubet tried to cash in on the Father’s Day market with his book Lawyers’ Poker: 52 Lessons that Lawyers Can Learn from Card Players, which is getting recent publicity. And I’m reliably informed that once upon a time before they got cold feet, the DC office of O’Melveny & Myers had a summer-associate program where a bus was chartered to Atlantic City, and attorneys played intense hold ‘em games on the ride using $100-bills as chips.
Other poker-playing attorneys are more noted for their poker-playing. Greg Raymer had a day-job as a patent attorney at Pfizer when he took down the $5,000,000 first place prize at the World Series of Poker main event tournament in 2004; as Evan Schaeffer noted, years earlier, Raymer suggested that attorneys made better poker players.
Another poker-playing attorney is Russell Rosenblum, a former Kirkland & Ellis summer associate. Rosenblum has his own real estate practice in Maryland, owns a handful of Five Guys burger franchises, has enough incriminating photos of Washingtonian magazine editors to get five separate mentions in the magazine (including two profiles) in the last five years, and has a couple of six-digit prizes for final-table finishes in big poker tournaments, including the 2002 World Series of Poker main event.
Know other notable poker-playing law-talking people? And are Republicans really better players than Democrats? Play along in the comments.
- Alex Kozinski, Anthony Kennedy, Brett Gerry, Department of Justice, Hotties, John Demers, Ken Wainstein, National Security Division, Sidley Austin, Supreme Court Clerks, U.S. Attorneys Offices
Last week we wrote about the A-team of legal talent that Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L. Wainstein is assembling over at the Justice Department’s new National Security Division. Wainstein’s top hires include several members of the Elect, including high-flying legal eagles Brett Gerry (Silberman/Kennedy) and John Demers (O’Scannlain/Scalia).
A press release issued this morning announces Kenneth Wainstein’s other front office hires. And they include two brilliant and beautiful women (whom we have had the pleasure of meeting): Kathryn Haun (left), counsel to the AAG, and Jessie Liu (right), deputy chief of staff.
Those who followed UTR’s Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary contest — which, by the way, we will be reinstituting here at ATL — may recall Haun. She’s the blonde hottie who was photographed wrapping her arms around her former boss, Ninth Circuit judge Alex Kozinski (click here, scroll down). Back then we compared Haun to Naomi Watts; but upon further reflection, we’re thinking Cybill Shepherd.
Don’t let Haun’s dazzling beauty — a beauty that has ensnared multiple male members of the Elect — distract you from her accomplishments. Haun is one of the Elect herself, having clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. She was also an associate at Sidley & Austin, and most recently was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia (a post she is being detailed from to come to the NSD).
Liu, who will be Ken Wainstein’s deputy chief of staff, is similarly high-powered. Her gleaming resume includes Harvard College, Yale Law School, a clerkship with Chief Judge Carolyn Dineen King (5th Cir.), and a stint at Jenner & Block. Most recently, Liu was an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, where she acquired a wealth of trial experience.
The luminous Liu and her disturbingly brilliant husband, law professor Michael Abramowicz — see NYT wedding announcement here — have two children. Great job, great husband, great kids. Who says you can’t have it all?*
Congratulations to Katie Haun, Jessie Liu, and Ken Wainstein’s entire team at the NSD!
* But please don’t hate Liu for her charmed life; she’s also one of the nicest and most wonderful human beings you’ll ever meet.
Kenneth L. Wainstein Sworn in As First Assistant Attorney General for National Security Division [DOJ press release]
Earlier: Congratulations to Ken Wainstein!
- Alex Kozinski, Celebrities, Clerkships, Fabulosity, Federal Judges, Maryanne Trump Barry, Paris Hilton, Richard Posner, Sean Combs, Shira Scheindlin
Voter turnout in our ATL reader poll, Who Is the Paris Hilton of the Federal Judiciary?, has been surprisingly good. Not as good as turnout in our ERISA Hotties Contest; but certainly stronger than the anemic response to the August 2006 Couple of the Month survey.
If you haven’t already voted, you can review the field and cast your ballot by clicking here. Please note that the poll is being administered by Pollhost. As a result, we have no control over any technological glitches (e.g., being told you already voted when you didn’t — this is probably because someone else in your office already did, and Pollhost treated that IP address as yours).
At the current time, Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit — the reigning male Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary — has a strong lead. But his colleague on the Ninth Circuit, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw — the federal judiciary’s #2 Female Superhottie, as well as its #1 Gay Icon — is running right behind him (her Manolos be damned).
Here’s what one reader had to say about the results thus far:
I am astounded by the vote tally. Judge Kozinski is no Paris Hilton. He’s more like Sean Puffy Combs.
We see this reader’s point. First, Paris Hilton is a woman — and oh what a woman! So the three female judges may have a better claim to her bejeweled mantle than the two men.
Second, the Kozinski-Combs comparison is strong: both men are international superstars, with devoted fans, who are believed to enjoy tequila and fabulous parties.
(But, with all due respect to Judge Kozinski, Sean Combs is a better dresser. The black velvet tux that he wore to the Oscars two years ago is way more stylish than any black robe.)
With the voting well underway, it’s time to declare when the contest will end. The polls will close on Tuesday, September 26, at 1 PM (Eastern time). This will allow the candidates to campaign over the weekend (e.g., by spamming all their former clerks). It will also allow West Coast readers — and contestants — to vote one last time when they get into work that morning.
We wish these five distinguished jurists the best of luck in their quest for this distinction. If they have any campaign messages to disseminate, we invite them to email us.
Think about it, Your Honors. Wouldn’t “The Paris Hilton of the Federal Judiciary” look great in the “Miscellany” section of your Almanac of the Federal Judiciary write-up? Fun stuff!
Earlier: ATL Reader Poll: The Paris Hilton of the Federal Bench