Eyes of the Law

Alberto Gonzales 3 Alberto R Gonzales Attorney General Above the Law blog.jpgTime for an installment of ATL’s legal celebrity sightings column, The Eyes of the Law. This one is especially juicy.
We hear that last week, embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was sighted in the Houston office of Vinson & Elkins — the firm where he was once a partner. His presence was not kept a secret, since he walked right past the offices of several summer associates.
Was AGAG just paying a friendly visit to some of his former partners? Or could his drop-by signify that he might be resigning as Attorney General and returning to his former stomping grounds (a la Harriet Miers, who returned to Locke Liddell after stepping down as White House Counsel)?
If you think we’re getting carried away, we’d like to remind you: office visits can be very revealing. Remember when a bunch of Weil Gotshal bankruptcy partners defected to Cadwalader back in March? A week before their move was announced, the ex-Weil partners were sighted in the Cadwalader offices, on an evening tour led by CWT chairman Robert Link and bankruptcy chairman Bruce Zirinsky.
If you have any scuttlebutt to add about Gonzales and V&E, please email us. Thanks.
Update: According to this comment, “He was there for the funeral of a former partner — Rush Record.” This explanation sounds plausible to us, since Mr. Record did pass away last week.

Jon Bon Jovi Judge Marjorie Rendell Marjorie O Rendell Midge Rendell.JPGThe latest item for Eyes of the Law, our legal celebrity sightings column, is a doozy. From the AP:

Rock band Bon Jovi, Harrisburg restaurants and school bands from all over the state were part of yesterday’s daylong celebration of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s inauguration for a second term….

Even more talented than Rendell was his wife, Midge Rendell [aka Third Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell], who capped the concert by singing a duet with rock star Jon Bon Jovi of “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”

The performance brought the night’s first standing ovation. Rendell ambled up on stage afterward and marveled that no other first lady could sing with Bon Jovi.

“Take that Maria Shriver,” he bellowed, referring to the wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Please correct us if we’re wrong. But this is, as far as we know, the first time a federal circuit judge has sung a duet with Jon Bon Jovi.*

In addition to her musical prowess, the Honorable Marjorie Rendell also deserves props for being the Stylish Marjorie Rendell.

The attractive Judge Rendell, a federal judicial hottie, wore a gown by noted designer Paula Hian to the inauguration festivities.

For hard-core fashionistas, a lengthy description of the frock appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Rendell: She Gives Love a Bad Name”

Jed Rakoff Jed S Rakoff District Judge SDNY Above the Law.jpgWe’ve solicited funny holiday party stories from you. We haven’t received much thus far.
But from the legendary Southern District of New York, probably the nation’s most distinguished district court bench, we did get this account of its celebrated “Courthouse Follies” (which took place on the evening of Friday, December 15):

Item: The Southern District of New York’s “Courthouse Follies,” tonight.

Showstopping performance: A boisterous musical number by Judge Jed Rakoff (at right), Judge Laura Taylor Swain, Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis, and Chief Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith. Sung to the tune of “There Once Was a Man” from Doris Day’s “The Pajama Game,” with additional lyrics and dialogue by Judge Rakoff, the act featured Judge Rakoff in a blond fright wig, Judge Swain in a Groucho mask with cigar, Judge Ellis in an oversized red polka-dot bow tie, and Judge Smith in what I can characterize only as a goofy black hat.

Was that a woman’s blond fright wig? If so, Judge Rakoff can kiss any elevation hopes good-bye. Senator Brownback opposes all judicial nominees who have appeared in drag.

Highlight: A musical shoutout to Underneath Their Robes! The patter leading up to the song was about changes in the courthouse under the new chief judge. One of them was (I’m paraphrasing slightly), “I get all my case info from www.underneaththeirrobes.com.”

Less a joke than a name check, but it suggests that Judge Rakoff is a fan.

Interestingly enough, the new chief judge of the Southern District is none other than Kimba M. Wood — the reigning Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary, per UTR.
P.S. In case you’re wondering, yes, we will be holding a new Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary contest. Look for it in 2007.

Antonin Scalia Justice Antonin Scalia Above the Law Legal Gossip.jpgOver at Bench Memos, Ed Whelan — one of our favorite commentators on matters judicial — provides a great account of Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent visit to his alma mater, Harvard Law School. Here’s an excerpt:

The dinner that Harvard Law School dean Elena Kagan hosted on Wednesday evening to honor the 20th anniversary of Justice Scalia’s appointment to the Supreme Court was a delightful event, far exceeding my hopeful expectations.

In her own remarks honoring Justice Scalia, Dean Kagan was eloquent, warm-spirited, insightful, and very amusing. She presented Justice Scalia with a letter from Chief Justice Roberts congratulating him on reaching the “midpoint” (or some similar term) of his service on the Court. With wonderfully apt remarks, she also gave him, as a memento of the dinner (which featured salmon as the main course), the framed original of a humorous letter from the great Justice Joseph Story offering thanks for a gift of salmon. The celebratory remarks of professors Charles Fried, Laurence Tribe, and John Manning were likewise excellent.

Read the full report here. As Whelan notes, the welcome extended to Justice Scalia in Cambridge — by law school dean hottie Elena Kagan — was notably warmer than the somewhat chilly reception accorded to Nino in New Haven.
Harvard Law School Celebration of Justice Scalia [Bench Memos on National Review Online]
Earlier: An Addendum on Nino in New Haven

Last week, an investiture ceremony was held for Judge Neil Gorsuch, recently confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. And it was a star-studded affair. From the Denver Post:

Seven-year-old Emma and 5-year-old Belinda helped their father, Neil Gorsuch, into his judge’s robes Monday after the newly appointed 10th Circuit Court judge was sworn in.

Munching on cookies after the formal ceremony, Emma said she thought it “was nice.”

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was in Denver to administer the oath, spoke directly to the little girls before Gorsuch raised his right hand. “He’s doing it to remind all of us that the first obligation any American has is to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States,” he said.

Justice Kennedy’s pedagogical impulse is admirable. We suspect, however, that Emma and Belinda were thinking more about cookies than the Constitution.
Some supplementary coverage, from an ATL tipster:

The entire en banc 10th Circuit was present. Justice Kennedy administered the oath. Attorney General Gonzales read the commission. Both Colorado Senators made remarks, as did Mark Hansen of Kellogg Huber (the insanely prestigious appellate shop from which Gorsuch rose). Half of the Justice Department was there: Rachel Brand, Elisebeth Collins Cook, Brett Gerry, Wan Kim, Gregory Katsas, among others.

The Gorsuch clerks showed everyone around Denver and got trashed on consecutive nights. Good times were had by all.

Article III groupies, Judge Neil Gorsuch is one to watch. He’s brilliant, he’s young, and he’s incredibly well-connected. Look for him to rise through the ranks of Supreme Court feeder judges in the years to come — and, perhaps, to be nominated to the Court himself someday.
(Judge Gorsuch is taking the seat of Judge David Ebel, who has been the Tenth Circuit’s resident feeder judge for quite some time now. Guess that’s the 10th Circuit’s designated “feeder seat.”)
Update: Would someone be able to locate and/or send us a good photo of Judge Gorsuch for our files? Our quick Googling didn’t produce anything useful.
10th Circuit judge’s oath a family affair [Denver Post]

John G Roberts Chief Justice John Roberts Above the Law ATL ATL.JPGWe’d pay a king’s ransom for an update of the music video for “Miami.” Instead of showing Will Smith frolicking with bikini-clad beauties, the new version would feature Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, shaking their bon-bons with surgically-enhanced sirens.
If this sounds unlikely, consider: Winter is still weeks away, but Supreme Court justices are already flocking to Miami.
Late last month, Justice Samuel A. Alito paid a visit, to swear in his former clerk, Alex Acosta, as U.S. Attorney. And just last night, Chief Justice John G. Roberts made an appearance, addressing an audience of 3,000 at the University of Miami. He also participated in an interview with Jan Crawford Greenburg of ABC News.
Accounts of the Chief’s visit are available from the Miami Herald, ABC News, and our pals at PrawfsBlawg (here and here). We’ve read ‘em all, so you don’t have to — although we do commend them to you, since they’re quite interesting.
Chief Justice Roberts spoke at length about how judges should not rule based on their “personal policy preferences,” and he expressed support for the separation of powers. Quelle surprise.
But he did share some more fun tidbits as well. Highlights from the write-ups, along with our commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Justices: “They’re Going to Miami””

harold koh harold hongju koh.jpgAn interesting update to our prior post about Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent appearance at the Yale Law School. From a current YLS student:

Some of us were bothered — though not exactly surprised — by Dean Harold Koh’s tepid introduction of Justice Scalia. Koh couldn’t seem to find anything warm and welcoming to say about Scalia. Rather, he spent his entire introduction praising Christine Jolls.

It was as though Scalia wasn’t even there. Koh’s lack of hospitality was particularly striking when compared to how he often gushes about other relatively unremarkable visiting speakers.

Like our correspondent, we’re not entirely surprised. We haven’t met Dean Koh in person, and he wasn’t dean when we were at Yale. But we have heard through the YLS alumni grapevine that he is more ideologically motivated, and less evenhanded, than his predecessor as dean, Tony Kronman.
We’ve also heard Dean Koh compared to Dean Elena Kagan of Harvard Law School in this regard. Dean Kagan is politically active on the liberal side. Like Dean Koh, she served in the Clinton Administration (as a domestic policy advisor and in the White House Counsel’s office). She was nominated to the D.C. Circuit by President Clinton, but was denied a vote, and she’s a possible SCOTUS nominee in a Hillary Clinton Democratic administration. But despite her personal leanings, Dean Kagan has been widely praised for supporting intellectual and ideological diversity on the Harvard Law School campus.
(Also, Dean Kagan was a nominee in our Law School Dean Hotties contest. She did not prevail, losing out to a Yalie (Asha Rangappa). But just like the Oscars, it’s an honor just to be nominated.)
Earlier: The Eyes of the Law: Did Poor Justice Scalia Have to Spend the Night in New Haven?
Law School Dean Hotties: Your Female Nominees
“Harvard Law On A Heterodox Spree, Listing to Right” [Volokh Conspiracy]

Antonin Scalia Justice Antonin Scalia Justice Scalia Above the Law Legal Gossip Blog.JPGLast Thursday, Justice Antonin Scalia spoke before the Yale Political Union (an appearance we discussed here). And on Friday morning, Justice Scalia made an appearance at (the) Yale Law School.
Justice Scalia was introduced by his former clerk, the beautiful and brilliant Professor Christine Jolls. This past June, Professor Jolls was lured away from Harvard Law School by Yale, causing the HLS faculty “hotness quotient” to plummet. Professor Jolls, for the record, is less conservative than her former boss; during her clerkship with Justice Scalia, she was the designated “counterclerk” (see comments to this post).
An excellent account of Justice Scalia’s appearance at YLS is provided by Vivek Krishnamurthy. It’s commendably detailed, insightful, and witty. You can check it out here (via How Appealing).
A few excerpts, with our commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Eyes of the Law: Did Poor Justice Scalia Have to Spend the Night in New Haven?”

Antonin Scalia Justice Antonin Scalia Above the Law Legal Gossip.jpgJustice Antonin Scalia, who loves to take his judicial philosophy on tour, made an appearance yesterday at Yale. He made the usual case in favor of an originalist interpretation of the Consitution, in an address to the Yale Political Union.
An account of his speech appears in the YDN. Here are the two best quips:

“I have no idea what the evolving standards of decency are,” Scalia said. “I am afraid to inquire.”

“[Because of originalism] I cannot do the wicked conservative things I would want to do to this society,” Scalia said.

Nino got some love from the audience:

“He’s a brilliant man and he certainly showed that off tonight,” [student Sam] Purdy said. “I don’t think he was just putting up smoke and mirrors … I left thinking he’s less of a conservative nut.”

So he’s still “a conservative nut” — just not as big. Maybe a pistachio rather than a walnut.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Justice Ginsburg Above the Law Legal Website.gifThe article closes with another backhanded compliment:

Regardless of whether they agreed with his views, many students said Scalia’s witty and at times self-deprecating rhetoric was a departure from the somewhat villainous reputation the justice carries with liberals.

“He was fun, for a conservative,” Chris Wihlidal ’09 said.

Fun — “for a conservative.” ‘Cause you’d rather be in South Beach, knocking back Coronas with Souter and Ruthie.
Scalia Urges Literalism [Yale Daily News via How Appealing]

john roberts john g roberts chief justice roberts_above_the_law_atl.jpgJustice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are the most famous opera aficionados on the Supreme Court. But it appears that they’re not the only ones. Check out our latest judicial sightation:

It appears that the ranks of the opera-attending justices is swelling. My wife and I spotted the Chief Justice and Mrs. Roberts at the Washington National Opera [on Saturday night], where we, they, and a couple thousand of our mutual friends saw the opening of Madama Butterfly. (The female lead — an understudy! — was superb.)

Because it was opening night, it was “black tie optional.” The Chief showed what he thinks of the “optional” modifier by pulling on the ol’ tuxedo. Good look for him.

Delightful. And we concur with our correspondent: It wouldn’t do for the Chief Justice of the United States to be seen on opening night in anything less than a tux. (And we’re assuming the Chief wore a “real” tuxedo, not what passes for a tux on Oscars night — e.g., a black Prada or Thom Browne suit.)

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