Once upon a time, there lived a magnificient judicial diva named Carolyn B. Kuhl. She lived in sunny California, Land of the Dancing Raisins.
Judge Kuhl was beautiful, and she was brainy. Her résumé was one brand name after another: Princeton; Duke Law School; a clerkship with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, back when he was on the Ninth Circuit; various high-level positions at the Justice Department, including Deputy Solicitor General; and a partnership at the elite L.A. law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson.
But Carolyn Kuhl was a bit like Cinderella. After tremendous early career successes, she found herself trapped in a state of miserable servitude: a state court judgeship. And not even a state supreme or appellate court judgeship, but a position as a state trial court judge. ICK.
While wicked judicial stepsisters with far less distinguished backgrounds wound up with more prestigious, better-paying federal judgeships, Judge Kuhl was stuck with the judicial equivalent of Cinderella’s floor mopping: hearing civil cases in state court. To add insult to injury, the decrepitude of the state court building sometimes forced Judge Kuhl to conduct hearings out on street corners.
But one day, Prince Charming showed up, bearing a glass slipper. It was President George W. Bush, and the glass slipper was a nomination to the prestigious Ninth Circuit — the nation’s largest, and arguably most influential, federal appeals court. If confirmed to that circuit court, Judge Kuhl might someday be a viable candidate for the United States Supreme Court. She might end up as the belle of the ball — just in a black robe, instead of a white chiffon gown.
Alas, Judge Kuhl never got to try on that glass slipper. Her Ninth Circuit nomination was held up by Senate Democrats, who were pressured into doing so by various liberal interest groups. Eventually Judge Kuhl asked for her nomination to be withdrawn. In the end, her glass slipper was shattered — by partisan politics.
So what happened next to Judge Kuhl? After her Ninth Circuit nomination was scuttled, she decided that she had had enough of the law. She left the judiciary, and she left Los Angeles, in order to start a new life. She moved all the way to New York City, to follow her lifelong, pre-law-school dream: a career in retail fashion.
Once she arrived in the Big Apple, Judge Kuhl found the most perfect storefront on Madison Avenue. It became the new home of her eponymous menswear boutique: Kuhl Man. Here’s a picture:
The Kuhlman boutique took off, becoming a mecca for every dandy in the New York metropolitan area (including many partners at the city’s top law firms). And Judge Kuhl lived happily ever after.*
* Okay, this last part about Judge Kuhl leaving the bench to start a clothing store in Manhattan is wholly fabricated. As far as we know, Judge Kuhl continues to serve on the California Superior Court for Los Angeles County.
It’s just that, when we were up in New York this past weekend, we walked past this elegant men’s clothing store named “Kuhl Man.” Seeing this shop immediately triggered thoughts of Judge Carolyn Kuhl. So we stopped in front of the store, whipped out our camera, and took a photograph.
Then we made up this imaginary backstory explaining how the store came into being — and linking it up with the fabulous Judge Kuhl. That’s all. We have a very active imagination.
(Yeah, kinda bizarre. Please, cut us some slack today. It’s a pseudo-holiday — even if many Biglaw associates, as well as many law clerks, are stuck at work right now.)
Fili-BUSTED! Magnificent judicial divas have been stopped dead in their tracks. Now UTR asks: Who is the biggest diva? [UTR]
Judicial Diva, She’s Homeless [UTR]
Kuhlman Company [official website]
Once upon a time, there lived a magnificient judicial diva named Carolyn B. Kuhl. She lived in sunny California, Land of the Dancing Raisins.
Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain’s current law clerks, a merry band: Vincent Kalafat, from Notre Dame; Rod Forter, from Columbia; Marah Stith, from Yale (blogged about supra); and Father Bill Dailey, from Columbia.
Well, Ninth Circuit and O’Scannlain groupies, we’ve come to the end of the road. This is our last batch of pictures from our delightful weekend in Portland, Oregon, attending DFOpalooza.
After the Friday night reception at the Pioneer Courthouse, and the Saturday night dinner at the Town Club, the weekend concluded with a farewell brunch at the O’Scannlain residence. The weather couldn’t have been better, and many guests sat out on the expansive judicial patio, where they enjoyed wonderful brunch fare (including an amazing artichoke-and-chicken dish that was nothing short of a revelation).
More pictures, after the jump.
Gee, we sure wandered off the reservation. We started off intending to write about this interesting Wall Street Journal article, discussing the lawsuit filed by high-end handbag maker Coach against big-box retailer Target (pronounced by some “tar-ZHAY”).
Sure, the news is a few days old. But we couldn’t resist writing about it, since it combines two of our great interests: law and fashion. As we mentioned earlier, lately we’ve grown quite interested in handbags, after reading Andrea Lee’s fascinating article about them in the New Yorker’s recent fall style issue.
From the WSJ article about the case:
Coach alleged that Target was a counterfeiter by selling a Coach-style purse, complete with a hang tag that says “Coach,” according to Coach Chief Financial Officer Mike Devine. The allegedly fake bag has Coach’s signature C-pattern and a touch of snakeskin-like fabric in the center of the bag, according to a photo of it included in the lawsuit. The bag, purchased from a Target store in Largo, Fla., is an “exact replica of a genuine Coach handbag” bearing at least one Coach trademark, the suit says.
This reminded us of the famous Coco Chanel quote: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Of course, Coach seems more incensed than flattered by what Target has allegedly done.
That in turn made us think about this great piece in the Times magazine, which we just finished reading, about the late Madeleine Vionnet. Vionnet, who passed back away in 1975, is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s queen of cut and drape. Here’s how the Times describes her:
White-haired and unglamorous, [Vionnet] shunned the limelight sought by her archrival, Coco Chanel, who got her start making hats and whom Vionnet often derided as just a milliner. Late in life, Vionnet conceded that Chanel had taste, but she forever felt superior to the popularizer of quilted handbags and black-toed slippers.
While we adore Chanel (who doesn’t), we must profess special admiration for Vionnet. Many professionals, once they reach the top of their field, become “big picture” people, refusing to sully their hands with little details. Chanel and many other designers, for example, reach a point where they don’t make clothes themselves, but just give the “thumbs’ up” or “thumbs’ down” to what their junior designers have come up with.
But we deeply admire people at the top who haven’t lost the skills they honed while climbing the ladder to success — and who can still exercise those skills when called upon to do so. This type of knowledge is what the Greek philosophers referred to as techne, i.e., “art, craft or skill.”
Here are some categories of people we admire on these grounds:
– Biglaw partners who still draft their own briefs, like many of the ones we worked with at Wachtell Lipton;
– celebrity chefs who still prepare meals with their own two hands, like Thomas Keller and Mario Batali; and
– contemporary artists who, instead of having workshop minions execute their abstract concepts, still paint their own paintings (extra points if the work is figurative).
And, of course, judges who still draft their own opinions, like Seventh Circuit judicial deities Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook. They aren’t just Article III machines dispensing outcomes, and issuing marching orders to their clerks; they are legal craftsmen. They are the federal bench’s answer to Cristobal Balenciaga, about whom Judith Thurman wrote the following (in the July 3, 2006 New Yorker):
Arbiters of fashion generally agree that Balenciaga, the son of a Basque fisherman and a seamstress, was the greatest couturier of the last century. Dior considered him the primus inter pares, and Chanel conceded that Balenciaga alone could construct a perfect garment from start to finish with his own hands, whereas everyone else was merely “a designer.”
Actually, maybe our Balenciaga comparison goes too far. Here’s what we need to know about Judge Posner and Judge Easterbrook before we dub them the Balenciagas of the federal judiciary: Do they do their own Westlaw and LEXIS research? If so — if they can locate, Keycite, print out, and highlight the cases, statutes, and other authorities they rely upon — then they truly can “construct a perfect [opinion] from start to finish with [their] own hands.”
(This was quite a digression. We thank you for your indulgence.)
Not Our Bag, Coach Says [Wall Street Journal via WSJ Law Blog]
This just in, from TaxProf Blog:
A photograph of the two good professors appears above. Fashion props to Professor Perry for the understated elegance of her strapless, cream-colored, Empire waist gown. (Usually we can’t stand Empire waists; but this wedding dress looks great on her.)
Additional details from the wedding, also from TaxProf Blog:
Miranda’s judge, Judge Morris (Buzz) Arnold of the 8th Circuit, officiated. He managed to work in a wonderful legal history describing how the marriage contract is rooted in the common law of private ordering.
Attending were Tax Profs Eric Zolt (UCLA) and his wife Kathy Smalley (who worked on the Tufts concurrence for Justice O’Connor!), and Adam Chodorow (Arizona State) and his wife Rebel Rice. Also in attendance were tax lawyers Sang Ji (White & Case), Katharine Moir (Simpson Thacher), and John Melfi (Holland and Hart). Rounding out the tax expertise was Gail Perry, CPA, Miranda’s aunt and author of many tax books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Doing Your Income Taxes.” Some non-tax Profs also celebrated with us, including Matt Bodie (Hofstra), Rebecca Hollander-Blumoff (Wash U), David Zaring (Washington & Lee), Paul Ohm (Colorado), Clare Huntington (Colorado), Nestor Davidson (Colorado), Meredith Harbach (NYU), and Kris Collins (Boston University).
Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple! Given their brains and beauty, we have big expectations for their little deductions.
Tax Prof Nuptials: Miranda Perry & Vic Fleischer [TaxProf Blog]
Some random reading recommendations, which don’t have much to do with law. But that’s what weekends are for, right?
* Suffering from Entourage withdrawal? Read about a real-life agent dumping (by Jim Carrey). [Defamer]
* Suffering from Project Runway withdrawal, since there was no new episode this week? Get your hands on the New Yorker’s fantastic fashion issue. The profile of Diane von Furstenberg — by Larissa MacFarquhar, who once profiled Judge Richard Posner — is especially worthwhile. So is Andrea Lee’s article about high-end handbags (“The Bag Lady”). [New Yorker (table of contents; most articles not online)]
* Suffering from Harriet Miers withdrawal? Head over to the blog of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston. Then run a search (ctrl-F) for “LOL.” [Cardinal Seán’s Blog via New York Times]
- Ann Althouse, Bill Clinton, Blog Wars, Blogging, Fashion, Feminism, Gender, HP, Non-Sequiturs, Shoes, Shopping
* We’re several days late on this; but it’s just as well. We’re not touching this controversy (see photo below) with the proverbial 10-foot pole. [Althouse; Feministing; Althouse; Feministing]
But just out of curiosity, ATL readers, what’s your first reaction to this photo of Bill Clinton and a group of bloggers? Please place your responses in the comments to this post.
* HP looked into having spies infiltrate the offices of CNET and the Wall Street Journal by posing as clerical employees or cleaning crew members. This scandal gets more insane by the day. [DealBreaker]
* Have an iron stomach? Looking for a quick way to make $75,000? [TortsProf Blog]
* We agree with Professor Dimino’s students — we’ll take a statutory class over Con Law any day of the week. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Lawyers don’t have a monopoly on mumbo jumbo. [Securities Litigation Watch via DealBreaker]
* It’s about time: Washington women get on the footwear bandwagon. [Washington Post]
Our ERISA Hotties Contest has only been over for a day — but some of you miss it already.
Fear not. The contest may be over, but the commentary isn’t. We’ll have a few more posts discussing the competition — including our personal views on which ERISA Hotties should have gotten more lovin’ from the electorate.
After the results were announced, we contacted our two winning hotties — Professor Bruce A. Wolk and Sarah E. Downie — for comment. We haven’t heard back from Professor Wolk yet, but Ms. Downie did have this acceptance speech to deliver:
Hi. That was one hard-fought battle. I would like to profoundly thank everyone who voted for me!
My boyfriend is interested in knowing whether I get a tiara for the victory. I also think that Professor Wolk would look great in a crown of some sort.
We agree wholeheartedly. The only thing cooler than an ERISA professor lounging on the hood of his Camry is an ERISA professor in a tiara lounging on the hood of his Camry.
And hey, guess what? Noted wedding tiara designer Christina Garcia is our cousin-in-law! (She’s married to our first cousin, Jerald Garcia.) We will contact her forthwith about providing tiaras for our winning hotties.
Once again, ATL sends its warmest congratulations to Bruce Wolk and Sarah Downie on their latest professional distinction. Time to update those CVs and résumés!
Christina Garcia: Tiaras of Distinction [official website]
Earlier: Prior ERISA Hotties coverage (scroll down)
Harriet Ellan Miers — remember her? President Bush’s White House Counsel, who was the subject of an ill-fated, and quickly withdrawn, Supreme Court nomination?
When Harriet Miers was thrust into the public spotlight as a SCOTUS nominee, her personal style was placed under scrutiny. People made fun of her hair and her make-up. And her 80′s-style ensembles were criticized by many.
Perhaps Harriet Miers took these fashion criticisms to heart. Here’s our latest “Eyes of the Law” celebrity sighting:
On Saturday afternoon, 9/9, I saw Harriet Miers in the “Narrative” Department at Nordstrom’s Pentagon City. She was looking at suits in black and “Reagan red.” I recognized her and nodded at her, and so she smiled pleasantly (in her Stepfordian way). She also rightly determined that red is not her color, and moved on.
I spent the rest of the afternoon lamenting the now obvious loss of my former rock-and-roll lifestyle and feeling tortured that I was shopping in the same department as Harriet Miers. Ew.
Cheer up, dear reader; you should actually congratulate yourself on being found in the shopping company of Harriet Miers. Although the blogospheric masses dismissed Harriet Miers, more sophisticated critics viewed her as a “fashion icon” — with really nice legs!
* That’s interesting: crossword guru Will Shortz is a UVA Law alum. And we love the opening question of this interview — even if it’s not terribly PC. [TJ's Double Play]
* The saucy blog commenter who (unintentionally) got Lee Siegel’s TNR blog taken down: Kramer Levin associate Joseph Schwartz, self-described “reluctant lawyer” and “frustrated” fiction writer. Take a number, Joe. [New York Observer]
* Getting those ankle bracelets removed would be oh-so-liberating. [The Independent via DealBreaker]
* Our ERISA Hotties Contest isn’t the only poll in progress here at Above the Law. Don’t forget to vote for August 2006′s Couple of the Month! [ATL]
Another day, another circuit court decision involving a school kid with a wise-ass t-shirt.
Earlier this year, the Ninth Circuit dealt with the case of a kid who wore a T-shirt to school that read, “Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemned. Homosexuality is shameful.” (The kid lost; and that’s why they call it the Ninth Circuit.)
Today, the Second Circuit also ruled in favor of the student, on these facts:
[T]he images depicted on the shirt were a martini glass, three lines of cocaine, a razor blade and a straw. According to the court, the alcohol and drug-related images were intended to portray President Bush as a former alcohol and drug user.
The school allowed a large picture of the president’s face, wearing a helmet, superimposed on the body of a chicken. The shirt identified Bush as “Chicken-Hawk-In-Chief.” But it demanded that Zachary cover the alcohol and drug-related images. He did so with duct tape on which he wrote “censored.”
Zachary and his parents then filed suit claiming that he had been required to cover the images in violation of his free speech rights.
These cases are quite en vogue. And even though the slogan wasn’t on his clothing, don’t forget the kid with the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner, which Ken Starr is appealing to the Supreme Court.
We like these cases, ’cause they’re more interesting than typical appeals court fare. But they must be quite a headache from the perspective of school administrators — and certainly another argument in favor of dress codes.
Picture this: “Express Yourself,” a Project Runway challenge in which the designers would have to produce an “expressive” outfits. Wouldn’t that be great?
But don’t hold your breath waiting for this. Last year we submitted a feedback form to the Project Runway website, suggesting that they hold a judicial robe design challenge — with the wild ‘n wacky Judge Alex Kozinski as the guest judge. Alas, they haven’t gotten back to us.
‘Offensive’ Speech Gets Narrow Reading at 2nd Circuit [New York Law Journal]
Rehearing on T-shirt is denied [San Francisco Chronicle]
Project Runway [official website]