Federal Judges

These days, mentioning the California city of Oakland conjures up images of tear gas and violence. It’s not a place that people associate with innocent fun right now.

But Oakland isn’t all protesters and police. We bring you a report from a recent visitor to that city, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit….

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* The American Bar Association can’t handle law schools, yet Obama trusts them to vet potential judicial nominees. Well, seems like they’re doing a bang-up job with that, too. [New York Times]

* First the New Jersey bar exam results, and now more MF Global drama. Angry investors want to know if a lawsuit will help Jon Corzine remember where he put the missing $600M. [Bloomberg]

* Law school debt increased by $475M between 2008 and 2010. Grab a raincoat, because this bubble’s going to burst soon, and it’s not going to be pretty (except for Cooley Law; they’ll be rich). [Am Law Daily]

* And on that note, what on earth was Cornell Law thinking? Did they fail to realize that their Cooley rankings would plummet if they decimated their library square footage? [Cornell Daily Sun]

* UC Berkeley: “We never like to hurt our students.” Yeah, apparently that’s what the police are for. Occupy Berkeley protesters are suing the school over police brutality allegations. [Huffington Post]

I once observed that federal judges are “the closest thing this nation has to an aristocracy.” If that’s the case, then justices of the United States Supreme Court are royalty — or maybe even deities, gods, and goddesses who walk among us (and occasionally crash into us, too).

Alas, it seems that two members of SCOTUS didn’t get the memo. They are comporting themselves in public in ways that are inconsistent with the dignity of the Article III judiciary.

This is a bipartisan problem. One of the offenders comes from the left side of the Court, and one comes from the right….

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Congratulations to the 2012 Bristow Fellows, who learned of their selection earlier this month. These one-year fellowships in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, awarded to recent law school graduates with outstanding academic records and top clerkships, are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and often lead to SCOTUS clerkships as well). You can read more about the Bristow Fellowship, including the job responsibilities and application process, on the Justice Department website.

Let’s take a look at the next crop of Bristow Fellows. Which law schools did they graduate from, and for whom did they clerk?

Also: over the past three years, which law schools and judges have minted the most Bristow Fellows?

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If Learned Hand’s opinions are like the products of a bespoke tailor, the opinions coming out of the Ninth Circuit are like the products of a factory that is staffed by machines and menial workers who are overseen from afar by a handful of overworked managers.

– Justice Samuel Alito, in a recent speech at Rutgers School of Law (Newark), lamenting the decline of craftsmanship in judicial opinions.

(An interesting fact about Justice Alito and the Ninth Circuit, after the jump.)

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Welcome to the latest edition of Above the Law’s Grammer Pole of the Weak, a column where we turn questions of legal writing and English grammar and usage over to our readers for discussion and debate.

Last week, we found out that only 29% of our readers lie back and think of England when dealing with punctuation and quotation marks. Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

This week, we turn to a hotly-debated issue among legal professionals: the use of the Bluebook. At least one federal judge hates it, joining hundreds upon thousands of law students to date.

Should we consider putting the Bluebook on the backburner in our legal writing?

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Angelica Marie Cecora, Oscar's latest lady-friend

* A bill to repeal DOMA made it past the Senate Judiciary Committee, but members of the Senate don’t do dick (unless it’s in an airport bathroom), so it’s probably not going anywhere. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Next on the gay rights news beat, after waiting around for 18 months, WilmerHale attorney Edward DuMont has refused to be the last belle at the ball. He’s asked Obama to withdraw his Federal Circuit nomination. [ThinkProgress]

* “Be careful of what you do, ’cause the lie becomes the truth.” Sound familiar? Conrad Murray says the King of Pop deceived him. Oh, boo hoo. Come on, MJ warned you about this stuff via song lyrics back in the eighties. [CNN]

* When a lawyer’s wife allegedly hires you to kill her husband, the easy way out isn’t to burn down his law firm. You kind of need to make sure that he’s in there first. [KBZK]

* Oscar de la Hoya’s got bigger problems than this kinky lawsuit. He’s probably more worried about getting runs in his stockings, to be honest. [New York Post]

* Snitches don’t get stitches in Mexico. They get their freakin’ heads chopped off. And now I wait for a drug cartel to come and murder me. [Daily Mail]

Herman Cain: victim of a high-tech lynching?

* Here is Bess Levin’s take on the Groomzilla lawsuit brought by Todd J. Remis, son of a Goodwin Procter partner. [Dealbreaker]

* What advice would crisis management guru Lanny Davis give to Herman Cain about Cain’s sexual harassment scandal? Here’s an imagined conversation. [The Hill]

* And here is a real conversation — between Herman Cain and Ginni Thomas, also about the sexual harassment allegations. [Daily Caller]

* Current law students, at Brooklyn Law and Cardozo, call upon the ABA to get its act together. [BLS Advocate; Cardozo Jurist]

Judge J. Paul Oetken (S.D.N.Y.)

* The legal career of NBA star Ben Wallace is off to a great start. [Yahoo! Sports]

* Antonin Pribetic asks: “Are GCs Shifting The Balance of BigLaw Power?” [The Trial Warrior]

* Congratulations to Judge Paul Oetken on joining the distinguished S.D.N.Y. bench! (I was lucky enough to attend his ceremonial induction last week, which was fabulous.) [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* And congratulations to the Dave Nee Foundation, a non-profit committed to fighting depression and preventing suicide, on its record number of law firm supporters for this year’s masquerade ball (taking place tomorrow night). [Dave Nee Foundation (press release)]

Robert Bork

Some lawyers can be so circumspect in speech and so careful in action that they’re just plain boring. Such caution might help you make it to the Supreme Court someday, but it’s not a recipe for a very fun life.

Thankfully, not all brilliant lawyers are afraid of speaking their minds. Take Robert Bork, the former U.S. Solicitor General and D.C. Circuit judge whose Supreme Court nomination famously went down in flames in 1987 — due in part to his loquaciousness during his confirmation hearings.

Judge Bork, now 84, is currently a fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank. He’s not as involved in public life as he once was, but he’s not completely out of the picture. For example, he’s serving as a legal adviser to Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney (a development that some on the left have criticized).

And Judge Bork continues to make controversial pronouncements, most recently in an interview with Newsweek….

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'But I'm too pretty to go to jail.'

* The AT&T/T-Mobile antitrust suit is so big that not even Big Government law can handle it. The DOJ is bringing in even bigger guns with a partner from Biglaw firm Munger Tolles. [Bloomberg]

* Obama has nominated former Kozinski clerk, Paul Watford, to the Ninth Circuit. Way to go, because he’s kind of cute. Isn’t that what everyone looks for in a federal judge? [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Is Paul Ceglia’s Facebook lawsuit completely doomed? His own lawyer, Jeffrey Lake, wants to defriend him. This will be the fourth firm to dump Ceglia as a client. [Wall Street Journal]

* Blind item: which Hollywood actress is suing IMDb for $1M for revealing her true age? And we say “true age” because everyone knows that Botox knocks a few years off your face. [Reuters]

* Lindsay Lohan is due in court today for a progress report hearing, and prosecutors want to throw her in jail. Hope she’s been brushing up on her acting skills. [New York Daily News]

* Cry me a river? A Florida lawyer will be arguing before the state Supreme Court this winter over his First Amendment right to blast Justin Timberlake from his car stereo. [NBC Miami]

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