Federal Judges

While some of the candidates for August’s Lawyer of the Month were bold in their displays of public idiocy, others were bold in their candid assessments of the legal profession.

Looking back on our summer winners for June and July, we thought that legal smarts were taking a substantial lead over legal stupidity. But as it turns out, the margin is much closer than we thought.

In this polling cycle, just ten votes separated our Lawyer of the Month from our second-place finisher….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “August Lawyer of the Month: Bow Down Before the King”

Judge Sam Sparks: Probably not smiling now.

The benchslapper has become the benchslapped. Judge Sam Sparks, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, just got smacked around by a higher authority: Chief Judge Edith Jones, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Last month, Judge Sparks issued a sharply worded order in which he compared the counsel appearing before him to squabbling schoolchildren — and invited them to a “kindergarten party,” where they would learn such lessons as “how to telephone and communicate with a lawyer” and “how to enter into reasonable agreements about deposition dates.” In the end, Judge Sparks ended up canceling the party, after the publicly shamed lawyers worked out their issues — but not before his infamous order received national attention within the legal community.

Many observers were amused by Judge Sparks’s order — which was not the first time His Honor has gotten saucy with lawyers in recent weeks (or in his judicial career, for that matter). But a minority felt that the order was over the top and gratuitously nasty.

Among the unamused: Edith Jones, who oversees the federal courts of Texas in her capacity as Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit. What did she have to say to Sam Sparks?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: Judge Sparks Gets a Taste of His Own Medicine”

Today is Friday, September 9, 2011. Do you know why today is special? Here’s the answer:

Yes, that’s right — we’re smack dab in the middle of the clerkship application season. Today was the first date and time (10 a.m. Eastern) when judges could contact applicants to schedule interviews, pursuant to the official law clerk hiring plan.

Let’s talk more about the process — and hear from those of you who are going through it….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clerkship Application Season: Open Thread”


In our most recent Grammer Pole of the Weak, over two-thirds of you voted against the use of gender-neutral language, opting instead for the historic use of “he,” “him,” and “his” to cover both sexes. In the poll before that one, over 80 percent of you voted in favor of the serial comma. These results suggest that Above the Law readers are traditionalists in matters of grammar, usage, and writing style.

But back in August, 60 percent of you said that you are all right with “alright.” So perhaps ATL readers are open to the evolution of the English language and the creation of new words.

How do y’all feel about neologisms? Let’s look at two new words, coined by none other than the newly svelte Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Grammer Pole of the Weak: ‘I Respectfully Dissental’”

My objections to the TSA and the invasive search techniques they employ have been well documented in these pages. I believe their tactics are violative of our rights and would be deemed unconstitutional in any America where courts placed justice ahead of fear. I believe a government that authorizes these searches has lost its legitimacy to rule. I believe citizens who support these procedures do not deserve the liberty they so eagerly toss aside.

And I believed all of that before I was actually molested by the TSA just yesterday.

Having now been through that awful experience, and so close to the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, I can only conclude that not only did the terrorists win, but they keep winning. Right now, the terrorists are winning so hard that they’ve gotten us to do their work for them. In my opinion, the TSA is nothing more than a domestic terror organization that operates above the law.

Just two minutes alone with these people has made me realize that their power now far exceeds the normal constraints of law and order. It might well take active civil disobedience to stop them.

Of course, this is all just my opinion. That’s a disclaimer I feel I need to make very clearly, since the TSA apparently believes that I should be wary of even criticizing it, for fear of being slapped with a lawsuit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Two Minutes of Terrorist Triumph: Alone With the TSA”

* What did you think of the way Obama was pimping out his reelection jobs bill last night? People were probably more excited about the football game that followed. [Los Angeles Times]

* Congratulations to Stephanie D. Thacker of West Virginia. She was nominated to fill a seat on the Fourth Circuit. If she doesn’t have a family circle, things will go well in her confirmation hearing. [State Journal]

* Money might not grow on trees, but it certainly grows on financial reform legislation. Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Act, the pockets of Biglawyers will continue to be lined with cash for years to come. [New York Times]

* Skinnygirl is supposed to be “the margarita you can trust,” but now the company is facing two class actions. I’ve never tried it (duh), but it’s never good to put your trust in alcohol. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* If you really want a job, you can start packing for South Dakota. A bit deserted for me. In fact, I think you might need some oxen and a covered wagon to practice out there. [WSJ Law Blog]

The month of August brought us a slew of disasters, both natural and otherwise. At the end of the month, we faced off against the Great D.C. Earthquake of 2011. Shortly thereafter, we got slammed by Hurricane Irene.

But August wasn’t just about natural disasters — there were plenty of man-made disasters to deal with in the legal world. From the egomaniacs to the technologically-impaired, August was full of candidates for our Lawyer of the Month competition….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Month: August Reader Poll”

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (in 2008 and today)

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit continues to provide us with awesome anecdotes. Back in July, for example, we related a fun story pertaining to his naturalization as an American citizen.

It was an inspiring immigrant story, but it was primarily of historical interest. Cool as it was, it did not have huge relevance to the day-to-day practice of law.

Our latest law-related tale about Chief Judge Kozinski has practical ramifications. California lawyers, you should keep reading; you never know when this knowledge might come in handy.

Also handy: diet tips from His Honor, who has dropped quite a bit of weight lately….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Heartwarming Story — Plus Diet Tips! — From Judge Alex Kozinski”

Judge Ginsburg: back to school.

* Judge Douglas Ginsburg (D.C. Cir.) is taking senior status and joining the NYU Law faculty. Query how this will affect his feeding (and no, we’re not talking about New York versus D.C. restaurants). [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* “Two Examples of Things Not to Say When You’re at Your Local IRS Office.” [Going Concern]

* Speaking of efficiency-challenged government entities, how can the U.S. postal service be fixed? Professor Gerard Magliocca floats some ideas. [Concurring Opinions]

Madonna: going to court.

* Should you rinse religion from your résumé? Reflections from Professor Paul Horwitz. [PrawfsBlawg]

* The Material Girl is going to trial — over the trademark to “Material Girl.” [Fashionista]

* It’s not just law schools that are getting sued for fraud; it’s happening to art schools too. [PetaPixel]

* Elsewhere in litigation land, Quinn Emanuel is making bank — by suing banks. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* What’s the deal with high-frequency trading algorithms? Fear not; the SEC is on the case. [Dealbreaker]

Judge Sam Sparks

* Remember the “kindergarten party” that Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.) was planning to hold? His Honor has canceled the festivities. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Althouse Cohen — yes, son of La Althouse — discusses one way in which Texas might be emulating… Europe? [Jaltcoh]

* Professor Paul Campos opens up a can of whoop-ass on people who say students go to law school — and take on six figures of debt — “for the chance to make a difference.” [Inside the Law School Scam]

* Musical Chairs: Mr. Quinn Goes To Washington (with the help of three Alston & Bird partners). [ABA Journal]

* The latest news on Stephen McDaniel / Lauren Giddings: if the blue gloves don’t fit, you must acquit? [Macon Telegraph]

* Above the Law — of animal cruelty? Steven Seagal, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a dead dog, and a rooster massacre. [TPM Muckraker]

Steven Seagal

* After a judge shot down the effort by NBA star Gilbert Arenas to stop “Basketball Wives: Los Angeles” from airing, Arenas’s ex-fiancee, Laura Govan, was allowed to strut her stuff on television — and it wasn’t pretty. [Sister2Sister]

* Congratulations to super-mensch Stanley Levy, senior counsel at Manatt, on winning Am Law’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011. [American Lawyer]

* And congrats to Masimba Mutamba, a 3L at Miami Law, who has just been awarded an apprenticeship with Waller Lansden’s innovative Schola2Juris program. [University of Miami School of Law]

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