Federal Judges

Judge John Roll

We’re not going to weigh in on all the rampant speculation about what gave rise to the shooting today in Arizona involving Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona). But we did want to inform you that news outlets are now reporting that federal judge John Roll was one of the victims in the shooting in Tucson.

UPDATE: President Obama is also confirming that Chief Judge John M. Roll (D. Ariz.) was fatally shot in Tucson. Here’s a statement from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano:

“I am deeply saddened by reports that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Chief Judge John Roll and others were attacked this afternoon in Tucson, Arizona. There is no place in our society or discourse for such senseless and unconscionable acts of violence. Gabby is a steadfast representative for southern Arizona and both she and John are dedicated public servants.

“The Department of Homeland Security has offered all possible assistance to the FBI and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, who are leading the investigation. My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her family and staff, and all those who were injured in this difficult time.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Some more details on Judge Roll, plus several UPDATES, after the jump…

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Over many years, however, a persistent problem has developed in the process of filling judicial vacancies. Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes. This has created acute difficulties for some judicial districts.

— Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in his annual report on the state of the federal judiciary (gavel bang: Tony Mauro / The BLT).

Hal Turner: This blogger must go to prison.

* Professor Paul Caron has taken the data gathered by Princeton Review and come up with new law school rankings. Which school comes out on top? (Stanford is #2.) [TaxProf Blog]

* Are business students better than law students at making clever musical parody videos? Check out “Those CBS Girls” (Columbia Business School girls), set to the tune of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” (sic). [Dealbreaker]

* Hal Turner, the New Jersey right-wing blogger / shock jock who blogged “these judges must die,” has been sentenced. How much time did he get? [Huffington Post]

* Congratulations to the fabulous Judge Leslie Kobayashi, who was recently confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (along with other Obama judicial nominees confirmed to various courts around the country). [angry asian man; Associated Press]

* When non-whites play golf, bad things happen. [ESPN]

* The juicy lawsuit filed by Ariel Ayanna against Dechert got lost in the bonus news shuffle around here. But here are some thoughts from Jane Genova. [Law and More]

Judge Vanessa Gilmore, a self-identified judicial diva.

Back in 2007, I declared Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore (S.D. Tex.) to be a judicial diva (a term I first popularized over at my original blog, Underneath Their Robes). Judge Gilmore earned this delicious distinction through such behavior as allegedly throwing objects at attorneys in open court and dumping motions in the trash for using the incorrect font.

Well, it appears that Judge Vanessa Gilmore was pleased rather than perturbed by her diva designation. As she told the Texas Lawyer, she used it in the title of her new book, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Tales From a Judicial Diva.

This is Judge Gilmore’s second book. Her first literary effort, A Boy Named Rocky, was “a coloring book for the children of incarcerated parents.” (They sure could use it — if any kids need to be taught to stay within the lines….)

Let’s learn more about Judge Gilmore’s latest book — and check out the delightfully ridiculous cover art….

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Barack Obama: The doctor is... out?

Virginia 1, Obamacare 0. Ian Gershengorn must be pacing up a storm.

Judge Henry E. Hudson (E.D. Va.) just struck down a key provision of President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law — namely, the requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance. Judge Hudson held that the insurance mandate exceeds Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause. Links to coverage are collected below; Judge Hudson’s 42-page opinion is available here (PDF, via Dahlia Lithwick).

Congratulations to Virginia and to its crusading attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Federalist Society festivities a few weeks ago).

Of course, we’re still near the beginning of a long road of litigation — which will likely end at One First Street, two (or more) years from now.

Health Care Law Ruled Unconstitutional [New York Times]
Judge Strikes Down Part of Health Care Law [ABA Journal]
Virginia Federal Judge Shoots Down Part of Health Care Law [WSJ Law Blog]

This morning the United States Senate voted to convict Judge G. Thomas Porteous of Louisiana on all four articles of impeachment he faced. These convictions will remove him from his lifetime seat on the federal bench, making him only the eighth federal judge in U.S. history to suffer this fate, and strip him of the $174,000 pension he would have otherwise enjoyed.

Article I accused Judge Porteous, 63, of bringing the federal judiciary “into scandal and disrepute,” as a result of his “corrupt financial relationship” with attorneys appearing before him (who gave him “gifts”). The vote was unanimous: 96-0. Ouch.

Apparently the senators were not persuaded by Professor Jonathan Turley’s argument that Judge Porteous (E.D. La.) wasn’t guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, but simply “something of a moocher.” Think Kato Kaelin, but in a black robe.

Judge Porteous fared a bit better on the other three articles of impeachment….

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We’ve set up our liveblog of the Ninth Circuit oral arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the Proposition 8 / same-sex marriage case. For a comprehensive account of what has happened in the litigation thus far, see this great FAQ by Chris Geidner, over at Poliglot.

You can watch streaming video of the arguments over at C-SPAN. And you can join our liveblog, after the jump….

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I didn’t read one word. I have a life to live.

– Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, explaining that he didn’t read the 100 pages of RESPA disclosure documents when he recently purchased a house.

(Gavel bang: Josh Blackman, who notes that Judge Easterbrook’s colleague, Judge Richard Posner, previously said essentially the same thing.)

We’ve covered in loving detail the alleged misadventures of Judge Jack Camp (N.D. Ga.). As you may recall, Judge Camp is the Atlanta federal judge who stands accused of purchasing and enjoying illegal drugs. And purchasing — and presumably enjoying — illegal sex, from an exotic dancer named Sherry Ann Ramos.

Last month, Judge Camp’s attorney stated that His Honor planned to plead not guilty. The possibility of seeing Judge Camp back in the courtroom, but maybe in an orange jumpsuit rather than a black robe, got us all excited.

But it now appears that the judge has had a change of heart. Much to the dismay of trial-seeking AUSAs around the country, defendants plead, they always plead….

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For a long time, Jonathan Lee Riches reigned as Craziest Pro Se Litigant in America. But at a certain point, JLR jumped the proverbial shark. His handwritten complaints, making bizarre allegations against everyone from Michael Vick to Martha Stewart to the late Benazir Bhutto, were just too clever by half. And once he passed the 1,500 mark in lawsuits, his shtick got… old.

Fortunately we have a new favorite pro se party for you. Meet Deborah Frisch (or Deborah E. Frisch, Ph.D., as she identifies herself in court filings). Frisch appears to be something of a loon, despite her doctorate and past teaching positions at such schools as the University of Oregon and the University of Arizona. Ironically enough, or maybe not so ironically, the nutty professor teaches… psychology.

Here’s the charming opening paragraph from a document that Frisch filed last week in federal district court in Oregon:

Plaintiff shall henceforth refer to self as litigant since she is defendant, appellant or plaintiff, depending on which shyster-vermin she is dealing with. Litigant files this response to the order filed by Docket Clerk Brinn and signed by USDC-OR Magistrate Coffin deeming all pending motions… moot since the frocked cowfucker in San Francisco denied the plaintiff’s appeal.

The “frocked cowfucker” appears to be the Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, who served on a panel that rejected a Frisch appeal. For the record, his chambers are in Pasadena, not San Francisco.

Let’s look at the rest of Frisch’s filing, shall we?

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Practice pointer: don’t refer to judges as ‘frocked cowf**kers.’

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