Federal Judges

We’ve come a long way from the days when federal courts issued orders banning racial discrimination. Now federal judges hand down orders mandating, or at least encouraging, race-based discrimination.

As reported in the American Lawyer, earlier this week Judge Harold Baer (S.D.N.Y.) issued an unusual order. On Monday, Judge Baer directed two firms serving as lead counsel in a securities class action to “make every effort” to staff the case with at least one minority and one woman:

ORDERED that Co-Lead Counsel, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Labaton Sucharow LLP, shall make every effort to assign to this matter at least one minority lawyer and one woman lawyer with requisite experience….

If federal judges can run school districts and prison systems, law firms should be a piece of cake, right?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Racial Quotas? So Ordered! (Or, Judge of the Day: Harold Baer)”

As for doing what I like, I never do what I like! Ask my wife Joanna….

Justice Stephen Breyer, rejecting the notion that unelected judges can do whatever they want, at an event at the New York Public Library to promote his new book, Making Democracy Work: A Judge’s View.

'Whee!!! I'm old!!!'

What’s the judge wearing underneath his robe? In the case of Judge Wesley E. Brown of the District of Kansas, the oldest living federal judge, the smart money is on these.

Judge Brown, the subject of a front-page profile in the New York Times (the news cycle is a little slow right now), is a whopping 103 years old. He was born on June 22, 1907. The president at the time was Roosevelt — Teddy, not Franklin. Judge Brown was appointed to the district court by President John F. Kennedy, and he’s one of just four JFK appointments still on the bench.

Despite his (extremely) advanced age, Judge Brown still regularly takes the bench to hear cases. And, impressively, he does so with his eyes open….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Wesley Brown — He’s 103!”

In yesterday’s discussion of federal law clerk hiring, a process that is currently in full swing, we flagged an interesting issue regarding clerks who are not U.S. citizens. A recent change in the law appears to bar paying federal government salaries to non-U.S. citizens (subject to some narrow exceptions, such as holders of refugee or asylum status). This legal change would appear to create problems for (1) non-citizens already hired for clerkships that have not yet started and (2) non-citizens applying for clerkships at the current time.

When asked about this issue earlier this month, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts declined comment to the Blog of the Legal Times. But we now have an idea of what the Administrative Office thinks about this subject, based on a guidance memorandum that James Duff, the director of the AO, issued to federal judges last month.

So what does the AO have to say about this issue?

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Please hire us! We're Americans! Want to see our passports and birth certificates?

It’s that time of the year again: clerkship application season. Here is the requisite open thread for discussion, where you can trade news and gossip about which courts and judges are hiring, which ones are done, which clerkships are great, and which clerkships you’ll hate.

Pursuant to the 2010 Law Clerk Hiring Plan for federal judges, applications could be received last Tuesday, September 7. Today, September 13, is the first day when judges can contact applicants to schedule interviews. The calls were allowed to go out at 10 a.m. Eastern time (sorry, Californians). Interviews can be held and offers can be made starting on Thursday, September 16, at 8 a.m. Eastern time (again, our sympathies to Californians; but think of it like Christmas morning, when waking up early brings joyful news of a gift).

Word on the street is that the Plan is starting to break down, with an increasing number of judges, including some of the most prestigious and popular ones, hiring ahead of the deadlines. Getting federal judges to follow rules isn’t easy; they’re used to making the rules, not obeying them.

Furthermore, the Plan by its terms “does not cover applicants who have graduated from law school”; these applicants may be interviewed and hired by judges at any time. More and more judges are going down this path and hiring law school graduates rather than 3Ls, which (1) gives them clerks with more experience, either in practice or in another clerkship, and (2) allows the judges to avoid the mad scramble for talent under the Plan.

How competitive will the hunt for federal judicial clerkships be this year? Let’s discuss….

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(And a tricky issue re: non-citizen law clerks.)”

Call it RICO not so suave. One of the nation’s biggest legal headhunting firms, Major, Lindsey & Africa, is withdrawing its RICO action against a former employee — after a federal judge offered a somewhat snarky assessment of the merits of MLA’s case.

As reported by Leigh Jones over at the National Law Journal, on Thursday attorneys for MLA submitted a notice of dismissal to Judge Colleen McMahon (S.D.N.Y.). The notice declared Major Lindsey’s intent to withdraw its claims against former Sharon Mahn, a former managing director at MLA, without prejudice, in order to bring such claims in arbitration and/or state court.

Perhaps MLA read the writing on the courtroom wall. The move to dismiss came after Judge McMahon ladled out some judicial sauce….

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This year has been a big one for LGBT rights litigation. There was Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, striking down Proposition 8′s ban on gay marriage in California. There were the Massachusetts decisions by Judge Joseph Tauro, holding unconstitutional section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). And in a decision handed down late tonight, Judge Virginia A. Phillips (C.D. Cal.) ruled that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy violates the constitution.

You can read the 86-page ruling here. It has what has to be one of the best case captions in recent memory: Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America.

Congratulations to the Log Cabin Republicans on their victory. Maybe the resulting goodwill in the gay community will allow you guys to get dates? At least for this weekend.

UPDATE: A gay veteran’s (critical) take on the opinion, plus links to the opinion and additional news coverage, after the jump.

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Liveblogging of this interesting panel about judicial nominations at the National LGBT Bar Association’s Annual Lavender Law Career Fair and Conference, after the jump.

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Federal judges are people too — and I have proof. Earlier this week, one federal appellate judge accepted my friend request on Facebook. Another circuit judge emailed me — from a Gmail account (although we didn’t Gchat; that would have been too cool for words).

Judges are real people — with opinions, not just of the judicial kind, and with personalities. They have interesting lives — off the bench, and before they’re appointed to the bench. Judges are not grown in petri dishes, and donning the robes cannot and does not erase their personal or professional histories.

So I’m not quite sure why everyone is getting their proverbial undergarments [FN1] in a wad over a forthcoming memoir by Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass.). The pot was first stirred by the Boston Globe, which began its article as follows: “US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner has a memoir coming out in April, and it bears a very unjudicial title: In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate.”

“[A] very unjudicial title.” Really? Is this the Boston Globe, or the Boston Herald?

Let’s delve into the controversy….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of A Woman: Some Thoughts on the Judge Gertner Book Controversy”

[S]ome of the conclusions of which our leading economic experts have been confident have turned out to be incorrect. For example, Alan Greenspan, appointed and then reappointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve for five terms by four different Presidents, recently admitted to a significant flaw in the ideology that caused him to support and implement policies of financial deregulation…

And Judge Richard Posner, a highly respected jurist and a leading economics expert, has recently expressed his admiration for Keynesian economics, reversing a lifetime of reliance on the Chicago School’s approach.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, writing for the Ninth Circuit in State of California v. Safeway, Inc.

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