* This is beautiful and noble. Painting with your butt — or, rather, using your butt as a type of giant rubber stamp — not so much. [Richmond Times Dispatch]
* Not all law students are holed up in the library 24/7, but it’s clear that cramming has taken a lot out of Legal Bachelor’s game. [Chicks Dig Law Students]
* Hmmm. I actually agree with Scalia here. (Well, if you are the inspiration for a Christmas season movie starring Will Smith, you could raise a kid on nothing but love and hope.) [Crime & Federalism]
* Your words-of-the-day: racewalker, Hooman, and the universal favorite, law school gunner. And to think I’ve been out of law school for only a few years. [Urban Dictionary]
* We should remind Evel Knievel that Jesus didn’t sue. And while we’re on the subject, why do I know who Evel Knievel is? [Likelihood of Confusion]
- Antonin Scalia, Art, Celebrities, Federal Judges, Intellectual Property, Law Schools, Money, Movies, Non-Sequiturs, Rap, Romance and Dating, Trademarks
* This is beautiful and noble. Painting with your butt — or, rather, using your butt as a type of giant rubber stamp — not so much. [Richmond Times Dispatch]
From a recent NYT piece about mandatory retirement policies at law firms:
Unlike corporate America, which, for the most part, dropped mandatory retirement ages decades ago, many big law firm partnerships are keeping up the practice of pushing out older lawyers to make room for new blood.
In a survey last year of 46 law firms with 100 or more lawyers, about 57 percent of them reported a mandatory retirement age, ranging from 65 to 72….
The article focuses on A. Paul Victor, the former Weil Gotshal antitrust partner who recently moved to Dewey Ballantine, after hitting Weil’s mandatory retirement age of 68.
The story explores the pros and cons of having a mandatory retirement age — a legitimate and interesting policy question. But our primary reaction is summed up this by these commenters at the WSJ Law Blog:
“[I]f you’re pushing 70 and you really want to trudge in to the office every day there may be something wrong with you. Mr. Victor and others, really – spend some time living life while you still can.”
“By 65, these guys have made plenty of money and should find something else to do — legal or otherwise — to keep them busy. Go teach or provide pro bono services or get reacquainted with your family. Leave some room so that the young bucks can have their day in the sun, too.”
One obvious rebuttal: many federal judges remain on the bench well into their old age. But which way does that cut? We can think of a number of judges who probably should have retired years ago.
Happy Birthday. Vacate Your Office. [New York Times]
Forcing Aging Partners to Retire: Fair or Foul? [WSJ Law Blog]
Hey, guess what? In our best impression of Howard Bashman, we’re going to tell you all about a recent lunch of ours.
On Tuesday, we had an absolutely delightful lunch with Benjamin Wittes. He’s an editorial writer for the Washington Post, specializing in legal affairs, and the author of a new book about the judicial confirmation process: Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times.
We recommend Confirmation Wars most highly. It’s tremendously well-researched, as well as fascinating and fun to read. (Even the footnotes are juicy.) It has the rigor of an academic book — it’s published in connection with the Hoover Institution at Stanford — but the readability of, well, a non-academic book. And it came out after the Roberts and Alito confirmations were concluded, so it’s informed by those recent experiences.
Wittes ably diagnoses the problems with the current judicial nomination and confirmation process, then offers up some solutions. And he’s commendably fair-minded and non-ideological in his assessment of a highly controversial subject. (To learn more about the substantive views expressed in the book, check out this article, from the Harvard Law Record.)
Starting in January, Wittes will be away from the Post. He’s going on a six-month book leave, to work on his next project: a book about the federal appeals court. We can’t wait to read it!
In case you’re wondering, we lunched at Georgia Brown’s, just down the street from the Post offices. We both had the soup special — black bean, if memory serves — and the fried chicken salad, which was scrumptious, even if not very healthy for a salad. And we gossiped incessantly about federal judges and judicial nominees. What a blast!!!
Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times [Amazon.com]
Confirmation Wars: Ben Wittes on How to Preserve Judicial Independence [Harvard Law Record]
- 4th Circuit, Federal Judges, Hotties, Judicial Nominations, Karen Williams, Vicious Infighting, William Wilkins
Last week was a busy one in legal news, so we apologize for our tardiness in bringing you this news. As first reported at the South Carolina Appellate Law Blog, and later picked up by The State, Chief Judge William Wilkins is retiring as chief judge of the Fourth Circuit.
William “Billy” Wilkins of Greenville is stepping down as chief judge of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a position he has held since 2003….
Wilkins, 64, in a prepared statement Thursday afternoon said he had notified President Bush of his decision to step down effective July 1, 2007.
“It’s time to move on,” he said.
The obvious questions. First, who will replace him as Chief Judge?
Under federal seniority rules, his successor would be Karen Williams of Orangeburg, who would become the first woman to hold that position in the circuit. Williams, 55, is the next senior judge younger than 65.
Judge Williams, you may recall, is a judicial hottie, described by the New York Times as “a tall, slender woman with delicate features and a regal carriage.” Rumored to have both a private plane and a personal shopper, the stylish Judge Williams is known around her hometown of Orangeburg as “Miss Karen.”
(Yes, she’s married. But as a fellow South Carolina native explains, “the first thing one must learn about Orangeburg is that every woman is referred to as Miss,” regardless of her marital status.)
And who might be nominated to the Fourth Circuit to fill the new vacancy on the court? Some speculation appears after the jump.
People pay attention to a judge’s reversal rate — how often that jurist gets reversed by a higher court. And a high reversal rate is usually regarded as “not a good thing.”
But we kinda admire judges who aren’t overly concerned with their reversal rate. We respect judges who are willing to go out on a limb, who aren’t afraid to take the law in new and interesting directions — no matter what the folks upstairs might think. Such judges play a key role in the evolution and clarification of the law.*
Some of you might criticize such an envelope-pushing approach to judging as improper, even “lawless.” But here at ATL, we call it entertaining!
Meet Judge Melinda Harmon (S.D. Tex.). She’s the trial judge responsible for the jury instructions in the Arthur Andersen prosecution, which the Supreme Court didn’t like so much. And now she’s handed down another interesting ruling:
In a decision that she conceded flies in the face of previous rulings by other courts, a federal judge in Houston has ordered the law firm of William S. Lerach, a leading class-action lawyer, to pay the legal fees and costs of a company he sued.
The company, Alliance Capital, a money management firm, was sued by Mr. Lerach’s firm as part of a large Enron class-action case. The lawsuit argued that Alliance should be held responsible for the Enron fraud because an Alliance official was also a director of Enron.
The federal rules permit awards of fees and costs. But these are usually paid by the parties, NOT by their law firms.
More about this groundbreaking ruling, after the jump.
Before the Thanksgiving break, we wrote a fair amount about some possible nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. We’ll now pick up where we left off, and continue with more detailed profiles of some of the potential nominees we mentioned.
But first, a request. A number of ATL readers have expressed interest in speculation about nominees for the open seats on the Third Circuit (Justice Samuel Alito’s old seat) and Fourth Circuit (Judge J. Michael Luttig’s old seat). If you’ve heard anything interesting on these subjects, please do share.
Today’s possible Fifth Circuit nominee: Judge Lee H. Rosenthal, of the Southern District of Texas. Here are some things we’ve heard from our readers about Judge Rosenthal:
“Best judge on the S.D. Tex. bench, which is actually passably deep. Sweet, rational, bright and tough all in one package.”
“The country could not do better, and I think even hyperpartisan Democrats would be able to see that. She’s my pick if Bush wants to avoid spending any significant political capital.”
“A stellar trial judge who would make a superlative appellate judge. And those two don’t always go hand in hand. See, e.g., Ann Claire Williams of the 7th Circuit (who should have remained an excellent district judge instead of becoming a thoroughly mediocre appellate jurist).”
(Judge Williams, if you’re reading this, please note that these are simply opinions from ATL readers. They do NOT represent our own views.)
More comments about Judge Rosenthal, from the readers of Grits for Breakfast:
“Several readers identified Rosenthal… as an] exceptional, fair, and qualified judge.”
“One reader feared losing Judge Rosenthal or Judge Elrod as trial judges, and suggested Rosenthal deserved a 5th Circuit appointment and Elrod should fill her federal district court slot.”
“Lee Rosenthal is by far and away the most learned Judge I have ever practiced before. She seems to be fair, well-reasoned and straightforward.”
So given all this praise, why did we place Judge Rosenthal in the second tier of possible nominees — an “outside possibility” for the Fifth Circuit?
Well, to make a long story short, we hear that some conservatives are concerned about her “reliability” (i.e., her ideological consistency). And even though the new Senate will be controlled by the Democrats, the White House and the Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee do not feel compelled to put forward nominees whose conservatism is even slightly in question.
(At least not yet. It remains to be seen whether the scrappy Chuck Schumer, aided by Nan Aron and friends, will wear them down over time.)
What do you know about these potential 5th Circuit nominees? [Grits for Breakfast]
Earlier: More Fifth Circuit Scuttlebutt: R. Ted Cruz
Some Fifth Circuit Scuttlebutt
We’re on a roll today in the correspondence department here at ATL. This morning we brought you an email message from Professor Tim Wu, aka “Genius Wu,” young superstar of the legal academy.
And this afternoon, we proudly present this cyber-missive, typed by Article III fingers:
From: Judge Morris Arnold [email address redacted]
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 3:28 PM
To: AboveTheLaw Tips
Subject: AboveTheLaw Tip
Thank you so very much for the good wishes. I am on the mend and expect to be back up to full speed in very short order.
M. S. Arnold
First, we’re delighted to hear that Judge Arnold is doing so well. Second, we’re delighted that he wrote to us. How awesome is that?
After we put down our inhaler — we started hyperventilating from excitement! — we emailed Judge Arnold to check if it would be okay for us to post his message. And he graciously agreed. Thanks, Judge Arnold!
Earlier: Wishes for a Speedy Recovery to Judge Morris Arnold
Morris S. Arnold of Little Rock was hospitalized Wednesday night in St. Louis, where he is a judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, after having a heart attack. Arnold, 65, officially took senior status less than a month ago. That designation reduces his caseload while he continues to serve on the court that hears appeals from federal courts in seven states including Arkansas.
U.S. Circuit Clerk Michael Gans said Thursday from the court’s St. Louis office that Arnold went to the hospital on his own after returning to his hotel at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and experiencing pains in his chest and arm that kept him from falling asleep.
Arnold had the heart attack while at the hospital, and doctors then surgically implanted a stent, Gans said.
We’re advised that the heart attack was minor and that Judge Arnold — known to some by his nickname, “Buzz” — is doing well. We wish this distinguished jurist, revered by the bench and bar and adored by his former clerks, a fast and full recovery.
Little Rock Appellate Judge in St. Louis Hospital [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette]
Back in September, we reported that Judge Frank Easterbrook — “a veritable judicial hottie, a possible SCOTUS nominee, and brother of well-known author and ESPN.com commentator Gregg Easterbrook” — would be taking over in November as the chief judge of the Seventh Circuit.
The passing of the torch has now come to pass. From a tipster:
Judge Frank H. Easterbrook (your favorite judicial bear hottie) assumed the mantle of Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit on Monday, November 27.
There was a nice little party in the main courtroom for employees of the court. Cake even!
How lovely! But we think that Chief Judge Easterbrook might have preferred an Arby’s Melt.
28 U.S.C. § 45: Chief Judges [Cornell Law School / Legal Information Institute]
Earlier: All Hail the Chief: Judge Frank Easterbrook
- 10th Circuit, Alberto Gonzales, Anthony Kennedy, Brett Gerry, Department of Justice, Eyes of the Law, Federal Judges, Feeder Judges, Kellogg Huber, Neil Gorsuch, Office of Legal Policy, Rachel Brand, SCOTUS Potential
Last week, an investiture ceremony was held for Judge Neil Gorsuch, recently confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. And it was a star-studded affair. From the Denver Post:
Seven-year-old Emma and 5-year-old Belinda helped their father, Neil Gorsuch, into his judge’s robes Monday after the newly appointed 10th Circuit Court judge was sworn in.
Munching on cookies after the formal ceremony, Emma said she thought it “was nice.”
Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was in Denver to administer the oath, spoke directly to the little girls before Gorsuch raised his right hand. “He’s doing it to remind all of us that the first obligation any American has is to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States,” he said.
Justice Kennedy’s pedagogical impulse is admirable. We suspect, however, that Emma and Belinda were thinking more about cookies than the Constitution.
Some supplementary coverage, from an ATL tipster:
The entire en banc 10th Circuit was present. Justice Kennedy administered the oath. Attorney General Gonzales read the commission. Both Colorado Senators made remarks, as did Mark Hansen of Kellogg Huber (the insanely prestigious appellate shop from which Gorsuch rose). Half of the Justice Department was there: Rachel Brand, Elisebeth Collins Cook, Brett Gerry, Wan Kim, Gregory Katsas, among others.
The Gorsuch clerks showed everyone around Denver and got trashed on consecutive nights. Good times were had by all.
Article III groupies, Judge Neil Gorsuch is one to watch. He’s brilliant, he’s young, and he’s incredibly well-connected. Look for him to rise through the ranks of Supreme Court feeder judges in the years to come — and, perhaps, to be nominated to the Court himself someday.
(Judge Gorsuch is taking the seat of Judge David Ebel, who has been the Tenth Circuit’s resident feeder judge for quite some time now. Guess that’s the 10th Circuit’s designated “feeder seat.”)
Update: Would someone be able to locate and/or send us a good photo of Judge Gorsuch for our files? Our quick Googling didn’t produce anything useful.
10th Circuit judge’s oath a family affair [Denver Post]