Federal Judges

Judge Richard Posner isn’t amused.

Please convey my congratulations to Bryan Garner on inventing a new form of arbitration. Two parties have a dispute; one appoints an arbitrator to resolve the dispute; the other disputant is not consulted. How beautifully that simplifies arbitration! No need for the parties to agree on an arbitrator, or for the American Arbitration Association to list possible arbitrators and the disputants cross out the ones they don’t like.

– Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, in response to the latest barb dealt in his long-running dispute with Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court. In June 2012, Bryan Garner co-authored Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (affiliate link) with Scalia, and Posner criticized it for “misrepresent[ing] case rationales.” Garner recently hired Keker & Van Nest partner Steven Hirsch to evaluate those criticisms, saying he wanted an “objective third party.” Posner wasn’t particularly impressed.

As Chief Judge Alex Kozinski recently wrote, “There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land. Only judges can put a stop to it.”

But judges need to know about prosecutorial misconduct in order to do anything about it. The public needs to be made aware of this important issue as well.

Last week, I interviewed Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who has written a new book — a book that pulls no punches when it comes to her former colleagues at the U.S. Department of Justice….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Prosecutors Run Amok: An Interview With Sidney Powell, Author Of Licensed To Lie”

Sorry, hunters of Supreme Court clerkships. We’re pretty sure that the justices are done hiring for October Term 2014. After Monday’s hiring update, we received a slew of new tips, almost filing up the OT 2014 roster. It’s time to start turning your hopes towards October Term 2015.

As we’ve mentioned before, we devote extra attention to the last clerks whose hirings we hear about. It’s the SCOTUS clerk version of the NFL draft’s Mr. Irrelevant.

So who are we missing? Let’s look at the updated list….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Are Any Spots Left For October Term 2014?”


The return of the Supreme Court to the headlines, with its ruling today in a big legislative prayer case, reminded me: it has been several months since our last update on Supreme Court clerk hiring.

So let’s plunge right in. As you’ll see in the list below, there aren’t many openings left. In fact, it’s quite possible that the justices are done hiring and we just don’t have all the future clerks’ names yet.

Also after the jump, some bonus SCOTUS clerkship coverage: a list of the top feeder judges for the past five Terms….

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* The Senate confirmed nine judges this week, the highest one-week total since the current session of Congress began. They even managed to confirm a “controversial” nominee. Congrats! [Legal Times]

* If you need a reason for your merger-product firm’s poor financial performance, don’t use the verein structure as a scapegoat. Maybe your firms weren’t profitable to begin. Burnnnnn. [The Economist]

* Skadden lawyers await the day they’re called upon to provide the NBA’s defense against a potential suit filed by Don Sterling. They’ll be ready, because Skadden’s the best brand in the world, yay! [Am Law Daily]

* Mayer Brown is pulling out of the “comfort women” case, a decision one of its clients says is “totally crazy.” We suppose the firm was getting tired of being dragged through the mud. [Los Angeles Daily News]

* A suspect is being held by police in the fatal hit-and-run of Judge Dean Pregerson’s son. He’s been charged with vehicular manslaughter, and is expected to be arraigned on Monday. [Los Angeles Times]

* Fifty-five schools are being investigated for alleged violations of federal law in the mishandling of sexual assault and harassment cases. One professional school is on the list. Sup Harvard Law? [Huffington Post]

* For the third year in a row, Skadden has topped the list of the Biglaw firms GCs love to pay, the firms with the best brands. Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins rounded out the top three. Congratulations! [PRWeb]

* A federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law yesterday, noting that it “only tenuously serve[d] the state’s interest in preventing voter fraud.” Ouch. Sorry about that, Scott Walker. [Bloomberg]

* Hot on the heels of the release of the second annual ATL Law School Rankings, we’ve got a list of the law schools where graduates reportedly have the least amount of debt. We’ll have more on this news later today. [The Short List / U.S. News & World Report]

* It was kind of like the night of the living dead in Oklahoma last night, where an execution was botched so badly the defendant attempted to rise up off the table. That must have been horrific. [New York Times]

* Here’s an eligible bachelor alert: After being suspended from practice for six months for filming “upskirt” videos of women in public, this in-house lawyer has been reinstated. [Legal Intelligencer (reg. req.)]

* Poor Justice Lori Douglas. Not only are her kinky S&M pictures floating around somewhere online, but the man who took them — her husband, Jack King — just died. RIP, good sir. [CTV Winnipeg News]

* NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, a former Cravath lawyer, fouled L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling out of the league, but people are questioning whether his punishment was legal. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

Several years back, the Washington Post uncovered multiple instances of federal judges committing basic ethical breaches related to ruling on cases despite holding significant financial stakes in one party. It was an embarrassing black eye for the federal judiciary and the legal system altogether. It forced the bench to develop a comprehensive financial reporting system and an automated computer check to avoid any further ethical lapses. Sounded reasonable at the time.

Well, it turns out the computer system doesn’t work.

Or at least it doesn’t work as well as anyone would have hoped. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) just released a report this morning reflecting their efforts to manually review a sampling of federal court decisions and cross-check those with financial disclosure forms. The report found multiple lapses. The most egregious involved a judge with as much as $100,000 in Johnson & Johnson when he ruled in their favor on an appeal regarding a malfunctioning implant.

But by and large the legal world’s responses to these findings vary from tone-deaf to downright hypocritical….

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You can’t be a judge very long without having a trial that presents concerning situations. We handle them by talking them through with the marshals…. This sounds like something that could have happened at any courthouse, at any time.

– Chief Judge Marsha J. Pechman (W.D. Wash.), commenting on yesterday’s courthouse shooting in Salt Lake City, in which a defendant was shot and killed after rushing a witness.

Picture of Banana Lady taken from Judge Posner’s opinion.

As it turns out, it was in fact a banana, and she was absolutely not happy to see Judge Posner.

The ridiculous isn’t entirely new to Judge Posner. He’s seen lawyers treating his courtroom as a schoolyard and issued benchslaps complete with pictures of men burying their heads in sand.

But he doubtless never expected to be writing an opinion chastising a woman in a banana suit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Posner Asks, ‘Is That A Banana Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?’”

‘But it’s not even an iPhone or a Galaxy, Your Honor!’

Please turn your phones off. We don’t want an angry judge.

– Courtroom deputy Martha Parker-Brown, cautioning those in the gallery of Judge Lucy Koh’s courtroom during the latest Apple v. Samsung patent trial. Judge Koh has previously threatened to take attorneys’ and tech executives’ phones away from them, and shamed others by making them stand up if their phones were turned on and started ringing.

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