Gerard Lynch

The Second Circuit met en banc (or in banc?) for the first time in a little over two years and handed down a sharply divided 9-6 opinion with potentially major ramifications for the criminal justice system.

In the crosshairs in yesterday’s decision was the sanctity of one of a modern prosecutors most cherished tools of brow-beating serving justice: the guilty plea.

The Second Circuit is leading the way in restoring a little bit of justice to the criminal justice system…

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Gerard Lynch Judge Gerard E Lynch Gerard Edmund Lynch Second Circuit SDNY.jpgOn Monday, November 16, we attended an interesting talk by Judge Gerard Lynch, formerly of the Southern District of New York and now on the Second Circuit. He spoke before the Regis Bar Association, a group of lawyers and law students who are graduates of our shared alma matter — Regis High School, an all-boys Catholic school run by the Jesuits, located here in New York.

As one would expect from a federal judge, especially one in a high-powered city like NYC, Judge Lynch has an amazing résumé. He graduated first in his class from Regis, first in his class from Columbia College (1972), and first in his class from Columbia Law School (1975). He clerked for Judge Wilfred Feinberg on the Second Circuit, followed by Justice William Brennan on the Supreme Court. Prior to his appointment to the district court in 2000, Judge Lynch was a law professor at Columbia, worked in private practice (at a firm that would later become part of Covington & Burling), and served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the legendary U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District.

In September, Judge Lynch was confirmed to the Second Circuit by a vote of 94-3. He was the first Obama appointee to be confirmed to a circuit court.

Judge Lynch began his remarks to the RBA by discussing his background. He explained that he came from working-class roots and was the first in his family to graduate from college. He also noted that government lawyers and judges don’t make very much money: “As a public servant, first-year associates at large law firms have generally made more than I have,” he observed, before adding: “Thanks to the recession, that’s changed.”

(A federal district judge, which Judge Lynch was until his recent elevation, earns $169,300 a year — a bit above the New York starting salary of $160,000. As a circuit judge, he now earns $179,500. If Judge Lynch were to become Justice Lynch — he is sometimes mentioned on Supreme Court shortlists, although being a 58-year-old white male doesn’t help — he would earn $208,100, as an associate justice. Despite many years earning a government salary, Judge Lynch has done well for himself; his financial disclosures reveal a net worth of $1.6 million, with zero debt.)

Judge Lynch described being a trial judge as “the greatest job you can have.” Find out why, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Reflections on Judging from Judge Gerard Lynch
(And a defense of elitism in law clerk hiring.)

anthony m kennedy justice.gif* Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was hospitalized and underwent surgery over the Labor Day weekend. Surgeons inserted a new stent to clear a blocked coronary artery. AMK is doing fine and is back to work. [New York Times, Washington Post; Los Angeles Times]
* The brilliant Judge Gerard E. Lynch (S.D.N.Y.) — a member of the Elect, former AUSA in the Southern District, and former Columbia Law School professor (he still teaches there part-time) — heard arguments over the legality of the NSA warrantless wiretapping program. We suspect his opinion will turn out better than Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s effort, which was not so well-received. [New York Times]
* High-profile L.A entertainment lawyers Pierce O’Donnell and Ann Marie Mortimer, founders of O’Donnell & Mortimer, are parting ways. Mortimer will be the managing partner of Hunton & Williams’s new Los Angeles office; O’Donnell is starting a new boutique law firm that will focus on public-interest work. [Hollywood Reporter via WSJ Law Blog]
* The White House officially renominated the federal judicial nominees that were returned to it by the Senate — including a few controversial candidates, such as Terrence Boyle, William Haynes, and Michael Wallace — and also put up some new nominees. Judge Kent A. Jordan (D. Del.), nominated to the Third Circuit, will be in Washington today for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. [WhiteHouse.gov and Wilmington News Journal, via How Appealing]