Manuel Real

Michael Vick dog dogfight Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Who let the dogs fight? Who? Who? Feds say: football star Michael Vick. [CNN; TSG]
* Bar-Bri class reps (no, different class reps): No incentive payments for you. [The Recorder]
* Seven-figure legal bills: par for the course for white-collar criminal defendants. [WSJ Law Blog]
* India market hot for law firms. []
* Billionaire Siebel gets California Supreme Court’s ok to sue lawyer and judge despite settlement. [The Recorder]
* UK girl loses fight to wear purity ring at school. Chastity belt still under review. [MSNBC]
* Ohio Turnpike murder-for-hire case could result in death sentence. [CNN]

Deborah Cook Deborah L Cook Judge Deborah Cook 6th Circuit Sixth Circuit.gifFederal judges represent some of the best and brightest minds the legal profession has to offer. Although there are exceptions, federal judges generally have incredible credentials and adhere to the highest ethical standards.
In contrast, state court judges tend to be icky. When you read in the news about a judge who sexually harassed a secretary, got arrested for drunk driving, or used a penis pump behind the bench, the odds are high that it will be a state rather than federal judge.
When a former state judge gets confirmed to a federal judgeship — as is increasingly the case, since state court judges are often “safe” picks in these politically charged times — does she shed her icky ways?
Not necessarily. Consider the tale of Judge Deborah L. Cook, a member of the Sixth Circuit since 2003. From Muckraker/CIR:

A federal judge identified by the Center for Investigative Reporting for making campaign contributions while on the bench has apologized for violating the judicial code of conduct.

Judge Deborah L. Cook of Ohio made two political donations after she was appointed by President Bush to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003. A CIR report and story for on Oct. 31 revealed that both Cook and a Clinton-appointed judge, Dean D. Pregerson of California, had apparently given campaign contributions, though federal judges are prohibited from doing so.

A pretty dumb-ass mistake. The limitations upon political activity by members of the judicial branch are familiar even to rookie law clerks. It’s something you learn about at clerk orientation.
Ah, orientation — that’s where Judge Cook lays the blame for her mistake:

“I violated this proscription against federal judges making political contributions early in what I hope will be a long tenure,” Cook wrote in her letter of apology [to Chief Judge Danny Boggs], which was filed with Judge Boggs’ order [resolving the complaint]. “Though not an excuse, my misstep here resulted from habit and a lack of awareness of the prohibition.”

Cook wrote that she was used to making contributions as a state judge. According to her letter, she did not attend the “New Judges School” after she was confirmed as a federal judge and “thus missed being alerted there to the federal canon.” The “Baby Judges School,” as it is often called by judges, is a non-mandatory training and orientation for newly appointed judges.

“Baby Judges School”: Ignore it at your peril.
A little bit more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Deborah Cook”

Mike Wallace Michael Wallace Michael B Wallace Phelps Dunbar Fifth Circuit.JPGVia How Appealing, of course (because who else besides us and Howard Bashman is blogging right now):
1. Controversial Fifth Circuit nominee Michael Wallace (at right), a member of the Elect (Rehnquist/OT 1977) who was still rated “unqualified” by the ABA, will ask President Bush to withdraw his nomination next week.
This is a smart and gracious move by Wallace, which will allow the White House to save some face. Since Wallace couldn’t even get confirmed in the Republican-controlled 109th Congress, his chances of confirmation in the 110th Congress would have been next to nil.
Manuel Real Manuel L Real Manuel Lawrence Real Judge.jpg2. Disciplinary sanctions may be imposed upon Judge Manuel Real (C.D. Cal.), the Los Angeles federal judge accused of improperly intervening in a bankruptcy case to rescue a damsel probationer in distress (Deborah Canter, routinely described in news accounts as “a comely female”).
Ladies and gentlemen, chivalry is officially dead. What’s the point of being “a comely female” if you can’t get favorable treatment from the federal courts?
Judge Real has appealed the censure ruling of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council to the Judicial Conference of the United States. It’s not clear when they will rule.
Judicial hopeful steps aside [Clarion-Ledger]
Michael B. Wallace bio [Phelps Dunbar]
Web error reveals censure of U.S. judge [Los Angeles Times]
Manuel L. Real bio [FJC]

anna nicole smith and j howard marshall.jpg* Judge Manuel Real (C.D. Cal.) defends himself against impeachment charges before the Senate. The accusation that he made rulings “to benefit an attractive female” is one that the 82-year-old jurist “find[s] repugnant, particularly at my age.” [Los Angeles Times]
(But who says old guys can’t be horndogs? See, e.g., J. Howard Marshall, the late husband of victorious SCOTUS litigant Anna Nicole Smith.)
* Senatrix Dianne Feinstein — who has a really nice house, by the way — storms out of a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, vowing to filibuster the Ninth Circuit nomination of Idaho judge Randy Smith. DiFi wants the seat to go to a Californian. We love a little SJC drama!!! [Associated Press via How Appealing]
* Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters were sentenced to up to 18 months in jail, for refusing to disclose their confidential sources with knowledge of steroid use by star baseball players. ATL tipsters, listen up: We’ll go to jail to protect your anonymity too. It would be great publicity for us! [Los Angeles Times]
* Fifth Circuit Judge Harold R. DeMoss, Jr., will assume senior status next year, creating a Fifth Circuit vacancy. [Confirm Them via How Appealing]
* Apparently Cablevision awarded stocks options to a dead guy. Oops. Columbia Law prof John Coffee: “Trying to incentivize a corpse suggests they were not complying with the spirit of shareholder-approved stock-option plans.” [WSJ Law Blog]

stephen breyer justice.jpg* The Judicial Conference of the United States, the policy-making body for the federal judiciary (but not the SCOTUS), has announced measures to improve the judiciary’s self-policing and public accountability. They include required installation of “conflict checking” software — get with it, Your Honors, that’s long overdue — and enhanced disclosure concerning judicial junkets. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Speaking of judicial naughtiness, a commission headed by Justice Stephen G. Breyer has concluded that the Ninth Circuit mishandled its investigation of Judge Manuel Real — who is now facing an impeachment inquiry. [Los Angeles Times via How Appealing]
* The latest news in L’Affaire HP: Lawyers all around! HP general counsel Ann Baskins has retained white-collar specialist Cristina Arguedas, and Larry Sonsini has retained Michael Madigan, of Akin Gump. [The Recorder; WSJ Law Blog]
* Trying to come up with legislation to govern interrogation and treatment of terror suspects: Still a big ol’ mess. Wake us up when something’s actually accomplished. [Washington Post; New York Times]

richard albritton judge.jpgAs we noted yesterday, federal judge Manuel Real (C.D. Cal.) is facing an impeachment inquiry (more details here). But when it comes to egregious judicial misconduct, state court judges win handily over their federal counterparts.
Check out this AP report about a recent disciplinary hearing for a Florida state judge:

A judge who admitted to 14 ethics violations, including unconstitutionally ordering a probationer to go to church, was scolded Monday by the Florida Supreme Court.

“Your behavior is unacceptable,” Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis told the accused, Circuit Judge Richard Albritton Jr. “It’s a stain on all of us.”

Accusations against Albritton include jailing a young mother because she was unable to remember her address; soliciting gifts and invitations to lunch; getting hunting trips from lawyers; and demeaning a Department of Children and Families staffer because of her young age.

Alas, the AP report omits some of the more colorful allegations against Judge Albritton. They can be found in this TSG report from last year:

A Florida judge is facing a disciplinary hearing for a host of allegedly inappropriate behavior on the bench, including the recommendation to one female defendant that she “needed to close her legs and stop having babies.”…

Among the commission’s many allegations is the claim that Albritton once demanded that a teenage mother identify the father of her baby. When the girl declined to answer, Albritton told her that he would “put her back in juvenile detention” if she did not give up the dad’s name.

Here’s our favorite quote from the disciplinary hearing for Judge Albritton:

During the reprimand, Lewis said Albritton had told a staff lawyer that he realized ordering a probationer to go to church was unconstitutional but that the defendant didn’t know that. The order violated the First Amendment prohibition against the government endorsing a religion.

“You abused your position by placing yourself above the law,” [Chief Justice] Lewis told him.

The Honorable Richard Albritton, Jr.: a judge after our own heart.
Florida Judge Scolded for Ethics Violations [Associated Press]
Injudicious Judge May Be Benched [The Smoking Gun]

larry w sonsini.jpg* More back-and-forth between the Bush Administration and Congress concerning rules to govern the interrogation of terror suspects. The White House sent Congress a revised proposal last night; a deal could be reached by the end of this week. [Washington Post]
* More developments in the HP leak investigation scandal. The most interesting: even Larry Sonsini (at right), HP’s lead outside lawyer, was pretexted as part of the probe. Heh. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Former Enron exec David Delainey is sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. [Houston Chronicle via WSJ Law Blog]
* Freelance video journalist and blogger Josh Wolf, who refused to comply with a grand jury subpoena seeking his footage of a political protest, is headed back to jail. [Associated Press]
* Judge Manuel Real (C.D. Cal.) will testify before Congress in response to GOP efforts to impeach him. (Judge Real, by the way, is quite a character; we’ll probably have more to say about this later.) [Daily Journal via How Appealing]