Marsha Berzon

Judge Susan Graber

All of us as judges have had life experiences that could be said to affect our perception of the cases that come before us. Some of us have served as prosecutors and others have not; some have experienced discrimination as women or minorities and others have not; some are intensely religious and others are not, and our religions vary…. These life experiences do not disqualify us from serving as judges on cases in which the issues or the facts are in some indirect way related to our personal experiences.

– Judges Marsha S. Berzon and Richard Tallman, in an elegantly written Ninth Circuit order explaining why Judge Susan P. Graber does not need to recuse herself from a capital murder case because her father was murdered 40 years ago.

After yesterday’s report on the latest developments in Supreme Court clerk hiring, we received word of several new hires, both by email and in the comments. So we thought we’d do a quick follow-up to pass along what we’ve heard.

Please keep in mind that we have not verified every hire to 100 percent accuracy; corrections may be posted later. This information is unofficial; the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office does not release the official list of October Term clerks until the immediately preceding summer.

With these caveats in mind, let’s take a look at the latest news, shall we?

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Terrance Watanabe Terrance K Watanabe Terry Watanabe Harrahs.jpgWe just returned from a very fun weekend in Las Vegas, where we watched a friend compete in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. Our friend was one of many lawyers in competition. He’s a prosecutor, but we also saw a public defender — her T-shirt said so — and possibly some lawyers from Morrison & Foerster (in “Run Like a MoFo” apparel). As discussed before in these pages, there’s something about marathon running that attracts attorneys.
Sadly, while in Sin City, we suffered some ill fortune at the craps tables. But things could have been worse — much worse. From an article in the Wall Street Journal:

During a year-long gambling binge at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, Terrance Watanabe managed to lose nearly $127 million.

The run is believed to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history. It devoured much of Mr. Watanabe’s personal fortune, he says, which he built up over more than two decades running his family’s party-favor import business in Omaha, Neb. It also benefitted the two casinos’ parent company, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., which derived about 5.6% of its Las Vegas gambling revenue from Mr. Watanabe that year.

In a civil suit filed in Clark County District Court last month, Mr. Watanabe, 52 years old, says casino staff routinely plied him with liquor and pain medication as part of a systematic plan to keep him gambling.

More about the lawsuit, plus a fun fact about the article’s authorship, after the jump.

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Boalt Hall UC Berkeley Law School Above the Law blog.jpgAs we mentioned last week, U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law hired a brand consulting firm to come up with a new name for the school. The effort ended somewhat anticlimactically. Boalt paid $25,000 to Marshall Strategy Inc., which came up with this brilliant new moniker: “UC Berkeley School of Law.”
Oh well. But since we already took the time to read through hundreds of suggested new names for Boalt Hall, we’re going to conduct this reader poll anyway.
Cast your vote, after the jump.

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Boalt Hall UC Berkeley Law School Above the Law blog.jpgAttention, ATL readers — your wit and wisdom are needed. From Cal Law (via Blogonaut):

Boalt Hall School of Law has hired San Francisco brand consulting firm Marshall Strategy Inc. to poll students, faculty, alumni and others in aid of devising a “single brand” name for the school, a Boalt spokeswoman said.

San Francisco Bay Area locals call the school Boalt Hall. But outside of California, that colloquialism often draws blank looks. Thus, what has been dubbed the “identity project”—to come up with a more readily identifiable name for the prestigious law school.

The school officially goes by University of California, Berkeley School of Law, according to spokesperson Susan Gluss. But in its its newsletters, Web pages, and other places, there are “about a dozen different names and iterations.”

Speaking of “a dozen different names,” that’s what we’d like from you. In the comments to this post, please offer suggested new names for Boalt Hall. We’ll pick the ten or twelve we like the most, hold an ATL reader poll, and forward the winning nomination to the Boalt Hall administration, for its consideration.
Our personal nomination: the Marsha Berzon School of Law, named after the distinguished and delicious Ninth Circuit judge (and Boalt Hall alumna). But whether our pick prevails will be up to you, the readership, when we hold the poll. We look forward to receiving and reviewing your nominations.
Josh Keesan Joshua Keesan Berkeley Law School Boalt Hall Above the Law blog.jpgP.S. While we’re talking about Boalt Hall, an ATL shout-out to the talented (and handsome) Josh Keesan, Boalt ’09, who composes and performs clever songs with legal themes. From a tipster:

Forget Nixon Peabody, Boalt has the newest singing sensation. Check it:

This kid is the love child of Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Mayer. Plus, in the aftermath of the Nixon Peabody atrocity, your readers need something to cleanse that awful taste in their mouths/ears.

He’s taken Boalt by storm. The screams of his groupies at the annual public interest auction last year were deafening. So, give the West Coast some love, and post it!

More about Josh Keesan from the WSJ Law Blog. Maybe Boalt Hall could be rennamed the “Josh Keesan School of Law”?
Boalt Hall School of Law Will Change Name by January [Blogonaut]
Boalt Hall Looking at a Name Change [The Recorder via Yahoo News]
Law Blog Rocker of the Day: Boalt Hall’s Josh Keesan [WSJ Law Blog]

American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research AEI Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re going to be offline for a few hours. If anything big happens while we’re gone, and we don’t write about it immediately, now you know why. (Posts that we drafted earlier will be published while we’re gone.)
We’re going to attend this event, about the economics of internet advertising — which, of course, is what pays the bills around here. If you enjoy reading ATL, please support our advertisers.
Yes, the event is sponsored by AEI, a right-of-center think tank. But the topic isn’t terribly partisan.
American Constitution Society for Law and Policy ACS Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAnd to atone for this visit to the premises of AEI, guess what? We’re going to spend the better part of two days later this month (July 27-28) covering the 2007 ACS National Convention, here in DC. If you’d like to attend, it’s not too late to register; you can do so by clicking here.
(If you’re planning to attend the ACS convention, look out for us — we’ll be easy to spot. We’ll be snapping photographs of the fabulous Judge Marsha Berzon, as if she were Angelina Jolie on the red carpet.)
Update (2:30 PM): We’re back. Today’s event was co-sponsored by the left-leaning Brookings Institution, so our conscience is clear.
The Economics of Internet Advertising: Implications for the Google-DoubleClick Merger [American Enterprise Institute]
Fifth Annual ACS National Convention: Toward a Just Future [American Constitution Society]

Federal Judges on a Plane.jpgSome time ago, we posted an anecdote about the family travel mishaps of Judge Marsha Berzon, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Many ATL readers enjoyed the story. But Judge Berzon’s colleague, Judge Alex Kozinski — one of the federal judiciary’s most brilliant thinkers and talented writers — was less pleased. He sent us an open letter criticizing the story and our decision to publish it.
We posted Judge Kozinski’s letter here, and we promised a more detailed response.
We intended to publish a response much earlier. But having to respond to a benchslapping at the hands of a brilliant federal judge tends to induce “writer’s block.” Who’d have thunk it?
Anyway, we finally got over our writer’s block. Our response appears after the jump.

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We feel a bit like Senator Joe Biden must feel right now, after his ill-advised comments about Senator Barack Obama. In case you haven’t heard, Sen. Biden paid Sen. Obama’s presidential candidacy some backhanded compliments:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Take foot (or, in our case, keyboard). Insert into mouth. Then push, as far as it will go.
Yesterday we published a post about a recent plane trip made by Judge Marsha Berzon, of the Ninth Circuit, and her family. It was supposed to come across as playfully irreverent (and yes, slightly snarky). But instead, it turned out to be rather mean-spirited, at least in the eyes of some readers — such as Judge Alex Kozinski.
In a later post, we will explain various aspects of that original post (and vigorously defend the decision to publish in the first instance). But for now, we would like to point out that the timing of our post could not have been worse.
The following email is representative of others we’ve received. It’s from a former clerk of Judge Berzon (who, by the way, thinks very highly of her and enjoyed the clerkship):

Judge Berzon’s brother passed away Tuesday quite suddenly and unexpectedly. So, whereas I would be bothered by such a post about someone I so thoroughly revere as a general matter, I wouldn’t normally object to its very existence — I’d just fight back. Given current circumstances, however, I do think it is in especially poor taste this week, a point you might want to consider as you post further on the subject.

Point well-taken. Obviously we had no idea of the passing of Judge Berzon’s brother at the time we published our post. It was a story we had on hand for a while — non-time-sensitive stuff, or what we in the biz call “evergreen” material — and we didn’t get the chance to write it up until yesterday. So it was pure (and unfortunate) coincidence that it appeared at such a terrible time for the Berzon family.
We send our sincerest condolences to Judge Berzon on the passing of her brother. And we apologize if we have in any way made such a difficult time for her family even more trying.
Update: Some interesting comments here. Please be sure to read our clarification of the point of this post. Thanks.
Earlier: Flying the Friendly, Federal Judicial Skies: An Open Letter from Judge Alex Kozinski
Flying the Friendly, Federal Judicial Skies

airplane cabin 2 Above the Law Legal Blog.jpgThe story we’re about to share with you is great, gossipy fun. But we must warn you that it’s not for everyone. It’s on the long side, and it’s aimed at a rather narrow demographic.

It’s most likely to entertain (1) current or former Ninth Circuit clerks and (2) people who follow the federal judiciary very, very closely. If you were a reader of Underneath Their Robes back in the day, then this story is for you.

In recognition of its “inside baseball” nature — and so as not to inflict it upon people who just want Biglaw salary info — we’ve placed the complete story after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Flying the Friendly, Federal Judicial Skies”

Judith Vladeck Judith P Vladeck lawyer attorney.jpgJudith Vladeck, a top labor lawyer and advocate for women’s rights, passed away earlier this week. She was 83 and a resident of Manhattan.
From the New York Times obituary:

Proud of her courtroom contentiousness, Ms. Vladeck brought a combination of showmanship and detailed analysis of salary histories and job performance to her cases. She took on potent opponents like major Wall Street investment firms, the Union Carbide Corporation and the City University of New York — and usually won, or settled for millions.

A chain-smoker known for working 11-hour days well into her 70s, Ms. Vladeck was a partner in Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, the Manhattan law firm that her husband, Stephen, helped start in 1948 and she joined in 1957.

Judith Vladeck was a colorful character. Check out these excerpts from her obituary at the WSJ Law Blog.
She is survived by several highly accomplished descendants. One of her sons is Dr. Bruce Vladeck, interim president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (and owner of a nice Manhattan apartment). Another son, David Vladeck, is a law professor at Georgetown. Daughter Anne Vladeck, a partner in the Vladeck law firm, has been recognized as one of the best labor lawyers in New York.
Judith Vladeck is also survived by five grandchildren. One of them is a fellow legal blogger: Professor Stephen I. Vladeck, of the University of Miami School of Law, who blogs at PrawfsBlawg.
ATL sends its sympathies and condolences to Professor Stephen Vladeck and the entire Vladeck family.
P.S. Interestingly enough, Steve Vladeck clerked for She Who Must Not Be Named. This is an example of a great fit between judge and law clerk. Just like his high-powered grandmother, Steve Vladeck’s former boss was a leading labor litigatrix, who argued several cases in the Supreme Court before being appointed to the Ninth Circuit.
Judith Vladeck, 83, Who Fought for Women’s Rights, Dies [New York Times via WSJ Law Blog]

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