Richard Posner

* Having your cake — and screwing it, too? [Overlawyered]
* If your cake contains trans fats, Judge Posner — who’s rumored to enjoy grapefruit for dessert — will take it away from you, and dump it in the trash. [Becker-Posner Blog]
* Marty Lipton’s theory of executive compensation: “I make tons of money, and I’m just the hired help. So client CEOs should make even more!” [Reuters]
* Chief Justice John Roberts: the boy who cried “constitutional crisis”? [Slate via How Appealing]
* This is lame. If everyone’s a name partner, then no one’s a name partner. [WSJ Law Blog]
* We suspect that the percentage of bad bosses is higher in the legal profession. Lawyers aren’t trained to be managers. And suck at it. [Workplace Prof Blog]
* The New York Court of Appeals: some tricky picking for Eliot Spitzer. [Judicial Reports]
* It’s about time that we had a litigatrix in the White House! [New York Times]

As previously mentioned, we’re on a reduced publication schedule this week. We’ll be doing a daily news round-up (and maybe a few other random posts here and there). We’ll return to our normal diarrhea of the keyboard publishing schedule on January 2.
* Civil libertarians, just raise the white flag. The Justice Department knows what you’re doing RIGHT NOW. [Washington Post]
* His father always knew there was “something special” about Judge Frank Easterbrook. And litigants who have appeared before FHE feel the same way. [Buffalo News via How Appealing (of course -- no offense, but we aren't regular readers of the Buffalo News)]
* In other Seventh Circuit news, Judge Richard Posner delivers remarks about maritime law to an audience of supermodels. We swear we’re not making this up. [Washington Post]
* Following up on our prior report, here’s a clear sign that Chadbourne & Parke partners don’t have enough business. [WSJ Law Blog]
* If McDonald’s french fries never taste the same, blame it on the anti-trans-fat legislation. [UPI]
* Complications of diabetes: not just medical, but law-related, too. [New York Times]
* If you’re a judge with unfulfilled literary aspirations, try writing something safe and non-controversial. Ideally it should be something nobody would want to read. We suggest a pop-up book about the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch via How Appealing]
* Even more fun than charades: take Peter Lattman to a party, start reading out random newspaper headlines, and challenge him to find a legal angle to the stories. [WSJ Law Blog]

Richard Posner Richard A Posner Above the Law Legal Blog.jpgCheck it out here.
We haven’t had a chance to read the whole transcript yet. We’ve spent the afternoon chasing down bonus news and mystery smells.
But if you have read it, and have some reactions or favorite parts, please share them in the comments. Thanks!
Update: The Washington Post comments on Judge Posner’s foray into cyberspace in this article.
The Second Life of Judge Richard A. Posner [New World Notes]
Posner: First Judge in Cyberspace [Eminent Domain via How Appealing]

stack of bills cash money.jpg* It’s all about the benjamins, baby. Bonus season is upon us. And we’re standing by to broadcast every move. So please email us with any news, rumors, and leaked memos about bonuses.
* Truthful tips are especially welcome. Look for the first wave of bonus announcements in the coming week.
* And check out the most anal retention letter ever.
* In non-Biglaw developments, it was a busy week for the Supreme Court. They heard all about EPA regulatory discretion, the Federal Circuit’s recondite jurisprudence, and other fun topics.
* On tap for the SCOTUS: Ken Starr and a bizarrely fascinating case. It’s like Bill ‘n Monica, all over again. But is it sexy enough for same-day audio-cast? Probably not.
* Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the imminent Democratic takeover is already being felt at the Senate Judiciary Committee. The big white-collar shops are eagerly anticipating lots of new business.
* Speaking of elections, please cast your vote for November 2006 Couple of the Month. And if you’re an NYU Law School student, please forward us the results of voting in the 3L hottie contest.
* In federal appellate judge news, Judge Morris Arnold is recovering nicely, Judge Richard Posner is getting testy, and Judge Frank Easterbrook is now Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook.
* And over in the district court, Judge Lee Rosenthal (S.D. Tex.) is probably out of the running for a promotion to the Fifth Circuit (despite being very highly regarded).
* Finally, in state court land, some judges are getting a little big for their britches robes. They’re mouthing off, railing against immigrants, and making spectacles of themselves. Pipe down, Your Honors, and stay out of trouble.

Richard Posner Richard A Posner Above the Law Legal Blog.jpgBecause this distinguished and brilliant jurist seems rather grumpy as of late. Last week, in a published opinion, he slapped around the IRS.
And now Judge Richard Posner — who, by the way, will be assuming virtual form later this month — delivers stinging benchslaps to lawyers for playing fast and loose with jurisdiction:

[T]he lawyers have wasted our time as well as their own and (depending on the fee arrangements) their clients’ money. We have been plagued by the carelessness of a number of the lawyers practicing before the courts of this circuit with regard to the required contents of jurisdictional statements in diversity cases.

It is time, as we noted in BondPro, that this malpractice stopped. We direct the parties to show cause within 10 days why counsel should not be sanctioned for violating Rule 28(a)(1) and mistaking the requirements of diversity jurisdiction. We ask them to consider specifically the appropriateness, as a sanction, of their being compelled to attend a continuing legal education class in federal jurisdiction.

Ouch. But query whether forced attendance at a CLE class on federal jurisdiction constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment.
Continued commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslapped: Is Judge Posner Getting Enough Fiber These Days?”

foot in mouth.gifToday we have TWO judges of the day. Both win the prize for their honesty and fearlessness. These jurists aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and for that we salute them.
First, there’s Judge James Brooks, of “the O.C.” — Orange County, California.

An Orange County judge with a sharp tongue and a history of making insensitive comments about ethnic minorities was publicly admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance.

The commission cited [a] contempt hearing where litigant Arnold McMahon told Brooks that he didn’t attend a scheduled Oct. 15 deposition because he had gone to the hospital with chest pains.

“Gee,” Brooks responded. “I wonder what’s going to happen when we put you in jail, Mr. McMahon. Your little ticker might stop, you think?”

Come now — that’s a bit tepid. We’ve heard harsher words from federal appellate judges at oral argument. This was more compelling:

[T]he commission noted that Brooks had been privately chastised three times since 1996 for similar conduct. The commission-cited punishments include: a 1996 advisory letter for referring to Hispanic defendants as “Pedro,” and issuing a bench warrant for an Asian defendant for “ten thousand dollars or twenty thousand yen”…

Second, there’s Judge Wilbur Mathesius, a Superior Court judge in Mercer County, New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Supreme Court on Thursday handed Judge Wilbur Mathesius a one-month suspension without pay for making shoot-from-the hip comments that undermined the judicial system….

[Judge Mathesius allegedly] berated a jury for acquitting a defendant of illegal handgun possession. According to the complaint, Mathesius went to the jury room and said, “What the hell were you thinking?” He then told the jurors the defendant had a prior criminal record and chose to not testify because of that record; that another witness would have testified for the prosecution had he not been threatened; and that the prosecution’s principal witness was the most credible he had ever seen.

This was only one of several incidents for which Judge Mathesius was disciplined. He also made some over-the-top comments about the death penalty. When criticized for these comments before the New Jersey Supreme Court, he responded as follows:

Mathesius observ[ed] that Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner “has written on many of the same subjects,” [and Mathesius] suggested that members of the New Jersey judiciary do the same.

Judge Mathesius, we know Judge Richard Posner. We have corresponded with Richard Posner. And you, sir, are no Richard Posner.
You are a state court judge. In the trial court. In New Jersey. In a word: ICKY.
(We mean no disrespect to the Garden State, from which we hail. But the “state court” and “trial court” aspects are proper subjects of disdain.)
Vociferous Judge Is Suspended a Month Without Pay [New Jersey Law Journal]
Judge Scolded for Insensitive Remarks [NYLawyer.com]

Tim Wu Timothy Wu Above the Law.jpgAlthough we mentioned it in passing, we didn’t give adequate attention to Anna Schneider-Mayerson’s delightful profile of Tim Wu when it appeared earlier this month in the New York Observer. (It was discussed on several other prominent blogs.)
Now we have an excuse to double back and correct the error: We’ve received an email from the good professor! Here it is (reprinted with permission):

Hi this isn’t exactly a tip — I just read your entry for above the law and the FedSoc conference, and wanted to say sorry I couldn’t meet you at the Net Neutrality panel…. It turned out I had the wrong date and it conflicted with my Thursday copyright class, so I couldn’t come….

I hope to run into you in person one of these days.

Best,
Tim

Wow! When we received this email, we giggled girlishly with excitement. First, Professor Wu is brilliant. As noted in the profile, he was nicknamed “the Genius Wu” by no less an authority than Judge Richard Posner, who knows genius when he sees it (e.g., when he looks in the mirror).
Second, Professor Wu is quite handsome (see photo). How many other Columbia Law School professors have earned themselves a music video tribute (“Ain’t No Other Man But Wu”) from their students?
(Our only grooming suggestion to Professor Wu: Have those eyebrows thinned. We go to someone very good for ours, but she’s probably not convenient for you given that you’re in New York.)
Finally, we were glad to learn why Professor Wu missed the Federalist Society panel: he misread his calendar. It’s nice to know that a member of the Elect — and not just any old Supreme Court clerk, but one who has been called “indefatigable” and “a valuable man in chambers” by his former boss, Justice Breyer — makes scheduling mistakes. How utterly charming!
Wu-Hoo! Nutty Professor Is Voice of a Generation [New York Observer]
Tim Wu, Voice of a Generation [Volokh Conspiracy]
George Clooney’s Got Nothing On Tim Wu [WSJ Law Blog]
“I Heart Wu” [YouTube]

Borat Borat Borat lawsuit law litigation legal Borat Borat Borat.JPG* Another week, another Borat lawsuit.
* Wow — it doesn’t take much to get lawyers all hot and bothered. But ATL readers were evidently untroubled.
* Merry Christmas. There will be no O.J. Simpson book.
* But no Britney sex tape, either.
* Wesley Snipes has some harsh words for the IRS. And Judge Posner does, too.
* We hung out a lot with the Federalist Society. We watched the social conservatives and the libertarians slug it out over cultural issues. And we learned that Judge Edith Jones isn’t the woman we thought she was.

Richard Posner Richard A Posner Above the Law Legal Blog.jpgFew things make us happier than when judges administer benchslaps to either colleagues or litigants. When the judicial power of the United States is deployed to diss, the result is fun for the whole family.
Heck, bench-slaps can even make tax law enjoyable! If you doubt this proposition, check out Judge Posner’s recent opinion in Kohler Co. v. United States (PDF).
Here are a few excerpts. We’ve pulled them out of context, and we won’t bother to get into the complex facts of the case; but the benchslappery is still evident:

“How to choose between adversaries’ valuations when both are manifestly erroneous?”

“[The IRS's effort] to prove that the pesos were indeed worth $19.5 million fell pathetically short of the mark….”

“[C]linging stubbornly to its untenable valuation, [the IRS] suggested no alternative to $19.5 million. It played all or nothing, lost all, so gets nothing.”

Way harsh — but at the same time, direct and matter-of-fact. The straightforward nature of Posnerian benchslaps is what makes them so elegant, effortless, and enjoyable.
This latest benchslap from Judge Posner calls to mind our prior observations about his writing style:

The Posnerian prose style is wonderfully dry, and Judge Posner’s amazing writerly feat is his generation of delight from desiccation. The Giant Hedgehog doesn’t laugh at his own jokes, which just makes them funnier. And when he cuts you down, with a clean slice of his linguistic lightsaber, his face bears no expression. It’s all done with a clinical elegance; disdain is a dish best served cold. Magnificent!

With most judges, you can see the benchslap coming a mile away. They take forever to wind up that slapping arm, and when they make contact with their target, you can hear the “whack” for miles. With Judge Posner, in contrast, you’re benchslapped before you even REALIZE you’ve been benchslapped.
This makes perfect sense. Why? Judge Posner’s hand is too good for your face. And the national treasure known as the Posnerian Brain shouldn’t be wasted on benchslappery, since it really could be put to more productive use.
Like having electrodes hooked up to it, so we can finally end America’s dependence upon foreign oil.
Kohler Co. v. United States [Seventh Circuit (PDF) via How Appealing]
Posner Slams IRS’s “Pathetic” Position in Mexican Debt-Equity Swap Case [TaxProf Blog]
The Hilarious Hedgehog: Judge Richard Posner [Underneath Their Robes]

may it please the court women's tank top.JPG* So it’s official. I’m not going to get into my spiel about western paternalism, but celebrities, please note: there are countless children in THIS country who need a family. [Associated Press]
* Can you say “Oh no he didn’t!”, when he doesn’t even know that he did? Note to anonymous Australian professional — colonial chic is passé. [Opinionistas]
* Mayor Gavin Newsom, ex-husband of ex-San Francisco assistant DA and Court TV hottie Kimberly Guilfoyle-Villency, has some real young arm candy. Yes, she’s legal — just not of legal drinking age. [San Francisco Chronicle]
* I keep forgetting we need a license to do this job. [New York Magazine]
* You may read that a Columbia Law professor has created a searchable site of Posner opinions. They’re funny, apparently, but probably not as useful as his 1996 book. [Project Posner]
* I love to celebrate the adventurous, entrepreneurial spirit of the common lawyer. But, um….maybe not. [Illegal Briefs]

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