There is something admittedly odd about judges on Twitter. The stereotypical judge is stuffy, technologically challenged, and light on personality. Twitter, in contrast, is informal, tech-driven, and brimming over with quirkiness and individuality.
There are, to be sure, virtues to the traditional vision of the judge (well, maybe not the lack of tech savvy, but the other attributes). Judges who are formal, dry, and tight-lipped off the bench convey a strong sense of objectivity to the public and to the litigants who appear before them. These judges might not have much personality, but presumably they don’t have personal biases that would interfere with the impartial administration of justice. You might not want to have a beer with such judges, but you would want them handling your case.
So judicial tweeting might be unusual. Does that make it problematic? Should we have new judicial ethics rules to rein in judges on social media?
She’s not a porn star, she’s a law student. We could see where you might be confused by that one.
* Now that we know Eric Holder is resigning, there’s been speculation as to where he’ll go next. The obvious choice is a return to Covington & Burling, but he could still surprise everyone. [National Law Journal]
* “Judicial campaign cash is burning a hole in the Constitution.” State court judges are pumping money into their election campaigns, and some have been left to wonder about its true price. [New York Times]
* Details have emerged as to conditions that must be met for Bingham McCutchen’s proposed merger with Morgan Lewis: partner promises, de-equitizations, and forgivable loans, oh my! [Reuters (sub. req.)]
* A former law student who was falsely identified as a porn star on the radio had her day in court and pulled out a win. Here’s the money shot: she’s walking away with $1 million in damages. [Kansas City Star]
Here at Above the Law, we write about judges who bring shame to the judiciary all the time, but the subject of today’s foray into judicial misconduct is a wicked pisser — literally. We know things must get boring out in flyover country, Iowa specifically, but this is just crazy (and sad, but mostly crazy).
Let’s meet a judge who once got so wasted as she attempted to report to work at the courthouse that she later spent three days in an intensive care unit for severe alcohol intoxication…
For your information, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint.
– Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann, quoting Walter Sobchak in a footnote to Kinney v. Barnes (full disclosure: Kinney is an Above the Law advertiser, while Barnes is… well, this guy). While the movie may seem like a surprising citation for the conservative Texas bench, in their defense, Walter is a gun-toting crazy man so he blends in with a lot of their jurisprudence.
Sleep with the case files, Your Honor, and not with the interns.
For some judges, especially judges coming out of private practice, taking the bench means a better lifestyle and shorter hours. But other judges work hard — very hard.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit is famous for his work ethic — and for how hard he works his clerks. Judge Mark Bennett of Iowa warns clerkship applicants, “I am looking for a clerk that is willing to work harder than they have ever worked in their life…. If they are one of those life must be balanced folks please don’t waste my time and don’t bother applying.”
Some chambers are well-equipped for long hours. They come with kitchenettes for cooking, showers for bathing (generally reserved for the judges), and couches for napping. And maybe more than napping….
Court reporters put up with a lot. Not only are they largely condescended to by the often middling attorneys they deal with every day, but they have to listen intently to everything lawyers say all the time. And when they’ve managed to turn around two days worth of testimony into a transcript by mid-morning the next day, they get a courteous nod and a “what took you so long?”
The job really is its own circle of hell. The sort of thing that might make somebody type “I hate my job” over and over and over again instead of keeping up with the proceedings.
But not every court reporter is a martyr deserving of veneration. If, for example, a court reporting service just didn’t prepare transcripts in criminal cases for months on end, they may earn themselves a hearty benchslapping…
* CNN sued over claims that a correspondent bit EMTs at the embassy in Baghdad. And just like that, Baghdad isn’t looking so safe anymore. [MSN]
* Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel has filed a legal challenge over the Mississippi GOP primary. It’s dumb. [KARN h/t Election Law Blog]
* The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state’s restrictions on unions. Meanwhile the dissent relied on really weak arguments like “actual Supreme Court precedent.” [Labor Press]
* The immigration crisis has inspired Miami to establish a rocket docket, which is a useful response, so we should probably shut it down and encourage drunk militia members to get in boats or something. [Daily Business Review]
* Dan Markel was serving as a legal consultant to the defendants in that Orthodox divorce extortion case. [Village Voice]
* The legal conundra of The Guardians of the Galaxy. Poor Ronan… you plan one attempted genocide and the law is all over you. [The Legal Geeks]
* Could this be the worst judge in the country? [WFPL News]
* “Study Finds College Still More Worthwhile Than Spending 4 Years Chained To Radiator.” Congrats to Michael Simkovic on his new paper. [The Onion]
* The next Hobby Lobby could be Notre Dame, who wants the right to not have to pay for insurance that might possibly allow women to purchase birth control that kind of but aren’t really abortifacients in any scientific sense. It’s represented pro bono by Jones Day. Honestly, I don’t have it in for Jones Day, but it seems like every… single… damn… time I write something about a firm doing awful things I end up typing J-O-N-E-S-D-A-Y at some point in the article. [MSNBC]
* Helpful judge tells criminal to change his ways — not because he’s a criminal, but because he’s a really bad criminal. [Huffington Post]
* J.D.s should consider panhandling as a legitimate career alternative. [Law and More]
Judges are people too. Usually older people apt to complain that everyone should keep it down and get off their lawn. And in the interest of getting people to quiet down, older people love writing rules. As Jerry Seinfeld said of Florida, older folks “work hard their entire lives just so they can move down there, sit in the heat, pretend it’s not hot, and enforce these rules.”
So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise when we get our hands on this over-the-top “Best Practices” guide sent out by a county judge for every lawyer, staff member, and litigant who crosses the courthouse threshold.
And it’s even less of a surprise when it reads like it was written by a grumpy grandparent….
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