The scandalous “porngate” controversy has been brewing for a while now in Pennsylvania. If you’re not familiar with what happened, it seems that hundreds of pornographic and racy emails were exchanged between dozens of state government employees and officials from 2008 to 2012. The vast majority of those emails were sent or read on state email accounts. Thus far, the names of eight former employees of the attorney general’s office have been released as being involved in the erotic email exchange, and two people have already resigned from their positions.
Late last week, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court demanded information on whether any of the justices seated on his bench had taken part in any of the sexy email swaps. Days later, we now know that at least one of the justices may have been improperly banging his gavel alongside state officials.
Which justice allegedly traded sexually explicit emails with his colleagues?
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]
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.