Supreme Court Clerks

* “Supreme Court Refuses Case Challenging Group’s Designation as Terrorists”. [New York Times via How Appealing]
* Similar transaction evidence key to Georgia prosecutors in antifreeze murder case. [CNN]
* Lawyers talk trash to the Supreme Court. [Jurist]
* COLA unfrozen for federal judges. [AP via Yahoo!]
* The “mystery smell” that hit New York yesterday has apparently been figured out. Insert New Jersey joke here. [New York Post]

television TV show shows Supreme Courtships.jpgIn our report earlier today about Supreme Courtships, a forthcoming television show about “the personal and professional lives of six Supreme Court clerks and their supervisors,” we looked back on two failed TV shows about the Supreme Court: “First Monday” and “The Court.”
We wrote:

Judicial groupies were thrilled to see two shows about the Court on national television (despite the many inaccuracies and ridiculous plot lines). But their joy was fleeting.

Now, this correction. Not everyone who follows the Supreme Court was so pleased by the attention from Hollywood.
From a January 2002 article by Tony Mauro:

Complete with James Garner as a chief justice who smokes (like the real one), Joe Mantegna as an Italian-American associate justice who attends Mass (like the real one), and a Court with two women and one black justice (like the real one), ["First Monday"], if it succeeds, will probably impart more information about the nation’s highest court to the general public than a decade’s worth of routine activity by the real Supreme Court.

And that is what worries people like Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, a veteran Supreme Court advocate who is among a small number of Washington lawyers who have seen rough cut tapes of the first two episodes.

“Unbelievably smarmy,” says Phillips, who is not usually given to outbursts of hyperbole. “Vomitous.”

Look, it could have been worse. At least Phillips didn’t use profanity, as he has done before (in open court). He could have called the “First Monday” producers “motherf*****s” and told them to “eat s***.” Instead, he temperately dismissed their show as “vomitous.”
Why was Phillips so upset? Per Mauro:

Phillips confesses that he is a stickler for accuracy, and as such could not abide the slew of details that come out wrong in the show.

For one, the first episode was based erroneously on the premise that it takes five justices to grant review in a case, not four.

Relax, Carter! Look at the glass as half-full. You should have been pleased that the word “certiorari” was even uttered on national television, on a channel other than C-SPAN.
Another issue with “First Monday”:

Garner’s chief justice, an inveterate Oklahoma football fan, precedes the first Court session with a football-huddle-style handshake among the nine robed justices and the rallying cry “Let’s go out there and make history!”

Yes, this sounds ridiculous. But is it really so impossible to imagine? If Harriet Miers, with her cheerleader-ish tendencies, had been confirmed to the Court, group hugs might have become de rigeur at One First Street.
Will New Supreme Court TV Show Make It Past Its ‘First Monday’? [Law.com]
C-SPAN’s Potty-Mouth Broadcast [Washington Wire]
Carter G. Phillips bio [Sidley Austin]
Earlier: “Supreme Courtships”: A Show About SCOTUS Clerks, Take Three

television TV show shows Supreme Courtships.jpgDo any of you remember The Court or First Monday? If not, we don’t blame you.
These shows were two very short-lived television dramas about the U.S. Supreme Court. They focused on the weighty issues presented to the Court, as well as the interpersonal relationships between the justices and the law clerks.
Judicial groupies were thrilled to see two shows about the Court on national television (despite the many inaccuracies and ridiculous plot lines). But their joy was fleeting.
“The Court” and “First Monday” crashed and burned, and both were canceled before finishing a single season. While they were popular with Supreme Court clerks that Term, who would get together for weekly viewings in each other’s apartments, a viewership of 36 isn’t enough to sustain a TV show.
Undeterred by the failure of these ventures, Hollywood is placing another bet on One First Street. From the Hollywood Reporter:

A headstrong female defense attorney, Supreme Court clerks and hospital nurses are at the center of three one-hour pilots that have been given the green light by Fox….

Supreme Courtships, from 20th Century Fox TV and Adelstein Prods., is a comedic drama about the personal and professional lives of six Supreme Court clerks and their supervisors.

Gary Tieche (ABC’s “MDs”) wrote the script and is executive producing with Marty Adelstein and Michael Thorn.

We hope that “Supreme Courtships” takes off; we really do. We adore Supreme Court clerks and everything about them. We worship the ground they walk upon, and we follow their triumphs as closely as Page Six follows Lindsay Lohan’s misadventures.
But we don’t think we are the typical television viewer. And we have serious doubts as to whether this show will connect with an audience.
A book project focused on the courts and on law clerks, a la the forthcoming Chambermaid by Saira Rao, is something that can succeed. Readers of books are more high-minded and culturally sophisticated than viewers of television; TV is called “the boob tube” for a reason. Also, it’s much easier to employ a niche marketing strategy when selling books.
But television is much more mass-market than book publishing. The demographics are different, and the appeal needs to be broad. And we fear that the fabulosity of Supreme Court law clerks will be lost upon the typical TV viewer. To the contrary, the typical TV viewer may be more like the party guest in this anecdote (a true story):

A law clerk to Justice Kennedy attends a party in New York. He starts chatting with another guest, and the inevitable “So what do you do?” question surfaces. The law clerk identifies himself as a clerk to Justice Kennedy.

Almost immediately, the other party guest tries to escape excuses himself, saying he needs to “refill his drink.” As he leaves, he tells the AMK clerk: “Good luck with your clerical work!”

Fox Gives a Go to Three Dramas [Variety via How Appealing]
Fox rules for trio of hour pilots [Hollywood Reporter via How Appealing]
The Court [IMDb]
First Monday [IMDb]

Harriet Miers Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPGPresident Bush famously described Harriet E. Miers, the outgoing White House counsel, as “a pit bull in size six shoes.” Woof woof!
But some White House insiders viewed Harriet Miers as insufficiently canine. Per the Washington Post:

Miers, a longtime Bush loyalist whose nomination to the Supreme Court was withdrawn in 2005 as a result of conservative opposition, led an office that will oversee legal clashes that could erupt if Democrats aggressively use their new subpoena power. Bush advisers inside and outside the White House concluded that she is not equipped for such a battle….

The White House did not announce a replacement but has settled on someone to take on the assignment, according to several advisers who did not disclose the name.

If you have thoughts about who this person might be, we’d love to hear from you.
Further discussion and speculation, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Will Fill Harriet Miers’s Size Six Shoes?”

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFSome other noteworthy moves within the legal profession (besides Chief Judge David Levi’s selection as Dean of Duke Law School):
Within government:
* This is big news: the new Attorney General for New York, Andrew Cuomo, has hired Barbara D. Underwood as his solicitor general.
Underwood has a resume to die for. She has served as counsel to Eastern District U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, as chief assistant U.S. Attorney in the E.D.N.Y., and as principal deputy solicitor general over at the Justice Department (under President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno).
Surprise surprise: Barbara Underwood is among the Elect (OT 1970/Marshall). We hear that she beat out other former Supreme Court clerks to win the New York SG job.
The fact that so many high-powered people were vying for the gig shows that state solicitor general posts are acquiring more and more cachet. Being an ex-SCOTUS clerk is rapidly becoming a requirement for these jobs. E.g., Ted Cruz in Texas (OT 1996/Rehnquist); Kevin Newsom in Alabama (OT 2000/Souter).
The rest of today’s transitions, plus links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: 01.03.07″

David Levi David F Levi Judge Dean Duke Above the Law.jpgBig news for both the federal bench and legal academia: Chief Judge David F. Levi, of the Eastern District of California, has been picked as the next dean of Duke Law School.
If approved by the trustees, Levi will replace Dean Katharine Bartlett on July 1. Here’s the official press release.*
Chief Judge David Levi is one of the most highly-regarded district judges in the entire federal judiciary — and this should come as no surprise, given his pedigree. The 55-year-old judge is a Harvard College and Stanford Law grad, former Ninth Circuit clerk, and member of the Elect (OT 1982/Powell).
Legal genius runs in the Levi family. David Levi is the son of the late Edward Levi, former Attorney General under President Ford (and recently in the news in the wake of President Ford’s passing; he recommended Justice Stevens for the SCOTUS). As the WSJ Law Blog points out, David Levi’s older brother is also a high-powered lawyer: John Levi, a partner at Sidley & Austin.
When we clerked on the Ninth Circuit, we worked on an appeal from a decision of then-Judge Levi (he became Chief Judge in 2003). It was a bizarre an interesting case involving a transsexual ex-prison inmate, one Torey Tuesday South, who filed a civil action against California prison officials. She alleged that the officials improperly cut off her sex hormones (which she had been taking since she was a teenage boy). The officials asserted qualified immunity.
The record on appeal was really weird highly unusual. It included quasi-soft-porn photographs of Torey Tuesday South in various unusual positions, designed to showcase certain parts of her anatomy. It also included materials that gave us a crash course in gender dysphoria.
We’ll spare you the details; if you’re curious, you can look up the decision on Westlaw. In the end, Chief Judge Levi’s decision to allow the case to move forward was affirmed. The factual findings and legal reasoning he provided in support of his ruling were impeccable.
In his new role as dean of Duke Law School, David Levi will surely grapple once again with issues of transsexuality. But the questions presented will be less thorny. For example: Can transexuals use both the male and female bathrooms in the law school (as they can in the New York subway)?
The Duke deanship is an exciting new opportunity for one of our nation’s most distinguished jurists. Congratulations, Your Honor!
Food for thought: Professor Orin Kerr wonders: Is Chief Judge Levi, regarded by both liberals and conservatives as a fair and thoughtful jurist, the kind of Supreme Court nominee who could win over Democratic senators?
David Levi is only 55 years old. He’s a moderate conservative with 16 years of judicial experience, as well as a civil procedure guru. Now he’s adding another feather to his cap: the deanship of a prestigious law school. If he steers clear of controversy as dean, he’s certainly a SCOTUS possibility.
* From the Duke alum who sent us the press release: “I can speak for many of my fellow Duke Law alums when I say good riddance to the former dean, Kate Bartlett.”
Update: Some Duke alumni dissent from this assessment of Dean Bartlett. For further discussion, see the comments.
Federal Judge David F. Levi selected as Dean of Duke Law School [Duke Law School]
Duke Law School Selects Judge David Levi as Dean [WSJ Law Blog]
Wonderful news for Duke Law School, but a sad loss of a very talented judge [How Appealing]
David F. Levi bio [FJC]
Ex-Inmate’s Suit Advances [Sacramento Bee]
Transsexual inmate mistreated, court says [Sacramento Bee]
More on 100-0 Nominees [Volokh Conspiracy]

kwanzaa happy kwanzaa kwanza candles.gifThe week before a major holiday is usually pretty slow. And the Friday before the holiday weekend is usually dead — the perfect time for Mike Nifong to announce he’s dropping the rape charges against the Duke lacrosse team defendants.
Other highlights from the past week in legal news and ATL:
* Get to know this year’s Alito clerks!
* And help us get to know the current Breyer clerks.
* Dean Harold Koh’s Christmas gift to Yale Law School conservatives: newfound warmth and friendliness.
* Speaking of Yale Law School, YLS grad Yul Kwon just won Survivor. Congrats, Yul!
* Stuff you knew already: Supreme Court clerks are cooler than you. Lawyers have mediocre sex lives. Pro se litigants are insane.
* Last week dragged in a few more law firm bonus announcements, but nothing exciting. To skim the coverage, click here, then scroll down through the headlines.
* On the subject of bonuses, Biglaw associates: Please take our 2006 bonus poll (first announced here):

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Whatcha doin’ for New Year’s? Unless your plans include the words “Diddy” and “yacht,” they’re not as fabulous as this fête:
tim wu evite supreme court clerks the elect.JPG

Some explanation is in order. This party is being brought to you by one of America’s brightest legal minds: celebrity law professor Tim Wu, of Columbia Law School. (We don’t know who this “Sue” character is.)

If you haven’t read ATL’s fawning past coverage of Professor Wu, here’s one detail that says it all: Richard Posner calls him “the Genius Wu.” Need we say more?

The invite list is equally spectacular. It includes these legal luminaries:

(1) Noah Feldman, the hottie-cum-public-intellectual that Harvard just lured away from NYU;

(2) Kermit Roosevelt, the hottie-cum-law-professor-cum-novelist (yes, descended from THOSE Roosevelts); and

(3) Tali Farhadian, the hottie-cum-hottie-cum-hottie.

Memorably described as a “lush Persian beauty,” Farhadian belongs on a Milan runway, a top-five law school faculty, or both.

All of these celebs — like their host, Tim Wu (Breyer/OT 1999) — are members of the Elect. Professors Feldman and Roosevelt clerked for Justice Souter (in October Terms 1998 and 1999, respectively). Farhadian clerked for Justice O’Connor (in October Term 2004).

But Feldman, Roosevelt and Farhadian, in all of their blinding brightness, might be eclipsed if a single invitee makes an appearance at the festivities.

Yes, that’s right. Also on “The List”: AQUAGIRL!!!

Allow us to paraphrase JFK’s famous words about Thomas Jefferson:

“I think this will be the most extraordinary collection of young legal celebrity and fabulosity that has ever been gathered together at a party — with the possible exception of when Aquagirl swam alone.”

Earlier: An Update on Aquagirl: Things Are Going Swimmingly
Wherein We Receive An Email from Celebrity Law Prof Tim Wu
Musical Chairs: Professor Noah Feldman Is Leaving NYU for Harvard!

michael lee mike lee christopher paolella chris paolella matthew schwartz matt schwartz gordon todd.JPGsamuel alito jr samuel a alito jr justice alito.jpgSorry it has taken us so long. As promised months ago, we now begin our series profiling current Supreme Court clerks (aka the “October Term 2006″ or “OT 2006″ law clerks).
We’ll be going chambers by chambers, starting with the most junior justice. Here are the four law clerks to Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

1. Michael S. Lee (BYU ’97/Benson (D. Utah)/Alito)

2. Christopher J. Paolella (Harvard ’99/Alito)

3. Matthew A. Schwartz (Columbia ’03/Alito)

4. Gordon D. Todd (UVA ’00/Beam)

As a member of the Alito extended family explained to us, here’s the key to understanding the Alito chambers: 3:1. This golden ratio perfectly captures the demographics of the OT 2006 Alito clerks. Consider:

1. Familial status: three are married with children, one is not (Chris Paolella — married, but no kids yet).

2. Undergraduate institution: three are Princetonians, one is not (Michael Lee — BYU).

3. Prior Alito clerkship: three previously clerked for then-Judge Alito on the Third Circuit, one did not (Gordon Todd).

4. Religious affiliation: three are Christian,* one is not (Matthew Schwartz — he’s Jewish).

5. College debate: three were gods of the parliamentary debate circuit, and former presidents of the American Parliamentary Debate Assocation (APDA); one was not (Michael Lee).

But we wouldn’t want such commonalities to overshadow the individuality of these gents. Check out our profiles of Messrs. Lee, Paolella, Schwartz, and Todd — after the jump.
* Mitt Romney footnote: Michael Lee is Mormon, which we consider to be Christian. Presidential candidate Romney hopes that evangelical Christians voting in the Republican primaries will agree with us.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Alito’s OT 2006 Law Clerks”

stack of bills cash money.jpgAs was the case last night, we must take leave of our computer for a little while. (Our plans involve members of the Elect, so this is an excused absence.)
There has been some bonus news today (Paul Weiss), even if not as much as yesterday (Cravath and Cadwalader). But the day isn’t over yet, and more news might break later this afternoon or evening.
Same drill as before. If any interesting bonus news surfaces while we’re gone, please mention it in the comments to this post (and include a link to your source — e.g., Infirmation, Greedy Associates, AutoAdmit.com).
We’ll look into any such tips after we return. Thank you in advance for your help.
Finally, if you’re looking for amusement or distraction while we’re gone, check out our comprehensive collection of fun or interesting links, gathered from all around the blawgosphere. After clicking through and reading all of these posts, you’ll be completely caught up on two weeks’ worth of legal blogging!
Earlier: Supplemental Non-Sequiturs: 12.12.06

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