Federal Judges

steak beef meat steakhouse

[R]eading the record with just a dash of common sense tells us that chefs who happen to be American citizens surely have the capacity to learn how to cook Brazilian steaks and perform the relevant related tasks. To maintain otherwise, as Fogo de Chao does, is to imply that Brazilian chefs are essentially born with (or somehow absorb during their formative years) a cooking skill that cannot be acquired through reasonable training, which seems an entirely untenable proposition.

– Judge Brett Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.), dissenting in an interesting case regarding whether certain foreign chefs can qualify for the L-1B visa, granted to workers with “specialized knowledge.” Why does this feeder judge hate… food?

Righteous-IndignationThe public learned this week that the Judicial Council of the D.C. Circuit dismissed a complaint of judicial misconduct against Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.   The order followed a year-long investigation by Special Counsel Jeffrey Bellin.  The roughly 70-page Report of the Special Committee appears nonpartisan, thorough, and fair.

The complaint stemmed from a lecture Judge Jones gave to the University of Pennsylvania Federalist Society chapter in February 2013.  Among the complainants’ claims was that, during her lecture, Judge Jones suggested she believed that members of certain races were predisposed to commit violent crimes.  With no recording of the event, witnesses disagreed about exactly what she said.  Was she talking about genetic determinism?  Or was she only referring to the objective fact that, for whatever reason, our nation’s prisoners are disproportionately black and Latino?  The subsequent independent investigation concluded that “whatever she said initially, it is clear that Judge Jones used the question-and-answer period to clarify that she did not adhere to such views,” rejecting the complaint’s version of her speech. The D.C. Circuit cleared her of all of the charges of misconduct, including this one.

When the complaint was first filed, I defended Judge Jones. Defending her was relatively easy….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Edith Jones Helped Prove Eric Holder Right: Lessons I Learned About Race After Defending A Judge Accused Of Racism”

Judge Edith Jones

I did not say such things because I have never believed them and have never said them.

– Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit, denying she made offensive comments attributed to her by an ethics complaint. A panel of federal judges dismissed the complaint, but various civil-rights groups and legal ethicists are appealing the dismissal.


Sexism is pervasive in the legal profession, and it’s highly unusual if a week passes and there isn’t something to decry about the way women are treated by their male colleagues. From pay inequities and being passed up for partnership to constant lectures about the way they ought to dress, act, and speak, women lawyers have been given the short end of the stick in what was once considered a noble calling.

Worse yet, when it comes to achieving any sense of work/life balance, each action a woman lawyer takes is scrutinized with intensity — there are always questions raised as to her true dedication to her work. Should a woman lawyer be so bold as to become pregnant and then take maternity leave, then all bets are off. Colleagues will sigh with exasperation and fault their pregnant coworker for putting more work on their shoulders while the lawyer with child goes off to enjoy her “vacation” from the job.

It seems that even judges are fed up with women attorneys and their pesky maternity leave….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Refuses To Postpone Hearing Because Maternity Leave Isn’t A Good Enough Excuse”

Or at least between one group of plaintiffs and one group of defendants. A Missouri judge was hearing a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. Then the plaintiffs filed for summary judgment and sought a permanent injunction directing county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. All pretty standard.

But then the Missouri Family Policy Council filed a brief in support of the defendants. Which was jarring for the Judge Ortrie D. Smith since the Missouri Family Policy Council was not a party to the case and had sought no permission to file anything with the court.

Benchslap ho!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Same-Sex Marriage Judge Benchslap: Litigation Is Between One Plaintiff And One Defendant”

The latest batch of presidential papers from the Clinton Administration, recently released to the public, contain some fun nuggets for law nerds. We’ve mentioned a few of them already — e.g., the time that a pre-robescent Elena Kagan, then a White House staffer, dropped the f-bomb in a memo to White House counsel Jack Quinn. Another just came to light today: as reported by Tony Mauro, a pre-robescent John Roberts, then in private practice at Hogan & Hartson, came close to representing President Clinton in the U.S. Supreme Court in Clinton v. Jones.

The papers contain other interesting tidbits too — and some are sad rather than salacious. For example, there’s the story of how a brilliant and distinguished circuit judge came thisclose to landing a seat on the Supreme Court, until health problems derailed his nomination….

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Would you like a touch of sugar with that, Your Honor?

Federal judges are… fruity! I once visited Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in chambers, where I witnessed the judge engage in a spirited argument with one of his law clerks over the proper way to peel and eat an orange. Everything is up for debate in the Kozinski chambers.

And it seems like Judge Kozinski isn’t the only judicial giant with a fruit fetish. In oral arguments yesterday for Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, concerning whether Amazon warehouse workers can get paid overtime for going through an end-of-day security screening, Justice Elena Kagan raised this fun scenario: if a federal judge orders his clerks to come into chambers early, to cut up his grapefruit and make the rest of his breakfast, should the clerks get paid for that?

As it turns out, this “hypothetical” is based on real life. Which federal judge actually does this?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Blind Item Revealed: A Judge Whose Clerks Must Cut His Grapefruit”

Teresa Giudice

For a moment, I thought about probation. For a moment. I need to send a message that it isn’t who you are, how famous you are. If you do something wrong, there will be consequences to pay. Confinement is absolutely necessary in this case.

– Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey, speaking during Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice’s sentencing yesterday afternoon. Giudice was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, and her husband, Joe Giudice, was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison.

I find your reading of the [obstruction of justice] statute absolutely alarming.

– Judge William Fletcher, not exactly expressing confidence in federal prosecutors. The Ninth Circuit sat en banc to review Barry Bonds’s conviction for obstruction of justice, and all indications suggest the former slugger will have his conviction overturned.

If you’re interested in watching the entire oral argument, it’s available below…

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Want your name on a law school? Just pony up $50 million.

* Voters in Scotland just said no to independence from the United Kingdom (although it might not have been a big deal for the legal profession if the vote had gone the other way). [New York Times]

* Congratulations to Drexel Law on a whopping $50 million gift — and its new name, the Thomas R. Kline School of Law. [Philadelphia Inquirer via WSJ Law Blog]

* The latest chapter in the “cautionary tale” of David Lola: dismissal of the contract attorney’s lawsuit against Skadden and Tower Legal. [American Lawyer]

* An office renovation for Baker Botts in Houston strips junior associates of window offices. [ABA Journal]

* How could Watson transform the practice of patent law? [Corporate Counsel]

* Are we seeing a reversal in the trend of declining prison populations? [Washington Post]

* The chorus of voices calling for Judge Mark Fuller to resign in the wake of domestic violence charges against him continues to grow. [New York Times]

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