Federal Judges

It’s fine if we are not all that popular. There is a reason why the Constitution gives federal judges life tenure. We are supposed to do our jobs without worrying whether our decisions are pleasing to anybody.

– Justice Samuel Alito, in comments made in reference to the Supreme Court’s 44 percent approval rating during a speech made in Florida at a luncheon of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches and the Palm Beach County Bar Association.

In my near 14 years on the bench, this is the first time I can recall this happening.

– Judge Kermit Bye of the Eighth Circuit, in a scathing dissent issued after Missouri executed a death row inmate before the court could finish reviewing his request for a stay. On Wednesday, Missouri executed another death row inmate, this time before the Supreme Court ruled on his request for a stay. The state has executed three inmates in as many months, all while appeals were still pending.

For your information, in case you’re not familiar with my process, I take copious notes during the testimony of each witness, and I would like to place into the record my personal notes of what happened that afternoon to reflect that I was not asleep.

I want to put this in the record as a Court exhibit to indicate what I was doing that afternoon. It was not sleeping. I was not sleeping.

– Senior Judge Ellen Bree Burns of the District of Connecticut, a nonagenarian, speaking in her own defense during an ongoing federal drug trial after members of the defendants’ families accused her of sleeping on the bench.

It will likely warm the cockles of many a Biglaw heart to hear that a bunch plaintiffs’ attorneys got smacked around by a federal court for trying to steal funds from Uncle Sam. They may beat your clients — and deservedly so, since your clients were totally poisoning people — but at least they won’t be getting away with their fat paychecks. Bask in that satisfaction as you go back to your less lucrative life.

If you want to know exactly how these lawyers did it (so you know what not to do, of course), then read on.

Or if you just want to point and laugh at the irony of public interest plaintiffs’ attorneys getting tagged for failing to pay their fair share to the public coffers, you can read on for that too….

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* Choose your own adventure: Will you read this to see how many times Justice Alito recused himself during OT 2013? Or will you read this to see Justice Alito’s doofy-looking picture? [National Law Journal]

* Hackers took down the entire PACER system as well as various federal court websites on Friday. No, the FBI says it was “technical problems.” Oops, nope, still hackers. :( [Switch / Washington Post]

* It seems the best way to train new associates is to do the opposite of what Biglaw has been doing for decades. Take Stephen Susman’s word for it — you could probably end up with a $40k bonus. [The Careerist]

* A decision hasn’t been rendered in the Chevron case yet, but is Steven Donziger feeling pessimistic? He’s already hired impressive appellate counsel. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “Everybody’s been very nice to us, even though we’re lawyers.” Shocker. David Boies, Ted Boutrous, and Ted Olson had fun at the Sundance Film Festival promoting “The Case Against 8.” [Associated Press]

* Finally, a happy ending to an absurd science experiment. Over the weekend, a judge ordered that Marlise Munoz, a brain-dead pregnant woman in Texas, be removed from her respirators and ventilators. [CNN]

Is your office cold? Is your chilly heart in need of thawing? Cuddle up by the fire — or just grab another cup of coffee from the break room — and feel the glow of the winter wedding goodness we have for you this week!

Here are our magnificently impressive, all Ivy-educated lovebirds:

Christy Ely and Peter Tiboris (Columbia, Vows)

Lauren Baer and Emily Meyers (2, Yale, Columbia)

Jacqueline Kelly and Nicholas Moscow (2, Columbia)

Get the scoop on these well-credentialed newlyweds, after the jump….

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Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr.

Judicial misconduct comes from all across the ideological spectrum. Judge Richard Cebull of Montana, who reportedly spewed out racist emails like an ATM dispensing twenties, was an anti-Obama conservative. Meanwhile, Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr., whose ethical troubles we alluded to yesterday, was a prominent progressive on the Sixth Circuit.

Judge Martin was appointed to the court in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter and wrote major opinions attacking the death penalty and defending affirmative action. He also penned fun opinions that included references to The Simpsons and Austin Powers.

Alas, this liberal lion has roared his last. Did an investigation into possible judicial misconduct help drive Judge Martin from the bench?

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How many racist emails does it take to brand someone a racist? My personal rule is “one.” If you send one horribly racist email that actually manages to leak out into public discourse, it’s probably not your only one. Seeing a racist email from someone is like seeing a mouse in your apartment: there’s never just one. I believe in temporary insanity, but I don’t believe in sudden onset racism that magically appears once and only once and then disappears forever.

Of course, whenever anybody gets caught in a racist email scandal, they always say that it’s the only one. It’s always “Whoops, that email was racist, but I’m not racist.” The racist email is always allegedly “out of character,” and the person always claims to have shown “poor judgment.” And that person always has some apologists, as if sending one or two racist emails is just something that “happens” in the normal course of business to non-racist people.

That’s what Judge Richard Cebull claimed. In 2012, he was busted sending around a racist email about President Obama. He claimed that he didn’t mean to be “racist” — he just meant to voice his displeasure with the president (as if it wasn’t bad enough for the judge to be taking public opinions about the sitting president).

Some people bought the Cebulls**t. Not me. And Cebull eventually retired. But the investigation into his misconduct continued, and now that investigation has been made public.

Surprise, Richard Cebull sent a ton of racist, sexist, and otherwise inappropriate emails….

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The Second Circuit met en banc (or in banc?) for the first time in a little over two years and handed down a sharply divided 9-6 opinion with potentially major ramifications for the criminal justice system.

In the crosshairs in yesterday’s decision was the sanctity of one of a modern prosecutors most cherished tools of brow-beating serving justice: the guilty plea.

The Second Circuit is leading the way in restoring a little bit of justice to the criminal justice system…

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I join the Order and Judgment. I write separately for a collateral reason. After oral argument I was designated as author. Recently, because he was concerned with the delay in disposition, Judge Kelly reassigned the case and prepared the Order and Judgment. I am solely responsible for, and deeply regret, all delay in resolving this matter.

– Judge Terrence L. O’Brien of the Tenth Circuit, in an oldie but goodie from last year, issuing himself a benchslap for failing to keep on schedule.

(Maybe this is why Judge O’Brien has since taken senior status.)

If you’re interested in the whole opinion, it’s available after the jump…

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