Judge Richard Kopf

Judge Richard KopfNine days ago, Judge Richard Kopf wrote an article about the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby that suggested, “[a]s the kids say, it is time for the Court to stfu.” It was a good post, but something that seemed of such little controversy that we relegated it to an in-blurb mention within Non-Sequiturs.

And then all manner of shock and hand-wringing commenced.

It’s not the first time a federal judge received criticism for speaking out. Are jurists like Judge Kopf out of control?

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It’s been a hell of a week for knowing what to wear.

Judge Richard Kopf blogged about “being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress,” weighing in on the latest debate about proper attire for women in law.

The story of Sunnie Kahle also emerged. (Gavel bang: Ann Althouse.) Sunnie is an eight-year-old Virginia girl whose grandparents reported to news media that Sunnie had been booted from her school for not being sufficiently girly. The story of a tomboy expelled for bucking hyper-conservative Christian notions of femininity set the internet ablaze with headlines like “Little Girl Taken Out of Christian School After Told She’s Too Much Like a Boy.”

In both of these stories, others are telling females how to look acceptably feminine. Judge Kopf instructs female lawyers not to appear overtly sexual. School officials instruct Sunnie not to appear overtly boyish. In each case, the powers that be seem to dictate the narrow swath between too-feminine and not-feminine-enough. Women and girls must be recognizably female while not spotlighting the sex traits that make them female.

That’s one gloss.

Here’s another. Let’s talk about sex and uniforms . . . .

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Too slutty, Your Honor?

Does what women wear to work matter? Of course it does, especially in a profession where looks are valued almost as highly as other qualities expected of a good lawyer, like exemplary analytical and interpersonal skills.

When we say “looks” here, we mean a lawyer’s ability to dress appropriately given the circumstances, but being attractive certainly doesn’t hurt. Men are basically given a free pass. So long as they don’t show up to court looking like they just rolled out of a dumpster, they’ll be given the respect they’re due.

Women, on the other hand, don’t have a uniform that they can wear to court like their male colleagues, and that’s where the trouble begins. Women lawyers have been told countless times to resist the urge to dress like harlots, with style suggestions ranging from the incredibly obvious (be wary of skirts too short and necklines too low) to the incredibly absurd (“think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe”).

The sick thing is that most of these style advisories have come from other women. Don’t follow trends? You look too frumpy. Follow too many trends? You look too skanky. A federal judge recently called attention to this perverse gender bias, but perhaps he could’ve used some more delicate language.

Calling all “ignorant sluts”…

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The guy in today’s story didn’t dress up like Gumby, but it’s still an amazingly stupid disguise.

* Man tried to rob a convenience store so he could go back to prison. And he almost screwed that up… [KMOV]

* The CIA’s former lawyer explains how torture came to be a go-to national policy. According to John Rizzo, author of the forthcoming Company Man (affiliate link), George W. Bush basically had no conception of what was going on, which makes a lot of sense anyway. [The New Yorker]

* Brooklyn Law’s Dean Nick Allard makes predictions for law schools in 2014. “[P]eople will look back at 2014 and say it marked the start of the new world of law: a renaissance where the respect and reputation of lawyers and law schools began to rise by measurable benchmarks.” Go ahead and laugh, I’ll wait. [TaxProf Blog]

* Paul, Weiss picks up tax partner Scott Sontag from Weil Gotshal. (Congrats to both firms, by the way, on tying for the #9 spot in our list of top-ranked law firms for 2013.) [Paul, Weiss]

* Nooooooooooooo! Judge Richard Kopf is ending his blog. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* And the hits keep on coming. Professor Kyle Graham is also leaving the blogosphere. [Non Curat Lex]

* The Ninth Circuit will start streaming all of its oral arguments next week. If you want to help them out, tune in. No promises that the panel will excoriate any prosecutors this time. [Ninth Circuit]

Judge Richard KopfDid the agents who were conducting my interview already know all about my daughter, the surveillance and the warning? While I suspect they did, to this day, I am not certain. Was I really obligated to “rat her out” to prove my bona fides? I have no idea, but I sure felt sh**ty for having done so.

– Judge Richard G. Kopf, writing on his delightful blog about the deeply intrusive process for vetting federal judicial nominees — which required him to reveal to the FBI his daughter’s brush with allegedly unsavory characters.

(See also Richard Posner — citing Above the Law and Elie Mystal, by the way — after the jump.)

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This week, the Senate blocked the nomination of Robert Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. President Obama nominated Wilkins to fill Judge David Sentelle’s seat. Failing to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, Wilkins won’t move forward to an up-or-down, simple-majority vote by the Senate.

Senate Republicans insist that the D.C. Circuit does not need any more judges in order to properly carry its current caseload. While Wilkins might be well-qualified to be a circuit judge, the Senate just isn’t hiring. President Obama said in a written statement, “When it comes to judicial nominations, I am fulfilling my constitutional responsibility, but Congress is not. Instead, Senate Republicans are standing in the way of a fully-functioning judiciary that serves the American people.” Democrats in the Senate, led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), threaten to alter the rules governing judicial nominations to prevent filibustering.

Democrats’ and Republicans’ reasons for fixating on the D.C. vacancies are political and obvious. It’s an unusually influential court, issuing rulings on administrative and regulatory matters with nationwide implications. What about the rest of the country, though? While politicians in Washington fuss over the D.C. Circuit, what is being neglected elsewhere?

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[F]ederal trial judges know their place. We are the TTT of the federal judiciary. When the Circuit tells us to jump, we do so even if we don’t much like it. But, in return, we expect only one thing: no cheap shots.

– Judge Richard G. Kopf, offering some criticism of the Second Circuit’s recent decision to remove Judge Shira Scheindlin from the stop-and-frisk cases.

It is time to tell Congress to go to hell. It’s the right thing to do.

– The eminently quotable Judge Richard G. Kopf, in a blog post urging the federal courts to declare all employees “essential” to keep the judiciary running despite the crippling government shutdown.

Shon Hopwood

* Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Department of Justice will be declassifying some secret opinions from the FISA Court. We wonder who’ll be hosting the giant redaction party. [Associated Press]

* Morgan Lewis paid out a $1.15 million settlement over unfinished business claims to this defunct firm. Great work, Mr. Diamond, but Howrey going to get the rest to do the same? [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* “[Shon] Hopwood proves that my sentencing instincts suck.” Now that this former bank robber has a clerkship with the D.C. Circuit, the judge who sentenced him is having second thoughts. [The Two-Way / NPR]

* Laptops are useful tools for students in law school classrooms, but they’re also great for checking Above the Law and buying shoes while professors are droning on and on. Apparently we needed a study to confirm this. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* George Zimmerman’s wife filed for divorce, citing “disappointment” as one of her reasons for ending the marriage. Don’t worry, Shellie, half of the nation was disappointed with the verdict too. [Washington Post]

* This gem of a listing just showed up in the “legal/paralegal jobs” section of Craigslist. Be sure to send a “nude picture” with your résumé! Perhaps someone has been watching too many Maggie Gyllenhaal films. If it gets taken down a screenshot is here, and the klassy alternative picture in the listing is here. [Craigslist]

* From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department, Georgetown Law has figured out how to bilk taxpayers into covering the costs of increasing tuition. The federal government forgives law school debt for those in the public sector if they agree to make an income-based payment. Georgetown is covering those costs, passing it on to future students (who also won’t be paying it back), and then encouraging students to shelter income to guarantee the school comes out ahead. This is why we can’t have nice things. [Wonkblog / Washington Post]

* The always outspoken Judge Kopf shares his thoughts on Shon Hopwood’s selection as a clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Judge Kopf sentenced Hopwood to 147 months in the 90s. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* A delightful “man bites dog” story: a bank didn’t read a customer’s amendments to a credit card application before issuing him a card and went to court whining about how hard it is to pay attention to the fine print. Boo hoo hoo. [The Telegraph]

* How to deal with your mistakes. This only applies to associates, though. Partners have two steps: (1) find an associate; (2) blame the associate. [Associate's Mind]

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including their misreading of the Supreme Court’s precedent. [Election Law Blog]

* China is way serious about prosecuting corruption. [Legal Juice]

* The Mets muscle man whose comic inability to open a water bottle went viral on YouTube is actually a lawyer from White Plains. If you haven’t seen the clip yet, it’s after the jump. Watching the water bottle battle is the only excuse for subjecting yourself to a Royals-Mets game…

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