Several years back, the Washington Post uncovered multiple instances of federal judges committing basic ethical breaches related to ruling on cases despite holding significant financial stakes in one party. It was an embarrassing black eye for the federal judiciary and the legal system altogether. It forced the bench to develop a comprehensive financial reporting system and an automated computer check to avoid any further ethical lapses. Sounded reasonable at the time.
Well, it turns out the computer system doesn’t work.
Or at least it doesn’t work as well as anyone would have hoped. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) just released a report this morning reflecting their efforts to manually review a sampling of federal court decisions and cross-check those with financial disclosure forms. The report found multiple lapses. The most egregious involved a judge with as much as $100,000 in Johnson & Johnson when he ruled in their favor on an appeal regarding a malfunctioning implant.
But by and large the legal world’s responses to these findings vary from tone-deaf to downright hypocritical….
Judges can usually keep it together even when the lawyers deserve a paddlin’ for their disrespectful behavior. And I cannot imagine how a judge summons the depth of patience required to deal with a pro se litigant without constantly losing their composure. While lawyers may privately think of judges as arrogant and imperious from time to time, when you really look at the job, judges spend most of their time holding their tongues.
Which is why a uncontrolled outburst from a federal judge is such a rare treat.
Now you may think, “This is probably a minor rebuke blown out of proportion.” To that I quote David Frank, the managing editor of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly: “I have heard judges raise their voice. I’ve heard judges get tense. I have never heard something as loud as that.”
I guess this was less of a benchslap and more of a benchpunch….
Would you believe a state supreme court justice received a $50,000 trip to Italy from a lawyer who routinely appears before the court representing major clients?
Oh, it happened. And it could be happening a lot more often than you’d think because most states make it exceedingly difficult to discover. Every now and again someone will do important work pointing out that electing judges in an era of unfettered campaign contributions poses a significant risk to judicial integrity, and everyone will cluck their tongues, stroke their beards and wonder, “What’s to be done with this state court system?” A new study goes further and looks at the financial wheelings and dealings — and the lack of oversight they receive — of judges outside of election season.
Being a federal judge is like being a professional boxer: you have to know when it’s time to hang up the robe. (Yes, pare, I’m talking to you, Congressman Pacquiao.)
How does a federal judge know when it’s time to retire (not just senior status, but complete and total retirement)? Well, how about when he starts making bizarre, offensive, and racially charged comments — on the record?
Each spring, our fine country is besieged by little girls on a mission to sell the most cookies or else risk being the embarrassment of their troop. Of course, I’m talking about the Girl Scouts of the USA, a program that indoctrinates young women to “be prepared” for adulthood by earning patches in first aid, sportsmanship, and other important life skills, like cooking and makeup application. (Yes, seriously.)
Anyway, Girl Scout cookies used to be pimped by door-to-door sales when mothers still allowed their children to walk around unattended (except for where I grew up in Hillsdale, NJ, the town where Joan’s Law originated). These days, parents tend to do all the work for their kids, and force their coworkers to buy box upon box of delicious cookies.
Now, it’s very rare that one wouldn’t succumb to the pressure to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies — seriously, have you ever eaten a Thin Mint? — but you can’t convince everyone to be a customer, and not everyone will care that they might be crushing a little girl’s hopes and dreams of earning a cookie patch. In extreme cases, not even a judge can allegedly foist these cookies upon an unwilling customer….
The last time we wrote about a partner from Cozen O’Connor, he ended up with a “huge [bleep]hole” after sending a string of allegedly abusive emails to opposing counsel. Today, we’ve got another Cozen partner whose tale of woe with the New York court system may be liable for giving a New York judge a “huge [bleep]hole” of his own.
John McDonough, the Cozen partner in question, has accused Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack of some pretty untoward actions, and has filed papers to get the judge to recuse himself from a $100 million civil case against Duane Reade.
But what could have been so offensive that it would warrant calls for a judge’s recusal? Apparently McDonough isn’t a fan of being referred to as a “piece of sh*t”….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Things have changed recently in Korea – a few of our US and UK client firms are looking, very selectively, for a lateral US associate hire. Until just recently, there was not much hiring like this going on in Korea, since US and UK firms started opening offices there. We have already placed two US associates in Korea in the past month at top firms. Most of the hiring partners we work with in Korea do not actively work with other recruiters.
If you are a Korean fluent US associate in London, New York or another major US market, 2nd to 6th year, at a top 20 firm, with cap markets or M&A focus (or mix), or project finance background, and you are interested in lateraling to Korea to a top US or UK firm, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Our head of Asia, Evan Jowers, was just in Korea recently, and Evan and Robert Kinney will be in Korea in a few weeks. We are in the process of helping several firms open new offices in Korea (a number of which are interviewing our partner level candidates) and also helping existing offices there fill openings.
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!