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.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
Connecticut plaintiffs-side boutique litigation firm (12 lawyers) seeks full-time associate with 2-4 years litigation experience, top tier undergraduate and law school education. Journal or clerkship experience a plus; highest ethical standards and strong work ethic required. Familiarity with Connecticut state court legal practice is preferred, but not required.
The firm handles sophisticated, high-end cases for plaintiffs, including individuals and businesses with significant claims in a wide array of matters. Our cases often have important public policy implications, and are litigated in state and federal courts throughout Connecticut. Representative areas of practice include medical malpractice, catastrophic personal injury, business torts, deceptive trade practices and other complex commercial litigation, and products liability.
Additional information can be located on our website, at www.sgtlaw.com.