Samuel Kent

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, from Ross Guberman, a look at lawyers’ ethical breaches and their consequences.

Quick: List all the ways you can get into ethical hot water while writing a brief, and then list all the things judges can do to you in return.

Sometimes lawyers go too far, but do judges ever overreact?

I interviewed Judy Fischer, author of Pleasing the Court (affiliate link), on wayward lawyers and the angry judges who penalize them:

In your short and fascinating book, we meet all sorts of wayward attorneys who are in some way punished by courts for something they’ve done in a brief. One attorney called the members of an administrative board “monkeys” and compared their pronouncements to the “grunts and groans of an ape.” Another attorney neglected to mention an unfavorable case even though he himself was counsel in that case. Yet another referred to opposing counsel as “Nazis and redneck pepper-woods.” And various other attorneys drafted a proposed order with a first sentence that’s nearly four pages long, filed a complaint that the court called a “hideous sprawling mess,” cited a dissent as controlling authority, or copied another lawyer’s brief.

When you compare all these alleged ethical breaches with the penalties they provoked, what are a few of the behaviors that seem to irk judges most?

Read more at the ATL Career Center….

What’s up with all these federal judges seeking to leave their life-tenured quarters? We understand that the pay’s not great (which is why we urge them to marry rich). But being an Article III judge is still nice work if you can get it.

Despite the power and prestige, two federal judges are moving on — temporarily or permanently. First, from the Daily Business Review:

Martin Jenkins Judge Martin J Jenkins Above the Law blog.jpgIn a highly unusual move, U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins [N.D. Cal. (at right)], a life-tenured federal judge in San Francisco, is prepared to give up his seat and has applied for an opening on the California State Court of Appeal bench.

Jenkins, 54, a moderate Democrat and former state trial court judge in Oakland, Calif., was appointed by President Clinton a decade ago. He confirmed rumors that he has submitted an application with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for the vacancy.

We understand the allure of an appellate over a trial court gig. But still, giving up the federal bench for a state court is “highly unusual” — especially since the state court in question isn’t even the California Supreme Court (the move that Judge Morrison England (E.D. Cal.) was contemplating, before he withdrew his name from consideration).

Second, from the Houston Chronicle (via Sophistic Miltonian Serbonian Blog):

U.S. District Judge Sam Kent [S.D. Tex.] will take a four-month leave from his Galveston bench for unspecified reasons, according to an order made public Monday.

No one involved would comment on the order, but students of the federal judiciary said it is unusual.

We smell a story here. A little more about Judge Kent, after the jump.

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