Vanessa Gilmore

Judge Vanessa Gilmore

* Lincoln Caplan writes about Bill Stuntz — “America’s leading thinker on criminal justice, and its hardest to categorize” — in a review of Stuntz’s posthumously published book, The Collapse of American Criminal Justice (affiliate link). [Democracy: A Journal of Ideas]

* Ben Kerschberg identifies eight great law and technology resources — including Above the Law’s tech section, natch. [Forbes]

* Andrew Cohen calls out Judge Vanessa Gilmore for “dubious behavior” in a death penalty case. Judicial diva is as judicial diva does? [The Atlantic]

* Professor Eugene Volokh comes to the defense of “dissental” and “concurral,” two new words coined by his former boss, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. [Volokh Conspiracy]

Turtle as deadly weapon?

* Don’t let Stephen McDaniel or Bruce Reilly anywhere near a turtle. [Lowering the Bar]

* Check out Orrick’s excellent “It Gets Better” video. Orrick, MoFo and Shearman are the three large law firms we’re aware of that have made such videos; if you know of others, please let us know. [It Gets Better]

* If you are free on November 4th and will be in New York that night, consider attending the Black and White Masquerade Ball of the Dave Nee Foundation, a non-profit committed to fighting depression and preventing suicide. [The Dave Nee Foundation]

Judge Vanessa Gilmore, a self-identified judicial diva.

Back in 2007, I declared Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore (S.D. Tex.) to be a judicial diva (a term I first popularized over at my original blog, Underneath Their Robes). Judge Gilmore earned this delicious distinction through such behavior as allegedly throwing objects at attorneys in open court and dumping motions in the trash for using the incorrect font.

Well, it appears that Judge Vanessa Gilmore was pleased rather than perturbed by her diva designation. As she told the Texas Lawyer, she used it in the title of her new book, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Tales From a Judicial Diva.

This is Judge Gilmore’s second book. Her first literary effort, A Boy Named Rocky, was “a coloring book for the children of incarcerated parents.” (They sure could use it — if any kids need to be taught to stay within the lines….)

Let’s learn more about Judge Gilmore’s latest book — and check out the delightfully ridiculous cover art….

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Vanessa Bryant Vanessa L Bryant Judge Above the Law legal blog.jpgYesterday brought some good news for Connecticut state court judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant, nominated to the federal district court for Connecticut.
From the Hartford Courant (via How Appealing):

The influential judicial screening committee of the American Bar Association has reversed itself on the nomination of Superior Court Judge Vanessa L. Bryant to the federal bench, concluding that the judge it found not qualified a year ago is now qualified.

The chairman of the association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary said Tuesday that the new evaluation is the result of a routine re-examination of Bryant’s qualifications. That was triggered when Bryant’s nomination was resubmitted in January by President Bush after Congress adjourned last year without acting on it.

So Judge Bryant’s confirmation — which was never seriously in doubt, even back when she was deemed “unqualified,” due to the political support she enjoyed on both sides of the aisle — is now just a formality.
To refresh your memory, here’s some discussion of Judge Bryant’s earlier “not qualified” rating:

In confidential interviews, [ABA investigator Doreen] Dodson wrote, judges and lawyers described Bryant as “domineering and exasperated with lawyers,” “arrogant and unreasonable,” and “contentious and short-tempered.” Some also said she seemed overwhelmed by complex issues and wrote opinions that were hard to decipher. Dodson added that such complaints appeared consistently through her years on the bench.

Vanessa Gilmore Vanessa D Gilmore Judge Above the Law Above the Law judicial diva.jpgHmm… This description calls to mind a certain other jurist named Vanessa: Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore (at right), appointed by President Clinton in 1994, and recently discussed here.
Now, we harbor a healthy skepticism of the ABA ratings process. And we do acknowledge the concerns that have been raised concerning the anonymous nature of the earlier criticisms of Judge Bryant, which hampered her ability to respond to them at her Judiciary Committee hearings.*
But here’s a question on our mind, which we’ll just toss out there for all of you to debate:

If confirmed to the federal bench, might Judge Vanessa Bryant someday end up looking like the northeastern, Republican version of Judge Vanessa Gilmore?

* Speaking of anonymous criticism of judges, yes, we know: we are delinquent with our response to Judge Alex Kozinski’s open letter. Look for it tomorrow.
Opinion Reversed: Judge Is Qualified [Hartford Courant (via How Appealing)]
Dodd, Lieberman and Blumenthal endorse federal judge nominee [Associated Press]
Vanessa Lynne Bryant bio [Office of Legal Policy]
Earlier: The Honorable Vanessa Gilmore: A Delicious Judicial Diva


Vanessa Gilmore Vanessa D Gilmore Judge Above the Law Above the Law judicial diva.jpgIf you’re getting tired of our stories about the DOJ’s Shanetta Cutlar and S&C’s Alexandra Korry, we have a new name to add to our rotation of delightfully high-powered, imperious females. Meet Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore (at right), of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Whisper her name out loud: “Vanessa Gilmore.” Doesn’t it even SOUND diva-licious? If she weren’t a federal judge, couldn’t she be a character on “Dynasty”?

But we have reasons other than the sound of her name for declaring this rather attractive jurist to be a judicial diva. From a helpful tipster:

I’d like to bring another judicial diva to your attention: Judge Vanessa Gilmore of the Southern District of Texas. You probably have already read about Judge Gilmore’s ruling in the Enron broadband case vacating Howard’s conviction. I’m not sure she’s a match for Shanetta Cutlar, but she’s no slouch either when it comes to divadom.

[R]umors about her include:

* She has thrown her keys in open court at an attorney (I believe it might have been an AUSA) for calling her “ma’am”;

* She ordered an AUSA to have John Ashcroft personally write her a letter explaining the DOJ’s reasons for seeking the death penalty against one defendant but not others [the Williams case, discussed in more detail below];

* When she didn’t like the particular font counsel used, she told him that she threw his motion in the trash without reading it, and then she ruled against him;

* During trial she is happy to make findings contrary to stipulations of the parties; and

* She encourages ex parte contact with the court and attempts to prevent record-making: any discovery “motions” must be way of a one-page letter to the court. She will then have a hearing which she considers an “oral motion to compel.” She will happily rule without actually seeing any of the discovery propounded.

More about Judge Gilmore, including a discussion of how she got benchslapped by the Fifth Circuit, after the jump.

P.S. We welcome colorful anecdotes about strong personalities within the legal profession regardless of their race, gender, etc. It just so happens that lately we’ve been getting information about women. If you want to tell us about your workplace abuse at the hands of a man — e.g., Eric Krautheimer, of Brokeback Lawfirm infamy — we’re all ears.

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