BurtLaw's Daily Judge is not an online newspaper and is not affiliated with or intended to be mistaken for any existing or previously-existing newspaper or journal. Rather, this is a so-called "blawg," a law-related personal non-profit pro bono publico First-Amendment protected "web log" or "blog," one with a subjective, idiosyncratic, and eccentric sociological and social-psychological slant that focuses not on the latest judicial decisions of supposed great legal importance but on a) the institution of judge in the United States and in other countries throughout the world, b) the judicial office and role, c) judicial personalities, d) the great common law tradition of judging as practiced here and throughout the world, e) judges as judges, f) judges as ordinary people with the usual mix of virtues and flaws, etc. We link to newspapers and other sources in order to alert you to ideas, articles, stories, speeches, law books, literary works and other things that have interested us and that may interest you. In linking to another site or source, we don't mean either to suggest we necessarily agree with views or ideas expressed there or to attest to the accuracy of facts set forth there. We urge you in every instance to click on the link and read the entire story or other printed source to which we link. We often use the linked piece as a springboard for expressing our opinion, typically clearly labelled "Comment."
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About Burton Hanson. Burton Hanson is a graduate of Harvard Law School, admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Minnesota. He has devoted his entire professional career to the public interest. He worked one year as Hennepin County District Court Special Term (Civil) Law Clerk, two years as law clerk for the late Justice C. Donald Peterson of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and over 26 years as Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He was a nonpartisan candidate for Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in the general election in November 2000 and a liberal anti-war candidate for Congress in the Republican primary in the Minnesota Third District in September 2004. He was one of the first law bloggers (blawgers). He began planning his first blog, BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else in 1999 but delayed starting it until after the 2000 general election. His campaign website, the no-longer extant VoteHans.Com (archived here), contained a personal campaign weblog, possibly the first campaign blog. In 2004 he also used the personal blog format in his primary campaign for Congress. That site, BurtonHanson.Com, has morphed into a public interest political opinion blog and also contains the archives of his 2004 campaign web pages and blog postings.
Some of our recent postings. a) Tuesday, 09.30.2008 - Might this day, fifty-three years ago, have been the real day the music died? b) Judge was Paul Newman's college roommate. c) The BurtLaw Certs®-ian 'Two-Constitutions-in-One' Dead-and-Living Theory of Constitutional Interpretation. d) Blowing away 500 years of jurisprudence for the bankers' club. e) Judge is described as 'arrogant, discourteous, impatient.' f) How do you judge a pandal like Marisa's? g) Struggling courts in NH. h) When the profession is reduced to just another business. i) Not everyone believes judicial pay is paltry. j) Mom campaigned 23 years to free innocent son; judge criticizes her effort. k) Worth a read: On the economics of jury diversity. l) U.S. opens newest national park, in Norway. m) Seinfeld's 'Kramer' banned from courthouse? n) Irish judges will lose a power they abused. o) Judge Simon Brown is Master of the Inner Temple Garden. p) Court to judge: 'You WILL accept the pay raise!' q) Late judge is posthumously inducted into Minot, ND High School Hall of Fame. r) More on 'Ace' -- he refused to answer questions during two-day interrogation. s) MN judge is charged with failure to file state tax returns. t) When judges decide issues relating to foreign policy. u) Bulletproof car is provided for judge. v) Former judge seeks unemployment benefits. w) Judge's wife is awarded half of his $1 million pension. x) The judge and his 'dive buddy,' a reporter -- herein of who said what? y) Alito joins Stevens in opting out of 'cert. pool.' z) TuTu says rule of law is too, too important to make exception for Zuma. aa) Will South Korea's judiciary apologize for its past wrongs? bb) Former Canadian judge is arrested in Caribbean. cc) FBI raids chambers of two judges. dd) Singapore's contempt for WSJ's criticism of its judiciary. ee) Should new federal courthouse be named after ailing senator or late judge? ff) Third recount in FLA shows Wennet is not winner after all. gg) Judge still hearing cases dies at 93. hh) Life after judging for cross-dressing judge. ii) Oklahoma justice: pumping a small thing into a big thing. jj) A caution to those who want MN to adopt the 'Ozark State Plan.' kk) 'Queen' among judges retires. ll) Are modern, expensive courthouses the key to justice? mm) Judges suspend prominent lawyer for criticizing judiciary; lawyers launch boycott. nn) If Sarah can run the country, why can't a school teacher run the court clerk's office? oo) Destination tourist alert: pioneer Oregon judge's home has been restored!!! pp) 'A boy without a girl/ Is a song without a tune' or 'A judge without a court'? qq) Son of controversial judge claims to be target of 'love-crazy bitch.' rr) Shattering the 'pink glass ceiling.' ss) Quote of the Day - herein of mandatory retirement of judges. tt) Judge is so upset at woman's innocuous sweatshirt he continues her case. uu) Mississippi judge is disciplined a fourth time. vv) Annals on one-sided, press-release journalism. ww) Federal judges sharing courtrooms? xx) Annals of judicial expense account nightmares. yy) Does ex-judge serving as arbitrator have duty to disclose censure as judge? zz) Annals of sexiest female judges: member of Hollywood's prestigious 'triumgynate' will become a 'judge.' aaa) Israel's 'triumgynate.' bbb) Report of yet another 'blue ribbon commission' of lawyers and judges on NY's sad town court system. ccc) 'Habitually intemperate' judge joins 'syndicate' -- to appear as TV judge. ddd) CEO: 'My son has exactly the ideas needed to turn this company around.' eee) SCOTUS's declining reputation, influence around the world. fff) Singapore jails U.S. lawyer for criticizing Singapore judge on blog. ggg) Should judiciary allow virgin model to sell her 'first time' for a million Euros? hhh) Judge as 'joker,' not 'pinched' schoolmarm. iii) Wanted: More JP's.
Tuesday, 09.30.2008 - Might this day, fifty-three years ago, have been the real day the music died? "At 3:30 p.m., 09.30.1955, just outside Bakersfield, driving his new Porsche Spyder 550 on the way to Salinas, with his mechanic beside him, he is stopped and ticketed for speeding. At 5:45 p.m., at the intersection of Routes 466 and 41, near Chalame, the Porsche collides with a sedan driven by a fellow named Don Turnupseed. His mechanic is thrown free and survives. James Dean is dead...." Essay of remembrance dated 09.30.2005 at BurtonHanson.Com.
Judge was Paul Newman's college roommate. During the 1942-43 school year at Ohio University Joe Zieba, now-retired Lorain County Domestic Relations judge, shared a five-student dorm suite with actor Paul Newman, who died the other day. Zieba says they were "beer-drinking, hell-raising pals." Zieba says they spent many weekend nights at Club 33, "a raucous nightspot outside Athens": "I remember Paul, with a cigarette in his mouth and those blue eyes, would start playing boogie-woogie when this hillbilly band took a break...All those little hillbilly girls would circle the place. He was quite a guy." More (Chronicle-Telegram 09.30.2008). Comment. Perhaps Paul Newman's biggest career break came as a result of James Dean's death. The movie Somebody Up There Likes Me had been planned with James Dean in mind. After Dean died, Dean's part was given to Newman, to play opposite Pier Angeli (depicted together in these pics found using Google image search) the gal who in real life broke James Dean's heart. More (IMDB). Paul was okay as an actor but, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, "he was no James Dean. Pier Angeli? Born in 1932, she died in 1971. Who knows -- if she hadn't bowed to pressure from her allegedly"domineering mother" and broken off her affair with Jamie, things might have been different and perhaps they'd both still be alive. "Just before her death, she spoke of her relationship with James Dean and in part said, 'There was only one love in my life, and that was Jimmy Dean.'" More (Wikipedia 09.30.2008).
Judge is described as 'arrogant, discourteous, impatient.' "The Florida Supreme Court on Monday issued a reprimand against Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman for acting in an ''arrogant'' and unprofessional manner against defense counsel during the 2006 jury selection for accused Hollywood killer Lawrence Braynen...The judicial commission and Supreme Court found Aleman's actions ''arrogant, discourteous and impatient.'" As my posting on this matter last February stated, Aleman's conduct included taunting defense attorneys with her contempt powers and setting unreasonable time limits for the attorneys to prepare important motions. More (Miami Herald 09.30.2008).
How do you judge a pandal like Marisa's? "[S]choolchildren...will judge [Pandals] for this year's M P Birla Foundation Puja Utkarsh Samman. Twenty four students of Class IX and XI from South Point High School and MP Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School will visit nearly 100 pandals in and around Kolkata to judge them for the award...." More (Indian Express 09.29.2008). What is a pandal? "A pandal is a structure, either temporary or permanent, in a religious context. In Hinduism, it is a temporary structure set up to venerate the goddess Durga during Durga Puja." More (Wikipedia). Further reading on Pandal competitions. Pandal decoration competition for Ganesh festival (The Punekar 08.25.2008); A List of Popular Durga Puja Pandals in Kolkata in 2007 (Hindu Blog 10.17.2007); Dhaak, bhog, and Durga (The Hindu 10.14.2002); Durga Puja 2007 (Wikipedia); Results of Google image search for 'pandal.' Comment. Justice Scalia gave a talk in 2003 in which he decried "stink[ing]" judicial salaries, saying that paltry salaries for judges will lead to a system of career-minded, bureaucratic, "beady-eyed" judges. See, Scalia decries stinking judicial salaries, bureaucratic career judges. (The Daily Judge 12.14.2003). We don't share his concern. Indeed, we envision an ideal judicial world that we like to compare to a barn. Judicial accolytes would start out learning the ancient and honorable craft of common-law judging by judging pandal decoration competitions, poultry competitions, dog shows, jam'n'jelly competitions, beauty pageants, etc., etc., working their way up ye olde judicial ladder that leads to the judicial equivalent of the exalted heights of the hay mow, the U.S. Supreme Court, where the pay is not, as Scalia suggests, paltry-poultry chicken feed but more than adequate -- unless, of course, one chooses to have a dozen kids. See, links on judicial pay controversies at Not everyone believes judicial pay is paltry. Further reading. Ethics 101 - May a common law judge serve as judge of beauty pageant? (The Daily Judge 08.09.2005); BurtLaw's Dog Judging, Jam&Jelly Judging, Etc. (Law and Everything Else).
Struggling courts in NH. "More people are being left in legal limbo because of increased caseloads, more complex cases, and shortages of judges and clerical staff at New Hampshire's Superior Courts. Cheshire County has one full-time judge, Brian Tucker, and one part-time judge, John Arnold...'It is not an exaggeration to say that every day there are at least two stacks at least a foot tall of routine matters on Judge Tucker's desk,' said Cheshire County Superior Court Clerk Barbara Hogan. 'Some days there are four or five stacks, and he gets them done every day. He's working them before and after the court opens.'" More (Boston Globe 09.29.2008). Comment. Unlike chief judges in some places, the chief judge of the superior court in NH isn't whining about mistreatment by the legislature or claiming that courts should get special exemptions from needed budget cuts: "'The Legislature is not singling out the court system. They have treated us very well over the last several years,' he said. 'There is a statewide budget problem, and I don't think we're any worse off than any other state agency.'"
When the profession is reduced to just another business. "Taking a strong view of the country's judicial system, Supreme Court judge Justice G. S. Singhvi on Sunday said the judicial system had become a business in the eyes of the people...Sanghvi said there was a time when lawyers fought not for money, but for sacrifice...Justice Sanghvi said the general mindset [of judges] was how many cases are disposed of in a day...Addressing a seminar...Justice Sanghvi said...95 per cent of the people do not go to courts at all, suffering silently. 'Those 5 per cent who do go, wait in queue for many years, empty their pockets to hire a lawyer. It's a nightmare for the common man to travel to a higher court,' he said, adding that this was the reason people had started taking law in their hands." More (Indian Express 09.29.2008). Comment. Clarence Darrow said, "There is no justice in or out of court." There've been a number of times in my life when I've felt acutely that he was right. Curiously (see, April, the cruelest, coolest bittersweet month), at the same time I've felt that, I've also continued to feel that ours is a pretty damn good system, maybe the "best ever" in ye olde proverbial "history of the world." :-)
Mom campaigned 23 years to free innocent son; judge criticizes her effort. David Milgaard was only 16 when he was falsely found guilty of the 1969 rape/ murder of a nursing aide. During the 23 years he was in prison his mom, Joyce, waged an aggressive campaign, challenging the competence of the police investigation, the fairness of the prosecution and trial, and the accuracy of the conviction. In 1992, Canada's Supreme Court reversed his conviction and awarded him a new trial. He was released from prison after the prosecutors in Saskatchewan decided not to reprosecute. In 1992, he was exonerated by DNA tests that proved a serial rapist, Larry Fisher, raped and killed the victim. Edmonton Sun (09.29.2008); CanadianPress.Google (09.27.2008). Now Justice Edward MacCallum has released an 800-page report on his inquiry into the investigation and prosecution leading to the false conviction, criticizing "a Calgary police officer who obtained false witness statements against David Milgaard, a mistake by the trial judge and a wrong finding by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal" but "clear[ing] Saskatoon police, the RCMP, Crown prosecutors and federal justice officials of wrongdoing." Edmonton Journal (09.27.2008). What MacCallum says about the mother's campaign to free her son does not sit well with some Canadians. In the report Judge MacCallum says the mom's campaign, by "indiscriminately [attacking] anyone who had a part in her son's conviction," was "counter-productive" to the eventual freeing of her innocent son, that although it (in the Canadian Press paraphrase of the judge's words) "may have eventually helped get Milgaard out of prison...it also caused resentment among police and prosecutors, which proved to be a stumbling block in having the case reopened." The Edmonton Sun story quotes the Milgaard's lawyer and the journalist who wrote the first article claiming Milgaard was innocent as saying Judge MacCallum was wrong in criticizing the mother's heroic efforts. The journalist is quoted saying that if it weren't for the mother's campaign, her son would "still be in jail and Fisher would be free." Comment. The report makes a number of recommendations to help prevent future miscarriages of justice. One is "Police should ensure that every statement taken from a young person in a major case, whether as a witness or a suspect, is both audio recorded and video recorded." Calgary Herald (09.26.2008). The limitation of the recommendation to interviews involving young people is absurd. See, my detailed analysis of the Minnesota experience with mandated recording of interrogations.
U.S. opens newest national park, in Norway. "The U.S. Department of the Exterior announced Monday the grand opening of a new national park that covers nearly 150,000 square miles across the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, making it the largest American park in northern Europe. 'We are proud to officially open the George Washington National Park, Norway, in the great American city of Brønnøysund,' Secretary of the Exterior Emmett Becker said. 'From now on, this spectacular U.S. treasure will be preserved for future generations of Americans, and will no longer be vulnerable to exploitation by greedy private-sector developers, like, say, Norwegians.'" -- From Department Of The Exterior Opens U.S. National Park In Norway (The Onion 09.26.2008). Comment. This puts me in mind of an essay I wrote three years ago this month titled 'When the world is too much with us' (Sometimes Left, Always Right 09.10.2005) (scroll down), in which I said I was suffering from a kind of generalized exhaustion "from five years of living under the reign of George II (who seems to my exhausted mind to have made this country catastrophe-prone)" and "from living under a two-party system where 'my' party stands for things I don't believe in & the other party stands for nothing (it's not even good at mere 'opposing'). And then suddenly a solution to my malaise came to me, which I proceeded to set forth in my essay, an essay that must have been read by someone in the "Department of Exterior":
And then a thought comes to me. Why don't we expand our Empire? What better way to find escape from our woes? But how to do it on the cheap? No, not by using our National Guard. It never dawned on us, did it, that we might need them back here at Home? And, anyhow, we've found out anew ("The only thing new in the world is the History you never read" - Harry Truman) that we might lose lives & it might cost us a lot of money to invade another country if our smart bombs, dropped from on high, don't do the trick. And which country (or countries) should we covet as a way of diverting us from our own mistakes? And then it all comes to me. While mind-surfing, on the ever-increasing waves of information that soon will be revealed as not mere waves but Tsunami waves that will overpower our villager minds, I come across this little piece (at MetaFilter.Com) about what some are now calling the greatest country on Earth -- NORWAY! And just as quickly, the answer to "How to?" comes to me.... We'll annex it! The way we should have gotten out of Viet Nam was the same way we should get out of Iraq -- Declare victory & leave. And that, my friends, is the way to pull us out of our malaise -- Declare that Norway is ours. Those Norwegians might resist our declaration with a little good ol' fashioned Norwegian passive-aggression, but what's that to us? And after we've annexed Norway & made it the 51st state, we can annex Canada (52d), Sweden (nice-looking babes - 53rd), Iceland (nice-looking babes - 54th), Tuscany (nice place for Americans to vacation - 55th), the South of France (ditto - 56th), Barcelona (57th), New Zealand (fun to go there & watch the sheep dogs do their thing & a good place to make movies - 58th), Mexico, Central America & South America (59th), Denmark (60th), the Czech Republic (a few nice-looking babes - 61st), India (those folks are good at math & computers & make good receptionists - 62d), China (they make good stuff cheap & some of their babes have a way about them, plus they invented paper, or something - 63rd), Kenya (good place to make romantic flicks about Danish women on coffee-plantations & English guys dying while flying single-engine planes - 64th), etc. (BTW - No need to annex England -- they're already our lap dog.) The old ideas are the best, my friends, and old-fashioned Thomas Jefferson-style & Teddy Roosevelt-style American Expansionism doesn't seem such a bad idea, if done right, on the cheap (what was it we paid for the Louisiana Purchase & look what we got). Why buy new when second-hand will do? No, why invade when buying will do? Why pay a lot when you can pay a little? Why pay a little when you can just take? Well, I feel much better after solving my little September malaise.
All I can say is, it's nice to see one's ideas, or variants thereof, find expression in concrete action by our fine Government.
Seinfeld's 'Kramer' banned from courthouse? For the last 20 years David Manning, now 47, has been one of the "regulars" at the Davidson County Courthouse in Nashville. Manning has epilepsy, is described as mildly retarded and has "impulse control issues." General Sessions Court Judge Casey Moreland says, "He comes in like Kramer from Seinfeld, and some people think he's very annoying." Over the years Manning has been known to stand up in the gallery during hearings and comment on the testimony. One judge, Sue McKnight Evans, says it happens regularly. Some of those who want to keep him away saw a recent criminal prosecution (Manning apparently was caught possessing drug paraphernalia) as a way to do it. They got him banned from the courthouse for a year as a condition of his probation. Judge Moreland, who has bought bus passes so Manning can get to the courthouse, says he thinks they're holding Manning to a higher standard than others. More (Knoxville News-Sentinel 09.28.2008). Further reading. See, my extensive comments, with links, at Homeless man attains celebrity as court-watcher (The Daily Judge 10.25.2006). See, also, Annals of court watching -- 'Christian court watchers' (The Daily Judge 08.04.2007). Want more on banishment? See, Canadian judge banishes two accused gang members (The Daily Judge 08.11.2005), and the accompanying/following piece titled "Banished from Benson -- commentary."
For some Norwegians' clever use of banishment in the nursing home context (management barred a 105-year-old woman named Olsen from the dining room and banishing her to her own room because she allegedly complained constantly about the quality of the food, complaints that were said to have "disturbed" her fellow diners and "ruined" their own appetites), see, "Norway in the News" (BurtLaw's Law and Norwegians 12.10.2002).
Irish judges will lose a power they abused. "Irish judges are to lose the power to send defendants charged with minor offences to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) for two weeks without hearing any medical evidence...." More (UK Times 09.28.2008).
Judge Simon Brown is Master of the Inner Temple Garden. "The sloping garden of the Inner Temple, by London's Embankment, is certainly a historic challenge. In Shakespeare's Henry VI, the garden is the setting for the picking of rival red and white flowers at the start of the War of the Roses. Poet Edmund Spenser in 'Prothalamion' refers to the surrounding 'bricky towers' in which 'studious lawyers have their bowers.' In the 18th century, barristers would stroll in the summer garden wearing an evening dress of 'cocked hats and ruffles, with satin small-clothes and silk stockings.' Many of the old trees live on but the planting of this open space had become rather mundane. Now there is a new energy about the place. By the electrified candlelight of my Oxford college, I learned over dinner about the new initiatives. The Temple's master of the garden is Judge Simon Brown...." Robin Lane Fox, Judge for Yourself (Financial Times 09.27.2008). Comment. By chance I've been reading The Portable Charles Lamb -- Letters and Essays (1949). In it is a delightful essay titled The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple (first published in The London Magazine September 1821):
I was born, and passed the first seven years of my life, in the Temple. Its church, its halls, its gardens, its fountain, its river, I had almost said -- for in those young years, what was this king of rivers to me but a stream that watered our pleasant places? -- These are of my oldest recollections. I repeat, to this day, no verses to myself more frequently, or with kindlier emotion, than those of Spenser, where he speaks of this spot.
There when they came, whereas those bricky towers,
The which on Themmes brode aged back doth ride,
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers,
There whylome wont the Templer knights to bide,
Till they decayd through pride.
Indeed, it is the most elegant spot in the metropolis. What a transition for a countryman visiting London for the first time -- the passing from the crowded Strand or Fleet-street, by unexpected avenues, into its magnificent ample squares, its classic green recesses!
If you visit the gardens (described here) now, near the pond you may come across a 1928 statue of a boy bearing the inscription, "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." It's one of the memorable lines in Lamb's essay. Further readings. a) See, my mini-essays at Airports, subways, museums, courthouses ("It's perhaps worth asking also whether a few hundred dollars spent on planting & tending flowers outside a courthouse might be more cost-effective in promoting courthouse civility & safety than a few hundred thousand dollars in increased spending on building up more & more layers of security."); Another soul-less public building? Clint Stephens, courthouse custodian -- and more; Might Mr. Stephens' flowers lead to better government? b) I bought the aforesaid Portable Charles Lamb some years ago for $1.00 in the bargain section of Half-Price Books on Miracle Mile ("a place where miracles not only happen but happen every day") in nearby St. Louis Park. I usually let books (like presents given me) "season" a bit before I get around to reading them. On this trait of mine, see, my discussion of what I call MDGS, a/k/a "Masochistic Deferred Gratification Syndrome," in a Secular Sermon of mine titled Dr. BurtLaw on 'ASN' & other disorders (BurtLaw's Secular Sermons for Lawyers and Judges 01.11.2002) (scroll down). One might compare my "seasoning" of books until the time is ripe for me to read them to the doctrine of "ripeness" of an issue for judicial review.
Court to judge: 'You WILL accept the pay raise!' "Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin can't refuse her 11-percent pay raise, the state's highest court has ruled...Commonwealth Court said she had to accept the money awarded in the 2005 legislative pay raise, but could donate her raise to charity...." More (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 09.27.2008). Comment. Judge Orie's bro, Jack Orie, an attorney, is quoted saying, "I never heard of anyone being forced to take a pay raise." He said his sis will pay taxes on the amount of her salary attributable to the raise but will send the rest to the state's General Fund as a gift, something the court can't prevent her from doing. One "observer of Pennsylvania politics" is quoted in the news report as guessing that Judge Melvin's refusal of the raise has made her unpopular with other 'judges and unlikely to be "welcomed at judicial conferences." Further reading. For links to our many postings relating to the controversial 2005 pay raises, which was one factor leading to one SCOPA justice losing a retention election, see, Did Chief trade votes on slot law to win judges pay raise? (The Daily Judge 05.20.2008). For a critical analysis of the standard arguments used by the judicial establishment in seeking pay raises (arguments that members of the media rarely subect to careful scrutiny), see, 'I could be making lots more if I were Michael Jordan' at BurtLaw's Law and Judicial Economics at BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else.
Late judge is posthumously inducted into Minot, ND High School Hall of Fame. "Joan Holum was brought to tears Friday by a ceremony inducting her husband, the late Judge Gary Holum, into the Hall of Fame at Minot High School-Magic City Campus. Gary Holum, who passed away last year, was a graduate of the class of 1955...." More (Minot Daily News 09.27.2008). Comment. Too bad they waited until after he died to bestow the honor on him. Perhaps a forward-looking solution would be for administrators of high school halls of fame around the country to induct all judges who are alumni into their respective halls of fame contemporaneously with their "investiture" as judges. Further reading. a) I use the word "investiture" only so I have an excuse to link to my riffs on the recent trend, possibly started in MN (where a lot of silly judicial trends seem to have started), of referring to swearing-in ceremonies as "investitures" and turning them from modest affairs into costly, time-wasting affairs of state. See, my extended comments at 'Enrobing' of judge in 'emotional' ceremony (The Daily Judge 10.22.2005). See, also, Top 10 pop songs for judicial 'investitures'? Court Gazing V 08.02.2002) (scroll down). b) On the hall-of-fame trend, see, Should we televise judicial awards show? (The Daily Judge 07.11.2006), asking whether an "American Judicial Walk of Fame" might be a great tourist attraction for some court, drawing judicial groupies from all around the globe:
It could be a money-making proposition, sort of like a museum gift shop, with friends who want to "immortalize" a favorite judge there being required to pay a modest fee, say, $5,000. The Judicial Walk of Fame Gift Shop could sell judicial bobble-head dolls, autographed copies of opinions by judges, etc., etc. The profits could be used to supplement the shockingly-low poverty-level salaries of judges and help fund a dream project, The Big Court, a rent-subsidized retirement court where the individual units would look like courtrooms by day but that could easily be converted to bedrooms at night through the use of Murphy beds, etc. During the day the judges would occupy themselves hearing moot court cases from local law schools. They would be allowed to play hooky and head for the golf course each afternoon without reporting their time off "the bench." Nurses would be required to address them as "Your Honor" -- or "Your Lordship."
'Three recounts in one'? How about 'Two mints in one!' and 'Two constitutions in one!' The other day we posted an entry titled 'Third recount in FLA shows Wennet is not winner after all.' (The Daily Judge 09.24.2008). Now we learn that Judge Wennet is challenging in court the results of the "third recount." Forida law allows only "one recount." Wennet's opponent, now declared the winner, argues that "It was all just part of one recount." More (Palm Beach Post 09.27.2008). Comment. Reminds me of a TV ad for Certs® Mints that amused my buddies and me in Benson High School (Class of '61) in the late 1950's. Certs® Mints were introduced in 1956 and the ads must have started around then. Anyhow, in their ads two attractive young people (presumably stand-ins for lawyers) argued over whether Certs® was a candy mint or a breath mint, an argument settled in the ad by the unseen announcer (presumably the voice of the judiciary) authoritatively and memorably announcing the decision: "Two, two, two mints in one!" [To view an apparent Google video of one such Certs® ad (I haven't viewed it), click here.] At least one federal appellate court decision supports the view that while a "Certs® 'Powerful Mint'" may in some sense be "candy," for tariff purposes it may be deemed a customs duty-free "preparation for oral or dental hygiene." Warner-Lambert Company v. U. S., 407 F.3d 1207 (Fed. Cir. 2005). For further understanding of the place of Certs® in American law and custom, see, in addition to this recent decision explicating the 2005 decision in detail: Drygel, Inc. v. U. S., No. 2008-1101 (Fed. Cir. 09.09.2008), the Wikipedia entry cleverly titled 'Certs.' In any event, we'll see whether there can be "Three, three, three recounts in one!" Possibly the Florida court might be helped by reading our recent posting titled 'Coffeemakers, toasters, microwaves are banned from offices at courthouse!' (The Daily Judge 08.23.2008), addressing the question (which we raised) whether a courthouse policy adopted by county commissioners in Brown County, SD of allowing coffeemakers, etc., only in "breakrooms" prevented judges from keeping and using such appliances in their chambers. In our commentary we riffed, in relevant part:
Will the change lead to more mingling of judges and others, since judges will no longer be allowed to keep coffee pots, etc., in chambers? Or will the judges use their skills at interpretation to construe the term "break room" as including the area in which a judge's personal coffee pot, etc., reside? That, presumably, will depend upon whether the judges are strict constructionists. Consider, in this regard, the spoof opinion by "Blue, J." (i.e., Blue Jay) of the "Supreme Court of Canada" in Regina v. Ojibway, 8 Criminal Law Quarterly 137 (1965), concluding that a pony, fortuitously saddled with a feather pillow, constitutes a "small bird" within the meaning of the Ontario Small Birds Act. See, also, comment d) at Pick to be new Aussie chief is an 'orchid.'
In that last linked posting, Pick to be new Aussie chief is an 'orchid,' we deal with the debate over whether ours is, as Nino Scalia says, a "dead constitution," or, as the much smarter and wiser Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, a "living consitution." If "the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function" (F. Scott Fitzgerald), then one of the tests of a first-rate appellate judge, when the "great antinomies...present themselves like gladiators for our favors," is the ability to "discover the precise issue in controversy, the precise consequences of one decision or another, and the possibility of an accommodation by deflating the isms and narrowing the schisms" (Professor Paul Freund). Further reading. BurtLaw on a Supreme Court Justice's 'votes' (The Daily Judge 01.09.2006). Judging judges, and judging whether a banana is better than an orange (The Daily Judge 03.07.2008). What the immortal "Two, two, two mints in one!" Certs® commercial from the late 1950's seems to be suggesting, to those jurisprudes who are open enough to listen to it as it echoes across the years, is, "Maybe both Nino and Ollie are right! Maybe the right response to Nino's 'It's a dead constitution!" and to Ollie's rejoinder 'It's a living constitution!' is "Two, two, two constitutions in one!" From this day forward, this clever fusion theory of constitutional interpretation shall be known as "The BurtLaw Certs®-ian 'Two-Constitutions-in-One' Dead-and-Living Theory of Constitutional Interpretation."
More on 'Ace' -- he refused to answer questions during two-day interrogation. "Former B.C. judge Alexander 'Ace' Henderson, who is now a Grand Court Justice in the Cayman Islands, refused to answer any questions put to him earlier this week after he was arrested and interrogated for two days by Scotland Yard officers. Judge Henderson said in a telephone interview yesterday from the Cayman Islands that he believes it was 'inappropriate' for police investigators to cross-examine a sitting judge. He said he consulted with the court's Chief Justice and the government's Solicitor-General, who agreed he was taking the correct approach...." His lawyer was present during the two-day interrogation. "Ace" says they arrested him "simply so they could force me to engage in an oral interview." He hasn't been charged. More (Globe and Mail 09.27.2008). Earlier. The judge and his 'dive buddy' -- a reporter; Former Canadian judge is arrested in Caribbean.
MN judge is charged with failure to file state tax returns. "An Anoka County judge[, Donald James Venne, 60, faces criminal charges after being accused of failing to file state income tax returns for several years...." It appears Venne sent payments for three of the four years in question but didn't file returns, leaving an unpaid amount of about $3,000. His lawyer attributes the failure "in part" to a "traumatic family event that occurred over a period of years." More (Star-Tribune 09.27.2008). Comment. One thing seems clear from the story: at most we're dealing with negilent failure to file, not any attempt to defraud the state or underpay taxes. It is possible the charges might not have been filed against an ordinary citizen making such a mistake, particularly given the extenuating circumstances. Many members of the public seem to believe judges and other public figures are given special treatment and "get off easier" than you or I would. Fact is, they're often treated more harshly, charged where ordinary folks would not be, convicted where others might not be, and sentenced more harshly than others might be. Given that the prosecutors exercised their discretion in favor of charging, it strikes me that an appropriate resolution might be a plea bargain with these terms: a stay of imposition of sentence for a year, with the stay conditioned on fulfilment of an agreement to pay the unpaid amount, file the returns, and pay a penalty and fine; b) dismissal of all charges at the end of the stay, assuming fulfilment of the conditions of the stay. This would not be favoritism but would be the sort of disposition anyone against whom such charges were filed would receive under such circumstances.
When judges decide issues relating to foreign policy. "In the seven years since 9/11, the question of how we relate to the world beyond our borders -- and how we should -- has become inescapable. The Supreme Court, as ever, is beginning to offer its own answers. As the United States tries to balance the benefits of multilateral alliances with the demands of unilateral self-protection, the court has started to address the legal counterparts of such existential matters. It is becoming increasingly clear that the defining constitutional problem for the present generation will be the nature of the relationship of the United States to what is somewhat optimistically called the international order...." Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, When Judges Decide Foreign Policy (Sunday NYT Magazine 09.28.2008 - posted online on 09.25.2008).
Bulletproof car is provided for judge. "The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered the Punjab government to provide a bullet-proof car to the judge who ordered hanging of former chief minister Beant Singh's assassins in August 2007...." More (Times of India 09.26.2008).
Former judge seeks unemployment benefits. "An Ingham County judge removed from her position for misconduct has filed for unemployment benefits. Former Circuit Judge Beverley Nettles-Nickerson is running for re-election in November to her $139,919-a-year job. It's unknown when she applied for unemployment pay. The director of the state's Unemployment Insurance Agency says judges can't receive unemployment compensation...." More (Chicago Tribune 09.26.2008).
Judge's wife is awarded half of his $1 million pension. "The ex-wife of [an unnamed] Quebec judge is entitled to nearly half of his million-dollar pension, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday...[T]he judge argued it would be unjust to grant the former wife her equal share of his pension fund of just over a million dollars since he assumed most of the financial responsibilities of the couple. The woman studied and worked, often part time or temporary jobs, while the man was a judge at the Court of Quebec. The judge and his wife were 64 and 42 years old, respectively, when they filed for divorce in 2004 after seven years of cohabitation and 12 years of marriage...." More (Canada.Com 09.26.2008). Comment. If my math is correct, the judge was around 47 and his wife 25 when they began cohabiting. "Luv" can be expensive. :-) Further reading. For links to some of our "greatest postings" on judicial internet dating, judicial romance, etc., click here.
The judge and his 'dive buddy,' a reporter -- herein of who said what. I previously linked to a story by the Globe and Mail out of Canada reporting that Alexander "Ace" Henderson, a highly-respected former B.C. judge who is now a Grand Court Justice in the Cayman Islands, had been arrested/questioned there in connection with an ongoing investigation into police corruption. Now his wife is quoted as saying the questioning related to whether he had encouraged a local reporter, a scuba-diving "dive buddy," to search an editor's office "for information about who was writing letters to the paper that were critical of judges," letters the newspaper published without identifying their author. His wife says, "[H]e is denying, of course, everything. He never twisted anybody's arm, for this reporter to go break into this office and check for anything...He was curious, wondering who wrote them, that's all." More (Globe and Mail 09.26.2008).
Alito joins Stevens in opting out of 'cert. pool.' "For almost 20 years, eight of the nine justices on the Supreme Court have assigned their law clerks to a shared legal labor pool that streamlines the work of reviewing [petitions for certiorari]...The justices who participate in the arrangement, known around the court as the 'cert. pool,' receive a common 'pool memo' on each case from a single clerk. The memo analyzes the petition and makes a recommendation about whether it should be granted...." The one of nine is Stevens. Now Alito will join him in opting out. More (NYT 09.26.2008) Comment. Good summary of the pros and cons by Adam Liptak. Judges in the U.S. typically use law clerks (a/k/a "research assistants") as "judicial valets," helping their judges in numerous ways, most typically, on an appellate court at least, in reading the briefs, reading the record, researching the law, writing memos with recommendations, writing draft opinions. There is nothing inherently wrong in an appellate judge using a law clerk to help him in this way, either on petitions for review or certiorari or on cases being fully reviewed, so long as the judge merely uses the clerk's labors as a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, doing these same tasks himself. Each judge has an obligation that comes with the office never to delegate the judicial functions. The ultimate judicial function is to decide contested issues in contested cases and controversies. But "deciding" is not, as some people, including many judges, seem to think, the mere act of voting "yes" or "no" on contested issues on the basis of other people's (lawyers' and law clerks') arguments and work product and then turning it over to a law clerk to "write up" for the judge's editing, approval, and signature. No, the only way a judge can truly "judge" and "decide" is to do the "dirty work" himself, even as his assistant independently does the same work alongside him. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the famous golf course architect, said that it was down in the dirt -- literally -- that he did both the prosaic spade work and the visionary creative work that helped him turn ordinary brown fields into championship green masterpieces. Former Dean of Duke Law School, Paul Carrington, was getting at this when he wrote:
The primary work of the appellate court is not creative or even particularly intellectual. The personal quality most required for the work is not intellect but care. Care is what is required to read tiresome transcripts and to listen to tedious arguments based on the details of the record in order to ascertain whether a trial judge has strayed from the true path of the law so far as to rest a decision on a clearly erroneous factual determination. Or whether an administrative agency has committed a substantial error 'on the whole record' before it. The importance of this work has been sadly underestimated. It is the essence of the idea of a government of law.
Paul Carrington, "Ceremony and Realism: Demise of Appellate Procedures," 66 A.B.A. Bar J. 860 (1980). Sadly, too many judges are busy "being" judges than "doing" the daily drudge work that is necessary to responsibly exercising judgment in a way that is consistent with the oath and office of judge. Too many of them are good at going on spring & fall "tours" outstate, holding court in high schools, attending bar functions, reading books to kids in primary school (a la President Bush on 09.11.2001), signing autographs, and, yes, even in participating in non-court-related ribbon-cutting ceremonies. This, of course, is all in contrast with the way things used to be, in the days before courts hired "press information officers," in the days when judges didn't mind their anonymity, when they read the records themselves, when they wrote their own opinions, and when they called them as they saw them without fear of or anticipation of the political or personal consequences. Justice Brandeis famously said that one of the things that set SCOTUS Justices apart from others in the government in Washington, D.C., was that "We do our own work." Sadly, there are too many judges around the country these days who don't know what it is to read transcripts, research the law independently, write their own opinions, etc. Too many rely on these law clerks -- as I said, novice, inexperienced lawyers fresh out of law school -- to do their spade work. I remember reading an essay by Justice Frankfurter in which he said that Chief Justice Hughes was a scholar at heart and "could tear the cover off a book." But how many judges can do that anymore? The late Justice Wm. O. Douglas (not exactly my ideal judge but one whom I'll gladly quote for my own purposes) said to Eric Sevareid in a CBS-TV interview, "We don't need law clerks." Despite what I've said thus far, I don't agree with him. I think judges do need them -- they just need to use them properly. And there are many ways to do so. Further reading. Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick, Defending the Supreme Court Law Clerk (Slate 06.13.2006); Richard Posner, The Courthouse Mice (The New Republic 06.12.2006)[(reviewing Artemus Ward and David L. Weiden, Sorcerers' Apprentices (2006), Todd C. Peppers, Courtiers of the Marble Palace (2006)]; Stuart Taylor and Benjamin Wittes, Of Clerks and Perks (The Atlantic July 2006); Those SCOCLERK opinions (The Daily Judge 07.18.2008).
TuTu says rule of law is too, too important to make exception for Zuma. "Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, has rejected the idea of a "political solution" to ANC president Jacob Zuma's legal woes, saying 'due process must happen.' This comes as some in the ANC are believed to be pushing for a political mechanism to stop the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) from re-instituting its unresolved fraud, corruption and money laundering case against Zuma...." More (Independent - South Africa 09.25.2008). Further reading. Links to our earlier Zuma postings.
Will South Korea's judiciary apologize for its past wrongs? "Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon was sworn in three years ago saying he would have the judicial branch confront its past. Now, with Lee set to issue an official apology for the court's past wrongs on September 26, opinions vary on whether the court's inquiry was sufficient...In politically-charged cases it was often the case that the courts would recognize the results of interrogations by writing in their judgments something to the effect that even though the accused says he was tortured, there is no evidence that the confession was false and the result of torture and threats...." More (Hankyoreh 09.25.2008). Comment. Back in 2004 I received a request for bio info from a Korean law student who was preparing a report on the use of electronic recording (audiotaping and videotaping) of police interrogations and was planning to refer to my analysis of the Minnesota experience with mandated recording of interrogations.
Former Canadian judge is arrested in Caribbean. "[Grand Court Justice Alexander 'Ace' Henderson, a] well-known lawyer and Crown prosecutor in Vancouver who became a B.C. Supreme Court judge before resigning to take a judicial posting on the Cayman Islands[,] has been arrested by Island police on suspicion of misconduct in public office, according to authorities there...." More (Globe and Mail 09.25.2008). Comment. We presume, as we ought and must, that "Ace" is innocent of wrongdoing.
FBI raids chambers of two judges. "The Cuyahoga County corruption scandal reached into the Justice Center Tuesday night when FBI agents searched two judges' chambers. Agents appeared at the courtrooms of Common Pleas Judges Bridget McCafferty and Steven Terry between 7 and 8 p.m...." More (Cleveland Plain Dealer 09.25.2008). "The government of Cuyahoga County is controlled by Democrats and has 9,400 employees and a $1.5 billion annual budget." More (AP.Google 09.25.2008). Comments. a) The judges claim no wrongdoing, and we presume, as we ought and must, they are innocent of such. b) The feds seem to believe they have a roving commission to clean up state government. With the federal government in such a mess, perhaps the feds ought to be devoting limited investigative resources to other matters, especially given that one of the basic premises of federalism is that states generally are capable of keeping their own houses in order. As I've noted before, there is at least a perception among some reasonable people, including Republicans (of which I am one), that in recent years federal investigation and prosecution has been used as a political tool against Democrats. Further reading. See, my comments at Ex-judge is charged with mail fraud as judge (The Daily Judge 12.13.2006); Two more state judges are convicted in federal prosecutions (The Daily Judge 06.01.2008); Feds lose allegedly politicized criminal prosecution to Gerry Spence in Mich. (The Daily Judge 06.02.2008); Judge blows up at fed prosecutors: 'You can indict a ham sandwich' (The Daily Judge 07.30.2008); Report: Allegations of Selective Prosecution in Our Federal Criminal Justice System (United States of House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Majority Staff 04.17.2008).
Singapore's contempt for WSJ's criticism of its judiciary. "Singapore's attorney general accused the [Asian edition of the] Wall Street Journal of waging a campaign to tarnish the country's judiciary, but said he is not pushing for the harshest sentence in contempt proceedings against the newspaper...." More (Reuters 09.24.2008). Earlier. Singapore jails U.S. lawyer for criticizing Singapore judge on blog (The Daily Judge 09.18.2008). Comment. I never presume to advise other people what to do, and therefore I don't advise others to boycott Singapore by not buying its products or not traveling there, etc. However, because it's my constitutionally-protected opinion that Singapore misuses contempt law and defamation law to silence or stifle criticism of Singapore, including its judiciary, my own personal nonexistent plans to visit Singapore will continue to gather dust on the metaphorical shelf where I put them years ago. Further reading. Charles P. Wallace, Singapore's Grip (Columbia Journalism Review November/December 1995); William Safire, Bloomberg News Humbled (NYT 08.29.2002); William Safire, The Misrule of Law (NYT 06.01.1997); Editorial: Singapore Justice (NYT 06.05.1997).
Should new federal courthouse be named after ailing senator or late judge? "With new sidewalks still being mined and offices being filled, there already are two competing movements to name the new $70 million federal courthouse building on State Street [in Springfield] -- after ailing U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and more recently after the late U.S. District Judge Frank H. Freedman. Both have undeniable sentimental draw...." More (Boston Globe 09.24.2008). Comment. a) We don't think courthouses should be named after individuals. b) We don't think courthouses should be called "courthouse buildings" or "judicial centers." Update. Richmond's new federal courthouse has been named for two (!) judges: "Richmond's new Federal courthouse opened this month on East Broad Street. Richmond's new federal courthouse has been designated the Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige Jr. United States Courthouse...." More (Richmond Times-Dispatch 09.27.2008). Comment. According to the sub-headline, Robinson was "a civil-rights figure," whereas Merighe "ordered U.Va. admit women."
Third recount in FLA shows Wennet is not winner after all. "After four weeks, three recounts and thousands of lost and found ballots, Palm Beach County elections officials on Tuesday certified that attorney William Abramson defeated veteran Circuit Judge Richard Wennet by 61 votes. Although he wasn't at the tabulating center when the results were announced, Abramson said he was pleased he had prevailed over his longtime nemesis, capturing 45,531 votes to Wennet's 45,470...." More (Palm Beach Post 09.24.2008). Comment. For an earlier posting regarding the election, one that contains links to a number of earlier postings about Judge Wennet, see, Those missing ballots in cliff-hanging FLA judicial election (The Daily Judge 09.04.2008).
Judge still hearing cases dies at 93. "Retired Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Julius M. Title, who was the oldest retired judge assigned by the state to hear cases, died of heart failure Sunday at his home in Cheviot Hills. He was 93...." More (LAT 09.24.2008). Comment. His colleagues say he was just as sharp at 93 as judges who were much, much younger. Justice Holmes was 60 -- i.e., "over the hill" by today's judicial appointment standards -- when President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to the United States Supreme Court. But, as Judge Richard Posner says, "Holmes performed with great distinction for almost 30 years...." I've always loved the Holmes' quote: "To be 70 years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old." Cf, BurtLaw on Mandatory Retirement of Judges.
Life after judging for cross-dressing judge. "A federal bankruptcy judge[, Robert Somma,] who resigned after his drunken driving arrest[,] has a new job. [He] has been hired by the Boston law firm of Posternak Blankstein & Lund as a senior counsel in the firm's bankruptcy department. Somma rear-ended a pickup truck at a red light in Manchester, N.H. on Feb. 6 while wearing a cocktail dress and high heels. He resigned from the bench a few days after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of drunken driving and paying a fine...." More (Boston Globe 09.24.2008). Comment. Judge Somma at one point tried to rescind his resignation but eventually agreed to stay resigned. See, Male judge arrested for DWI wearing dress will stay resigned (The Daily Judge 05.31.2008). For our tolerant views on cross-dressing by judges, see, our mini essay in the comments at Judge arrested for DUI wearing woman's dress is reconsidering his resignation (The Daily Judge 04.02.2008). Here's an excerpt:
Would the initial press reports of Judge Somma's arrest have seemed less shocking to the ordinary reader if they'd said that the judge was arrested wearing a long flowing black gown, i.e., judicial robe? See, How can men in long flowing gowns uphold ban on gay marriage? Or how about if a female judge had been arrested wearing an old pair of Oshkosh B'Gosh men's bib overalls?
For evidence that the bench and bar in Oklahoma are less understanding and forgiving than the bench and bar in Massachusetts, the "Cradle of Liberty," read on....
Oklahoma justice: pumping a small thing into a big thing. SCOOK (Supreme Court of Oklahoma) has disbarred the so-called "penis pump judge," Donald Thompson, who lost his seat on the bench and spent 20 months in prison for using a penis pump under his robe. More (Tulsa World 09.24.2008). Comment. For background, see, Annals of MWP: Masturbating While Presiding (and multiple links). The Okie judges and bar types, I guess, feel obliged to once again tell the world that Judge Thompson's conduct embarrassed the bench and bar and that they don't condone masturbating while presiding. As I've said before, it's just my opinion but I think that all along the powers-that-be in Oklahoma have made way too much out of this case, ironically embarrassing the state in the eyes of the world in the process. That is, they've made something small into something way too big, mimicking what a vacuum constriction device (VCD), which they say the judge used under his robe, is designed to do. By once again reminding the world of their overreaction, they pretty much have guaranteed that it'll be a long time before ISOPM (International Society of Public Masturbators) will be holding its annual convention in Oklahoma. I say, "Enough is enough. Leave Judge Thompson alone in his already-announced retirement and re-read The Sermon on the Mount."
A caution to those who want MN to adopt the 'Ozark State Plan.' While the politico-judicial elite in MN is extolling the "Ozark State Plan" (a/k/a "Missouri Plan") for judicial selection by bench, bar and political types, the level of dissatisfaction with the plan in MO has reached the point that the GOP candidate for governor has made dissatisfaction with the plan a major platform in his campaign. See, Candidates clash over court plan (St. Louis Post Dispatch 09.24.2008). He says the selection or screening commission has been "hijacked" by the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and that "Four percent of the legal community is stacking the deck." Comment. I oppose the Minnesota power elite's well-financed campaign to persuade Minnesota voters to give up their distinctly-American role in selection of judges through real, contested judicial elections in exchange for what I have called the "fake" one-candidate "retention elections" promised by "the Ozark State Plan." I've posted a detailed critical essay on this topic. Since I don't have any big bucks supporting my opposition to the so-called Quie Plan to follow the Ozark State Plan, I link to my essay as often as I can for the convenience of not only Minnesota readers but also of voters in other states who are being similarly "courted" to give up their role in judicial selection: Strib. urges longer terms for judges, no role for voters in their selection. Following my essay you will find updated links to many of my earlier as well as later postings relevant to this important public policy question. (P.S. On the subject of "stacking commissions," see, my essay titled Annals of judicial selection: stacking appointment commissions. Elsewhere today. Allegations in Israel that justices on appointments commission abused their position for political purposes (Haaretz 09.24.20080.
Blowing away 500 years of jurisprudence for the bankers' club. "If the actions of our rulers are beyond the rule of law then those who usurp that rule are presumably above it. To paraphrase the English playwright Oliver Goldsmith, Herr Comrade Paulson has not just offended the law but done something far more terrible -- he hath put the law out of office." -- David Hirst, 'Hurricane' Paulson blows away 500 years of jurisprudence for bankers' club in The Age (09.23.2008). Comment. Hirst writes: "Before we even think about the inevitable passing of a banking licence to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley -- previously they held only gaming licences -- let us learn by rote the following [from the emergency legislation proposed by Secretary Treasury Paulson]: 'Decisions by the Secretary (Henry Paulson) pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.'" Hirst adds: "Do we need to throw 500 years of jurisprudence out the window so the old private bankers' club that Paulson serves can be maintained in some form?" I tend to agree with Hirst. By nature and training (my mom taught me to "dare to be different," to "think for myself" and "never follow the crowd"), my impulse is to say "no" whenever anyone with an offer requiring my acceptance before it becomes a deal tells me the only correct response is "yes," that the sky will fall if I say "no," and I have 10 seconds to respond. It was that impulse which kicked in and prompted immediate suspicion on my part when Bush, Cheney & Co. used the old "act now" bit to sucker Congress into passing the anti-civil-liberties legislation known as the Patriot Act. Here's one of several pieces I wrote in opposition to that legislation back in the fall of 2001 in my pioneering law blog, Law And Everything Else:
Congressmen pass bill they haven't read. I'm talking about the anti-terrorism bill just passed by Congress and signed by the Prez. Click here for an article [Sam MacDonald, "Surveillance Switcheroo: How the anti-terrorism bill got passed" (Reason 10.26.2001)] on the shameful process. As the article points out, in response to the events of 09.11, Attorney General Ashcroft's aides "dusted off" some old proposals and plugged them into a bill, telling Congress and the public that they desperately needed the bill if they were going to find those responsible for 09.11 and prevent another 09.11. In times of crisis, Congress always passes some new ill-considered legislation. Witness the legislative hysteria surrounding our entry into WWI. It reminds one of the old directive, "Don't just stand there, do something." Ike once asked, "Have you ever considered doing nothing?" I'm not suggesting that would have been a wise response. I'm saying any changes that affect our liberties should be an improvement on doing nothing. The benefits should outweigh the costs. No evidence of that. No evidence even as to what the bill says. As the article states, it's hard to even find a copy of the bill, much less read it. But it's a sad truth about many of our "governors" -- executives, legislators, judges -- that they don't write their own stuff or even read it. Justice Brandeis once said that what distinguished Justices of the U. S. Supreme Court from others in Government was that "We do our own work." Justice Frankfurter wrote of Chief Justice Hughes that "he could tear the pages of a book off" and that for him the life of a judge was "a scholar's life." It's no longer so, folks. And it's a damn shame. (10.26.2001)
Other blog entries from that period and later that are worth revisiting are the ones in which I opposed the use of torture in interrogation of detainees, opposed the use of military commissions to try detainees, and opposed the preemptive invasion of Iraq as unjustified by the evidence. Many of these entries, as well as other entries in my blog during that period immediately following 09.11, are now a part of the historic record in the Library of Congress 09.11 Archives and may be found here. One entry that's particularly relevant to the current crisis is this one, filed two days after 09.11: The curse of bigness (Law and Everything Else 09.13.2001). And here's a relevant excerpt from a 2006 piece ("Courthouse cuts proposed - herein of judicial luxuries") I posted here:
If on any weekday you drive up and down the streets of the suburb in which I live, you'll see truck after truck belonging to this or that home remodeling company. Thanks to President Bush's tax cuts, which favored people with high incomes, these people have money to remodel their already more-than-adequate homes. Contractors are buying and tearing down upper-bracket houses and replacing them with tasteless (in my opinion) "McMansions" to sell for McMillions of dollars. In 1999 Princeton University Press published a book titled Luxury Fever: Money and Happiness in an Era of Excess, in which the author, R.H. Frank, coined the expression "luxury fever" to apply to the resurgence in the 1990's of what Thorstein Veblen, the great Norwegian-American economist/sociologist termed "conspicuous consumption." It's all about the desire of small people to convince themselves and others of their own bigness -- bigness in cars (they're called SUV's), bigness in boats, bigness in breasts (they're fake), bigness in houses, bigness in this, that and everything. And it's continuing. But every bubble eventually bursts. And every luxury comes with a price that eventually must be paid. All of which is why that wise Spartan moralist, Justice Brandeis, said that "the worst" was not the Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression of the 1930's but the sad excesses that preceded and led to the Crash....
Further reading. Sebastian Mallaby, A Bad Bank Rescue (Washington Post 09.21.2008). Mallaby does a good job pointing out one of the fundamental flaws in the original plan. If Congress must act with speed, it must act with judicious and deliberate and prudent speed. And with wisdom and common sense.
'Queen' among judges retires. "At the close of each weekly lunch with the other judges, [Judge Sybil] Moses [of Hackensack] would stand up and sign off the same way: 'Just don't forget who is the queen here.' 'It was a joke,' she said, 'but someone had to be in charge, and it was me.'" Judge Moses, "the first female assignment judge in [New Jersey] history," is retiring, eight months before she reaches the mandated retirement age of 70. More (Star-Ledger 09.22.2008). Comment. Judge Ellen Koblitz is quoted as saying, "I always felt she was born for this job. She enjoys the limelight. She enjoys the authority and she has a delightful ability to foster goodwill while promoting hard work and efficiency." Will Judge Moses go down as among the greatest assignment judges in judicial history? Frankly, we don't have the facts upon which to base such a prognostication, but we wish her well and thank her for her public service.
Are modern, expensive courthouses the key to justice? Recently, the Lexington Herald-Leader ran a multi-part investigative series of articles on the "$880 million program led by former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph E. Lambert" to tear down historic courthouses and other historic buildings across Kentucky and replace them with new "judicial centers." So far, four historic courthouses have been torn down as part of the campaign. See, Annals of Courthouse Carnage: Tearing down 'Our old Kentucky courthouses.' Now comes J. Warren Keller of Lexington, who is president of the board of directors of the Access to Justice Foundation, a "statewide support office for Kentucky's civil legal services programs," to write a thought-provoking op/ed piece titled 'Shabby justice in judicial palaces' (Herald-Leader 09.22.2008). Comment. Tearing down historic courthouses that ought to be preserved and replacing them with modern, expensive "judicial centers" does not necessarily improve the quality of justice one bit. See, my mini-essay titled One-judge courthouse to go the way of one-room schoolhouse? (The Daily Judge 05.20.2006) ("It is my observation that small schools, if run well, sometimes serve their students better than big schools, and at lower cost...If some small schools beat the big ones, some small courts do, too.").
Judges suspend prominent lawyer for criticizing judiciary; lawyers launch boycott. "Thousands of lawyers across Nepal launched a boycott of the courts Monday to protest the Supreme Court's decision to ban the bar association chairman after he alleged widespread corruption among the country's judiciary. The Supreme Court judges announced a six-month ban on Nepal Bar Association Chairman Biwokanta Mainali last week for saying being a judge was like being given a license to take bribes...." More (IHT 09.22.2008).
If Sarah can run country, why can't school teacher run court clerk's office? Helen Schumacher is the GOP candidate for Ross County Clerk of Courts in Ohio. Here's an excerpt from a letter to the editor by a voter attesting to her qualifications: "I have known Helen Schumacher (running for Ross County Clerk of Courts) since 1986 when she was a second-grade teacher. Mrs. Schumaker kept accurate records and was well organized. She was respected by her students as a trusted adult and by her co-workers as a professional with integrity. Helen also had determination and never gave in when problems arose. Those who have had the pleasure of working with Helen Schumaker know her skills as a teacher will benefit her in her new career: the Ross County Clerk of Courts." More (Chillicothe Gazette 09.22.2008). Comment. According to Wikipedia, Ross County is in the Appalachian region of Ohio. The Democrat candidate is the incumbent, Ty D. Hinton. We here at the International Headquarters of The Daily Judge have no opinion as to the relative qualifications of Helen Schumacher and Ty D. Hinton, nor do we suggest that her experience as a second grade teacher is not highly relevant to an assessment of the likelihood Ms. Schumacher is as qualified as (or more qualified than) Mr. Hinton. We do note that the office of Ross County Clerk of Court, like the office of Mayor of Wasilla, may serve as stepping stone to high national office: according to the web page of the clerk of court, which features a picture of Mr. Hinton and describes the clerk's important duties, "Many prominent Ohioans have served as Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, including William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States."
Destination tourist alert: pioneer Oregon judge's home has been restored!!! Some nice folks in Oregon City, Oregon have restored the 1849 home of "Samuel Simpson White, who served as an early-day judge and member of the legislative assembly...." More (Vancouver Sun 09.20.2008). Comment. "Hey, Bertha, next summer let's fill up the Winnebago and head west!"
'A boy without a girl/ Is a song without a tune' or 'A judge without a court'? "When State District Judge-elect J. Rolando Olvera Jr. officially takes the bench later this year, one thing will be missing -- his courtroom. Cameron County's budget restraints have prompted county officials to postpone construction on the newly created 445th state District Court for Olvera for one year...Olvera will still have a court docket and will be what officials refer to as a 'roving judge.' He will utilize the courtrooms of the other judges when they are not in use...." Olvera says once he's sworn in, he plans to "hit the ground running." More (Brownsville Herald 09.21.2008). Comments. a) More judges should have to share courtrooms. See, Federal judges sharing courtrooms? b) What's always amusing is when the speaker utters the cliché "hit the ground running" with a certain emphasis that suggests he thinks he's saying something fresh. The cliché, even if it applies when someone utters it about another person, doesn't necessarily constitute praise. I'd be irked if anyone ever said it of me. In my opinion, it's rarely wise for "the new kid on the block" (another cliché) to "hit the ground running." That's a good way to alienate your colleagues quickly and to demonstrate one's naivity quickly. For a lengthy comparing and contrasting of other examples of new judges starting off their judicial careers by performing the physically risky stunt of "hitting the ground running," see, New female chief justice in Jamaica starts things off with a cliché (The Daily Judge 06.27.2007).
Son of controversial judge claims to be target of 'love-crazy bitch.' "Thuthuka Hlophe, the son of embattled Cape Judge President John Hlophe, claims to be the target of a 'love-crazy bitch' who has allegedly sent death threats to his loved ones. A warrant of arrest is out for [the woman], who faces contempt of court charges after allegedly intimidating, harassing and sending death threats to Hlophe's girlfriend...and [to] her sister -- and ignoring a court order to stop. Hlophe, 26, a Cape Town businessman, said he received more than 90 missed calls every day from [the woman], and claimed she had created a profile for him on a gay website. 'The woman is crazy and I do not feel safe at all,' he said. 'She is a love-crazy bitch.'" More (The Times of South Africa 09.21.2008). Further reading. Click here for links to some of my many postings relating to Judge Hlophe.
Shattering the 'pink glass ceiling.' "It is often said that the 'pink glass ceiling' which holds back the promotion of gay and lesbian people in British society is double glazed when it comes to professional mobility among the higher echelons of the judiciary. So the achievement of a 58-year-old barrister and former Olympic fencer in winning a place on the Bench of the Court of Appeal[, the UK's second highest court,] is all the more remarkable. Sir Terence Etherton, pictured, will be the first openly gay judge to be sworn in as Lord Justice of Appeal when his appointment is confirmed later this month...." More (UK Independent 09.20.2008). Comments. Gazing down at me and my classmates (most of them men) when I was a student at Mt. Olympus, a/k/a Harvard Law School, in the 1960's were the visages of many of the judges in the law school's collection of "over 4000 portraits" of judges (as well as lawyers, political figures, and legal thinkers) "dating from the Middle Ages to the late twentieth century." See, Harvard Law School Library Legal Portraits Online. Although, frankly, I never thought about it at the time, as I think back on those faces, I have to believe some of those guys were homosexuals, whether they knew it or not. The emphasis in the story in today's UK Independent therefore probably should be on the words "openly" and "gay" in the phrase "the first openly gay judge." That is, presumably in the long history of the "Bench of the Court of Appeal" there've been scores of "closeted homosexual" judges but not until now one who publicly declared himself to be either "homosexual" or "gay."
Quote of the Day -- herein of mandatory retirement of judges. "The law that requires [New York] Court of Appeals judges to step down at 70 is 'asinine,' Bonventre said, because 'often that's when jurists are just reaching their stride. This is when they are becoming great judges.'" Albany Law School Professor Vincent Bonventre on the mandated retirement at age 70 of New York's Chief Judge, Judith Kaye. More on Judge Kaye's retirement (Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin 09.20.2008). Further reading. For a relevant recent posting, with links to some of my many earlier postings decrying mandatory retirement of judges, see, Science research upsets a basic premise of mandatory retirement of judges.
Judge is so upset at woman's innocuous sweatshirt he continues her case. "When an Easton woman's sweatshirt asked 'Wanna be my sugar daddy,' Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano had more to say than just no. 'Do you really think that's appropriate to wear to court?' Giordano asked Tracey Grube, 21, on Friday. 'It's really embarrassing. It's disrespectful.'" Judge Giordano said the sweatshirt "was so distracting...he couldn't continue the hearing," and so he rescheduled it for next Friday. More (Express Times 09.20.2008). Further reading. For comments on this sort of judicial behavior and links to my many, many relevant postings on judges as self-appointed fashion and free-speech arbiters, on judicial fashions, on judges dressing up as clowns, judges getting in trouble for dressing up as Santa Claus, judges getting nabbed wearing blackface, male judges driving under the influence wearing dresses, men in long flowing gowns upholding the ban on same-sex marriage, etc., see, Judges to toss wigs, get new 'Star Trek' gowns; Judge delays court while sheriff finds better-fitting jail pants for inmates; Judicial style -- herein of lime green suits.
Mississippi judge is disciplined a fourth time. "Lee County Justice Court Judge Pat Carr will be publicly reprimanded, suspended without pay and fined for 'egregious' behavior on the bench, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday...Carr's fourth scolding by the court was over his threat to have a woman arrested over her efforts to save pieces of a cemetery fence...." More (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal 09.20.2008). Text of decision. Comment. SCOMISS' decision states that Carr, who's been a judge since 1991, agreed his actions were improper. But the Daily Journal quotes Carr as saying to its reporter, "It ain't right. This whole thing is a mess."
Annals on one-sided, press-release journalism. "Fewer clerks, shorter hours: Budget cuts slow wheels of justice - There's still order in Minnesota courts. But the funding crunch means judges must learn to work with less, and more cuts are likely." More (Star-Tribune 09.20.2008). Comment. The quoted excerpts are the headline and lead sentence to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune story that basically says what so many stories in the print media say about the judiciary -- what the judiciary wants the story to say, in this case: the judiciary needs more money and it'll break down without it. As a lifelong reader of newspapers (I was reading the then two Mpls. papers every day before I was ten years old), as an "insider" of the Minnesota judicial system for nearly 30 years, and as a close outside observer and student of it for the last ten, I hate to say it but in my opinion the press, for the most part, rarely covers judicial decisions accurately, never covers judicial elections adequately, and is much, much too willing to uncritically accept at face value the judicial establishment's version of the state of the judiciary. Today's story is but one of many examples of the latter phenomenon. Further reading. Among some of my many relevant postings on this, including the related "Minnesota group-think" phenomenon, see, Herein of SCOMN budget woes, 'p.r.' specialists, and Thoreauvian economics; In re Linda Greenhouse -- some differences of opinion; The Chief Justice's annual harangue about his paltry pay; Group-think on judicial selection; Should we shed tears for 'small-budget' subsidized judicial candidates? See, also, Brian Montopoli, Press Release Journalism (Columbia Journalism Review 04.18.2005). For some of my musings on whether there is an "invisible" power elite in Minnesota (of which the leading newspapers are a part) and, if so, the extent to which that elite gets its way in running the state judicial system, go to BurtLaw on Politics & scroll down to "'Power elite' in MN?" Update. Predictably, as night follows day, the Strib's editorial board followed the lead of the news story, which read like an editorial (which in turn read like a press release from SCOMN's resident public relations office), and published another of its standard we're-for-good-government editorials urging the legislature in its next session to put the judiciary at the head of the line for budget relief (Star-Tribune 09.25.2008).
Federal judges sharing courtrooms? "Federal trial judges may start doubling up to reduce the need for courtroom space at a time when budgets are tight and fewer cases go to trial. The Judicial Conference...took baby steps in that direction at its fall closed-door meeting at the Supreme Court on Tuesday...agree[ing] that in future court construction, every two senior judges will have to share a single courtroom. Similar court-sharing will be considered for magistrate and bankruptcy judges, as well as nonsenior trial judges in larger courthouses...." Tony Mauro, Federal judges may start sharing courtrooms (Legal Times via Law.Com 09.17.2008). Comment. These days many of the new courthouses provide judges with individual private bathrooms, showers, kitchenettes, etc. So, good luck in getting sitting federal judges to go beyond this proposed limited approach involving the possible sharing of courtrooms by senior judges. Earlier. The One-courtroom, One-judge Policy: A Preliminary Review (Congressional Budget Office April 2000); $70 million remodeling of federal courthouse in St. Paul is completed (The Daily Judge 09.15.2008); The elaborate $1 billion federal courthouse planned in LaLa Land (The Daily Judge 09.13.2008); Annals of judicial chambers makeovers - Reining in those wild-spending judges (The Daily Judge 12.18.2005); If you cry out for justice, a judge will appear: bus as mobile courtroom (The Daily Judge 10.13.2006) (discussing, inter alia, the revolutionary BurtLaw Porta-Courthouse); Are 'container vans' the answer to courtroom shortages? (The Daily Judge 09.12.2008); Ought judges be required to use courthouse public toilets now and then? (The Daily Judge 07.11.2007); Auctioning off judges' perks (The Daily Judge 07.09.2007).
Annals of judicial expense account nightmares. "The Supreme Court of Canada won't allow an Alberta judge[, John Reilly,] to appeal a decision that denied him taxpayers' money to cover a 2001 trip to a conference ['on cultural dialogue and non-violent conflict resolution'] in [Caux,] Switzerland...Reilly claimed [the provincial chief judge's] decision interfered with judicial independence by deciding how he could spend his professional allowance of $2,500 a year...." More (Calgary Herald 09.19.2008). Further reading. For links to some of my many other postings on judicial expense accounts, judicial junkets, etc., click here. My most recent such posting is Judge K and his nemesis both attend judicial conference at Sun Valley, Idaho (The Daily Judge 07.31.2008).
Does ex-judge serving as arbitrator have duty to disclose censure as judge? "The California Supreme Court yesterday agreed to decide whether a retired Los Angeles Superior Court judge had a duty to disclose his censure for making offensive comments about women based on their physical attributes before arbitrating a medical malpractice claim centering on a woman's appearance...." More (Metropolitan News-Enterprise 09.18.2008). The case to be reviewed is Haworth v. Superior Court (Ossakow), 164 Cal.App.4th 930 (CA App. 07.10.2008).
Annals of sexiest female judges: member of Hollywood's prestigious 'triumgynate' will become a 'judge.' The producers of Project Runway, the hit cable television show, have announced that the Hon. Lindsay Lohan, member of Hollywood's prestigious "triumgynate," will be a guest judge for the season six premiere episode, now on a different network, Lifetime. More (Access Hollywood 09.20.2008). Comment. We here at the International Headquarters of The Daily Judge believe that, befitting her prestigious double memberships -- in the Homo sapien ("wise human") species and in Hollywood's elite Triumgynate (along with Hon. Paris Hilton, who has already given us her wisdom as judge, and Britney Spears, who grows in wisdom on a daily basis, learning much from each new faux pas) -- Ms. Lohan will serve with the honor that comes from having weathered and learned from every one of the many storms in her amazingingly inspiring life thus far. Like Judge Hilton before her, Ms. Lohan will reverse the not unusual path among common law judges (of going from judge to being charged and judged) and will go from being judged to being a judge. Like Judge Hilton, she will ahow that changing a minus into a plus sometimes is as simple as drawing a vertical line through a horizontal one -- or, as is often done in Minnesota and elsewhere, getting a pal to name you a judge. We wish Ms. Lohan well in her new venture as judge. BTW, did anyone tell her it's a one-way ticket, that once you enter the judicial nunnery, you can't leave? (Click here for details.) Further reading. Ethics 101 - May a common law judge serve as judge of beauty pageant? BurtLaw's Dog Judging, Jam&Jelly Judging, Etc. "Judging Swimsuit Pageants" at BurtLaw's Law & Swimsuits (scroll down). In case you failed to read it on these pages last year, Ms. Hilton, along with sister Nikky, busted her chops judging the 2007 Miss Universe Japan competition.
Israel's 'triumgynate.' "Apparently there will soon be three women heading the three branches of government. Dorit Beinisch, Dalia Itzik, and Tzipi Livni will be serving in the State of Israel's highest positions...." Fania Oz-Salzberger, The judge, the legislator and the executive (Haaretz 09.19.2008). Comment. Oz-Salzberger calls it a "triumgynate" rather than "triumverate." In the celebrity blogosphere, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton have been referred to as a "triumgynate." Triumgynate (Countenance Blog 02.08.2008). And a reviewer of Matilda Joslyn Gage et al, Woman, Church, and State (2001 edition of 1893 'classic' arguing that oppression of women was the foundation of "the church" and "the church" in turn was the foundation of women's oppression), refers to Gage, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as "the triumgynate of the early suffrage movement." More (BN.Com). See, also, a reference to the "triumgynate" of Marian, Alexandra and Salome in Elizabeth Cary and Stephanie Hodgson-Wright, The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry 20 (2000).
Report of yet another 'blue ribbon commission' of lawyers and judges on NY's sad town court system. "A special commission that spent more than two years [studying]...New York's 1,250 town and village courts issued a report on Wednesday that recommended consolidating some courts and setting minimum standards for judges' education and training. But the 31-member commission, consisting of lawyers, town justices and state judges, stopped short of recommending that town and village justices -- most of whom lack legal backgrounds and, in some cases, even a high school diploma -- have training as lawyers. Instead, the commission said courts should provide defendants the option of having their case heard by a judge who is a lawyer...." More (NYT 09.19.2008). Related. A large, hidden world of judicial ineptitude (The Daily Judge 09.25.2006). Further reading. On the subject of task forces in general, see, Those 'blue-ribbon' commissions and task forces (The Daily Judge).
'Habitually intemperate' judge joins 'syndicate' -- to appear as TV judge. "A. Smith & Co. Prods. has inked a talent deal with New York-based Judge Marian Shelton to produce a court show ['Tough Justice'] targeted for syndication...." More (Hollywood Reporter 09.18.2008). Background. After being charged by the NY State Commission on Judicial Conduct with being "habitually intemperate" in court, Judge Shelton, an appointee of Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, at first fought back, publicly and vigorously. See, Do Marquis of Queensbury rules apply in your courtroom? (The Daily Judge 08.26.2007); Talking tough in Bronx Family Court (The Daily Judge 08.13.2007). Eventually, however, she "abandoned her fight...and quietly admitted to being a courtroom crank who briefly locked up a court clerk's wife...cut[ting] a deal that requires her to not seek reelection or another spot on the bench in New York State 'at any time in the future.'" More (NY Daily News 09.28.2007). Complaint (06.01.2007); Answer (06.25.2007); Stipulation (09.26.2007); Determination (09.26.2007). Further reading. Make room for 'Judge Jeanine' Pirro? (Albany Press and Sun-Bulletin 09.19.2008).
CEO: 'My son has exactly the ideas needed to turn this company around.' "They'll say that the position should go to Jerry Arbrecht, who has, admittedly, been with the company since the beginning. They'll say Jerry has the sort of nuts-and-bolts experience we need to weather the storm. Well, I didn't get to be No. 1 in third-party toner cartridge manufacturing and importing by following the pack mentality, and I say we bring in someone who is carrying my DNA and doesn't know the first thing about the business...." From Brian Wernicke, My Son Has Exactly The Ideas Needed To Turn This Company Around (The Onion 09.17.2008). Comment. This "press release" is an obvious spoof of John McCain's carnival pitchman-like nomination of the self-described "lipstick-wearing pitbull," Sarah "Hockey Mom" Palin, as the person best-qualified ("exactly who this country needs") to succeed him when/if he dies or is incapacitated. Comparing McCain's introduction of Palin with this spoof proves that reality is often at least as funny as parody. As I asked at the time of McCain's announcement, "What is it that causes old guys to go all giddy over inexperienced 40-something women and pick them for high positions in state and federal government?" Further reading. On the penchant of pm's, presidents and governors to characterize each of their picks of lawyers, many of whom just happen to be pals, as the "best person" for the job of judge, I refer you to my extensive comments (with included links) at Annals of cronyism: MN's Pawlenty appoints another colleague to bench (The Daily Judge 06.25.2008); Pawlenty picks pal as new chief justice (The Daily Judge 03.18.2008); POTUS nominates TV Judge Pepper Cartwright to SCOTUS (The Daily Judge 09.07.2008).
SCOTUS's declining reputation, influence around the world. "'One of our great exports used to be constitutional law,' said Anne-Marie Slaughter, the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. 'We are losing one of the greatest bully pulpits we have ever had.'" -- From Adam Liptak, U.S. Court, Long a Beacon, Guides Fewer Nations (NYT 09.18.2008). Comment. That SCOTUS' decisions no longer command the respect they used to command around the world doesn't surprise me. SCOTUS and its decisions do not merit the respect that they once merited. The same may be said of our country, with its "It's my basketball and therefore I get to set the rules of the game" attitude. Further reading. a) 'It's my ball,' said the spoiled boy from Texas. 'If you don't do it my way, I'll....' (Sometimes Left, Always Right 09.17.2006) (scroll down). b) Provincialism in politics & government (Sometimes Left, Always Right 06.20.2005) (scroll down). c) An American 'provincial' discovers Europe (The Daily Judge 09.12.2005). d) Annals of American provincialism - judicial variety (The Daily Judge 08.11.2005).
Should judiciary allow virgin model to sell her 'first time' for a million Euros? "An Italian model who swears she has never had sex plans to sell her virginity for one million euros, or £792,000. Showgirl and men's magazine model Raffella Fico, 20, [depicted in these images found in a Google image search,] told an Italian magazine: 'I can't wait to see who's going to pull out the money to have me.'...Her family insisted that despite her good looks and sexy image, she remained a virgin. 'She's never had a boyfriend. I swear on my mother's grave. She's a devout Catholic and prays to Padre Pio every night,' her brother told the magazine...." More (UK Telegraph 09.17.2008). Comment. a) I can hear the judges as they debate the legality of this: "Sure, she may marry for money, sure she may date a rich Playboy and accept cash gifts, but should she be able to enter into an express contract to sell her virginity for cash?" b) One of The Daily Judge's resident experts, Dr. F. Lavoris Pusso, Ph.D., says that, "Legality aside, on a moral scale selling one's virginity ain't half as bad as running for public office and selling one's soul via false and misleading TV ads about one's opponent." Noting that I twice "stood" for public office but didn't "run," as in spending lots of money and running nasty ads, I asked Dr. Pusso whether I nonetheless had "sold my soul" in the process. "No," he said, "what you did is sort of like paying a prostitute $200 (the fee to file for office) but then just sitting down and having a nice chat with her. You, sir, are a doggone saint." I'm saint enough that I'd be willing to have a "chat" with Ms. Fico for free. Although she hasn't asked me for my advice, I'd graciously give it to her freely, in the same spirit in which, were a down-on-his-luck Edinan to ask me for $4.00 so she could buy a cup of Starbuck's coffee, I would reply, "No, but I'll stake you on some free advice." Here's my advice to Ms. Fico: "Your bro says you're a devout Catholic and you pray to Padre Pio every night. Ask yourself, 'What would Uncle Nino Scalia say? Would he approve?' Also, Raffella, have you engaged in a Posnerian 'cost-benefit' analysis? See, Richard Posner, Sex and Reason (Harv. U. Press 1992). And, Raffella, have you plugged in the relevant figures and subjected the 'momentary merger for a million' to analysis using the widely-used index that my mom's late first cousin, Orris Herfindahl, devised, the Herfindahl Index?"
Judge as 'joker,' not 'pinched' schoolmarm. "'Welcome back!' booms the judge to the jury [in federal court in Miami]. 'How ya doin'?' It's morning, and this is the second day of the murder trial of defrocked FBI star John J. Connolly, and the presiding Judge Stanford Blake sounds like a standup comic behind an open mike. When he yells a greeting from his bench to a gaggle of reporters covering the trial he cracks, 'Please, if you notice I've fallen asleep during testimony, just say I'm deep in thought.' When he jousts with the stone-serious Fred Wyshak, the Boston federal prosecutor on loan to the locals, about sartorial choices Wyshak's made for this road trip, Blake says that since becoming a judge 14 years ago he can no longer afford the fancy suits...." -- Dick Lehr, Trial Diary: The judge as joker (Boston Globe 09.17.2008). Comment. Lehr, who is co-author with Gerard O'Neill of Black Mass: The True Story of the Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob (2000), reviewed here by my law school first year criminal law prof, Alan M. Dershowitz, describes Judge Blake's courtroom style as "folksy and loose – a real contrast to the kind of pinched formality most visiting Bostonians are used to seeing in court." Defendant Connolly makes his appearance in the first paragraph of chapter one, '1975,' of Lehr and O'Neill's Black Mass:
Under a harvest moon, FBI agent John Connolly eased his beat-up Plymouth into a parking space along Wollaston Beach. Behind him the water stirred and, further off, the Boston skyline sparkled. The ship-building city of Quincy, bordering Boston to the south, was a perfect location for the kind of meeting the agent had in mind. The roadway along the beach, Quincy Shore Drive, ran right into the Southeast Expressway. Heading north, any of the expressway's next few exits led smack into South Boston, the neighborhood where Connolly and his "contact" had both grown up. Using these roads, the drive to and from Southie took just a few minutes. But convenience alone was not the main reason the location made a lot of sense. Most of all, neither Connolly nor the man he was scheduled to meet wanted to be spotted together in the old neighborhood.
History of political campaign blogging. Some credit the Howard Dean presidential campaign in 2004 with maintaining the first campaign blog. Others cite as the first campaign blog one maintained by a congressional candidate in 2002. Actually, one has to go back earlier, to 2000. I was a nonpartisan candidate for Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in the general election in November 2000. I began planning my first law blog, BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else, one of the pioneering law blogs, in 1999, but I delayed starting it until after the 2000 general election. My 2000 campaign website, the no-longer-extant VoteHans.Com, contained a personal campaign blog (weblog or web journal), i.e., a blog actually written and maintained by the candidate, not by some staffer. I like to think it was the first campaign blog (a/k/a weblog or web journal), although it's quite possible someone else independently came up with the idea and executed it contemporaneously in 2000 also. Because most "web archivers" were not in business in 2000, there has been no web record of my campaign website and campaign blog. For archival purposes and in the public interest, I have reproduced and reposted as near as I can, given software changes, the backed-up contents of what was VoteHans.Com as it appeared in 2000. Here are the links: Campaign Home Page; Campaign Journal; Earlier Journal Entries; Even Earlier Journal Entries; Earliest Journal Entries; Endorsements and Contributions; Mandatory Retirement of Judges; Judicial Independence and Accountability; Questions and Answers; BRH Speech; Emerson for Judges; Quotations for Judges; MN Const. Art. VI; About BRH.
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Slate's list of Judge Roberts resources. Slate has created a John Roberts Roundup, a regularly-updated page of links to some of the better web postings relating to Judge Roberts. Click here.