• Judges

    Congratulations to Justice Arthur Gilbert

    Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert, one of our local (Second District, Division Six) appellate jurists, was honored last night in a ceremony held in the main reading room of the Los Angeles County Law Library, where he was presented with the Beacon of Justice award. The award was created by a group called Friends of the Los Angeles County Law Library, which describes the award this way: Created by the FRIENDS OF THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY LAW LIBRARY in 2005, the BEACON OF JUSTICE AWARD is given to those whose character and outstanding service to the legal community, especially in the areas of access to justice and legal information, education, scholarship,…

  • Judges,  Oral Advocacy,  U.S. Supreme Court

    You’ve Heard of Doubting Thomas. Here’s Silent Thomas.

    This AP article explores the curious silence of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. According to the article, Justice Thomas has not asked a question at oral argument in two years. I knew he was a man of few words that rarely asked questions . . . but two years? That’s stunning. He says he asks questions when he needs to. Which reminds me of the kid who wouldn’t talk. At age 2, his parents took him to the doctor, who could find nothing physically wrong with him. But at age 4, he still hadn’t said a word. To the doctor again. Again, nothing physically wrong. And so it went for…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Judges,  Standard of Review

    Something Fishy about the “Smell Test” and the Standard of Review

    A couple of interesting dissents filed today in a denial of rehearing en banc in United States v. Jenkins, case no. 06-50049 (9th Cir. Mar. 4, 2008). I blogged about the panel decision in this post because the decision resolved an open issue on the standard of review to apply when reviewing an order dismissing an indictment for prosecutorial vindictiveness. My post referred readers to California Appellate Report for Professor Martin’s write-up of the merits. Judge O’Scannlain, joined by five other judges, dissents from the order denying rehearing en banc, and Chief Judge Kozinski writes a second — and very brief — dissent to highlight Judge O’Scannlain’s criticism of the…

  • Ethics,  Judges

    Would this have Worked for the California Supremes?

    The WSJ.com Law Blog posts today about possible remedies for the problem of recusal of Supreme Court Justices due to stock ownership in one of the parties, noting that Chief Justice Robert’s recent recusal from a case resulted in a “problematic even-numbered panel” that rendered a 4-4 decision in Warner-Lambert Co., LLC v. Kent, case no. 06-1498 (Mar. 3, 2008). The Law Blog links to this post at The Volokh Conspiracy, where Professor Volokh floats the idea of requiring justices to sell stock in a party upon the granting of certiorari. The availability of designated justices may make this seem like a moot consideration for our own Supreme Court, but…

  • Blogging,  Judges

    Superheroes or Superegos?

    Which best describes bloggers? That depends on whether you listen to Chief Judge Kozinski, whose opinion is noted at The Volokh Conspiracy, or to a tongue-in-cheek appraisal in The New York Review of Books, as excerpted at The UCL Practitioner. Can you match the opinions to the commentators before you look?

  • Judges

    Grisham Pens “The Appeal”

    Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I can’t stomach most of the John Grisham I’ve read. Maybe it’s because The Firm was the first book of his that I read, and I found it (and the movie) excellent, that the others I tried seemed so bad. I thought A Time to Kill was horribly written, The Pelican Brief was inane, and I lost interest in The Client around ten or twenty pages in. After that, I gave up on Grisham, so I’ll concede there’s a possibility I’ve missed some good novels since then. But the title of his latest novel caught my eye. The premise of The Appeal, based on…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Judges,  Legal Writing

    Toning Down the Snark

    California Appellate Report notes an order from the Fourth District Court of Appeal yesterday in which it modified its original opinion by eliminating a snide comment about lawyering skills. As Professor Martin points out, this is an unusual amendment. Even more interesting to me: the order does not set out the entirety of the language to be deleted. Instead, it references the sentence to be deleted only by the beginning words in that sentence: “Lawyers should learn . . . .” Which gives you a hint that the excised language is a little snarky, and may even prompt the average reader to look up the original opinion. Which you won’t…

  • Judges,  Ninth Circuit

    Ninth Circuit Oral History Project

    This post at the Legal History Blog links to an article in National Law Journal about work on oral histories of the Ninth Circuit, specifically the work of Stanford law professor Michele Dauber with Judge Stephen Reinhardt. As one might expect, the always-present “controversy” over the Ninth Circuit is discussed in the article. Professor Dauber notes one result of that controversy, in what I think is an interesting way to think about it: “People in Maine know about the 9th Circuit. That’s weird,” Dauber said. “No one in California knows anything about the 1st Circuit.”

  • Ethics,  Judges,  Ninth Circuit

    Ninth Circuit Judicial Complaint Disposition Orders Published Online

    Via NLJ’s L.A. Legal Pad comes news that, according to this press release from the Ninth Circuit, “disposition of judicial misconduct and disability complaints against federal judges sitting in the Ninth Circuit will be publicly available via the Internet” starting this month.  Three orders are already up. The main page includes links to the governing rules,  a page listing the orders, and a downloadable complaint form.

  • Appellate Procedure,  California Procedure,  Judges

    California’s 90-Day Rule

    The California Constitution (Article VI, sec. 19) prohibits a judge from drawing pay “while any cause before the judge remains pending and undetermined for 90 days after it has been submitted for decision.” A one-page “barrister’s tips” column by Ben Shatz at page 11 of this month’s Los Angeles Lawyer (in PDF format here) gives some nifty background on how this rule is enforced and how it can affect proceedings, including decisions to vacate submission and the scheduling of oral argument.

  • Judges,  Legal Writing Blogs and Resources

    Writing Advice from Scalia and Garner is Coming

    Via Carolyn Elefant at Law.com (whose blog post title, by the way, is quite clever) comes news that Justice Antonin Scalia has teamed up with legal writing guru Bryan Garner to author a book on legal writing.  Ms. Elefant links to an article at Legal Times giving more details, and then asks some excellent (and amusing) questions: Given that Scalia’s opinions (or in particular, his dissents), are often known for their nastiness or sarcasm, I’m particularly curious about the advice that he’ll provide to lawyers.  Will Scalia counsel restraint and professionalism in legal writing, and if so, how will he reconcile that with his own opinions?  Will Scalia offer “real…

  • Federal Procedure,  Judges,  Legal Technology

    A Technology-Induced Rush to Dismiss?

    The Ninth Circuit has some unkind words for the district judge in Calderon v. IBEW Local 47, case no. 05-56937 (November 13, 2007). The district court dismissed the case for lack of prosecution because plaintiff’s counsel did not show up at a hearing on an order to show cause re dismissal for failure to serve one of the defendants. Problem: the district court only gave notice of the OSC re dismissal via e-mail. Since plaintiff’s counsel did not consent to electronic notice (Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b)(2)(D)) and did not regularly check his e-mail (and, given his lack of consent to electronic notice, had no obligation to do so), he…

  • California Courts,  Ethics,  Judges

    Updates to Code of Judicial Ethics

    This press release from the Judicial Council of California announces that the Supreme Court has approved several amendments to the Code of Judicial Ethics.  The press release recounts the areas affected before going into significant detail on the changes: The issues covered by the amendments include handling cases with self-represented litigants, judicial disclosure, character reference letters, self-reporting by judges after being charged with or convicted of certain crimes, and misusing the prestige of the office by commissioners or referees. The updated code is available as a downloadable PDF. Click here for the PDF.  The changes do not take effect until January 1, 2008.

  • California Courts,  Discovery,  Judges

    Judicial Performance Commission Records Not Discoverable

    In Commission on Judicial Performance v. Superior Court, case no. B201251 (2d Dist. Oct. 29, 2007), the court of appeal holds that records of the Commission on Judicial Performance are not discoverable.  Its holding appears absolute, regardless of circumstances. Felony defendant Davidson had his suppression motion denied by Judge Schwartz. Davidson filed a complaint against Judge Schwartz with the Commission, then was convicted after his case was transferred to another judge. In connection with his motion for a new trial, he filed a Pitchess motion (Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531) for records from the Commission concerning Judge Schwartz. The trial court ordered the records produced for in…

  • Judges,  Ninth Circuit

    More on Kozinski Taking the Helm of the Ninth Circuit

    Lawjobs.com profiles Judge Alex Kozinski as he prepares to take over as chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The reporter is from the National Law Journal, so this may be the article I linked in Monday’s post that was behind the NLJ’s subscription wall. Thanks to Appealing in Nevada for the link.

  • Federal Courts,  Judges,  Ninth Circuit

    Kozinski Doesn’t Want Hard Work Wasted — Dissents from Order Dismissing Petition for Rehearing

    In Suntharalinkam v. Keisler, case no. 04-70258 (9th Cir. Oct. 18, 2007), the Ninth dismisses a petition for rehearing en banc in an immigration case on the motion of the petitioner, whose counsel requested dismissal after being questioned at oral argument regarding the petitioner’s relocation to Canada and seeking of asylum there. Judge Kozinski will have none of it. In a dissent joined by three other judges, he argues against the ability of the petitioner to waste all the hard work of the court: My colleagues dismiss the petition for review based on a nine-line motion, filed almost a month after this case was argued and submitted, which says nothing…

  • California Supreme Court,  Constitutional Law,  Judges,  Ninth Circuit

    California Supreme Court to the Ninth: Can’t You Read?

    Back in August, I covered the case of Fantasyland Video v. County of San Diego, case no. 05-56026 (9th Cir. Aug. 7, 2007), in which the Ninth asked the California Supreme Court to answer a certified question asking for the standard of review to apply to the constitutionality (under the California Constitution) of hours-of-operation restrictions on “adult entertainment establishments.” The Ninth appeared to be telling the California Supreme Court that its jurisprudence on the issue is, shall we say, less than crystal clear. I wrote: Another thing I like about this request from the Ninth Circuit is that it doesn’t claim there are no California cases on point. It says…

  • Judges,  Ninth Circuit

    Judge Kozinski set to Take the Helm

    National Law Journal’s L.A. Legal Pad links to the NLJ profile (behind subscription wall) of Judge Alex Kozinski, who takes over as Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on December 1, the “first conservative in a decade to lead what is widely viewed as the nation’s most liberal federal appellate court.”

  • Judges,  U.S. Supreme Court

    SCOTUS Cert Pool Memos Available Online

    Professor Lee Epstein at Northwestern University School of Law has posted a “Digital Archive of the Papers of Harry A. Blackmun.” Bloggers are most abuzz about the “cert pool memos” available as part of the archive. These memos provide insight into the reasons certiorari was granted or denied. For a good explanation of the cert pool memos, go to this page of the archive. I got the link from Prawfsblawg. Who got it from GWU Law Professor Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy (who gives some especially good reasons to peruse them). Who got it from How Appealing. Who got it from . . . aw, who knows?

  • California Courts,  California Supreme Court,  Judges

    Chief Justice George’s State of the Judiciary Address

    Chief Justice George’s 12th annual address on the state of the judiciary, given at last week’s state bar conference, is available through the California Courts website. The transcript of his address is here. If you’d like to read a synopsis before (or instead of) reading the transcript, a PDF download of the post-address press release is available here.

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  Judges

    Harsh Immigration Dissent

    Normally, as a lot of you have figured out by now, I’m a jurisdiction “junkie.” Jurisdiction fuels the disagreement in Ramadan v. Keisler, case no. 03-74351 (9th Cir. Sept. 28, 2007), and the jurisdictional question is interesting (it concerns the effects of the REAL ID act), but I haven’t had time to evaluate it yet.  I hope to get to it. But what caught my eye immediately was the dissent from this denial of a rehearing en banc. Eight judges join Judge O’Scannlain’s dissent, which starts: In a feat of interpretive creativity, the Court in this case has transformed a discretionary determination of an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) into a question…

  • Ethics,  Judges,  U.S. Supreme Court

    Should SCOTUS Justices Disclose Reasons for Recusals?

    This Washington Post editorial argues that they should. It first notes the justification for not disclosing reasons for recusals: Justices have traditionally declined to elaborate on why they’ve stepped aside. One reason: a legitimate concern that revealing the cause for a recusal could empower future litigants to manufacture conflicts — such as hiring the spouse or child of a justice as a lawyer on the case — to force the removal of a justice who appears philosophically hostile to their arguments. It then argues that the most recent recusals of Justice Roberts and Justice Breyer from a pending securities suit were likely due to their ownership of stock in the…

  • California Court of Appeal,  California Supreme Court,  Judges

    2007 Annual Report on Judicial Branch

    This press release (PDF dowload) from the Judicial Council of California announces the release of its 2007 Annual Report (PDF Download). [The report is] a summary of the judicial branch’s significant progress and challenges in improving court administration and equal access for all Californians.  *** The report highlights the branch’s efforts, in cooperation with the legislative and executive branches of state government, to improve service to the public and describes key trends in court caseloads and workloads.

  • Judges

    Judicial Self-Promotion

    I guess this is what you get when Supreme Court justices have to be re-elected to stay on the bench.  A state  Supreme Court justice with her own web page.  Not her official biography on the court’s website or one of those dry “judicial profile” pages, mind you, but an independent web page promoting her seemingly “rock star” status.    I’m not saying its bad, just . . . different. Has anyone seen anything like this from a California judge? Thanks to ElectricLawyer, who was on top of this months ago.

  • Judges,  U.S. Supreme Court

    More on a Proposed End to Life Tenure for Supreme Court Justices

    Back in July, I linked to this Law.com post on this topic.  Now SCOTUSblog has a very detailed post called Life Tenure, Term Limits, and Supreme Court Justices, in which they critique both the proposals for ending life tenure and a study relied on in support of doing so.  The post includes citations to more detailed articles, as well as a few links to other discussions of the topic, including a recent New York Times article.

  • Appeals,  Appellate Procedure,  Judges,  Oral Argument

    Peremptory Challenges to Appellate Justices and Posting of Draft Appellate Opinions

    Don’t get too excited!  The title of this post does not reflect changes to the Code of Civil Procedure.  Instead, the title summarizes two of Nine Ideas for Improving the Administration of Justice offered by Los Angeles attorney Edwin B. Stegman in his guest column in the September 2007 California Bar Journal.  Specifically, Stegman suggests the following: 3.  We desperately need a CCP §170.6-type peremptory challenge of incompetent and unreasonable appellate justices and divisions. *** 7. Before oral argument, attorneys should be permitted to review research attorneys’ notes and appellate draft opinions. There is no advantage to secrecy. In some courts, research attorneys make the decisions. Sometimes they make mistakes.…