• Appeals,  Judges

    The Mindset of Appellate Judges

    Here is a well-stated look into the minds of appellate judges, from a 2-year old column by Howard Bashman: One essential trait that an appellate lawyer must possess is the ability to think about legal issues from the perspective of judges who serve on appellate courts. Appellate courts are not only responsible for trying to reach the correct result in the cases on appeal, but their rulings often create precedents that will govern other cases that don’t even exist yet. Thus, an appellate lawyer must be cognizant not only of how existing precedent will affect an appellate court’s view of a newly filed appeal, but also about how the precedent…

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.”