The Daily Judge
© 2009 Burton Randall Hanson
      Archives - 07.01.2009 - 08.15.2009
"All the news that gives judges and lawyers fits."
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.

 "BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else, a Web Site produced by Burton Hanson, is part of the Library of Congress September 11 Web Archive and preserves the web expressions of individuals, groups, the press and institutions in the United States and from around the world in the aftermath of the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. Dates Captured: September 20, 2001 - December 17, 2001"

Some of our current postings. a) The Daily Judge's connection to Viking warriors. b) So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, David Souter -- he flits, he fleetly flees.... c) Will panel created by new law help shed light on judicial corruption? d) Annals of changing majorities -- herein of MI's troubled supreme court. e) The Leaning Statue of Edgar County. f) From 'courthouse cleaning lady' to TV judge. g) Kozinski is admonished over web humor. h) Dahlia Lithwick's judicial haikus. i) Allegedly clocked at 100 mph, 'Yooper' judge is arrested for DWI. j) PA's troubled justice system opens new $117 million 'judicial center.' k) Report says two convicted judges ran PA courthouse 'like a mafia family.' l) Judge dies a hero, drowning after rescuing son. m) Dahlia Lithwick: We know less about Sonia now than we did before the hearings. n) BurtLaw on regular politicians versus judicial politicians. o) Judicial apartheid' -- courts for the rich, mandatory arbitration for the rest of us? p) Annals of judicial contempt: Ya yawn in his court and ya go to jail. q) What Sotomayor adds to SCOTUS. r) Worth reading. s) Will judge's injunction against sale of Microsoft Word stand? t) Those cleverly-worded constitutional amendment ballot titles and summaries. u) The WSJ's editorial 'take' on SCOMN's pro-Franken decision. v) Eighteen lawyers apply for judicial vacancy. w) Prosecutor drops DWI charge against judge. x) Ex-judge is charged with stealing court fees, bail money. y) District court judge accepts city attorney position...and big pay increase. z) UK judge faces possible sacking over saying what he thinks. aa) The fate of  Pakistani judges who replaced illegally-ousted judges. bb) Federal judge rejects bargained-for sentences for two corrupt PA judges. cc) Judge rules defamation verdict was tainted by corrupt PA judges. dd) The latest on the embattled Judge Servaas. ee) Judge Mikva blasts Fitzgerald. ff) Popular MS judge will plead guilty to lying to feds. gg) When water trickles down five floors at the courthouse. hh) Son's suit accuses retired judge of years of abuse. ii) Latest on Judge Stringer's troubles. jj) On the latest DSM madness. kk) The perils of being a real(ity) judge. ll) Annals of judicial selection: applicant says there's no God. mm) The latest from the haven for libel tourists. nn) Retired judge will run for Obama's old Senate seat. oo) Latest on that NC judge serving on a corporate board. pp) Lobbyists urge Nevadans to adopt Ozark State Plan. qq) Trump's defamation suit against reporter is tossed out. rr) Court says judge's muzzle order violated First Amendment. ss) Introducing, the all-new Supreme Court of England and Wales. tt) Court of Judicial Discipline suspends judge for running business out of chambers. uu) Annals of judicial deflation. vv) Paris, in little black thing and stiletto heels, flirts with judge. ww) Deputy guards house of judge who acquitted dentist accused of molesting 17 patients. xx) Did lawyers slap, manhandle judge? yy) John Leguizamo says Sotomayor will 'steam roll' fellow SCOTUS Justices. zz) Board accuses district judge of misrepresenting qualifications, harassing women. aaa) Judges are directed to avoid public meetings, improper contacts. bbb) James MacGregor Burns takes on SCOTUS. ccc) The culture of judging in PA is what? ddd) Annals of the 'Rule of Law' -- did he say 'Rule of Law'? eee) Annals of ex parte dining: Silvio and the judge break bread together. fff) Annals of judges as parents/grandparents. ggg) Judge gets sent to clinker for recruiting prostitutes. hhh) Quote of the day. iii) Annals of Swedish notions of judicial bias. jjj) Federal lawsuit challenges Alaska's 'merit selection' plan. kkk) Darrow. Among our other relatively recent postings:  a) Quote/Misquote of the Day and What did Justice Coyne really say? b) MN's AG and door-to-door salespeople -- no, I mean door purchases. c) Annals of better living through government expense accounts. d) Annals of toilets as a mark of status within the judicial hierarchy. e) Courthouse to be closed for judge's funeral. f) Should SCOTUS justices be limited to one 18-year term? g) Jeffrey Toobin on C.J. John Roberts's following the party line. h) Was assignment of allegedly-biased Swede judge nonrandom? i) Amidst scandal and allegations, a trial court switches to random assignment of cases. j) The latest on hedge-fund billionaire Geo. Soros, the financier of judicial 'reform.' k) Shouldn't justices' votes on petitions for review be a matter of public record? l) Annals of judicial crises: herein of the courtroom attire of female attorneys. m) Minnesota's 'Three Stooges'-like handling of Coleman-Franken recount. n) Annals of judicial aversion to sunshine. o) Courageous Iowa corn-fed judges unanimously declare ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. p) Parents get cheerleading coach fired over old nude photos. q) The 'Sue Me State' reconsiders its own much-touted judicial selection plan. r) Annals of judicial masochism -- herein of law clerk domination of judicial decisionmaking. s) Congressman turns SCOTUS budget hearing into forum on cameras in court, transparency. t) Recent developments in invidious age discrimination against judges. u) Competency -- what mandatory retirement takes away, the big law firms restore. v) On Geo. Soros, the hedge fund billionaire who doesn't want voters having a role in judicial selection.

 Annals of judicial deflation. "A Charles County judge[, Robert C. Nalley,] said Tuesday that he flattened the tire of someone who persisted in parking in reserved spaces near the courthouse...." Details (Southern Maryland News 08.12.2009). Comment. The police may or may not be looking into the incident. The judge is quoted saying he could have had the car towed but felt that deflating the tire would be less of an inconvenience to the wrongful parker. Further reading. For those "judicial parking fetishists" who are totally obsessed with the topic of judges and their parking (and/or parking lot) problems, back in 2006 we provided convenient links to some of our many relevant earlier entries. These links may be found in the body of our posting titled Sessions judges ask parking spaces for secretaries. Update. Judge Nalley resigns administrative position but will remain on bench (Washington Post 08.14.2009).

 Worth reading. "After the needless death of his father, the author, a business executive, began a personal exploration of a health-care industry that for years has delivered poor service and irregular quality at astonishingly high cost. It is a system, he argues, that is not worth preserving in anything like its current form. And the health-care reform now being contemplated will not fix it. Here's a radical solution to an agonizing problem...." Introduction to David Goldhill, How American Health Care Killed My Father (The Atlantic September 2009).

 Annals of judicial contempt: Ya yawn in his court and ya go to jail. "Clifton Williams was hauled before [Will County, IL] Judge Daniel Rozak and charged with contempt after he let out the "noisy" yawn as his cousin was sentenced on drugs offences...." Details (UK Mirror 08.11.2009). Comment. I have no way of knowing whether the judge was justified in acting as he did. But I wouldn't have held the fellow in contempt and jailed him. I not only don't condone overuse of the contempt power -- i.e., in cases like this -- I advise against using it in any situation. Indeed, BurtLaw Rule-of-Thumb #139 for avoiding discipline provides: Avoid using the contempt power altogether.

 What Sotomayor adds to SCOTUS. "In addition to her extensive command of corporate law, intellectual property cases, and arbitration...Sonia Sotomayor also brings a world-class knowledge of ballistics and experimental weaponry to an already deadly Supreme Court, analysts said this week...." Details (The Onion 08.12.2009).

 Will Texas federal judge's injunction against sale of Microsoft Word stand? Here's the story (BBC News 08.12.2009). Comment. The case was filed in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Texas. The court is a notorious "plaintiff friendly" court for trying patent cases. See, When a small town in Texas becomes a hub of U.S. patent litigation (The Daily Judge 05.22.2008), and included links. I know nothing about the merits of the suit against Microsoft, which says it'll appeal. I ask, Why wouldn't it appeal the judgment, given that court's reputation, deserved or undeserved?

 The Daily Judge's connection to Viking warriors. John Sullivan, the center out of Notre Dame via Old Greenwich, CT, whom the Vikes drafted last year and who is the starting center who'll be snapping the ball to QB Brett Favre, is grandson of Grace Herfindahl Sims, 88, my late mother Beatrice Herfindahl Hanson's first cousin. John, whom I've never met, is therefore my second-cousin-once-removed. Presumably, with the Viking Herfindahl genes in the mix, the Vikes' fortunes will improve. P.S., not surprisingly, he had a 3.5 GPA at Notre Dame & already has a master's degree (earned during his fifth year). Links. John Sullivan is Vikes' new starting center (Yahoo Sports 08.03.2009); Viking God Odin Down to Last 4 Worshipers (The Onion 08.07.2009); Law and Norwegians. Want more on Viking Herfindahl greatness? My late mom's first cousin, Orris Herfindahl, who died in 1972 while mountain trekking in Nepal, was a world-class economist, making significant contributions both in environmental economics and in merger theory (by creating, in 1952 and while yet a student at the University of Chicago, the so-called Herfindahl Index, a formula which is used the world over to determine the degree of economic concentration in any industry). Ten years after his unexpected death at too young an age, the "trustbusters" in the U.S. Department of Justice began using the index to determine whether the change in the degree of economic concentration in any particular industry resulting from a merger is impermissibly anticompetitive. Had he lived, he might well have won a Nobel Prize in Economics, but dead people aren't eligible (there are so many things for which they are not eligible). The other night I watched a re-run of an episode of The Office on NBC-TV titled "Business School," in which "Michael" accepts an invitation from "Ryan" to be a guest speaker at the business school Ryan is attending. Michael, of course, makes a fool of himself, including by having no idea what a student is talking about when he asks Michael about how Dunder Mifflin's "Herfindahl Index" has decreased since "the merger." I don't go in for Nobel Prizes but getting mentioned on The Office? -- that's posthumous recognition Cousin Orris justifiably might have been proud to get. Further reading. "Law And (Herfindahl)Economics" at BurtLaw's Law and Economics (scroll down). Addendum. In the interest of brevity and out of a profound modesty, I will not at this time explicate on my many other links to greatness.

 Judge gets sent to clinker for recruiting prostitutes. "Ronald H. Tills, 74, a retired State Supreme Court Justice, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday, becoming the first person given jail time in connection with the continuing federal probe of the Royal Order of Jesters...." Details (Buffalo News 08.08.2009). Earlier. Former judicial law clerk is sentenced in Jesters prostitution case (The Daily Judge 12.10.2008). See, our detailed posting, including our speculative ruminations on why judges misbehave, at Retired judge admits recruiting prostitutes for Royal Order of Jesters party (The Daily Judge 09.05.2008).

 Will panel created by new law help shed light on judicial corruption? "Saying he hoped it would begin the process of curing a "perversion of justice," Gov. Rendell signed into law yesterday a bill creating a special commission to investigate the juvenile court corruption scandal in Luzerne County...." Details (Philadelphia Inquirer 08.08.2009). Comment. In my nearly thirty years as a trusted adviser/insider in Minnesota's far-above-average judicial system, I never once witnessed what could even remotely be labeled an act of judicial corruption or improper political influence. Maybe instead of studying its own troubled court system, the commission in PA should study Minnesota's. And maybe Minnesotans ought to ask themselves why they would ever want to emulate that of any other state, e.g., Missouri. I allude, of course to "The Missouri Plan," much-beloved by bespectacled college political science professors, a plan I like to refer to as "The Ozark State Plan." For a detailed analysis of the plan and an exposition of why I oppose the well-financed campaign by self-styled "reformers," bar-association types, and other members of the Minnesota power elite for its adoption in Minnesota, which has a much, much better judiciary than Missouri, see, inter alia, my essay titled The campaign to deprive MN voters of a role in judicial selection (with links to more information).

 Eighteen lawyers apply for judicial vacancy. "State officials say 18 people have applied for an opening on the Iowa Court of Appeals created last month by the retirement of a Burlington judge...." Details (The Hawkeye 08.09.2009). Comment. Despite the sky-is-falling arguments about the inability to find good lawyers to serve as judges because of the supposedly "paltry" pay judges receive, good people still seem to want to serve the public as judges. Background. Are judges paid too much? (The Daily Judge 01.20.2009).

 Annals of changing majorities -- herein of MI's troubled supreme court. "Three Republican justices on the Michigan Supreme Court have criticized their new Democratic colleague, Justice Diane Hathaway, for ruling in a case that dealt with the insurance industry, as her husband is an auto insurance attorney. Hathaway cast the deciding vote in a 4-3 ruling last week that forced the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to fully reimburse insurers for a brain-damaged man's round-the-clock home nursing care...." Details (USA Today 07.27.2009). Decision on the merits (PDF); Order and opinions on the recusal issue (PDF). Comment. Here's the interesting sequence of events: a) Case argued on 10.01.2008. b) Justice Hathaway defeats Chief Justice Taylor on 11.04.2008. c) Court, by a 4-3 vote, with outgoing Republican Chief Justice Taylor participating, decides case in favor of Association on 12.29.2008. d) Petition for reconsideration granted and case decided, by a 4-3 vote, with Democrat Hathaway, Taylor's replacement, joining the three dissenters to create a new majority, deciding case against the Association. Here's Hathaway's explanation for refusing to recuse:

Despite the theories proffered by the MCCA, my husband has no connection to or financial interest in this matter. He is not an attorney for or employee of any party, nor is he a litigant in either of these cases. He has no relationship with either the attorneys or the litigants in these cases. The MCCA asserts that, because my spouse has handled cases in the field of no-fault insurance law, I must recuse myself. However, this assertion suggests a basis for recusal that is so attenuated from the facts of these cases that it strains reasoned logic.

Earlier. Voters in Michigan unseat Chief Justice Taylor (The Daily Judge 11.05.2008); More on Michigan's troubled supreme court (The Daily Judge 10.14.2008). For links to some earlier postings on the public scuffles among members of SCOMICH, see, my comment at Voters get a choice for chief of SCOMICH (The Daily Judge 10.04.2008).

 Prosecutor drops DWI charge against judge. "The Johnson County attorney is dismissing its driving while intoxicated case against Tarrant County state District Judge Elizabeth Berry...." A trial judge earlier ruled the results of tests on a blood sample drawn three hours after her arrest for driving 92 m.p.h. in a 65 m.p.h. zone were the inadmissible product of a warranted search based on an insufficient showing of probable cause. The prosecutor's attempted appeal of the arguably-questionable suppression order was dismissed on a procedural technicality. Details (Fort Worth Star-Telegram 08.05.2009). Earlier. Judge rules judge's BAC test results inadmissible (The Daily Judge 01.23.2009) (with links to some related postings); Judge vindicated in fake e-mail scandal gets nabbed for speeding, possible DWI (and she refused testing) (The Daily Judge 11.15.2008) (with links to some more related postings).

 Ex-judge is charged with stealing court fees, bail money. "A former town judge[, James Funk,] is accused of using $27,000 in court fees and bail money to pay taxes and utility bills at his restaurant and stave off foreclosure on his home...." Details (Newsday 08.05.2009). Further reading. For a good overview of N.Y.'s town and village court system, see the three-part 2006 series by William Glaberson starting with this piece, which links to the other two: In Tiny Courts of N.Y., Abuses of Law and Power (NYT 09.25.2006).

 District court judge accepts city attorney position...and big pay increase. "State District Judge Sam Medina, a jurist with decades of trial experience as an attorney and from behind the bench, will become Lubbock's city attorney later this fall in a surprise hire that came together within the past week...." Details (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 08.05.2009). Comment. The Avalanche-Journal reports he'll get a pay increase over his judicial salary, $210,000 compared with $145,000. For my off-center, non-bar-association-approved views on judicial pay, see, my posting titled Are judges paid too much (The Daily Judge 01.20.2009) (with links to some of my in-depth postings on this topic).

 UK judge faces possible sacking over saying what he thinks. "A senior judge[, Ian Trigger,] faces the sack after saying that 'hundreds of thousands of immigrants' come to Britain to receive generous welfare payments. [The judge] was told yesterday that a disciplinary inquiry is to look at whether his criticisms...were 'too political.'" Details (Daily Mail 08.05.2009). Related. In UK, judge should be seen, not heard (Daily Mail 08.05.2009). Comment. I don't think he should be "sacked," and I doubt he will be....

 The fate of those Pakistani judges who replaced illegally-ousted judges. "Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered the suspension of judges appointed under emergency rule in 2007. The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled that the emergency declared by former President Pervez Musharraf had been illegal and unconstitutional...." Details (BBC News 08.03.2009). Comment. Here's a link to our posting at the time of the unconstitutional ouster of the judges back in 2007: Why'd Musharraf do it? (The Daily Judge 11.05.2007) ("And what can you say about those who'd remain on the bench and swear fealty to Musharraf after their brethren had been wrongly removed? Oh, I'd say there are lots of judges -- there, here and everywhere -- who value their own position more than they value principle, men who, if the chips were down, would continue to play the old game. But then there are those who wouldn't. Ah, yes -- let us now praise such men by way of a poem my mom taught me....").

 Federal judge rejects bargained-for sentences for two corrupt PA judges. "Citing obstruction of justice, a federal judge rejected the plea agreement of two former Pennsylvania county judges[, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr./Michael T. Conahan,] who pleaded guilty in February to a kickback scheme that involved sending juveniles to private detention facilities. The decision opens the way for the men to be sentenced by the judge directly or face a jury trial...." Details (NYT 07.31.2009). And, read on...

 Judge rules defamation verdict was tainted by corrupt PA judges. "A $3.5 million defamation verdict against a Pennsylvania newspaper was tainted by the misconduct of two judges at the center of an unrelated corruption case, a judge ruled Tuesday...." Details (Philadelphia Inquirer 08.05.2009). Earlier. Report says two convicted judges ran PA courthouse 'like a mafia family.' Comment. Apart from the facts of this case, let me say generally that I'm not a friend of the cause of action known as defamation (libel and slander). Defamation is an art form among some small-town Norwegian-Americans, of which I am one. I, myself, have been defamed a number of times by foolishly-envious relatives and/or so-called small-time friends/colleagues (hey, the target always finds out about it and always learns its source). You probably have been defamed, too. It's not a big deal and I've never let it bother me, never once considered taking action (hey, I'm not the suing/prosecuting type). Anyhow, over the years I've slowly come to the conclusion that the cause of action for defamation ought to be abolished. Further reading. Links to some of my many postings urging the abolition of the cause of action for defamation in the U.S. may be found at Singapore jails U.S. lawyer for criticizing Singapore judge on blog (The Daily Judge 09.18.2008).

 The latest on the embattled Judge Servaas. Three stories: a) "Rockford District Court Judge Steven Servaas says he has to view the decision of the state Supreme Court giving him a censure but keeping him on the bench as a victory -- but it came at the cost of more than 1 1/2 years of unflattering public scrutiny...." Details (Grand Rapids Press 08.01.2009). b) "Court consolidation will put Judges Steven Servaas, Sara Smolenski in same building...Servaas believes the case decided by the Supreme Court on Friday on the recommendation of the Judicial Tenure Commission was instigated as part of a conspiracy based in the district's Grand Rapids Township court involving 63rd District Chief Judge Sara Smolenski and Court Administrator Dona Gillson...." Details (Grand Rapids Press 08.01.2009). c) Editorial: Majority got it right in Servaas case. Details (Grand Rapids Press 08.09.20090. Earlier. Judge who's under fire runs unopposed, supports opponent of colleague (The Daily Judge 04.30.2008); Threatening tactics by state judicial tenure chief in MI (The Daily Judge 04.06.2008); Embattled judge mounts a defense (The Daily Judge 04.02.2008); Did judge reveal jock strap at court staff X-mas party? (The Daily Judge 03.29.2008); Judge is accused of 'sham residence' within district plus an inappropriate remark and drawing (The Daily Judge 02.06.2008). Comment. We were "with him" all along, as we are with most good people when they find themselves under attack. It's just our nature. We can't help it. We're...Minnesota Nice. Want more on Servaas? Read on....

 Quote of the day. "By the powers vested in me by the Michigan Supreme Court, four to three, I now pronounce you husband and wife." Judge Servaas, officiating at a wedding ceremony the day after MI's troubled supreme court ruled that Servaas should be censured, not removed. Source (Grand Rapids News 08.09.2009).

 Judge Mikva blasts Fitzgerald, the self-styled SuperProsecutor. "Chicago's top federal prosecutor went too far in saying last year that the conduct of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich 'would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,' a prominent former judge said Thursday. Abner J. Mikva, a former federal judge and congressman, told an American Bar Association panel that the remark by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald on the day of Blagojevich's arrest could prejudice the pool of possible jurors if the case goes to trial...." Details (Chicago Tribune 07.30.2009). Comment. As usual, we were ahead of the curve. See, our much-lauded (by us) mini-essay, How do you solve a problem like Fitzgerald? (The Daily Judge 12.09.2008).

 From 'courthouse cleaning lady' to TV judge. "Judge Penny Brown Reynolds, who received an award from the National Urban League on Saturday, recalled that when she first became a judge, many of her colleagues told her she didn't belong on the bench. That bench was in the Fulton County, Ga., courthouse she had cleaned at night while working her way through law school. 'I was adjudicating in the same building that I had been cleaning just 10 years before," said Brown Reynolds, an ordained minister who produces TV's syndicated Family Court with Judge Penny." Details (Chicago Sun-Times 08.02.2009). Comment. Is America great or what? The following is from Justin Webb's recent valedictory on his time in America as a BBC News correspondent:

There is something about the carelessness of America that gives space for greatness...If you do not like yourself in South Carolina, you can hire a self-drive hire truck and take it to Seattle. If you do not like your life and you have drive and luck, you can change it because -- being American -- you believe you can change it. Sitting in a dingy apartment in New York watching Perry Mason on the TV, you can decide to make it big in law as eight-year-old Sonia Sotomayor once did. This summer, now in her fifties, she becomes a Supreme Court justice and the latest American story to send shivers down the spines of dreamers of the American dream....

Justin Webb, Checking Out of 'Hotel America' (BBC News 08.01.2009).

 Dahlia Lithwick's judicial haikus. Dahlia Lithwick, 306 Syllables on Sotomayor -- The Senate judiciary committee explains its votes in haiku form (Slate 07.29.2009). Example:

A prosecutor
Badass on white collar crime
Tough chick. Just like me.

(Dahlia Lithwick, channeling Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.) Comment. This little "haiku" by Lithwick pretty much sums up why I've never been a big fan of Klobuchar, who was a grandstanding Hennepin County Attorney before being elected Senator, and one of the reasons why I'd probably have voted against confirming Sotomayor (just as I'd likely have opposed Roberts and Alito). Here's the result of a Google search linking you to some of my previous postings on Tough-On-Crime Amy, who, I admit, did some good things as chief prosecutor. Further reading. Annals of bias in judicial appointments (The Daily Judge 06.13.2009). See, also, The bias in favor of youth in judicial appointments (The Daily Judge 06.13.2009).

 Allegedly clocked at 100 mph, 'Yooper' judge is arrested for DWI. "Authorities say an Upper Peninsula judge[, Charles Nebel,] has been arrested for suspected drunken driving after police clocked him speeding more than 100 miles an hour...." Details (Chicago Tribune 07.29.2009). Judge issues statement accepting responsibility (Upper Michigan Source 07.29.2009). Comment. "Yooper" is a nickname for a person who lives on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. One judge famously identified with the Upper Peninsula was the late John Voelker (1903-1991), the former Michigan Supreme Court Justice who, under the pen name, Robert Traver, wrote Anatomy of a Murder, a terrific book that is set in the U.P. Voelker also wrote several much-loved books on trout fishing in the U.P. as well as a book titled Small-Town D.A., about episodes in the work of a D.A. in the U.P. Here's his widely-quoted "Testament of a Fisherman," which I think gives a clue as to the kind of judge, and man, he was:

I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly; because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing I thus escape; because, in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience; because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip; because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters; because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness; because bourbon out of an old tin cup always tastes better out there; because maybe one day I will catch a mermaid; and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant -- and not nearly so much fun.

From Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman (1964). Buy the book....

 PA's troubled justice system opens new $117 million 'judicial center.' "The brand-spanking-new, $117 million headquarters for Pennsylvania's judicial system looks a lot like the other, much older, gray buildings that surround it in downtown Harrisburg's Capitol Complex...." Details (Philadelphia Inquirer 07.28.2009). Comment. Just as a church is not a building but the communion of ordinary, everyday saints, so a court is not a building but the vineyard where we all come together and work in good faith to see that the means and ends of Justice are served.

 Report says two convicted judges ran PA courthouse 'like a mafia family.' "The two judges ran the courthouse like a mafia family, according to several sources...." -- From a detailed investigative report on Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, the former Luzerne County, Pa., judges who recently pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. The story says the conduct the judges pleaded guilty to was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It further alleges that one of the judges had ties to organized crime going back decades. Hank Grezlak and Leo Strupczewski, Sources: Former Pa. Judges Created Culture of Fear, Corruption (The Legal Intelligencer via Law.Com 07.28.2009). Comment. What do I know about it? Nothing. Related. Two ex-judges are claiming judicial immunity from civil suits (Times-Leader 07.29.2009).

 Popular Mississippi judge will plead guilty to lying to feds. "Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter plans to plead guilty to lying to an FBI agent investigating a lawsuit DeLaughter was hearing that involved multimillionaire Dickie Scruggs...." Details (Jackson Clarion-Ledger - MS 07.28.2009). Related. News of plea brings sadness, relief (Clarion-Ledger 07.29.2009). Comment. As regular readers of this blog know, I'm not a fan of the "crime" of false statement. False statement is one of the nebulous catch-all easy-to-convict charges federal prosecutors use against Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby and others after they've spent years and millions of taxpayer dollars to investigate an allegation (or no allegation at all) and come up with, basically, nothing. This is, after all, not really a Government by Judiciary but a Government by Prosecution. For a brief statement by my law school classmate, Harvey Silverglate, the noted Boston civil libertarian, see, this blog entry, Most Pernicious Statute, at Dynamist Blog. See, also, Alex Berenson, Ideas & Trends (NYT 03.07.2004). BTW, I've read a pre-publication review copy of Silverglate's latest book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (Encounter Books) (publication date September 2009). It's a book every law library ought to add to its collection and one every lawyer or citizen interested in overreaching by the Feds ought to read. Further reading. See, my mini-essay at How do you solve a problem like Fitzgerald? (The Daily Judge 12.09.2008).

 When water trickles down five floors at the courthouse. "A water leak Monday morning in the Kanawha County Judicial Annex caused water damage to five floors, but no records were destroyed and the offices are still open...." Details (Charleston Daily-Mail - WVa 07.27.2009).

 Son's suit accuses retired judge of years of abuse. "A 19-year-old Chicago man has filed a lawsuit against his father -- a retired Cook County judge [Lambros Kutrubis] -- that accuses him of sexual, physical and psychological abuse...." Details (Chicago Sun-Times 07.25.2009). Comment. The father denies the allegations. The burden of proof is on the son. At this point, one should not assume the allegations are anything other than allegations.

 Latest on Judge Stringer's troubles. "Former 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Thomas Stringer will plead guilty to one count of bank fraud after trying to fraudulently obtain a mortgage on a home he bought in Hawaii...." Details (ABC Action News 07.23.2009). Earlier. Judge is accused of 'fiscal shenanigans' with a stripper (The Daily Judge 01.14.2009). Comment. This "Judge Stringer" is not to be confused with the noble and handsome and fair and Robert-Frost-loving Justice Ed Stringer, who was one of my favorite members of Supreme Court of Minnesota during the many years I served her.

 On the latest DSM madness. "The DSM now contains three times as many disorders as it did in 1952 and is more than seven times longer than that first edition. The jury is still out on whether the dozens of new additions hold up to scientific scrutiny...." Christopher Lane, Bitterness, Compulsive Shopping, and Internet Addiction -- The diagnostic madness of DSM-V (Slate 07.24.2009). Comment. Most judges who do their own work soon come to be fairly familiar with the various editions of DSM. They ought to read this article.

 The perils of being a real(ity) judge. "Two men -- at least one of whom was a contestant in a beauty pageant -- were charged early Wednesday with using a trophy to beat a judge because they allegedly did not like his vote in the...competition earlier this month...." Details (Chicago Sun-Times 07.22.2009).

 Annals of judicial selection: applicant says there's no God. "An Eastern Cape candidate judge[, Senior Counsel Torquil Paterson,] caused a stir before the Judicial Service Commission when he told members he left priesthood for the law because he concluded that there is no God...." Details (Independent - South Africa 07.22.2009).

 The latest from the haven for libel tourists. "Google is not liable for defamatory material that appears in its search results, a British judge has ruled, a decision that lawyers call significant because of the country's reputation as a haven for libel claimants...." Details (NYT 07.21.2009). Earlier. MPs accuse Brit courts of allowing Soviet-style libel actions to stifle free speech (The Daily Judge 12.19.2008). Links to some of my many postings urging the abolition of the cause of action for defamation in the U.S. may be found at Singapore jails U.S. lawyer for criticizing Singapore judge on blog (The Daily Judge 09.18.2008).

 'Judicial apartheid' -- courts for the rich, mandatory arbitration for the rest of us? "[J]ust as profits have been privatized on Wall Street and losses socialized, the right to a jury trial in a court system paid for by individual taxpayers is now increasingly reserved for corporations, not people.  It's a form of judicial apartheid not dissimilar to the way the Supreme Court rationalized the segregation of blacks in its Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896, promising 'equal' facilities, just separate...." -- Pam Martens, Judicial Apartheid -- Heralded by the Supreme Court as Fair, Vast Private Judicial System Exposed as Fraud (CounterPunch 07.20.2009). Comments. I'll take this opportunity to add a few points related to the exclusion of ordinary consumers from the courts via mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts drafted by corporate lawyers -- typically, one-sided unfair contracts that we were told in law school were "contracts of adhesion," contracts that were to be interpreted against their more-powerful drafters. The sad greater truth is not just that ordinary people are excluded from courts by mandatory arbitration but that they can't afford to pay for legal services. In fact, there are lawyers and judges who can't afford to pay for legal services. Moreover, these ordinary people -- you and I -- find that, as the result of ever-increasing fees and costs dictated to us by the court system, justice via the courts either may not be obtained at all or may not be obtained "freely and without purchase." Article XI of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights states that a person "ought to obtain right and justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it." I believe in the literal meaning of those words. Filing fees, etc., are already way too high and have the effect of making the court system seem to many ordinary people to be an instrument of the rich and well-off. I maintain, first of all, that the judicial system ought not be allowed to set court fees. Although courts, which rely on their self-set fees, will tell you the levying of fees is not a "taxing" function, it is, in truth, a "taxing" and therefore a legislative function. Secondly, society at large, through the general revenue, ought to pay for the court system. The court system, and certainly not judicial salary increases, ought not be financed by hidden taxes such as filing fees. BTW, these observations echo what I wrote back in 2000:

We've lost something special in the profession. We've also lost something special in our judicial system. Our Minnesota Constitution, which is based in part on the historic Massachusetts Declaration of Rights of 1780, provides in Art. I, Sec. 8: 'Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive to his person, property or character, and to obtain justice freely and without purchase, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, conformable to the laws.' Sadly, as too many people find out to their disappointment every year, all too often the law is not sufficiently 'certain' and justice may not always be obtained 'freely and without purchase, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, conformable to the laws.'

 Judge dies a hero, drowning after rescuing son. "District Court Judge John Mull of Drexel in Burke County drowned in the Catawba River Sunday after he jumped in to rescue his 17-year-old son, who was experiencing cramps, Sheriff John McDevitt said Sunday night...." Details (Charlotte Observer 07.20.2009). Comment. In the late 1980's, while on vacation in Harbor Springs, MI, I almost drowned while swimming off that Bit of Heaven known as Forest Beach on Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan. I'm not a good swimmer and, not far from shore, I panicked after coming on a drop-off. It was a scary feeling I experienced as I flailed around. My son, swimming with strength and confidence, quite simply "saved me." Responding to William Wordsworth's famous line, the great Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote: "'The child is father to the man.'/ How can he be? The words are wild." My answer to Hopkins' query is to twist to my own ends what Wordsworth was saying: Most father/kid relationships are mutual, with the dad "fathering forth" and the son or daughter "parenting" (or giving or teaching) "back" -- in many, many ways. I've always felt that the office of "Dad," which I've held since 1975, is a higher office than any judicial office I might have passively and foolishly aspired to. Judge Mull didn't passively mull it over in judicial fashion on Sunday. No, he rather obviously was first and foremost an occupant of The Great Office of Dad. He actively proved it on Sunday. His son will honor him not by displaying any survivor's guilt but just by continuing to be his dad's boy and by "paying it forward" and being a good dad himself someday.

 Dahlia: We know less about Sonia now than we did before the hearings. "This whole process was designed to divine the unknowable from a nominee determined not to be known. We'd likely do better with a Magic 8 Ball. Still, we covered it as if it were better than the Michael Jackson story...." Dahlia Lithwick, What We Didn't Learn -- We know less about Sonia Sotomayor now than we did a week ago (Slate 07.16.2009). Read on....

 BurtLaw on regular politicians versus judicial politicians. Here's The Daily Judge's take on those exercises in judicial obfuscation and senatorial grandstanding known as confirmation hearings: "A 'regular politician' who's running for the U.S. Senate makes promises with her fingers crossed. A 'judicial politician' (and, FYI, all judges are 'politicians in robes') who's seeking confirmation by the U.S. Senate keeps his fingers crossed behind his back while swearing he has no opinions on anything and doesn't make promises." (The Daily Judge 07.15.2009).

 Retired judge will run for Obama's old Senate seat. The judge is Don Lowery, a recently-retired 62-year-old 26-year veteran of the circuit bench. Details (Chicago Tribune 07.17.2009).

 Latest on that NC judge serving on a corporate board. In April I noted that a complaint had been filed against new judge in NC, Bill Belk, over his failure to resign from a corporate board (The Daily Judge 04.15.2009). Now a second complaint has been filed alleging he made disparaging "negative and unfounded" remarks about the NC Chief Justice. Details (Charlotte Observer 07.17.2009). Comment. He denies the new allegation (as well as other fresh allegations), saying, in effect, it's unfounded on fact. Plus, there's a little problem that I see with the allegation that he made "negative and unfounded" statements about the C.J. Hint, hint, two words: 1) "First" and 2) "Amendment."

 Lobbyists urge Nevadans to adopt Ozark State Plan. "Justice at Stake -- the campaign group bankrolled by billionaire hedge fund titan George Soros -- has launched a sophisticated lobbying campaign aimed at getting Nevadans to give up their right to vote for judges...." Details (American Courthouse 07.14.2009). The Las Vegas Review-Journal has editorialized against the Soros-backed plan. Details (LVRJ 07.14.2009). Further reading. On Geo. Soros, the hedge fund billionaire who doesn't want voters having a role in judicial selection; The latest on hedge-fund billionaire Geo. Soros, the financier of judicial 'reform.'

 Don Trump's defamation suit against reporter is tossed out. "A judge in New Jersey dismissed on Wednesday a $5 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Donald J. Trump against an author whose book placed Mr. Trump's personal wealth far below his public estimates...'The libel laws in this country have never been fair,' [Trump] said...We'll appeal....'" Details (NYT 07.16.2009). Comments. a) The judge ruled that Trump presented insufficient evidence of malice. b) Defamation is an art form among some Norwegian-Americans, of which I am one. I, myself, have been defamed a number of times by relatives and/or so-called friends/colleagues (hey, the target always finds out about it and always learns its source). You probably have been defamed, too. I've never let it bother me. Anyhow, over the years I've slowly come to the conclusion that the cause of action for defamation ought to be abolished. Links to some of my many postings urging the abolition of the cause of action for defamation in the U.S. may be found at Singapore jails U.S. lawyer for criticizing Singapore judge on blog (The Daily Judge 09.18.2008).

 Court says judge's muzzle order violated First Amendment. "The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled on behalf of a minister jailed for violating his probation by writing that the judge who oversaw his trial would be subjected to God's wrath...." Details (ABA Journal 07.15.2009). Opinion (PDF).

 Introducing, the all-new Supreme Court of England and Wales. Details (UK Times 07.16.2009). Comment. The Daily Judge, which refers to Supreme Court of the United States as "SCOTUS," henceforth will refer to the new court as "SCOEAW."

 Court suspends judge for running business out of chambers. Details (Philadelphia Inquirer 07.16.2009). Comment. The court in question is PA's Court of Judicial Discipline. The judge's name is Judge Willis W. Berry, Jr. He's the guy who ran a real-estate business out of his chambers. The penalty? A suspension of four months, without pay. Given the harshness of the language in the court's earlier decision, determining the scope of the judge's misconduct but not the penalty, the judge ought to be saying to himself, "Whew!" My prediction? Don't be surprised if some more of those PA judges who have to run in retention elections get dumped in the next round of elections; let's hope that the voters don't toss the good ones out with the bad, which is a risk in states with retention elections. Earlier. Court of Judicial Discipline says judge broke law (The Daily Judge 06.28.2009). Update. Inquirer editorial calls decision 'appalling' & says that 'part-time criminal activity' by a judge 'is now apparently OK' (Philadelphia Inquirer 07.17.2009); Bar association calls for judge to resign (Philadelphia Inquirer 07.17.2009).

 Paris, in little black thing and stiletto heels, flirts with judge. It's trial time in a breach of contract action by producers against Paris Hilton over her alleged failure to promote a film in which she appeared, the memorable 2006 opus, Pledge This! The "news" media are reporting that Paris "waved" at the trial judge, Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno, as she approached the stand to testify, and that when the judge, alluding to her TV show's shorthand designation ("BFF") of "Best Friend Forever," said, "This will be my best case forever," Paris cooed in response, "You're my best judge forever." Among the 1,173 news stories covering this highly important news event, here's a link to one: Paris Hilton Flirts With Judge Hearing Her Case (Cleveland Leader 07.12.2009).

 Deputy guards judge who acquitted dentist accused of molesting patients. "After issuing a controversial acquittal in the case of a South Hills oral surgeon accused of molesting his patients, Allegheny County Judge Anthony M. Mariani was escorted home by a sheriff's deputy and his home was guarded last night...." Details (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 07.09.2009). Comment. The judge, who tried the case without a jury, wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the women weren't hallucinating as a result of the anaesthesia. Not to change the subject, but the allegations in this case remind me of the famous Seinfeld episode titled "The Jimmy," where Jerry, on a visit to the dentist, "discovers that they now carry Penthouse magazine in the waiting room" and then, while coming to consciousness after being "put under," becomes "convinced...that the dentist and his assistant carried out a fantasy while he was under." Details (NYT TV section summary of episode).

 Did lawyers slap, manhandle judge? "A trial court judge was on Wednesday allegedly slapped and manhandled by a group of lawyers at a district court here, sparking strong protest from judicial officers' association which demanded security and action against the culprits. The Bar leaders denied the allegation of manhandling, saying it was just a 'verbal duel' between the lawyers and the judge...." Details (The Hindu 07.08.2009).

 John Leguizamo says Sotomayor will 'steam roll' fellow SCOTUS Justices. "I think those Supreme Court Justices are just afraid of Judge Sotomayor. You can tell that they got panic in their eyes 'cause they know this Puerto Rican woman is going to come in there. She's used to dealing with Latin macho dudes. She's going to steam roll them. And they're terrified. And they should be because she's not going to take 'no' for an answer." -- Actor and well-known SCOTUS analyst, John Leguizamo (Parade Magazine via Star-Ledger 07.09.2009). Comment. "Listen here, Little Nino, my name is pronounced 'Soto-MY-YOUR' -- not 'Soto-mayor'! Got that!?"

 Board accuses judge of misrepresenting qualifications, harassing women. "The [PA] Judicial Conduct Board has filed formal charges against...Judge Gerard L. Alonge, accusing him of engaging in a series of 'harassing and improper contacts with females'...[and] misrepresenting his qualifications when he campaigned for office in 2005...." Detailed story (Erie Times-News 07.07.2009). Comment. Just allegations at this point. Sometimes judicial conduct boards get it wrong.

 Judges are directed to avoid public meetings, improper contacts. "A two-day conference on implementation of the National Judicial Policy concluded on Sunday with a directive for judges to avoid attending public functions and meeting members of other organs of the state...." Details (DAWN.Com - Pakistan 07.06.2009).

 James MacGregor Burns takes on SCOTUS. His new book is titled Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court. Emily Bazelon reviews it: The Supreme Court on Trial -- James MacGregor Burns takes aim at the bench (Slate 07.06.2009), and so does Michiko Kakutani, Appointees Who Really Govern America (NYT 07.07.2009). Further reading. For my take on the wider application of the gamesmanship underlying FDR's court-packing plan, see, my mini-essay The President entertained the Justices the night before he... (The Daily Judge 01.18.2009).

 The Leaning Statue of Edgar County. Sounds like a title for a best-selling novel/movie that'd sell well & play well with the legal secretaries who got all gooey-eyed reading/seeing The Bridges of Madison County. But, folks, this is real-life drama we're talking about here: the 118-year-old Edgar County Courthouse in Paris, Illinois, has a leaking roof and a leaning statue (of Lady Liberty holding the Scale of Justice) atop the courthouse's clock tower. Specifically, "The statue is leaning approximately 20 degrees off plumb because rain seeping through deteriorated seals has weakened the wood cribbing supporting the statue." The estimated cost? "[B]etween $1.2 million and $1.7 million to repair existing damage and make the clock tower watertight." The county might be able to come up with $500,000, but where's the rest gonna come from? The feds? Some foundation? A local fund-raising drive? Details (Paris Beacon-News 06.29.2009). Comment. I have mixed feelings about this. Lady Liberty, with her stereotypical Scale of Justice, ideally should stand tall. Why? Because Justice is not supposed to lean toward (as in favor) one side or the other. The "balance" ought to be "true." But, alas, that great Illinoian, 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." Perhaps it might serve as an appropriate metaphor for the "motivating reality" that underlies so many of our soothing ideals if we just stabilized Lady Liberty at "20 degrees off plumb" to remind us of the essential underlying motivating truth in Clarence Darrow's devastating conclusion. Or -- since I'm a great believer in preserving these grand old courthouses that are better than any of the ones being built today -- perhaps we should see this little crisis as a "teachable moment," an opportunity for all the good folks of Paris who justifiably love their courthouse to work together to ensure that for another 100 years both the courthouse and Lady Liberty will stand tall and straight, both ideally and really. Further reading. The failed campaign to save a historic courthouse from demolition (The Daily Judge 03.05.2008).

 Darrow. Speaking of Clarence Darrow, here's one of the "Darrow poems" written by his once-upon-a-time law partner, the poet Edgar Lee Masters, author of, inter alia, the great Spoon River Anthology:

This is Darrow,
Inadequately scrawled, with his young, old heart,
And his drawl, and his infinite paradox
And his sadness, and kindness,
And his artist sense that drives him to shape his life
To something harmonious, even against the schemes of God
--Edgar Lee Masters (1922)

 Kozinski is admonished over web humor. "A panel of federal judges admonished Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, on Thursday for being 'judicially imprudent' and 'exhibiting poor judgment' by placing sexually explicit photos and videos on an Internet server that could be accessed by the public...." Detailed story (LAT 07.03.2009). Memorandum opinion (PDF). Comment. Yours truly, Walter Mitty, is busy at the moment, fantasizing that his typically brave "defense" of Judge K back in the dark and stormy days of 2008 "turned the tide" in Kozy-Boy's favor and saved his judicial career. See, Sir Burton rises to defend Chief Judge Kozinski over porn postings, my in-depth posting/analysis that is immediately followed by "Updates on Kozinski mess" and "The Blawgosphere's take on Kozinski" (The Daily Judge 06.10.2008). See, also, 'New' allegations against Judge Kozinski by old foe (The Daily Judge 11.29.2008), The latest from those who are piling on Judge Kozinski (The Daily Judge 11.29.2008). Results of a Google search for all Kozinski postings on all BurtLaw-affiliated websites/blogs.

 So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, David Souter -- he flits, he fleetly flees.... With apologies to Oscar Hammerstein, II, as I imagine retiring Justice David Souter's parting from his pals at SCOTUS, detailed factually here in the NYT, I sorta picture the colleagues -- the whole beloved gang of them, including retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who I think still maintains an office at SCOTUS -- all singing the above refrain, with the women ("Sandra" and "Ruth") wearing specially-commissioned black polished cotton dirndls, and the boys (John, John Paul, Nino, Tony, Clarence, Stephen, and Sammy) wearing specially-commissioned black leather lederhosen. Further reading. C.J. Roberts' Letter to 'David' (signed by the eight other justices and "Sandra") (SCOTUSBlog); Souter's response to 'Dear Colleagues' (signed "David") (SCOTUSBlog).

 The culture of judging in PA is what? Samuel C. Stretton, attorney for Judge Willis Berry, has asked the PA Court of Judicial Discipline to reconsider its recent determination that Berry broke the law in running a real estate business out of his chambers. [See, Court of Judicial Discipline says judge broke the law (The Daily Judge 06.29.2009).] The Inquirer says Stretton, speaking of the culture of judging in PA, claims that it's "not uncommon for judges to have their secretaries type personal letters, run errands, and pick up lunch, coffee, or snacks" (paraphrase) and that the court's decision represents "'a radical change of philosophy as to what a judicial officer can and cannot do'" (Stretton's words). Details (Philadelphia Inquirer 07.02.2009). Comment. "Ah," says an imaginary judge in MN or just about anywhere else, "reminds me of the 'Golden Age of Judging.'"

 Annals of the 'Rule of Law' -- did he say 'Rule of Law'? "Honduras's military acted under judicial orders in deposing President Manuel Zelaya, Supreme Court Justice Rosalinda Cruz said, rejecting the view of President Barack Obama and other leaders that he was toppled in a coup...." Details (Bloomberg 07.02.2009). Further reading. This Day in History: 03.16.1988 Reagan orders troops into Honduras (History.Com); History of Honduras (Wikipedia); Honduras Judiciary (CountryStudies.US); Heather Berkman, The Politicization of the Judicial System of Honduras and the Proliferation of Las Maras (UCSD.Edu); Guide to Legal Research in Honduras (NYULawGlobal.Org).

 Annals of ex parte dining: Silvio and the judge break bread together. "Silvio Berlusconi has been caught up in a fresh scandal after it emerged that he had dinner with a judge who will rule on whether the law which gives the prime minister immunity from criminal prosecution should be allowed...." Details (UK Telegraph 07.02.2009). Pictures of Berlusconi's women (UK Telegraph).

 Annals of judges as parents/grandparents. "Accused of altering records in a case involving her grandson and using 'indecorous language and behavior' toward a police officer, a district judge[, Susan E. McEwen,] faces formal charges before a state disciplinary board...." Details (Philadelphia Inquirer 06.30.2009). The complaint isn't online as of today, 07.01, but here's where the link will be when the Board updates its site. Earlier. Judges as parents/grandparents -- or, when judges are asleep at home (The Daily Judge 12.08.2007).

 Those cleverly-worded constitutional amendment ballot titles and summaries. Twice in a week now a judge has struck down, as "insufficient and unfair," ballot summaries prepared by the MO Secretary of State for proposed constitutional amendments. Details (K.C. Star 06.30.2009). Comments. a) I have no way of knowing where the bona fides lie in this dispute. Suffice it to say, proponents of a constitutional amendment elsewhere often try to sugar-coat what they're proposing. Say, for example, a self-styled reform group wants to persuade voters in a state like MN to do away with real judicial selection elections and replace them with fake one-candidate retention elections. Such a group might argue for a ballot title and summary that style the proposed changes as "merit selection" followed by periodic "elections" on whether the selectees should remain in office. Opponents, on the other hand, presumably would want the voters to know that nothing in current law prohibits the use of merit selection screening and that the periodic "elections" proposed aren't true open elections with the possibility of challengers running against incumbents but fake Soviet-style one-candidate retention elections. Thus, the importance of honest, fair, detailed, and accurate summaries.... b) Sadly, in this day and age, we're seeing evidence that well-financed proponents of controversial amendments spend significant sums of money on public opinion polls to i) persuade legislators that voters want proposed amendments on the ballot and ii) determine which one of several possible titles/summaries "tests" the best. I haven't spoken to ii) but I have spoken to i), that is, to the issue of the use of advocacy or hired-gun surveys (as well as the use of stacked 'Blue Ribbon Commissions') as part of a campaign to get amendments before the voters. See, e.g., these postings/mini-essays: My views on advocacy or hired-gun surveys; 'Blue Ribbon Commissions' all over the place, singin' the same tune. Hmmm; Former GOP Gov. Quie urges MN voters to give up role in selecting judges.

 The WSJ's editorial 'take' on SCOMN's pro-Franken decision. "What Mr. Franken understood was that courts would later be loathe to overrule decisions made by the canvassing board, however arbitrary those decisions were. He was right. The three-judge panel overseeing the Coleman legal challenge, and the Supreme Court that reviewed the panel's findings, in essence found that Mr. Coleman hadn't demonstrated a willful or malicious attempt on behalf of officials to deny him the election. And so they refused to reopen what had become a forbidding tangle of irregularities. Mr. Coleman didn't lose the election. He lost the fight to stop the state canvassing board from changing the vote-counting rules after the fact...." Full editorial (WSJ 07.01.2009). Further reading. For a response to the WSJ's editorial, see, Edward B. Foley, The Rhetoric of a 'Stolen' Election (Election Law Blog 07.01.2009). Comment. This is a provocative editorial that, incidentally, reflects the opinion, be it right or wrong, of some intelligent, fair-minded people here in MN. I've never been a big Coleman fan and, although I'm a Republican (an RFLer -- Republican Farmer-Laborite), I voted for Franken (despite his disappointing campaign). That said, I'm not satisfied with the sad and God-awful slow process that led to SCOMN's unanimous 5-0 decision upholding the 3-judge panel's upholding of the canvassing board's results. As a policy matter, supreme court justices ought not sit on canvassing boards in cases like this: two of them did, the chief justice and an associate justice. Methinks Finley Peter Donne's inimitably cynical/cheerful 'Mr. Dooley' might have something pithy to say (with an Irish brogue) about the predicament a reviewing panel or court is put in when it's asked to review a canvassing board decision made by two supreme court justices (one of them the chief) in a case like this. Also as a policy matter, the supreme court ought not appoint members of the review panel: it did. And again as a policy matter, in a case like this, where two of seven justices (for whatever reason) cannot sit, SCOMN should add two court of appeals judges or retired SCOMN justices, chosen at random, to sit so that the litigants have the benefit of a decision by a full court: only five, not seven, justices decided this important case. That's a lot of "policy" but it's my opinion, which I'm not afraid to express. One other matter: Ought it take this damn long -- 8 months! -- for "the system" to decide such a case? C'mon, folks -- SCOTUS decided Bush v. Gore, rightly or wrongly, on 12.12.2000, a little over a month after the election. Oh, and by the way, I hope Norm Coleman runs for Governor of MN in 2010. I might even support him....

 Annals of Swedish notions of judicial bias. After A Swede judge ruled against defendants in a big copyright infringement case, The Pirate Bay Case, it was learned that the judge was a member of some pro-copyright organizations. Was that info enough to win the defendants a new trial? A Swede appeals court says not. Details (The Local - Swede newspaper 06.25.2009). Comment. As we Norwegian-Americans in Minnesnowta say, "Those darn Swedes! But ya gotta love 'em, just the same. They just can't help themselves!" Further reading. Swede judge in file-sharing case is accused of conflict of interest (The Daily Judge 04.23.2009); Annals of biased Swede 'judges' (The Daily Judge 10.01.2008); Blogging from a show trial in federal district court in MN (The Daily Judge 06.15.2009).

 Federal lawsuit challenges Alaska's 'merit selection' plan. "Two Alaska voters and one past judicial candidate filed suit today in federal court to stop the current plan for selecting state judges in Alaska. The current plan denies ordinary Alaska voters an equal voice in selecting their judges...." Press Release (James Madison Center for Free Speech 07.02.2009). Complaint (PDF). Comment. James Bopp of the James Madison Center for Free Speech, who won the historic Minnesota judicial free-speech case in SCOTUS [Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002)], is co-lead counsel representing the plaintiffs.

 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.

Our Motto - "Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat" (Horace). Loose translation: Does anything prevent telling the truth with a smile?

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