Posts Tagged ‘judges’

Harvard study: lawyers tilt left, judges don’t

A new study out of Harvard finds that lawyers in the United States lean left politically — though not nearly as far left as do law professors — while judges’ political views by contrast tend more toward the middle of the spectrum. An author of the study concludes something’s wrong with the judges. Oh, Harvard, don’t ever change [Adam Liptak, New York Times]

P.S. And in case you hadn’t guessed, lawyers are phenomenally active in the political process:

The study is based on an analysis of the campaign contributions of American lawyers, a group that turns out to be exceptionally active in the financial side of elections.

Of the 975,000 lawyers listed in 2012 in the Martindale-Hubbell legal directory, 43 percent had made contributions to state or federal candidates — including state judicial candidates — since 1979. That is about 10 times the rate of the voting-age population.

One difficulty with the study’s approach, as Liptak notes, is that contributions may reflect factors distinct from ideological leanings, such as economic self-interest. Certainly some lawyers have no terribly strong political views of their own but regard Democratic policies as more conducive to the prosperity of the legal sector or their own particular firm.

“Acting like children”: Toronto judge rebukes feuding families

“The parties do not need a judge; they need a rather stern kindergarten teacher” is just one of the “by turns sarcastic, exasperated, and downright hilarious” lines in this instant-classic ruling by a Toronto judge admonishing two affluent families living next door to each other to lay down their legal feud [National Post, Lowering the Bar, ruling in Morland-Jones v. Taerk]

“Why did New Yorkers decline — by a huge 61 to 39% margin — to end age discrimination against judges?”

That’s Ann Althouse’s question. (The actual measure on the ballot would have increased the retirement age for New York judges from 70 to 80, which does not go as far as the federally enacted mandate applicable to private-sector employers, which forbids the prescription of automatic retirement at any age at all.)

The state’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, calls the old age limit “outdated,” and Althouse replies:

What is outdated about thinking that older persons hang onto their jobs too long and fail to open positions to younger persons with new perspectives and experience with life as it is lived today? What is outdated about thinking that judges, cloistered and cosseted by the respect their office commands, lack accurate feedback about how well they are really doing? What is outdated about thinking that the judges, with their sharp and hardworking ghostwriters (AKA “clerks”), are unusually shielded from having their failing competence exposed?

I would add that while many advocates of modern employment law insist that we regard “age discrimination” as if it were somehow a phenomenon parallel to prejudice on the basis of race or ethnicity, and odious for the same reasons if not to as high a degree, I see little evidence that the general public has been sold on that proposition.

A Pennsylvania judicial ethics controversy

An attorney for a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice denies that there was anything improper about personal injury referral fees paid to the judge’s wife, who has also served as his chief aide over much of his time on the bench. Eight law firms are reported to have paid the judge’s wife referral fees; although most of the amounts have not been disclosed, one that was disclosed amounted to $821,000. Legal ethics expert Geoffrey Hazard said the judge “should not have participated in any case involving a firm that had been a source of referral fees for his wife. However, Bruce Ledewitz, professor of law at Duquesne University, said he did not think McCaffery was under an obligation to tell litigants about the referral fees.” An attorney for the judge “said the newspaper had engaged in a ‘slanderous campaign’ to pry into ‘Ms. Rapaport’s legitimate and proper legal business relationships with her colleagues.'” and said the law firm responsible for the large fee noted above had not had a case before the court. [Philadelphia Inquirer via Milan Markovic, Legal Ethics Forum; PhillyMag]

Judges who wear “Bad is my middle name” t-shirts…

…are likely to be bad news in more ways than one [Belleville, Ill., News-Democrat on arrest of St. Clair County, Ill. Circuit Judge Michael Cook] St. Clair County is adjacent to Madison County in the Metro-East area of Illinois near St. Louis, and shares in its reputation as a “difficult” jurisdiction for unwary litigants. More: AP today.