New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has a particular niche among state courts: it’s liberal on many matters, as suits the state’s politics, but over the years has tended to take care that its commercial law is relatively predictable and efficient from a business perspective, since it would rather not risk tempting the state’s huge business sector to flee to other jurisdictions. With two vacancies on the court, Gov. Andrew Cuomo now has a chance to confirm the court’s historic path, or set it on a different one. [Lawrence Cunningham]
“Behold the power of incumbency,” including Judge Cynthia Brim’s successful campaign to retain her $182,000/year job; her “18-year tenure,” as the Chicago Tribune puts it with wry understatement, “has been marked by controversy.” [Above the Law]
I had the honor of moderating a debate at Cato on Thursday between Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, author most recently of Cosmic Constitutional Theory: Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance, and the Cato Institute’s Roger Pilon on the proper role of restraint and energy in judicial protection of constitutional liberty. It was a scintillating discussion and you can watch it above, or at this Cato link.
Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein’s smear job on D.C. Circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh over an environmental ruling shouldn’t go unanswered, and thanks to Ed Whelan at NRO it hasn’t.
The good, the bad, and the beyond belief:
- “Ten Commandments” judge no favorite with business defendants: “Trial lawyers putting their campaign cash behind Roy Moore for Alabama chief justice” [Birmingham News via Charlie Mahtesian, Politico; same thing twelve years ago]
- From James Taranto, a brief history of Supreme Court leaks [WSJ "Best of the Web," mentions my Daily op-ed]
- Pennsylvania: Judge’s swearing-in ceremony “was filled with appreciation to those who helped him get elected, including some convicted felons” [Judges on Merit; Walter Phillips, Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Roberts just carrying forward the Frankfurter-Bickel-Bork tradition of judicial deference? [Steven Teles, Carrie Severino, further Teles] Ted Olson on just-finished Supreme Court term [FedSoc and video]
- Columnist-suing attorney doesn’t lack funding in race for appellate judgeship in Illinois’ Metro-East [Chamber-backed Madison County Record]
- Study: SCOTUS Justices time their resignations depending on political party of President [James Lindgren, Volokh]
- Alameda County judge charged with elder theft, perjury [The Recorder]
- Profile of 5th Circuit’s Edith Jones; law wasn’t her first career choice, and Cornell riots influenced her path [Susanna Dokupil, IWF]
My new opinion piece on the ObamaCare decision and its leaks. It’s the first thing I’ve written for The Daily, the iPad-native news launch. Earlier coverage of NFIB v. Sebelius/the Health Care Cases here, here, here, here, here, etc.
The Texas Supreme Court has sent back for further adjudication a controversy in which two newspapers had failed to win a summary judgment motion in a libel case filed against them. It took judicial notice that the trial judge in the case had taken a plea bargain on racketeering charges that included having accepted a $8,000 bribe to rule against the newspapers on the motion [ABA Journal]
Sinking deeper into substance abuse, a prominent Tennessee judge spins ever further out of control. How long does it take before he’s removed and the public alerted to his problem? Way too long for comfort [Knoxville News Sentinel]
The defense says a new trial is warranted by an Ontario judge’s advice to jurors that the presumption of innocence “is only defeated if, and when, Crown counsel has satisfied you beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Guilty – I’m sorry, that Mr. Wilson – is guilty of the crime charged.” [Globe and Mail]
Yes, media coverage does affect the outcome of court cases, and here are some of the ways [Andrew Trask]
The disclosure of a Pennsylvania judge’s email to interested parties in a politically charged redistricting case may have stalled his hopes for advancement to the federal bench. [The Legal Intelligencer]
A Kentucky judge’s colorfully worded order is grist for my latest post at Cato.
“… that a lawyer’s participation makes judicial proceedings more fair, not less fair.” So should we be shocked that the U.S. Supreme Court does not partake of this article of faith? [earlier on Turner v. Rogers and Civil Gideon] Related: Are we sure we want judges who are “great lawyers”? [Chiang, Prawfs, Greenfield]
“Philly judges tell reporter he can’t take notes in court” [Legal NewsLine]
“…And wretches hang that jurymen may dine.” And now there’s even empirical evidence. (h/t Sam S.)
A review copy arrived recently and I’ve much enjoyed reading the first chapters. It’s discussed by Larry Ribstein, by Glenn Reynolds, and by Cato’s Dan Mitchell (with special reference to the problem of tax complexity). The publisher’s description:
Virtually all American judges are former lawyers. This book argues that these lawyer-judges instinctively favor the legal profession in their decisions and that this bias has far-reaching and deleterious effects on American law. There are many reasons for this bias, some obvious and some subtle. Fundamentally, it occurs because – regardless of political affiliation, race, or gender – every American judge shares a single characteristic: a career as a lawyer. This shared background results in the lawyer-judge bias. The book begins with a theoretical explanation of why judges naturally favor the interests of the legal profession and follows with case law examples from diverse areas, including legal ethics, criminal procedure, constitutional law, torts, evidence, and the business of law. The book closes with a case study of the Enron fiasco, an argument that the lawyer-judge bias has contributed to the overweening complexity of American law, and suggests some possible solutions.
Earlier on Barton’s book, including a video, here.