Judge Posner’s new, self-published book raises eyebrows

Just days after retiring from his seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Richard Posner released his latest book, the awkwardly titled Reforming the Federal Judiciary: My Former Court Needs to Overhaul Its Staff Attorney Program and Begin Televising Its Oral Arguments.  The book is self-published, and apparently contains a significant number of internal memos from within the court.

The reviews are not good:

Continue reading “Judge Posner’s new, self-published book raises eyebrows”

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Brooklyn judicial elections take an even more dismaying turn

This blog has been closely following the Democratic primary elections for county judge in Brooklyn, New York, where voters were forced to choose between candidates approved by the Democratic party machine and a group of “insurgents” running on an independent slate. The election took place earlier this month, and the results are … flabbergasting.

Continue reading “Brooklyn judicial elections take an even more dismaying turn”

New poll shows that U.S. Supreme Court still enjoys widespread legitimacy

A new poll conducted by researchers at Penn State University has found that the U.S. Supreme Court continues to enjoy high levels of public legitimacy, notwithstanding the belief by many respondents that Justices should not serve on the Court for life.

The linked story contains additional information, including many comments on the Court from respondents.  Ignore the idiotic headline about “Trump’s America,” which seems de rigeur for all mainstream media stories these days, even if (as here) they have nothing to do with the President.  The poll itself it worth noting.

Federal courthouses in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands closed in wake of Hurricane Maria

The difficult and tragic hurricane season, which closed Texas’s federal and state courthouses last month, has now done the same to the courthouses in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  (A courthouse in Florida remains closed in the wake of Hurricane Irma as well.)  In light of the terrible destruction on those islands, the closing of a courthouse by itself is bottom-page news. But in times of crisis, courthouses are needed — both practically and symbolically — to assure citizens that the rule of law remains in place. Here’s hoping that the residents of all affected areas find strength, rebuild, and restore their communities.

The effects of dropping bail bond practice

Back in May, I flagged an interesting story about state courts radically revising the cash bail system for criminal defendants. The changes were notable in part because bail is a quintessentially American practice, and a classic example of the court system’s interdependence. In an op-ed today, Walter Olson argues that revisions to the bail system may also have had the unintended effect of causing judges to hold more criminal defendants in jail pending trial:

An early report in March by Kelsi Loos in the Frederick News-Post found that since October the share of Maryland defendants held without bail had increased from 10% to 14%. The Washington Post later reported that from September 2016 to May the figure had jumped from 7% to 15%.

Meanwhile, fewer released defendants are showing up for trial. The Post, confirming anecdotal reports, writes that the “failure to appear” rate in January was 14.5%, up five points from October. Failing to show up for court sets up a defendant for more-severe consequences down the road, which can include being held without bail.

At their core, principles of organizational independence teach that decisions have a wide range of ripple effects on all aspects of the organization.  As Olson notes, it is too early to say whether Maryland’s numbers reflect causation, statistical noise, or something in between.  But there should be little surprise that the decision to limit bail options, without providing other formal mechanisms to deal with moderate-level offenders, would lead to some noticeable changes in the way the system operates.

(Link may require subscription.)

More fallout from a heated Florida judicial election

In March, I flagged a story about Palm Beach County Judge Dana Santino, who was elected last November after running a particularly ugly campaign against his opponent, Gregg Lerman.  udge Santino ran ads suggesting that Lerman, a defense attorney, represents “murders, rapists, child molesters, and other criminals.” She was subsequently investigated by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, and admitted to violating two canons of judicial ethics. The Commission has yet to issue a recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court about Judge Santino’s punishment, if any.

In the meantime, there has been an interesting ripple effect. It turns out that before her own election, Judge Santino briefly served as a campaign manager to another Palm Beach County judge, Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo. In light of this fact, Gregg Lerman (Santino’s former opponent) asked Judge Caracuzzo to recuse herself from all cases in which he was representing a party. Judge Caracuzzo agreed.

Although requested by Lerman, the recusal now makes things more complicated for his practice. There are fewer judges available to his clients, which may lead to more delays in the administration of justice.

All involved insist that there are no hard feelings about the earlier campaign. But judicial elections have these sort of ancillary (and ultimately predictable) effects. At minimum, a lawyer in Mr. Lerman’s shoes might think twice before seeking a judicial position in the future.

 

Maldives judiciary suspends 56 lawyers without a hearing after they file a petition critical of the courts

Judicial authorities in the Maldives have suspended the licenses of 56 attorneys who signed a petition accusing the courts up not upholding the rule of law.  The attorneys charged the courts with hasty, closed-door decisions in cases involving opposition officials in the government, among other accusations of politicization.

The 56 suspended lawyers amount to more than one-third of all attorneys on the island nation.

Much more detail here.