Monday, December 22, 2014


Bloomberg/BNA US Law Week ran a profile of Judge Wardlaw last week at 83 U.S.L.W. 952 titled 9th Cir.'s Wardlaw: 'Soccer Mom,' 'Diva' and Champion of Judicial Empathy. The article references a Notre Dame Law Review essay she wrote, available here, and characterizes her as "left" but "pretty moderate."


“[P]ays attention to precedent,” but “feels sympathy for the underdog.”

Today's appellate tidbits from the DJ:

  • Brady v. Pitchess: Real Conflict or Fairy Tale, by Justice Hoffstadt.
  • Misguided Discounting of High Court Nominee, by Lorena Gonzalez.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Cinematic dissent from denial of review

Justice Willett of the Texas Supreme Court pens this must-read dissent from the denial of review.
And just as in the movie he repeatedly references, you'll enjoy it most if you stay with it to the very end....


Also of note: Lawyer who filed nearly identical briefs in 31 appeals gets stayed suspension

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Judge Berzon on Justice Brennan

On January 22 at the Biltmore in downtown LA, LACBA's Labor & Employment Law Section presents a dinner/MCLE program: Justice Brennan's Labor & Employment Jurisprudence: Will We See the Like Again?

Justice William J. Brennan, the son of a union leader, was a management labor law practitioner before he became a judge and then a United States Supreme Court Justice.  Judge Marsha S. Berzon, a former clerk to Justice Brennan and herself a labor and employment practitioner before becoming a judge, will discuss Justice Brennan's judicial contributions to the field and muse about how the level of labor and employment expertise among current judges and justices may be affecting the development of the law in these areas now.
Image result for judge berzon
Judge Marsha S. Berzon is a graduate of Radcliffe College and the law school at the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall), where she was Articles Editor of the California Law Review. She served as a law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., of the United States Supreme Court and for Judge James R. Browning of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Berzon was confirmed as a judge of the Ninth Circuit on March 9, 2000. Judge Berzon is currently a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the American Law Institute, and an Advisor to the American Law Institute Restatement of Employment Law.
Another program of note (all day on Saturday, Jan. 31 at the Hilton in Universal City): Rutter's Advanced Civil Litigation 2015, featuring Justices Corrigan, Edmon, Bigelow, and Simons, and a host of superior Superior Court judges and well-known practitioners.

3 Questions for the hiring of appellate counsel



On Law360, H&L's David Axelrad offer some client-centered advice in 3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Hiring Appellate CounselEvery good appellate lawyer should (1) be able to help build and preserve the record; (2) know appellate procedures inside and out; (3) carefully and dispassionately review the record to find prejudicial error; (4) research effectively and comprehensively; (5) draft a factually compelling story; and (6) present a focused oral argument.

But what are the 3 questions?
1) Will Any Appellate Lawyer Do? Answer: No, because some appellate specialists are more experienced than others, some specialize in different sorts of appeals, or have more experience in certain courts, and prices vary.
2) When Should Appellate Counsel be Hired? Answer: The sooner the better. "[A]ppellate counsel may be needed before and during, as well as after trial."
3) Is It Worth Spending the Money to Hire Appellate Counsel? Answer: Appeals can be expensive. The money spent on an appeal has to be balanced with what's at stake in the case at hand, as well as possible important precedential effects.

The Bottom Line: "Carefully selected, experienced appellate counsel can be an invaluable addition to both the trial and post-trial team handling any significant litigation."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Leondra Kruger is Active -- and so is the Gov!

The DJ reports that nominee Leondra Kruger activated her California Bar membership yesterday. (Here's the page: enjoy now b/c once she's a judge, the page won't provide as much information.) This report comes in the article: "In Unusual Move, Governor Speaks Out in Defense of State High Court Nominee -- Week before confirmation, governor calls Leondra Kruger 'extraordinary legal talent' despite youth." Yes, she has argued 12 cases in SCOTUS and was named acting deputy SG at age 34 -- but virtually her entire career has been in DC. Willie Brown had questioned why the Gov couldn't appoint an African-American in California; and Justice Sims criticized her seasoning. But the Gov counters that she is eminently qualified, extraordinarily talented, and a could make an important contribution to California law.
See also The Recorder's Brown Defends Supreme Court Pick from Detractors

[12/19 update: The JNE Commission rated Kruger as Exceptionally Well Qualified, as reported in The Recorder at Supreme Court Pick Gets Highest Rating by JNE Commission, and in the DJ at Controversial State High Court Nominee Gets Sterling Rating]

Also the California Supreme Court Historical Society's Fall/Winter issue is now available here.

DJ profiles Iconoclastic Maverick

Yes, that would be Judge Kozinski, former Chief of the 9th Circuit 2007-2014 and former Chief of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims 1982-1985. Fresh off his appearances at a Shabbat MCLE and attending the ASCDC judicial reception, yesterday's profile tells how he beat a speeding ticket in federal court back in the 1970's and "Shazam! When I grow up, I want to be a federal judge too." Naturally, the article then shifts to his current automotive litigation -- "still poking a stick into convention's eye" -- regarding his objection to the Nissan Leaf battery-life class action settlement. The profile is very interesting -- how could it not be? -- so be sure to read it all. (Another interesting tidbit: the article notes that there are 42,728 registered users of the 9th Circuit's electronic case filing system.)
Just for fun, here's a link to The Unofficial Judge Alex Kozinski Site.
Upcoming showings? On Jan. 12, BASF hosts "How Judges Decide" with Judges Kozinski, Illston, and Walker.
Alex Kozinski cropped.jpg

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Bill of Rights Day!


Celebrate the Day with these links: here and here.

Today's DJ runs:

  • "A love letter" from retired Justice Grodin outlining why he loves the Court of Appeals' recent opinion (by 1/2's PJ Kline) in People v. Buza.
  • "4th District Split on Criteria for Countrywide Mass Action: Split appellate court says hundreds of homeowners can sign onto suit against Countrywide," discussing the majority opinion by Justice Bedsworth and "strongly worded dissent" by Justice Fybel.
  • And, "A Curious Panel Selection Procedure in the 9th Circuit," discussing concerns about how the assignment of judges in the federal courts of appeals, and particularly the 9th Circuit, was not be truly random.
  • Here's a random-picker web tool that might come in handy!

Friday, December 12, 2014

25% drop in Supreme Court opinions

Civil opinions MIA?
Today's DJ offers Vacancies, Changed Priorities Leads to Fewer State Supreme Court Opinions, pointing out that the Cal Supreme Court is "issuing a lot fewer decisions," especially civil opinions, than it has historically. A decade ago, the court issued 63 civil opinions in a year; this year, only 33. The Chief attributes the decrease to court staff furloughs and turnover of justices, which decreases productivity. Another factor the article discusses is culture: CJ George had an unspoken policy of issuing 100 opinions per year; but the current Chief has no such goal.
We hope!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New outline format takes hold?!

Check out the outline form of this decision from Justice Rylaarsdam!
Judge Guilford's DJ article appears to be gaining traction... It has at least crossed the street from the federal courthouse to 4/3.

(P.S. this is the fourth anti-SLAPP decision to issue today. Must be something in the water... Also, does this new outline form make
"a significant contribution to legal literature ..."? [CRC 8.1105(c)(7)].)