Yesterday was the FBA-LA's State of the Circuit/District event, with special tribute to Judge Harry Pregerson. Judge Dorothy Nelson gave the State of Circuit address, noting that the Ninth is the only circuit to webcast video of all arguments. She also noted the court's new policy of sending heads-up alerts about prospective scheduling of oral argument, which has made like easier for lawyers and the court. Justly bragging about the Circuit Mediatiors, she noted that they settle nearly as many cases as some other circuits decide on the merits. And she noted that the notion of splitting the circuit has once again reared its head. Short reports were also given by the Chief BK judge, Chief Magistrate Judge, and CD Cal's Chief Judge King.
Then the program moved on to praise HP. Former HP clerk (now judge) Maria Stratton spoke on behalf of his nearly 150 law clerks, many of whom were in the room. She discussed many of HP's famous cases (e.g., when he was the Sludge Judge and also about the 105 Freeway). HP famously said at his confirmation hearing that he would follow his conscience over the law (which didn't dissuade President Carter, but might be a problem in today's environment!). She noted how he's always made his clerks jog (or, now, exercise) with him; how he's always on the phone (yes, he uses an iPhone), how he has a perfect anecdote for every situation, and how (when giving the oath of admission to lawyers) he inserts the phrase "I will never file an oversized brief." She stressed his devotion to kindness and strong writing, supporting women in the profession, and his humor (at oral argument, he'll often say to counsel who are too far away from the mic, "please speak directly into the breathalyzer"). He is know for his passion for humanity, rooting for the underdog, and striving to keep the government honest. He apparently instructs his clerks to find the law and build the right decision. After being presented with a big framed photo that included the signatures of all of his law clerks, he made a few comments, emphasizing that he feels good about the future of America--because women are going to take over!