Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

With apologies to Howard Bashman, who provides a great and good service with his "20 Questions for the Appellate Judge" series (which if you haven't been reading, you should be), I can't resist a parody.

Thus: 20 Questions for an Incompetent and Largely Unqualified Appellate Judge

1. What are your most favorite and least favorite aspects of being a federal appellate judge?

My favorite is that I don't have to wear anything under my robe. My least favorite is that neither does my court stenographer, and she is not a handsome woman.

2. Identify the one federal or state court judge, living or dead, whom you admire the most and explain why.

That would have to be Judge Reinhold. His performances in Beverley Hills Cop I, II, and III demonstrated true comic genius. In addition, his appearances as "Dr. Crawford" in a recent series of episodes of the hit sitcom, "The King of Queens" have reaffirmed my belief that the sitcom will never die, not when there are comic masters like Judge Reinhold employing their craft. His role in the 1999 direct-to-video "My Brother The Pig" is a genuine masterpiece of modern cinematic acting.

3. How did you come to President Clinton's attention as a potential nominee to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit?

It was actually President Millard Fillmore who nominated me to the court, back in 1852. We had met over a game of checkers in the old Central Park on the island of Manhattan (when it was still New Amsterdam). My ability to survive on three checkers a day, despite a case of malaria, impressed the future President, and as soon as there was an opening on the court, I was his first choice.

4. Seventh Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner has described his own judicial philosophy as "pragmatic." How would you describe your judicial philosophy, and what sort of cases do you find the most difficult to decide?

That's a hard question, mostly because I have no idea what the word "pragmatic" means. Nevertheless, I will press on with my answer. I'd say the best word you could use to describe my judicial philosophy is "cool." I try very hard to keep my personal grooming habits up to date, and my street slang appropriate for the era. It's very important to me that the crininals see me as an accessible, friendly judge, who understands the modern world they live in, and all the dangers electricity has introduced to our industrializing society.

5. The U.S. Senate's consideration of your nomination to the Tenth Circuit did not proceed to confirmation as rapidly or smoothly as did the federal appellate court nominations of others made at that time. What do you recall, positively or negatively, about your confirmation process?

I recall very little, due to my inebriated nature during most of that year. I do remember an incident with Senator Arlen Specter, a baton, and a pair of oversized sunglasses that I'd rather not relive. It was a traumatic time for us all, especially with the Nikkei Index falling as dramatically as it did, and the state of Wyoming seceding from the union.

6. You publicly criticized President Clinton and his administration for failing to change the national bird from the bald eagle to the ferret. Especially considering the ferret is not even a bird, such public criticism of a sitting President is unusual coming from a federal judge. In retrospect, do you believe you acted appropriately?

No, I don't. I regret my actions tremendously. I was under the impression the ferret was a bird after a long weekend spent in the country playing shuffleboard. In retrospect, I would have asked that we replace the national flower with poison ivy, since it has long been my opinion that all poison ivy needs is some tender love and affection, and then it wouldn't feel the need to be so poisonous. I thank you for asking that difficult question and letting me clear up the record once and for all.

7. If you could reverse or alter the outcome of any single U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which ruling would you select and why?

The U.S. Supreme Court? Is that the one with Justice Rehnquist, or the one with the animals? I always get it confused with Pet Court on the Animal Planet. In any event, assuming I've got the right court in mind, I would have to say that I would reverse Marbury v. Madison, because I'm really not sure I trust judges to be "interpreting" the decisions of the other branches of government, especially since I've never seen a copy of this mysterious "Constitution" people are always talking about.

8. What qualities do you look for in deciding whom to hire as a law clerk, and are there any sorts of candidates you wish were applying but haven?t been?

I look for students who have criminal records. Seriously. I believe that experience in prison, especially for first-degree murder, gives my clerks the ability to better understand the plight of the defendants in the cases I try, and also gives me the flexibility to use them to bring a more "creative" end to cases I find it difficult to decide. The best clerk I've ever had in fact was in the middle of serving four consecutive life terms when I brought him on for a season. I barely had to write any opinions that year. The parties just kept disappearing. It was one of the most rewarding years of my career. I wish more convicted rapists would apply.

9. A reporter who covers the Tenth Circuit advises me that you often wear headphones while hearing cases. Is the reporter correct as a factual matter?

Yes. I enjoy listening to the sweet sounds of the Eurythmics while counsel argues its case. It helps explain why most of my questioning from the bench makes no sense.

10. What is your view concerning whether the Ninth Circuit should be split into two or more circuits, and how do you respond to the reasons favoring a split that others have raised?

I fully support any opportunity my colleagues might have to move up in the pecking order. If splitting the ninth circuit, would allow some of those judges to be promoted to the eighth circuit, or even the seventh circuit, and open up a spot for me to be promoted to the ninth circuit, I am all in favor. I believe we've been too slow to promote those judges who everyone acknowledges are excellent to better and better circuits. My good friend on the Third Circuit should at least be on the Second Circuit, if not the First Circuit. I believe we should create the strongest bench we can, for when we go up against the Canadian judges in softball games.

11. You are considered one of the foremost experts on few if any aspects of the law. What has caused your profound lack of intellectual curiosity?

It's just one of my trademarks. I appreciate the compliment.

12. In December 1994, Highlights magazine published a profile of you. Were you pleased with how that turned out, and did the profile contain anything about you that you found to be incorrect or misleading?

I believe that I am closer to Gallant than to Goofus, and I resented the mischaracterization. Also, I only found four of the seven pictures they claimed were hidden in the lines of my robe. I think they should make the puzzles easier or children will get frustrated.

13. How did you happen to become Judge Posner's close friend, what interests do you have in common with him, and how do you avoid letting the major disagreements the two of you have had over cases from becoming personal?

Judge Posner always pays for lunch. I wish he would work harder and write more books.

14. Is the salary now paid to federal appellate judges too low? What should federal appellate judges be paid or, perhaps less controversially, how would one determine what the proper salary should be?

I disagree with most of my colleagues on this one. For the work I do, I am paid much too much. I think federal appellate judges should work for free, and be forced to turn to a life of prostitution to support themselves. I believe there are many women out there who would find me and my colleagues quite appealing for a night of unbridled passion at a reasonable cost.

15. Of all of the many opinions you have written since joining the Ninth Circuit, which opinion or opinions stand out as your favorites?

There is a warm spot in my heart for the concurrence I wrote in Brown v. Board of Education, even though I was never asked to decide the case. I hope my words, "what does it matter anyway since we all know grade school is a complete waste of time and energy," serve to light the way in the future and bring us to conquer new galaxies.

16. What is the best advice you ever received on being an effective federal appellate judge, and from whom did you receive it?

My cat told me to watch out for falling bricks. It has served to be effective advice, although I have never served in a courtroom made of brick.

17. In March 2004, you will turn 90 years old, thereby qualifying to elect senior status if you wish. What are your thoughts about when you would consider cutting back on your workload at the court, providing you with more time to pursue other interests?

As long as I get my discount in the courtroom cafeteria, and my handicapped parking space, I have no interest in lowering my workload to make room for the youngsters. Let them sleep their way to the top like I did.

18. What are the most significant ways that attorneys practicing before you can improve their appellate briefs and their appellate oral arguments?

I wish they would just forget the oral arguments and let me decide the case by spinning my verdict wheel, like I usually do. It's all a waste of time anyway, since I don't listen to a word any of them say.

19. If you could add a few more hours to each day, how would you spend them?

I would spend them trying to figure out how I was possibly able to contradict the laws of science by adding more hours to the day. I would probably have to do some research to figure that out, so I might end up typing it into the "Ask Jeeves" search engine on the Internet. I love Jeeves.

20. What do you do for enjoyment and/or relaxation in your spare time?

In the spirit of remaining neutral regarding cases I may one day see before me, I spend my spare time euthanizing the elderly, performing late-term abortions, burning crosses, cursing on the steps of the courthouse, defacing the flag, marrying other men, removing handicapped access ramps, and affirmatively acting.