May 29, 2009

Somebody Did Not Get the Memo

Sotomayer is described as a "terror on the bench" in this article. Her defenders claim it is because she "does not suffer fools gladly." This is a departure from the generally glowing articles on the nominee, her intellectual heft, and judicial demeanor.

My appellate practice experience is limited but I had the chance as a law clerk to spend a week at the Fourth Circuit. The best approach to a bad appeal was taken by a panel headed by J. Harvie Wilkinson. The appeal was frivolous, concerned issues that had already been decided in the Sixth Circuit, and never should have been filed. The appellant's lawyer argued first and made his pitch to a bench was completely motionless: no notes, no movement-the judges sat perfectly still, looked straight ahead, and said nothing. When the appellant's counsel was finished, his opponent stood up, addressed the court, and barely got out his name when Wilkinson uttered the first sound to come from that side of courtroom: "Counsel, let us turn to the question of sanctions" and for the next few minutes had an informal discussion with the appellee's attorney about the best way to fix sanctions on his opponent for filing such a baseless appeal. The opinion came out a few days later and remanded the case to the trial court for the sole purpose of taking evidence on the measure of the monetary award to be imposed on appellant's counsel.

Posted by LMC at May 29, 2009 07:02 AM | TrackBack