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October 12, 2005

Public Attitudes Towards Judiciary Quite Unfavorable According to New Study

Details here:

More than half of Americans are angry and disappointed with the nation’s judiciary, a new survey done for the ABA Journal eReport shows.

A majority of the survey respondents agreed with statements that "judicial activism" has reached the crisis stage, and that judges who ignore voters’ values should be impeached. Nearly half agreed with a congressman who said judges are "arrogant, out-of-control and unaccountable...."

The Opinion Research Corp. conducted the survey, calling 1,016 adults throughout the country in early September. Participants included 505 men and 511 women aged 18 or older. Due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, residents of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi were not polled....

Fifty-six percent of the respondents strongly or somewhat agreed with the opinions expressed in each of two survey statements:

  • A U.S. congressman has said, "Judicial activism … seems to have reached a crisis. Judges routinely overrule the will of the people, invent new rights and ignore traditional morality." (Twenty-nine percent strongly agreed and 27 percent somewhat agreed.)
  • A state governor has said that court opinions should be in line with voters’ values, and judges who repeatedly ignore those values should be impeached. (Twenty-eight percent strongly agreed and 28 percent somewhat agreed.)

Forty-six percent strongly or somewhat agreed with the opinion expressed in a third statement:

  • A U.S. congressman has called judges arrogant, out-of-control and unaccountable. (Twenty-one percent strongly agreed and 25 percent somewhat agreed.)

Among the respondents, younger adults were less likely than older adults to agree with all three statements. Those with a college education were more likely to disagree with the statements than high school graduates.

Only 30 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly disagreed with the first statement and 32 percent felt the same way about the second statement. The most disagreement was reflected in the responses to the third statement, with which 38 percent took issue.

Two percent to 3 percent responded "don’t know," and the remainder of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the statements.

The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points, at the 95 percent confidence level....

The congressman referenced in the first question is Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who made the comment at an April 2005 rally in Washington, D.C. The governor in the second question is Matt Blunt, a Missouri Republican, who reportedly made the comment during an interview with a religious publication in May 2005. The congressman in the third question is House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, who made the comment in March 2005....

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 12, 2005 in Legal Profession | Permalink | TrackBack

October 11, 2005

More Naughty Judges in Trouble

First it was the Oklahoma judge masturbating in court, now its the Kansas judge viewing pornography from his office computer:

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday ousted a county judge for viewing Internet pornography on his office computer.

Saline County District Judge George R. Robertson, 56, had been on the bench for 10 years and on administrative leave since June, when a judicial panel recommended his removal for violating the canons of judicial conduct.

Justices noted that the canons state "public trust is essential to an effective judiciary" and that one judge's conduct may impact the public's perception of the entire judicial system.

Robertson told the commission he spent countless hours as an elder of his church and had spread himself too thin between his judicial work and his church obligations. He has since left his position at the church.

He told the panel that adult Web sites provided a diversion over nine months. A county computer technician discovered the viewing and reported it.

What is it with these judges in the heartland?

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 11, 2005 in Legal Profession | Permalink | TrackBack

October 10, 2005

The Case of the Judge Who Masturbated in Court

Apt commentary here.

UPDATE:  A law student from a top law school (not Texas) writes:  "The 'masturbating judge' story you link to has, for a while, provided a new way of ranking nuttiness among judges.  When I've spoken with some colleagues about judges they've worked for they can now say things like, 'well, he was pretty crazy.  I mean, not penis-pump crazy, but pretty crazy anyway.'  Penis-pump crazy now sets a new standard for nuttiness for judges.  It will be interesting to see how many can live up to it."

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 10, 2005 in Legal Humor, Legal Profession | Permalink | TrackBack

Opting Out of the US News Rankings

Interesting essay by Colin Diver (Reed College's current President and former Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School) about Reed College's decision not to participate at all in the U.S. News college rankings.  Penn, of course, has taken the art of gaming the rankings, across the boards, to quite remarkable heights:  in both law and the undergraduate rankings, Penn ranks well ahead of where even its US News reputational scores would put it.  I always had the sense that Diver was never happy about the pressure to perform in US News when he was Dean at Penn, so it is nice to see that Reed has opted out so successfully.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 10, 2005 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

October 8, 2005

L&E Scholar Huang from Minnesota to Temple

Peter Huang (law & economics, securities regulation), who moved from Penn to the University of Minnesota not long ago, has now taken up a Chair in the law school at Temple University.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 8, 2005 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

October 6, 2005

Visiting Profs at the Super Elite Law Schools, 2005-06

Although law schools are increasingly hiring faculty without requiring visiting stints first, a handful of the very top law schools still have sufficient appeal and market clout to require those visits in almost all instances.  Now that law school website are updated, here are the visiting faculty at Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago for this academic year:

Yale Law School requires all those designated as "visiting professors" to pass through a vote of the full faculty, meaning that all those so designated are, to some degree, being considered for permanent appointment (though, in practice, the degree differs).  (This is also why at YLS one will sometimes see well-known senior academics at other law schools listed as "lecturers" when teaching a term at Yale--they haven't been through the official process).  Putting aside two senior foreign academics who are probably not going to move permanently and who have visited previously at Yale--namely, Dieter Grimm from Germany and Michael Trebilcock from Canada--the academic visitors under some degree of consideration are:  Lee Anne Fennell (behavioral law & economics) from the University of Illinois; Heather Gerken (voting rights) from Harvard; Douglas Kysar (behavioral law & economics) from Cornell; Tracey Meares (criminal law) from University of Chicago; Eduardo M. Peñalver (property, land use) from Fordham; Lawrence M. Solan (law & linguistics, statutory interpretation) from Brooklyn Law School; George Triantis (law & economics, corporate) from the University of Virginia; and Eric Zolt (tax) from UCLA.

Harvard Law School, unlike Yale, has a huge number of visitors each year, many of whom are filling curricular needs, and are not being considered for appointment (this is often true of those visiting from Boston-area schools).  From the outside, it's hard to know with certainty who is a "look-see" visitor (i.e., under active consideration for appointment) and who is not.  I know my colleague Philip Bobbitt (constitutional law, national security law and policy) is in the former category, and I strongly suspect the legal historians Mary Dudziak (Southern California) and Michael Klarman (Virginia) are too--but I would also guess a dozen others among this year's visiting professors are under some degree of consideration for permanent appointment.

Stanford Law School is more like Yale in having relatively few visitors, though they have, historically, hired permanently hardly any of those who have visited.  (Like Harvard, they also seem to have a small number of Bay Area "podium" visitors, i.e., those filling a curricular need.)  My guess from the outside would be that Stanford is quite interested in several of these folks, but, as with past practice, they are unlikely to hire more than one or two of them, if that.  The Stanford visitors are:  Christopher Kutz (criminal, law & philosophy) from Berkeley; David Luban (legal ethics) from Georgetown; Nathaniel Persily (voting right, election law) from Penn; Jane Schachter (legislation, statutory interpretation) from Wisconsin; Alan Sykes (international law and trade) from University of Chicago; and Timothy Wu (intellectual property) from Columbia.  (Perhaps, under a new Dean, Larry Kramer, their hiring practices are about to change.)

University of Chicago Law School is, again, closer to the Yale model than the Harvard model on visitors, though like Yale and Stanford, they have hired permanently only a minority of the visitors (choose "visiting faculty" in the search engine to see the list).  Putting aside the foreign visitors (some of them repeat visitors to Chicago), the visiting academic faculty are Michael Abramowicz (corporate, civil procedure, law & econ) from George Washington University; Stephanos Bibas (criminal law & procedure) from the University of Iowa; Eugene Kontorovich (public law, law & economics) from George Mason University; Anup Malani (health law, corporate law, law & economics) from the University of Virginia; Richard McAdams (criminal law, law & social norms) from the University of Illinois; and Frederick Schauer (constitutional law, jurisprudence) from Harvard's Kennedy School, whom Chicago has tried to recruit off and on for many years.  (Schauer will almost certainly not move permanently to Chicago.)

When time permits, I'll update this listing with info on Columbia and NYU as well.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 6, 2005 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

October 5, 2005

New On-Line Resource about Public Interest/Public Service Opportunities at U.S. Law Schools

Here.  Prospective and current law students will no doubt find this site very useful.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 5, 2005 in Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

October 4, 2005

Advice for those on the Law Teaching Market

Several postings (some with comments by others) from the other site may be relevant this time of year:  see especially here and many other items under this category, some of which are specific to the law market, some of which address issues that come up in other academic job markets as well.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 4, 2005 in Professional Advice, Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

October 3, 2005

An Interesting Canadian Perspective on Appointing Supreme Court Justices

Here, courtesy of Allan Hutchinson, noted legal theorist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, who teaches at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 3, 2005 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

A First? A Law School Faculty Blog...

...from the University of Chicago, of course.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 3, 2005 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack