December 30, 2006
Judges Estelle and Randolph of the DC Circuit issued an opinion refused to accept an amicus brief filed by seven former federal judges is the hot button Guantanamo detainee case. Why? The Judges violated an ethical rule that prohibits the use of the title of "Judge" in court by former judges. This is enough to chuckle. But it gets worse. Reporters interviewing the spurned judges collected a variety of hilarious quotes on personal spats. Judges treasure their reputations for being above reproach; this, taken to extreme (as is done by some who filed the brief) approaches arrogance and moral superiority. So such a rebuff really stings. Several of the rebuffed Judges responded in pique before they came to their senses and admitted a technical mistake. Judge Mikva, for example, said that the sitting judges are just made because he stopped them (when he was Chief Judge on the court) from taking personal junkets to conferences. Other comments also spilled out.
I love it when the veil lifts on the judiciary occasionally. Judges are human and not the best of the humans to boot. We are fortunate to have a judicial system that can operate successfully with average folks on the bench, doing average things.
There was a dissent by Judge Rogers who stated that Judges acting on their own behalf, as opposed to representing other clients, could use the title. This brings to mind another use of the well- worn "a person who is her own lawyer has a fool for a client" saying.
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