Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Recovering the Story of New York's First Woman Judge, Judge Jean Norris

Mae C. Quinn, Fallen Women Further (Re)Framed: Jewels and Travels, Tragedies and Secrets, Judge Jean Hortense Norris

Until recently, few knew the story of Jean Hortense Norris, her life, lawyering, and judicial role adjudicating  cases of alleged “fallen women.”

 

[I]hus, it may have seemed unlikely when about a decade later Mrs. Jean Hortense Norris—who continued using her married name—managed to graduate from New York University Law School to become one of the city’s first women lawyers and a leader in feminist legal activities, including representing defendants accused of prostitution in New York City’s Women’s Court.  It may have been even more astonishing that ten years after joining the bar she was named New York’s first woman judge, appointed to serve in the same Women’s Court where she previously defended alleged wayward women. And they may have become most shocked of all when, a decade after that, she was the focus of a high-profile investigation for unfair treatment of the accused sex workers before her, leading to what has been described as another downfall—her public removal from the bench in 1931 for being “unfit.” Or, perhaps these things did not surprise those closest to her at all.

 

Previous scholarship largely focused on her alleged misconduct as a jurist and official fall from grace. My prior Kansas Law Review article, Fallen Woman (Re)Framed, sought to surface and document more about Jean Hortense Norris—including details about her work as one of this country’s first practicing women attorneys and actions as a feminist legal activist even from the bench.

 

This said, as noted in that work, its more holistic telling was not intended to absolutely absolve Norris as a jurist. Rather, it promised future presentation of at least some additional facts about the judge and her life—including evidence that Seabury and his staff apparently did not investigate or introduce. This essay offers that expanded record. Exploring two different avenues of investigation that were overlooked by Seabury’s formal proceedings—or any other it seems—as postscript, this additional account may raise more questions than it answers.

May 5, 2020 in Judges, Legal History, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

US Women's Soccer Loses Key Part of Discrimination Case, with Judge Focusing on Men's Entitlement

Not Even the USWNT Could Beat Male Entitlement

In the fight for equal pay, the hardest thing to beat is not a judge or corporation or a piece of case law. It’s an attitude. The real opponent is a fearful illogic that says to grant a single dollar to a woman for her excellence somehow comes at the expense of a man. That illogic, that unreasoning resistance, is written all through Judge R. Gary Klausner’s latest opinion on the U.S. women’s soccer pay discrimination case, a ruling that is a setback — for now — to the idea that gold medal-winning American women should make a merely equitable wage for better and more work.

 

All you have to know about Klausner’s ruling is that it leads with and lingers on the men’s national soccer team and what it doesn’t get. You stare at the page, mouth agape, wondering whether your eyes are seeing right. Why, you wonder, is Klausner going on about men? Where are the women? Where are Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd?

 

Ahh there they are. On Page 3. Halfway down.

 

As you read on, you realize that Klausner has not really ruled here. He has just stewed. For 32 pages he mulls with an ill-concealed agenda over the nerve these women had to ask for things. Things the men don’t have. Things that have nothing to do with the case.

 

If you had to summarize the ruling in a sentence, it would be this: The real victims are men.***

 

Klausner has gone one better than U.S. Soccer officials, who at least are up front in their sexist argument that the women’s game is inferior and so players aren’t entitled to more. Their counsel literally argued “market realities are such that the women do not deserve equal pay.” Former chief Carlos Cordeiro flatly admitted in 2017 in a public statement, “our female players have not been treated equally.”

 

Which provokes Klausner’s most offensive contortion of all. Just because U.S. Soccer officials admitted that women players are paid less “does not make it true,” he writes. 

See also Wash Post, Judge Rules Against U.S. Women's Soccer Team in Equal Pay Dispute

[F]ederal judge R. Gary Klausner, ruling in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Pasadena on Friday, was unpersuaded by the women’s legal case for that demand. Klausner rejected the U.S. women’s soccer team’s argument that it has been underpaid relative to the U.S. men in the gender-discrimination suit filed in March 2019.

 

In a ruling delivered late Friday, Klausner sided with the players’ employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation, which argued the claim of unequal pay based on gender discrimination should be dismissed.

Klausner ruled that the players’ additional claims of unequal treatment in terms of travel, medical staff and training equipment can go forward. A trial is scheduled to begin on those questions June 16

May 5, 2020 in Equal Employment, Judges, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 27, 2020

Review of Judge Diane Wood, Sexual Harassment Litigation in the Real World

Brooke Coleman, JOTWELL, The Real World: Reviewing Diane Wood, Sexual Harassment Litigation with a Dose of Reality, 2019 U. Chi. Legal F. 395.

Judge Wood is a beloved jurist and renowned civil-procedure expert. This makes her real-world take on the state of sexual harassment litigation a great read. Judge Wood reminds us that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has been on the books for more than fifty-five years. As the #MeToo movement starkly revealed, however, Title VII and similar laws meant to prohibit sex discrimination in the workplace and beyond have not done the job. This is true even when there is Supreme Court precedent that should be working. Cases such as Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (recognizing harassment in the absence of a quid pro quo) or Oncale v. Sundowner Offshores Services, Inc. (recognizing sexually harassment by a person of the same sex) have been in place for decades. But Judge Wood shows that in the real world, “even blatant cases of sexual harassment frequently fail” in our federal district and appellate courts.

 

To unpack why, Judge Wood surveys a set of Seventh Circuit sexual harassment cases. The cases are startling. First, lest anyone think that corporations and individuals are routinely slapped with sexual harassment lawsuits over “innocuous or misunderstood” behavior, these cases prove the opposite. The stories are harrowing. One female employee endured repeated sexual advances by her supervisor, including an episode where he followed her while she was on a walk and grabbed her. Another female worker was told by her supervisor that he could see down her blouse during her interview. That supervisor also repeatedly said things such as, “You know you want me, don’t you?” And still another male supervisor grabbed a female employee’s breasts and buttocks and, on another occasion, simulated a sexual act on her while holding a zucchini between his legs. In all of these cases and most others Judge Wood details, the female employees did not prevail.

 

Judge Wood explains that while her data are not comprehensive, these cases provide a unique window into how sexual harassment cases are handled in the real world. Sexual harassment cases are under-reported, and even when a court case is filed, it often settles. Thus, the cases in her survey represent the small number that proceed to summary judgment or trial. In many of these cases, the parties appealed on an agreed factual record.  This provides interesting insight. The agreement on the facts reveals what is actually occurring in the workplace. And the trial and appellate courts’ responses, as detailed in their opinions, provide a better sense of why these cases are unsuccessful.

 

What Judge Wood observes overall is that substantive and procedural blockades, combined with judicial skepticism of sexual harassment claims, render even the most dreadful of sexual-harassment cases dead on arrival.

April 27, 2020 in Courts, Equal Employment, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 29, 2019

Rediscovering the First Woman Judge, Florence Allen

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has some recent articles highlighting Judge Florence Allen and calling for her recognition.  Allen is colloquially known as "the first woman judge" as she was the first woman elected to a trial court of general jurisdiction (Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Cleveland), the first woman elected to a state supreme court (Ohio 1922), the first woman appointed to a federal appellate court (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 1932), and the first woman shortlisted for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Andrea Simakis, Before RBG, A Cleveland Judge Made History

Andrea Simakis, Women Lawyers, Judges of Ohio "On Fire" to Honor Judge Florence Allen

Allen is the subject of my current book project, "'A Manly Mind': Judge Florence Allen, The First Woman Judge."  The book is an intellectual biography of this famous first, seeking to exploring her ideas, motivations, and jurisprudence.  I've spent two years reviewing the historical and legal archives, and now am writing in earnest.  A shorter journal article summarizing some of the findings from the research and on Allen's life will be forthcoming in the journal of the new Ohio Legal History Project, an initiative of the Ohio State Bar Foundation.  

Florence Allen was an icon of the woman's suffrage movement as both an activist and an advocate.  Her suffrage work led to her inclusion as one of the inaugural members of the Social Justice ParkSocial Justice Park, in Columbus, Ohio.  Allen was a moderate, believing strongly in the nonpartisan nature of the judiciary, tempering her decisions with logic and reason, and searching within the system for a practical solution.  She prided herself on hard work, logic and intellect, and rejected society's limited role for women.  

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July 29, 2019 in Books, Courts, Judges, Legal History, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Study Examining Whether Women Judges are More Likely than Men Judges to Affirm Reproductive Health Rights

Michele Goodwin & Mariah Lindsay, American Courts and the Sex Blind Spot: Legitimacy and Representation,  87 Fordham L. Rev. (2019)

We argue the legacy of explicit sex bias and discrimination with relation to political rights and social status begins within government, hewn from state and federal lawmaking. As such, male lawmakers and judges conscribed a woman’s role to her home and defined the scope of her independence in the local community and broader society. Politically and legally, women were legal appendages to men—objects of male power (vis-à-vis their husbands and fathers). In law, women’s roles included sexual chattel to their spouses, care of the home, and producing offspring. Accordingly, women were essential in the home, as law would have it, but unnecessary, and even harmful and sabotaging, to a participatory democracy.

Building from two years of empirical research and examining each federal appeals court’s record on abortion and each judge’s vote on a particular case, this project studies whether women are more likely than their male counterparts to affirm reproductive health rights. We examined 302 cases across each federal appellate circuit, including the District of Columbia and the Federal Circuit. Our findings have both normative and sociological implications. This project tells an important story about the composition of the federal appellate judiciary and the slow climb for women, including women of color, within the elite branches of the courts. This is a story expressed in numbers and it reflects the historical marginalization of women within the law and the problem of homogeneity in the courts.

May 17, 2019 in Abortion, Courts, Judges, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Judges on Transnational Courts: Why Simply Adding Women is not the Answer to Judicial Diversity

Kathryn Stanchi, Bridget Crawford, & Linda Berfer, Why Women: Judging Transnational Courts and Tribunals, Connect. J. of Int'l Law (forthcoming)  

Calls for greater representation of women on the bench are not new. Many people share the intuition that having more female judges would make a difference to the decisions that courts might reach or how courts arrive at those decisions. This hunch has only equivocal empirical support, however. Nevertheless legal scholars, consistent with traditional feminist legal methods, persist in asking how many women judges there are and what changes might bring more women to the bench. This essay argues that achieving diversity in international courts and tribunals – indeed on any bench – will not happen simply by having more female judges. Instead, judges with diverse perspectives and life experiences, regardless of their gender, will make a difference in the substance and form of judicial decisions.

This essay makes two contributions to the dialogue about judicial diversity. First, the essay posits that the overall justice project would be better served by abandoning binary categories like “men” and “women” in favor of recognizing that there is great diversity in both sex (however measured) and gender identity (however expressed). Framing any policy discussion in terms of “men” and “women” will fail to account for biological variety, individual difference, diverse gender identities, multiple sexual orientations, and the significant role that law and society play in constructing these identifiers.

The essay’s second intervention employs an expansive view of feminism as a broad justice project to consider that multiple facets of a judge’s lived experience, identity and perspective inform decision-making. Bias and elitism in legal education and the legal profession occlude the judicial pipeline. Instead of carrying a flag for more “women” in the judiciary, advocates for more diverse courts and tribunals should focus on elevating those with the least professional capital: people of color, low-income people, immigrants, graduates of non-elite schools, professionals from rural areas, and people with non-cisgender identities, to name a few groups. Adding more women to the bench may seem to be an immediate solution, but it will not achieve the goal. Attaining true diversity will be more difficult.

April 25, 2019 in Courts, Gender, International, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Justice Ginsburg's Legacy and the Draft Case

Linda Greenhouse, Why R.B.G. Matters, NY Times

For the judicial icon otherwise known as R.B.G., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s past few roller-coaster months have included being lionized by Hollywood, laid low by cancer surgery, and most recently issuing one of the Supreme Court term’s more important decisions, placing limits on civil forfeiture, within a day of returning to the bench. People who know almost nothing about the court and can’t name another justice know her name. In a celebrity-saturated age, she is one of the culture’s most unlikely rock stars.

 

Yet for all the accolades that have come her way, I’m willing to bet that among the most meaningful to her is one that doesn’t even mention her name. I’m referring to the decision last week by a federal district judge in Houston that declared the current male-only draft registration system to violate the constitutional requirement that the government treat men and women equally.

 

Justice Ginsburg’s influence shone through the spare and refreshingly direct 19 pages of Judge Gray H. Miller’s opinion. He held that the old arguments against registering (and theoretically drafting) women accepted by the Supreme Court when it last considered the question 38 years ago no longer apply now that women are welcomed by the military and eligible for all roles, including combat positions, for which they meet the sex-neutral qualifications.

 

As might be expected in a case dealing with women in the military, Judge Miller quoted liberally from Justice Ginsburg’s 1996 opiniondeclaring unconstitutional the exclusion of women from the state-supported Virginia Military Institute. Any justification for excluding one sex or the other “must not rely on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities or preferences of males and females,” Justice Ginsburg wrote in one passage Judge Miller cited.

 

What really caught my attention was how, beyond the V.M.I. references, Justice Ginsburg’s pre-judicial career is embedded throughout Judge Miller’s opinion, National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System. It’s not that Judge Miller directly cited many of the cases that the young lawyer Ruth Ginsburg won, and in which she methodically showed the nine men of the 1970s Supreme Court how to construct a jurisprudence of sex equality. Rather, he cited the cases that built on the cases that relied on Ruth Ginsburg’s Supreme Court victories. Reading his opinion is like opening a set of Russian dolls, each one nested inside the one that just opened.

April 4, 2019 in Constitutional, Courts, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 15, 2019

Sexual Harassment Policies Adopted for Federal Judiciary

Sexual Harassment Policies Adopted for Federal Judiciary

The federal judiciary will change its response to workplace sexual misconduct charges effective immediately, the policy-making body for the federal courts announced today.

 

It is itself “misconduct not to report misconduct,” Chief Judge Merrick Garland, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, said in a press briefing following the bi-annual Judicial Conference meeting.

 

The changes clarify what behavior is prohibited, address informal methods to report misconduct, and provide for training mechanisms to educate employees on prohibited behaviors, said Garland, who heads the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference.

 

The changes stem from a June 2018 report Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. commissioned after sexual harassment allegations against then-Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski emerged. Kozinski has since retired.

 

Roberts’ year-end report detailed the steps the judiciary has already taken to address concerns in the #MeToo era, including the creation of a working group to address inappropriate workplace conduct for law clerks and court employees.

 

The working group made the recommendations implemented today and Garland said it will remain in place to “keeps tabs” on the judiciary’s progress and perhaps make suggestions in the future.

 

The codes of conduct don’t officially apply to Supreme Court justices, but they have previously said they consult and follow them.

 

Justice Elena Kagan said during a budget hearing March 7 that Roberts is currently studying whether to develop a code of conduct that applies specifically to Supreme Court justices. It’s something that’s being “very seriously” weighed, she said.

March 15, 2019 in Courts, Equal Employment, Judges, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Voters are Starting to Prefer Women as Judges

Male Judges "Close to Extinction": Why Women Rule Louisville Courtrooms

When voters elected the first judges to Louisville's new Jefferson District Court in 1978, only two were women.

 

Now, only two are men.

 

Women hold 32 of the 40 judgeships in Jefferson County — including 88 percent of the seats on District Court. And women have vanquished men in 15 of the last 17 head-to-head judicial races.***

 

Why do female candidates fare so well in judicial races? Some scholars say it's because voters often know little about those running and rely on stereotypes to make their choice.

 

Among them is the notion that women will be "more honest and have higher integrity" on the bench than men, said Brian Frederick, chair of the political science department at Bridgewater State University near Boston.

 

Male candidates pay a price because men historically have dominated politics and are seen as more like likely to use the system to enrich themselves, he said.

 

"Women are not seen as part of the system and are seen as less corrupted by it," Frederick said.

 

Laura Moyer, political science professor at the University of Louisville who has studied judicial elections, said gender is especially important in non-partisan judicial elections because voters cannot fall back on their party affiliation.

 

Gold puts it more simply: "I don’t think men vote for men, but women do vote for women."

 

Jefferson County wasn't the only place where women candidates for judge cleaned up at the polls in November, aided by the #MeToo Movement and a backlash against President Donald Trump:

Still, even though women account for half of all law school graduates, only about one-third of the 10,000 state court judges in the U.S. are female, according to the American Constitution Society.

District Judges, Jefferson County, KY

Women now how 15 of the 17 District Court judgeships in Jefferson County

 

March 15, 2019 in Courts, Gender, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Gender and Judging: Evidence from the European Court of Human Rights

Erik Voeten, Gender and Judging: Evidence from the European Court of Human Rights, 

Are women’s appeals for judicial remedies more likely to be successful if there are more women on the bench? Examinations of this question have mostly been confined to the North American context. This article evaluates this question in the European Court of Human Rights using a new dataset that incorporates both the gender of judges and applicants to the Court. Using matching within judgment, the analysis confirms findings from the U.S. context that female judges are more favorably disposed towards discrimination cases filed by women. Yet, female judges are not more likely than male judges to support rights claims filed by women on other legal issues. There is, however, strong evidence that female judges are more favorably disposed towards male and female applicants who allege physical integrity rights violations, such as torture. This is consistent with the attitudinal theory of judging. Thus, gender composition affects issues beyond those traditionally thought to be women’s rights issues. Moreover, the analysis reveals that women disproportionally file property rights claims, an issue that has gotten very little attention in the literature on gender and courts

February 18, 2019 in Courts, International, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Podcast: The Ginsburg Tapes

The Ginsburg Tapes

The Ginsburg Tapes is a podcast about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s oral arguments in the Supreme Court—before she became #NotoriousRBG.

 

Specifically, from 1972-1978, Ginsburg argued six cases in the Supreme Court.  In each case, she and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project brought constitutional challenges to laws treating men and women differently.  Ginsburg’s goal was to show the ways in which laws which seemed on their face to benefit women actually perpetuated stereotypes and held women back from full participation in American life.

 

For all six cases, Lauren breaks down the real recordings of the oral arguments.  The tapes allow listeners to be a fly on the wall, to teleport to that moment in history.  Listeners can hear Ginsburg make her case, and listen to reactions from the all-male Supreme Court.  You’ll hear from liberal icons like Justice Thurgood Marshall and Justice William Brennan, and conservative icons like Chief Justice Warren Burger and then-Justice William Rehnquist, as they grapple out loud with what the Constitution means.  In each episode, Lauren talks about history, effective advocacy, constitutional change, the power of the Supreme Court, and gender equality.

January 17, 2019 in Constitutional, Judges, SCOTUS, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Remembering Judge Patricia Wald, First Woman on the DC Circuit

Patricia Wald, Pathbreaking Federal Judge Who Became Chief of DC Circuit, Dies at 90

Shortly before she graduated from Yale Law School in 1951, Patricia Wald secured a job interview with a white-shoe firm in Manhattan. The hiring partner was impressed with her credentials — she was one of two women on the law review — but lamented her timing.

 

“It’s really a shame,” she recalled the man saying. “If only you could have been here last week.” A woman had been hired then, she was told, and it would be a long time before the firm considered bringing another on board.

 

Gradually, working nights and weekends while raising five children, she built a career in Washington as an authority on bail reform and family law. Working for a pro bono legal services group and an early public-interest law firm, she won cases that broadened protections for society’s most vulnerable, including indigent women and children with special needs.

 

She became an assistant attorney general under President Jimmy Carter, who in 1979 appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — often described as the country’s most important bench after the U.S. Supreme Court. She was the first woman to serve on the D.C. Circuit and was its chief judge from 1986 to 1991. Later, she was a member of the United Nations tribunal on war crimes and genocide in the former Yugoslavia.

 

Judge Wald, whom Barack Obama called “one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation” when he awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

January 16, 2019 in Courts, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Justice Sotomayor to Justice Kavanaugh: "I Judge You By What You Do Here"

Sonia Sotomayor: Brett Kavanaugh Part of Supreme Court Family

Justice Sonia Sotomayor in an interview with CNN's David Axelrod said that Justice Brett Kavanaugh was welcomed into the Supreme Court "family" in the wake of his polarizing confirmation process.

When you're charged with working together for most of the remainder of your life, you have to create a relationship," Sotomayor said in an "Axe Files" interview airing Saturday.

"The nine of us are now a family and we're a family with each of us our own burdens and our own obligations to others, but this is our work family, and it's just as important as our personal family. * * * 
Sotomayor said despite the contentious confirmation, she told Kavanaugh that the focus on him will settle on his actions as part of the court.
"It was Justice (Clarence) Thomas who tells me that when he first came to the Court, another justice approached him and said, 'I judge you by what you do here. Welcome.' And I repeated that story to Justice Kavanaugh when I first greeted him here," she said. * * *
Sotomayor, who was first confirmed to the court in 2009, also pushed back on the notion that Kavanaugh's presence cements a conservative tilt on the Court -- an institution she said is above "political terms."
"Conservative, liberal, those are political terms," she said. "Do I suspect that I might be dissenting  a bit more? Possibly, but I still have two relatively new colleagues, one very new colleague, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. And we've agreed in quite a few cases, we've disagreed in a bunch, But you know, let's see."
When asked modern political discourse, Sotomayor said too large of an emphasis has been put on differences rather than common "human values."
"We all have families we love, we all care about others, we care about our country, and we care when people are injured," she told Axelrod. "And unfortunately, the current conversation often forgets that. It forgets our commonalities and focuses on superficial differences whether those are language or how people look or the same God they pray to but in different ways.
"Those differences truly are not important," she added. "What is important is those human values we share and those human feelings that we share. But I worry that we forget about that too often."
 
And as she predicted, she subsequently joined Justice Gorsuch in their two-justice dissent. See Sotomayor Joins Gorsuch in Dissent from Cert Denial in Drunken Driving Case

November 19, 2018 in Judges, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judges' Subject Matter Expertise and Personal Ideologies May be Linked to More Gender Bias in Rulings

ABA J, Judges' Expertise May Correlated with More Gender Bias in Some Cases, Study Says

Judges' subject-matter expertise—and personal ideologies—may be linked to more gender bias in their rulings, according to a recent study of jurists and laypeople. The study asked respondents to read and decide how to resolve hypothetical custody cases and workplace discrimination claims with similar fact patterns but different races and genders assigned to parties. 

 

The study, conducted by Andrea Miller when she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the American Bar Foundation, surveyed 619 state court trial judges and 504 laypeople. A state supreme court—Miller did not disclose which one—provided administrative and financial support for the survey. Miller will share the results of the survey with the judges and help them rely less on their personal biases, according to a news release about the study.

 

“Judges tend to believe that their vast amount of legal training and logical thinking skills make them immune to these mistakes. This research is showing that judges are not as immune as maybe they think they are,” Miller, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in the news release about the study, which also examined race. The race-focused piece of her research will be published at a later date.

 

In the shared-custody hypothetical, judges were more likely than laypeople surveyed to give the mother more time with a child, the release said. The survey also asked the judges about their personal ideologies regarding gender roles after they made their rulings in the hypothetical cases. Those identified as supporting traditional gender roles, with women mostly confined to domestic caregiving roles and men in public, career-based ones, were more likely to give mothers more time in the custody hypotheticals, according to the study.

November 19, 2018 in Courts, Gender, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Women Hold All 10 Common Pleas Judge Seats in NE Ohio County

In my little corner of the world, 

Akron Beacon J., Women Rule in Summit County Claiming All 10 Common Pleas Judge Seats

Women rule in Summit County.

 

For what may be the first time in history, the Summit County Common Pleas bench – once all male – will be made up of all women after Tuesday’s election.

 

In the only male-female match-ups for Summit County Common Pleas Court, Kathryn Michael and Kelly McLauglin defeated Tom McCarty and Dave Lombardi, according to unofficial election results.

 

“The two men are going down in flames,” said McCarty, whose wife, Alison, is already on the common pleas bench.

 

These wins will mean all 10 judges on the common pleas bench will be women and, overall in Summit County, women will occupy just more than 70 percent of the elected judicial seats.

 

“That will put us in the most unusual position of any other county across the state of Ohio,” said Michael, an Akron judge who ran for a common pleas seat for the fourth time.

November 9, 2018 in Courts, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

New Book: First, Sandra Day O'Connor

Evan Thomas, First: Sandra Day O'Connor (forthcoming 2019)

The intimate, inspiring, and authoritative biography of Sandra Day O’Connor, America’s first female Supreme Court justice, drawing on exclusive interviews and first-time access to Justice O’Connor’s archives—by the New York Times bestselling author Evan Thomas.

“She’s a hero for our time, and this is the biography for our time.”—Walter Isaacson

She was born in 1930 in El Paso and grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona. At a time when women were expected to be homemakers, she set her sights on Stanford University. When she graduated near the top of her law school class in 1952, no firm would even interview her. But Sandra Day O’Connor’s story is that of a woman who repeatedly shattered glass ceilings—doing so with a blend of grace, wisdom, humor, understatement, and cowgirl toughness.

She became the first ever female majority leader of a state senate. As a judge on the Arizona State Court of Appeals, she stood up to corrupt lawyers and humanized the law. When she arrived at the United States Supreme Court, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, she began a quarter-century tenure on the Court, hearing cases that ultimately shaped American law. Diagnosed with cancer at fifty-eight, and caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s, O’Connor endured every difficulty with grit and poise.

Women and men who want to be leaders and be first in their own lives—who want to learn when to walk away and when to stand their ground—will be inspired by O’Connor’s example. This is a remarkably vivid and personal portrait of a woman who loved her family, who believed in serving her country, and who, when she became the most powerful woman in America, built a bridge forward for all women.

October 31, 2018 in Books, Judges, Legal History, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judiciary Plan to Deal with Sexual Harassment is Not Enough, Say Attorneys and Law Professors

The Judiciary Has a Plan to Deal with Sexual Harassment. Law Students, Former Clerks, and Professors Say It's Not Enough.

The federal judiciary last month proposed a series of changes to its internal rules on sexual harassment and how the courts respond to complaints against judges. Former law clerks, ethics experts, and law students say they don’t go far enough.

 

The courts have been grappling with how best to police themselves in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against former prominent federal appeals judge Alex Kozinski, who resigned in December after a number of his former clerks accused him of inappropriate behavior. The proposed rules changes include requiring judges to report misconduct by their colleagues — and making it a disciplinable offense not to — adding stronger language defining and condemning harassment, and making clear that rules about court confidentiality don’t prohibit employees from reporting misconduct.

 

In the federal courts, judges run the discipline process, including handling sexual misconduct complaints against their colleagues. The #MeToo movement presents the latest test of whether these systems are strong enough to hold federal judges with lifetime tenure accountable and protect those working alongside them. (There is no binding code of conduct or disciplinary process for the US Supreme Court.)

 

At a public hearing Tuesday, witnesses testified that the draft changes were a good first attempt, but needed to be stronger and more specific. Kendall Turner and Jaime Santos, lawyers who have led a group of former federal law clerks pushing for reforms, testified that the judiciary should be more transparent about complaints against judges and how they’re resolved, bring in outside investigators to handle certain complaints, and do more to involve victims in the process.

 

Renee Knake, a legal ethics expert at the University of Houston Law Center, proposed adding a prohibition on consensual romantic relationships between judges and clerks and other employees, saying it would remove the risk of unwanted overtures and situations where a clerk or court employee felt pressured to agree to a date. She noted many law schools have similar policies. Knake also pitched an annual anonymous survey that includes past and current law clerks. ***

 

“No one should have to endure sexual harassment as a rite of passage into the legal profession,” said Knake, who told the judges that when she was in law school she was warned to avoid clerking for a judge known for mistreating clerks.

 

Carol Needham, a legal ethics expert at the Saint Louis University School of Law, pointed to proposed new language stating that judges “should” perform their “duties with respect for others, and should not engage in behavior that is harassing, abusive, prejudiced, or biased.” Needham suggested changing “should” to “shall” or “must,” saying that sentiment shouldn’t be “aspirational.”

October 31, 2018 in Courts, Equal Employment, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

First Woman Supreme Court Justice Announces Retirement from Public Life

O'Connor is a Pioneer Again As She Faces Dementia

Now, perhaps fitting of the pioneering tendency she has shown all around, the 88-year-old retired justice revealed on Tuesday that she is in "the beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease."

 
In the letter written from Phoenix, as she explained that she was no longer participating in public life, she again surmounted the stigma that sometimes comes with illness.
"While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life," she wrote in the letter released by the Supreme Court.
  
O'Connor, who became an influential author of decisions on abortion rights, racial affirmative action, criminal procedures, and an array of social dilemmas during her quarter century tenure, also has had a deep personal imprint on American life.

October 24, 2018 in Judges, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Merchandising of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

ABA J, Supreme Icon: From Shirts to Action Figures to Movies and an Album, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has Become an Unlikely Pop Culture Icon

On the website Etsy, which sells crafts and vintage items, typing “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” into the search bar yields more than 1,000 results.

 

You can buy a birthday card with the associate justice’s image and the phrase “small and mighty” written in pink. There’s also a tank top bearing her stern visage and “I dissent” written underneath. There are posters of her as Rosie the Riveter, peg dolls of her in full judicial regalia and even prayer candles portraying her as “the Patron Saint of the Supreme Court.”

 

If Etsy isn’t your thing, you can find a Ginsburg action figure on Kickstarter, complete with gavel, pointing finger and her “iconic jabot,” a frilly, fancy-looking collar perfect for making “fashion and judicial statements.” The initial funding goal was $15,000. As of September, it had raised well over $600,000. “She is a rock star. She is an inspiration. She is constantly fighting. She is brilliant and fearless,” the introductory video to the Kickstarter page states. “She is an icon.”

 

The items aren’t all kitschy. There are plenty of posters, coffee mugs and shirts featuring inspirational and even strident quotes from her speeches and opinions. One oft-used line came from an interview she gave shortly after Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2009: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Another popular one for product designers is: “Fight for the things you care about.”

 

That latter quote was from a 2015 luncheon at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in Justice Ginsburg’s honor. Oftentimes, these products will leave off the last part of Ginsburg’s sentence, which was “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” That outlook may explain why Ginsburg has become a cottage industry, generating countless products—none of which she has likely endorsed but has often been a good sport about.

 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is a music album inspired by her life story. There are websites and memes that celebrate her jurisprudence, her fiery dissents and her dedication to civil rights, gender equality and social justice. There’s even a recent documentary and an upcoming Hollywood film chronicling her long and storied career as a litigator fighting on behalf of gender equality.

October 17, 2018 in Judges, Pop Culture, SCOTUS, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

New Book -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life

New biography of Justice Ginsburg, out October 16, Jane Sharron de Hart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life 

The first full life—private, public, legal, philosophical—of the 107th Supreme Court Justice, one of the most profound and profoundly transformative legal minds of our time; a book fifteen years in work, written with the cooperation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself and based on many interviews with the justice, her husband, her children, her friends, and her associates.

In this large, comprehensive, revelatory biography, Jane De Hart explores the central experiences that crucially shaped Ginsburg’s passion for justice, her advocacy for gender equality, her meticulous jurisprudence: her desire to make We the People more united and our union more perfect. At the heart of her story and abiding beliefs—her Jewish background. Tikkun olam, the Hebrew injunction to “repair the world,” with its profound meaning for a young girl who grew up during the Holocaust and World War II. We see the influence of her mother, Celia Amster Bader, whose intellect inspired her daughter’s feminism, insisting that Ruth become independent, as she witnessed her mother coping with terminal cervical cancer (Celia died the day before Ruth, at seventeen, graduated from high school).
 

From Ruth’s days as a baton twirler at Brooklyn’s James Madison High School, to Cornell University, Harvard and Columbia Law Schools (first in her class), to being a law professor at Rutgers University (one of the few women in the field and fighting pay discrimination), hiding her second pregnancy so as not to risk losing her job; founding the Women's Rights Law Reporter, writing the brief for the first case that persuaded the Supreme Court to strike down a sex-discriminatory state law, then at Columbia (the law school’s first tenured female professor); becoming the director of the women’s rights project of the ACLU, persuading the Supreme Court in a series of decisions to ban laws that denied women full citizenship status with men. 

 Her years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, deciding cases the way she played golf, as she, left-handed, played with right-handed clubs—aiming left, swinging right, hitting down the middle. Her years on the Supreme Court . . . 

 A pioneering life and legal career whose profound mark on American jurisprudence, on American society, on our American character and spirit, will reverberate deep into the twenty-first century and beyond.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by [de Hart, Jane Sherron]

October 3, 2018 in Books, Judges, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)