Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Judge Kozinski and Judge Cantil-Sakauye: SCU Discussion

Judge Alex Kozinski and Judge Tani Cantil-Sakauye discussed civility at Santa Clara University on January 12, 2011.

Some quick facts: Judge Cantil-Sakauye is the current California Supreme Court Chief Justice and was appointed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Judge Kozinski is the Chief Judge for the 9th Circuit. Ronald Reagan, a Republican, appointed him at the age of 35 to his first judgeship. Both judges are ethnic minorities. Both judges were appointed by Republican governors.

I think Kozinski looks like Rehnquist, but that's just my take. Maybe it's the glasses--they both seem to wear the same type of glasses. Below are some highlights from the SCU discussion:

Judge Kozinski, in response to a question about civility in discussions: judges should call it like they see it; sometimes, when people mention civility, they mean "toning it down" for people who disagree with them. [Do you see why I like this guy?]

In response to whether judges get along with each other: courts get along famously--"they keep marrying each other." [This is funny, but it also indicates that many judges are sheltered from normal society and the private sector.]

IP cases are the most contentious [cases].

On diversity: I "would not be comfortable on a court with all white guys." [Judge Cantil-Sakauye commented that she had no problems being on a court with all white guys, drawing some laughter, presumably because she has experience serving on non-diverse courts and committees. Judge Kozinski commented that when he went to law school in 1975, women already represented a significant portion of his graduating class.]

On Yale Law: at Yale, "they don't teach you law at all," he said, drawing laughter from the audience.

On televised court hearings: we've had them in my appellate court since the 1990's as part of a pilot program that eventually became permanent.

Judge Cantil-Sakauye: "My first client is the rule of law."

Criticizing opposing counsel and making personal attacks distracts from the arguments. When I see that, I flip over the page and look at the lawyer's bar number [which shows how much experience s/he has], because experienced lawyers don't do that.

She essentially confirmed that there had been a California Supreme Court judge who was senile, and his colleagues had covered up the judge's senility. However, she denied that there was a "code of silence," saying, there is a "code of respect, not silence."

On judicial elections and corporate campaign donations: bankrolling judicial candidates "makes for a suspicious foundation" and causes people to "wonder about the soundness of opinions."

On her election to the California Supreme Court during the contentious 2010 elections: she was concerned because of her unique last name (ethnic and hyphenated). She said, "Never underestimate the power of 'Mr. No'" in an election year where voters are fed up with existing political players.

On diversity: it "broadens the discussion." For example, is some behavior heinous or a product of the environment?

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