Judicial Notice (02.05.22): Lesser White Men
Some tragic and untimely passings, a possible landmark libel case, and other legal news from the week that was.
On Friday, I took Harlan to his archnemesis: the dentist. The good news: Harlan has no cavities. The better news: we don’t have to take him for another six months.
Then today, Zach and I attended Harlan’s belt-promotion ceremony for karate. He’s now a yellow belt; consider yourselves warned!
On the professional front, in addition to writing two stories for these pages, I recorded an episode of Movers, Shakers, and Rainmakers. Zach Sandberg and I had our first guest: Monique Burt Williams, CEO of Cadence Counsel, a leading legal search firm for the in-house world. In honor of Black History Month, we discussed the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts of legal employers, both law firms and corporate legal departments.
I also spoke this week with Jack Karp of Law360 about the law firms that produce the most federal judges. Speaking of judges, we have lots of judicial news this week, so let’s get to it.
Lawyer of the Week: Ilya Shapiro.
As in Supreme Court nominations, so too in Judicial Notice: the runner-up often becomes the winner. And that’s the case this week.
As mentioned last week, Ilya Shapiro was hired as executive director of the Center for the Constitution at Georgetown University Law Center, before getting himself in trouble with this now-infamous tweet:
Objectively best pick for Biden is [D.C. Circuit Chief Judge] Sri Srinivasan, who is solid prog[ressive] & v smart. Even has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn’t fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser Black woman. Thank heaven for small favors?
After a public outcry, Georgetown Law placed Shapiro on leave, while it
decides whether to fire him investigates whether his controversial tweets violate its policies on professional conduct, nondiscrimination, and anti-harassment.
I don’t believe Shapiro should be fired. But I’m trying to be more pithy (in response to reader feedback), so instead of writing several paragraphs on L’Affaire Shapiro, I refer you to pieces by Bari Weiss, John McWhorter, and Michelle Goldberg that generally reflect my views, as well as this letter supporting Shapiro prepared by FIRE, signed by 200 professors.
In happier news from the legal academy, Priscila Coronado was just elected the first Latina president of the Harvard Law Review, as noted by Howard Bashman of How Appealing. Congratulations to her and to the Review on this milestone.
Runners-up for Lawyer of the Week—or, if you will, “lesser white men”:
Michael Avenatti was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for stealing from his former client, Stormy Daniels.
David Freydin made rude comments about Ukrainians, got savaged in online reviews of his legal practice, sued the commenters for defamation, lost in the district court, and lost in the Seventh Circuit—proshchavaite, counselor.
Yale Kamisar—aptly described by Orin Kerr as a “legendary criminal procedure scholar, the ‘father of Miranda,’ and the driving force behind the first constitutional crim procedure casebook”—died at the age of 92.
Edgar Cahn—a champion of legal services for the poor, co-founder with his wife of what later became the Legal Services Corp—died at the age of 86.
Rebecca van Uitert, managing partner of the Salt Lake City office of Fragomen, was killed in a car accident while on vacation in Hawaii. She was 45, and her husband Jason Howell, who was also killed, was 44. They leave behind four children—who, a friend of the couple wrote in one of many social-media testimonials, will someday “be able to read [these postings] and know how extraordinary their parents were.”
Judge of the Week: Judge Jerry E. Smith.
Judge Jerry Smith (5th Cir.) found himself featured in top stories of the week for both the ABA Journal and Law360, as well as a hot topic on Twitter. And he’s now the subject of a misconduct complaint by Fix the Court, a judicial transparency and reform group. Why?