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Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Good to Know the Law; It's Also Good to Know Your Judge

There is a witty Twitter account called The Times Is On It, which could be about nearly any newspaper, really. It's about how newspapers sometimes make stories about things that practically everybody already knows. It's funnier when the Grey Lady, the most famous newspaper in the world, really a fine newspaper, The New York Times does it, telling a story that displays mastery of the obvious.
The folks at the Twitter account should have a field day with "Judges' Rulings Follow Partisan Lines," about how the political-affiliation backgrounds of federal judges appear to be related to their decisions. The occasion for this piece appears to be a book by Lee Epstein, William M. Landes and our ever-provocative friend Judge Richard A. Posner, which I hope to get to read.
I hope it goes without saying that if you are ever doing an appeal, you should familiarize yourself with the personal, political and occupational background of your panelists. In my experience, the most important help you will glean from knowing a judge's background is to learn what they don't know about, viz., if you have a criminal case, a white-shoe transactional or civil defense lawyer risen to a bench is not likely to be in touch with the practical commonplaces of criminality and law enforcement and criminal justice as a former prosecutor or criminal defense lawyer would. . 

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