The Green Bag, billed as an entertaining journal of law, today announced the results of its annual "exemplary legal writing" contest, and none of the winners are among the nine justices of the Supreme Court.
To be fair, none of the justices were nominated in the main category of "court opinions," but four were candidates in the "concurrences and dissents" category.
Instead, the winners were: Judges Frank Easterbrook and Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit for their majority and dissenting opinions in Bodum USA v. La Cafetiere, a "trade dress" decision that delved into French law; the 9th Circuit's Alex Kozinski; federal trial judges John Gleeson (Eastern District of New York) and John Kane (District of Colorado); and Minnesota appellate judge Kevin Ross.
Kozinski won for a heated dissent in United States v. Pineda-Moreno, a Fourth Amendment search case in which Kozinski declared, "1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last."
Ross won for his decision in Minnesota v. Wiggins, a novel case testing the constitutionality of a police search in which the officer ordered a suspect to raise his hands overhead, then pulled up his pants, which had dropped to knee level. In the process, the officer felt a gun in the suspect's pocket and made an arrest. Even given the "baggy-pants fashion trend," the judge wrote, the officer was justified in hitching them up from knee-level for the sake of decency.
In the non-judicial category of books, Harvard Law School dean Martha Minow won for her book In Brown's Wake, as did Jack Rakove for Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America, and John Langbein, Renee Lerner and Bruce Smith for History of the Common Law: The Development of Anglo-American Legal Institutions.
Journalistic offerings that won included Jeffrey Toobin's New Yorker profile of Justice Stephen Breyer, Without a Paddle; Jeffrey Rosen's New Republic article Roberts versus Roberts; and Nina Totenberg's NPR tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's late husband Martin. The full list of winners has been posted on Green Bag's main Web page. (Disclosure: The author of this post is one of the large number of unpaid judges for this contest.)