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June 22, 2012


Marc Fernich

Most, though not all, federal judges that I appear before are the smartest people in the room by far. And they're grossly underpaid relative to the high-priced lawyers that practice in their courts, some of whom are just empty suits putting on a show for clients that don't know the difference. Given these realities, it seems to me that a publicly funded junket amounts to a comparatively modest stipend that most federal judges -- and their families -- well deserve.

Leslie R. Weatherhead

I served as a lawyer representative to the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference for a few years, and found it one of the most useful things I did as a lawyer.

While I don't fault members of Congress for asking whether this or any other expenditure makes sense (I would personally favor a focus on wasteful incarceration policies built into federal sentencing law) I would urge any who might be interested in this issue to actually read Judge Kozinski's letter. It makes the important point that to decide whether the conference is worthwhile, you have to consider the alternatives, including not having one, or having some kind of video affair that will not create the same dynamic. Kozinski does a very effective job of justifying the choice to have a conference (which, incidentally, is specifically provided for by a federal statute which not long ago was mandatory).

As for location, the 9th Circuit rotates conference sites around the states within the circuit, of which Hawaii is still a part. It is in fact no more expensive to get to Hawaii than to many other places within the Circuit.

Booker T. Evans, Jr.

I served as a Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference for three years and the served an additional three years on the planning committee. A large number of the conference attendees are not government lawyers and pay their own expenses. Among the topics covered in the years I served included ways to increase efficiency; how to streamline case flow given the volume of drug and immigration matters that come before the court's in our circuit; methods for overcoming language and cultural barriers in a courtroom setting; and, ways to insure that civil matters are given the attention due them so that they are not put on the back burner given the heavy load of criminal and immigration cases pending in our courts. We knew well in advance where the conference was going to be held and planned for it. The conferences had to be held in environments that were accessible, secure and that had the capacity to support a large group of attendees. I found the trip to Maui to be no more costly than the attending a conference in San Diego, LA, San Francisco or Seattle. As for the social activities, one of the most fascinating, humbling and informative days that I spent at any conference was one I spent on a golf course with Justice O'Connor. Also, the opportunity to informally discuss how individual Judges handle their courtrooms along with their expectations, has proved to be an invaluable tool for me and other lawyers in our firm. I would urge the critics to attend one of the conferences to get a first hand look at the benefits received by all who attend.

B.J. Cutler

Alex Kosinski in dueling letters with Jeff Sessions and Chuck Grassley? Do not expect Churchill and George Bernard Shaw, at least not on the Senate side.

Do you love it when United States Senators bark about unnecessary, expensive trips for irrelevant topics that are too "lavish" in light of this period of "government (I will say this slowly) a-u-s-t-e-r-i-t-y?"

Perhaps if they complain to Justices Kennedy and Alito, they will get a better sense of what "defiantly unapologetic" really means.

Richard Friedman

Sessions is still angry he was rejected for the bench. Jeff: get over it.

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