Apr 26, 2013

A Quick Survey of Blogs Written by Judges

12 Comments · Posted by Robert Ambrogi in General

[Updated with new additions 5/13/13.]

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Kopf made national news this week when he wrote on his blog, Hercules and the Umpire, about the frequent irrelevancy of the Supreme Court. “A lot of what the Supreme Court does is simply irrelevant to what federal trial judges do on a daily basis,” wrote Judge Kopf, who presides and blogs from Lincoln, Neb.

As unusual as it is for a federal judge to call the Supreme Court irrelevant, it is perhaps even more unusual for a federal judge to have a blog. Judge Kopf launched his blog just two months ago, on Feb. 20, explaining in his introductory post that, having assumed senior status, he wanted to write about “what it means to be a federal judge on a day-to-day basis.”

Even as blogging has taken off within the legal profession, it remains rare to find judges who blog and even rarer to find federal judges who blog. Probably the best-known blogger on the federal bench — indeed, perhaps the only other blogger on the federal bench — is Richard Posner, judge of the 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago, who has been co-author of The Becker-Posner Blog for nearly a decade. Back in 2008, I wrote here about another federal blogging judge, Nancy Gertner, who became a contributor to Slate’s Convictions blog. She wrote just four posts. Now, she is no longer a judge and the blog is no longer updated.

There is good reason, perhaps, for this judicial reticence, as was made clear in a 2007 article on judicial blogging in Case in Point, the magazine of The National Judicial College. Judges are constrained in what and how they can communicate by both ethical rules and practical considerations, the article points out. The atmosphere for blogging is even chillier in the U.K., where judges were warned last year that inappropriate blogging could result in disciplinary action.

Given this state of affairs, I thought it would be interesting to survey just who, exactly, is blogging from the bench. From what I could find, the pickings are slim. I hope you who read this will let me know if there are others I have missed.

Blogs by Current Judges

Bench and Bar Experiences. Described as a blog “to record and convey the daily experiences of a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge,” this is the blog of Judge John DiMotto. He has been a judge since 1990 and has blogged since 2009. His posts tend to be of a general public-education nature, covering broad topics such as civil discovery in Wisconsin.

AJA Blog. This is the blog of the American Judges Association. It is written by Judge Kevin S. Burke, a trial judge in Minneapolis since 1984.  The blog covers a range of topics of interest to judges.

Judge Bonnie Sudderth. As the name reveals, this blog is written by Bonnie Sudderth, a judge of the 352nd District Court of Tarrant County, Texas. The blog covers the Texas Rules of Evidence. There have been no updates since November 2012.

The Magistrates Blog. From the U.K. comes this blog about the Magistrates’ Courts. Although the authors are anonymous, they are identified as a team “who may or may not be JPs.” A JP is a justice of the peace, a title given to the magistrates, and it is generally assumed that at least some of these authors are, in fact, JPs.

When the Abuser Goes to Work … This blog is written by a judge, but is not about judging. The author, Patricia Barnes, is an appellate judge with the Fallon Paiute Shoshone tribe in Nevada. Her blog covers workplace bullying, discrimination and abuse.

A Work in Progress. Here is another blogging U.K. magistrate, Trevor Coultart. However, his blog rarely touches on his day job. Rather, it covers personal topics ranging from faith to cycling to photography.

Contentandcarrier. This blog covers European electronic communications and media law. One of its four authors, Hans Peter Lehofer, is a judge at the Austrian Administrative Court.

Country Judge. Tom McCarthy, a Minnesota District Court judge for 25 years, launched this blog in February 2013. His purpose, he writes, is to “reflect on the people, cases and work that have made my judicial career interesting and fulfilling.”

12th Chancery Court District of Mississippi. This blog is written by Chancery Judge Larry Primeaux. It provides news and information about practice in Lauderdale and Clarke Counties. “So much in Chancery Court practice depends on the preferences and predilections of the judge,” he explains. “I hope that this blog will give you an insight into some of my preferences and predilections about practice in Chancery Court in the 12th District.”

Blogs by Former Judges

Judge Tom Talks. Tom Leonard, a former judge of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court, shares his views on current issues in workers’ compensation law. The last update to the blog was in August 2011.

Developments in California Trial Practice. This blog is written by Gregory Ward, a former judge of the Santa Clara County Superior Court. It covers cases and legislation relating to California trial practice. The last update was in August 2012.

AsktheJudge.info. This blog is intended to serve as a resource to help teens understand the law and their legal rights. It is  the creation of Tom Jacobs, a former juvenile and family court judge in the Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona.

Say What?! The author of this blog is not only no longer a judge, he is no longer alive. For nearly 30 years, U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer wrote a courtroom humor column for the Texas Bar Journal. This blog, published by the Texas Bar, keeps Judge Buchmeyer’s humor alive.

A Criminal Waste of Space. This now-shuttered blog was written by William W. Bedsworth, associate justice of California’s 4th District Court of Appeal. It ran from 2003 to 2010.

What have I missed here? Let me know of other blogs written by judges and I’ll add them in.

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