Federal Judge Hangs Up His Blogging Robes

Last summer, Law Technology News published my article, Blogging From the Bench, in which I surveyed the fairly paltry number of judges who blog. In a subsequent post here, I added more blogging judges.

Prominently featured in the LTN piece was Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf, who last February launched the blog Hercules and the Umpire and quickly found notoriety when he published a post in which he declared, “A lot of what the Supreme Court does is simply irrelevant to what federal trial judges do on a daily basis.”

Yesterday, after writing 416 posts in the last year that generated some 425,000 page views and 3,700 comments, Judge Kopf announced the end of his blog.

Hercules and the Umpire has exceeded my wildest expectations. And so – it is time to kill it. In this forum, I have written all that I want to write and then some. It is that simple. My decision is final.

He cut off speculation that his reason for stopping was anything else. “I am not quitting because of ethics concerns,” he wrote, and he cautioned conspiracy buffs:

No one has given me the slightest trouble about expressing myself here. I am quitting voluntarily and without a nudge from anyone.

Judge Kopf writes that he will keep the blog up for archival purposes.

He also adds this observation:

This is a powerful medium for, among other things, making federal trial judging transparent and for trying to wrap one’s arms around the conundrum of judicial role.. I hope some other federal trial judge takes up that hard but enormously satisfying labor.

To that I say, Hear, hear. Blogs by judges can serve a valuable role in making the judicial process more transparent and in helping the bar and the public better understand the justice system. Let’s hope others pick up where Judge Kopf is leaving off — and that they do it with his same willingness to be honest and, when need be, critical.

By the way, see also Joe Palazzolo’s piece in the Wall St. Journal, Jurist Prudence? Candid Judges Speak Out, published just the day before Judge Kopf’s announcement.