What just happened? September 2017 roundup

The month in a nutshell: Kenya’s judges render an historic decision, the President’s federal judicial nominations continue apace, Brooklyn judicial elections reach an ugly end, and two federal judges make headlines for attacking their circuit executives

The most remarkable news of September 2017 was the decision by Kenya’s Supreme Court to invalidate that country’s presidential elections amid concerns of hacking and other foul play. The Court ordered new elections within 60 days, but has sustained ongoing verbal attacks in the ensuing weeks. In a far less courageous or moral act, the judiciary of the Maldives suspended the law licenses of one-third of the country’s attorneys who challenged the courts’ practices and politicization.

Stateside, President Trump continued to put forward nominees for openings on the federal judiciary. To date, he has made 105 nominations, far outpacing his immediate predecessor. The nominations are sorely needed, given the ongoing vacancy crisis on the federal bench. Hopefully the Senate will continue to act on the nominations, at least providing the nominees with an up-or-down vote without unnecessary blue slip shenanigans.

Federal judges made news for other reasons as well. Judge John Adams of the Northern District of Ohio sued the Sixth Circuit Judicial Council and the Judicial Conference of the United States for requiring him to undergo a mental evaluation in light of his erratic professional behavior.  And (former) Judge Richard Posner had a shockingly busy month, resigning abruptly on a Friday, attacking his former Chief Judge Diane Wood in an Above the Law interview a couple days later, then releasing a self-published book containing a much more prolonged attack on Judge Wood a couple days after that.

And then there was Brooklyn, where the months-long circus of judicial primary elections finally reached its climax when a slim number of voters apparently decided that a candidate’s gender would be a better proxy for judicial skill than experience, endorsements, philosophy, or demonstrated ability.  Good grief.


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