So what's doing in the heart of vacation-time in vacation land? Here are a few items.
The big appellate news is the nomination of Superior Court Justice Joseph Jabar to replace Justice Clifford on the SJC. This warms my heart in that Justice Jabar has been sitting mostly in Kennebec County, and so is thoroughly at home with the wonderful world of 80Cs. The down side is that we will lose a good trial judge. I watched Justice Jabar one morning as I waited for my 80C appeal to be heard, and he was very good at the nuts and bolts of trial practice, which is not an easy thing. Justice Alexander had that skill, too – the ability to keep things zipping along while doing justice. I clerked for a trial judge, and know that this is a pretty rarified skill, and not always fungible in all judges. There was one new district court judge when I was clerking in Chicago, for example, who had come from the state system, and at least for the first part of his career when I saw him, was a deer in the headlights. He could not make a decision. This is not a good thing for a judge. Also when I was just starting my career, Richard Posner was appointed to the Seventh Circuit. For reasons we can discuss over a beer, he decided that he wanted to have some trial experience, and so sat as a trial judge on three cases. He was flipped two out of the three.
Good luck Justice Jabar!
We proceed apace to electronic filing in the First Circuit. There weren't any public comments on the draft rules, which have been tweaked in itsy ways. The training modules are simple enough for me to understand, so it looks like we are ontrack for the October opening.
Here's a news flash – in State v. Holland, 2009 ME 72 http://www.courts.state.me.us/court_info/opinions/supreme/index.shtml#mostrecent, Justice Alexander spends 32 pages explaining why it's not a constitutional violation not to have African-Americans on a jury in Maine. The answer? Because we don't have any. Maine and Vermont are consistently neck and neck as the whitest states in America, and this decision says African-Americans were only .7% of the jury pool. A startling part of this decision was the data on how many members of the pool admitted to prejudices against minorities. Sigh.
This decision could prompt a discussion of the proper and improper use of statistics in court, but we will save that for another day.