The post regarding Shon Hopwood found its way to the New York Times in an article written by the highly regarded Adam Liptak. The article is entitled The Robber, the Judge, and the Case for Leniency. Initially, I am glad that Shon’s story of redemption is receiving attention. I am a (happily) chagrined that Shon’s story of redemption starts with my mistaken gut. But, that is not why I am writing this post.
In the article, Mr. Liptak, a wonderfully able reporter, wrote the following, “Judge Kopf, who sentenced Mr. Hopwood, also declined to talk, on the interesting theory that ‘such interviews could be seen as backhanded endorsements of the media companies’ requesting them.” (My emphasis.) I think Mr. Liptak was being kind.
When I turned down Mr. Liptak’s e-mail request for an interview, my return e-mail stated the following:
I have turned down all interview requests related to my blog which are generated by media sources that are run for profit. I have the perhaps goofy view that such interviews could be seen as backhanded endorsements of the media companies by a judge. So, with respect, I respectfully decline your kind invitation. If it makes you feel any better, I turned down the Huff Post too. (That was sardonic!)
All the best.
In his article, Mr. Liptak could have made me out to be an even bigger idiot had he decided to get (justifiably) snarky about my inarticulate reasons for telling him to pound sand. So, I want to say: “Thanks Adam.” (I am about to pee my pants over the opportunity to call a New York Times writer by his first name!) But that’s not why I am writing this post.
So, why I am writing this post? I am writing this post because I want to make clear why I don’t and won’t do interviews with the profit-making media about this blog. My reasons are these:
* If I give one interview to a member of the commercial media, I would feel obligated to give other interviews on the same subject to other members of the for-profit media. I don’t want to take the time required to be even-handed.
* I am a control freak. I can control what I write in this blog. I can’t control what is written by someone else about what I said orally during an interview.
* Because blogging is not wide-spread among federal judges, I am aware that I am pushing ethical boundaries. It might not seem that way, but I spend a lot of time considering the ethical pitfalls to avoid when I write a post. I simply don’t want to worry about trying to figure out those same ethical boundaries when giving interviews about this blog.
* Finally, and maybe this is the best reason, my beloved Grandmother used to call me “a shy boy” and, while no longer a boy, her characterization otherwise remains accurate. The great thing about writing a blog (or a law review article or a book for that matter) is that you can hide behind the words you write without otherwise revealing yourself in an unguarded moment. That is very important to me.
Now, some of you may remember that I participated in a radio interview with two Irish lawyers. (Incidentally, it was that interview that caused me to think through the whole business of interviews.) As I earlier wrote, I believe the Irish interview was a horse of a different color. That is because the program was on the Irish equivalent of our public radio network, it was program dedicated exclusively to legal affairs, and it was conducted solely by two Irish trial lawyers.
As I reread this post, I try to put myself in the mind of the reader. Having done that, I suspect that many readers will find this post suitable for the “who gives a shit” bin. If so, I am sorry. But, to stay with a theme developed in other posts, my “gut” tells me that I should clearly explain myself. While my “gut” sucks in some situations, I don’t think this is one of them.