Some things are more important than others


I am today pulling the plug on Hercules and the umpire. Let me explain.

First, I want to stress that I have not been asked to stop blogging by anyone including my Chief Judge, the Chief Judge of the Eighth Circuit, or anyone else up to and including big wigs in Washington. If anything, I have continually received encouragement to keep blogging, especially from my Chief Judge, Laurie Smith Camp.

Second, I want to stress that so far as I know I am not the subject of any disciplinary complaint. Even if I was, such a complaint would not discourage me from blogging.

Third, I am not pulling the plug because of any mental or emotional struggles or treatment. And, by the way, both my Chief Judge and the Clerk of our Court have long had full and complete access to all my medical and mental health records. With my cancer in remission and my renal problems solved, I am perfectly healthy. As far as cognition is concerned, I am no more goofy now than I was when I was appointed.

Fourth, I am not pulling the plug because of my post about Senator Cruz or because of any other blog posts that have been the subject of intense criticism. In that regard, no one in authority has suggested that I stop blogging because of errors or omissions I have made in previous blog posts.

Fifth, I am pulling the plug because I learned a couple of hours ago about a discussion held at a retreat for our employees. The retreat had to do with honesty in the workplace, especially when dealing with uncomfortable subjects. Chief Judge Smith Camp attended the meeting and was asked a question.

The question was this: Did the Chief Judge feel that Hercules and the umpire had become an embarrassment to our Court. She responded that she thought 95 percent of the posts were insightful, entertaining, well-written, and enlightening. Then she asked for a show of hands, inquiring how many of the employees felt the blog had become an embarrassment to our Court. The great majority raised their hands. The Chief then told them that she appreciated their candor, and that she would share with me their sentiments.

Chief Judge Smith Camp was as a good as her word. She shared the sentiments expressed at the retreat with me. She did this both by e-mail and by telephone. She did not ask me to stop blogging. On the contrary, she praised my efforts. I was the one who expressed the need to call an end to the blog. There is nothing more important to me than the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska. If I have lost the confidence of our employees through publishing the blog, then I have harmed the Court. I cannot tolerate that thought, and I have therefore decided to pull the plug. My decision is irrevocable.

Sixth, I have received a lot of help and support from people that I would not have met had it not been for the blog. Many have become my friends, although we have not had the opportunity to meet face to face. I want to thank all of these fine people, and will not attempt to list them all for fear I will forget someone. That said, the brilliant Scott Greenfield, author of Simple Justice, has been a true yet honest friend and a giver of great advice. While I have not consulted him about this decision, I must expressly thank him for his many past kindnesses and his especially wicked sense of humor.

Seventh, the blog will be archived and comments will close seven days from today. at around 12:30 AM on July 15, 2015. [See update.] I will continue to pay the fees necessary to keep the blog on the net during the remainder of my life.

Some things are more important than others. To me, Hercules and the umpire was one of those important things.

In the future, I hope another federal trial judge will use this powerful medium to address judicial transparency and the role of the federal trial judge. Most particularly, I hope that the brave judge who accepts this difficult challenge will learn from my mistakes.

Update: Some of the comments have been very cruel and nasty. It is OK to attack me. I am old and tough to chew. It is not OK to attack Judge Smith Camp or the staff. As for the rest of the folks who commented, I am touched beyond description by your kindness. Thank you.

As soon as I sign off from this update, the comment period will end. All the best.



185 responses

  1. Judge,
    I respect your decision. I wish it were different, but I respect it fully. The reason: “There is nothing more important to me than the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska. If I have lost the confidence of our employees through publishing the blog, then I have harmed the Court. I cannot tolerate that thought, and I have therefore decided to pull the plug.” That level of passion and dedication is rare in our society.

    Because of that I will not waste your time in asking you to reconsider. I will instead take a moment to express simple appreciation for all you have done (truly) to elevate the level of discussion of justice, but also of life. Some things are more important than others, and the few minutes I have gotten to spend each day reading your thoughts and occasionally chiming in with mine, have been important moments, and time well spent.


  2. We’re going to miss you. Methinks your district court employees take themselves (not the Court) too seriously, and maybe on further reflection they will change their minds. For the greater public that reads this blog, i think you’ve educated us all for the better whether we agree with you or not.

  3. I will very much miss the stimulation of the blog, it had made audience depravation less of a burden. I share the view that the employees take themselves too seriously. Probably the younger employees, when life has taught them humility will regret their vote, or maybe they will become law professors then Lord have mercy.

  4. Thanks for your writings. I learned some stuff and think your blog provided a public service which will need filling. All the best to you.

  5. Dear Judge Kopf:

    I have read Hercules regularly for a couple years or so and have found it, at various times, funny, interesting and provocative. I very much appreciate the insight you’ve allowed as to what it looks like from the bench. The occasional tidbits of Nebraska history have been interesting. Best wishes for continued good health and thank you.

  6. I find it interesting that the district court employees found offense in what you said. I can not help but wonder if these same employees felt the same way about Cruz and his comments, that you spoke out against. Could it be they support Cruz’s position? One will never know. Ultimately the decision to end the blog is yours and yours alone. I feel that in this incident Shakespeare covered your district employees concerns well via,”Me thinks Ye Protest To MUCH!!”.
    I am not a Judge nor a lawyer just an Average American. I wonder why so many in this country are not only allowed to say but, supported by numerous others when they preach hate and prejudice against others. While those like you are found wanting for blogging about numerous important,knowledgeable topics.
    My post clearly demonstrates that I am far from well educated in grammar for this I apologize. But I wish to tell you that I have enjoyed the short time that I have read your blog and it will be missed. Thank you, for the knowledge that you have shared freely to all.

  7. I had the honor to be sworn in by you as a federal probation officer on May 7, 2001. I have read your blog occasionally snickering and maybe once or twice cringing but appreciating what I’ve come to love as your unique perspective on life and your sense of humor. This world needs people who speak their minds. As such I share with you that I have never once felt this blog was an embarrassment to our fine district. However I respect your decision and it doesn’t surprise me you would give so selflessly to the court. You are one stand up Guy!

  8. Judge,

    As a relatively young civil attorney and fan of thinking, I’ve been following the blog for about three years now.

    Sometimes, I agree wholeheartedly with your posts. Sometimes, I disagree on philosophical grounds. Sometimes, I chalk it up to curmudgeondom. But I rarely feel malice, embarrassment, or ulterior motives coming through the posts. This makes me truly disappointed that anyone feels the entire body of work, with all its discourse, diverse topics, and honesty is “an embarrassment.”

    I’ll miss our little talks. Thank you for putting this out there. It’s helped me grow as a lawyer, a father and a person.I am sure I am not alone.


  9. I am sorry to read of your decision but fully understand and support you.
    Thank you for sharing these and other thoughts, Hercules and the Umpire has been good for many of us.

  10. I wonder how many of those who raised their hands have read more than 2 or 3 entries from this blog.

    I only found out about your blog after you stopped it the first time (which made news on the ABA’s weekly e-mail summary). I went back to the beginning and read every post. By the time I was finished, I was happy to find out that you had decided to resume writing.

    As a trial attorney for the Dept. of Justice here in Washington, I have told everyone I know (both friends and co-workers) about this blog, and implored them to read it. I would frequently send them a link to this post of yours ( which I found to be an amazing (and humbling) revelation of personal truth from someone the public virtually never gets otherwise. I know of no other sources of similar honesty about so important a public institution.

    Your cessation is the public’s loss. I was lucky to have read and learned from your efforts.

    Thank you.

  11. Rich–

    This is easy: keep the blog; stop being a judge!

    I have decided to continue haunting you.

    C’mon down–we’ll kill grouper and drink stuff. It is a remedy for everything.

  12. Good grief! It has come to this. Tell the frigging wuss employees to STFU. Damn political correctness is everywhere. 😦 Thanks for the memories, your Honor. Also, never say never. Best wishes. . . . . .

  13. Judge,

    I cannot, for the life of me, imagine why anyone would think that your blog reflected poorly on the court. The transparency this blog provided is desperately needed. In addition, it was always fun to read. I wish you the best and thank you for all the time and effort you (clearly) put into this venture.

  14. Well, this harshes my mellow. It’s been a pleasure reading your posts. Thank you for writing them. As one of my favorite bloggers would say, “All the best” to you and yours.

  15. Dear Judge Kopf,

    I’ve followed your blog for a couple of years now and always found it enlightening. I am sad to think people you work with in your court could possibly have found anything here embarrassing. Shame on them for their small mindedness. You’re a good man and you contributed a lot to helping me, as a non-attorney, understand nuances of law and legal decisions that don’t always seem easy to grasp. Thank you so much.

  16. I’m very disappointed with the folks that work with you at the court if they could conclude that your blog was an embarrassment. The only reasonable explanation is that they didn’t actually read the bulk of your posts raising legitimate legal questions and issues. Alternatively, is the staff made up of teenagers as a mere hello from me to my daughters is a source of incredible embarrassment? If that is the case then I would encourage you to do as I do which is to take every opportunity to remind them just how embarrassing I really can be when properly motivated.

    Personally I think rather than being an “embarrassment,” your blog has inspired intelligent dialogue and careful reflection on important legal issues among the legal community while sharing insights into your personal life. No doubt you were hurt by the assertion of those with whom you work and understand your decision in choosing to close out Hercules and the Umpire but I cannot express strongly enough my disagreement with your staff’s assessment.

    Know that your insights, concerns and last but not least, humor will be sorely missed.

  17. Dear Judge Kopf:

    Just change your name to Antonin Scalia. Then you can say whatever you want and half the country will think you’re brilliant.

    I will miss your thoughtfulness and insight. And someday, I hope, the court employees will realize how silly they’re being.

  18. Oh no! Your blog was never an embarrassment! Your writings were authentic and insightful. I learned from every post you wrote, whether I agreed or not. I think the employees in your district are short-sighted and pedestrian – there is a world outside their cubicles. I’m disappointed to learn that homogeneity is so powerful. Please remind them that diversity of thought and opinion are the very foundation of education.

  19. Dear Judge,

    I just wanted to say thank you for your blog, and I am truly sorry that it is ending. I am a young attorney and I have learned more about the legal profession and lawyering from your blog than I did from many law school classes. It’s a shame that I and others won’t get to continue to learn from you. Best wishes.

  20. I will miss reading your posts, Judge. It has been a real pleasure, and I wish you and your family the very best.

  21. Rats.

    I turn 50 this year, as does one of my closest friends, who is a judge. Two weeks ago, I pointed him towards your blog as an example of somebody who was trying to do publicly what we are trying to do privately.

    What we are trying to do is figure out what we think and why we think it and maybe thus discover a bit about who we are. (Admittedly, this is better done in the teens or early 20s, but we were preoccupied with girls and sports and never got around to it.) We late-bloomers were looking to you — an even later bloomer — to show us how it’s done.

    And you did, so thank you. I particularly enjoyed your posts about Nebraska. I have been through Nebraska a couple times, but I know nothing about the place and experienced no desire to stop and smell the … uh … wheat? Whatever y’all have there. But in reading your posts about the place, I got a sense of how you thought about how the geography, history, and people had shaped you. Where we come from shapes who we are.

    Your decision to stop posting because your colleagues think you embarrass them and bring the court into disrepute — that decision may be the most midwestern thing I have ever encountered.

    I will miss your writing. Thank you.

  22. Judge:
    I am sad for reasons too obvious to state. But, at the same time, I am happy for you because I sense that your moral compass is more important than just about anything. If this is to be my last blog entry than I say, without embarrassment, that you made feel as if you were my friend even though we have never met (and are likely never to meet). God bless you and your family, and thank you for “Hercules and the Umpire.”

  23. Judge- Every morning I sit on the can and read your missives. They keep me regular, laughing, and well informed. Later in the day I often share your wonderful posts with my partners and other colleagues. Your decision leaves me sad and dismayed. I can’t imagine a day without Hercules and the Umpire. Voices like yours are essential to our often staid and dry legal system.
    I hope you will reconsider and keep going. Perhaps your employees should read the responses from your followers and realize what a treasure they have as an employer.
    Best of luck with whatever you do.
    Richard Hirsch

  24. Dear Judge,

    I am a newcomer to your blog. With your decision to shut down shop, I lament the fact that, other than opinions and orders, I (and the world) will no longer be able to enjoy your musings or your insightful and well-written posts. But I am certain you will find other useful and fascinating ways to fill your free time. Take care, best wishes, and thank you for sharing.


  25. Without context on -why- employees of this court felt the blog was an “embarrassment” (which I don’t really know what that means) how can one make that decision? There seems to me more to the story that isn’t being told.

  26. Skink,

    Get some drinks in him, make sure it’s the good stuff (and not some home distiller gut rot) and get him to reconside!r. Remonstrate, whatever it takes!

    What are we all going to do now? Lord, I need a drink.

  27. Another “until we meet again” wish. My dad, a Luddite, but a pretty good criminal attorney and loyal opposition who reads your blog frequently is also disappointed. He hopes that your co-workers come to the realization that the vast majority of readers will think their vote reflects more on them than on you. Censorship, self-imposed or not, is not what this Country is supposed to be about.

  28. Your honor,

    I am saddened by your decision, as are many others.

    You conclude your final post with the hope that another judge will take up your cause in the future. Yet I fear the reasoning for your decision will actually dissuade any such judges from following your lead. Where the standard is whether fellow employees are embarrassed by the existence of a blog that brings transparency to the otherwise opaque workings of a Federal courthouse, no judge could keep such a blog going. There will always be someone who is “triggered” by the posts, offended or embarrassed in some fashion.

    Perhaps they think you destroy the mystique of the judiciary, or show just how much fat, gristle, and organs are thrown into the hopper with the lean meat. Perhaps they have an axe to grind with you personally.

    But if this is the determinative factor, then I fear no other Federal (or, hell, state) judge will follow your lead. At least, no judge who I would like to hear from. Because if every post is sanitized, perfect, and wholly unobjectionable, then we would know the author is not being candid. And if there’s no candor, what is the damn point of such a blog?

    This might read like an effort to get you to reconsider. It’s not- I sure as hell won’t convince you. I just don’t see there being a time where the public will get to benefit from a blog of this form again in the future.

    Regardless, thank you for starting and running this blog for as long as you did.

  29. Judge,
    I have read every posts from day one. As an employee of your court I am very humbled to work for someone who truly values his employees and concerns they have. That said, not sure what offended them to think it made our District look bad. I may not be in agreement with everything you said, but you have NEVER implied any comments mentioned were representation of OUR District. You are one of a kind. I appreciate your willingness to be out spoken, and to be unique. Your blog has helped me to understand who you are as a person and not a judge. Closing this down to protect others in our court, is another reason I am proud to work for you. See you in the courtroom!

  30. I *strongly* dislike gratuitous adverbs in legal writing – but I nonetheless feel compelled to say that I *vehemently* disagree with the notion that anyone associated with the judiciary or your court should be embarrassed by your blog. To the contrary….

    But I respect, a lot, people who care about the integrity of their institutions. So I suppose the concern you are responding to is admirable… even if I don’t like the consequences.

    Thanks for everything, Judge! It was important. As Batman said above, I shall miss it a lot.

  31. I just don’t know what to say. This blog has become part of the morning routine. It’s great. I just hope Skink (whoever he is) can ply you with drinks and get you to change your mind. Where the h— is Repenting Lawyer and John Barleycorn. I’m serious. You just can’t leave us all hanging. It’s just not right.

    Maybe you can imitate Brian Lamb on C-Span. He did Book Notes for many years, and then stopped. But no sooner than he ended Book Notes, he started a new program interviewing guest authors. Something like that. So take a short break, and start a new blog. Do it from home.

    I want to say thank you for this great blog, like everyone else. But I’m too rattled. I need a drink.

  32. I will miss this greatly. Love laughing or God forbid thinking, on my ride down every morning. Thank goodness you are down the street. You spent a lot of time writing. I think you need to travel more now and see those beautiful grandchildren across the globe.

  33. RGK

    Wow. I disagree with your decision but obviously yours to make. In all candor the court’s employees aren’t really the target audience of the blog. And as others have stated above, I wonder how many posts they have read. The other thing is that everybody today is offended about everything and if offending or embarrassing some audience members is the test, then goodbye free speech.

    I have long wondered how you found the time to write serious articles on a wide variety of topics and do the research that you did. Spend your newly found time with your wife and kids, outdoors or at Creighton athletic events.

    Really enjoyed the blog. Sorry to see it end.

    All the Best,

  34. the topic was honesty in the workplace and the employees felt that a blog that is honest about that workplace was an embarrassment. I’ll be damned.

  35. As a long time reader, and a court employee (not Nebraska), I’m tempted to agree with the above post wondering if the Nebraska court employees were personally offended that you opposed Ted Cruz. I’m a person who tends to think about politics in all situations and this reeks of politics. I’ve read nearly all the posts on this website. Other than the ‘dirty old man’ post, I just don’t see what content could have made your co-workers uncomfortable on work related grounds. That said, we all know that Nebraska is a very conservative place and between suggesting that guns might be a problem, and attacking Ted Cruz, I can see why conservative co-workers would be upset with you. I also strongly suspect that extremely conservative people tend to act more ‘moderate’ in professional work places, like a federal courthouse. (When you talk to professionals in NW Iowa, you rarely find someone who will admit to voting for Steve King (“He’s a nut!!” everyone says.) but Rep. King wins in a landslide every two years.) I’m guessing you are (in part) a victim of not realizing how important Fox News positions are to people in rural areas. (I understand you have seen some of the most extreme positions/outrage after your abortion decisions. But we also tend to assume the best of people, especially those people we see every day, and that often includes believing people hold similar, we what we deem to be reasonable, beliefs.) At any rate, I’m sorry to see you go.

  36. RGK,
    Thanks for all your great advice and posts over the past few years. This blog has been an important part of my daily routine, and I’ll miss it. Best of luck in your future endeavors, and enjoy your job.


  37. Fare thee well judge. I hope this will not deter you from other efforts to educate the public about what goes on behind the scenes of the Federal courts.

  38. Please reconsider. I looked forward to reading your posts everyday. I learn something new every day and become a better lawyer because of your posts. Hope you reconsider.

  39. Judge Kopf,

    Thank you so much for maintaining this blog as long as you did. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, even through all the controversy. If your goal was to help others understand that judges are humans too, or simply to inform people of court goings-on, you have succeeded tremendously in my book. It has been a wonderful part of my life, and I’m sad to see it go. I wish you all the best.



  40. Judge Kopf,

    I am sorry to see you go but certainly understand your reasoning.

    Thank you so much for your blogging over the years, it will be missed.


    John (from Toledo)

  41. Judge,

    The best part of your blog for me is how well you articulated positions I don’t agree with, forcing me to consider that maybe I needed to think a bit more on it. You are the rarest species of blogger, and the loss is far greater than the imagined injury. I wonder, with my non-lawyer brain, at the mixing of politics and the judiciary that have gone before, such as the Court-packing plan in the 1930s, and wonder why the letter written by Chief Justice Hughes was okay but your conclusion based on specific facts is not. Also, the employees embarrassed by your blog are the true embarrassment. You have greatness in you. Our country is the better for it.

    All the best.

  42. I’ll miss your blog. Thank you for making me look cool to my lawyer son. A near impossible task accomplished with grace and humor.

  43. I agree with the guy who says keep the blog and give up the gavel. Your intemperate remarks about Cruz demonstrate that blogdom is where you belong, not on the bench.

  44. It’s a little like killing a lizard with guy; just when you think you’ve got him squished he wiggles away. He quit once before but wouldn’t stay gone. Let’s hope he means it this time. If he had asked, I could have told him 2 years ago that his blog was an embarrassment to the federal judiciary (not just to a single district court in Podunk). And riddle me this judgey-poo: if you’re concerned that the blog is an embarrassment, why leave it up “for the rest of your life” in archive or any other form. It’s like Bill Clinton clinging to Monica’s blue dress. The damage is done. Let it go.

  45. Judge–Thank you very much for your blog and the insights it has offered. I’ve been reading you for many years, ever since Howard Bashman first gave us the pointer.

    As a retired administrative law judge for the NLRB (34 years) I have wished for the energy to run a blog like yours. If I could, I would no longer be bound by the judicial canons nor a judge’s normal reticence toward commenting on things legal. Still, I would never have come close to your cogency on the wide range of subjects you have touched upon.

    I retired for health reasons and I admire and congratulate you for overcoming yours. But…if you should ever decide to fully take yourself off the active bench, please, please re-start this blog. There is nothing else like it on the Internet. It is one of the best blawgs ever. Orin Kerr doesn’t come close. 😉 [He’s good, though.]

    Jim Kennedy

  46. Your blog, your call. But dammit.

    No, not an embarrassment. An important bit of transparency. Maybe it was Ted Cruz or STFU or fashion tips. Or maybe, perhaps more likely, it’s that idea that the only way to preserve the “majesty of the court” is to cloak it in secrecy. Which is, of course, claptrap.

    You told us, showed us, not that the emperor had no clothes, but that his were the same as ours. And that he put his pants on one leg at a time. Yes, the court must have respect to function, but it should be earned respect. The Wizard before Toto pulled back the curtain was a charlatan, a mountebank.

    So yes, your blog and your call. But dammit.

    I’m gonna miss you. We’ll all be the poorer for it. And so, and here’s the real irony, will the court.

    Best always,


    P.S. So when are we going to meet in Toledo for the beer and the Hens? Or you can come to Cleveland; there’s a team and some beer here, too..

  47. So sorry to see Hercules go for a few different reasons. Most of all it’ll be harder to keep up on you and your family. Hopefully you’ll make the most of all the extra time you’ll have now. See you around, I hope!

  48. I’m not a lawyer, judge, or even a Nebraskan; but will miss your writing, and this blog, greatly. Thanks for your argumentative eloquence and forthright insight. Very kind regards.

  49. RGK :

    Forgot to add that I rank Ted Cruz in my top three candidates (Carly is number one) and your Cruz post didn’t bother me one bit. We just have a different view regarding Ted.

    All the Best,

  50. Judge–

    I have little to add that hasn’t been said above. Hercules has been a rare window into the mind of the judiciary–a peek into the secret room. Your candor and frankness have been a contrast and relief from the all-too-common obscurantism that flows from the bench.

    But I’m sure you can find much to do that will be more enjoyable than sweating over the keyboard, much less absorbing the slings and arrows of carpers like me.

    You will remain in our thoughts.

    Be well!

  51. Pingback: Judge Kopf’s Priorities | Simple Justice

  52. As I see it, the staffers’ grievous lack of judgment embarrasses the District of Nebraska. If they are representative of the kind of idiots in their employ, it is scarcely any wonder that the work product of our nation’s federal courts is so abysmal.

  53. This JUDGE DOES NOT BELONG ON THE BENCH. I am certainly no fan of Ted Cruz. Nor do I concur with his alternative for selection of Judges. HOWEVER, suggesting that proposing changes in the law is an ethical violation or makes someone unfit for office is so absurd that it defies rational reality. This is obviously a Judge who is extremely prejudiced in his opinions, unable to consider alternatives which are not within his mental realm and unfit for office. yes, HE is unfit. As for Ted Cruz, the voters will have their choice. He WILL lose, but at least he is putting himself into the marketplace of public opinion, not claiming some prerogative to declare that all law is fixed and immutable and not subject to change through legal processes. Yes, the Constitution CAN be amended. And yes, the people of this nation COULD conclude that popular vote and term limits are more consistent with a democratic framework. The founders did NOT adopt a Constitution, fortunately, which was set in stone. Even the Bill of Rights is capable of amendment under the scheme, and as for the judicial article since when is that not amendable.

  54. This JUDGE played his hand poorly and has proved Ted Cruz to be correct. Considering his OPINION on the subject and his blatant expression of partisan political comment, he should be removed. If we had democratic elections and term limits, then the voters could express their legitimate sentiment. It must be remembered and emphasized that Ted Cruz is in the political realm of politics and legislation. the JUDGE, by contrast, is limited and constrained to adjudication the law and has no legislative prerogative. As for his “blog” it apparently appeals to those who cannot utilize their own independent intellectual processes.

  55. “Our court is embarrassing. Honestly.” You couldn’t make that up, but it was as predictable as the sunrise.

  56. Judge,

    I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog on a daily basis and will miss it greatly. It’s enlightening to understand the judicial process from the your perspective and I appreciate your candor in discussions regarding current events.


  57. Mel — Please save your political rantings about Ted Cruz for another day. This is a sad day for those of use who regularly followed the blog; even when we disagreed. This blog was about education and dialogue and it was truly unique and those of us in the District of Nebraska have lost something. Actually those of us in this country have lost something.

  58. I think if I were an employee of the District of Nebraska, I would feel proud, not embarrassed! Thank you for all of the posts you have written! It has been wonderful.

  59. Judge Kopf,

    I’ve read your blog from the beginning through the end, and while I didn’t always agree, as an attorney it was refreshing, to say the least, to see an honest look inside the monastery.

    Your love for the law mixed with your skepticism and realism evinced one thing above all else – an abiding faith in the rule of law.

    “What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” – Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

    Respectfully yours,

  60. I respect your decision, but I disagree with it. I hope eventually you change your mind. I hope your Chief Judge encourages you to resume blogging–or orders you to! (On this last point, I am only mostly joking.)

    Based on my reading of your blog, I am sure you are gracious and kind enough to violently disagree with me when I say that the real embarrassment to your court is each of those employees who raised their hand.

    I have often disagreed–sometimes angrily–with the content of what you’ve posted, but I think this blog, and the effect it has on candor and transparency in the judiciary, is one of the best and most important things there is, and it’s a damn shame you’re quitting.

  61. Read better, mel. Nobody suggested that proposing changes in the law is an ethical violation or makes someone unfit for office.

    Kopf said (correctly IMO) that proposing disastrously stupid changes in the law can make someone unfit for office.

    Please get it right, or shut up. Or ideally, both.

  62. There was nothing partisan about Kopf’s comments. Just because Cruz is a Republican doesn’t mean every criticism of Cruz is anti-Republican or pro-Democratic, and Kopf’s criticisms weren’t.

  63. Reading your blog has become part of my morning routine and I will miss it. I find it hard to believe that anyone thought that your blog reflected badly on your court. As a regular reader whose only contacts with Nebraska have been two cross-country rides on Amtrak that went through Nebraska and twice flying into Omaha before riding RAGBRAI, your many posts about Nebraska judges and practitioners and your court gave me a very warm and positive view of your state, legal community and court. Your posts about more general topics reflected something that this East Coast lawyer (who went to law school in the Midwest) already knew, but which many of my colleagues doubt: the two coasts do not have a monopoly on wisdom and insight into the law, the legal profession and the courts.

    You say that you will not reconsider your decision. I will take you at your word. But, if you do reconsider, I will be among those who will be very happy.

    Best regards,


  64. Judge Kopf,

    As an attorney who litigates almost exclusively and practices frequently in federal court, but often wonders exactly what life looks like on the other side of the bench, I greatly appreciated your posts about the inner workings of your court and the thoughts you have in discharging your duty to the people of Nebraska. I also relished the posts that reminded me that, appearances notwithstanding, each judge is, in fact, a person with independent thoughts, opinions, life experiences, families, and so forth.

    In my view, forcing people who are required, more often than not, to come to courts to resolve their disputes to understand judges only through their comments in open court, opinions and orders, law review or other published articles (if any), books (if any), and thoroughly-vetted speeches at public appearances (if any) widens whatever gap in understanding currently exists between the bench and the public far more than anything you or any other judge could candidly say in an off-the-cuff blog post. This is even more pronounced in your instance, as a federal judge whom the people would have no ability to vote out if they saw fit to do so.

    Your blog was a brave and essential piece in a necessary dialogue between the public and its judiciary — elected and unelected, federal and state, trial and appellate. Like you, I hope that your decision to hang ’em up does not dissuade other judges from taking up that mantle.

    I will miss your frank, candid, and revealing comments on the state of life and law in America.

  65. Your Honor, I am sorry to hear this news. At a time when our nation is sharply divided, and our highest court is snipes at one another through bitter dissents, your blog provided a humanizing snapshot into the judge’s job. Such insight makes it easier to understand differences in our perspectives; indeed, embarrassment is probably part of the process of coming to understand and accept those differences. This blog will be missed, but thank you for doing it while it lasted. Best, Dave

  66. Gosh, there was so much you discussed on this blog, it’s hard to say what I’ll miss the most. Learning about aspects of the law and lived experience of it so far outside my practice I only dimly recall the subject matter from law school and bar prep? Disagreeing with your curmudgeonly, sometimes backward opinions? Learning about judicial and Nebraskan history? Being forced to look at an issue from a different perspective and finding the nuances in it? Seeing adorable photos of some of the OTHER things that are more important than others? Or just getting a glimpse of the real, human, funny, determined, passionate, flawed person behind a federal judgeship?

    I was thrilled every time I got an e-mail update alerting me to a new post or when I missed an email and came to the blog and saw new posts to enjoy. I’ll take you at your word that the blog is shuttered, and dammit, that is disappointing. As (most of) these comments demonstrate, you created something unique and wonderful here, and it will leave a hole. I’m baffled at the vote you mention, but knowing how important your district court employees are to you, I’ll try not to impugn them too much and fling acronyms that are quite dear to this blog!

    You and yours have my best wishes for health and happiness. And on the tiny shred of possibility that you will return to writing in some form, at some point, I will be keeping my eyes open!

  67. This was a great blog that allowed me to get the intellectually honest thoughts of someone who has been through the litigation wars, both as a lawyer and a judge. Indeed, many judges now were never in private practice representing ordinary people. The post were keen, insightful, and funny. While I didn’t agree with all of RGK’s posts (I suspect that the Judge would be happy about that), none were ’embarrassing” or even remotely so. I would think court employees would be proud of the blog. The cynic in me wants to believe that politics in this country has become so polarized that the honest expression of dissent as to a candidate or position is toxic to the speaker. RGK was a welcome tonic from that way of thinking. Long live RGK.

  68. We’ll miss you. And, I don’t think your blog is an embarassment to your court or any court. If nothing else, it caused discussion of topics that need to be discussed.

  69. Nothing says quality advocacy like using all caps to emphasize specific words in a sentence.

  70. Well gosh darn it! Now I can’t brag that I had the good fortune to share a Federal Court library with you. Well no, this changes nothing. I will still brag. Godspeed.

  71. This is too bad. You’re forcing me into an identity crisis. I’ll sue.

    Maybe I can get the American Law Institute to support me in a “I’m sensitive” case.


    Eric Hines

  72. I appreciate the tour of your corner of the sausage factory. It has frequently been informative and interesting. Best wishes to you and your family.

  73. Thank you Judge Kopf for your blog. You injected humanness, something sorely lacking, into the legal profession. All the best to you.

  74. Pingback: Judges Should Blog More But Learn From Judge Kopf’s Mistakes | Maryland Appellate Blog

  75. Judge, this is a mistake.

    Most of your posts are great. Some highlight the everyday superheroes you work with. Every now and then, you post something intemperate and unnecessary.

    Its pretty easy to tell, even in advance, which are which. Rather than muzzle yourself entirely, muzzle yourself selectively. Write…have a drink…talk to the spouse…sleep…then hit submit.

    I say this is a mistake, only because I’ve enjoyed the 95% so much. But, of course, it’s your call to make.

    I think your pretty stubborn, so I’m guessing none of us can change your mind. (And, yes, I’m just trying to bait you).


  76. I am a fourth year (final year) Turkish LLB law student in Turkey. I/my friends and I have been reading your law related posts for the past year approximately. It was surprising to see a federal judge as transparent and open as yourself. In Turkey, our judges have to self-censor and sometimes even rule a certain way or they can be imprisoned, lose their job etc. Read here:

    I have learned a lot about the US federal judiciary through your blog. The required financial and other disclosures, the decision making process and the American court system. Its always nice to see a judge anywhere who can speak his mind honestly. We don’t have that in Turkey. Here, if a member of the public wants to read anything by a judge (other than a dry order) or speak to a judge (@any level) you need to know somebody who knows somebody or pay a bribe. That’s Turkey and we cant publicly admit that here (defamation is a criminal offence here). My Constitutional Law teacher once used your posts as an example in a power point slide to contrast transparency/rule of law….maybe in 20 years we will catch up to the US one day.

    I hope there are more examples from you and others.

    Selamlar (greetings) from Turkey!

  77. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one (Dammit).

    Live long and prosper!

  78. Us lawyers whine about it (it’s what we do); the newbies lament it; the non-legal folks say nice things about it’s loss. But this is what it’s all about.

    Thanks Rich, for the world.

  79. This is all backwards; the employees of the legal system have embarrassed themselves! My experience is that attorneys make the law unnecessarily complicated and legal remedies affordable – therefore inaccessible – to all but the wealthiest. I suppose the judge’s transparency, accessibility, and humanity make them uncomfortable. Too much daylight for them. Rather than censoring the judge, they should be learning from him. I wish him good health.

  80. I’ll bet it won’t take long for them to realize their mistake. A year from now I suspect very few of those who attended that retreat will admit that they raised their hands.

  81. As an employee of the District of Nebraska, who was at the meeting, I’d like to make two comments.

    1) It was not a “great majority” that raised their hands. It was about one-half. I specifically remember Judge Smith-Camp using the word “half”, possibly “a little more than half” when she said that she’d pass this on to Judge Kopf. At that time, she did not use the word “majority”.

    2) I don’t remember that the question asked contained the word “embarrassment”. My memory is that the question asked was along the lines of “Who would say that they’ve felt uncomfortable because of the blog?”

    I was sad when I read the email from Judge Kopf indicating that he was discontinuing the blog. I can’t speak for other employees, but I don’t believe that was the wish of any or at least very many. I didn’t raise my hand when the question was asked, mainly because I’ve read only a couple of the blog posts so I didn’t have a reason to like or dislike it.

    I’ve met and worked with Judge Kopf in person a couple of times and found him to be a nice person. I’ve heard he can be gruff but that wasn’t the case any of the times I’ve worked with him.

  82. I’m deeply saddened by your decision. Your blog is one of a small number of windows the public has into the administration of justice from the perspective of a judge. Without this kind of information I’m afraid the public has no real way of getting a handle on how justice is administered in their name.

    I understand why the reaction of court staff has caused you to respond as you have. However, I would ask you to consider whether this is simply an inevitable consequence of shining a light on judicial decision making.

    After all, judges are human and when they blog that fact comes through. Humans have flaws, warts and unpleasant opinions. UNLESS YOU THINK YOU ARE PARTICULARLY EMBARRASSING ISN’T THIS SIMPLY A CONSEQUENCE OF PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN?

    If ANY attempt to pull back the curtain of judicial mystery would have this effect then I ask you to consider whether the interests of the public to see judges for who they are outweighs the reaction of court staff.

    Regardless of your decision I thank you for your blog and feel it has made a substantial contribution to the way the public understands the administration of justice.

  83. Judge,

    I hate to see you close this blog and personally never felt that demeaned the integrity of the judicial system or that of your court in particular. If anything, I think you improved the reputation of the judicial system by showing that judges too are human beings, and of all that it takes to perform the job well. If you ever do an about-face, I will be thrilled. I can understand, however, why you came to your decision.

    Just know that for at least one reader you greatly improved his day whenever you posted.

  84. LOL! That Chief Judge Laurie Smith-Camp would be disingenuous, even to a colleague, surprises me not in the least. It is what judges do….

    She hates your blog, RGK. But it would be impolitic for her to actually say so.

  85. Unless you were part of the conversation between LSC and RGK, it’s presumptuous to assume you know who said what.

  86. As a lawyer, I am sad to see this blog go. Too many of the law blogs out there practice their own version of political correctness — either the pc of the left or the pc of the right. This blog filled a much-needed space for those of us in the center, willing to call both sides on it when they went too far while taking a serious look at serious legal questions. I guess in this day, somebody having the courage to do that is “embarrassing” to those who want to believe that everything is starkly clear and there are no shades of grey.

  87. Judge:
    Sorry to read that the blog is being shut down. I hope you begin again this fall.

    Courtrooms are special places in our communities. Your blog is special as well, for all the eloquent reasons set out above and because it is a reminder the law in the end is people trying to do their best.
    Thank you

    Vince Powers

  88. Judge sorry to hear this. You have helped many law students since you started your blog. Its a good break from the Kants, Dworkins, Fuller, and Hart readings (not to mention that horrible Civ Pro stuff we get jammed down our throat). You have also made many laugh with your posts and sharing our law revue videos.

    You have also been a genuine teacher and friend to many by showing everyone how the judiciary works. So, with that said: please have the Clerk post a docket number for this decision so we can move for reconsideration or file a notice of appeal!!!!

    Just a note: Nothing can be or should be irrevocable.

  89. Either the poster above is lying or Judge Kopf is lying, or LSC lied to him. Do the math.

  90. So what did the people that wanted the blog shut down win? A closed curtain? So far the biggest losers appear to be the staff.

  91. I’m happy to go on record as sharing the opinion that this blog was a great service to the legal community and the public and that those who view it as an embarrassment probably take themselves too seriously. All the best to you and yours, Judge, and may you serve many more years. Norm Vance, Director, Criminal Central Staff, California Supreme Court

  92. Roadrunner, I doubt that LSC lied to Judge K, not her style, and ” feels uncomfortable” sounds more like her.while embarrass sounds like RGK’s gloss. How you know she hates the blog is beyond me. Women judges in NE are perhaps more sensitive of their dignity that men, white boys from Wahoo still has a lot of members, and she may occasionally be made uncomfortable by spill over of hostile responses to this blog. However, the very characteristics that might sometimes make her uncomfortable with this blog would prevent the use of the trickery you suggest.

  93. Well said, Counselor Powers. This is probably the first time I have ever agreed with Vince on anything. I guess this blog has created a few minor miracles.

    Very sorry, truly sad, to see the Judge drop out.

  94. May it please the court.

    There once was a judge based in Lincoln,
    His writings helpful to start my days out thinkin’.
    Openly to all,
    He expressed some gall,
    That Cruz perhaps had been doing some drinkin’.

    This deceit of canon was responded by Kerr,
    So he read some decisions and admitted his err.
    Not a big deal,
    Said those in the real,
    But his staff felt shame, and poked at the bear.

    Misunderstood though the shame may be,
    Our honorable justice didn’t receive it with glee.
    He wrote once again,
    To visitors’ chagrin,
    On how his musings no longer could we see.

    Many comments did fill that post on his blog,
    Mostly thanks for the glimpses into his nog’.
    It was quite sad,
    He writes like a Dad,
    But his words are remembered as I drink of the grog.

    Judge, in those three succinct syllables that have come to mean very much to me over these years: all the best.


  95. Thanks for taking us all on little tour of your of your literal and figurative chambers. Very impressive corner of the world you occupy.

    Your decision to pull the plug is bittersweet though.

    The closer you got to the sweet-spot in your quest to unravel the perfect temperament while letting us all take a peek under the “day in the life of a federal judge” curtain the more rowdy and interesting things got around here.

    It has been educational as well as a great pleasure. I think most of the galaxy is better off for your efforts. I hope you enjoyed all of it as much as we did.

    If the banana bread at your next office party isn’t the most delicious you have ever tasted you should reconsider.


    P.S. If the bounty hunters, disguised as your critics ever get too close, double back on them and give them the best belly laugh, you have in you, right before they fall asleep.

    That out to scare ‘um straight.

  96. Pingback: Farewell, Hercules and the Umpire! | Double Aspect

  97. I have been giving this some thought. If you aren’t going to come back to the blog, use the extra time to write a book. You can even call it STFU, have it published when you decide to retire. It will be worth the long wait.

    You will have huge sales. Donate the profits to charity if you don’t want the money.

  98. Dear Judge,

    I have never before commented, but I have followed your blog since the infamous “STFU” post. As a young lawyer in Australia, I have always found your blog interesting and insightful. Your views are well articulated, even when I disagree with you. I have learnt a lot.

    You have made an impact on the law and the legal profession well beyond Nebraska, and your voice will be missed.

    Kind regards,

  99. OMG.

    By definition, someone has to be lying. Law of Non-Contradiction. Either “the great majority” felt the blog “had become an embarrassment,” or about “half” felt “uncomfortable.” And the most amusing part of all this is that this straw poll was taken during a retreat specifically addressing honesty in the workplace.

    On the one hand, some pretty embarrassing admissions have been made on this blog. First, Judge K had the ‘nads to tell SCOTUS to STFU, reasoning that the public perception of the judiciary was far more important than the fundamental rights of litigants it was created to protect. Second, in the incident where judges sat in judgment of their own cause, he took the Fifth when pressed, doing a good Cardinal Law impression in reasoning that it was somehow more important that our judiciary be respected than respectable. Colleagues such as Nancy Gertner made damning admissions while barely betraying even a twinge of contrition, and neither the Judge nor the shamelessly-slavering sycophants in the local Bar raised one note in condemnation. The Judge admitted that he was too busy doing other things to bother with the reading of briefs, which meant that if your case turned on a novel question of law, you were SOL, as he remained blissfully ignorant. And since what passes for appellate review in the Eighth Circuit generally takes less time than judges spend on the shitter in the morning (per Judge Arnold), a Mark Bennett could abuse summary judgment without penalty and apparently, without conscience. Our court system has a painfully obvious case of the shingles.

    On the other, in defending the indefensible, Judge K’s praise of his colleagues borders on blarney. Everyone he works with walks on water and more importantly, far most acerbic criticism has been leveled by colleagues like Posner and reporters like Linda Greenhouse. He received praise from luminaries like Tony Mauro, and is being read around the world. So, why would his own colleagues think it was “an embarrassment”? After all, if only “half” were merely “uncomfortable” at times, the Judge K we know and love would have simply told the “special snowflakes” to grow a pair and get over it.

    Things seemed to have gone south when CJ Roberts went off the rails (Scalia is always off them). First, while it is perfectly okay for you to buy your Congressman, the bribing of judges needs to be more subtle, because society somehow has an interest in their integrity. Then in the ACA and SSM cases, Roberts and Scalia went Linda Greenhouse on us, declaring that we were ruled by five lawyers in black robes. Never mind that, in many cases (e.g., Citizens United; Shelby County, Alden, Iqbal, Twombley), THEY were a part of the “five lawyers,” routinely rewriting the law to suit THEIR wishes. “Lawlessness” is actually a tame description. James Madison would have literally called for their heads.

    Rather than take his new hero to task for his steaming pile of hypocrisy, Judge K lambasted Posner for the candor which makes him a national treasure. And when Ted Cruz made the suggestion that SCOTUS Justices be subject to periodic retention elections — hardly a radical one, as it is a feature of every state judiciary operating under the Missouri Plan — he had the temerity to declare that Cruz was somehow “not fit” to be President. Not only did the Judge come off looking like a bit of a loon (the alternative is that the people have NO control over their “unelected and unaccountable rulers,” and the only people in favor of an unaccountable judiciary are our judges), but he violated a Canon of Conduct in the process. And here is where the fun began.

    When confronted with the Calabresi decision by Professor Kerr, he prevaricated like a judge, saying that it “technically” was “not precedent,” despite admitting that it would likely be applied in his case (which is kind-of how precedent works 🙂 ). Judges are always dishonest; it is merely a question of when, and how easy it is to catch them.

    So now, we turn to why this blog is really being pulled.

    I would suggest that we can trust RGK’s account of what happened implicitly, as it is an admission against interest. He could have pulled the plug on this blog for any reason or no reason at all, and none of us would have thought the worse for it. He is, after all, 68 years of age, and has a full-time job. But one of his strengths is “intellection,” and it is obvious that he enjoys the hell out of this.

    I would also be inclined to trust the anonymous poster’s testimony in this matter, as the theory that this blog was an embarrassment to his or any other court “taxes the credulity of the credulous” (as the critiques are relatively muted), but some of what was discussed here might well have made the closet conservative employees (we ARE talking Nebraska here) uncomfortable. Iowa Republicans in particular are clearly crazy.

    So, that leaves CJ Camp-Smith. And herein lies the rub.

    If the anonymous poster was telling the truth, then everybody who was in that meeting knows it, and office communications being what it is, everyone will know that Camp-Smith lied to Kopf to persuade him to take down this blog, despite her nominal public support for it. Her message: “Do as I say, not as I do.” And now, even Kopf knows it, fracking the reservoir of trust between them.

    Ergo, either Camp-Smith always hated Herc or her superiors brought pressure to bear, as the price to be paid for its immolation is a high one.

    For these reasons, I respectfully submit that this blog HAS caused grievous harm to the District of Nebraska, though no one could have possibly predicted where that harm would come from.

    Still, it has been an E-ticket ride. Godspeed, Judge K.

  100. In this, she may not have been her own master. But as I argue above, the real damage may be to institutional cohesion. Leaders must lead by example, and LSC does not come out smelling like a rose here.

    It has been a pleasure to make your acquaintance, RL.

  101. Be thankful that you live in a lucky country, where precedent is still binding, and judges can be removed via address. You may not have a Bill of Rights, but you can steal ours; we’re obviously not using it.

  102. Problem is, “their best” is not even close to good enough. When judges can sit in their own cases and their colleagues fail to register a note of protest, there is no defense for that system.

  103. Judge Kopf,

    I am disappointed you will no longer be blogging, as I enjoyed “getting to know you” through your writing. You have always been a mysterious and intriguing person who just appears from a great wall in the court room and creates a sense of awe in the room. Thank you for the blog entry about me back in December. It was a huge highlight of my career and the finest compliment I have ever received from a man I have the utmost respect for. I loved testifying in your court room and I have fond memories of sharing my undercover stories with you and the jury members. I hope to see you sometime again! Best wishes!

  104. Rich,

    Were it not for the reason you cited for shutting down one of the best, and sometimes funniest, ways to look behind the curtain to see the machinations of the court, as well as life, I’d applaud you. The blog has taken vast amounts of time and introspection, and what you have created is a masterpiece. So you can STFU Web-wise and spend more time with Joan and the kids and the grandkids, or maybe just continuing to get stuck in and around airports. The point is, you did your time; enjoy your freedom.

    However, I would like a list of the names of those who voted your efforts an embarrassment so I can kick each one in the ass to encourage them to applaud opinions that perhaps were contrary to theirs, or presented in too colorful and creative a manner (but always with so much class). This would not be retaliatory, just encouragement to remove their heads from the aforementioned body part. Question authority. Question everything. Go beyond. Exercise strength and integrity. Have some fun.

    You are unique in a sea of ordinary, and it has been my pleasure to serve as your occasional–if too frequently underutilized–editor. Love & kisses, heid

    PS: Your grand finale had at least one typo, but as usual, I wasn’t looking for them.

  105. Jiggery-Pokery! Does anyone honestly believe that the great majority of District staffers said this blog was an embarrassment, or that RGK wouldn’t tell those “special snowflakes” to get over themselves if they did?”

    America’s pretty-much only rock-star blogging federal judge is just looking for a call for an encore. Okay, I’ll bite. More! More!!!

  106. Your Honor,

    If Associate Justice Scalia can shoot his mouth off in public without fear of censure, or without worry for the feelings of his colleagues and/or associates, certainly those of you serving on the lower courts ought to feel free to follow suit. As a member of the public I’ve greatly enjoyed reading your own personal opinions. You (generally) make a lot of sense, it appears to me, in a world that seems to be overrun with nonsense. More, not less, of your publicly-expressed personal opinions would be appreciated.

    Thank you for your time and attention.

  107. Some were concerned and perhaps some were annoyed or even angry who knows. I share you doubts that very many were embarrassed. RGK said in his post and when he was interviewed on TV that the majority were embarrassed so I assume that was what he was told.

    In any case the blame has been shifted to the staff who for the most part are unable to defend themselves. Blame shifting is far too common in my opinion.

  108. LawDog makes a compelling argument that LSC lied to RGK. While I won’t try to speak for others, I am forced to agree.

  109. Going off on Cruz seemed like an amazingly stupid thing to do, but for the most part, I have few complaints.

    When you talk to staffers and find that LSC lied, will you resurrect Herc? Or will you stick your tail between your legs?

  110. This post (and readers’ reaction to it) suggests court staff have good reason to feel uncomfortable. It is an unfair characterization of what happened at the meeting. And it is not the first time Judge Kopf has talked about staff on his blog. He has both praised and criticized them in this very public way.

    But here is the problem: most people want to be left alone; to do their work in private. A natural reaction to attention on the blog is to feel “uncomfortable.”

    Staff gave a fair answer to a fair question.

  111. I’ll add my name to the list of people who conclude that CJ Smith-Camp probably lied. The extreme implausibility of the cover story, coupled with the whistle-blower’s account, leads reasonable people to conclude that the official cover story is not true.

  112. Where has he criticized anyone except SCOTUS? He has been consistently effusive in his praise, bordering on fawning. Why would you feel uncomfortable with that?

  113. Hercules and the Umpire was concerned with the “role of the federal trial judge.” It has been interesting, thought provoking, and wonderfully entertaining. Judge Kopf has a unique talent blogging.

    Rather than lose the creative outlet, why not start a new blog, not dedicated to the role of the federal trial judge, or in your capacity as a federal judge; rather as Richard Kopf. Blog about good books, natural history, Nebraska, football, etc… I think it would be just as delightful. Truth be told, and the more I think about, that was the stuff that I really enjoyed these past few months. You are a very interesting person, and that kind of blog won’t conflict with your day job.

  114. You do understand the concept of hearsay, no? LSC was one of the people in the room, possessing first-hand information. The “telephone” analogy is inapplicable.

  115. Maybe I do not understand hearsay. A bunch of people told Judge Smith Camp something and then she told Judge Kopf what they said and then Judge Kopf told us what she said that they said and did. But thank you for pointing out that the telephone analogy is inapplicable; I just do not understand hearsay.

  116. Berkeley breathed has just announced that he is bringing back Bloom County which ended in 1989.

    So there is still some hope here…

  117. The distinction is a subtle one. Judge Kopf’s assertion is not admissible for purposes of proving the truth of the matter asserted (what the group actually did), but Judge Kopf can testify at first-hand as to what Judge Smith-Camp told him. The Chief Judge told him one thing, and our anonymous tipster is telling us another.

    By definition, both statements cannot be true.

    We’re just doing what courts do every day: reconstructing what probably happened. The better theory is that Judge Smith-Camp lied.

  118. Cardozo,

    I have not replied to the comments because I wanted people to speak their minds. But your suggestion that Chief Judge Smith Camp lied to me is crazy. She is one of the best people I have ever known and she is my dear friend. Given your wild speculation on this insignificant blog, I suppose you were one of those who embraced the silly Kennedy conspiracy theories. In short, you are a lunatic.


  119. Good for you, defense by you of CJ DNE was needed. Mind states are matters of inference as Cardozo notes, but not for the wild speculation engaged in with regard to the CJ. On the occasions she has posted her, her comments have been warm and supportive.

  120. I have never responded I the past. I am sorry to see that you have ceased publication. I did not know what STFU stood for, but I am now a frequent user. That’s not all I have received from the blog, information, humor and a judge with no hint of Black Robe Syndrome are among many others.

    Philip E. Kaplan
    Williams & Anderson PLC
    111 Center Street, Suite 2200
    Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
    (501) 396-8432
    (501) 396-8532 (fax)

  121. Yeah, it’s time you kill this blog. You are getting way too testy.

    “Wild speculation”? Do you honestly believe that “the great majority” of the employees of the District felt that this blog had become “an embarrassment” to it? Especially in light of the denial here by someone who purports to have been in the room (and had to remain anonymous, out of fear of retaliation), and whose e-mail you could check?

    It doesn’t pass the smell test. Let us just say that your denial “taxes the credulity of the credulous.”

    What I think doesn’t matter. What the staffers who were in the room think does. By now, it has already gotten around. If LSC lied, THEY know it.

    If I am right — and a sound argument can be made for it — this will be far more corrosive to the reputation and morale of the District than if you had stopped blogging because you “got tired of doing it.”

    Your bizarre overreaction to Ted Cruz’s suggestion that we adopt a national Missouri Plan (it seems to be good enough for your fellow Nebraskans!) raises questions as to your sound judgment. And once again, your desire to defend your dearly beloved federal judiciary seems to have blinded you to reason.

    If I were the only one who doubted LSC’s veracity, you might be able to sustain your charge. But there appears to be more than a few who reasonably harbor doubts.

    Ted Cruz is a lunatic — who knows more about the Constitution and Framers’ concerns than you will ever know. I guess I’m in pretty good company. 🙂

  122. Where is the “wild speculation”? Either about half of the staffers raised their hands, or “the great majority” did. Either the question was whether the blog made staffers feel “uncomfortable,” or believed that the blog had become “an embarrassment” to the District.

    Have you ever even heard of “the Law of Non-Contradiction”?

    It is a question of credibility. Judge Kopf might have lied, but he has a natural interest in not doing so. The anonymous staffer might have lied, but to what end? Cui bono? That leaves LSC.

    The preponderance of the evidence supports the theory that LSC lied.

    You are defending a friend. I can afford to look at this objectively.

  123. Put me down as someone who reveres the Third Branch and who was saddened and embarrassed by some of your postings. Not the majority of them, of course. But the sporadic but no infrequent controversial postings that garnered you undue attention and distracted from the task of the Preamble, i.e., “to establish Justice” that is the raison d’etre of the federal courts.

  124. So, you are laying this in Judge Kopf’s lap? Interesting theory. That the Judge would show such extreme deference to those “special snowflakes” is both remarkable and hypocritical on his part.

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  126. Sorry Cardozo I am a Hegelian,I guess, and reports of events can contradict and be true since they report perceptions and memory is frail. I have only meet LSC once, at a niece’s graduation party, but she did bring a very nice crab salad and let me eat all of it without complain.

  127. Add my voice to the others that are sad to you go. Having a federal judge blog in such candid terms was exceptionally refreshing.

    May you continue to pay those fees to keep the archived version of this blog alive for a very long time.

  128. I have no idea if a chief judge would lie about her own feelings regarding this blog, but it seems rather strange that she would lie about something that, as you yourself point out, was witnessed by those about whom she was reporting. It would seem to be the decision of those reported on to come forward (not anonymously) and set the record straight if it were currently incorrect, not the duty of someone with no dog in that fight to try to correct the record via anonymous speculation.

    That said, all this venomous rhetoric and diatribe over the ending(?) of Herc and the Ump seems, well, just sad.

    Anyhow, your Honor, I have enjoyed reading your thoughts, the blog as well as occasionally commenting. I shall miss all three.

  129. Judge,

    I could not agree with Jennifer B more, so I will only say “what she said.” I think you have done quite the opposite of embarrassing the Court with your blog, I think you have shed much light and insight on the Court and legal profession. Sad to see you go!!

  130. Eugene, After more the 50 years of reading the product of the Third Branch, I remain respectful though often disappointed, but if you reverence the Third Branch you have not been paying attention. While most judges try establishing justice ought to read try to establish about the best good people can do.

  131. Repenting,

    Can’t you do something about all this? You’ve been a lawyer for fifty years, can’t you talk to RGK and get him to reconsider?

  132. Pingback: Hercules Ceases His Labors | Innovations in Law

  133. You could have come up with any facile excuse. Joan. The demands of the job. That you were just getting sloppy (e.g., your bizarre denunciation of Senator Cruz). But instead, you threw your staffers under the bus in this Scalia-class lament:

    Then [CJ Camp] asked for a show of hands, inquiring how many of the employees felt the blog had become an embarrassment to our Court. The great majority raised their hands. …

    If I have lost the confidence of our employees through publishing the blog, then I have harmed the Court. I cannot tolerate that thought,

    By falling on your sword In that Kleenex Moment — making yourself a martyr — you made them all look like a bunch of foolish and unwashed troglodytes, which is a pretty damn fine way of losing their confidence. Then, the inevitable happened: One of the employees you threw under the bus had the temerity to dispute your account:

    As an employee of the District of Nebraska, who was at the meeting, I’d like to make two comments.

    1) It was not a “great majority” that raised their hands. It was about one-half. I specifically remember Judge Smith-Camp using the word “half”, possibly “a little more than half” when she said that she’d pass this on to Judge Kopf. At that time, she did not use the word “majority”.

    2) I don’t remember that the question asked contained the word “embarrassment”. My memory is that the question asked was along the lines of “Who would say that they’ve felt uncomfortable because of the blog?”


    No one even suspected that you would lie about this, but few really swallowed the bullshit you fed us. Even repenting lawyer doubted that Camp would have used the word “embarrassment.” But now, we had credible evidence to support our reasonable suspicion. The only logical explanation was that CJ Smith-Camp lied to you.

    And when that theory was credibly advanced, you went as ballistic as you did on Ted Cruz. With respect, Your Honor, you have no actual way of knowing whether CJ Smith-Camp lied to you or not. By your own admission, you weren’t in the room. But that didn’t stop you from attacking the messenger. Defending your “beloved” federal judiciary at all costs — even when it can’t be and shouldn’t be defended — is what you do.

    The anonymous poster may have lied. CJ Smith-Camp may have lied to you. And you may be lying to us (rather charitably, RL called it “gloss”). All we can say with absolute confidence is that someone wasn’t being entirely truthful, and that you threw the good staffers of the District of Nebraska under the bus.

    In killing Hercules, you have achieved what you sought to avoid. A truly ignominious end to a noble endeavor.

  134. Anyone who has ever been a whistle-blower (or, represented one) knows that coming forward makes you a target. I can see why the employee might have decided to remain anonymous.

  135. Just to make it clear to everyone, in reaching my conclusions above, I am relying on statements like these, disparaging District staffers:

    JSNeff: “In any case the blame has been shifted to the staff who for the most part are unable to defend themselves.”

    Heidi: “I would like a list of the names of those who voted your efforts an embarrassment so I can kick each one in the ass to encourage them to applaud opinions that perhaps were contrary to theirs, or presented in too colorful and creative a manner (but always with so much class). This would not be retaliatory, just encouragement to remove their heads from the aforementioned body part.”

    RL: ” I share the view that the employees take themselves too seriously. Probably the younger employees, when life has taught them humility will regret their vote,”

    RayS: “I feel that in this incident Shakespeare covered your district employees concerns well via, ”Me thinks Ye Protest To MUCH!!”.”

    LD: “[T]he real damage may be to institutional cohesion. Leaders must lead by example,”

    MOK: “You are spouting bullshit. Good grief. What a bunch of wusses and whiners [referring to the staffers].” … “Good grief! It has come to this. Tell the frigging wuss employees to STFU”

    morgan: “I am sad to think people you work with in your court could possibly have found anything here embarrassing. Shame on them for their small mindedness.”

    FS: “Your decision to stop posting because your colleagues think you embarrass them and bring the court into disrepute — that decision may be the most midwestern thing I have ever encountered.”

    Jill: “Methinks your district court employees take themselves (not the Court) too seriously,”

    If I’m an employee of the District, I am not happy about this. Not one little bit. What did I do to get thrown under the bus like this, so that my boss could play a martyr?

    Ron: “The reason: “There is nothing more important to me than the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska.”

    Jennifer: “However I respect your decision and it doesn’t surprise me you would give so selflessly to the court.”

    SRSLY. This is sad. RGK, you could stand to take lessons in “tact” from The Donald. 🙂

  136. Cardozo, Humans are human, you cannot expect more than humanity from humans, which guarantees certain amount of mess from our legal system. Do not relish it, try to limit it, but mess there will be. I doubt either of us ever doubted that.

  137. “[W]histle-blower?” I don’t think we’re talking about blowing any whistles, it would simply be a matter of one or more employees conveying to RGK via “internal channels” (i.e., not posting here) that there has been a misunderstanding as to what took place. My point is that there is no need for anyone at the retreat to post anything _here_ about it to convey the information to RGK (anonymously or not).

    Moreover, it seems that yet again, it comes down to semantics. It doesn’t really matter whether, arguendo, the word(s) used were “embarrassed” or “uncomfortable,” nor does the precise percentage of those assembled who raised a hand matter, with regard to RGK’s feelings about the general tenor seemingly expressed.

    From what I can tell, the CJ relayed a general feeling expressed and RGK paraphrased it here – he did not cite to the transcript or otherwise suggest that his words were a verbatim quote: “She shared the sentiments expressed at the retreat with me.”

    It seems to me that the point was, and is, that RGK is concerned that if his blogging is a source of concern for some reasonable number of the court’s employees, he is unwilling to be such a source of concern. And assuming he is not willing to reconsider, it will be a moot point in a couple of days.

    What might be an interesting point (or not) is the reaction as expressed in the comments here as compared to the employees’ feelings about Herc and the Ump. There seems to be little “middle ground” here – it generally seems to be in support of his reconsidering or “thank God you’re finally decided to STFU…,” with those supporting continuation outnumbering the much more “strident” STFUers. I’d be curious if the responses here mirrors the “sentiments” of the employees questioned, but I suspect we’ll never know.

  138. Dear Judge Kopf,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on your blog. Your ray of sunshine reached to the other side of the world and we heard a human voice that will be sorely missed.

    Keep your powder dry, my friend.

  139. Most of us would vote for its continuance, myself included. But the Judge did what judges are famous for doing: overstating their case. And he seems unusually defensive.

    The first rule of institutional survival is to keep your head down. The Judge placed the blame on staffers, making himself into a martyr. The anonymous poster may just have wanted to call bullshit on the Judge, while protecting himself from retaliation.

    To most of us, Holmes, words do matter. I see a difference that is more than mere semantics.

  140. Messes can be cleaned up.

    Judges will grab for the brass ring of power. Ours have acted in concert to disable all constraints on their power embedded in the Constitution. And when they lose, they (Scalia, Roberts) freely admit it. Human nature, at its most florid.

    The Judge routinely defends the indefensible. Again, human nature. Just as Cardinal Law covered for Father Geoghan, the Judge is covering for his colleagues. He’s a good man, but he is human.

    Objectively, his attack on Ted Cruz bordered on the incomprehensible. Nebraska is a “Missouri Plan” state, and to the best of my knowledge, the world hasn’t stopped spinning on its axis. But when you are so addicted to power that you are willing to work as a Platonic Guardian for free, you tend to want to preserve that power by any and all means possible. The Judge’s argument is historically ludicrous and almost petulant, but again, it is human nature at work.

    The Judge cares about how he is perceived. And he wants to be seen as selfless and noble. Again, it is human nature. To him, it is more important that the District be respected than doing the hard work it takes to make it respectable. We prefer substance over image because we have no personal interest in preserving this Potemkin Village. Again, human nature. Where you stand often depends on where you sit.

    It is our job as learned readers to cajole him into maintaining perspective.

  141. Words matter – or more accurately, I would suggest, the interpretation of those words is the actual thing that matters – in a contract, in a judicial decision (I’ll leave it to the pedants to debate published v. unpublished if they choose to do so), and in other formal circumstances.

    Here, it is simply informal, broad, general communication; a conveying of sentiment, if you will. As such, as I see it, all this blather over attempted to prove an alleged “lie” by arguing over “majority” v. “more than half” and “embarrassed” v. “uncomfortable” is an example of why the public (again, “public” in the broad, general sense, not a specific number of people) has a pretty dim view of lawyers and judges.

    In fact, I would further suggest, it is the very type of thing about which some here seem to be railing at Judge Kopf: “you may have MEANT…but _I_ interpreted what you SAID as…” When faced with such informal communication, sensible, rational people just take the general meaning – a sentiment conveyed – and STFU about the precise meaning that might be argued as a possibility by a variety of parsing of the phrasing used.

    Put another way, it is possible that you think you understand what you thought was said, but it is more likely that you do not realize that what you heard is not what was meant…

  142. Judge:

    Hello. I want to thank you for running this blog. You once posted my questions about US sentencing (vis-a-vis terminally ill defendants). Your accessibility, candor and genuine engagement were very much appreciated.

    I hope this is only a short break and that you will return.

    Since you sign off on everything “All the Best,” I will say the same to you: All the best from the UK.

  143. This is a sad day for free speech and for the humanizing of the federal judiciary.

    First, with all due respect to the chief judge who asked the employees if they felt your blog had become an embarrassment to the Court, the more informative question would have been to ask how many believe you should no longer blog because your blogging is damaging the Court. I suspect the answers to this question would have been markedly different. Embarrassment can be painful, but is often subjective and ephemeral. Damage, however, is often more measurable and longer lasting. We have all said something that someone else considers embarrassing, just ask our spouses and children. But, that is no reason for us to muzzle ourselves as the embarrassment soon fades away or is trivialized in light of the many other non-embarrassing statements we have made over the years.

    Second, you have erroneously conflated embarrassment with harm to the Court. Give the public and your readers some credit. We all know you are speaking solely in your individual capacity and I seriously doubt anyone’s respect for the Court as an institution has been diminished by the expression of your individual viewpoints. Who knows, perhaps some attorneys who appear before you believe your evidentiary rulings or bench decisions are embarrassing, but that is no reason to resign from the bench.

    So, dear judge, let a few days or weeks pass by, work on growing a thicker skin, and then reconsider your decision. We will all be better informed and intellectually stimulated by the return of Hercules and the Umpire.

  144. Dear Judge Kopf,

    Let me express my gratitude to you for writing this blog. I stumbled across it not long ago, and it has been educational. I am glad to hear that you are in good health, and wish you well. 🙂

    BTW, here is a recent mathbabe post that may interest you.

    Best regards,


  145. Most rational people — and not just lawyers — would draw an immediate distinction between a “great majority” and about “half.”

  146. At a hearing Monday in Manhattan in which he ruled filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza must continue community service for four more years, U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said he considers D’Souza’s violation of federal campaign-finance laws to be evidence of a psychological problem and ordered further counseling.

    D’Souza’s defense counsel Benjamin Brafman provided evidence to the court that the psychiatrist D’Souza was ordered to see found no indication of depression or reason for medication. In addition, the psychologist D’Souza subsequently consulted provided a written statement concluding there was no need to continue the consultation, because D’Souza was psychologically normal and well adjusted.

    But Judge Berman, who was appointed by Bill Clinton, disagreed, effectively overruling the judgment of the two licensed psychological counselors the U.S. probation department had approved as part of D’Souza’s criminal sentence.

    “I only insisted on psychological counseling as part of Mr. D’Souza’s sentence because I wanted to be helpful,” the judge explained. “I am requiring Mr. D’Souza to see a new psychological counselor and to continue the weekly psychological consultation not as part of his punishment or to be retributive.

    A scandal a day: our federal “judiciary” at work. You can’t defend the indefensible.

  147. If the victim were Petra, you would care. But to you, those who come to your court demanding justice are mere Musselmanner. Abstractions. Non-persons. Is the defense of your precious federal judiciary worth your soul?

  148. Pingback: Some things are more important than others | orhun hakan yalincak

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