Judge Joe has the right to crow (but he won’t)

Judge Joe Bataillon is a really nice guy. I have objective proof of that assertion.

imagesLisa, my middle daughter, the one in China, told me what a nice man Joe was long before I knew Joe. She knew Judge Joe before I did because Lisa and one of Joe’s daughters, see here, went to Marian High School together and were good friends. Marian is an all-girls Catholic High School with a proud tradition in Omaha.

After I met Joe all those many years ago, I realized what Lisa meant. Joe is truly a good man. He always, and I mean always, seeks to do the right and fair thing even when others (like his church) push hard for Joe to do something different. Joe is indifferent to reversals by the Court of Appeals. His focus is doing what he believes is right.

Yesterday, when the Supreme Court declared that gay people had the Constitutional right to marry, Joe was vindicated. Since 2003, Joe had said essentially the same thing. See Waters v. Ricketts, No. 8:14CV356 (D. Neb., March 2, 2015) (“Nebraska’s “Defense of Marriage” Constitutional Amendment, Section 29, is an unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens.”); Citizens for Equal Protection, Inc. v. Bruning, 368 F.Supp.2d 980 (D.Neb.2005) (” Section 29 does not merely withhold the benefit of marriage; it operates to prohibit persons in a same-sex relationship from working to ever obtain governmental benefits or legal recognition, a right they had before the passage of Section 29. If the purpose, as offered by the proponents of Section 29, were merely to maintain the common-law definition of marriage, there would be no need to prohibit all forms of government protection or to preclude domestic partnerships and civil unions. The court concludes that the plaintiffs have established that Section 29 is an unconstitutional bill of attainder.”); Citizens for Equal Protection, Inc. v. Bruning, 290 F. Supp. 2d 1004 (D. Neb. 2003) (denying motion to dismiss and stating, “Section 29 does not just withhold a benefit; it actually prohibits same-sex relationship couples from working to obtain governmental benefits. If the purpose, as offered by the defendants, of Section 29 is merely to maintain the common law definition of marriage, there would be no need to prohibit all forms of government protection or to preclude domestic partnerships and civil unions. I conclude that the plaintiffs have met the legal requirements for stating a claim of bill of attainder.”).

Judge Joe has the right to crow. But he won’t because he is also a humble man. Indeed, I feel fortunate to have Judge Joe as a colleague and a friend. By his actions, Judge Bataillon has offered us all a lesson in humanity. By the way, it is not his fault that I am a bad student.

RGK

A “thank you” to my wonderful former and present colleagues

Over the last weeks when I was hospitalized and while recovering both of my former law partners, Ed Cook (the best lawyer I have ever known) and Judge Jim Doyle, called to “buck up” their old partner. Their calls brought back wonderful memories of our time together, and my love of these fellows. Never once when I practiced law with Ed and Jim did I feel alone. In common parlance, they always “had my back” while always insisting that our clients came first.

My judicial colleagues have done the same thing during my recent health scare. They looked after me with care and concern but with the proper perspective that our litigants came first. After I declared a mistrial before going into the hospital (because my ego forced me to try to play the “hero child” in beginning the trial in the first place), Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp, Judge Joe Bataillon, and Judge John Gerrard stepped in and, with my complete agreement, took over most of my caseload. This not only burdened them personally, but raised all sorts of tedious and complex administrative issues that Magistrate Judge Zwart handled with nary a hiccup.

Maybe a three person law practice or small federal court is unique. All I know is that I owe a debt of gratitude that I shall never be able to repay to my former law partners and present judicial colleagues. Carrying for another lawyer/judge who is sickly in a small operation like my former law practice or my present court is tricky. In the balance is the concern for one’s fellow law partner or judge on a personal level contrasted with a rock solid commitment that the interests of the client/litigant always comes first. Striking the proper balances requires a well-developed sense of decency and principle.

Thanks to Ed and Jim for teaching me about what a law partnership can really mean when operated by lawyers truly committed to each other and their clients. The same goes double for the judges (and staff) of the United States District for the District of Nebraska, particularly Laurie, Joe, John and Cheryl. I am very fortunate and very thankful.

RGK

 

 

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