Kopf’s top ten lessons a young federal trial judge should take away from the Scheindlin/Second Circuit debacle

In descending order, here is my top ten list of lessons to be learned by a young federal trial judge regarding the Scheindlin/Second Circuit fiasco.

10. Remember the first law of physics: crap flows down hill.

9. Even otherwise brilliant and perfectly decent federal Circuit judges can be megalomaniacs. Far removed from your hearing, lawyers say the same thing about you. They are indisputably correct.

8. It’s not your job to save the world. Do law, leave justice to Clint Eastwood.

7. A good journalist’s job is to get you to say something you will regret.

6. If you can’t take a sucker punch, quit.

5. If you care more about a case than anyone else, ask your Chief to reassign it.

4. Get mad, but don’t get even.

3. For good or for ill, one case will define you. You won’t ever know which one it will be, so stop worrying.

2. Remember the joy you felt the day you learned that the President of the United States wagered a little of his prestige on you. Everything that follows is gravy.

1. Whether it be an accolade or an accusation, you probably don’t deserve it.


PS If you are a young federal trial judge, here is the 11th commandment: Never rely on advice from an old federal trial judge.

If you were a young federal district judge, what should you takeaway from the Scheindlin/Second Circuit debacle?

Narcissus by Caravaggio depicts Narcissus gazing at his own reflection. Now, picture an ugly guy with a huge nose doing the same thing and then think of me and this damn blog.

Narcissus by Caravaggio. Now, picture an ugly guy with a huge nose doing the same thing. 

Sometimes, especially when I am not writing about poo, I fancy myself an educator. At the very least, that is the rationalization that allows me to conclude that this blog is not my own personal version of Narcissus gazing at his own reflection. So, off with the poo hat, and on with whatever the hell teacher’s put on their heads.

Pretend if you need to, but answer the following question, dear readers: If you were a young federal district judge, what should you have learned from the Scheindlin/Second Circuit dispute? Later, I may answer my own question, but, for now, I would like some help as I think about this question.


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