Bench Memos

More on: Investigate the Ninth Circuit’s Case Assignments

As I noted last week, in a recent San Francisco Daily Journal article (subscriber-only), judicial-ethics expert Arthur Hellman seconded my call that the Ninth Circuit investigate whether its process for assigning judges to cases has been abused for ideological purposes. That same article stated:

[Ninth Circuit executive Cathy] Catterson, [former chief judge Alex] Kozinski and Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas declined to answer detailed questions [on the topic]. A court spokesman, David J. Madden, justified the blanket “no comment” by pointing out that a petition for en banc review of the Nevada marriage decision is pending. “The court does not comment on pending cases,” he emailed.

Now that the en banc petitions in the Nevada marriage case have been denied, I trust that Ninth Circuit officials will be more forthcoming. In addition to responding to the anomalies that I’ve pointed out (see above link), I hope that they will also address the statistical analysis I highlighted yesterday that determines that the odds that random chance would have generated Stephen Reinhardt’s pattern of case assignments are about 3,350 to 1 against.

If the Ninth Circuit fails to act responsibly on this matter, it will be inviting an investigation by the Senate or House judiciary committee.

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