Does it take courage to write about judicial misconduct? I think so.
In a comment to a post at SCOTUSblog - And then what happened? - I thanked Tom Goldstein for having the courage to blog about a case where the trial court did the following:
* Refused to hand over a report to litigants;
* Lied about the contents of the report.
"S.cotus," disagreed with me, writing:
Although I admire the writers of this blog, I don't think that this really is a matter of “courage.” This issue has been out in the open for some time, and everyone knew about it. It isn't as if anyone was going to be disciplined for writing about, or even appealing one of these issues.
I'm sure the issue has been in the "open," if by "open" we mean: Lawyers bitched and moaned about it over drinks. But where is the comprehensive coverage of this reprehensible conduct? At which public forum has this judge been named and taken to task? Sadly, lawyers are terrified of judges. So terrified that they don't believe that truth is a defense to judicial revenge.
Indeed, in a recent post, David Feige noted that a recent judge's potential misconduct made him feel ill. Two of the many comments included these gems:
* Imagine the trouble you would be in if I were the Judge's clerk.
* You are a fucking moron to actually post this, including names. I blog minimally about work, pretty much in vague terms, occasionally posting a story, leaving out the names, and I just run a damn restaurant.
Norm took a ton of heat for blogging about Judge Chatingy's ultra vires judicial acts. And recently, the well-respected Howard Bashman suggested that Goldstein & Howe's writing about a future Supreme Court nomination could be dangerous:
Thus, while I have great affection for Tom Goldstein and his colleagues and co-bloggers, and I really look forward to the existence of the new blog, I'm not sure I would have decided to go ahead with the effort had I been in his position.
Let's face it: Lawyers are terrified of judges. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to write about judicial misconduct. So one thing I do, and it's something I encourage everyone to do is this: Thank the the lawyer-bloggers who have the courage to write about such matters. Courage, now more than ever, is scare. Encourage those who have it.