Judges Anonymous

It may be time for anonymous judging. I’m not talking about secret trials or legal decisions by computers or chance, but I do think we’d be better off if judges kept their identities secret. They could wear bags or pillowcases over their heads (though preferably not white ones).

This occurred to me the other day after reading this headline: “Sixth Circuit nominee wrote more than 400 blog posts under pseudonym; should they sink his nomination?”

Well, should they?

Why do news outlets keep asking me hard questions like this?

It seems that the nominee, John K. Bush, said conservative things on the Internet while using a fake name. Can you believe it? A potential judge has a political bias!

Consider the periodic national spectacle when a U.S. Supreme Court judge is nominated and goes before a Senate committee. The senators spend endless hours pontificating and asking political questions and the judge says he or she can’t answer the questions.

You’d think judges had no opinions.

But you know they do. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t care who got nominated.

The obvious way to get around this silliness is anonymous judging. There’s no reason appellate opinions have to be signed. If judges really are unbiased – wink, wink – then it doesn’t matter who does the judging.

Then judges can tweet all they want and we won’t have to worry about confirmation hearings.

And if they use head bags in court, the bailiff can step in if the judge needs a break.

No one will know the difference.


Fair result. I just love class action settlements. It’s always so exciting to see what wonderful things the plaintiff class will get.

The latest delight comes in a court-approved settlement of a suit against the operator of the San Diego County Fair for violating a state law against printing credit card expiration dates on receipts.

The settlement, which came after “many months of litigation,” calls for a “neutral expert” to decide on the fair market value of admission to the fair. Then the fair has to reduce the price by 50 cents.

(Side issues: How does one find an expert on county fair admission? How does one become an expert on county fair admission? Considering the prevalence of fried foods, is county fair expertise one of the most hazardous professions in the world?)

Imagine how silly everyone will feel if the expert decides the fair admission should be, say, 50 cents more than it was before?

Class counsel can ask for up to $150,000 for this public service.

And fairgoer lives will be so much improved.


Can you picture this? Here’s a head-scratcher for you. I couldn’t figure it out, but maybe you can.

The Fifth Circuit last week issued a ruling that said a couple of sheriff’s deputies in Louisiana could be fired for moving in with each other’s wives.

Here’s the challenge from the court: “(I)t is not hard to envision how the existence of Coker’s and Golden’s cohabitation with each other’s wives prior to divorce and remarriage might be adversely used in litigation concerning the deputies’ official conduct.”

It’s not?

What sort of litigation would this be?

How would people arrested by these guys know who they were living with?

Is there a civil right not to be questioned by an adulterer?

Maybe officer living arrangements should be included with the list of Miranda rights.

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