READ THAT BACK: Holiday Edition!

’Twas the week before Christmas and all through the legal community…people were wondering why this Read That Back focuses on Christmas rather than Hanukkah. I mean, we’re actually right in the middle of Hanukkah and have already been celebrating Christmas for like two months.

Well folks, even if you lack any real knowledge about the holiday itself, hey, ’tis the season to fake it until you make it. So grab some latkes and let’s get this festival started (yes, I know this is a Christmas meme, but it’s brilliant, so deal with it!).

Shedding Some Light: It wouldn’t be 2017 if we didn’t light up a public figure in regular intervals with new allegations of sexual harassment (sorry, yes, that’s the best the court reporter could come up with). This week the legal world said #metoo, when startling allegations surfaced about judicial heavyweight Alex Kozinski. As it turns out, the allegations weren’t all that startling after all. Former Ninth Circuit clerk turned legal superstar Dahlia Lithwick recounts how Kozinski’s inappropriate behavior was an “open secret” in the nation’s largest circuit court of appeals. And given this video of a young Kozinski practically mauling a follow contestant on The Dating Show, I guess we all should have seen this coming. The allegations spawned a complaint initiated by Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Thomas that was transferred to the Second Circuit by SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday. However, Kozinski announced his immediate retirement today, making it “unlikely in the extreme” that the complaint process will move forward, one source told Bloomberg Law.

’ll Take, “This Is Uncomfortable,” for $1,000, Alex: Conservatives, though, don’t have to fret about losing the libertarian Kozinski’s spot on the Ninth Circuit. Like the Maccabees retaking the Temple following their victory over the Seleucids (thank you Wikipedia), the Trump administration has been refilling the federal judiciary with young, conservative minds. But the administration hit a bit of a snag this week, having to pull one of its most…um, unusual nominees and watching others fall prey to a wannabe Alex Trebek. I’ll take, “Pull man! Abs tension.” for $800.

Praying for a Miracle: It was certainly a miracle when “Making a Murderer” documentary star Brendan Dassey got a federal court to overturn his life sentence for the murder of Teresa Halbach. But his luck ran out Dec. 8 when that decision was itself reversed by a closely divided Seventh Circuit. Now the 20-something—who has limited intellectual ability and was a minor when he confessed—must hope for yet another miracle: a Supreme Court cert. grant.


  • Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver already beat his corruption conviction, but he wants the U.S. Supreme Court to take another look anyway. Yeesh!
  • Holidays are filled with traditions that help us get back to our roots. Foreign lawyers want the Supreme Court to go back to its roots…or at least the roots of the Sixth Amendment, when it considers the case of an American death row inmate.
  • It’s Hanukkah all year ’round at this firm.

And Now…Don’t Touch My Gelt: We’ve all had it happen to us. You’re heading home from Hanukkah shopping (that’s a thing, right?), when the traffic light suddenly turns yellow. You’re driving too fast to stop, but you’re not sure you can make it through the intersection in time. A blinding flash and several weeks later, you’ve gotten a ticket from the traffic camera grinch. Legal startup TIKD Services LLC comes to the rescue! For a fixed fee, they’ll find you a lawyer who will help you fight that pesky ticket.
But not everybody is happy about TIKD’s service. In particular, the Florida bar argues that TIKD’s business isn’t kosher. Cue a lawsuit featuring “cutting-edge antitrust and unauthorized practice of law issues, along with a unique conflict-of-interest dispute between the Florida bar and a former president of the bar.” Merry Hanukkah!

[Court Reporter’s Note: Read That Back will be taking a two-week hiatus. Happy holidays, and see you all in 2018!]