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Leslie Southwick Has Been Confirmed by the Senate
to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. News story here.
noffer:
does he need a clerk? where will he sit? hopefully not mississippi.
10.24.2007 4:42pm
Anderson (mail):
hopefully not mississippi

Gee, thanks.

The Fifth Circuit sits at the John Minor Wisdom Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans, a few blocks over from Canal.

I doubt that he is hurting for clerk applications, but who knows?
10.24.2007 5:21pm
Dave N (mail):
Ed Whelan discusses the vote breakdown in his Bench Memos column at National Review Online.

Evidently 14 Democrats (Akaka, Byrd, Carper, Conrad, Dorgan, Feinstein, Inouye, Johnson, Lieberman, Lincoln, Nelson of Nebraska, Pryor, and Salazar) joined all 49 Republicans in voting for cloture. Three of those--Carper, Inouye, and Salazar--then voted against confirmation.

To my knowledge, this is the first time the Democrats have tried to filibuster a judicial nomination when a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (Feinstein) voted for confirmation.
10.24.2007 5:47pm
Scipio (mail) (www):
Judge Southwick is a hard guy to work for. I remember when I worked at the Miss. Ct. App. in the adjoining chambers to his. I got to know his law clerks very well; Judge Southwick is unfailingly polite, helpful, attentive to his clerk's needs. But he is also a perfectionist, a demanding legal scholar, and without fail, on every case where he wrote an opinion, he would receive research memos from his clerks, reivew them, and ultimately discard them and do all his own work all over again. It was awfully frustrating for his clerks, who never got to see their work in print.

It was not unusual, in a court where even the most dedicated of the other judges arrived at 8:30 a.m. and left at 5 p.m., for the clerks to arrive at 8 a.m. to find Judge Southwick already there, and leave at 5 with Judge Southwick the only judge still at work. Every day at lunch he would go jogging around downtown Jackson. Unarmed.

He will be a great addition to the 5th Circuit. Be prepared for a host of separate concurrences.
10.24.2007 5:49pm
Anderson (mail):
Be prepared for a host of separate concurrences.

You can say that again. I first noticed him when I was briefing cases for my law journal, and wondered "who is this guy who writes a 14-page concurrence to a 5-page opinion?"

More conservative than I'd like, but a very sharp guy who didn't deserve the slurs tossed at him.
10.24.2007 6:49pm
Cold Warrior:

It was not unusual, in a court where even the most dedicated of the other judges arrived at 8:30 a.m. and left at 5 p.m., for the clerks to arrive at 8 a.m. to find Judge Southwick already there, and leave at 5 with Judge Southwick the only judge still at work. Every day at lunch he would go jogging around downtown Jackson.


Geez, taking the jog, shower and a bite to eat into account, he must've worked an 8 hour day!
10.24.2007 6:58pm
TerrencePhilip:
just the other day I was bitching about all the Harris County Republicans commandeering the law in three states . . .
10.24.2007 7:16pm
Anderson (mail):
Geez, taking the jog, shower and a bite to eat into account, he must've worked an 8 hour day!

Right, which puts him in the 98th percentile of judges.
10.24.2007 7:17pm
Pub Editor:

The Fifth Circuit sits at the John Minor Wisdom Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans, a few blocks over from Canal.


The court may sit there (most of the time), but I believe that each judge can locate his or her chambers anywhere within the circuit. I suspect that Judge Southwick will keep chambers in Jackson. He'll travel to NOLA a few days a month when he has to sit on a panel for oral arguments.


Judge Southwick is a hard guy to work for. I remember when I worked at the Miss. Ct. App. in the adjoining chambers to his. I got to know his law clerks very well; Judge Southwick is unfailingly polite, helpful, attentive to his clerk's needs. But he is also a perfectionist, a demanding legal scholar, and without fail, on every case where he wrote an opinion, he would receive research memos from his clerks, reivew them, and ultimately discard them and do all his own work all over again. It was awfully frustrating for his clerks, who never got to see their work in print.

It was not unusual, in a court where even the most dedicated of the other judges arrived at 8:30 a.m. and left at 5 p.m., for the clerks to arrive at 8 a.m. to find Judge Southwick already there, and leave at 5 with Judge Southwick the only judge still at work. Every day at lunch he would go jogging around downtown Jackson. Unarmed.


OK, so the judge gets to work early and leaves a little later than his colleagues. You don't say whether the clerks were also there before 8 and after 5 on a regular basis. He doesn't sound like Judge Kozinski.

I'm guessing that he's hiring clerks from the top of their classes at law school, so I don't see that it's unreasonable to expect good legal research. (Do we want judges who are not "demanding legal scholars"?) Based on the above comments, he sounds no worse than a partner who expects quality work product, and I've heard of many worse bosses.

Oh, and the judge's clerks are frustrated because they don't get to see their prose in a West reporter. The heart weeps. They still get to put "Law Clerk, the Hon. Leslie Southwick" on their resumes for the rest of their lives.
10.24.2007 8:29pm
Anderson (mail):
The court may sit there (most of the time), but I believe that each judge can locate his or her chambers anywhere within the circuit. I suspect that Judge Southwick will keep chambers in Jackson.

True, that's what Barksdale and Jolly do. I was just going by "sitting."

I'm guessing that he's hiring clerks from the top of their classes at law school

Uh, no. He will *now*. But state appellate clerkships pay in the low 30s, IIRC. There may be a few whimsical souls clerking for the state out of choice, but most of the clerks are there because they didn't get a summer clerkship at a firm or a job offer from a firm that they did clerk for.

I know one of Southwick's former clerks, and they're evidently not all dullards; but we're not talking anything like the caliber of law grad that you get for the federal courts.
10.25.2007 10:07am
Pub Editor:

I'm guessing that he's hiring clerks from the top of their classes at law school

Uh, no. He will *now*. But state appellate clerkships pay in the low 30s, IIRC. There may be a few whimsical souls clerking for the state out of choice, but most of the clerks are there because they didn't get a summer clerkship at a firm or a job offer from a firm that they did clerk for.

I know one of Southwick's former clerks, and they're evidently not all dullards; but we're not talking anything like the caliber of law grad that you get for the federal courts.


I'm aware that state court judges do not attract the same caliber of clerks as federal judges. I've had to listen to a few Tennessee state judges complain about that state of affairs.

I don't have statistics, but I still suspect that state judges can draw clerks from the top 20% of the classes at regional law schools. (I know that this is the case in Tennessee, where some of my classmates are now clerks on state appellate courts.) So, perhaps Judge Southwick can now attract clerks from the top 10% at Harvard, Duke, Vanderbilt and Emory, say, where before he was drawing from the top 10% at the Univ. of Mississippi. I stand by my larger point: it is not unreasonable for a judge to expect sound legal research from his clerks.

Anderson knows Mississippi better than I do. However, having recently applied for clerkships with some state appellate judges in Tennessee, I can say that those clerkships pay in the low 40s. It's not great money, but please bear in mind that $42,000 a year in Nashville or Jackson may be worth $65,000 or $70,000 (at least) in New York or DC, given the comparative cost of living.
10.25.2007 2:34pm
Anderson (mail):
I stand by my larger point: it is not unreasonable for a judge to expect sound legal research from his clerks.

Absolutely, particularly given the none too onerous caseload.

I believe I made 32 or 34 about 5 years ago, but don't know what Miss. pays now. I think pegging it to 50% of a justice's salary would be very wise, given the huge input that many non-Southwick clerks have on their justice's opinions.
10.25.2007 4:03pm