Richard Morrison Confirmed as Tax Court Judge:

My former co-clerk Richard Morrison has been confirmed as a Judge on the United States Tax Court. Rich has held a variety of senior posts in the DOJ Tax Division over the past several years.

Our third co-clerk for Judge Smith on the 5th Circuit is now a movie screen writer in Hollywood. You really can do anything with a law degree. And with a clerkship with Judge Smith you can be anything--a professor, judge, or movie writer. Anything, it appears, except a career practicing lawyer.

"Richard Morrison has been confirmed as a Judge on the United States Tax Court."
Will you describe the confirmation process for such a post?
7.9.2008 11:21am
MartyA: Presidential appointment upon Senate advice and consent is the formal process. Tax court appointments tend not to be conflictual.
7.9.2008 11:30am
Is being confirmed to the Tax Court an honor or a punishment?
7.9.2008 11:38am
Don de Drain:
Congratulations to him. I look forward to appearing in front of him.

GV-- Tax Court cases are well over 50% pro se. Tax Court judges, who are based in DC, travel all over the US hearing cases: not only Chicago, LA, NYC, and other big cities, but also Fresno, Des Moines, and a bunch of other places that most people living in DC would never travel to if given the choice. While there are some interesting cases that they hear (I'm working on a reply brief in a Tax Court case involving an issue of first impression), most of the time they are trying cases where only the government is represented by counsel. Thus, if there are any interesting issues in the case, the taxpayer is often not sophisticated enough to spot the issue, and IRS counsel is not going out of their way to raise issues that might benefit the taxpayer.

In my book, Tax Court judges do a great service to the country. But personally I enjoy trying cases much more than I would enjoy being a Tax Court judge.
7.9.2008 2:28pm
andy (mail) (www):
I'd personally prefer to see the Tax Court folded back into the IRS (from whence it came), as it has a rather poor track record of handling cases fairly and objectively -- the court suffers from frequent reversals in big cases and has even tried - unsuccessfully - to cover up its own prevarications (see ballard/kanter). However, Mr. Morrison's credentials are impeccable and his presence on the court can only be a good thing.
7.9.2008 2:40pm
Don de Drain:

My sense (based on 25+ years of litigating tax cases in a variety of federal trial and appellate courts) is that Tax Court judges, as a group, are not reversed any more frequently than other federal judges. They have their share of mistakes and intellectually dishonest opinions. And they certainly have their own unique "culture." But I don't see how taking away Article I status from Tax Court judges will help the system.
7.9.2008 3:24pm
andy (mail) (www):
Don de Drain,

Well, the Tax Court has engaged in some of the most egregious judicial conduct of the last century (i.e., Ballard/Kanter), and that was a collective effort, not the isolated effort of one renegade judge. That is a severe black mark.

But, on the larger point, I defer to you (for now) regarding the desirability of keeping the court outside of the agency. I just am not terribly impressed with most of the opinions written, and most of the seats seemed to be filled with persons who so much as wouldn't get a sniff for a federal district judge post. Of course, insofar as the tax court disposes of thousands and thousands of small cases, that really doesn't matter much. And, seeing that proceeding in the Tax Court is generally at the taxpayer's option, I suppose it doesn't make sense to take it away.

So, when I speak of folding the tax court back into the IRS, I'm speaking more out of disgust and emotion, than out of reason.
7.9.2008 3:56pm