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January 3, 2007

A sentencing judge becomes a dean

The Chief Justice kicked off the new year by comparing the salaries of federal judges to law deans (which, as Dahlia Lithwick notes, has brought the teflon John his first taste of widespread criticism).  Funny that just two days later, Duke Law School announces that Judge David Levi, who currently serves as the chief federal judge for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento, will be taking over as Dean.  The news is covered well by Peter Lattman and Howard Bashman, though I am left wondering about other historical examples of federal district judges taking deanships.

Over at Law School Innovation here, I riff generally about what Judge Levi might do once he becomes Dean Levi.  On this blog, I want to give this issue a sentencing focus.  Long ago here I argued that sentencing was among the most "under-taught" courses in law school, and I continue to hold that view.  I wonder if this would change if a lot more deans came from trial courts than from within the legal academy.

UPDATE:  How Appealing here collects links to news coverage of Judge Levi's new job.

January 3, 2007 at 06:18 PM | Permalink


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I find this particular lament from Roberts' report especially offensive:

"In the Eisenhower Administration, roughly 65% [of federal district judges] came from the practicing bar, with 35% from the public sector. Today the numbers are about reversed–roughly 60% from the public sector, less than 40% from private practice. It changes the nature of the federal judiciary when judges are no longer drawn primarily from among the best lawyers in the practicing bar."

I'm well aware that federal judges hear both civil and criminal cases, but the Chief Justice fails (and inexplicably so) to recognize the fact that the lawyers who work for Federal Public Defender offices throughout the United States are the best criminal defense lawyers in the country. I guess it all depends on how you define the term "best lawyers." CJ Roberts, if you think that a lawyer's salary is a fair indicator of his or her worth as a legal professional, I have some former law school classmates I'd like you to meet. And then I'd like you to meet my co-workers.

Posted by: Public Defender | Jan 4, 2007 2:51:21 PM

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