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February 24, 2013

Welcome to the blogosphere Judge Richard Kopf via "Hercules and the Umpire"

Kopf640x800I am so very pleased and intrigued to be able to report that one of my very favorite district judges has now decided to get more actively involved in one of my very favorite activities. Specifically, U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Kopf has started this notable new blog under the notable name "Hercules and the Umpire."

Judge Kopf's first big post is titled "The Who, the Why and the Title of this Blog," and here are excerpts which highlight why I am so excited to follow what Judge Kopf does in his new cyber-space:

The Why

About seven years ago, a bright law student asked me about blogging and that exchange became part of a blog.  See Ian Best, Judge Richard Kopf (D. Nebraska): Legal Blogs Will Fill the Practicality Gap,

The student asked me whether I would consider blogging.  I answered this way: “If I were to write my own blog, it would have something to do with what it means to be a federal trial judge on a day-to-day basis. I am not sure, however, that I want to reveal that much about myself.”

I am now on senior status, and with that change in status (plus advancing age) my reticence to blog has lessened.  I think I have something worth writing about.

I am very interested in the role of judges and particularly the role of federal trial judges. So, that is what I will write about in this blog.

As an aside, even though I am a senior judge, I still have an active caseload.  Thus, I must not comment upon pending or impending matters. I will strive hard to live up to that restriction.  Fair warning: nothing I write about in this blog should be taken as a comment upon those forbidden areas.

The Title

I hope the title evokes an image of two poles.

On the north, we have the late great Ronald Dworkin’s all knowing judge, Hercules.

On the south, we have Chief Justice Roberts’ formulation of the judge as umpire.

I am interested in knowing (1) which pole is the better and (2) whether there is a longitude and latitude between those poles that locates the proper role of a federal trial judge.

February 24, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Permalink


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If the public is oppressed by the lawyer hierarchy, the lawyer is doubly so, and the judge triply so.

The judge is likely the smartest and most experienced person in the court room. The judge should be liberated to take advantage of that status. He should be allowed to run his court any way he pleases, including personal investigation, changing jury rules, to allow greater participation, note taking, direct questioning of witnesses.

On the other hand, all tort immunities should end. Deviations from professionals standards of due care resulting in a foreseeable injury to defendant or to future crime victims should be compensated from judge private insurance.

Lastly, judging should be a separate profession, with its own schools, licensing boards. Lawyers would be excluded.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 24, 2013 1:36:58 PM

I've commented on previous posts about this man, but Judge Kopf is one of the dozen worst District Judges in our country.

Posted by: jack | Feb 24, 2013 1:59:42 PM

have to give SC this one. i agree with all his ideals!

Posted by: rodsmith | Feb 24, 2013 4:07:49 PM

I am not really thrilled with the idea of an active judge blogging publicly. One can author a book or even appear (rarely) on a television show and not worry about being taken out of context, but with blogging on a relatively frequent and periodical manner, the judge runs the risk of biasing his cases. At the very least, some keen-eyed trial attorneys and prosecutors will glean every word to see if there is any potential subject, phrase, or even word in which to declare mistrial or force the judge to recuse. While judges are human and have rights, society has reached a point where virtually every nuance is recorded in perpetuity via the Internet. Hopefully, the good judge will be very careful in his blogging career.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Feb 24, 2013 11:17:14 PM

Any biases the judge harbors seem less likely to be revealed in what's probably destined to be a timid, circumspect, guardedly written blog than the simple matter of whether the judge was appointed by a Republican or a Democrat.

On the off chance the judge's blog will be more candid, I'd love to get his take on plea colloquies... particularly ones in which defendants who end up with home detention/probated sentences swear prosecutors who menaced them with plausible trial-penalty threats of 30 years in prison in no way coerced them into taking the deals.

Since judges must know it's BS, I can't help but wonder how they rationalize their role in such a ridiculous exercise.

Posted by: John K | Feb 26, 2013 4:40:18 PM

You are a moron!!! Way to be professional by using the same words a punk disrespectful teenager would use. Go back to the 60's you fool. Have you ever heard of the word decorum or integrity

Posted by: mike esposito | Jul 7, 2014 9:28:43 PM

Thank you. Someone needed to say something. The Supreme Court is doing more harm than good reaching into areas that they should stay out of.

Posted by: Robert | Jul 7, 2014 11:49:41 PM

Keep blogging until the Supreme Court wakes up to the fact that Corporate owners are not personally liable or responsible for the actions of the artificial entity we call Corporations. Nor does a a corporation serve in the military . Or receive communion.

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