Judge Kopf’s Priorities

Nebraska Senior District Court Judge Richard G. Kopf tried something that no one else had tried before him. He tried to be real.  He tried to be transparent.  He tried to show us that the omnipotent people in robes sitting atop the bench were regular people, with foibles and ideas, doing the best they could. They had thoughts, feelings, aches, pains and happiness.

And I fear, this time he’s gone for good.  Watching the judge’s blog, he’s been through the highs and lows of the blawgosphere.  One little “STFU” to the Supreme Court and he had a bevy of lawprofs jumping down his throat.  But then, haven’t we all wanted to tell that to the Supremes at one time or another?

Then there was a misunderstood joke, a symbol of generational differences that many couldn’t, refused to get past.  What it showed was the inflexibility of so many on the internets.  Judge Kopf took it all in good humor.  If he showed nothing else, it was the humility of the power he wielded, never ramming the fact the he was a federal judge and you weren’t down your throat.

He ended every comment with the words, “all the best.”  It wasn’t that he had to, but he wished that to his fans and detractors alike.  Rich was a good guy.

It wasn’t that we agreed about everything. Judge Kopf was pretty law and order, hated drug dealers and admitted to his bias in favor of law enforcement.  But that’s the point. He never denied who or what he was. He explained it, but never sugar coated it. And when I shot my arrows at him, he never held it against me for being disagreeable.

But there was one theme, an ongoing theme in the life of a United States District Court Judge, the only one ever to really let the rest of us in on his world: some things are more important than others.  To Judge Kopf, it was his family and the people he cared about.

And that’s why he made the decision to stop.

I am pulling the plug because I learned a couple of hours ago about a discussion held at a retreat for our employees. The retreat had to do with honesty in the workplace, especially when dealing with uncomfortable subjects. Chief Judge Smith Camp attended the meeting and was asked a question.

The question was this: Did the Chief Judge feel that Hercules and the umpire had become an embarrassment to our Court. She responded that she thought 95 percent of the posts were insightful, entertaining, well-written, and enlightening. Then she asked for a show of hands, inquiring how many of the employees felt the blog had become an embarrassment to our Court. The great majority raised their hands. The Chief then told them that she appreciated their candor, and that she would share with me their sentiments.

Chief Judge Smith Camp was as a good as her word. She shared the sentiments expressed at the retreat with me. She did this both by e-mail and by telephone. She did not ask me to stop blogging. On the contrary, she praised my efforts. I was the one who expressed the need to call an end to the blog. There is nothing more important to me than the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska. If I have lost the confidence of our employees through publishing the blog, then I have harmed the Court. I cannot tolerate that thought, and I have therefore decided to pull the plug. My decision is irrevocable.

He couldn’t bear the thought that his actions embarrassed the people he worked with every day. Causing people he cared about embarrassment is the sort of thing a person of good conscience finds intolerable.  That the people Judge Kopf worked with at the Nebraska federal courthouse were embarrassed by his blog, on the other hand, is the reaction of small, no, puny, people.

I have a theory about this.  A good person vested with enormous power exercises it with humility, recognizing that he is only human and prone to err.  But the people who bask in the reflection of that power, who are insignificant in themselves, rely on the false sense of dignity that comes from the trappings of power to make themselves feel more important than they are.

Why should Judge Kopf’s blog embarrass anyone?  Other than Judge Kopf, of course, as the words and thoughts were his alone, and he took the punches whenever someone decided he shouldn’t have uttered them.  Because Judge Kopf pulled back the curtain on himself, and by doing so, exposed the staff behind him as humans as well.

They were not embarrassed by Judge Kopf so much as embarrassed at being themselves.  Just people who worked for a living, and whose jobs were in a federal courthouse. Just people like anyone else. They were no longer special, powerful, because they were surrounded by marble and had access to powerful people.

Judge Kopf quit once before, but came back. He will not come back again, at least not if his blog embarrasses the people with whom he works.  They need to wrap themselves in the fake dignity that makes them feel more important than they are, and feel as if his transparency has taken away their aura. It would take a real epiphany for them to realize how small, how trivial, they are to be embarrassed.  And they have taken from the rest of us an insight that we may never see again:

A great many people have lost faith, lost hope, that our fundamentally flawed system can be salvaged.  Judge Kopf, for all he may do “wrong,” has given them hope that there are some real, thinking, caring human beings in robes who maybe, just maybe, can be persuaded to care a little more about what the law does to real people and little less in decorum.

Is it perfect? No, but nothing is.  Are we all better for having Judge Kopf expressing his thoughts, even if they occasionally come out in a cringeworthy, awkward way.  You bet your ass we are.

I will miss Rich Kopf’s writing very much. I am proud to call him my friend, and I was enriched by his time in the blawgosphere. If there is any chance that the staff at the Nebraska federal courthouse will look at themselves, be ashamed of their small-mindedness, and ask Judge Kopf to take up arms again, I ask them to do so. We are poorer without Hercules and the umpire.

But he is always welcome here.

66 thoughts on “Judge Kopf’s Priorities

  1. Reed Hollander

    It is rare that a member of the judiciary pulls back the curtain to let the public understand what it honestly means to exercise judgment over the lives and fortunes of their fellow citizens. We will all be poorer for the loss of those insights. Thank you, Judge Kopf, for sharing a piece of yourself with us. And thank you, Scott, for your efforts to engage and challenge the judge to keep the windows of his mind open so we could peek in.

    1. Mort

      Agreed. I didn’t visit his blog much, and I understand that I missed out (though I hope the blog archives will stick around, I will miss out on experiencing that elusive factor of currency).

      My best to the Judge, and hope his departure from blogging does not insulate him and cause him to change.

  2. Kathleen Casey

    I think the judge has been oblivious about some issues but that may be true of me too. Maybe. ; ] And he is refreshing. I don’t mind him. I will miss him. Stay well, Judge Kopf!

  3. Noxx

    Well this is a damn shame. Blogs that are enlightening without being condescending are few and far between. I may be a simple working stiff, but I enjoy having something of substance to read with my coffee, and this diminishes my carefully pruned list.

    1. Mort

      Hell, I’m fine with even enlightening AND condescending…

      So long as the condescension comes from someone who has earned the right, unlike those who might write posts about how they went to *gasp* work a “normal” job and only then learned about their white privilege, or who might write a post about how they never knew anyone who didn’t accept that they had white privilege until they dated a certain person…

  4. morgan sheridan

    I’ve been reading Judge Kopf’s blog for a couple of years now. My take on the court employees is quite similar to yours. They’re small and petty. I do bite my thumb, sir.

  5. Lawrence Kaplan

    Did any of the employees explain why they felt that Judge Kopf’s blog was an embarrassment to the court?

    1. Mort

      Something something micro-aggressions… Something something triggered… Something something white privilege…

      1. cheyanne

        Was the employee poll taken before or after the Ted Cruz blog? Why was the word “embarassment” used? Kopf may have been an embarassment before that blog, but by publishing that blog, he broke a rule of the Code of Conduct. Doesn’t that have some repercussions for him besides “embarassment”? No one has mentioned what the penalties are for misconduct. Is that because they don’t apply in this situation?

        1. SHG Post author

          No. The Cruz post may have been on their minds as an embrassment, but this isn’t the penalty. You’ve conflated the two.

        2. Not Jim Ardis

          What “Code of Conduct” was broken? I wasn’t aware of any rules that say Judges can’t have (or express) opinions on sitting senators from nearby states and presidential candidates.

          1. cheyanne

            I thought that this statement of Kopf ‘s was admission of misconduct:

            “Nevertheless, I have concluded that (1) the holding of the Calabresi opinion would likely be applied to me if an ethics complaint was filed in the Eighth Circuit; and (2) you are correct, based upon the holding of the Calabresi decision, that I violated Canon 5(A)(2) (“A judge should not . . . publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office.)”

            This is in his blog of 7/9, “Orin Kerr is correct . . .”

  6. PaulaMarie Susi

    What a pity, these people should be ashamed of themselves.

    (and should be “I shot”)

  7. L

    The retreat had to do with honesty in the workplace, and the consensus was they need less of it.


  8. jill mcmahon

    The Judge’s co-workers are cutting off their nose to spite their face. The staff at the federal courthouse in Nebraska should grow up and think about the larger beneficial effect of the Judge’s blogging rather than their own immediate feelings about it. Their childish reaction to his commendable efforts to give the public a window into the humanity of the Judiciary just confirms the opinion of many that big-G Government is out of touch and an expensive, uncaring, unwanted, and unnecessary hindrance to them in their daily lives. When, sooner or later, the public decides it doesn’t want to foot the bill for so many faceless bureaucrats, it will be the staffs that are cut before the Justices.

  9. Chuck

    Hi. I’m one of those people who work in D. Neb. Scott, you can go fuck yourself. No, seriously: fuck you, you presumptuous, condescending ass.

    I can’t think of anyone in the District of Nebraska who isn’t fond of RGK. He is, quite literally, beloved. If there was a general concern about the blog, it’s this: sometimes, it was difficult to resist feeling embarrassed for HIM. It’s easy to say that it’s up to him to decide how much of his private business he wants to publicly discuss. It’s another thing to watch someone you care about do things you think may be undignified or inappropriate. Or, to put it more simply: we worry about the guy because we care about him, in a personal way that you do not. We’re protective of him, even more than court staff usually are. (Our whole job description is to make judges look good, but this is more affectionate.) When his lack of filter gets him in trouble, YOU get to make popcorn and watch the nickelodeon. We worry about whether (or when) he’ll get hurt. And you don’t get to judge us for that, or condemn us for being selfish when it’s anything but.

    You’ve also clearly never been to the Robert V. Denney Federal Building and Courthouse, because there’s a distinct lack of marble here. But then, your whole point here is to insult people you don’t know, based purely on ill-informed speculation. You clearly don’t know any of the people you’re maligning, or Nebraskans in general for that matter. So, getting the architecture wrong is really the least of your sins.

    I’m also looking forward to what happens when RGK himself sees this, because I suspect he’ll be pissed, and then it’ll be my turn to make popcorn.

    1. PDB

      You and the other staff members might very well feel embarrassed for him. However, life has taught me (and I’m guessing Scott as well) to question the motivations of people who say that they feel embarrassed/outraged/[insert your favorite emotion here] on behalf of other people, especially when those other people are clearly capable of standing up for themselves – and I would put Judge Kopf in the category of people clearly capable of standing up for themselves. It often smacks of unnecessary paternalism or is done to feed the ego of the feeler (think of all those social justice warriors who “advocate” on behalf of various groups or causes which don’t necessarily apply to themselves).

      Perhaps Scott’s conclusion of the motivations of the staff of the District of Nebraska was incorrect (we’ll never know for sure unless we can psychoanalyze all of the staff members), but I don’t think he was wrong to question them.

      1. Chuck

        Neither Scott nor you are “questioning” anything. You’ve both assumed your way to unfounded conclusions–and, interestingly, completely different conclusions at that.

        Scott’s accused us of being so invested in working for the Wizard that we were really just upset that RGK pulled back the curtain and reminded us of how ordinary we are. Yeah, right. The work of the court is important, but it’s hardly that glamorous. Read Scott’s original post again, remembering that the people he’s talking about are for the most part, say, information techs, or case managers, or human resources staff. Seriously? Talk about punching down. To be fair, Scott probably didn’t know that. But then, it was Scott’s decision to spin a thousand words or so out of very little solid information, so he assumed the risk of opining while ill-informed.

        But that was Scott’s point. You’ve decided, instead, to assume the truth of what I said and accuse me of paternalism. The fact that you’re trying to defend Scott by assuming the falsity of his assumptions seems to have escaped you.

        1. L

          “accuse me of paternalism”

          That takes some nerve, when you chose paternalism as your argument. If you want to say this paternalism is a good thing, make that argument. But don’t get paternalistic and then act offended when someone notices.

          1. Chuck

            I don’t think it’s “paternalism” to be concerned that a friend might be making a mistake. But that’s not the point. The point is that the accusation of paternalism is inconsistent with Scott’s original argument.

            Scott proffered a theory that was insulting to Judge Kopf’s friends and colleagues, and was, in fact, wrong. I’ve offered a different explanation. Perhaps you disapprove of that explanation. Well, okay. You’re free to do so. That doesn’t make Scott’s original theory any more right, or any less baseless.

            You think people shouldn’t worry about RGK? Perhaps not. The world is full of well-intentioned overreaching. But well-intentioned overreaching is, at least, well-intentioned. Scott’s accusations were far less charitable, and more to point, less true.

    2. Mr. M

      That opening line — oh dear! I remember Nebraskans being kinder and humbler when I lived there so many years ago. Perhaps you’re a transplant.

      In any event, I found your whole comment oddly patronizing. The judge seemed to take so much joy from his blogging, whether it concerned criminal sentencing or his grandkids or his recent bout of shingles. It’s odd that you weren’t able to appreciate that joy because you were so nervous about a grown man potentially embarrassing himself. I have to tell you something that you might find shocking: not everything is about you. Scott’s post seems to make much the same point, albeit in his distinctively Greenfieldian way.

      All that said, I think you’re right that Judge Kopf will shake his head a bit when he sees Scott’s post, if only because the judge’s Midwestern humility (you know, that stuff we talked about earlier) will convince him that he’s not worth the attention. But I expect he’ll start shaking his head harder if he finds your comment, friend.

      1. Chuck

        I was born and raised here. But kindness and humility aren’t antithetical to standing up for yourself or your friends when someone else attacks them without foundation, which is what Scott did. You might want to re-read Scott’s initial remarks and reflect on who took the first swing here. (Also, you should have read my first draft. I’m a little cranky.)

        Perhaps it is patronizing to worry about another adult. But it’s also natural. If you care about someone, then their well-being concerns you, whether or not it’s really “your business.” That’s how human beings are wired. But I note that you’re making the same mistake that Scott did, albeit to a smaller degree: what do you know about us? Who says that I (or we) weren’t able to appreciate Judge Kopf’s enthusiasm for his blog? It was hard not to. I would also appreciate the joy he might find in, say, skydiving. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t worry about the landing, particularly if he’d already rolled his ankle* a couple of times already.

        I also find it curious that you’re condescendingly taking me to task for being self-absorbed (“not everything is about you”) and at the same time condemning me for being too concerned with someone else’s well-being.

        That said, I don’t think Scott’s post makes anything close to the same point, Greenfieldianly or otherwise. We, you might recall, are “small, no, puny, people” who are just “embarrassed at being [our]selves,” anxious to return to the warmth of “wrap[ping our]selves in the fake dignity that makes [us] feel more important than [we] are.” But, sure–I’M the patronizing one here. Do you have any defense for Scott’s argument, other than to misconstrue it for him?

        Perhaps Judge Kopf might not think he’s worthy of Scott’s praises. But I’m pretty sure he would feel bad about his initial explanation for his decision to shut his blog being used in this way, and I’m almost certain he wouldn’t like Scott throwing his friends and colleagues under the bus like this.

        *Or, say, (arguably) violated the Code of Judicial Ethics.

        1. Myles

          The more you write, the clearer it becomes that you have no grasp what’s paternalistic and narcsissistic about what you’re doing.

          As for what Judge Kopf thinks about this post, you might want to let him speak for himself. I bet he didn’t ask you to be his spokesman, and I have significant doubts that anyone as blind as you speaks for him. You might do well, to borrow from Judge Kopf, to STFU.

          1. Chuck

            You seem to assume that I wouldn’t be such an arrogant jerk if I was aware I was doing it. Well, one of the things I like about Scott is that he isn’t particularly shy about throwing elbows. But in this case, he was wrong.

            So, here’s the question: do you agree with Scott’s original point, or are you just going to rest on the tone argument?

            1. Myles

              Most of the responses you’ve gotten try to be kind to you. I, on the other hand, think you’re full of shit. Scott said he had a theory, not that he knew for a fact what motivated you.

              But you didn’t just dispute his theory, did you? Instead, you went right into “fuck you” mode as if he accused you personally. And you call others out when you are the most disingenuous sack of this here?

              I think the reason you’ve protested way too hard is because Scott nailed it, and this is all about you, but you want to deflect responsibility for the selfish, stupid damage you’ve done and pretend you’re just the most loving, wonderful friend ever.

              So while your tone is outrageous, I call bullshit. You’re fake paternalism is just to cover up your shame at being outed as puny. Is this clear enough for you, Chuck?

            2. Mort

              You’re right. We’d hoped you wouldn’t be a tool if you knew you were being one.


    3. repentinglawyer

      Chuch, I have a reasonable knowledge of NE,74 years, 50 years a member of bar, knew Bob Denney before he was a building, he introduced my parents, so I can not be dismissed as an outlander. I share the view that your remarks are demeaning to the judge, pompous and priggish.

      1. Chuck

        Okay. But am I wrong? Do you agree with Scott’s post? On what basis? Or are you just going to tut-tut my tone and call it a day?

        1. repentinglawyer

          Chuck, my problem is with your notion that the Judge needs to be protected from himself because you and your friends are embarrassed for him. I do not think he is always wise or prudent in his remarks and his self disclosure on personal matters is not always to my taste but that is because he takes the risk of openness and candor. He is on the mark so often and I am not wise enough to be his censor. I have taken great joy in his blog and in his allowing me to participate in the comments and will miss it sorely. I do not doubt you sincerely and am glad I did not send my first draft. The Judge is a judge with a head and a heart, a rare type, and his willingness to give up the pretense that the robe is magic should be treasured not bemoaned.

          1. Chuck

            Oddly enough, I think we agree for the most part. I don’t believe Judge Kopf needs to be protected from himself, nor (so far as I am aware) did anyone try to do so. Nor (so far as I am aware) has anyone here tried to censor him. (Other than perhaps a well-intentioned, “Judge, are you sure that was a good idea?”) Remember what happened here: staff were asked how they FELT, and they replied honestly. Judge Kopf decided, himself, to respect those feelings. He didn’t have to.

            I also never said that I, personally, raised my hand. But I fully understand the feelings of those who did. (It’s not like it hasn’t been a subject of office conversation since it began.) And I’m still irked by Scott’s decision to insult us all because of it.

            I will also miss the blog. It worried me at times, but so do my children.*

            *Look, it’s almost LITERAL paternalism. Fire away!

            1. Myles

              A valiant effort to spin your way out of the shit hole you’ve dug for yourself, but it’s a little late to backtrack, Chuck.

              Look at these comments. This was an homage to Judge Kopf, and yet you’ve made it all about you, because you’re special and butthurt. And now you claim you weren’t even one of the people to raise your hand? Very credible, Chuck LNU.

            2. repentinglawyer

              Chuck, The Judge’s decision has generated a lot of strong emotion, I have had to fight the desire to be truly nasty to Orin Kerr, but he would not understand and could block my remarks any way. I agree we are close together. I do think Federal Court employees, even in NE, seem to act like they are working at the Vatican, but you know the people you work with and I am reassured by your comment. My children and grandchildren worry about me, your day will come.

            3. Chuck

              Myles, I’m not backtracking on anything. The only thing that made this personal was when Scott devoted the second half of the post to insulting me and my co-workers.

              Seriously. Take a look at how Scott’s admittedly-nice remarks about Judge Kopf segued into several paragraphs about how terrible the people who work with him must be. Apparently, you agree. Okay. But it’s hard to see how one of the people being insulted doesn’t have a right to address the accusation.

            4. Orin Kerr

              “I have had to fight the desire to be truly nasty to Orin Kerr, but he would not understand and could block my remarks any way.”

              True, I would not understand. Thanks for fighting the desire.

            5. Mort

              Take a look at how Scott’s admittedly-nice remarks about Judge Kopf segued into several paragraphs about how terrible the people who work with him must be.

              Chuckie, if they are anything like you then our benevolent host was too kind on you all by far.

    4. Ray Rigat


      I will miss Judge Kopf’s blog a great deal. He comes across as very smart, and very decent. He must be amazing to work with. I understand your points, and where you’re coming from.

      Judge Kopf obviously has good colleagues, and is apparently very well served by them. That’s great to see. Thank you.

      Ray R.

    5. L

      The pictures of Judge Kopf make him look like an adult man, nearly 70 years old. It is astonishing to learn from your comment that he is a child of about 9 or 10. What a remarkable accomplishment for him to make it to the judiciary at such an age, when most people don’t even graduate law school until 25 or so!

      In light of that fact, I changed my mind – I agree he needs responsible people like you protecting him from himself. I have a seven-year-old myself, and I know they don’t always make the best decisions. Best of luck to you.

    6. Reed Hollander

      I note that the RGK’s original post states: “Then [the Chief Judge] asked for a show of hands, inquiring how many of the employees felt the blog had become an embarrassment to our Court. The great majority raised their hands.” Note: “an embarrassment to our Court” – not an embarrassment to himself.

      Your defense is that you were embarrassed for him and wanted to protect him from himself (which while well-meaning is, as others have noted, paternalistic and infantilizing). But the message you gave to the Chief Judge wasn’t that. It was that RGK’s blog was embarrassing the Court, given that was the question asked.

      I get that you take issue with Scott’s characterization of the staff’s motivations. But I think there’s also a question of the effect, of a (perhaps) well-intentioned and (patently) misguided paternalism. You say that “He is, quite literally, beloved.” If you love him as you claim to, is causing him to silence himself the way to show that love?

    7. SHG Post author


      I’m going to ignore the stupid and instead focus on your concern for Judge Kopf. I’m then going to take a wild leap of faith and credit you with being correct about what happened.

      So here’s the deal. Instead of wasting space on my blawg, why don’t you start a petition among the courthouse staff to tell Judge Kopf that he was misinformed about the vote, that his blog does not embarrass the court, that he does not embarrass the staff and that because of your deep concern for him and his deep desire to continue to blog, you support his continuation as Hercules and the umpire.

      Everything else is bullshit, Chuck. Put up or shut up. I’ve allowed you to murder thousand of words. That’s over. This post isn’t all about you. So if you think as well of Judge Kopf as you say, then tell me you’re willing to do something about it. Or go away. Your choice.

      1. Sgt. Schultz

        A comment at Judge Kopf’s blog, by another person who says they were at the retreat where the vote was called suggests that the information given him may not have expressed the question or answer accurately.

        I don’t remember that the question asked contained the word “embarrassment”. My memory is that the question asked was along the lines of “Who would say that they’ve felt uncomfortable because of the blog?”

        It’s beginning to look like Chuck is not merely full of shit as to his attempt to deflect responsibility, but that he may be lying altogether. Maybe he’s not even a staffer. Maybe he’s just a liar.

        More importantly, maybe Judge Kopf made a decision based on inaccurate information.

      2. Chuck

        I’m not going to circulate a petition, as you well know. For one thing, it’s not responsive: my issue isn’t with the existence of the event, but your detailed opinion about the motives of a lot of decent people who didn’t deserve to be smeared.

        S: You ate that donut because you hate America.
        C: I ate the donut because I like donuts. I don’t hate America.
        S: Fine, if you don’t hate America, prove it–produce the donut.

        It’s not clear to me why repudiating the event itself should be a precondition for discussing why it happened, or denying that it happened for the reasons you claim. I’m not going to defend the straw man you’ve tried to build. It’s also not clear to me why you think it’s someone else’s burden to prove anything at all: you’re the accuser here. You’re far too good a defense lawyer to believe that the defendants have the burden of proof, particularly where the prosecutor has no actual evidence to support his theory of the case. In other words, I’m not the one who should have to put up or shut up.

        But regardless of whether you’re right to do any of this, you certainly have the authority to do it. Your site, your rules. It’s your courtroom, and I am clearly, and admittedly, in contempt. So, I’m done.

    8. Scarlet Pimpernel

      Strangely I did not realize that federal court judges could make intelligent well informed decisions. Quite frankly the fact that you are on some random blog telling the world that the majority of his support staff doesn’t trust him is more of an embaressment to the court than anything he has written.

    9. Neil Faiman


      A few observations.

      1. Judge Kopf has explained that he gave up his blog because the Chief Judge told him that a substantial majority of the Court employees felt that his blog had become an embarrassment to the court.

      2. You have stated that the concern of the court employees was, to the contrary, embarrassment for Judge Kopf.

      3. It appears that there was, somewhere, a massive failure of communication. Perhaps the court employees didn’t understand what they were being asked to vote on. Perhaps the Chief Judge misunderstood their concerns. Perhaps the Chief Judge misdescribed the event to Judge Kopf. Perhaps Judge Kopf misunderstood what the Chief Judge said. Perhaps you misunderstood what happened. No matter.

      4. Given that Judge Kopf has made it clear, on many occasions, that his blog was one of the more important things in his life, the misunderstanding could reasonably be characterized as tragic.

      5. Based on Judge Kopf’s description of the events, Scott’s commentary is far from unreasonable.

      6. It would seem that the first concern of the employees who love him, yourself included, would be rectify the misunderstanding and attempt to put things right. That your first concern was, instead, to attack Scott and defend the court employees seems, to put it charitably, peculiar.

      7. Your disdainful dismissal of Scott’s suggestion that you take concrete action to undo the consequences of the gross misunderstanding of the court employees feelings which was communicated to Judge Kopf seems like a pretty convincing argument that Scott got it right the first time.

  10. John Barleycorn

    Oatmeal and bagels.

    These two men have not raised their elbows above their mid torso in joy for years!

    Who the fuck are people!?

    I would have never figured the esteemed one could be sappy, even if he felt something.

    Before his great grandchildren scatter even further perhaps the Judge will get himself together enough again to walk through the front door of the courthouse with a smile that disinfects even the shadows.


    WTF Judge?! if you are exaggerating even a little bit, you will die alone.

    P.S. Abba sold over three-million albums (Albums) and your children might be watching between 10 to 20 hours of “reality” television every week.

    Free the elbows?

  11. Jay

    > I have a theory about this. A good person vested with enormous power exercises it with humility, recognizing that he is only human and prone to err. But the people who bask in the reflection of that power, who are insignificant in themselves, rely on the false sense of dignity that comes from the trappings of power to make themselves feel more important than they are.

    This and bad money drives out good predicts terrible things for us all.

    Something about the leaders we deserve, not the leaders we need.

  12. Gloria Wolk

    This is an example of one of the sayings of Norman Goroff, one of my favorite grad. school professors: “If you allow others to define you, you allow them to control you.”

    Judge Kopf is an embarrassment to the peons at the court who want to bask in his glory, and resent anyone other thsn them knowinf he is human? To please them, the rest of us lose.

    A NY federal judge wrote a personal memoir filled with self-aggrandizement and truly undignifying, embarrassing details about his personal life. Nothing enlightening. What a contrast.

  13. Fubar

    Rich was a good guy.

    He only stopped blogging, ain’t dead.
    Now court staff gets his focus instead.
    So they got what they asked,
    And his effort’s retasked.
    Any caution in that’s left unsaid!

  14. st

    SHG wrote once that “A great many people have lost faith, lost hope, that our fundamentally flawed system can be salvaged. Judge Kopf, for all he may do “wrong,” has given them hope that there are some real, thinking, caring human beings in robes who maybe, just maybe, can be persuaded to care a little more about what the law does to real people and little less in decorum.”

    I’m one of those who have lost any vestiges of hope. Judge Kopf’s humanity was indeed heartening, but what scared me was the high probability that he was the most human and humble judge in the federal court system. He was certainly the only one brave enough to run a frank blog.

    Seeing that court system turn on him and compel him* to shut down that blog only reinforces my belief that this horrible system is functioning exactly as intended. All hope for mundanes is indeed lost.

    *I realized no violence was threatened, but both the phrasing of the question and the vote were by people who surely understood that Judge Kopf would not tolerate even the appearance of becoming an embarrassment to his beloved Court.

  15. repentinglawyer

    st, While my view of the system is not as dark as your, I feel a loss of hope like yours at the departure of Judge Kopf’s blog. The system has never dealt well with real humanity.

    1. SHG Post author

      It may require a substantial amount of experience with the real world to simultaneously maintain an appreciation of the humanity of people in decision-making positions and still be capable of respecting the role and responsibility of the position. It seems as if less experienced people see them as mutually exclusive, rather than complementary.

  16. Osama bin Pimpin

    I don’t get how this guy is seen as being “disrespectful” for a private flippant criticism of a controversial opinion while Reinhardt is seen as a principled liberal for being one of the most reversed judges in America who treats controlling authority as mere food for thought.

  17. phroggie

    There once was a judge based in Lincoln,
    His writings helpful to start my days out thinkin’.
    Openly to all,
    He expressed some gall,
    That Cruz perhaps had been doing some drinkin’.

    This deceit of canon was responded by Kerr,
    So he read some decisions and admitted his err.
    Not a big deal,
    Said those in the real,
    But his staff felt shame, and poked at the burr.

    Misunderstood though the shame may be,
    Our honorable justice didn’t receive it with glee.
    He wrote once again,
    To visitors’ chagrin,
    On how his musings no longer could we see.

    Many comments did fill that post on his blog,
    Mostly thanks for the glimpses into his nog’.
    It was quite sad,
    He writes like a Dad,
    But his words are remembered as I drink of the grog.

  18. Ray Rigat

    Maybe RGK will use the time to write a book. He can call it STFU, and have it published when he decides to retire. I know I’d buy it!

  19. Miguel Nogueras

    I miss Hercules and The Umpire everyday. It hurts to see him hold back and I am glad you called out the small minded individuals responsible for this situation. Thank you for honoring Judge Kopf.

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