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Federal Judge an Unlikely Blogger

Gertner When the online magazine Slate launched its legal blog, Convictions, in March, a key feature was the blog's array of notable contributors drawn from all corners of the legal world. One in particular who stood out was Nancy Gertner, a U.S. district judge who sits in Boston. As I noted at the time, she was Massachusetts' first blogging judge, and she is one of only a handful of judges blogging anywhere. In her own introduction to her blogging, she called herself "an unlikely blogger," and noted that, as a judge, she is more limited than many in what she can say.

Today, The Boston Globe has more about this unlikely blogger. For one, she has little time to blog, given her "day job" and the seminar on sentencing she teachers one day a week at Yale Law School in New Haven. To date, she has a grand total of four postings. For another, she drafts her posts on her laptop and then edits them on paper before posting them online. She works on them in her office, at home and on the train between Boston and New Haven -- but never, she says, on the bench.

The article reveals that Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon first invited 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard A. Posner to write for Convictions. He declined, already busy with his own blog. So Bazelon turned to Gertner, whose Yale seminar she had taken. Gertner promptly agreed.

Gertner says judges are too often silent on issues they should publicly address, such as how federal sentencing guidelines have led to what she and other jurists consider unreasonably long prison terms for nonviolent drug offenders. Judges must also do a better job explaining why the judicial code forbids them from discussing cases, she said, because their silence after controversial rulings is misread as arrogance or cowardice.

Gertner's status as a federal judge may, indeed, make her an unlikely blogger. But Gertner has always been a maverick, even before President Clinton nominated her to the bench in 1993. Given that, perhaps her blogging is not unlikely at all.

See also: Real Judges Have Blogs.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 27, 2008 at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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