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It’s probably good news you don’t have to be a plain vanilla, straight-arrow type to win a lifetime achievement award, but the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association may have gone overboard in honoring ex-judge Jerry Carr Whitehead. Whitehead isn’t merely an ex-judge. When he quit in 1995, he cut a deal with the U.S. Justice Department. In return for his promise never to sit as a judge again, the feds agreed not to prosecute him for any crimes that had turned up during a year-long investigation. The investigation was prompted by a state constitutional impasse that the ABA Journal called “one of the most bizarre and bruising legal battles” in Nevada history. Two other judges had reported Whitehead to the state Judicial Conduct Commission for allegedly retaliating against attorneys who tried to disqualify him by holding meetings with opposing counsel to let them choose new judges. Other allegations included one about orchestrating a change of venue to help a policeman accused of beating a handcuffed suspect. Whitehead went on the offensive. He said the ex parte meetings, if they occurred, weren’t misconduct because the rule allowing a lawyer to disqualify a judge is silent on how the case is reassigned. He challenged the commission’s jurisdiction, rending the state Supreme Court. All ancient history, says Matt Sharp, Nevada Trial Lawyers Association president. He says the 2003 lifetime achievement award recognizes Whitehead’s work as a mediator, his contributions to the civil justice system and help for the consumer. “He wasn’t convicted by a jury. He wasn’t even indicted,” said Sharp. He said the June 24 banquet was lovely. “We looked at the man’s career as a whole,” he said. That might not include the 1980s, when Redbook magazine named Whitehead one of the 10 most sexist judges in America. Roughly two-thirds of the American public can’t name a single current U.S. Supreme Court justice, and fewer than one in 100 can name all nine. That’s a finding of a survey by Findlaw, the high-traffic Internet portal based in Mountain View, Calif. Findlaw says it interviewed 1,000 representative adults nationwide. The first woman on the court, Sandra Day O’Connor, was the most frequently identified, with 25%. With a 1% rating, the oldest justice, John Paul Stevens, was the most obscure. They are, in order of recognizability: O’Connor, Clarence Thomas, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer and Stevens. Reacting to the survey, Professor Stephen Presser of Northwestern University School of Law gets the Silver Lining Award. The public doesn’t care who’s on the court, he speculated, “because they believe the court is objectively applying the Constitution and laws when it makes a decision.” Law professor Eugene Volokh of the University of California at Los Angeles, writing for the current Journal of Legal Education, says he has “uncovered” a number of Lost Maxims of Equity. Joining in on the fun, Washington appellate attorney Gary O’Connor says he’s always believed no maxim reaches its full potential until it’s translated into Latin-”even if it’s a bad translation.” A few samples: Equity abhors a nudnik. (Equitas abhorret nudnico.) Equity delights in a good practical joke. (Equitas amat ludum qui facit conturbatio.) He who seeks equity must do so with full pockets. (Qui equitatem petit, cujus multa pecunia neccesitatis est.) Equity is not for the squeamish. (Equitas non pro fastidiosi est.) Equity is a mean drunk. (Equitas est ebriosa vilis.) Equity, like all of us, prefers the rich and good-looking. (Equitas, similis omnorum, praeferret dives et pulchre.)

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