Ho, Ho, Ho! And that’s 10 days for solicitation.
On this, a short holiday edition of Loki’s Law Blog, I will discuss jurists- the final decisions makers. And by decision makers, I mean that they make the decision to get your case over with so they can go drinkin’, already.
But rather than be an in-depth discussion of jurisprudence, which I will save for another day, I would like to discuss my favorite judging names. See, a long time ago, when I was still learning to be a lawyer, I read these books with my fellow pre-lawyers. These books had collections of “cases” in them from which we could draw our own, wrong, conclusions.
And one judge kept popping up. Judge Learned Hand. So when a classmate asked me about Judge Learned Hand, I told them that “Learned Hand” was a name that judges used when they didn’t want to write their own names on opinion, much like Alan Smithee in Hollywood. Because who has a name like Learned Hand? I assumed my colleague knew I was having, what I colloquially referred to as “the fun,” until he then explained that concept to other students, and then to the professor after class.
We all learned a valuable lesson that day. My fellow classmate learned that Judge Learned Hand did, in fact, exist, while I learned that the joy you receive from the misery of others was the best joy that could be had; truly, why else would you go to law school?
Anyway, some of my favorite judges and judging names, non-Supreme Court variety:
Judge Learned Hand. Yeah, he’s real, and he’s spectacular. Probably most famous today for his decision involving negligence, where he came up with the famous formula that liability results when B(urden of adequate protections) < P(robability that an incident will occur) * L(oss, or injury). This is probably the first, and most famous, attempt to “math,” law, greatly appreciated by later devotees like Richard “Perfect Market” Posner and Frank “Big Head” Easterbrook.
Judge Minor Wisdom. So many questions. If you know your child is going to be a judge, wouldn’t you call him Major Wisdom? If you were going before the Court, would you be happy if you were only getting Minor Wisdom? If there were three kids, would it be Major, Minor, and De Minimis Wisdom? Given his influential jurisprudence advancing civil rights, he should probably get the Major upgrade.
Judge Henry Friendly. We’ve all met Officer Friendly, but if Officer Friendly arrests you, would you like to appear before Judge Friendly? Often called the greatest judge you’ve never heard of, his “Friendly” name masked a razor-sharp intellect; unlike some of the other judges on this list, however, most of his intellectual firepower was reserved for the types of litigation that continues to be important and cited to this day in commercial and securities, but isn’t RAWR ABOUT WHATEVER CULTURAL WAR IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW.
Justice Roger J. Traynor. I’m going to end this brief holiday edition with a shout-out to the Choo-choo Trayn himself, the Honorable Roger J. Traynor. As a justice (and Chief Justice) of the California Supreme Court, the Trayn may have had more of an impact on the law in the 20th Century than any jurist not on the Supreme Court. While a number of issues could come up, his revolutionary jurisprudence in the area of negligence and products liability opened up the modern world of tort liability ... for better or worse.
Happy holidays to all.