Judge Alex Kozinski

In the April issue of Arizona Attorney (currently on the newsstands, or the coffee table, or wherever you keep it), our back-page news story describes a visit to Arizona by the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

For the brief story, I interviewed some lawyers who organized the event, as well as some rank-and-file attendees. And what was one thing that was oft repeated by the lawyers about Judge Kozinski?

“He’s a straight shooter,” a number of people reported. He’s candid and honest, said others. People enjoy reading his opinions.

Joe Palazzolo

Or even his dissents, as it turns out.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog noted a Kozinski dissent in a gun-show case. As writer Joe Palazzolo describes, the Ninth Circuit’s “11-judge panel considered a long-running dispute over a ban on gun shows at the Alameda County fairgrounds in California.” That ban had been in place since 1998, when 16 people were injured in a shooting.

And since 1999, the case has wound its way through the courts. Opponents, not surprisingly, want the ban expunged.

But earlier this month, the panel voted, 9 to 2, to send the case to mediation. However, Judge Kozinski would have none of it. In his dissent, he says:

“The parties have not asked for mediation; they have said nothing that suggests mediation would be fruitful; when asked about it in court, they displayed obvious distaste for the idea. We overstep our authority by forcing the parties to spend time and money engaging in a mediation charade. Our job is to decide the case, and do so promptly. This delay serves no useful purpose; it only makes us look foolish. I want no part of it.”

There is some of that candor lawyers and others enjoy—even when they may not agree with his position.

The order—and dissent—in Nordyke v. King is here.