This past month, I wrote about a great new book—and a terrific lunch with judges that introduced me to it.
Below, I share my column from a recent Arizona Attorney Magazine. I encourage you to enjoy Judge Fred Block’s new book, and to dig into some Chinese food. Here’s the column:
Candor and courts go together like professional and conduct.
That’s true from the attorney’s side, where we understand that statements uttered to judges must be true and accurate.
But the return flow of information from judges may not always be quite so candid.
Before anyone yells “Contempt,” understand I’m not viewing candor’s opposite as dishonesty. Instead, it’s guardedness and caution—characteristics that describe many judges.
Judges have good reason to hesitate before speaking about courts and the justice system. Nonetheless, most people appreciate the occasional glimpses they offer into a system often shrouded in mystery.
And that’s why I’m glad I accepted an April lunch date with two judges.
The first was the wonderful Judge Bob Gottsfield, of the Superior Court for Maricopa County. Accompanying him was a federal district judge from New York, Fred Block. Judge Block was presiding at a trial at the federal courthouse in Phoenix.
We met at Sing High Chop Suey House—a first for me. What brought us together was a conversation about the legal system—and a book that Judge Block had penned.
As I tucked into my white-meat chicken chow mein (a house specialty), I listened with pleasure to the law practice stories Judge Block told. He avoided commentary about his book, politely preferring to have a conversation rather than a press junket.
So impressed was I by the chat and by the judge that I ordered the book from Amazon the next day. And I urge you to do the same.
Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge is that rarest of animals: a candid book written by a sitting judge. His story—from a solo law practice to an Article III Judge—makes for enjoyable reading. And the cases he analyzes range from front-page fodder to colorful New York. Scanning the index gives an education: “Bondi, Richard ‘The Lump,’” “Madoff, Bernie,” “Casso, Anthony ‘Gaspipe.’”
Judge Frederic Block
In between bites, the judge explained that too few people understand anything about the justice system, let alone what a district judge does. He hoped his book would go some distance in educating the public.
I haven’t finished the book, but what comes through is voice with a capital V. As I prepare for May, when I’ll be writing a lawyer profile, I will devour and learn from Disrobed—a masterful rendition of a profession, a time, a man and his many chapters.
Plus, I can’t wait to get to “Gravano, Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull,’” and “Simpson, O.J.”