16. November 2005 · Comments Off on Death Of A Blawg · Categories: General

As it was more concerned with physical appearance and celebrity within the legal community, than matters of actual jurisprudence, some may argue that Underneath Their Robes was/is not a “real” blawg. But it has always been a fun read. And it’s popularity indicates that I’m far from alone in that opinion. But now, it can be accessed via password – with no obvious method for registration. This is a dirty shame:

Yesterday, Judge Kozinski was mourning what was apparently the death of the blog. Soon after The New Yorker magazine disclosed on Monday that its author was not, as the blog claimed, a female lawyer at a big firm with a taste for gossip and luxury goods, but rather a male federal prosecutor in Newark, the site disappeared behind a password-protected virtual wall.

Judges and their law clerks made up much of the site’s readership, and several said yesterday that they had found its mixture of judicial celebrity sightings and over-the-top commentary irresistible.


Article III Groupie turns out to be a 30-year-old prosecutor, David B. Lat. That was news to his employer, the Justice Department.

“It’s fair to say that it came as a great surprise to many people in the U.S. attorney’s office that David was the author of the blog,” said an official who insisted on anonymity, saying the situation was novel and under investigation.


Howard Bashman, a lawyer who runs How Appealing, a blog devoted to appellate litigation, said that Underneath Their Robes “was one of the most popular, gossipy and frivolous law blogs around.”

But Mr. Bashman said he suspected that Mr. Lat, who appeared frequently in the federal appeals court in Philadelphia, was playing a dangerous game in commenting on the judges there.

Judge Posner, who contributes to a blog, said government employees should be free to blog.

“If he does it on his own time and does not compromise his official duties in some way, I don’t see the problem,” the judge said in an e-mail message. “We have free speech too, don’t we?

“If Lat appears before judges whom he’s made fun of in his blog or who may be offended by the blog (the humorless judges), then there might be a problem, though only a problem if he is ‘outed’ – and he outed himself!”

What’s to investigate? There is nothing unusual about publishing under a nom de’plume – even one indicative of the opposite gender (how could we forget Silence DoGood?). And, as for appearing before a judge who may have been embarrassed by having been mentioned on the blawg: well, that’s their problem. As would be the case when an attorney is appearing before a judge for whom they have been critical of on a more serious blog (or anywhere else): if there is the possibility it might prejudice their decision, then they should recuse themselves (or be recused).

Comments closed.