Judge's behavior during interview

Seek and share information about clerkship applications, clerkship hiring timelines, and post-clerkship employment opportunities.
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are sharing sensitive information about clerkship applications and clerkship hiring. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned."
Anonymous User
Posts: 327367
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:11 am

If you're comfortable rolling the dice, go public with this. Imagine the above the law story. The judge would be toast. It doesn't really matter what the law is; a judge's stature is based on the respect of their peers. Once they lose that for being on the bad end of an ATL whistleblower story, they'll probably be forced to resign or take senior status.

BlackAndOrange84

Bronze
Posts: 286
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:06 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:33 am

Gotta love all the anons advising OP's friend to burn down any chance of having a normal career. And LOL that this would actually be enough to take down an Article III judge. It took a flood of varied complaints to take down Kozinski, unless you've forgotten or are too young to remember his public porn server scandal from years ago. As I noted earlier, I'm pretty sure the question itself isn't illegal, and unless the judiciary has an ethics opinion prohibiting such a question (just checked, there isn't one), there's not really any punishment that can be dished out to a judge with life tenure. At best, you get an ethics opinion that judges maybe shouldn't ask such questions in the future.

Although the necroing of this thread has been weird, I'll repeat: unless OP's friend wants to become a professional activist, this is the not the hill to die on.

Also, gotta second the pushback against the idea that asking this indicates a year of harassment to come. That's almost an almost willfully dumb take. Think for two seconds about how small chambers is, the work that is divided up between 2-4 clerks, and the difficulty of finding a competent replacement for say 12 weeks of leave (and btw, clerks aren't eligible for the leave generally granted to federal employees, likely for related reasons). If Judge Ikuta and other judges ask this question, they do so for these reasons. Maybe there should be a system for dealing with situations like this—there was an ATL article about how one clerk arranged with another to take over for her to provide what would essentially be maternity leave, and the substitute's firm was cool with it. Sounds like a great policy idea to somehow institutionalize. But until that's created, 8-12 weeks of leave in the middle of a one-year term can create serious issues.

nixy

Silver
Posts: 543
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby nixy » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:21 am

Agree entirely with BlackAndOrange.

Now, I would totally get not wanting to work with someone who asked that question, and that’s totally the person’s prerogative. I am absolutely not saying they *should* (have) take(n) the job. But it’s not clear from that one question what working for the judge would be like. (Especially if the clerk doesn’t get married/have kids during the term!!) (NB I am kind of joking, I don’t think anyone should have to arrange their life choices around a judge’s preferences.)

QContinuum

Moderator
Posts: 892
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:52 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby QContinuum » Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:40 am

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Also, gotta second the pushback against the idea that asking this indicates a year of harassment to come. That's almost an almost willfully dumb take.


How is it a "willfully dumb take"? I read it as a very real and significant risk. The smallness of chambers apparently didn't stop Kozinski from harassing his female clerks while they were there.

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Think for two seconds about how small chambers is, the work that is divided up between 2-4 clerks, and the difficulty of finding a competent replacement for say 12 weeks of leave (and btw, clerks aren't eligible for the leave generally granted to federal employees, likely for related reasons). If Judge Ikuta and other judges ask this question, they do so for these reasons.


You're minimizing and distorting what the judge here actually asked. The judge didn't merely ask if the interviewee was planning on starting a family during the year. The judge "point blank asked her how old she was, if she was married, and if she planned on "getting herself pregnant" during the clerkship term as a past clerk had done in his chambers."

The candidate's age would only appear to be relevant to a judge with a "preference" for hiring young women; the candidate's marital status would only appear to be relevant to a judge with a "preference" for hiring young, single women.

User avatar
Elston Gunn

Gold
Posts: 3471
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:09 pm

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby Elston Gunn » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:06 pm

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Also, gotta second the pushback against the idea that asking this indicates a year of harassment to come. That's almost an almost willfully dumb take. Think for two seconds about how small chambers is, the work that is divided up between 2-4 clerks, and the difficulty of finding a competent replacement for say 12 weeks of leave (and btw, clerks aren't eligible for the leave generally granted to federal employees, likely for related reasons). If Judge Ikuta and other judges ask this question, they do so for these reasons. Maybe there should be a system for dealing with situations like this—there was an ATL article about how one clerk arranged with another to take over for her to provide what would essentially be maternity leave, and the substitute's firm was cool with it. Sounds like a great policy idea to somehow institutionalize. But until that's created, 8-12 weeks of leave in the middle of a one-year term can create serious issues.

If anything, this is the willfully dumb (or rather, ignorant) take. Look, we don’t know exactly what the judge said, and maybe it’s not as bad as how OP made it sound, but that’s what we’ve seen. If the judge had said something like, “I know it’s not really fair, but I’ve found it very challenging in the past having to work around a clerk’s pregnancy, and I would like to know whether you think that’s likely during the term you’re applying for (recognizing you can’t perfectly predict the future).” That would still be a perfect example of the way our culture “unintentionally” makes it harder to succeed as a woman, but it wouldn’t necessarily make you assume the judge is an asshole.

But that isn’t what the judge said. I’m sorry it’s the case, but *many* people have very bad clerkship experiences, and *many* judges are sexists and/or jerks. This is the case in every profession, but especially so where people operate with impunity and without meaningful oversight, as judges do. The very smallness of chambers means it is all the more important to avoid those people.

The judge isnt definitely an asshole and nor will he definitely act in a harassing way or be a bad mentor. But this behavior is certainly indicative of that, and a prospective clerk would be very reasonable to want to avoid working for him.

(I recognize that the OP’s friend has made this decision long ago, but I think it’s worth saying nonetheless.)

lavarman84

Platinum
Posts: 7726
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 5:01 pm

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby lavarman84 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If you're comfortable rolling the dice, go public with this. Imagine the above the law story. The judge would be toast. It doesn't really matter what the law is; a judge's stature is based on the respect of their peers. Once they lose that for being on the bad end of an ATL whistleblower story, they'll probably be forced to resign or take senior status.


Somebody needs to start outing anons, especially the ones giving dumb, career-harming advice.

Barrred

Bronze
Posts: 170
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:49 pm

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby Barrred » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:02 pm

QContinuum wrote:The candidate's age would only appear to be relevant to a judge with a "preference" for hiring young women; the candidate's marital status would only appear to be relevant to a judge with a "preference" for hiring young, single women.


C'mon. Again with the willful ignorance in order to draw the most nefarious possible conclusions in support of your hyperbolic view. Judges often ask personal questions in interviews that would be far outside the bounds of a normal firm interview (e.g., age, relationship status, what your parents do, what your siblings do, how do you get along with your family) in an attempt to build a more complete personal picture of the potential clerk before making a hiring decision. Most judges do not see the process as simply looking to hire a research attorney for a one-year term, rather, they think of it as bringing on a new member of their chambers family.

We should be able to have a nuanced discussion of these complex issues without resorting to hyperbole.

lavarman84

Platinum
Posts: 7726
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 5:01 pm

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby lavarman84 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:32 pm

Barrred wrote:
QContinuum wrote:The candidate's age would only appear to be relevant to a judge with a "preference" for hiring young women; the candidate's marital status would only appear to be relevant to a judge with a "preference" for hiring young, single women.


C'mon. Again with the willful ignorance in order to draw the most nefarious possible conclusions in support of your hyperbolic view. Judges often ask personal questions in interviews that would be far outside the bounds of a normal firm interview (e.g., age, relationship status, what your parents do, what your siblings do, how do you get along with your family) in an attempt to build a more complete personal picture of the potential clerk before making a hiring decision. Most judges do not see the process as simply looking to hire a research attorney for a one-year term, rather, they think of it as bringing on a new member of their chambers family.

We should be able to have a nuanced discussion of these complex issues without resorting to hyperbole.


I have to agree. The judge might end up being a prick who harasses his clerks. That's a possibility. But he might also be a tremendous boss who just doesn't realize he's crossing a line. For example, I was asked about my religious beliefs and my political beliefs in interviews. It didn't color my opinion of the judges (it also helped that I had good information that the judges who asked are great bosses). I feel bad for saying this, but you just have to accept that you'll get asked some questions that wouldn't be acceptable in other contexts as part of the clerkship process. I'm not saying it should be accepted, though. There's just nothing that can really be done about it.

QContinuum

Moderator
Posts: 892
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:52 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby QContinuum » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:33 pm

Barrred wrote:
QContinuum wrote:The candidate's age would only appear to be relevant to a judge with a "preference" for hiring young women; the candidate's marital status would only appear to be relevant to a judge with a "preference" for hiring young, single women.


C'mon. Again with the willful ignorance in order to draw the most nefarious possible conclusions in support of your hyperbolic view. Judges often ask personal questions in interviews that would be far outside the bounds of a normal firm interview (e.g., age, relationship status, what your parents do, what your siblings do, how do you get along with your family) in an attempt to build a more complete personal picture of the potential clerk before making a hiring decision. Most judges do not see the process as simply looking to hire a research attorney for a one-year term, rather, they think of it as bringing on a new member of their chambers family.

We should be able to have a nuanced discussion of these complex issues without resorting to hyperbole.


Why do you insist on the ad hominem attacks? If anything, your post above is a textbook example of willful ignorance (and hyperbole at that). The judge's queries re age and marital status weren't made in a ham-handed but well-meaning attempt at small talk; they were in the context of the judge asking if the candidate "planned on getting herself pregnant during the clerkship term as a past clerk had done." The notion of women "getting themselves pregnant" is generally only subscribed to by misogynists who believe women have a habit of conning or forcing men into fatherhood. The far more common phrases among non-sexists are "starting/growing a family" and "having a baby". It's frankly dishonest to surgically excise the judge's first two questions from the context.

To be entirely clear, if the judge had only asked the first two questions (about age and marital status), I would not have read any bad intent into the interaction. It's the first two questions in the context of the third question, and esp. the "getting herself pregnant" phrasing, that sets my alarm bells ringing.

BlackAndOrange84

Bronze
Posts: 286
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:06 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:38 pm

Guys, you're complaining about how he allegedly phrased the question and inferring way too much from incredibly limited context. Stop trying to read so much into it. If you're shocked to hear that a man of a certain age (and likely not from the coasts) would use such phrasing, you've lived a sheltered life. I'm not shocked that a guy born around 1930 or 1940 might say that. Also, age and marital status are relevant to whether to ask about "getting pregnant." You can't mind read the guy based on these questions or know who he is. Maybe he actually does hate women, but there's no reason to assume that's the case. Also, where does this "many" judges are sexists and "many" clerks have had bad experiences come from? As far as I know there's only ever been a handful of judges even whispered about.

QContinuum

Moderator
Posts: 892
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:52 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby QContinuum » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:10 pm

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Guys, you're complaining about how he allegedly phrased the question and inferring way too much from incredibly limited context. Stop trying to read so much into it. If you're shocked to hear that a man of a certain age (and likely not from the coasts) would use such phrasing, you've lived a sheltered life. I'm not shocked that a guy born around 1930 or 1940 might say that.


What's the basis of the assumption that the judge is ~90 years old ("born around 1930")? Very likely the judge is younger than that.

For the sake of argument, let's assume the judge is in his mid-80s. Am I shocked that a judge in his mid-80s would be sexist? Absolutely not. Does it somehow excuse or justify the judge's behavior? Absolutely not.

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Also, age and marital status are relevant to whether to ask about "getting pregnant."


No, that's flat-out wrong. On the age part, if the applicant was too old to be fertile, you'd be able to tell by looking at her. On the marital status part, marital status doesn't remotely permit a reliable inference re intent to have a child within the next year.

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:You can't mind read the guy based on these questions or know who he is.


We're not trying to mind-read him, we're trying to draw reasonable inferences based on his behavior. And I don't see anyone ITT claiming to know the identity of the judge.

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Maybe he actually does hate women, but there's no reason to assume that's the case.


No one ITT is saying the judge "hates" women, just that his actions indicate there's a significant risk (note: risk, not certainty) he's sexist. Even if the judge is, in fact, sexist, not all sexists "hate" women.

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Also, where does this "many" judges are sexists and "many" clerks have had bad experiences come from? As far as I know there's only ever been a handful of judges even whispered about.


Aren't you one of the folks advocating for OP's friend to stay mum? If folks follow your advice - and very many do (it's why Kozinski was able to last as long as he did) - it stands to reason that judicial misconduct is significantly underreported.

lavarman84

Platinum
Posts: 7726
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 5:01 pm

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby lavarman84 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:21 pm

QContinuum wrote:Aren't you one of the folks advocating for OP's friend to stay mum? If folks follow your advice - and very many do (it's why Kozinski was able to last as long as he did) - it stands to reason that judicial misconduct is significantly underreported.


The people, like myself, telling OP's friend to stay mum are doing so with regard to filing official complaints. Nothing is stopping OP's friend from telling other people informally about what happened. It's why Kozinski's issues were an open secret. It simply took the right atmosphere to get the media recognition and pressure to push Koz out. But people weren't unaware of what they were walking into with regard to a Koz clerkship. And the same is true of many of the judges out there who are bad bosses.

As for judicial misconduct, it is significantly underreported. The complaint process is totally broken. The only person it often ends up hurting is the complainant. That's why we're warning OP's friend that it's not worth trying to go the official route. It will more likely damage her career than his.

BlackAndOrange84

Bronze
Posts: 286
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:06 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:06 am

QContinuum wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Guys, you're complaining about how he allegedly phrased the question and inferring way too much from incredibly limited context. Stop trying to read so much into it. If you're shocked to hear that a man of a certain age (and likely not from the coasts) would use such phrasing, you've lived a sheltered life. I'm not shocked that a guy born around 1930 or 1940 might say that.


What's the basis of the assumption that the judge is ~90 years old ("born around 1930")? Very likely the judge is younger than that.

For the sake of argument, let's assume the judge is in his mid-80s. Am I shocked that a judge in his mid-80s would be sexist? Absolutely not. Does it somehow excuse or justify the judge's behavior? Absolutely not.

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Also, age and marital status are relevant to whether to ask about "getting pregnant."


No, that's flat-out wrong. On the age part, if the applicant was too old to be fertile, you'd be able to tell by looking at her. On the marital status part, marital status doesn't remotely permit a reliable inference re intent to have a child within the next year.

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:You can't mind read the guy based on these questions or know who he is.


We're not trying to mind-read him, we're trying to draw reasonable inferences based on his behavior. And I don't see anyone ITT claiming to know the identity of the judge.

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Maybe he actually does hate women, but there's no reason to assume that's the case.


No one ITT is saying the judge "hates" women, just that his actions indicate there's a significant risk (note: risk, not certainty) he's sexist. Even if the judge is, in fact, sexist, not all sexists "hate" women.

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Also, where does this "many" judges are sexists and "many" clerks have had bad experiences come from? As far as I know there's only ever been a handful of judges even whispered about.


Aren't you one of the folks advocating for OP's friend to stay mum? If folks follow your advice - and very many do (it's why Kozinski was able to last as long as he did) - it stands to reason that judicial misconduct is significantly underreported.


I'm not going to deal with every line of this hamfisted fisking attempt—I get it, you're not going to see the point—but the last paragraph is a complete failure. Even "significant" underreporting of what's already a small number remains a small number. In other words, underreporting has nothing to do with the absolute number of judges guilty of [whatever it is we're accusing people of—being "sexist," sexually harassing, being misogynist, or being insufficiently woke for the tastes of some?]. It just underscores that you just don't know how many judges have sexually harassed chambers or other judiciary staff or are sexist or whatever (I guess Judge Ikuta has internalized misogyny). Look, there are a few names that are whispered about, a few judges who have known hiring preferences that are suggestive, to say the least, but that there are "many" who do [whatever we're talking about] is a completely unfounded claim. Unless there were actually "many" cases, in which case we could have expected more to come to light in the last few years, unless the underreporting is actually close to total silence.

And along the lines of what lavarman said: it's easy for people on this forum to tell someone else to throw their career away in the hope of taking down a federal judge, but it's still bad advice, particularly in light of how different this is from the Koz situation (not illegal, not unethical in the sense of clearly violating judicial ethics canons or opinions, and unlikely to result in any significant change).

nixy

Silver
Posts: 543
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby nixy » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:38 am

I agree that the person doesn’t have anything to gain from reporting this, but I also think the idea that sexual harassment/discrimination (on a number of grounds) is anything other than underreported, and no more a problem in the judiciary than anywhere else, is woefully naive, though.

User avatar
Elston Gunn

Gold
Posts: 3471
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:09 pm

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby Elston Gunn » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:42 am

For the claim that many people have bad clerkship experiences, you can start with the thread on here from not long ago where the OP talked about how much s/he hated their clerkship and several people chimed in to say it wasn’t unusual and they’d had similar experiences. There is intense pressure to only say nice things about your judge.

As for sexism, etc, I guess all I can say is that I clerked, and I know many people who clerked. (My personal experience was great, and my judge was both kind and sensitive to issues of bias, but that is not universal.)

I’m not saying there are dozens of Kozinksis out there, but there are big gradations of sexism and assholery. And Kozinski’s antics were well-known but widely considered harmless or some other bs until recently.

The fact that you are incredulous that a group of people that is (1) mostly older, (2) over 70% male, (3) extremely influential over the career success of their clerks if they choose to be, and (4) operate with no HR or other oversight (or legal HR obligations) and can’t be fired would include a decent chunk of tyrannical bosses and sexists is honestly baffling. Do you think the Senate confirmation process is somehow magically efficient at weeding out jerks?

BlackAndOrange84

Bronze
Posts: 286
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:06 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:48 am

Re: Nixy—I think the burden of proof is on the proponents of the argument that harassment within the ranks of the federal judiciary is worse w/r/t other professions, not just in a statistically significant way but in a markedly and seriously worse way (I know, there isn't much just like being an Article III judge, but you take the closest analogues you have available). There may be reasons to think underreporting is stronger for judges or there are insufficient ways to disincentivize harassing behavior, but I see no reason to think that the effects of those things are as dire as people here assume.

Elston Gunn wrote:For the claim that many people have bad clerkship experiences, you can start with the thread on here from not long ago where the OP talked about how much s/he hated their clerkship and several people chimed in to say it wasn’t unusual and they’d had similar experiences. There is intense pressure to only say nice things about your judge.

As for sexism, etc, I guess all I can say is that I clerked, and I know many people who clerked. (My personal experience was great, and my judge was both kind and sensitive to issues of bias, but that is not universal.)

I’m not saying there are dozens of Kozinksis out there, but there are big gradations of sexism and assholery. And Kozinski’s antics were well-known but widely considered harmless or some other bs until recently.

The fact that you are incredulous that a group of people that is (1) mostly older, (2) over 70% male, (3) extremely influential over the career success of their clerks if they choose to be, and (4) operate with no HR or other oversight (or legal HR obligations) and can’t be fired would include a decent chunk of tyrannical bosses and sexists is honestly baffling. Do you think the Senate confirmation process is somehow magically efficient at weeding out jerks?


I am incredulous re: the sexual harassment claim (or even a discriminatory-sexist claim) in no small part because I clerked and know many people who have, and I've never heard more than whispers about a handful of judges (see also who I think bears the burden of proof here). I get the incentives against speaking out against your judge, but whispers still get around, particularly among friends, and the dearth of even whispers and my observations that federal judges are are at least no worse and are frequently better than any randomly selected slice of humanity (together with what I said above in response to Nixy) persuade me that things aren't as dire as everyone here is claiming.

And I don't see the obvious connection between your list of (1)-(2) and being "tyrannical bosses." One of the most notoriously abusive federal judges was a woman (search the forums or google for "Dolores Sloviter"—she was so bad a former clerk penned a barely fictional account of it), and I've heard of other, younger female judges who are bad to work for (and others who are good to work for). Similarly I've known of younger judges who are hell to work for. I guess I just don't assume anything from being older and predominantly male in the same way you do. If that's baffling to you, ok. I wish I found your position baffling, but it's a commonplace. What's the basis for your belief?

nixy

Silver
Posts: 543
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby nixy » Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:58 am

Are you really saying that you’ve never come across older people who’ve retained beliefs about gender/race that were acceptable when they were younger but are no longer acceptable?

And I’m not saying the judiciary is necessarily worse than any other group - I’m saying that people suck and there is a lot of this out there in the world in general and the judiciary isn’t any better than any other group. I actually believe that the incentives against a law clerk reporting any of this are even stronger than for most other jobs (judges are important; they can be helpful/harmful; there’s a lot of motive to just grit your teeth, get through the year, and then say nothing except to trusted friends. One of the major effects of something like harassment is isolation, and if you think everyone else thinks your judge is great, why would you say anything about your experience??).

QContinuum

Moderator
Posts: 892
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:52 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby QContinuum » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:34 pm

nixy wrote:I agree that the person doesn’t have anything to gain from reporting this, but I also think the idea that sexual harassment/discrimination (on a number of grounds) is anything other than underreported, and no more a problem in the judiciary than anywhere else, is woefully naive, though.


I second this. I have not, ITT, advocated for OP's friend to become some sort of martyr on the basis of the judge's inappropriate questioning. What I am pushing back on is the toxic idea that questions re age, marital status, and intent to have a child, despite being harmful (and illegal) when asked by any other employer, are somehow nothing more than benign "small talk" when asked by a judge.

QContinuum

Moderator
Posts: 892
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:52 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby QContinuum » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:44 pm

Elston Gunn wrote:I’m not saying there are dozens of Kozinksis out there, but there are big gradations of sexism and assholery. And Kozinski’s antics were well-known but widely considered harmless or some other bs until recently.


Exactly right. Obv. no one ITT is claiming the federal judiciary is full of Kozinskis. But one can be a sexual harasser without rising anywhere close to that level. FWIW, I met with Kozinski several times in small-group settings in the earlier part of the decade and 1) his "antics" were definitely well-known but 2) he was still treated like a rock star. There was no hint of any reputational penalty arising from the whispers. So, if it takes Kozinski-level conduct to generate even harmless whispers, it stands to reason that anything less wouldn't even make the rumor mill at all.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327367
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:40 pm

One of my law school classmates interviewed with a fed judge recently. She received an offer after the interview so it must have gone well on her end; however, during the interview, the judge point blank asked her how old she was, if she was married, and if she planned on "getting herself pregnant" during the clerkship term as a past clerk had done in his chambers. She was upset about the rude/offensive tone of the question. I can't imagine something like this happening in the private sector. Obviously she can't do much without jeopardizing her future prospects--is there any recourse for this type of behavior? Or, practically speaking, are judges immune from employment laws?


I doubt this actually occurred as alleged. Also, asking about someone's age in an interview is not advisable, but in my opinion, a legal grey area in certain circumstances. Having said that, you should not pursue the clerkship if the allegations above are remotely true.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327367
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:39 am

Judge Ikuta poster here.

I'm surprised that people are trying to defend her and OP's judge's line of questioning. (And I'm stunned that someone tried to suggest that the line of questioning couldn't possibly be sexist since a female judge asked it! Wow!) Unless these judges are asking their male interviewees whether they're planning to "knock someone up" and take paternity leave, asking the female interviewees about family planning is sexist. It might not indicate a propensity to sexually harass or assault female clerks, but it does indicate, at minimum, bias against women. When I interviewed, I was younger than the average law student and not wearing an engagement ring. Judge Ikuta's question, which came out of the blue, made me feel like she pegged me, by virtue of my gender, as a grifter--who was disingenuous and non-substantive, not serious about working so much as about getting a resume line and federal benefits. If you recall the now several-years-old study of law firm hiring and gender, socioeconomic status, and race, you might recall that resume screeners expressed a general skepticism when reviewing applications from women, who they anticipated would be less serious and more flighty employees. This sentiment, the kind of sentiment that stymies women's career growth and prospects, is a problem and a pervasive one at that.

I think OP should ask OP's friend if she is willing to allow OP share the name of the judge anonymously, as I have with Judge Ikuta. Women should know what they're getting into, even if by rumor. I didn't apply to Judge Kozinski's chambers because I had heard enough rumors of his problematic conduct. I agree with earlier posters that filing a formal complaint isn't the way to go unless OP's friend wants to be a professional advocate.

BlackAndOrange84

Bronze
Posts: 286
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:06 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:23 am

Anonymous User wrote:Judge Ikuta poster here.

I'm surprised that people are trying to defend her and OP's judge's line of questioning. (And I'm stunned that someone tried to suggest that the line of questioning couldn't possibly be sexist since a female judge asked it! Wow!) Unless these judges are asking their male interviewees whether they're planning to "knock someone up" and take paternity leave, asking the female interviewees about family planning is sexist. It might not indicate a propensity to sexually harass or assault female clerks, but it does indicate, at minimum, bias against women. When I interviewed, I was younger than the average law student and not wearing an engagement ring. Judge Ikuta's question, which came out of the blue, made me feel like she pegged me, by virtue of my gender, as a grifter--who was disingenuous and non-substantive, not serious about working so much as about getting a resume line and federal benefits. If you recall the now several-years-old study of law firm hiring and gender, socioeconomic status, and race, you might recall that resume screeners expressed a general skepticism when reviewing applications from women, who they anticipated would be less serious and more flighty employees. This sentiment, the kind of sentiment that stymies women's career growth and prospects, is a problem and a pervasive one at that.

I think OP should ask OP's friend if she is willing to allow OP share the name of the judge anonymously, as I have with Judge Ikuta. Women should know what they're getting into, even if by rumor. I didn't apply to Judge Kozinski's chambers because I had heard enough rumors of his problematic conduct. I agree with earlier posters that filing a formal complaint isn't the way to go unless OP's friend wants to be a professional advocate.


Look, I'm not trying to suggest that the question "couldn't possibly be sexist" because Judge Ikuta asked. Obviously it could just come from sexism. What I have been trying to say is that there's a "there" there beyond sexism/discrimination. That reality has to do with the the unique nature of work in chambers and the lack of any institutional way to deal with maternity (or paternity leave) and the logistical difficulties (given the job market, the interview process, the time it takes for a clerk to get up to speed, limited budgets for chambers staff, etc.) in dealing with a clerk who will miss 6-12 weeks of a one-year term—unlike say, at a large government agency, biglaw firm, or Fortune 500 company. If a female judge asked the question, one who has succeeded in the profession in spite of all the things you list, maybe there is something there and the inability to acknowledge that reality on your part and that of others in this thread is what should be surprising, particularly since everyone here is presumably willing to say that we need some mechanism for maternity/paternity leave during clerkships. In other words, the very fact that we all presumably agree that there should be mechanism to deal with the situation suggests that the situation creates real issues and therefore require some kind of solution (which in the past has been a tacit or explicit agreement not to plan on having a baby during a clerkship). Or maybe it's just internalized misogyny on Judge Ikuta's part, but I think there's a simpler explanation.

I also want to say, yes, I hear you, it must suck to be asked that. I'm sorry that there isn't some kind of institutional mechanism making the question completely (or at least much more) irrelevant.

User avatar
hdivschool

Bronze
Posts: 111
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:41 pm

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby hdivschool » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:Unless these judges are asking their male interviewees whether they're planning to "knock someone up" and take paternity leave, asking the female interviewees about family planning is sexist.


If you are exempted from the Leave Act, you don't get family leave (or any leave).

Anonymous User
Posts: 327367
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:06 pm

hdivschool wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Unless these judges are asking their male interviewees whether they're planning to "knock someone up" and take paternity leave, asking the female interviewees about family planning is sexist.


If you are exempted from the Leave Act, you don't get family leave (or any leave).


Yep. Well, technically clerks are entitled to "court leave [to serve on a jury or appear as a witness under a subpoena], military leave, bone marrow and organ donor leave, and time-off to attend the funeral of an immediate relative who died in military combat." But that's it. Judges can and do enforce the lack of family leave against male clerks, essentially telling them that the baby will still be there when their clerkship ends, and they can see their child then. It's much more difficult to enforce the lack of leave against a pregnant female clerk, though, since the judge can't exactly tell her to just keep gestating until her clerkship is over, so it makes more sense to address this concern up front. And it really is logistically difficult for all of chambers when a clerk is absent for an extended period of time like that. There's a reason the FMLA doesn't apply to smaller businesses either.

That said, some judges are a lot more reasonable in their enforcement of this policy than others. I think the real reason to decline a clerkship with a judge who asks this type of question isn't sexism, but the reality that this judge is much more likely to also put up a stink if, say, your grandpa dies and you want to go to his funeral. Unless grandpa is killed in military combat (not just while serving in the military, but while in combat), you technically aren't entitled to time off to go to his funeral, and I've heard rumors of at least one judge who is pretty strict on the funeral policy.

nixy

Silver
Posts: 543
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Judge's behavior during interview

Postby nixy » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:11 pm

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Judge Ikuta poster here.

I'm surprised that people are trying to defend her and OP's judge's line of questioning. (And I'm stunned that someone tried to suggest that the line of questioning couldn't possibly be sexist since a female judge asked it! Wow!) Unless these judges are asking their male interviewees whether they're planning to "knock someone up" and take paternity leave, asking the female interviewees about family planning is sexist. It might not indicate a propensity to sexually harass or assault female clerks, but it does indicate, at minimum, bias against women. When I interviewed, I was younger than the average law student and not wearing an engagement ring. Judge Ikuta's question, which came out of the blue, made me feel like she pegged me, by virtue of my gender, as a grifter--who was disingenuous and non-substantive, not serious about working so much as about getting a resume line and federal benefits. If you recall the now several-years-old study of law firm hiring and gender, socioeconomic status, and race, you might recall that resume screeners expressed a general skepticism when reviewing applications from women, who they anticipated would be less serious and more flighty employees. This sentiment, the kind of sentiment that stymies women's career growth and prospects, is a problem and a pervasive one at that.

I think OP should ask OP's friend if she is willing to allow OP share the name of the judge anonymously, as I have with Judge Ikuta. Women should know what they're getting into, even if by rumor. I didn't apply to Judge Kozinski's chambers because I had heard enough rumors of his problematic conduct. I agree with earlier posters that filing a formal complaint isn't the way to go unless OP's friend wants to be a professional advocate.


Look, I'm not trying to suggest that the question "couldn't possibly be sexist" because Judge Ikuta asked. Obviously it could just come from sexism. What I have been trying to say is that there's a "there" there beyond sexism/discrimination. That reality has to do with the the unique nature of work in chambers and the lack of any institutional way to deal with maternity (or paternity leave) and the logistical difficulties (given the job market, the interview process, the time it takes for a clerk to get up to speed, limited budgets for chambers staff, etc.) in dealing with a clerk who will miss 6-12 weeks of a one-year term—unlike say, at a large government agency, biglaw firm, or Fortune 500 company. If a female judge asked the question, one who has succeeded in the profession in spite of all the things you list, maybe there is something there and the inability to acknowledge that reality on your part and that of others in this thread is what should be surprising, particularly since everyone here is presumably willing to say that we need some mechanism for maternity/paternity leave during clerkships. In other words, the very fact that we all presumably agree that there should be mechanism to deal with the situation suggests that the situation creates real issues and therefore require some kind of solution (which in the past has been a tacit or explicit agreement not to plan on having a baby during a clerkship). Or maybe it's just internalized misogyny on Judge Ikuta's part, but I think there's a simpler explanation.

I also want to say, yes, I hear you, it must suck to be asked that. I'm sorry that there isn't some kind of institutional mechanism making the question completely (or at least much more) irrelevant.

Dude, though, this is getting way too far on the judge's side. It's technically not illegal for judges to ask this, but the reasoning you're giving here isn't any different from the reasoning that's deemed illegal in other contexts. Sure, missing 6-12 weeks of one term (based on your assumption about how long someone would be out, when it might be much less) is a pain in the ass. So is missing 6-12 weeks' work, say, over the holiday season for someone who works retail, or tax season for a tax accountant. We don't consider it acceptable to ask in those contexts, and it shouldn't be acceptable to ask in this context.

I agree that it's not ideal for a clerk to give birth during a one-year term, but I also don't know anyone who's actually planned to do that, and sometimes planning doesn't work. Saying "there should be some mechanism for parental leave" does not at all suggest a judge has a right to inquire about an applicant's plans for becoming a parent, because the only reason to know that is for the judge to choose a clerk based on that criterion, and that's just seriously crappy.

And it is a question that's going to disproportionately fall on women because men still don't give birth (so don't risk medical complications that keep them out longer), and (fairly or not) still aren't expected to take the same amount of parental leave as women.

Finally, the question is sexist in the sense that it's part of the sexism ingrained in modern workplaces/expectations. It's not saying that Judge Ikuta is some kind of horrible evil person. Modern America has sexism baked in, so we all have to grapple with it at different times/contexts. Just because there's some kind of rational logic behind the concern ("taking a bunch of leave is disruptive") as opposed to pure prejudice ("women who plan to have kids just won't take their work seriously") doesn't mean it doesn't create a lot of barriers for women in the workplace.



Return to “Judicial Clerkships?

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.