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Judge Jacobs and pro bono, cont'd



The Federalist Society has now posted a copy of Judge Dennis Jacobs' speech on pro bono, discussed at length in this space yesterday. I really can't improve on Prof. Obbie's take, so I'm just going to excerpt a portion of it:

There's nothing like a recording or speech text to serve as a check on faulty reporting. As I and others suspected, 2nd Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs' remarks to a Federalist Society gathering in Rochester were wildly misinterpreted by the reporter covering the event, and then by critics who seized upon Jacobs' supposed views as evidence of his hate for all pro bono (and by implication for all poor people in need of free legal help).

The Federalist Society posted the full text this afternoon. Reading Jacobs' words side by side with the story is enough to make one gag. Reporter Elizabeth Stull of The Daily Record in Rochester cherry-picked Jacobs' remarks to reflect a sweeping condemnation of pro bono and impact litigation that simply isn't what he said. He instead made a thoughtful argument about supposed abuses of pro bono causes. And he explicitly, repeatedly praised certain traditional forms of pro bono. ...

Now, if only The Daily Record will read the transcript and run an appropriate correction -- followed by apologies from the critics who took the original story to the bank.

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit and the others who linked yesterday's post, ensuring that it would be widely seen. For more on the problems posed by ideologized pro bono work, see, e.g., Ted Frank's AEI paper on Civil Gideon (text at footnotes 25-29) and Heather Mac Donald's 2000 article for City Journal.

Update (Friday 1:45 p.m. EDT): Incredibly, in correspondence with the WSJ law blog, Chemerinsky is digging in. He claims that on reading the speech itself he finds the Rochester paper's account accurate enough, goes on to extensively misdescribe the contents of Jacobs' speech (easy to check here), and refuses to apologize. As I say, incredible.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

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