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CeaseAndDesistHat @Popehat
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Today, ranting federal judge story #3: here comes all the porn. /1
Well, not all the porn. A fairly limited amount of porn. Actually it's an extremely specific discussion of porn.

I may be straying from the point. /2
So it's 1995. A very long time ago. I'm a rookie AUSA, about to do one of my first appearances in federal court. As memory serves it was some insignificant status conference in a minor immigration fraud case. /3
I'm before a federal judge who, a couple of years later, would yell at me about genitals. Also there is a fellow rookie, ready for one of his first federal criminal appearances, a minor bank robbery status conference. /4
/5 My friend stands up to do the very routine unexceptional bank robbery status conference before Judge Shouty McRedface.

Sure, it's maybe his second or third appearance as a criminal division attorney, but what could possibly go wrong?

[ominous music]
/6 My friend is giving his very by-the-book statement at the status conference -- how long we anticipate trial lasting in the very unlikely event it goes to trial, and so forth -- when Judge Shouty interrupts.

"MR. AUSA, I HAVE A QUESTION," he intones.
/7 For a brief moment, my friend's face shows only helpful optimism. He is anticipating a pertinent question that he can answer, thus rendering good service and earning respect.
/8 "WHY AREN'T YOU PROSECUTING OBSCENITY," demands Judge Shouty.

A lone cloud crosses the sunny sky of my friend's face.
/9 "THE OFFICE USED TO PROSECUTE OBSCENITY. THEY UNDERSTOOD THAT WAS ONE OF THE FUNCTIONS OF FEDERAL PROSECUTORS," barked the judge. "WHY HAS THAT FUNCTION BEEN ABANDONED? I HAVEN'T SEEN AN OBSCENITY CASE IN YEARS. DESPITE ALL THE PORN OUT THERE."
/10 "PORN PORN PORN," adds the judge, helpfully, by way of illustration.
/11 "Your Honor, I . . ." began my friend.

He was trapped. You see, "hell if I know, that's not my job" is not an acceptable to any judge, let alone a federal judge, let alone THIS federal judge.
/12 He's a sharp guy, though. He did it exactly right.

"Your Honor, I'm not prepared to answer that. But I can look into it and get you an answer immediately." Textbook. Perfect.

Not. Fucking. Good. Enough.
/13 "THIS IS A SERIOUS ISSUE OF ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES AND FULFILLMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ROLES," said Judge Shouty, gesturing at the bank robbery file, which involved a hype handing a teller a misspelled note and getting caught two blocks away with less than a grand in cash.
/14 The judge -- who, office legend had it, had advocated forcefully to prosecute Coppertone for that ad where the dog is pulling down the little girl's bathing suit -- chewed on my friend for maybe 15 minutes about allocation of federal prosecutorial resources.
/15 It may not surprise you to know that, though rookie AUSAs have extraordinary power to ravage lives at a preposterously snot-nosed age, they have relatively limited role in deciding district prosecutorial priorities vis-a-vis porn.
/16 "PORN," Judge Shouty said at least one more time, slamming his fist on the bench for emphasis. Federal judges actually don't use gavels much in my experience. Just as well really.
/17 My friend stood his ground throughout, and when the judge returned to the scheduling matter at hand, handled it professionally.
I sat a couple of rows back, trying to prepare. I had the federal criminal code with me. Should I go alphabetically?
/18 But Judge Shouty had gotten it -- whatever it is -- out of his system, and ran my status conference tersely if somewhat sullenly.
All the court's the stage, and all the lawyers merely players. The judge is the playwright. Some of these modern plays are kind of confusing. /e
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