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Federal judge advises ‘ignorant slut’ lawyers: ‘Men are both pigs and prudes. Get over it’

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 19:34 EDT
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'Judges Wooden Gavel With Very Old Books And Paper' [Shutterstock]
 
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A semi-retired federal judge in Omaha, Nebraska has drawn criticism for a blog post in which he admits to being a “dirty old man” and gushes over a female attorney’s “ample chest,” Talking Points Memo reported on Wednesday.

“Around these parts there is a wonderfully talented and very pretty female lawyer who is in her late twenties,” U.S. District Court Richard Kopf wrote in the post, which was published on Monday. “She is brilliant, she writes well, she speaks eloquently, she is zealous but not overly so, she is always prepared, she treats others, including her opponents, with civility and respect, she wears very short skirts and shows lots of her ample chest. I especially appreciate the last two attributes.”

Kopf, who was appointed by George H.W. Bush in 1992, did not identify the lawyer. He did write, however, that his observations — “In candor, I have been a dirty old man ever since I was a very young man,” he explained — were inspired by a Slate post concerning workplace discussions around female attorneys’ attire.

The unidentified attorney in his post, Kopf wrote, was the subject of gossip among female court clerks, who thought she dressed unprofessionally. He then offered what he called three tips for young women lawyers.

“1. You can’t win. Men are both pigs and prudes. Get over it,” he wrote. “2. It is not about you. That goes double when you are appearing in front of a jury. 3. Think about the female law clerks. If they are likely to label you, like Jane Curtin, an ignorant slut behind your back, tone it down.”

The Associated Press reported that Kopf’s post was quickly critizied by Brenda Beadle, the chief deputy prosecutor for nearby Douglas County, the biggest county in the state.

“It’s not that I disagreed with what he said. Certainly both men and women can sometimes dress inappropriately for court,” Beadle told the AP. “But I took issue with the objectifying of women and commenting about his personal thoughts about women. I just thought it was distasteful and inappropriate.”

Meanwhile, Creighton law professor Catherine Mahern told the Omaha World-Herald Kopf’s post represented a double-standard.

“I see [male] attorneys come to court who look like they took their suit off when they got home, crumpled it up, laid on it for a pillow and put it on the next day,” Mahern was quoted as saying.

Kopf responded to the criticism in a follow-up post on Wednesday.

“If, on balance, you think the post was harmful to the image of the federal judiciary and truly treated women as objects, I am very, very, very sorry for that, but I would ask you to pause and reread it,” he wrote. “I hope you will find upon objective reflection that the mockery I make of myself and the hyperbole and somewhat mordant tone I employed, made a point worth considering.”

Chief U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp, who is in charge of assigning cases to Kopf, has voiced her support for him, telling the AP, “He is not sexist, and he is not a dirty old man.”

[Image: "Judge's Wooden Gavel With Very Old Books And Paper," via Shutterstock]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
 
 
 
 
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