Sunday, May 29, 2022

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson taps Palm Beach County public defender as clerk Claire Madill represents the poor of Palm Beach County in appellate cases. She'll work for the first Supreme Court justice who also was a public defender. (Palm Beach Post)

Great news about Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson's law clerk hires, including Claire Medill, from Palm Beach County Public Defender's Office. 

Slight amendation/minor quibble: PBP article states that Justice KBJ is our first Public Defender to serve on our United States Supreme Court.  Of course, Justice Thurgood Marshall and Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis, among others, functioned as de facto public defenders before the job title case created.  Until Gideon v. Wainright, 

From Palm Beach Post:

WEST PALM BEACH — A Palm Beach County assistant public defender, who once criticized the nation’s highest court for ignoring sexual harassment allegations, will join the inner circle of newly confirmed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Claire Madill, who is among roughly 25 appellate lawyers who work for the tax-funded office that represents the poor, will become one of the Miami-born justice’s four clerks.

The elite position, which Madill once described as “being struck by lightning,” means she will work alongside Jackson, crafting opinions that will help determine the law of the land.

While Madill declined comment, Public Defender Carey Haughwout applauded Jackson’s choice.

“She’s just fabulous,” Haughwout said of Madill. “She’s brilliant. She’s energetic. She’s creative. She’s just one of those people looking to see how the law can redress grievances and help people.”

FILE - Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson meets with Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., on Capitol Hill, March 10, 2022, in Washington. Judge Jackson's confirmation hearing starts March 21. If confirmed, she would be the court's first Black female justice. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Assistant Public Defender Paul Petillo, who was chief of the appellate division when Madill was hired in 2017, said he was stunned when he received the Michigan native’s resume.

Top of her 2015 graduating class at the University of Michigan Law School. Two federal clerkships. Former experience as a public defender in Washington, D.C.

“We did our best to look good to her,” Petillo said, with a laugh.

The qualifications that impressed Petillo likely snared the high court’s attention. Justice Sonia Sotomayor interviewed Madill for a clerkship several years ago. 

While Madill wasn’t hired, when Jackson’s nomination was confirmed in April by the U.S. Senate, Madill applied again.

Prestigious U.S. Supreme Court clerkships typically go to the best and brightest of the nation’s top law schools. The University of Michigan’s is ranked 10th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Clerkships are also awarded to attorneys who worked for well-known and respected federal judges. 

Madill clerked for a judge in the U.S. District Court in Southern New York and for one who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California, according to her LinkedIn page.

She mentioned her work for the San Francisco-based appellate court in a December 2017 article she wrote for Slate, responding to a story in The Washington Post about sexual harassment allegations against a judge in the sprawling circuit.

Public Defender Carey Haughwout gives her opening statements in the murder trial of Dacoby Wooten Thursday afternoon, October 24, 2019.  Wooten is accused of shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend and attempting to kill her mother.

While Madill didn’t work for Judge Alex Kozinski, she said his behavior was an open secret long before more than a dozen women told The Post that the longtime jurist had shown them pornography, kissed them and made other unwanted sexual advances. Kozinski denied the allegations, but abruptly retired. 

In her piece for Slate, Madill wrote that many, including herself, shared the blame for not reporting Kozinski’s conduct. The Supreme Court, she said, also had some culpability.

Many young lawyers ignored their disdain for Kozinski because they knew he had long been a pipeline to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices hired more of Kozinski’s former clerks than those who worked for any other federal judge in the country.

“If the Supreme Court had stopped hiring Judge Kozinski’s clerks a long time ago, it would have sent a message that the Supreme Court would not tolerate sexual harassment in the judiciary, and it would have prevented Judge Kozinski from acquiring the legal talent he needs to do his job most effectively,” she wrote.

The same month the article was published, Madill founded Law Clerks for Workplace Accountability.  Dedicated to making sure the federal judiciary is a safe workplace, it recommended ways to beef up judicial codes of conduct to protect employees.

Such extracurricular work is classic Madill, Petillo said. “She just keeps her nose to the grindstone and does the right thing,” he said.

Haughwout said she is pleased Jackson, who was skewered by some senators for her work as a federal public defender, recognized the value of hiring a lawyer who has also built a career representing those who can’t afford to hire a lawyer.

“I think it tells you that (Justice Jackson) values that viewpoint and the experience of people who have represented poor people in the courts,” she said.

No comments: