Mystery of Gossipy Blog on the Judiciary Is Solved
By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: November 16, 2005
Alex Kozinski, a federal appeals court judge in California, was a
little miffed last year when a blog called Underneath Their Robes, a
dishy hybrid of People magazine and The Harvard Law Review, failed to
list him as a candidate for "male superhottie of the federal judiciary."
So he nominated himself ("discerning females and gay men find
graying, pudgy middle-aged men with an accent close to Gov.
Schwarzenegger's almost totally irresistible"), and he won.
Yesterday, Judge Kozinski was mourning what was apparently the death
of the blog. Soon after The New Yorker magazine disclosed on Monday
that its author was not, as the blog claimed, a female lawyer at a
big firm with a taste for gossip and luxury goods, but rather a male
federal prosecutor in Newark, the site disappeared behind a password-
protected virtual wall.
Judges and their law clerks made up much of the site's readership,
and several said yesterday that they had found its mixture of
judicial celebrity sightings and over-the-top commentary irresistible.
In one of its last posts, the blog defended its judicial beauty
contests with a play on the Latin phrase for "the thing speaks for
"Have you seen Judge Kimba Wood and Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw?" the
blog asked. "Babes ipsa loquitur!!!"
The blog's author was until recently known only as Article III
Groupie, after the part of the Constitution concerning the judiciary.
A year ago, another fan, Richard A. Posner, a federal appeals court
judge in Chicago, voiced doubts about whether the female diva persona
should be taken seriously.
"I have a theory that the author is not a she, but a he," Judge
Posner told The ABA Journal eReport. "The thing is exaggeratedly
feminine and constantly drawing attention to her gender."
The judge was right. Article III Groupie turns out to be a 30-year-
old prosecutor, David B. Lat. That was news to his employer, the
"It's fair to say that it came as a great surprise to many people in
the U.S. attorney's office that David was the author of the blog,"
said an official who insisted on anonymity, saying the situation was
novel and under investigation.
Mr. Lat, a graduate of Harvard and the Yale Law School, did not
respond to e-mail messages and did not return calls to his office,
his home and his mobile phone. He explained to The New Yorker that he
decided to come clean, because "I was putting a lot of time into this
and was unable to get any credit for it."
Jeffrey Toobin, the author of the New Yorker article, said that he
would not have published the article without Mr. Lat's cooperation.
Howard Bashman, a lawyer who runs How Appealing, a blog devoted to
appellate litigation, said that Underneath Their Robes "was one of
the most popular, gossipy and frivolous law blogs around."
But Mr. Bashman said he suspected that Mr. Lat, who appeared
frequently in the federal appeals court in Philadelphia, was playing
a dangerous game in commenting on the judges there.
Judge Posner, who contributes to a blog, said government employees
should be free to blog.
"If he does it on his own time and does not compromise his official
duties in some way, I don't see the problem," the judge said in an e-
mail message. "We have free speech too, don't we?
"If Lat appears before judges whom he's made fun of in his blog or
who may be offended by the blog (the humorless judges), then there
might be a problem, though only a problem if he is 'outed' - and he
Easter Eggs :
Related Judge Kozinski's 'Nomination Letter'
New Yorker Article on Article III Groupie