Federal judge gives up his celebrated blog after story airs criticism

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U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf is giving up his blog, Hercules and the Umpire, less than a year after his first post.

Kopf’s decision comes after a Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) story aired both criticism and support for judges who write books and blogs and speak with reporters. The article reported that some judges were “chagrined” by one of Kopf’s posts during the government shutdown in which he wrote, “It’s time to tell Congress to go to hell.”

Kopf acknowledged the article in a final blog post, but listed other reasons for his decision to end the blog, which the ABA Journal honored as one of 2013’s Blawg 100 and which won fan favorite in our Courts category. “Hercules and the Umpire has exceeded my wildest expectations,” he wrote. “And so—it is time to kill it. In this forum, I have written all that I want to write and then some. It is that simple. My decision is final.”

Kopf said he’s not quitting because of ethics concerns, which “are real, but vastly overblown.” Nor is he doing so because of pressure from others. “No one has given me the slightest trouble about expressing myself here. I am quitting voluntarily and without a nudge from anyone,” he writes. He adds that he is “truly worn out” but OK, and he’s not quitting because of health reasons.

He ends with a picture of a dog’s hind end, with a lipstick kiss planted on it. “The photo below is how I picture myself today,” he says. “That is, I am one lucky, old dog.”

Kopf is a federal judge for the District of Nebraska. The court’s chief judge, Laurie Smith Camp, told the Wall Street Journal that she is glad to see Kopf stimulating discussion on his blog, though she doesn’t always agree with his choice of language.

Though Kopf is ending his blog, he looks forward to commenting on other blogs. And he hopes another federal judge will carry on. “This is a powerful medium for, among other things, making federal trial judging transparent and for trying to wrap one’s arms around the conundrum of judicial role,” Kopf writes. “I hope some other federal trial judge takes up that hard but enormously satisfying labor.”

Hat tip to How Appealing.

Updated at 8:55 a.m. to add that Kopf’s blog won the most reader votes in the Blawg 100 Courts category.

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