Chief Justice Warren E. Burger's war on lawyer advertising is not necessarily limited to the most hucksterish legal ads. It may extend even to the glossy brochures that upscale corporate law firms are increasingly using to tout their skills.
Burger told a private gathering of about 30 lawyers and judges at the American Bar Association last Sunday that he wasn't as adamant about the more sedate brochures, and he didn't issue a blanket condemnation of them.
But Burger said that if he were back in private practice he would not distribute a brochure. "I'd take up plumbing" before doing that, he said.
The ABA convention also heard a modest proposal from Justice John Paul Stevens on how the Supreme Court might avoid the tie votes that can occur when one of the nine justices cannot vote because of illness or a conflict of interest.
Tie votes set no national precedent and in most instances amount to the same thing as if the court had never heard the case. Swing vote Lewis F. Powell Jr.'s lengthy illness last winter led to a record eight ties in the term that ended this month.
Stevens' idea is legislation that would allow retired justices to participate in such cases. The only current candidate for this designated- hitter status is retired justice Potter Stewart.
On another note, Stevens took aim once more at Burger's project to set up an intermediate appeals court to hear certain cases and relieve the court of some work.
Stevens said the justices, if they referred a few dozen appeals to the new court, would still hear the same number of cases because they would simply grant more petitions.
The most recent term was lighter than recent ones, he added, with about 12 fewer signed opinions than in prior terms.
AWARDS CEREMONY . . . Rep. Robert W. Kastenmeier (D-Wis.) who, by the way, favors the intermediate court idea, received this year's Warren E. Burger award for "substantial contributions to the field of court administration."
Kastenmeier, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on courts, which controls the pursestrings for the federal judiciary, received the plaque during the ABA convention from the Institute of Court Management of the National Center for State Courts.
PORTRAIT GALLERY . . . The high court added a portrait of former justice Arthur J. Goldberg to its gallery during a ceremony on Tuesday.
Burger, who accepted the portrait on behalf of the court, said people asked him whether he knew Goldberg because they had not been on the bench together. He said he and Goldberg had known each other since, in the words of a British jurist, "before either of us was worth cultivating."
It turns out that the two had met in the Supreme Court some 30 years ago when Burger argued his first case as head of the Justice Department's Civil Division and Goldberg represented the AFL-CIO.
As Burger recounted their meeting at the ceremony, Goldberg looked up and said, "Yeah, and you won."
PERSONNEL FILE . . . L. Ralph Meacham, a Washington lobbyist for Atlantic Richfield Co., will be director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, starting Monday. Meacham, 57, received a law degree from George Washington University and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University.
Eileen Cincotta, a 7 1/2-year veteran of the Supreme Court police force, is the first woman to be promoted to sergeant. Cincotta, 32, is one of seven women on the 65-member force.