The Washington Post

Judicial Zumba in Maui is a go!


Ready for a little sun, golf, yoga, surfing, snorkeling and Zumba plus exciting, spell-binding sessions on legal issues and court administration?

The pricey conference in paradise is a go!

Loop Fans may recall that the circuit court’s chief judge, Alex Kozinski, has been sparring since mid-May with Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.), who are, to put it mildly, dismayed over the week-long stay at a pricey “island paradise.” The 2010 conference there cost taxpayers more than $1.1 million.

The senators wanted the event either canceled or seriously scaled back.

Kozinki, in his latest response on Friday, said “it is too late to change course this year,” citing “enormous penalties” if they canceled the contract, which was signed in 2010.

Many of the 300 or so judges, lawyers and court officials, he explained in a brief letter, had purchased “non-refundable airline tickets to reduce travel costs.. .”

The conference program — Justices Anthony Kennedy (he’s the circuit justice) and Samuel Alito will be there — is just “outstanding,” Kozinski told the senators, and “we are very conscious of doing our best to minimize expenses.” (What? No luau?)

Kozinski pointed out that they had canceled the 2013 conference and are holding the 2014 event in California, where more than half the circuit’s judges live. (They did so under heavy pressure from Grassley and Sessions.)

But cancel this one? Not gonna happen.

“In hindsight,” Kozinski observed somewhat ruefully in the letter, “had we foreseen the nation’s current fiscal problems, we may have chosen a different site for this year’s conference.” Or maybe not.

We seem to recall the “fiscal problems” were really, really obvious in 2010, but let’s not be picky.

Grassley took the high road. “It’s hard to understand the late recognition of the country’s fiscal state,” he said in an e-mail, “since record deficits are well-known, but better late than never.

“The cancellation of next year’s conference is a good test of whether expensive annual conferences are necessary and whether the ‘administration of justice’ suffers in the absence.”

Just make sure you don’t miss that plane to paradise. This could be the last Maui Wowie for a long, long time.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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