The Washington Post

Judicial nominee’s brush with ‘Legally Blonde’

One judicial nominee watched "Legally Blonde" very carefully (Photo by Tracy Bennett). One judicial nominee watched “Legally Blonde” very carefully. (Photo by Tracy Bennett).

John Owens, President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit, might not be familiar to most people. But what if he were a character in the legal-themed rom-com “Legally Blonde”? He’d practically be famous.

Owens once feared he had been lampooned in the “Blonde” franchise. And with good reason — Amanda Brown, his former classmate at Stanford Law, penned the novel “One Elle” (the title is a play on  “1L,” Scott Turow’s classic book about law-school life), which was ultimately renamed after it was translated into the big screen as “Legally Blonde,” the story of an unlikely legal student, Elle Woods.

In an essay he wrote for Legal Times in 2001 (and reproduced here), Owens recalled hearing rumors that Brown was working on a “tell-all” about their class. He recounted watching the movie and reading the book with a feeling of dread, hoping he wouldn’t see himself reflected in any of the characters.

The movie contained nothing that alarmed him. But a character in the novel named “Johnno,” sounded a bit familiar to Owens, mostly because their names sound similar. Was he Johnno? He figured not, once he read that the character was “not the brightest bulb on the tree.”

But perhaps, he mused, portraying him as a dummy might be “Amanda’s poetic-license revenge?” To settle the question, he asked the author directly. Turns out, he failed to inspire any of her literary creations.

The lesson he drew from the experience was “not to wait until the big trial to treat someone well; start at the beginning.” You never know who’s noticing — and whether they’ll someday get a book deal.

The essay might have been forgotten, but it surfaced, we hear, as Owens submitted, as part of the vetting process, everything he’d ever written.

Who knows how the Senate will handle the slew of judicial nominees — including Owens — but it sounds like he’s more suited to  wearing black (as in a judge’s robe) rather than Elle Woods’s signature pink.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.