Ninth Circuit Heading for Sun and Surf – On Our Dime

Call me naive.  That’s okay.  But I had no idea that individual Circuit Courts held conferences. Well, they do.

It’s been reported that the famously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2010 conference cost the taxpayers more than $657,000 in travel costs alone for 700 attendees.  Taxpayers were billed a combined $860,000 for travel to the 2008 and 2009 conferences.

They enjoyed themselves, no doubt, at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Southern California, in August of 2011.

This year they’re all hopping a plane for Hawaii.  Sens. Jeff Sessions and Chuck Grassley wrote to Chief Judge Alex Kozinski “to ensure that the courts are using their current funding allocation effectively.”  “We are concerned about the overall cost of this conference and do not believe that discussions about the administration of justice would be less successful were they held somewhere other than a spa and resort in Hawaii,” the Senators wrote.

According to the report I read, “although the conference starts on a Monday, registration opens Saturday.  Sport fishing and golf are scheduled for Sunday.  According to the letter, other activities during the week will include yoga, surfing lessons, stand-up paddle board lessons, Zumba (a latin-inspired dance program), a tennis tournament, a tour of Upcountry Maui, a snorkel trip and an event called “The Aloha Experience.”

Other Circuits are holding conferences in less luxurious places, or canceling their annual conferences entirely.  The Eighth Circuit will convene for a three-day conference in Kansas City, the Seventh Circuit will go to Chicago and the Sixth Circuit will hold its event inLexington, KY.  Districts covering New England, the Rocky Mountainsand the mid-Atlantic have cancelled their conferences.

I’ve been to multiple-day conferences to comply with the continuing education requirements of my State Bar, and I’ve had to sit in windowless overcrowded rooms listening to countless boring speakers from early morning to late-afternoon.  I’ve been provided with tasteless coffee and even more tasteless pastries and fed unappetizing sandwiches for lunch.  After being bored to tears, I seldom had energy to do much afterwards except get ready for the same the next day.

So when exactly do these 700 attendees actually do any work?  Sounds like a whole lot of sun and surf and not much discussion about the administration of justice.  After the recent scandal regarding the outrageous Las Vegas spending of taxpayer money at the GSA conference, you’d think those in charge of spending our tax money would be a little bit more frugal – but nooooo.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
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  • Betelue

    I am tired of all politician’s vacationing on my dime. I had to work and save to take a vacation it wasn’t a benefit.  HEAR THAT MICHELLE.  
    I would like a law passed.  You can’t hold a public office that represent taxpayers and your salary is paid by tax  money If you owe back taxes or are wanted for tax evasion.  If you retirement comes from tax money and you are wanted for back taxes are tax evasion you lose all benefits. 

  • Jth2199

    Bernie, make sure you mention this (9th circuit court–vacation) when you’re on O’Reilly this week?

    • LeonaSalazar

      Bernie didn’t write this but I’d be happy to appear on the O’Reilly Factor and discuss it!

  • Chief98110

    lovely vacation in the sun may help explain the screwy decisions that
    come out of the 9th Circuit, too much sun.  Don’t get me wrong I have no
    problem with a good vacation but I foot the bill for mine since I am
    self employed.  It’s no work, no money and so I am careful about the costs of a
    vacation.I wish I had gone to a good law school and had the
    opportunity to sit on a federal court. Now I just look forward to
    competing with others who are collecting cans on the side of the road
    for recycling!


  • Will Swoboda

    As usual Leona, there you go making way too much sense again. I’ve worked at different jobs all my life because I never got myself educated and never made more than $32,000 per year as a truck driver (non-union). I’m now retired, almost completely out of debt. My wife is a little different and did make out better but never more than ($60,000) and we raised three boys and went thru credit card debt twice. Second time thru we cut up the cards and only bought what we could pay for in cash. One of the best lessons we ever were taught. We’ve both worked hard all of our lives and could have wined about all the bad things but instead just kept trying. Why can’t the government do that?????

    • LeonaSalazar

      Probably, Will, because most of them never actually worked in the private sector. 

  • James King

    Dear Leona,
    The reason these happen is because the American people unknowingly acted against their own self-interest, believing they were in fact acting in their own interest. This was done by electing Republicans & Democrats to office knowing they would routinely violate the Constitution. One simple way they do this is by convincing voters that America is a democracy. It is not, and the biggest part of the Constitution that was supposed to assure we would not be a democracy is the Electoral College. Democracy is majority rule. The founders thought they denied majority rule with several parts of the Constitution. They were wrong. When America was created they set in place a proper government that devolved into what we have today because politicians discovered that the voter is typically illerate and that they could buy their votes with their own money.

    A PROPER GOVERNMENT…The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resorgt to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality; such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man’s deadliest enemy, from the role of a criminal vested with the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for  morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.

    Only a brute, a fool or an evader can agree to exist on such terms or agree to give his fellow men a blank check on his life and his mind, to accept the belief that others have the right to dispose of his person at their whim, that the will of the majority is omnipotent, that the physical force of muscles and numbers is a substitute for justice, reality and truth.

    These words were written  more than 50-years ago by Ayn Rand. I did not know here, but it is clear to me that she wanted to help citizens see what they didn’t see at the time when she lived, and do not see now. I am also convinced that had she lived at the time of our founders she would have been one of them and regarded by many more people than I that she was surpassed only by Washington as the greatest American.

  • FloridaJim

    While America was wealthy and raking in money every day our country became greedy giving my tax dollars to every voter who would vote for their politician. Now that we are near bankruptcy we must change at once or follow Greece over the cliff. Obama has never had to restrict spending his or his constituents so we can’t depend on him for help we must oust Obama and open the oil and gas spigots as Russia, Canada and China , and 100 others have done. The global warming scam has been thoroughly debunked and only the Al Gore’s are following any more, other than those professors, “scientists”, politicians, unions and misfits who personally benefit from the scam. The Wizard has had his cover removed and it is a pathetic figure we now watch implode. Please help him out for our sake.

  • Mtrhoades

    My dad was a district court judge in San Diego for 22 years before he passed away 5 years ago. And he was regularly on the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference Committee. He always suggested to the other judges on the committee that conferences take place in some spartan location such as Ontario California, or downtown Los Angeles or Barstow instead of Maui or the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point. Needless to say, the majority of the judges were not amused with those suggestions. His point was that real work could never be done at 5 star locations with golf courses and hula girls.

    However, a valid argument can be made that the judges earn a little luxury R&R in because the pay they receive for working a full case load is oftentimes less than some public employees are paid. Most gave up lucrative private practices where they earned seven figure salaries to take on a job that pays less than some CHP officers or California prison guards make.

    • Will Swoboda

      With all due respect, if the job pays that little, than go find a higher paying one. But don’t give me that jazz about public service. Most of our so called Public Sevants make a pretty good haul.
      Thanks, Will

  • DOOM

    I saw this on the supposedly unbiased CNN.  The host accused one of the senators (I don’t remember which one was on) of attacking the court because of its liberal members, completely oblivious to the money involved.

    I guess this is going to be the new racism.

  • Roger Ward

    Whatever happened to the concept of politicians and public officials being good stewards of the peoples’ money?  Do the American people really deserve the “leaders” that we have?  Would Abraham Lincoln have gone on such a junket?

  • Ron F

    Jusitces Kennedy and Alito of the United States Supreme Court are also attending.  I looked at the schedule of classes and discussions and do not have any idea if they are helpful.  In any event, if the conference is paid from the Ninth Circuit’s budget, the amount given to it should be reduced significantly.  With a deficit as large as we have and with an unemploment rate as high as it is, it is unconscionable that the Ninth Circuit would spend money this way or that Justices Kennedy and Alito would accept the invitations.

  • Nancye

    From the article:

    This year they’re all hopping a plane for Hawaii.  Sens. Jeff Sessions and Chuck Grassley wrote to Chief Judge Alex Kozinski “to ensure that the courts are using their current funding allocation effectively.”  “We are concerned about the overall cost of this conference and do not believe that discussions about the administration of justice would be less successful were they held somewhere other than a spa and resort in Hawaii,” the Senators wrote.


    Thank you Jeff Sessions, who is from my home state, Alabama.  And
     Chuck Grassley as well.  Where are the rest of the wimps on this?  Are there only two Senators with the backbone to speak up?