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Judges Candidly Discuss Controversial Rulings in Joel Cohen's Latest Book

"Blindfolds Off - Judges On How They Decide" Released July 28, 2014

NEW YORK, Aug. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, a national law firm with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, DC, has announced the release of Joel Cohen's new book, "Blindfolds Off – Judges On How They Decide" (ABA Publishing, Hardcover Edition).

Blindfolds Off is dedicated to the great jurist Benjamin Cardozo, who famously pronounced that, however hard they try, judges can't be totally objective in deciding cases.  With that backdrop, Cohen, a gifted and tenacious litigator for 40 years, interviewed 13 federal judges about specific controversial decisions, settlements and rulings.  These judges have allowed Cohen to "cross-examine" them, not just about these rulings, but about what, in their personal lives, may have influenced them. 

Blindfolds Off asks whether judges can, or should, disregard their influences.  In his foreword, Judge Richard A. Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals also asks readers to consider whether judges are even fully aware of their "priors" - their beliefs, expectations and temperament.  

Blindfolds Off brings readers along for a behind-the-scenes perspective from an eclectic group of learned federal jurists, in their own words.

  • Judge Leonie Brinkema talks about allowing Zacarias Moussaoui – who claimed to be the "20th hijacker" on 9/11 – to plead guilty, while representing himself.
  • Judge Denny Chin discusses sentencing Bernie Madoff to 150 years.
  • Judge Martin Feldman discusses why he refused to recuse himself in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill case.
  • (Ret.) Judge Nancy Gertner talks about awarding $100 million to men imprisoned for decades because of gross failures, and outright lies, by the FBI.
  • Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein discusses the tens of thousands of 9/11 tort claims over which he presided.
  • Judge David Hittner speaks about having to order the evacuation of a Houston housing project to allow for demolition.
  • Judge John E. Jones III discusses his religious beliefs and his decision that Intelligent Design was merely another name for Creationism.
  • Judge Charles P. Kocoras talks about his anticipation at hearing from a Nobel Prize- winning economist, and his conclusion that the expert was not prepared or credible.
  • Chief Judge Alex Kozinski discusses the cultural elitism of the judiciary and the one social class not represented by judges – the poor.
  • Judge Jed S. Rakoff talks about his decision to hold the death penalty unconstitutional (later reversed) and his brother's violent death years earlier.
  • Judge Emmet G. Sullivan discusses his decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the government's gross failures to produce evidence in the Ted Stevens prosecution.
  • (Ret.) Judge Vaughn R. Walker discusses the California same-sex marriage case and his own status as a gay man.
  • Judge Jack B. Weinstein talks about the Agent Orange settlements, his military service and the Vietnam War.

As Dahlia Lithwick of Slate.com put it: "For every lawyer, law student and even judge who wonders what judges really think when deciding a case, this book will be a revelation.  Cohen is a skillful and dogged interlocutor and his judges are surprisingly candid and realistic. Blindfolds Off gives you the opportunity to listen in on judicial thinking in one high profile case after another." 

For a brief preview of the book, please click here www.stroock.com/blindfoldsoff.

About Joel Cohen
Joel Cohen is a highly respected white collar criminal defense lawyer in New York. He has practiced in that field as well as in complex civil litigation at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP for nearly 30 years. He was, for 10 years previously, a prosecutor with the New York State Special Prosecutor's Office and then with the U.S. Justice Department's Organized Crime & Racketeering Section in the Eastern District of New York.  Cohen writes regularly for the New York Law Journal, Law.com and the Huffington Post on criminal law, legal ethics and social policy and frequently lectures on these subjects.  He teaches Professional Responsibility at Fordham Law School, and has co-created a seminar based on this book to be given at the law school. While Blindfolds Off is Cohen's first book of non-fiction, he has published several works of Biblical fiction, including Moses: A Memoir. He has also authored the novel Truth Be Veiled, a Justin Steele Murder Case, that addresses the criminal lawyer's dilemma in dealing with truth. He is a member of New York State's Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP is a law firm providing transactional and litigation guidance to leading multinational corporations, investment banks and private equity firms in the U.S. and abroad.  Stroock's emphasis on client service and innovation has made it one of the nation's leading law firms for 138 years.  Stroock's practice areas include capital markets/securities, commercial finance, mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, private equity, private funds, commodities and derivatives, employment law and benefits, energy and project finance, entertainment, environmental law, financial restructuring, financial services litigation, government relations, insurance, intellectual property, investment management, litigation, national security, personal client services, real estate, structured finance and tax.  For more information, please visit Stroock's website at www.stroock.com.

SOURCE Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP

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