The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
You can read the whole article here, with more details, citations, and analysis, but here is some of the data:
Here is a list of the top specific rock songs or lyrics cited by state and federal judges in court opinions:
- Bob Dylan, "You dn't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"—16 opinions
- Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are A-Changin"—15 opinions
- The Beatles, "The Long and Winding Road"—8 opinions
- The Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want"—7 opinions
- Simon and Garfunkel, "The Boxer"—6 opinions
- Joni Mitchell, "Big Yellow Taxi"—5 opinions
- The Beatles, "All You Need Is Love"—4 opinions
- Simon & Garfunkel, "The Sounds of Silence"—4 opinions
- The Byrds, "Turn, Turn, Turn"—3 opinions
- Elvis Costello, "Less Than Zero"—3 opinions
… Here are the rock artists who are spontaneously mentioned most often in court opinions without the references being to a particular song:
- The Beatles – 12 references
- Rolling Stones – 8 references
- Elvis Presley – 8 references
- Madonna – 5 references
- Bob Dylan – 4 references
- Michael Jackson – 4 references
- Hank Williams – 2 references
- Johnny Cash – 2 references
- Bruce Springsteen – 2 references
- Ray Charles – 2 references
- Frank Zappa – 2 references
Who Are These Judges?
If there is a single judge who stands out in rock references, it is Federal Magistrate Jonathan Goodman of the Southern District of Florida. Since 2010, Goodman dropped no fewer than 56 references to rock music or artist over the course of 33 judicial opinions. These opinions include references such subjects as Bob Dylan (9 references), the Beatles (6), and the Rolling Stones (3). Goodman has also cited the Allman Brothers, Bo Diddley, Bruce Springsteen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Guns N Roses, Johnny Cash, the Kinks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Madonna, Neil Young, REM, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Pink Floyd, Simon and Garfunkel, Tom Petty, U2, and the Yardbirds.
Goodman is a magistrate who is appointed by the courts in Florida, his likely political affiliation is not easy to establish. However, most federal judges (other than tax, bankruptcy and military judges) can easily be identified politically by the party of the President who appoints them.
Of the judges who serve on one of the various U.S. Courts of Appeal, a couple stand out:
- The late Judge Terence Evans was appointed a district court judge in the Eastern District of Wisconsin by President Carter, and then promoted to the Seventh Circuit by President Clinton. He made references to the Drifters and Chuck Berry when he was a trial judge. As an appellate judge, before his death in 2011, he wrote opinions which spontaneously invoke Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan.
- Judge James Dennis was appointed to the Fifth Circuit by President Clinton. He published an opinion that made references to the songs of Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Johnny Cash.
- Judge Andrew Kleinfeld was appointed a district judge for the District of Alaska by Reagan, and promoted to Ninth Circuit by George H.W. Bush. He has written four opinions which contain spontaneous references to the Beatles and Johnny Cash.
- Judge Alex Kozinski, until his recent retirement, served on the Ninth Circuit, having been appointed by President Reagan. His opinions included references to Janis Joplin, the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and the Talking Heads.
- Judge Edward Carnes was appointed to the Eleventh Circuit by President George H.W. Bush. He has dropped written references to Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
- Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the D.C. Circuit (a previous justice on the California Supreme Court) was appointed to by George W. Bush. She has cited the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix….
From these charts, one case see there are 38 Circuit Court and 76 District Court opinions where the judge's political affiliation is discernable. In the Circuit Courts, there are more Republican-authored opinions (21) than Democrat-authored (17). In the District Courts, the Democrat-authored opinions (50) outnumber the Republican-authored ones (26). This finding demonstrates that, though Democrat-appointed federal judges overall are more likely to drop a rock reference into their opinions, it is not as if Republican judges eschew this practice.
State Court Judges
Among state judges, the one who stands out is Philip S. Straniere in Richmond County, New York. Since 2004, he has written 12 opinions which refer to a number of rock artists: Bob Dylan (six opinions)
Elton John, Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Rolling Stones, and Simon and Garfunkel. Judge Straniere's rock references include truly strange paragraph, which he wrote in a credit card collection case.
This is another example of a presumed Grateful Dead entity Who has joined the Band of business Zombies, some of whom Ten Years After ceasing to exist are still executing documents and expecting the court to accept them with Blind Faith. The Association of these entities with accounts which are not the Cream of consumer credit transactions, has, after a lot of Blood, Sweat and Tears on the part of the court personnel examining the Grassroots of each file, disclosed many Kinks in getting to the Heart of the current process. Even a Strawberry Alarm Clock would not be enough to alert the clerks, who Love their work, to the Grand Funk being created by these Rascals and give Creedance to some of these filings. The Doors to potential abuse opened by these filings require the court to examine each application like Big Brother rather than accept them like some benevolent Queen. It's A Beautiful Day when these filings may be accepted without question. Perhaps that is what happens in places like Buffalo Springfield or Chicago.
Other noteworthy state judges include:
- Judge Leo Strine is a vice chancellor on the Delaware Court of Chancery. His opinions have spontaneously referred to Elvis Costello, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry.
- Judge Beth Baker is on the Montana Supreme Court. She has written opinions that invoke Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.
- Judge Robert Chamberlin sits on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He has written court opinions which reference Johnny Cash and AC/DC.
- Judge Huette F. Dowling of the Dauphine County, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas issued opinions in the early 1980s that referred to the Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash.
- Judge Stephen Fortunato served as a superior court judge in Providence, Rhode Island. He wrote court opinions with spontaneous references to Pink Floyd and Metallica.
- Judge Glenn Harrell served on Maryland Court of Appeals, and wrote opinions that referred to the Beatles and the Grateful Dead.
- Judge Michael C. Massengale is on the Texas Court of Appeals. He has authored opinions which refer to Dr. Dre and the Beatles.
- Judge Douglas Nazarian was on Maryland Court of Special Appeals. He wrote an opinion which cited the Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, and Chuck Berry.
- Martin Schoenfeld is a trial judge for the New York Supreme Court. He wrote an opinion which contained allusions to Black Sabbath, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones.
- Judge J. Fredric Voros served on the Utah Court of Appeals. He wrote two opinions which invoked Bob Dylan lyrics…