Undeterred by wintry weather, federal appeals court judges gathering in Atlanta this week officially welcomed their two newest colleagues with kind words, food and drink.
A common theme for the separate investitures of Judges Julie Carnes and Jill Pryor was their both having the same last names as more senior members of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
"I know if you were here Monday you're tired of names jokes," quipped Chief Judge Ed Carnes at the second of the two ceremonies.
They also have long-standing relationships with the court. Speaking at Jill Pryor's investiture, Judge William Pryor Jr. noted that with the two new additions, seven of the court's 11 active judges once clerked at the court or its predecessor court, the Fifth Circuit. "Becoming a circuit judge was the ultimate way to return here for life," Bill Pryor said.
It has been a running joke that the last names of the two new judges from Georgia would create confusion. The chief judge said he and Julie Carnes had discussed how to minimize the confusion when she joined the circuit court, saying the incoming judge had pointed out that he was five months older than she and suggested they use "Carnes the Elder" and "Carnes the Younger." The chief judge instead has taken to calling his new colleague "Judge Julie."
"If there's any name confusion, it can only benefit me," he added. In welcoming her, the chief judge also said no judge had ever come to the Eleventh Circuit with the 22 years' experience as a district court judge that she brings. "We have never had a more qualified and experienced person," he said.
Chief Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. of the Northern District of Georgia also spoke, along with Willis Whichard, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice who investigated Julie Carnes' qualifications for American Bar Association committee that rates judicial candidates. (She received a "unanimously well qualified" rating.) Thrash said his former colleague "was totally dedicated to doing what was in the best interests of the court."
Judge Julie Carnes referred to the chief as "Chief Judge Ed" and "my doppelgänger." She recalled how confusion between her and Ed Carnes began long ago, when she was being vetted for the district court job in the early 1990s. Her father, the late Fulton County State Court Judge Charles Carnes, saw a headline that read, "Carnes Being Considered for Eleventh Circuit." Not realizing the headline referred to Ed Carnes, instead of his daughter, her father "was thrilled ... then he started reading."
She also noted that a judge from another circuit apparently confused the two at one point, quoting an opinion written by Ed Carnes but referring to the judge by a female pronoun. And, in her own moment of self-deprecation, she said that she had stopped correcting lawyers who approached her at bar events and praised her writing style.
Julie Carnes said joining the appellate court amounted to a "homecoming," noting she had witnessed her first oral argument in the building that now houses the Eleventh Circuit when she was clerking for then-Fifth Circuit Judge Lewis Morgan, and delivered her first oral argument there, as well. She recalled that her father had briefly worked as a mail sorter in the building, which used to be a post office. "What a great country we live in," she said.
After Carnes' investiture on Monday afternoon, the judges remained in town for en banc oral arguments and meetings, returning to the en banc courtroom for another investiture late Wednesday afternoon.
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
11th Circuit investitures
The Daily Report covers them here: