The federal judge Richard Kopf has written a lengthy blog post expressing a number of regrets about his controversial post that suggested some scantily clad female lawyers should “tone it down.”
Kopf’s previous post — titled “On being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress” — came amid a backlash against a Loyola Law School memo warning women not to wear “stilletto heels” or show “cleavage.”
To be sure, his original post seems a little tongue-in-cheek. From that post:
In candor, I have been a dirty old man ever since I was a very young man. Except, that is, when it comes to my daughters (and other young women that I care deeply about). And that brings me to the amusing debate about how (mostly) young female lawyers dress these days.
Later on, the judge said women lawyers should “tone it down” if female law clerks were likely to label them an “ignorant slut.”
While he may have been aiming for light-hearted commentary, the legal community did not receive his words well. Criminal justice blog “Simple Justice” accused him of making “a poor choice of dirty words,” and a female trial lawyer left this comment on his post: “Wow, am I ever glad I don’t have to appear before you. I would be very uncomfortable, having read your post.”
That last comment may have caused Kopf the most regret, as he wrote on Monday that he was “deeply ashamed” that his post generated a “fearful comment.”
Kopf has received a lot of attention for his candor since launching his blog, and some of that attention has been positive. Perhaps most famously, he publicly admitted he was too harsh when he sentenced a young bank robber named Shon Hopwood to 13 years in prison. Hopwood became a phenomenal jailhouse lawyer and got a full scholarship to law school.
“Hopwood proves that my sentencing instincts suck,” Kopf has written on his blog.
While that kind of earnest self-reflection may have appealed to a lot of the public, Kopf’s off-colour comment on a thorny debate was not so appealing. Kopf appears to have learned his lesson.
“I always knew edgy humour was both dangerous and hard to pull off as a writer, but it is much harder and more dangerous than I had ever imagined,” he wrote Monday. “That is an observation, not an excuse.”
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