The 2012 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference In Maui Is Serious Business!

Well the dust up about the million dollar meeting in Maui has finally registered with the judges planning on spending some quality meeting time in a tropical paradise. Here’s what the court has to say:

As part of the Third Branch of government, the Ninth Circuit is fully aware of its responsibilities as a steward of public funds. The conference is authorized by law “for the purpose of considering the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice within the circuit.” [§ 28 U.S.C. Sec. 333] The conference fully adheres to these goals, providing an exceptional educational program and the opportunity to conduct numerous business meetings that further circuit governance. Judges and other attendees take seriously their obligation to participate fully in the conference. Costs for lodging and air travel to attend the conference are comparative to those found at mainland venues. Any sporting and recreational activities are paid for by individuals and are not reimbursable.

Considering that attendees traveling on government funds will have around $200 a day to spare for meals an incidental expenses (as part of their per diem) which require no direct accounting, the last sentence, while technically true is a bit of misdirection.

But enough with the boring accounting details, let’s get to an examination of the schedule. Below is an abbreviated listing of some of the advertised activities:

Saturday, August 11
12:00 p.m. – Conference Registration desk opens

Sunday, August 12
5:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Sport Fishing
12:00 p.m. – Golf Tournament

Monday, August 13
9:00 a.m. – Yoga
9:00 a.m. – Surfing Lessons
9:00 a.m. – Stand-up Paddle Board Lessons
12:00 p.m. – Welcome Luncheon & Book Review for Spouses & Guests
2:00 p.m. – Zumba
4:30 p.m. – Opening Program
6:00 p.m. – No-host Cocktail Reception
7:00 p.m. – Maui Dine Around

Tuesday, August 14
9:00 a.m. – Yoga
9:00 a.m. – Surfing Lessons
9:00 a.m. – Stand-up Paddle Board Lessons
1:00 p.m. – Tennis Tournament
2:00 p.m. – Floral Design Workshop (includes flowers & supplies)
7:00 p.m. – District Dinners

Wednesday, August 15
9:00 a.m. – Yoga
9:00 a.m. – Surfing Lessons
9:00 a.m. – Stand-up Paddle Board Lessons
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Day Trip and Tour of Upcountry Maui
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Gemini Catamaran Snorkel Trip (includes gear & lunch)
2:45 p.m. – A special treat! Ice Cream Social
6:00 p.m. – The Aloha Experience

Thursday, August 16
9:00 a.m. – Yoga
9:00 a.m. – Stand-up Paddle Board Lessons

Oh sure the judges could attend boring meetings and lectures, but it looks like they’ve got those who want to play hooky covered as well…

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  • Oysteria

    Because we all know that Hawaii is centrally located in the US and it’s easy and cheap to get there.  I mean, the costs of lodging in Hawaii is “comparative” to that somewhere in Kansas, right?  Thank goodness they’re not a private business.

    For once I’d like to see some government function deliberately designed to save money and not be “comparative” in cost while invoking the fact that’s it “lawful”.  Really.  What did it cost us to just have that agenda organized?  I want that job.

    • shipwreckedcrew

      THere is no excuse for this stuff, but the “cost of lodging” is not an issue because wherever these kinds of events are held, the cost of rooms is at the “government rate.”  That rate is a little different in cities across the US, but it is a contract rate that the hotels agree to in order to host the event.  And the “government rate” in Hawaii is lower than in places like SF or NY.  My guess would be that the room rate for the Maui Hyatt (Not one of the best places on Maui), is somewhere between $150 and $200 a night.  The normal room rate is probably double that.

      • calfed

        Federal per diem in Hawaii is “OCONUS” (outside of Continental US) and substantially more generous than “CONUS” rates. Per diem on Maui, for instance, is $346/day for lodging, meals and incidentals ($209 for lodging). Federal per diem in Kansas City, which has numerous suitable venues for these kinds of conferences, is $160/day for lodging, meals and incidentals( $99 for lodging).

        Of course, the surfing, paddle boarding, and snorkeling lessons are more expensive in Kansas City…

  • herddog505

    Good heavens!  One would think that, in the wake of the GSA / Vegas flap, the rest of the bloodsuckers… er… federal employees, I meant to say… would be a little wiser than to pull this.

    Jebus…

  • Vagabond661

    A conference is normally held in places like Toledo, Springfield or San Antonio. A vacation is normally held in Vegas, Honolulu and the Bahamas. The government needs to know the difference.

  • Guest

    Quick note:  I wouldn’t be appropriate to hold the conference in Toledo or in San Antonio, as the 9th Circuit covers the West Coast.  

    • shipwreckedcrew

      This event is moved around from year to year, and it is hosted in different parts of the 9th circuit.  But they always manage to come to Hawaii every 4-5 years.   Other places that have regularly hosted the conference in the past are San Diego, Monterrey, Seattle, Sun Valley, Tucson.  

      • dwick_OR

        eh…  for the record, 2012 will mark the 4th time in the last 10 years the Ninth Circuit has held their conference in Hawaii – considerably more frequent than once every 4 to 5 years.  Isn’t it time to ‘spread the wealth around’ and choose destinations in the other states like Montana, Nevada, and Oregon?

    • calfed

       So what?

      I was assigned to various FBI Field Offices through out my career and attended many conferences outside of my “territory”. No one ever suggested that we had to have a conference in the area we covered.

      • Guest

        Among other things, part of the point of this conference is for judges to interact with attorneys and other judges within their circuit … and you’re not likely to find California Bar members in Toledo, Ohio.

        • calfed

           Oh, come off it.

          Look at the schedule of events…this is little better than vacation disguised as a conference.

          Or did you mean that the judges would interact with atterneys and other judges during the golf, snorkeling, and surfing?

          • Guest

            Did you look at the *other *schedule of events?

          • calfed

             Did you add up the total time scheduled during the conference for the “other” events?

          • Guest

            They’re cotemporaneous for the most part.

          • calfed

            JWH…they did not schedule this “conference” in Hawaii and arrange the golf, hula lessons, snorkeling, surfing, sail boarding and fishing contemporaneously with the “business sessions” because they expect the judges to attend the business sessions. That is window dressing for having a taxpayer funded vacation in Hawaii with the wife.

        • calfed

           “…and you’re not likely to find California Bar members in Toledo, Ohio.”–JWH

          So, the judges selected Maui as the location for this conference because they wanted to interact with members of the California bar?
          Do you really think that was an issue in selecting Maui as the site of this conference?

          If the point is to maximize the number of California Bar members that the judges interact with, wouldn’t another location…say, Fresno… be an  even better location for the conference?

          • Guest

            I pulled California as a single example. Hawaii is one of the states in the circuit, you know.

          • Vagabond661

            so is Iowa

          • Guest

            Incorrect. Iowa is 8th.

          • Vagabond661

            Correct. I meant Idaho. If they have had as many conferences in Idaho as Hawaii then I withdraw my complaint.

          • Guest

            Fair enough.

          • calfed

            I pulled California as a single example. Hawaii is one of the states in the circuit, you know. –JWH

            Nonetheless, would you say that the ninth circuit hears more cases from California or Hawaii?

            Would you say that there are more attorneys who practice before the ninth circuit in California or Hawaii?

            Would you say that there more judges that interact with the ninth circuit in California or Hawaii?

            Isn’t it a fact that Hawaii is one of the least populated of the states served by the ninth circuit?

            Based upon your statement that ” part of the point of this conference is for judges to interact with attorneys and other judges within their circuit”, wouldn’t it make more sense to have scheduled the conference in California than Hawaii? Perhaps even Fresno?

          • Guest

            Actually, it probably makes the most sense to rotate the conference across the circuit; Oregon, California, Hawaii, and so forth.

          • calfed

            So, when was the last time they had the conference in Idaho?

            How many times have they had the conference in Hawaii in, say, the last 10 years? How many in Montana?

            How much interaction do you suppose the judges will have with other attorneys and judges while they are snorkeling?

  • Wild_Willie

    Althought California is a nut case politically, the state itself has many venues that are as lovely as Hawaii. San Diego, Napa Valley, San Fran also Seattle, etc.

    This is what is wrong with Washington, they still think the electorate is stupid. ww

  • GarandFan

    Well it IS the 9th Circus.  “The Most Overturned Court” in the US system.

    Given their track record the real question is WHY are they still employed?

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  • Federal judges get paid very little compared to what they would get paid in the private sector.  This sort of thing and that everyone has to be extremely deferential to them is the compensating differential.

    • SCSIwuzzy

      As political appointees, there is no guarantee or reliable indicator that they would make more in the private sector

      • Guest

        Not so.  Your average Supreme Court justice comes to the job with top-notch grades from a top-notch law school.  Those qualifications command a job at a top-tier law firm.  These firms an annual salary of $160,000 … in the first year!  

        • SCSIwuzzy

          And how many are out there collecting high salaries 20, 30, 40, 50 or more years after getting their JDs?
          What is the $$ amount that you would assign to the many perks these judges recieve?
          AS for getting 160k right out of school… not anymore.  We have an overabudance of JDs that outstrip the demand.

          • Guest

            wuzz … I didn’t say *all *JDs earn those high salaries. Only the ones who are hyper-qualified. In reality, recent JD salaries are something of a binomial distribution — one spike at around $55-60k, and another at $160k. A legal career is something of a crapshoot. If you get in at one of the big firms, do a good job, and sacrifice your physical, mental, and emotional health and your social life to The Firm, you will continue collecting high salaries.

            Judicial salaries have actually been an issue for some time now. Some rather qualified attorneys have turned down judicial appointments because the compensation in private practice is far better.

    • herddog505

      So, somebody is reasonably well-paid, has their a** kissed on a daily basis, has authority that is about as close to dictatorial powers as can be found (legally) in our country and has their job for as long as they want it ALSO gets to have taxpayer-funded trips to Hawaii???

      WTF????

      But what am I grousing about?  Given how much they suffer and sacrifice, maybe we should do even more for these poor, miserable civil servants.  Can we send them cases of fine Tennessee whiskey and hookers, too? A new Ferrari every year? Gosh, NOTHING is too good for the federal judges!

      Jebus…

  • orlandocajun

    The schedule looks more like a vacation trip than a conference. All I see is an opening program for 2 hours then the rest fun and games.

    We have the government we deserve.

  • Armyspouse1988

    Well, here goes ANOTHER example of wasted taxpayer dollars under Obama’s watch.  Everytime I hear of one of these–my blood boils, and I know I’m not alone.  This can’t be good for any incumbent–especially since we borrow $.40 of EVERY dollar they squander on things they have not earned or even deserve.  Those 9th Circuit Judges make a TON of money–they can afford to pay for their own vacations.  This is a violation of the public trust and they should be prosecuted for theft.

    • dwick_OR

      While I’m no Obama supporter – it’s difficult to pin this one specifically on him…  it’s a culture of entitlement that has developed within the public employee bureaucracies.  This is the 4th time in 10 years the Ninth Circuit has held this soiree in Hawaii – I’m sure such flagrant abuses of taxpayer dollars are widespread and have been going on for years.  With so many in the private sector experiencing degrees of austerity, too many public employees with high salaries, lavish benefits, and generous pensions have become tone-deaf to what’s going on out here in the real world.

      • herddog505

        Yes, you’re right: this is less Barry’s fault and more just how the federal employees have learned over the years that they can do this sort of thing and get away with it.  I make no doubt that the judges were taking lavish vacations to  places like Hawaii or Key West or Jackson Hole while Bush was in office.

  • Guest

    In case you are wondering, here’s the schedule that the you WEREN’T told about:

    http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/judicial_conference/schedule.html

    • jim_m

       Yeah, It had the appearance of a partial agenda.

      • calfed

         And, of course, the “business sessions” are scheduled contemporaneously with the surfing, golf, snorkeling and fishing, because the Judges can be in both places at the same time.

        • jim_m

           I’m guessing that this is one of those conferences where the spouses are brought along so most of the activities are for them.  But then that means that we are paying for the spouses’ vacations of course.

          • calfed

             And I’m guessing this is one of those conferences where attendance at the “business sessions” is entirely voluntary and that they will be sparsely attended in favor of the “activities”

            Do you really believe they went to all that trouble to arrange the activities and publish the itinerary for the wives?

    • herddog505

      You’re really trying to swim upstream here.  I don’t think anybody would suggest that the judges have their conference in Middleonowhere, NV, but it’s a bit hard to swallow the idea that they are going for a working “conference” when their schedule includes a raft of activities that most Americans will never be able to afford to do in their lives.

      • Heck…I’d like to be able to afford a vacation, period. It seems most of my pay last year went for my and my spouse’s tax bill. But, of course, SOMEBODY’S gotta fund our government activities. They are public servants, you know.

  • ackwired

    Maybe the judges will run into Sherriff Joe’s deputies.  He just sent a couple of them to Hawaii to obtain Obama’s birth certificate.  Apparantly he doesn’t like the Az Secretary of State standing alone in the birther spotlight.

    ps. It’s hard to stay a Republican when you live in AZ.

    • calfed

       And hard to remain a democrat almost everywhere else…

      • ackwired

        LOL…or even in AZ.

  • rebelready

    The US Courts are mini mob families where the ordinary
    citizen is subjected to constant abuse and perversion of law as they help the
    bullies they are up against rob them of legitimate judgments based on fact rule
    and law. Corrupt Colette Mulrenan Smith Law Clerk Tacoma USDC thinks she excels
    at perversion of law but she actually sucks as she denied my sick son habeas
    corpus where he has now been detained four months with an active infection in
    his brain, denied the medical care he needs, forced antipsychotics on a void
    judicial order, pepper sprayed in the face and forced into isolation because he
    did not move fast enough for a corrections officer when he was told to remove a
    towel from his head which was on his head to block noise because he was vomiting
    all day with vertigo and suffered noise sensitivity case no. 3:2012-cv-05199
    pass S.348 NOW get it to the house and then make it freaking law and get rid of
    these taxed paid terrorist!! My son has no felony record and his crime is when
    he pushed a grocery cart in reaction to a delusion a window was broken. If this
    woman gets a vacation like what is described here I will do everything in my
    power to make sure that she is charged with federal crime and spends some
    serious time in jail–hopefully in isolation and forced antipsychotics. Oh
    don’t let me leave out that the gross violation of my son’s rights is
    retaliation by the federal court system because I caught them and documented
    the corruption. Sorry folks but the corruption goes all the way to the Supreme
    Court. I was told by an employee in the circuit executive office of the first
    circuit that I needed to forget about my case because I still had my children
    and now these criminally insane taxed paid b*stards have my son. Enjoy your
    vacations you sick psychopathic corrupt domestic terrorist.
    Everything stated here is backed by public court records POST MY RANT!!!!!

    see the corruption documented regarding the Massachusetts fed courts at

    http://www.scribd.com/tired_of_corruption

    see the supreme court petition that was denied at the link below

    Tweet frequently, retweet FREQUENTLY, post it EVERYWHERE AND ANYWHERE, send it to your sister, brother, father, mother and anyone you can think of. The corrupt “EIite” do not own this country–THIS LAND IS OUR LAND!!
    #SCOTUS OKw/criminal violation->court staff/attorney-subverts Magistrate/ADA/CrimeVictim Act 1st/5th amend http://scr.bi/L1h9yQ