Letters to the Editor: In defense of the late 9th Circuit ‘liberal lion’ Judge Stephen Reinhardt

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt in 2010.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
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To the editor: Stephen Reinhardt was commissioned as a judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1980. I joined the 9th Circuit Clerk’s Office staff in 1979 and retired as its Circuit and Court of Appeals executive in 2017. I write to share my views of the judge I knew for almost 40 years. (“Did the ‘liberal lion’ of the 9th Circuit bully and mistreat his clerks?” Feb. 20)

Judge Reinhardt was fiercely devoted to the court. He was an incredibly hard worker and tough task master, particularly to his law clerks. He wanted and expected only the best from those who had the honor of working for the 9th Circuit.

He was known as the liberal lion of the 9th Circuit, but to those who knew him well his bark was much worse than his bite. Judge Reinhardt was devoted to his law clerks, many of whom, both male and female, he helped advance in their legal careers.


I cannot speak personally to the recent testimony by a former law clerk who told of her eight-month experience in chambers to a House Judiciary subcommittee. I regret that she believed this was the best way to air her grievances, almost two years after Judge Reinhardt’s death.

I have tremendous respect and admiration for Judge Reinhardt’s legacy, and I know there are many others who share these views. Let him rest in peace.

Cathy A. Catterson, Oakland

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Feb. 23, 2020