‘Dawn Johnsen fatigue’

February 15, 2010
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Today's post is from IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger:

I just Googled an Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington professor for what seems like the thousandth time in at least a year. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one … in fact, far from it.

Pretty much ever since President Obama first suggested he would nominate professor Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel in January 2009 before his inauguration, there have been what seem to be countless blog postings, news updates, and posts on Facebook fan pages. There have been letters on Web sites of legal organizations that support her and letters on pro-life organizations’ sites that oppose her. There even have been updates to Johnsen’s Wikipedia page.

With the information overload, I think I’m suffering from what I’ve dubbed “Dawn Johnsen fatigue.”

This is nothing against Johnsen. From what I’ve heard from other sources in the last year, she’s a perfectly nice, reasonable person. In fact, I think I’ve even talked to her for an article or two prior to her nomination, but it’s just been so long since I could talk to her that I can’t remember. Unlike most people I’ve written about, Johnsen can’t talk to me directly about the nomination or the process – at least not until it’s over.

Our most recent article about her was in the Jan. 20-Feb. 2, 2010, edition, “Nomination revitalized,” after the president re-nominated her at the beginning of this year due to procedural reasons. She is now waiting on another Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, which was first postponed a few weeks ago due to scheduling at the Senate, then because of snow, and now because of the Senate’s weeklong recess.

Meanwhile, for the last year I’ve been receiving e-mail updates from my coworkers, Johnsen’s co-workers, and some in the know about her pending nomination.

Even when the law school announces she’ll be teaching a class, it makes the news. I don’t know why that’s such a big deal, considering that is her job – at least for now. It’s also my understanding from talking with others at the law school that her classes have been scheduled in a way that if she’s ever confirmed she will be able to start her job in Washington, D.C., as seamlessly as possible.

But every time there’s an update, it’s one more story I weed through in my Googling efforts to figure out what’s going on. While I wait, she waits. I can only imagine how much she’s been reading about herself as we’ve both been following the same story for approximately 13 months. Or maybe she’s not even following it anymore.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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