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Will the Ninth Circuit Conference Kill All Future Conferences?

By Robyn Hagan Cain on May 22, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A number of you were probably disappointed when the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals announced last year that it was cancelling its 2012 Bench & Bar Conference. Colorado Springs may not be the most exotic location for a legal elbow-rubbing, but the Broadmoor resort -- the proposed location for the conference -- is the longest-running consecutive winner of both the AAA Five-Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards. It looks swanky on the website.

But instead of planning a conference where you could kick back by the pool and share indemnity ghost stories with Judge Neil Gorsuch, the Tenth Circuit decided that it wouldn't be prudent to hold the conference due to budget cuts.

Your Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals neighbors have the opposite problem.

As you've probably heard by now, the Ninth Circuit is in metaphorical hot water -- and we don't mean the whirlpool bathtub kind -- after scheduling its 2012 Judicial Conference for August 13-16 at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Maui, Hawaii.

If you've visited Hawaii, you know Maui is generally considered the priciest of the islands and the Hyatt Regency is a pretty nice resort. The New York Post reports that the site of the "lavish, $1 million conference" features a salon, 1,800 feet of beachfront property, two pools with waterfalls, a rope bridge and an outdoor whirlpool. (The rope bridge isn't the best evidence of judicial excess; the ridiculously awesome waterslide and the penguins in the lobby are better examples.)

Though the Ninth Circuit conference hasn't even happened yet, Republicans are already threatening to punish all of the appellate circuits for the Ninth Circuit's perceived splurge. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions told Politico on Monday that all the courts should consider cancelling their judicial conferences. "If the courts can justify it being important to their work product, conducting them in a lean, efficient, cost effective way, perhaps it can be justified ... but I think the courts ought to look at whether they even need to do those, whether it needs to be done every year, and how it can be done cheaper."

Considering that the conference is less than three months away, we're guessing that it's too late for the Ninth Circuit to back out. If the media hullabaloo doesn't die down, the Ninth Circuit conference organizers can always head over to Warren and Annabelle's magic show after the event; perhaps a little sleight of hand can make the scrutiny disappear.

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