Insights from Ted Cruz’s clerkship from other clerks during OT 1996

January 20th, 2016

The New York Times managed to interview “nearly two dozen of Mr. Cruz’s former colleagues on the court, many of the clerks working in the chambers of liberal justices Clerks who were at the Court” during OT 1996. Since none of the Justices’ papers from that year are available yet, talking to clerks is probably the only way to gain any insights into Cruz’s work product.  But only two clerks would be quoted.

Renee Lerner (AMK clerk, now teaches at GW Law) described the lurid manner in which Cruz wrote his death penalty memos:

“That I think was a special interest of his,” said Renée Lerner, then a clerk for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who said she was impressed with how deeply Mr. Cruz delved into the facts and history of a murder case. “It was unusual for a Supreme Court clerk to do that.”

Also, Lerner reveals how Cruz found a DIG.

Ms. Lerner also recalled Mr. Cruz once excitedly rushing into her office after his research revealed that a liberal clerk had mistakenly recommended that the court hear a case based on a legal issue that was not actually part of the case. “It’s not here!” said Mr. Cruz, whose discovery resulted in a rare (and mortifying for the clerk who made the error) dismissal of the case as “improvidently granted.”

Melissa Hart (JPS clerk, now teaches at Colorado Law) described Cruz’s dismissal of death penalty appeals:

Melissa Hart, who clerked for one of the liberal justices, John Paul Stevens, said Mr. Cruz’s memos on death penalty appeals basically boiled down to “frivolous, meritless, deny,” and added that his writing approach “made a lot of people really angry.”

“Several other clerks” since that Cruz “wrote the draft decision for Ohio v. Robinette, a modest Fourth Amendment case giving the police more latitude for searches at traffic stops.

There’s really not much news here. So many clerks refused to speak on the record, so it always gives me pause before relying on it.