February 13, 2020

"I was just surprised to hear that he seems to be copacetic about retiring. I think it’s bothering me more than him. I identify him with this. This is his identity. I’m sad about it."

Said Susan Berk, the wife of Jack Weinstein, quoted in "After legendary 53-year career, Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein hangs up his robe at age 98."

Weinstein himself said, "I just about used up my reserves of energy and I felt that I could not really go on and have the assurance that I could give full attention and full energy to each one of these litigants."

I interviewed with Judge Weinstein when I was a law student, and at the time, Judge Weinstein seemed to be the most prominent federal district judge in New York City. I graduated from law school in 1981, and I have been retired for 3 years.

I enjoyed the wife's use of the word "copacetic." It's a word my mother liked to use (and she was from the same generation as Weinstein). I understood it to be a beatnik word. The OED has no information at all on the origin of the word which it defines as "Fine, excellent, going just right." It traces the word back to 1919:
1919 I. Bacheller Man for Ages iv. 69 ‘As to looks I'd call him, as ye might say, real copasetic.’ Mrs. Lukins expressed this opinion solemnly... Its last word stood for nothing more than an indefinite depth of meaning.
From the article about Weinstein:
Weinstein made headlines in 2018 for saying he would not toss ex-convicts back in prison for smoking pot while on supervised release....

“We continue using the criminal law to unnecessarily crush the lives of our young,” he wrote in 2013 in a response to the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled his 30-month sentence for the child porn distributor was too lenient, based on the five-year mandatory minimum the charge carries....

“I think our sentencing has been much too extreme, and I’ve done what I could to reduce the cruelty of it by sentencing at the lowest possible levels that I could,” Weinstein said. “Most sentences are too extreme. We keep people under supervised release much longer than they should be. They should be reintroduced to family and to jobs and creative work.”...
Weinstein was born in Wichita, Kan., in 1921, and his family moved to Brooklyn when he was 5.... During the Great Depression, he took jobs as an minor actor in plays as well as posing as a model for artists to help feed his family.

Weinstein enlisted in the Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and served on the submarine USS Jallao, where he helped sink a Japanese cruiser.

“I felt elated about it," he said. “But in subsequent times, I’ve felt that the killing of 1,100 men was not warranted. I’ve instructed some Japanese lawyers and judges ... and I always have the feeling that those men were unnecessarily sacrificed at the war. I have no feeling of jubilation in killing Japanese men.”

41 comments:

Will Cate said...

"The pay was pathetic... it's a shame those boys couldn't be more copacetic."

-- West LA Fadeaway, Grateful Dead (Hunter/Garcia)

Mr. Forward said...

Copacabana is more copacetic.

Phil 314 said...

Using copacetic. That’s pretty heavy.

David Begley said...

“I think our sentencing has been much too extreme...”

Bill Barr and Roger Stone agree.

rehajm said...

Local H has a song with the lyrics...

And you just don't get it
You keep it copacetic


It’s an earworm. I don’t even need to hear the song. Thanks for that...

Marcus said...

I've always had the impression that people who used "copacetic" in casual conversation were pretentious fools.

THEOLDMAN

Always. It's just one of those words ...

rhhardin said...

No surrender was pretty much the Japanese drill in WWII. Killing them is the fix.

daskol said...

Velocity Girl's first record was Copacetic.

MacMacConnell said...

"copacetic" was a word my WWII, Korean War, VN fighter pilot father used often, as well as his fellow officers. Heard it a lot growing up on air bases.

JML said...

When I was a young CAPT, lots of superior officers used the word. Most of them used it with a wry, little smile, like they were hiding something or they just used a new word they learned and were proud of themselves.

MikeR said...

I find it hard to believe that he said anything as dumb as that comment about killing the Japanese. It is the kind of comment made by someone who doesn't think he has to deal with the real world.

Birkel said...

So Trump doesn't even get to replace this judge since he had taken senior status?
This is not news.
Goodbye, LBJ judge!

James K said...

I once heard the poet John Ciardi interviewed on radio talking about "copacetic." He said it originated in the South, and suggested that it came from Jewish merchants sealing a deal with the Hebrew/Yiddish "Col b'seder" (Everything is ok).

Unknown said...

I have heard that it was a catch phrase already in late 19th century Amsterdam, and came from Hebrew: either 'kol b'seder' as James K said, or 'kol b'tzedek', 'that's all fair'.

sean said...

Another one of those 60s New York City liberals who did so much to destroy the City. Prof. Althouse would never criticize those people, but we note that she has voted with her feet.

JAORE said...

"I just about used up my reserves of energy and I felt that I could not really go on and have the assurance that I could give full attention and full energy to each one of these litigants."

Yeah, he might even have been seen napping during court. Can't be honorable and continue like that......

SDaly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James K said...

I have heard that it was a catch phrase already in late 19th century Amsterdam

That makes sense too, as there were a lot of Jewish diamond merchants who tend to do business on a verbal/handshake basis (as I think they still do on 47th Street).

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Local H: Bound For The Floor

walter said...

98 yrs old and facing an identity crisis.
Gonna fritter away his time, maybe an apology tour to Japan.

Clark said...

From the On-line Etymology Dictionary: ""fine, excellent, going well," 1919, but it may have origins in 19c. U.S. Southern black speech. Origin unknown; suspects include Latin, Yiddish (Hebrew kol b'seder), Italian, Louisiana French (coupe-sétique), and Native American. Among linguists, none is considered especially convincing."

SDaly said...

Althouse, this might interest you. It's the testimony of a former Reinhardt clerk about the horrendous harassment she experienced while clerking for him. Lowlight:

Often, these remarks included expressing surprise that I even had a husband because I was not a woman who any man would be attracted to. In that vein, Judge Reinhardt often speculated that my husband must be a “wimp,” or possibly gay. Judge Reinhardt would use both words and gestures to suggest that my “wimp” husband must either lack a penis, or not be able to get an erection in my presence. He implied that my marriage had not been consummated.

frenchy said...

I find it hard to believe that he said anything as dumb as that comment about killing the Japanese. It is the kind of comment made by someone who doesn't think he has to deal with the real world

I dunno. I was a radar operator in the Navy during Vietnam on a destroyer doing NGFS (think artillery), and my job was radio communication with the army spotter on the ground, who sent coordinates to pinpoint fire on the target, to be relayed to the gunner. One particular occasion a shell triggered the detonation of a hidden ammo cache in the middle of a small ville, resulting in a tremendous explosion. The spotter was exultant. "Direct hit!! Direct hit!! Bodies flying in the air! Body parts everywhere! GOOD JOB!" You do think about it.

Narr said...

Who is judge Reinhardt? (SDaly comment?)

I wonder what would make the sinking of an enemy warship unwarranted. I'm not about to condemn the old guy until I know what he meant (and maybe not then).

In my crowd, 'copacetic' was an ironic allusion to those hippies en potence we considered the beatniks to be. I had no idea it was a WWII-era term--learn something new every day here.

That it might be Jewish or Southern or both is fascinating. Groovy, even.

Narr
Delightful discussion

mccullough said...

It’s OK when a judge ignores the law. — The Resistance

mccullough said...

Judge Reinhardt was a very liberal federal appellate judge in California. Just like Alex Kosinski was a libertarian/at times conservative federal appellate judge in California.

Reinhardt was a creepy jagoff and Kosinski is a creepy jagoff

Tina Trent said...

He’s destroyed many lives with his notorious leniency towards vicious criminals and terrorists. Sad to hear he’s still on the bench,

Good riddance to a sick offender fellator.

SDaly said...

Reinhardt was one of the most lionized liberal appellate court justices in the country. He was also one of (if not the most) reversed judges in the country. He used to brag that the Supreme Court couldn't catch all of his opinions.

Everyone in the law knows who he is.

Leslie Graves said...

My grandmother used "copacetic". I don't remember which World War I thought that must have come from, her being so in my eyes incredibly old. I might have even thought WW1.

Ann Althouse said...

My mother was a WAC in WWII.

Richard Dolan said...

I've known Judge Weinstein for 40 years, beginning as an AUSA, and had one of my first trials with him (it took about 30 minutes, he was very fast). I don't agree with his politics but the common view in NY is that he is one of the greatest judges of our time. For those up-stream whose default reaction is pure snark because they heard somewhere that this judge was not of the originalist bent, perhaps it's wise to slow down a bit. The same snark can be directed at any judge (any one in public office) if all it takes is a disagreement over politics or interpretive canons. Snark is harder to do than you think and when done poorly gets tiresome very quickly.

SDaly said...

Judge Weinstein's shenanigans in the "light cigarette" tobacco litigation soured him for me.

Szoszolo said...

I took an evidence class with Weinstein ... in 1990. And he's just now retiring? Good Lord. I always love those stories in the bar journals about lawyers who are still dressing in a suit and coming into the office (usually for increasingly shorter periods of time) at age 99, but this is a bit much.

Clark said...

I remember a story about Judge Weinstein, told by my 1L Civ Pro Professor (Hans Smit). Some lawyer asked Weinstein for a temporary restraining order ex parte. Weinstein asks, "Have you talked to opposing counsel? Let's get him on the phone." And he proceeded to do that. (I guess you have to be a lawyer for that to be interesting.)

Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clark said...

My mother was a bozoette at school.

cassandra lite said...

I'd always heard that Bill "Bojangles" Robinson coined "copacetic."

Josephbleau said...

I think his regret at being a part of the death of 1000 is pretty typical of vets. They really don’t want to think about it in older age even though it was justified. Few want to be thought of as the executioner even if it saves more lives in the long run. But good job anyway.

Sydney said...

I had an attending who used to say “Everything is copacetic” when patients were responding well to treatment. It was the late 1980’s and I think he was in his 40’s at the time.

Narr said...

OK, Reinhardt was a bad guy, or not . I guess the connection is appellate judges? Jewish judges? Not trying to be thick--blame my layman's goyische kopf.

Now WWII and guilt. I had a very interesting conversation with a gentleman about 1995, who had been in combat with the 47th Inf. Regt. (9th ID 'Varsity') from North Africa to the end of the war. In Normandy, he said (let me try to get it straight)--he and some buddies captured some Germans, who they treated decently; in turn, they were captured by the Germans for a short while, and treated decently. Eventually they were in American hands again and he was charged with taking some German POWs back to a collecting point. They would have made good progress except one hardcore Nazi kept muttering and trying to stir things up.

Mr. S says he told the guy to STFU but he wouldn't, so Mr S pulled out his .45 and shot the guy through the heart. No more trouble. But in late life it bothered him. Not being a priest or shrink, all I could do was mutter that it sounded like the guy had it coming, and thanks for the letters and documents!

Narr
I hope he worked it out

Tina Trent said...

Richard Dolan don't mistake criticism of him for some esoteric chatter about originalism. I'm talking about perverting the law by freeing violent thugs, then bragging about it. The usual leftist wet dream. Defend it if you like.