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Edward Lazarus

Edward Lazarus


Edward Lazarus


Edward Lazarus is a former Supreme Court clerk and Federal Communications Commission Chief of Staff. In the legal field, Edward Lazarus is known both as a lawyer and for his 1998 book "Closed Chambers," which details his time acting as a Supreme Court clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun during the October Term which began in October 1988 and concluded in July 1989.


"Closed Chambers" was controversial in the legal field for several reasons and has been attacked by a number of members of the legal system. Foremost in the charges leveled at Edward Lazarus by his critics is his violation of confidentiality. Anyone who acts as a law clerk in the Supreme Court is obligated to follow a code of conduct whose rules are explained before service begins. These rules prohibit any law clerk from sharing any confidential information they learn during their service, or from profiting from it. By writing a book in which he shared what he had learned during internal deliberations and publishing it for commercial purchase. critics argued Edward Lazarus had violated the terms of the code of conduct.


In his defense, Edward Lazarus argued that the terms of the Code of Conduct were routinely violated by other law clerks who routinely spoke, on the condition of anonymity, with members of the press. Edward Lazarus also claimed that he had repeatedly discussed the book prior to its publication with Justice Blackmun. However, public statements made by associates of Justice Blackmun stated he was unaware of the publication of the book until it entered the marketplace.


Another part of the Code of Conduct that critics charged Edward Lazarus with violating concerned a clause forbidding clerks from offering any interpretation or explanation of actions taken and rulings issued by the Supreme Court. Because the narrative of "Closed Chambers" explained the rulings made during his term of service, critics argued Edward Lazarus was in violation of this part of the Code.


 Another issue concerning "Closed Chambers" involves the quotation and use of documents. According to the Code of Conduct, no nonpublic documents can be removed from their housing within the building of the Supreme Court at any time. Critics charged that his extensive quotation from these documents demonstrated another violation of the rules of the Supreme Court by Edward Lazarus.


 Among his other public actions, Edward Lazarus served at the FCC from 2009 to the end of January 2012. Following the end of his government service, Edward Lazarus resumed legal practice by rejoining the international law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Edward Lazarus had been a senior counsel at that firm's Los Angeles offices from 2000 to 2009 prior to joining the FCC. Prior to that time, he was an assistant district attorney in California. His specialty as a private lawyer concerns issues involving appellate litigation. His areas of practice include intellectual property law, matters concerning Federal Indian law, bankruptcy cases.