- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Rickety bench

Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, immersed in controversy since presiding over the Clinton-Lewinsky grand jury, has been presented the Judicial Excellence Award at the 128th annual banquet of the D.C. Bar Association.
For the judge, the award couldn’t come at a better time.
In a unanimous 3-0 vote in mid-September, a federal appeals court panel overturned Judge Johnson’s ruling ordering independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr to face criminal contempt proceedings for reported leaks of grand jury information in the Monica Lewinsky probe.
After President Clinton walked away a free, but impeached, man, Judge Johnson appointed the Justice Department to prosecute Mr. Starr and his office on the contempt charge.
Weeks earlier, departing from the court’s traditional random case-assignment process, Judge Johnson came under fire for selectively assigning criminal cases against presidential pals Charles Yah Lin Trie and Webster L. Hubbell to judges Mr. Clinton appointed.
Later, in a two-page letter to this newspaper, Judge Johnson denied her decisions were based on political considerations.

Worth hearing

Three “first ladies” of the judiciary shared the same table and more at the 128th annual banquet of the D.C. Bar Association at the Capital Hilton.
Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, the first woman to preside as chief judge of the D.C. Court; her longtime friend Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court; and Chief Judge Annice Wagner, the first woman to serve as chief judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals, were all guests at the table of Bar Association President Jack Oldener.
It’s worth noting that the three lady bench blazers remained seated throughout the after-dinner performance of Clarence Darrow Tonight, by Tony Award nominee Lawrence Luckinbill.
“Even though the program was running very late, they sat engrossed,” says Mr. Olender. “Luckinbill’s excellent acting in the role of lawyer Clarence Darrow was much more compelling than most of the speeches you hear at lawyer gatherings.”

Dole honors Dole

Former GOP presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole will present the Women of Washington’s 1999 Highlight Award to former GOP presidential candidate and husband Bob Dole.
Actually, Women of Washington Inc., will honor four men besides Mr. Dole, NASA administrator Daniel S. Goldin, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, and ABC Inc. founder Leonard H. Goldenson for supporting the endeavors of women and issues that are important to women.
The Women of Washington are a thousand-member organization, providing forums for women of all backgrounds, races and ages to exchange ideas, support the community, learn from leaders, and help each other personally and professionally.
The awards will be presented for the fifth time at a luncheon on Tuesday at the Four Seasons Hotel.

So long, Hancock

The Internal Revenue Service is sending about 11 million postcards to selected taxpayers this month, inviting them to join the world of paperless tax return filing.
The postcards contain e-file customer numbers (ECNs) that the receipts can use as “signatures” on returns they file electronically, eliminating the need to mail paper signature documents.
“We’re sending the postcards to individuals who used a computer to prepare their own returns last year, even if they filed a paper form,” says Robert E. Barr, the IRS assistant commissioner for electronic tax administration.
“We hope they’ll save their postcards and use their ECNs to file electronically this year.”
Earlier this year, when the pilot began, the IRS received 666,000 returns using ECNs more than one-fourth of the almost 2 and 1/2 million returns e-filed by taxpayers from their home computers.
The IRS expects the taxpayers to e-file 4 million returns in 2000.

Dear IRS:

“Enclosed is my 1999 tax return & payment. Please take note of the attached newspaper article and you will see that the Pentagon is paying $171.50 for hammers and NASA has paid $600 for a toilet seat.
“Please find enclosed four toilet seats (value $2400) and six hammers (value $1029). This brings my total payment to $3429. Please note the overpayment of $22 and apply it to the Presidential Election Fund, as noted on my return. Might I suggest you send the above mentioned fund a 1.5 inch screw. (See attached article: HUD paid $22 for a 1.5 inch phillips head screw.)
“It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year.

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