Judge John Owens, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, will give a talk, “The Clerk, The Thief, His Life As A Baker: Ashton Embry and the Supreme Court Leak Scandal of 1919.”
On December 16, 1919, Ashton Fox Embry, law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Joseph McKenna, abruptly resigned from the position he had held for almost nine years. His explanation? His fledgling bakery business required his undivided attention. Newspapers that morning hinted at a different reason: Embry resigned because he had conspired with at least three individuals to use inside knowledge of upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decisions to profit on Wall Street. A grand jury returned an indictment against Embry and his associates a few months later, and Embry’s argument that he had committed no crime ultimately reached the Supreme Court, the very institution he was accused of betraying.
Despite the sensational headlines and fierce legal battle arising from his indictment, the United States Attorney quietly dismissed Embry’s case in 1929, almost ten years after the story had broken. Few Court scholars have ever heard of Embry, and the memory of Embry, much like the case against him, has disappeared with time. In his talk, Judge Owens will unravel the Supreme Court Leak Case by reconstructing what happened almost eighty years ago.
Judge Owens has been a federal judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit since 2014. Prior to joining the court, Judge Owens was a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. He earned his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and his J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he graduated first in his class.
Sponsored by the Program on Constitutional Structure.