BurtLaw's Daily Judge is not an online newspaper and is not affiliated with or intended to be mistaken for any existing or previously-existing newspaper or journal. Rather, this is a so-called "blawg," a law-related personal non-profit pro bono publico First-Amendment protected "web log" or "blog," one with a subjective, idiosyncratic, and eccentric sociological and social-psychological slant that focuses not on the latest judicial decisions of supposed great legal importance but on a) the institution of judge in the United States and in other countries throughout the world, b) the judicial office and role, c) judicial personalities, d) the great common law tradition of judging as practiced here and throughout the world, e) judges as judges, f) judges as ordinary people with the usual mix of virtues and flaws, etc. We link to newspapers and other sources in order to alert you to ideas, articles, stories, speeches, law books, literary works and other things that have interested us and that may interest you. In linking to another site or source, we don't mean either to suggest we necessarily agree with views or ideas expressed there or to attest to the accuracy of facts set forth there. We urge you in every instance to click on the link and read the entire story or other printed source to which we link. We often use the linked piece as a springboard for expressing our opinion, typically clearly labelled "Comment."
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About Burton Hanson. Burton Hanson is a graduate of Harvard Law School, admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Minnesota. He worked one year as Hennepin County District Court Special Term (Civil) Law Clerk, two years as law clerk for the late Justice C. Donald Peterson of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and over 26 years as Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He was a nonpartisan candidate for Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in the general election in November 2000 and a liberal anti-war candidate for Congress in the Republican primary in the Minnesota Third District in September 2004. He was one of the first law bloggers (blawgers). He began planning his first blog, BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else in 1999 but delayed starting it until after the 2000 general election. His campaign website, the no-longer extant VoteHans.Com, contained a personal campaign weblog, possibly the first such use of a weblog or blog. In 2004 he also used the personal blog format in his primary campaign for Congress. That site, BurtonHanson.Com, has morphed into a personal political opinion blog and also contains the archives of his 2004 campaign web pages and blog postings.
Beating up the judge - literally. "Authorities are reviewing possible formal charges against at least one man, and possibly other suspects, accused by a Milwaukee County judge of beating him up at a downtown rock concert last month. Children's Court Judge David Borowski, 40, said Tuesday he was at a Kid Rock concert at the Eagles Ballroom on July 22 when he was assaulted...'I was just a victim. This was completely unrelated to my being a judge,' Borowski said. 'I never asked for or received any special treatment. And I would hope the justice system plays itself out fairly.'" More (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 08.09.2006).
Town admits responsibility for death of judge's dog. "[South Kingston] is revisiting its animal-care procedures after a beloved St. Bernard owned by Providence Municipal Court Judge Frank Caprio died at the pound last week. The 6-year-old dog, Caesar, died of heat exposure at the South Kingstown pound last Wednesday after being picked up by a Narragansett animal control officer the previous afternoon. South Kingstown provides pound services at the Asa Pond Road facility for the Town of Narragansett. Town Manager Stephen Alfred said South Kingstown takes full responsibility for the incident and will reexamine its policies at the pound as a result...Caprio explained that he realized Caesar was missing when he went to feed him Wednesday morning...Caesar had apparently wandered off when the power went out, disabling the electric fence on the Caprios' Ocean Road property, the family said. The dog had a kennel there, as well as access to a guest house on the 3.5 acres. The dog was wearing an identification tag, with his and the judge's name on it, and a collar designed to shock animals that wander too close to an electric fence, Caprio said...The incident has raised the ire of the Defenders of Animals, a Providence animal-rights group, which claims Caesar should have been returned to Ocean Road...Defenders of Animals...plans to introduce a bill [in the legislature] to require animal control officers to use identification tags to return stray animals to their homes...." More (Providence Journal 08.09.2006). Comment. I recently sat up all night during an eight-hour power outage on one of the hottest nights of the year because I wanted to monitor the condition of and otherwise protect our beloved Mathilda, Wonder Dog, who is ailing. Earlier. Iowa judge nixes dog-friendly cafe (with extended comments); Appeals court: 'We're for dogs'; The courthouse dog; Judge caught on tape demeaning man with service dog; Annals of eccentric judges; The courthouse dog -- or, what are dogs up to?; Judge under fire for saying dog rescuer should have shot dogs; Dog saves courthouse from deliveryman; Courts are going to the dogs.
Judicial candidate's divorce file is circulated. "Judicial candidate W. Scott Wynn threw barbecued chicken at his wife, repeatedly hit a nephew and mailed a doctored court order to a former employee, according to public records compiled and circulated by lawyers who support his opponent, Michelle Morley. The dossier also contains records from Wynn's ongoing divorce file, including an e-mail from a parenting coordinator who concluded the Groveland lawyer has an 'anger-management problem.' Wynn, 49, said the documents attack him unfairly...." More (Orlando Sentinel 08.09.2006). Comment. Every man, including every judge, is a character in one soap opera or another, since everyone belongs to a family and every family is a soap opera. These are the sorts of revelations that might sink a lawyer's chance of being appointed by the governor. But voters are able to (and, we believe, more likely to) weigh such "stuff" in the context of all the various factors on which they base their votes. Personally, as a voter, I'd be inclined to hold it against a candidate's opponent that his or her supporters compiled and circulated this sort of stuff.
Annals of telephonic marriages - Why don't Canadian judges lead the way? "The long-distance ceremony between a Pakistan man and his Canadian bride was not a valid marriage in Alberta, a Calgary judge has ruled. Justice Barbara Romaine, in a written decision, said the Islamic wedding between Muhammad and Zuhra Hassan two decades ago wasn't a legitimate union. Romaine, in the judgment obtained yesterday by the Sun, said the ceremony, performed by phone while Muhammad Hassan lived in Saudi Arabia, didn't meet Alberta marriage criteria...The husband had sought a ruling their now failed union was lawful so he could get a decree of judicial separation and a share of matrimonial property...." More (Ottawa Sun 08.09.2006). Compare and contrast, Same sex marriage in Canada (Wikipedia). Further reading. We're for all sorts of marriage, including, secret marriage (Sting), telephonic marriage, marriage by proxy, marriage by postcard, virtual marriage, dog marriage, marriage of convenience, marriage of true minds, marriage outside the church, marriage inside the church, marriage in the park, marriage underwater, marriage while skydiving, marriage in Bermuda, marriage made in heaven, marriage on a budget, and trial marriage, so how can we not be for same-sex marriage? See, Marriage and the Law.
Judge returns from tour in Iraq. "Bob Freitag was face to face with Saddam Hussein, but didn't think the deposed Iraqi dictator looked that tough...reitag, an associate judge in McLean County, was serving in the U.S. Army Reserves when he encountered Hussein...A major in the Reserves, Freitag was a judge advocate and military brass sought his advice...It was Freitag's job to make sure detainees, such as Hussein, received proper medical care. Ironically, while in Iraq, Freitag stayed at Abu Ghraib prison, once notorious for prisoner mistreatment. Freitag, who plans to resign his commission, said he has 'grave concern about a lack of foresight on how to end this thing (the war in Iraq).' He believes there's a civil war in Iraq and that the country could be broken up or divided...." More (Bloomington Pantagraph 08.09.2006).
A half-century's experience judging carrots. "The judge with about 50 years experience suspected the carrots in question had spent some time in plastic bags on supermarket shelves...." More (Reading Eagle - PA 08.09.2006). Comment. We note that superannuated judges with 50 years of experience judging are not barred but welcomed as judges of vegetable competitions at community fairs, etc. Only in the law do we automatically presume that highly-experienced judges, with years and years of valuable experience, are incapable of judging. See, my widely-read 2000 essay, BurtLaw on Mandatory Retirement of Judges. (If you Google the words "mandatory retirement of judges," the first link that pops up is this one.)
Air conditioning failure shuts down courthouse. "The Habersham County Courthouse closed for the day at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, due to air conditioning failure. Monday night's thunderstorm resulted in a lightning strike, which initially knocked out the elevator, clock and air conditioning pump. The elevator and clock were restored Tuesday morning but the air conditioning pump will not be repaired until at least Wednesday...." More (Northeast Georgian 08.09.2006). Earlier. To kill a mockingbird with heat and humidity (with comments).
Response to fractured court's free speech decisions. "President Bill Clinton was called all sorts of obscene names by lawyers in the Senate and House. Abraham Lincoln was publicly accused of being black, being part ape and of suffering from syphilis of the brain. Every day, conservatives slander liberals on the airwaves. But the rules should be different, apparently, for our precious little sensitive Michigan judges...." Jack Lessenberry, So much for free speech (Detroit Metro Times 08.09.2006), commenting on one of the fractured, frictionalized Michigan Supreme Court's recent free-speech decisions, of which we, too, were critical.
Three judges are scolded for courtroom behavior. "The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct has admonished two local judges, one for leading a football cheer before sentencing a man for manslaughter and one for forcing a Muslim woman out of the courtroom when she wouldn’t take off her head scarf. Superior Court judge Beverly Grant, who led the cheer, and Tacoma Municipal Court judge David Ladenburg, who removed the Muslim woman, agreed with the commission and promised not to err again...." More (News-Tribune 08.08.2006). Actually, three judges were "scolded": "The third admonishment involved Spokane County Superior Court Judge Robert D. Austin, who told jurors he was surprised by their guilty verdict in a 2005 drug case." More (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 08.09.2006).
High-ranking judge arrested in bribery scandal. "Prosecutors on Tuesday arrested a former senior judge on suspicion of taking kickbacks in return for influencing court proceedings. Earlier in the day, a Seoul court issued an arrest warrant for Cho Kwan-haeng, 50, who is suspected of receiving 130 million won (US$134,680) worth of luxury gifts and cash from a broker in exchange for meddling in five to six civil and criminal cases for years, according to prosecutors...[Cho] resigned on Friday as a senior judge of the Seoul High Court, a vice ministerial level post, after being questioned by prosecutors over the influence-peddling suspicions. Prosecutors sought the warrant as part of the investigation into a high-profile corruption allegations involving a dozen senior judges, prosecutors and police officers...." More (Hankyoreh 08.09.2006). Update. Five indicted in judicial bribery scandal (Korea Times 08.23.2006).
When a judge gives birth. "Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Tammy Chung Ryu was home yesterday after giving birth to her third child on Friday...Ryu explained that because they are state officers rather than employees, judges are not subject to a specific maternity leave policy. The arrangements have to be worked out by the individual judge with the court, she said. Her decision to take three months off was fully backed by her supervising judge, John Cheroske, Ryu said...[I]t is relatively rare for judges to have babies while in office, and Ryu said she was told that no Compton judge had given birth in at least 14 years. It was probably more common before court unification, which came to Los Angeles County in 2000, she said, because there were younger women judges on the municipal courts...." More (Metropolitan News-Enterprise 08.09.2006).
Courthouse destroyed by inferno. "Yellow police tape zig-zagged in front of shops and cafes and blocked off main town roads where firefighters kept a wary eye on the ashen skeleton of the Morgan County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon...." More (Martinsburg Journal - WV 08.09.2006). Residents shocked, mourn loss (Martinsburg Journal 08.09.2006). Comment. Just yesterday we posted a piece about the aftermath of such a fire in South Dakota titled After the courthouse fire, in which we mused on the subject of the importance of public buildings in the public psyche.
The Courthouse Pub - or PUI (practicing law while under the influence). "A judge ordered a blood-alcohol test for a defense lawyer who was slurring his words, then declared a mistrial after declaring him too tipsy to argue a kidnapping case. 'I don't think you can tell a straight story because you are intoxicated,' the judge told Joseph Caramango as she declared a mistrial for his client...'I don't believe I've committed any ethical violation,' Caramango said Tuesday, disputing the accuracy of the breath-alcohol test. 'If it proved anything, it proved I was not intoxicated.' Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt announced Caramango had a blood-alcohol level of 0.075 percent. Nevada's legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers is 0.08 percent...." More (Houston Chronicle 08.08.2006). Comment. In Minnesota one can be "under the influence," a factual matter, even if one's BAC is less than the so-called "legal limit" by weight.
The varieties of judicial experiences - herein of blind judging. "Eight young women will compete for a Miss Manitoba crown this week, but they won't be judged on how good they look strutting down a catwalk in a bathing suit or gown. To make that point clear, organizers have recruited a blind man to judge the pageant on Thursday evening in Winkler, Man. Clint Castle, a Winnipeg resident who is on the board of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, told CBC News on Tuesday that he plans to examine traits other than beauty...." More (CBC.co 08.09.2006). Comment. Back in 2003 a female lawyer in Austria was told she couldn't be a judge because she was blind and therefore couldn't see the defendant. See, BurtLaw's Law & Judicial Economics. But here in America "Justice" is represented artistically as a scantily-clad blind woman, and we therefore see nothing wrong with a blind woman or man judging a beauty pageant. Indeed, it's been done before, in the Miss Alberta pageant in 2000. More (National Post).Further reading on blind judges. Judge Richard C. Casey, A Jurist Who Happens to Be Blind in the Federal Courts (NFB.Org); Profile of Judge David Tatel, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit. (Wikipedia). And see, Legally blind lawyer wants to join metaphorically blind judges. Note. We have stoutly resisted the urge to quip that a blind person typically compensates for his blindness by developing his other senses and that blind beauty pageant judges ought to be permitted to use all the other senses, in whatever way they see fit, in examining/judging/comparing the participants.
The mystery of the two Professor Brennan's. "Police are reviewing the successful appeal of a speeding fine by retired Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld. The review follows revelations that a person who shared a name and occupation with the woman he said was driving his car was long dead...The prominent human rights activist, jurist and businessman challenged the fine, telling the Downing Centre Local Court on Monday that he had never been to the street in question. Mr Einfeld, 66, told the court his car was loaned at the time [last Ja. 8] to Professor Teresa Brennan, from Florida, who had died after returning to the U.S. On his evidence, the offence was found to be not proven and dismissed by the magistrate. A Professor Teresa Brennan from Florida did die, after being hit by a car, but that was three years before the speeding fine. When challenged by a newspaper reporter, Mr Einfeld said it was not the dead Professor Brennan who had been driving his car. He said it was another woman, also called Professor Brennan, also from America, who also died in a car accident after she had returned home...." More (The Age - AU 08.09.2006). Could evidence 'sink' him? (Daily Telegraph 08.09.2006). Update. Ex-judge's lawyer will provide driver's name (The Australian 08.10.2006). Einfeld delivers dossier to police (News.com.au 08.24.2006).
Park-and-glide rules at courthouse parking lot. "Officials cracked down on illegal parking by court employees in Chinatown yesterday after the Daily News exposed the practice - but the lesson apparently didn't reach the Bronx courthouse. Yesterday afternoon, The News spotted 15 double-parked cars on Sheridan Ave. between 161st and 163rd Sts. More than one-third of those vehicles had government-issued parking placards in the windows...." More (N.Y. Daily News 08.09.2006).
Signs in every courtroom to be modified. " Starting today in all of Italy's court room, the signs put up by the former Minister of Justice Roberto Castelli with the phrase 'justice administered in the name of the people' will be removed. This was announced by the current Minister of Justice Clemente Mastella, who yesterday signed a directive in this regard. Thus in the court room, will only remain the writing 'The law is equal for everyone.' 'I feel that this is the more correct and just expression for the citizens,' said Mastella during a press conference at the Ministry of Labour, 'there is neither forcing nor opposition with anyone. I just feel that the expression about the law being equal for everyone is more agile.'" More (Agenzia Giornalistica 08.09.2006). Comment. The law may be equal for everyone in Italy, but today's NYT contains a lengthy article on the common practice of Italian restauranteurs charging tourists more than Italians for the same menu items. Perhaps travel guides should put a special notation in their restaurant reviews indicating which restaurants treat everyone equally.
Judge Smith's sauce. "The heat in Judge Smith's barbecue sauce is not the kind that bites you like a snake; it's the sneakier, balanced kind that, even in its hot version, is a fitting, if feisty, complement to the other levels of flavor. 'In some sauces, you just taste hot,' Smith said. 'With my sauces, you eat it and enjoy it; halfway through the meal, you might think, 'Hey -- this has some heat.' Smith perfected his sauce during his 30 years of barbecue experience, first in the military, then for friends and family before opening Judge's Tip of the Rib BBQ in 2002...." More (Indianapolis Star 08.09.2006). Comment. Transposing this to the common law arena, one might say a Smitheon opinion is saucily deceptive: you start to read it and it may seem bland at the start, but in a good way; as you read on, enjoying it, you suddenly realize, "Hey, this has some heat to it."
Man apologizes, pays fine for calling top judge a 'kaffir.' "A Pretoria man has accepted that he was wrong to call a top judge a 'kaffir,' and has paid a R1 000 admission of guilt fine. Morne Pretorius, of Mayville, was charged with crimen injuria after he hurled the racist abuse and insults about the judge's driving...Pretorius got into trouble after a minor bumper bashing incident between him and Ngoepe on December 2, 2005...It has not emerged in court who bumped into whom, but it was claimed that after the incident Pretorius got out of his vehicle and, according to the charge sheet, 'injured, insulted and impaired the dignity' of Ngoepe by saying he was 'driving shit' and calling him a 'kaffir.' It was alleged that Ngoepe warned the man, who allegedly also threatened to hit him, that he was a judge, but Pretorius responded that he did not care and that Ngoepe was still a 'kaffir.'" More (Independent Online 08.09.2006).
A day for a hanging judge. Christopher Harvie has an interesting commentary, "A day for a hanging judge," on the stunning pro se victory in Scotland by "Tommy Sheridan" in his suit against Rupert Murdoch's News of the World. More (Guardian Unlimited - UK 08.09.2006). Comment. I think the Brits are wrong in their liberal libel laws, which mainly benefit Hollywood celebrities, allowing them to win cases in Britain that they could never win in the U.S. For more on this case, see, There's courtroom drama, and then there's Tommy Sheridan (and embedded links).
Opinion lets judges share their opinions. "The Florida Supreme Court's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee said it's okay for candidates to fill out surveys seeking their views on controversial topics like gay marriage and abortion. 'The mere expression of an opinion does not necessarily mean the person giving the opinion has researched the issue exhaustively, or that the person would not be amenable to altering the opinion in the face of capable advocacy,' the committee decided. 'That is, expressing an opinion does not automatically indicate closed-mindedness.'...Candidates who fill out surveys must clearly state that they are not making a promise to rule a certain way. They must also emphasize that they will follow the law and binding precedent if the issue comes before them in court...The Judicial Qualifications Commission, which regulates judges' conduct, is not bound to follow the opinion...." More (St. Petersburg Times 08.09.2006). More (Pensacola News-Journal 08.09.2006).
Judicial candidates must disclose finances. "An order issued today requires statewide candidates for judicial office to file financial disclosure statements with the Unified Court System's Ethics Commission. The move by Jonathan Lippman, who is the chief administrative judge for New York's Office of Court Administration, closes a loophole that exempted only these candidates from such disclosures...." More (Albany Times-Union 08.09.2006).
C.J. responds to plan to survey judges. "A coalition of conservative groups calling itself 'Iowans Concerned About Judges' announced today (Tuesday) that it's sent questionnaires to judges facing re-election in the state to ask their opinions on certain issues. The Iowa Family Policy Center, 'Focus on the Family,' and the Iowa Christian Alliance are among the groups planning to use those questionnaires to produce a voter guide...." More (Radio Iowa 08.09.2006). Comment. Of course, a candidate need not respond. When I ran for Congress in 2004 I received questionnaires from special interest groups wanting to lock me in on their narrow-minded agenda. I just tossed them in the trash.
Judge attacks bloggers. "A U.S. judge has launched a blistering attack on the blogosphere, saying it is a minefield of potential litigation. Judge Edward Fadeley, retired associate justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, called the blogosphere 'a veritable Wild West of verbal ambushes and shootouts, with very little fear of legal recourse to keep character assassination, defamation and dirty business tricks in check.'" More (VNUNet 08.09.2006). Comment. I disagree completely with Judge Fadeley's views. The development of blogging, of which I was a pioneer, is one of the great developments in the history of individual freedom and American democracy. Defamation? I believe the cause of action for defamation ought to be eliminated as inconsistent with First Amendment values. I express my views in greater detail at Court upholds dismissal of judge's libel suit against TV station. Update. For an example of a pro-libel-plaintiff anti-free-speech decision that will/should never hold up, even under the current state of the law, see, N.J. judge rules Trump's $5B libel suit against author for saying Trump is not a billionaire may proceed (Cherry Hill Courier Post 08.19.2006).
Coming soon, the judge doping scandal? "Accusations of cheating at the largest tournament of the year have the chess world buzzing -- and have tournament directors worried about what they may have to do to stop players from trying to cheat in the future. The cheating is alleged to have occurred at the World Open in Philadelphia over the July 4 weekend and to have involved two players in two sections of the tournament. In each case, the player was suspected of receiving help from computers or from accomplices using computers...." And how might the help have been transmitted and received? "Before the [last] round [of a particular section] began...a tournament director noticed that [one player] was wearing something in his ear and asked to see it...[The player] told the director it was a hearing aid. The director wrote down the name and the serial number and looked it up on the Internet...[T]he device was called Phonito and it was described on a Web site as a wireless receiver that was ideal for undetected communication between two people. Part of the paraphernalia of the device...was additional equipment that had to be worn elsewhere on the body to boost and receive signals...." The player in question was expelled, as was another player. - From Dylan Loeb McClain, Cheating accusations invade world of mental sports (N.Y. Times - Sports/Chess 08.08.2006). Comment. Phonito is manufactured by Phonak, which describes it in a "shareholder letter" as an "inductive in-the-ear radio receiver" that is used in "sectors" such as security and sports. Coincidentally, the Phonak Racing Team is the team for which Floyd Landis raced (and from which he was expelled) in the recent Tour de France. Of course, the coincidence, while perhaps amusing, is by no means meaningful. The Phonito device is, by itself, seemingly a neutral device that has many proper, lawful uses in sports (as in, say, a coach communicating with his quarterback during a game) as well as forbidden uses (as in, say, a chess match). How might a competitive but relatively inexperienced appellate judge use it, perfectly lawfully, to appear a bit smarter than (or equally as smart as) his colleagues? Well, he might, for example, have one of his whiz kid law clerks, sitting in the back row of the courtroom, "send" him penetrating questions to ask counsel during oral argument, thereby allowing him to dazzle the reporters in the audience -- the Dahlia Lithwicks -- with his sparkling wit and quick repartee. And, should the day come when top judges are allowed to endorse products to supplement their meager, poverty-level salaries, someone like Justice Alito, whose nickname is Scalito, would be the perfect pitchman. The slogan might be: "Scalito. Phonito. Two words that quietly transmit excellence."
Courthouse pollution: air fresheners, perfume, radio, smoke. "Studies suggest chronic exposure to a chemical in air fresheners can cause lung problems." The offending chemical is also present in cigarette smoke. More (N.Y. Times Science Tuesday 08.08.2006). Further reading. Judge says she loves law - and deals with perfume crisis - Perfume-free courthouses? (with comments) - Argument on appeal: jurors decided hastily because they couldn't smoke. Comment. I class all these "courthouse types" together -- secretaries who lather on the perfume, fellow employees who think everyone around them must want to listen to "lite rock" radio, the boss who subjects his or her minions to cigarette smoke, the idiot who buys a plug-in air freshener and plugs it in a receptacle in a common area.
TV courtroom shows -- the 1950's. Shows like The People's Court and Judge Judy are direct descendants of shows that appeared on TV in the 1950's. Roger M. Grace has an interesting summary of them. They included: Traffic Court, Day in Court, Morning Court, The Verdict Is Yours, They Stand Accused, Divorce Court, People's Court of Small Claims, and Night Court. More (Metropolitan News-Enterprise 08.07.2006). Comment. I remember watching some of these as a kid. I have a great idea for a syndicated court TV show that would beat out even Judge Judy. Producers, tell your money people to contact mine.
Annals of judicial transparency and accountability. "In the past, immigrants could only rely on gossip to determine whether a particlular immigration judge has a tendency to rule for or against asylum. But they gained a new tool Monday, when information on backgrounds and records of most of the nation's 200-plus immigration judges was published in one place for the first time. The online database shows each judge's denial rates in asylum cases, giving immigrants and their attorneys new insight. They may even be inspired to try to get their cases moved to a friendlier court...." More (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 08.08.2006). Related. "Weld County residents wondering how to judge their judges can get some help from the state today. The Colorado State Commission on Judicial Performance and local judicial district performance commissions have completed their evaluations of 108 judges who are up for retention in the November election. Starting today at noon, the commissions' recommendation, narrative profile and complete statistical survey results will be available on the State Judicial Performance Web site...." More (Greeley Tribune 08.08.2006).
Court visitors: Russians, Chinese. More (Daily Hampshire Gazette 08.07.2006) (Russian - learning about jury trials); More (Wisconsin State Journal 08.08.2006) (Chinese - learning about, what, cloning American justice and selling it "Cheap!" at WalMart?).
When courts come to a standstill. "Courts across Tamil Nadu came to a virtual standstill today as lawyers boycotted work in protest against the Union Government's decision to amend the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Lawyers, barring government advocates, stayed away from the Madras High Court here, its Bench in Madurai and all lower courts across the state. In the High Court, the Judges went to their respective courts as usual at 10.30 AM but returned soon as the advocates kept away...." More (The Hindu 08.08.2006).
Judicial campaigning: Waltzing Across Texas? "The last time William 'Bill' Moody ran for the Texas Supreme Court[, in 2002,] he campaigned the traditional way, handing out fliers and making speeches. This time he's taking his campaign to the streets -- literally. Moody, a state district judge in El Paso, left the El Paso County Courthouse on Monday to start walking a 1,000-mile campaign trail that ends at the Louisiana state line. Wearing a blue suit and donated Brooks running shoes, Moody began what he expects will be a 40-day trek that he hopes will help persuade enough Texans to make him the lone Democrat on the nine-judge Texas Supreme Court...He plans to walk 25 miles a day, with a mammoth orange and black motor home trailing behind him. He will make trips back to El Paso to tend to his ongoing docket and record updates on his travels on his campaign Web site...The Texas Tech University law school graduate said he is tired of reading of unanimous decisions being issued out of Austin...'Lyndon Johnson said if you have 10 people in a room and only one opinion, then nine people aren't thinking,' he said." More (Houston Chronicle 08.08.2006). Comment. Waltz Across Texas, Ernest Tubb's 1965 hit, would make a good campaign theme song.
Judicial candidate wants opponent removed from ballot. "A Bartow lawyer running for election to a circuit judgeship has filed suit seeking to have his opponent removed from the ballot. Nathaniel White filed the suit against State Rep. John Stargel, alleging that Stargel is using funds raised for his race for re-election to the Florida House of Representative in his race for circuit judge...." More (Polk County Democrat 08.08.2006).
After the courthouse fire. "Months have passed, but the mere mention of the fire that burned down the Corson County Courthouse brings tears to Virginia Sauer's eyes...And with reason. Sauer remembers playing on the steps of the 96-year-old courthouse in McIntosh when she was a child. She has worked in the building in some capacity for more than 30 years. And she also watched as it burned to the ground during the early morning of April 10...The only thing left of the courthouse now is a hole in the ground where the basement sank in. County offices have been relocated to the fire hall, the sheriff's office and the Extension building; on Monday, the man accused of burning down the building and the county shop -- Dwight 'Trey' Crigger III -- pleaded guilty to two counts of arson...." More (Aberdeen News 08.08.2006). Comments. For my musings on what is lost when a beloved public building is torn down or otherwise destroyed, see, my comments at Judge halts demolition of historic church. Also, I recommend the writings of the best living depth psychologist, James Hillman, who has many profound things to say about the importance of beauty and soul in public buildings, public spaces. See, e.g., James Hillman, The Virtue of Caution - A call to awaken our aesthetic responses (Resurgence - Issue 213); In The Words of James Hillman - Psyche's Hermetic Highwayman (excerpts from some of his writings); The James Hillman Page at Mythos and Logos; John Söderlund, Giving depression a fair hearing - An afternoon with James Hillman (New Therapist). I've read most of Hillman's books but, alas, I haven't read his most recent, the timely A Terrible Love of War (2005).
Courts: budgeting for multi-lingual services. "Legal services in the United States are experiencing a surge in need for bilingual employees. Mostly, Spanish speaking professionals are needed, but a general need for other languages is being felt, also. Immigrants can use specialist language skills to qualify for work permits when seeking U.S. jobs...." More (Workpermit.Com 08.08.2006).
'Part judge, part philosopher, part humorist and a large part outdoorsman.' "'Everybody has a natural concept of justice,' according to 98th District Court Judge Anders B. Tingstad. 'It's funny to see it.' Part judge, part philosopher, part humorist and a large part outdoorsman, Tingstad has been honing this theory -- and several others -- through a career on the bench that now spans 23 years. Virtually every criminal in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties has passed through Tingstad's court, though he doesn't necessarily see a lawbreaker as he looks across the courtroom. 'They're all people,' he said. 'People have an unreasonably great balance of fairness. Most crooks feel like they should get some punishment. We may give them less, we may give them more.'" - From a profile of a judge chambered in Michigan's U.P. More (Ironwood Daily Globe 08.08.2006).
Dept. of judicial metaphors: Is an appeals court a 'rescue squad'? The answer is no. While agreeing with his appellate colleagues in affirming the defendant's conviction of raping his stepdaughters despite prosecutorial error, Justice Sri Ram cautioned prosecutors, "The Court of Appeal is not a rescue squad. We are not here to correct the blunders made by the prosecution." More (Malaysia Star 08.08.2006).
Judges named for 'blooks' (books from blogs) awards. "The Lulu Blooker Prize, the world's first literary prize for books based on blogs or websites ('blooks'), has announced an international line-up of judges for its 2007 prize, plus a five- fold increase in its top prize. The five judges -- up from three last year -- include the world's most famous 'blauthor' (blook author), an Internet pioneer, a top British newspaper columnist, an Indian 'sidewalk philosopher' and a well-known pundit -- political author, media personality and blogger Arianna Huffington...." More (Book Catcher - SC 08.08.2006). Comment. I've never been tempted to join the "community" of bloggers, so at first I thought this must be a spoof. But I don't think it is.... :-)
No man is an island. "[I]n spite of the lofty intellectualism and the big words, [Justice Anthony Kennedy's] speech [to the ABA convention in Hawaii] captures my imagination and that of the assembled crowd for its two quintessential Kennedy traits. The first is the vast sprawl of his imaginative world. He travels the planet and reads widely...Then he applies all that knowledge to his conception of the law. And whether you like that expansive scope, listening to him is still a tonic to the smallness and smug certainty that has characterized our political leadership in this country for the past six years. It offers a welcome break from the hermetically sealed constitutional worldview of some of his detractors...Which brings us to Kennedy's second great characteristic, the one that has launched a thousand heart attacks over at the National Review Online: Kennedy believes that justice has a purpose. It is not a neutral set of ideals. It is a promise that humans 'can dare, can plan, can have joy in their existence.'" Dahlia Lithwick, No Man Is an Island - Anthony Kennedy's surprising charge to the American Bar Association (Slate 08.07.2006). Related. Justice Kennedy speaks to Guam's bar association (Pacific Daily News 08.08.2006).
Celebrity libel cases doubled in a year in U.K. "Celebrity libel actions have more than doubled during the past year as the English courts witnessed a dramatic increase in the total number of defamation cases. There were 20 celebrity libel cases in the courts in the 2005-06 financial year, compared with just nine in the previous year, according to legal information providers Sweet & Maxwell. The total number of reported defamation cases rose from 66 to 74 in the same period...." More (The Lawyer - UK 08.07.2006).
Judge as media hog. "Filed under 'it's amazing what one can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit,' Associate Judge Barbara Crowder defied oppressive heat and overcame the inconvenience of judging without a courtroom by performing weddings on the courthouse steps during a power outage Friday, July 20. For those with weaker constitutions, it was a work-less afternoon. But not for a circuit judge candidate, trolling for fans on the airwaves. Her good will, and bravery, were noted on a St. Louis radio broadcast. The campaign worker who phoned in the tip to a KMOX-AM producer, however, forgot to mention that Circuit Judge Don Weber also stuck it out in the oven for the good of the order." More (St. Clair Record 08.06.2006).
Courthouse for sale, cheap. "In what could be the largest single transfer of a county asset to a private company in the history of Texas, Fort Bend County Clerk Dianne Wilson recently sold every document ever filed with the county clerk's office to a Florida-based company. Red Vision paid the county approximately $2,000 to transfer twenty million records by USB cable. This could be the cheapest price ever paid by a private company for the bulk purchase of documents held by a government agency. According to Wilson, this was just business as usual. In an interview with B.J. Pollack of the Fort Bend Herald she said she sells the records 'every day' in bulk to companies like Red Vision and has since 1995...." More (OpEdNews 08.07.2006).
Judge says she loves law - and deals with perfume crisis. " On Tuesday, the woman had asked to be excused from the pool because of the problem which causes her headaches if she is around people with perfume or cologne. Jefferson decided not to let her go and the woman returned Friday for her one-on-one questioning. By that time, Jefferson had spoken with the attorneys and it was decided the woman could be excused since the judge could not order the jury not to wear perfume. When the woman was informed she was released from service, she was not happy. She said she wanted to serve on the jury and her rights would be violated if she were not allowed to be on the panel. For more than 30 minutes, Jefferson kept a calm voice while repeatedly explaining to the woman that she could not make a no-perfume rule for the trial while the woman tried to claim discrimination. In the end, Jefferson’s peacemaker style won out and the woman said 'thank you' after accepting the fact that she would not be on the jury...." From a profile of Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson, who says, "I get up every morning ecstatic about going to work because I love people, and I love the law." More (Georgetown Times - SC 08.07.2006). Further reading. Perfume-free courthouses? (with comments) - Argument on appeal: jurors decided hastily because they couldn't smoke. Comment. I could never say with a straight face, "I love the law," but that's just me.
The path of true love doth not run smooth -- even in the courthouse. "A top judge is trying to sort out the ethical implications of a judge and a defense lawyer in a murder trial romancing the same female court employee at about the same time...." More (Boston Herald 08.05.2006). The sequence. Since the sequence of events in this important matter is arguably a little confusing in the news reports, I'm going to try set the events out in a more boring but maybe clearer, chronological way. a) First, the parties. i) Judge Edward Fitzgerald, who lives in Laconia, N.H. (where, coincidentally, my ex-brother-in-law, a small-town lawyer, lives), was working last fall in Merrimack County Superior Court. Susan Corcoran was employed as a so-called "court monitor." According to the above-linked news report, "Court monitors work closely with judges to ensure that sessions are recorded accurately." As an interesting aside, I "Googled" Ms. Corcoran and found that she is author of a piece entitled Tips on Producing a Clear Courtroom Recording that appeared with a date of April 7, 2006 in Bar News, a publication of the New Hampshire Bar Association. The publication identifies her as "Court Monitor at the Merrimack County Superior Court." The third party in our romantic triangle is a Concord lawyer named Ted Barnes. b) Ed and Susan. According to the newspaper, "a year ago, another Merrimack County Superior Court employee complained that 'sexual banter' between Fitzgerald and Corcoran constituted sexual harassment. Officials who investigated disagreed, but [Robert] Lynn[, who is chief judge of the superior courts,] asked Fitzgerald then if he and Corcoran were romantically involved. Fitzgerald said they were not." Judge Fitzgerald and Ms. Corcoran now say they started dating a couple months later, in November or December. Fitzgerald and his wife had separated. c) Susan and Ted. In January, apparently after Fitzgerald and she had stopped seeing each other, Corcoran began seeing Ted Barnes. Corcoran apparently told Barnes she had been dating a married judge from Laconia but that the relationship had ended. At the time, the murder trial of George Knickerbocker was about to begin, with Fitzgerald presiding and Barnes representing Knickerbocker. Barnes, who says he didn't know Fitzgerald was the "married judge from Laconia" whom Corcoran had told him she'd dated, says he thought about whether he should tell Fitzgerald he was dating Corcoran, since she was a court employee, but held off doing so partly because he thought Corcoran might transfer to a different court and partly because he felt he needed to study "the rules" about such things. There things stood at the end of January when the jury found Knickerbocker guilty of the included offense of manslaughter. d) Ed finds out about Ted. Fitzgerald says he accidentally found out about Corcoran's relationship with Barnes shortly after the trial ended. He says he was concerned that conceivably Corcoran might have given Barnes information about his thoughts on the case and that he told Corcoran she had a conflict and might have to either transfer or stop dating Barnes. He also resolved not to preside in any cases in which Barnes was involved. Fitzgerald apparently briefed Lynn, the chief judge, about Corcoran's having dated Barnes during the trial. He says he didn't tell Lynn about his own involvement with Corcoran because they weren't dating anymore. e) Susan breaks up with Ted, gets back together with Ed. In March Corcoran broke up with Barnes by e-mail (I guess it's often done that way these days), telling him Fitzgerald and she have "been talking again the last week or so and we both want to give it another chance." f) Knickerbocker moves for a new trial. Knickerbocker, represented by different counsel, moved for a new trial. Fitzgerald recused. At this point, Lynn, the chief judge, learned about Fitzgerald's relationship with Corcoran and was concerned about Fitzgerald's failure to disclose it earlier. He hasn't said whether Fitzgerald will face discipline but we know that Fitzgerald has been transferred from Merrimack to Rockingham County Superior Court. The N.H. professional responsibility board has declined to take any action against Barnes.
Annals of judicial hobbies. "It's uncanny but it is true. Johannesburg High Court Judge Joop Labuschagne, who last week presided over the crossbow murder case, has retired and will now have plenty of time to practise one of his favourite pastimes: crossbow hunting. Ironically, 65-year-old Labuschagne's last case dealt with that of businessman Frank Zanner, who was charged with killing his wife, Sybille, with a crossbow bolt in September 2002. Zanner was acquitted a day before Labuschagne went on retirement...." More (Independent Online - South Africa 08.07.2006). Comment. For overstressed judges looking for a hobby that doesn't tax the mind, we recommend an almost-forgotten game, one that we desperately hope will soon enjoy a revival -- Tiddlywinks. If more judges took it up as a hobby, perhaps they would be at the fore-front of a trend. Indeed, we here at the international headquarters of The Daily Judge believe that if members of multi-judge courts were to regularly play Tiddlywinks together, there would be more -- oh, how should we put it -- colleageality. It is true that Tiddlywinks is not as mentally challenging as Solitaire, which Justice Holmes liked to play at the end of a hard day (while Fanny read to him), but then we can't all be Holmeses -- or, for that matter, as Sen. Roman Hruska would say, Brandeises, Cardozos or Frankfurters. But Tiddly-winks has an advantage over solitaire in that whereas solitaire is a solitary game, Tiddly-winks brings people together in a spirit of good clean All-American fun and fellowship. It also is a great stress-reliever, as when judges pretend that the chips are punks (or lawyers) appearing before them. Cf., this bit of dialogue from Episode "Thrill" of Season 8 of Law and Order, which illustrates the point:
Jack McCoy: I'm playing legal tiddlywinks with these punks. What I really want to do is take them out to Battery Park and hang 'em by the scrotum!
Adam Schiff: An understandable sentiment -- but stick with the tiddlywinks.
'I'm looking for judges. Ya wanna be a judge?' "The candles on the tables created a warm, reddish glow in the dim room. A bartender took a break from opening beers to share a toast with two customers. Stickers littered the mirror behind the bar, and two friends drank Lone Star beers beneath an aged poster that said, 'Ego's: Live Music 7 Days A Week.' In the back, a Philadelphia-St. Louis baseball game flickered on a huge flat-screen TV. 'I'm looking for judges,' our host bellowed into the microphone. 'All you need to have is an opinion and half a brain'...When he introduced the judges to the audience, he called us 'poetry slam virgins' -- which I was not -- but I didn't argue because it was my first time at an Austin Poetry Slam...." More (Austin American - TX 08.07.2006). Comment. To paraphrase Huey Long, "Every man a judge."
Are you an aficionado of Panchayati Raj jurisprudence? "Task Force on the Panchayati Raj Jurisprudence presented its report to Union Panchayati Raj Minister Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar here today. The report was presented by the Chairperson of the task force Dr. V.S. Ramadevi in the presence of other distinguished members of the task force...." More (Press Information Bureau 08.07.2006). Comment. If, as I am, you're an aficianado of Panchayati Raj jurisprudence and its increasing relevance to American constitutional interpretation, then you'll want to read this article, which includes specific recommendations by the Task Force.
There's courtroom drama, and then there's Tommy Sheridan. "There's courtroom drama and then there is Tommy Sheridan. His astonishing legal battle against the News of the World has gripped Scotland all summer. Everyone has had an opinion on the twists and turns of the case leading to his stunning triumph. Most will have enjoyed the sheer barnstorming spectacle of his victory speech on Friday as he unleashed weeks of pent-up emotion and left the walls of the Court of Session trembling. After 23 days, the jury took less than three hours to reject the London-based newspaper's reckless and sleazy brand of journalism and declare Tommy's victory...." More (Glasgow Sunday Mail 08.06.2006). Full text of Tommy Sheridan victory speech (The Times 08.04.2006) ("Well, brothers and sisters, what today’s verdict proves is that working-class people, when they listen to the arguments, can differentiate the truth from the muck...."). Earlier. Sensational drama in the courtroom - Sex and socialism in defamation case. Comment. Interestingly, he represented himself.
Argument on appeal: jurors decided hastily because they couldn't smoke. "Forbidding jurors to smoke during deliberations in a Licking County murder trial caused a rush to judgment, say attorneys seeking to overturn a man’s death-penalty conviction. That claim is among 17 allegations before the Ohio Supreme Court in the appeal involving Phillip Elmore, 43, who was convicted three years ago in the beating and strangling of his exgirlfriend in Newark...'The trial court violated Elmore’s fair-trial rights by denying a request by one or more members of the jury to allow smoking of tobacco in the jury room or smoke breaks during deliberations,' Elmore’s attorneys say in a motion filed with the court. 'The judge’s refusal to make any accommodation of jurors’ request to smoke predisposed those jurors to agree on a quick decision.'" More (Columbus Dispatch 08.06.2006). Comment. One wonders how many jurors over the years voted one way or the other just to free themselves as quickly as possible from sitting in a small jury room with rude smokers. Earlier. Judicial privilege (on judges who violate courthouse smoking bans) - Judges ask to smoke despite smoking ban (and comment) - Perfume-free courthouses? (with comments) - Judge caught smoking in the boys' room (Wisconsin State Journal 02.15.2006) - Judges warn that smoking ban in courts puts justice at risk! - Courthouse can't seem to stop crime in its midst - a daily occurrence! - And others adapt to a new tradition.
Judge's personal security guard shoots self in leg. "On Saturday, a personal security officer (PSO) working with Justice Rajesh Bindal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court accidentally shot himself in the leg with a .9mm pistol even as he said he didn't "realise that there was one bullet still left in the chamber of the gun...." More (Times of India 08.06.2006). Comment. If you liked this, you might like The Bank Dick (1940).
Calypso judge. a) "The judging of Barbados' Pic O De Crop calypso finals will have some Trinidad influence this year. That country's chief calypso judge, Hugh Grant, will sit on the panel that will determine the winners and losers at the National Stadium on Friday night. As part of the arrangement with the Trinidad United Calypso Organisation, a Barbadian judge will also have a voice in the Trinidad competition...." More (Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 08.02.2006). b) "There seems to be no getting away from the perennial problem of judging the local calypso competitions and contestants seem almost resigned to the distinct possibility that something strange, if not sinister, could well take place in the competitions in which they participate. This prevailed in the days when calypso heavyweights Short Shirt, Swallow and Obstinate strutted their stuff on the Carnival stage and after that often very fierce rivalry subsided, fans’ attention turned to Lady Falcon and Singing Althea if only for a brief period...." Is new Calypso judging system needed? (Antigua Sun - Antigua and Barbada - opinion 08.03.2006). Earlier. Antiguan says, 'No Trinidadian judges, please' - Lay off the Calypso judges - More on Calypso judging controversy.
Corrupt judge gets 25 years in prison. "A former judge was yesterday jailed for 25 years, while seven lawyers received prison sentences of four years each in the first trial linked to an alleged trial-fixing ring which was uncovered last year. In addition to his lengthy jail term, former judge Leonidas Stathis was also fined 71,020 euros after an appeals court found him guilty of money laundering and accepting bribes...." More (Kathimerini - Greece 08.05.2006).
Man who threw slippers at judge gets 16 months. "Abdul Nazir alias Takla, who was nabbed after the police retrieved some stolen goods from his house in Nawapura slum, was sentenced to 16 months and four days of simple imprisonment by a chief judicial magistrate. On March 29 last year, Abdul had thrown his slippers at a judge in a courtroom reportedly because the date for the hearing of his case kept getting postponed...Following the incident, Abdul Nazir was taken out of the court room by angry advocates and handed over to the police. On Thursday, Chief Judicial Magistrate Sita Ninani pronounced a sentence of 16 months’ imprisonment for Abdul Nazir on charges of humiliating a public servant and causing threat of injury to a public servant...." More (Ahmedabad Newsline 08.05.2006). Related. Man hurls shoe at judge after being sentenced to 11 years for rape (Monster & Critics - India 08.07.2006). Comment. Are we witnessing the start of an epidemic in India of criminal defendants throwing shoes at judges? Consider this posting from last February:
Throwing chappals at judges - a trend? " Infuriated over a verdict convicting him in a dacoity case with a life term, an accused hurled a chappal at a sessions judge here in the courtroom. However, the judge dodged and the chappal missed the target at the fast-track court yesterday...Last year, a similar incident had occurred in a sessions court when an accused had thrown his chappal at the judge after being convicted...." More (NewKerala.Com - India 02.07.2006). Comment. "A chappal is an item of Indian footwear, which resemble flip flops but have the added feature of a toe strap. In India it is considered the height of belligerence to brandish a chappal in one's hand, as a threat of physical violence against any would-be antagonizer, no matter how trivial the perceived aggravation may be. Thus, the chappal can also be considered as the weapon of choice for the common man...." More (Wikipedia 02.07.2006).
Butcher is jailed for attacking judge. "A Nelson man who leapt out of the dock and lunged at a judge was jailed for 12 months today. Jacob Donald Matheson, 24, a butcher, told police that he intended to stab Judge Geoffrey Ellis. He previously admitted assaulting Judge Ellis with intent to injure, assaulting a constable, resisting two constables, and an unrelated charge of doing an indecent act...." More (Stuff - NZ 08.07.2006). Comment. Suddenly, throwing a chappal/slipper/shoe doesn't seem so bad.
Chauffeur felt driven to murder his wife with judge's pistol. "At 5:15 on the afternoon of December 10, 1928, Judge Charles D. Shakelford's chauffeur, James Bell, shot his wife Hattie to death on a Charlottesville sidewalk...As she lay bleeding on the West Main Street sidewalk, Bell climbed back into his boss's car and drove off to pick up the judge more or less on schedule. Twenty minutes passed and Bell arrived at the courthouse to collect his charge, announcing to Shakelford that after he drove him home he would have to drive right back, as he had just murdered his wife and needed to turn himself in. Not surprisingly, the judge turned down his chauffeur's offer of a ride and demanded Bell get himself to police headquarters right away...." More (Staunton News Leader - VA 08.05.2006).
Man in court over order to stay out of courthouse. "Edgar Simon Jr. gained a reputation as a squeaky wheel through his persistent questions of the court staff. Rather than grease the wheels of the justice system, he is headed to a contempt-of-court hearing Monday after he was deemed to have returned to the area near judges' offices in the Forsyth County courthouse. He had been warned by a judge not to do so...." More (Winston-Salem Journal 08.05.2006). Comment. Hmm. Will he be in violation of the court order if he shows up for the contempt hearing?
Courthouse powder outside judge's door fits voodoo ritual. "Gypsum found in piles and strewn about the perimeters of a courtroom in the Salinas courthouse recently may have been part of a ceremonial practice meant to purify -- or perhaps curse -- the premises, an authority on the subject said. Ruben Mendoza, director of the Institute of Archaeology at CSU-Monterey Bay, said the mystical practice goes back to ancient times among indigenous groups in Mexico and Central America and is still used today. Mendoza said Aztecs, Mayans and other Mesoamerican communities purified each corner of a structure by tossing corn pollen or ground corn or limestone into the wind to the north, south, east and west...." The discovery of the powder led to the shutdown of the courthouse on 07.20. More (Monterey Herald 08.07.2006). Comment. Memo to self: add this case study to those to be discussed at the next session of diversity training for judges and courthouse personnel. We need to be more sensitive to the diversity of accepted cultural practices. Further reading. White powder found in doorway to courtroom!!
Judge criticizes judges' use of court's e-mail for fundraiser. "A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has criticized two of his colleagues for using the court’s e-mail system to promote a fundraiser for a candidate seeking an open Los Angeles Superior Court seat. Judge Abraham Khan late Tuesday sent an e-mail to Judges Gilbert Lopez and Mildred Escobedo, with copies to a number of other judicial officers, in apparent response to e-mails sent out by Lopez and Escobedo earlier in the day...." More (Metropolitan News-Enterprise 08.05.2006).
The case of the lewd juror. "A man serving on a grand jury has been charged for exposing himself inside a room at a federal courthouse, authorities said. Edwin Ng, 38, was charged with committing an act of public lewdness, disorderly conduct and destruction of government property, officials said. A female employee at U.S. District Court in Brooklyn saw the incident Friday and alerted authorities...." More (Newsday 08.05.2006). See, also, Juror was a bit too fondle of himself, say marshals (N.Y. Daily News 08.05.2006). Comment. Alas, yet another way is opened for a fellow to relieve himself of jury duty. But, we ask, what "government property" was destroyed?
Another 'first': black woman elected judge in Nashville. "Angie Blackshear Dalton won a seat on Nashville's General Sessions bench Thursday afternoon after beating her opponent, Nashville lawyer David Huff. Davidson County Administrator of Elections Ray Barrett confirmed the historic first for Nashville, although Dalton isn't the first black female judge for the city. Nashville lawyer Andrei Lee was appointed in 2003 to fill a General Sessions vacancy, but lost her seat in the next election...." More (WTVF 08.05.2006). Comment. It's been hard for black lawyers to get appointed to the judiciary in Tennessee -- and in many, many other states. One of the many virtues of allowing lawyers to challenge appointed judges in elections when the appointed judges have served a year or two is it allows lawyers who are not the favorites of the bar associations, the big law firms, politicians, and other members of the judicio-political power elite a fair chance at being considered.
Vitriolic speech at opening of new judicial center. "The President of HOOD, the National Organization for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms lashed out at the Higher Judiciary Council during a speech at the launch of the new Center for the Studies of Judicial and Advocate’s Independence. HOOD President Mohammed Naji Allawo is called it a 'council of revenge.'" More (Yemen Observer 08.05.2006).
White paper on higher judicial appointments. "The Bar Council of India has called on the government to come out with a 'white paper' on transparency and accountability in appointments of judges in the higher judiciary. In a petition last night to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and many other advocates in Parliament and the Union Cabinet, the Council stressed its 'great significance' in view of 'the expanding horizons of judicial review of public administration.'" More (IndlawNews 08.04.2006).
Police say judge was with son during burglary. "Paul R. Brown burglarized a home while his father, Circuit Court Judge George Brown Jr., waited outside in a car, according to documents released by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. The documents state that the judge said he thought he was taking his son to look at a trailer when they stopped at a residence in the 500 block of 63rd Avenue West on July 27. Sheriff's deputies and a resident say that Paul Brown, 33, broke into the residence, using a knife to pry open the back door, and took an aquarium, one in a series of burglaries Paul Brown was arrested and charged with earlier this week...." More (Bradenton Herald 08.04.2006). Earlier. Judge's son is accused of residential burglaries.
Mandate female judges in all rape cases? "India has proposed that only women judges try rape cases to help sexual assault victims get justice faster and make trials sensitive to their trauma, a law ministry spokesman said on Friday. The proposal, a bill which has to be passed by parliament, was approved at a cabinet meeting late on Thursday, S.M. Kumar said...." More (Reuters - India 08.04.2006). Comment. Bad idea -- on the same level as mandating that only male judges preside in rape cases because all (or so it seems) the defendants are men. Update. Female lawyers are divided over proposal (Afternoon Dispatch & Courier 08.07.2006); Do we then assign cases involving minorities to minority judges? (Times of India 08.07.2006).
This judge 'eats cases for breakfast.' "This judge has practically run out of pending cases to decide or motions to resolve. For judge Joven F. Costales, presiding judge of the regional trial court, Branch 45 in this city, 'backlog' is an alien word. As of the end of June, this year, he was practically cleared his bench of cases brought for decision. Known as the 'Hanging Judge of Pangasinan,' Costales record of speedy and no-nonsense disposal of pending cases, has been duly reported to the Committee on Zero Backlog of Cases headed by Justice Reynato S. Puno of the Supreme Court this month...Costales has sent 26 accused to death row and sentenced 30 persons to life imprisonment...." More (Philippines Information Agency 08.04.2006). Comment. I didn't know that a judge's excellence was determined by reference to the number of people he has sentenced to death, to life in prison, etc.
Judge sues paper for defamation. "Former Zimbabwe High Court Judge President Justice Paddington Garwe, who is now on the Supreme Court Bench, is suing the Zimbabwe Independent for $75bn (US$300m), claiming an article it published on the treason trial of opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was defamatory...." More (Legal Brief 08.04.2006). Related. Judicial independence in Singapore (including comments on defamation law) - Intimidated judges (for the latest on judicial independence, or the lack of it, in Zimbabwe).
Ought state supreme court justices represent geographical districts? "It's likely that ten initiatives will appear on Oregon's November ballot. One that would require supreme and appeals court judges to be elected from districts narrowly qualified Thursday. Ley Garnett has more. If voters approve, the state would be divided into seven districts for the Supreme Court and five for the Court of Appeals. Only one judge could be on the courts from each district. Supporters of the initiative say all the judges now are from the heavily populated Willamette Valley and that this is the way for the whole state to gain representation...." More (Oregon Public Broadcasting 08.04.2006). Comment. "Conservatives" are behind this very unconservative idea. See, Conservatives want Oregon's top judges elected by district. In 2002 Oregon voters narrowly rejected this initiative. Now its proponents are back again. Proponents apparently are saying it will bring geographic diversity to the court, but opponents say that it will make it easier & cheaper to elect agenda-driven candidates. Minnesota's court of appeals (but not its supreme court) has a hybrid membership. Six but only six of its members must come from specific congressional districts & can be opposed in the election only by lawyers from the specific districts; however, all voters get to vote in any of the contested elections. The system is a foolish one that, I seem to recall, was the price of support of some outstate legislators for establishing a court of appeals. The idea of mandated geographical representation on top state appellate courts is based on a flawed understanding of the proper role of an appellate judge, which is not to "represent" this region or a particular group of voters nor to simply "vote" yea or nay on issues that come before the court as a legislator does when considering issues in the context of legislating. Related. Ken Starr: Americans misunderstand role of courts (Honolulu Star-Bulletin 08.06.2006).
Judge hosts free CLE seminar. "Slidell City Court Judge James 'Jim' Lamz will host a free educational seminar for attorneys involved in 'Child In Need of Care' court cases that is designed to offer them education on the process as well as ethics and professionalism. In addition, attendees will learn about recent amendments to the Louisiana Children’s Code and receive an in-depth analysis of the code, among other matter to be covered in the day-long seminar...." More (St. Tammany 08.04.2006). Comment. The judiciary requires attorneys to attend CLE classes as a condition of renewal of their licenses. Judges often participate as "faculty" members. Typically, when they do so, they donate their services to the sponsors of the seminar, who in turn charge attorneys to attend, often far more than the seminars, which vary widely in quality, are worth. It seems to me that judges, who are public employees, ought to limit their participation to seminars that are open for all attorneys to attend, free of charge. Stated differently, judges who participate in for-fee seminars ought to report time off to participate as vacation time. We congratulate Judge Lamz on doing the right thing in hosting a free seminar and thereby setting an example for other judges around the country.
Annals of judicial colleageality: a frictionalized, fractured supreme court. "The end of the Michigan Supreme Court's latest term didn't just reinforce the philosophical divide among the justices. It laid bare -- for all to see, in an unprecedented way -- the personal animosity that poisons the relationships between some justices. The latest flare-up came Monday, when the court reprimanded outspoken attorney Geoffrey Fieger for vulgar remarks he made on the radio about three state Court of Appeals judges. Justice Elizabeth Weaver wrote a scathing dissent charging that four justices -- all fellow Republicans -- showed bias and prejudice against Fieger by not disqualifying themselves from the case. That didn't please Chief Justice Clifford Taylor, who wrote in a strongly worded response that, 'with her dissent, Justice Weaver completes a transformation begun five years ago, when all six of her colleagues voted not to renew her tenure as Chief Justice of this Court.' 'This transformation is based neither on principle nor on 'independent' views, but is rooted in personal resentment,' he added in an opinion joined by Justices Maura Corrigan, Stephen Markman and Robert Young Jr....." More (single-page printer-friendly version) (MLive 08.03.2006). Extras. Link to opinion in Maldonado v. Ford Motor Co. (html); link to opinion in Grievance Adm'r v. Fieger (html); link to order Re Appointment of Chief Judge of the Kent County Probate Court (html). Earlier. Calling a judge a 'jackass' (includes commentary and links to earlier postings relating to Mr. Fieger and the four justices in the majority); More on Michigan Supremes' split over free speech (with link to NYT story about the reaction to the Ford case). Comments. a) In Austin Hall back in the fall of 1964 Dean Erwin ("The Grizzer") Griswold (he's the guy in the funny hat shaking my hand on graduation day three years later) welcomed me & the other members of the Harvard Law School Class of 1967 by introducing himself as "Le maître d’hôtel of this ménage of prima donnas." We know from reading books that have taken us behind the red velour (or is it "velvet"?) curtains that judges on multi-member trial benches and appellate courts, like law school professors, sometimes have behaved like Dean Griswold's ménage of prima donnas -- or, to use the memorable phrase used by Justice Holmes in reference to the members of the U.S. Supreme Court, like "nine scorpions in a bottle." But we live in a time when judges on these multi-member trial courts and appellate courts love to publicly proclaim the importance of a virtue they like to refer to as "colleageality." "Colleageality" is a word that, like most clichés, is often used as a substitute for thought. Some judicial lightweights seem to think an appellate court should be a "mutual admiration society" and they put a premium on reaching unanimity. Our Founding Fathers were wiser. They knew that diversity of opinion and respectful arm's-length disagreement, even among so-called "colleagues," are the lifeblood of a creative, free, democratic society. A few years ago I heard a well-known, highly-thoughtful appellate advocate bemoan a particular appellate court's then relatively-recent overemphasis on suppressing ideological differences in its opinions in the interest of presenting a harmonious, united front to the bar and the public. The unsettling result, according to this advocate, was that even experienced students of the court's opinions were unable to discern any rational pattern to the court's "jurisprudence." Another student of that court described its opinions as "bland." Instead of the more amorphous term "colleageality," we prefer terms like "civility" and "mutual respect." b) Ought we be upset by the Michigan Supreme Court's airing of its dirty laundry? I'm not. i) I'm upset that the members of the court who are so obviously wrong in their interpretation and application of the First Amendment make up the majority in the cases in question, and ii) I'm pleased that the three other justices didn't try to blandly paper over their differences but instead gave us a demonstration of both the First Amendment in action and judicial independence that insists on public accountablity.
How to 'arrest' a judge. "The judge who convicted former Colonel Yury Budanov of strangling a Chechen woman is himself being investigated on swindling charges in possible retaliation for the ruling, his lawyer and human rights activists said Thursday. The Military Prosecutor's Office has been investigating Judge Vladimir Bukreyev, who lives in Rostov-on-Don, since last year, said his lawyer, Yelena Orlyankina...Bukreyev, in a statement handed out to reporters, said only that the investigation was 'motivated by the wish to get revenge for my judicial work'...The Supreme Court sanctioned Bukreyev's arrest last month...He remains free as he appeals, however. Also, the Supreme Qualification Collegiate of Judges must authorize the arrest of a judge before he can be taken into custody...." More (Moscow Times 08.04.2006).
Annals of judicial asides. "[Judge Charles Harris of Oxford Crown Court] has been criticised for suggesting that people who use their homes as drug factories are no more of a nuisance than those who cultivate tomato plants...He also compared the nuisance value of growing cannabis to fictional detective Sherlock Holmes taking drugs in the novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle...." More (Oxford Mail 08.03.2006).
Small blast at courthouse gives judges a golf day. "A power outage, an explosion and hundreds of people evacuated. That was the scene at the Provo 4th District Courthouse Wednesday afternoon when a power outage led to a much more serious situation. A little before noon the power went out at the courthouse, causing the generator to kick on, Provo fire Battalion Chief Gary Jolley said. But something went wrong and rather than power returning, the generator exploded, filling the building with smoke...The generator did not catch fire, but it did send smoke into the inmate holding areas and some of the judges' chambers, Jolley said. With such a large piece of equipment out, the building was closed down for the day. 'The judges have a golf day I guess,' Jolley said about the court forcing to shut down for the remainder of the day...." More (Daily Herald 08.03.2006). Comments. a) If you look hard enough, you can always find the proverbial silver lining. b) Wallace Stevens, the great lawyer/great poet, said he sometimes wrote poems at work and often solved difficult legal problems while walking in the park. Who says the judges who took the court closing as an excuse to play golf didn't get some work done out on the links?
Are Singapore courts getting softer? "The courts in Singapore, renowned for their tough laws and strict sentencing, have been showing a softer, more humane, touch when dealing with young Singaporeans who break the law.
It may be a little early to declare that a major transition of the judiciary is under way, and in fact, the republic will not relax its punishment of serious crime -- including hanging and caning -- any time soon...." More (The National 08.03.2006). Comment. Read on....
Judicial independence in Singapore. "[High Court Justice Woo Bih Li, t]he Singapore judge hearing a defamation suit brought by the city-state's top leaders against democracy campaigner Chee Soon Juan has disqualified himself from the case to avoid a perception of bias...Jeffrey Chan, a lawyer representing the Attorney General's office, told reporters this was the first time in Singapore's judicial history that a judge had disqualified himself from a case...Chee is barred from campaigning or standing in elections after being bankrupted in February for failing to pay S$500,000 in libel damages to [former prime ministers] Lee Kuan Yew and...Goh Chok Tong. He was jailed for eight days in March for contempt of court after criticizing the independence of the city-state's judges...." More (Easy Bourse 08.03.2006). Further reading. Singapore authorities use libel laws to silence critics (Singapore Window). Comment. Singapore's defamation laws are harsher than those of Great Britain, and Great Britain's in turn are harsher than ours. Even so, I believe the cause of action for defamation in the U.S. ought to be eliminated as inconsistent with First Amendment values. I express my views in greater detail at Court upholds dismissal of judge's libel suit against TV station. Update. Judge dismisses filmmaker's defamation suit against Sen. Kerry (Boston Herald 08.05.2006).
Controversy over court's top officer. "The D.C. Courts' top administrator, Anne B. Wicks, did not meet her job's residency requirement for more than two years, going home to a house in Arlington County -- until a couple of weeks ago. After an anonymous tip to the D.C. inspector general's office in March, Wicks's boss, D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric T. Washington, ordered her to move into the District promptly. For months after that, she remained in Virginia. Recently, just as Legal Times was about to break the news that Wicks had been living outside the city for much of her tenure as the court's executive officer, she moved into a Northwest Washington house that she had bought in October 2004 but never occupied...In an interview, Wicks said that her purchase of the house, in the Palisades neighborhood, was evidence of her intent to live in the city and that she wanted to raze the house and build another on the site. The plan faltered, however, and her family remained in Virginia while she and her husband tried to figure out what to do, she said...[Moreover,] she was improperly, though she says unwittingly, claiming a homestead deduction on the Palisades residence -- a tax benefit available only to a homeowner occupying the home and one that she repaid this year after an audit by the city...." More (Washington Post 07.22.2006). Comment. We stumbled on this story a little late. These sort of residency requirements for public employment are wrong, but that's not the real issue here.
Sheriff's deputy 'verbally abuses' judge's staff. "A Montgomery County sheriff's deputy, who was verbally abusive to the staff of Norristown District Judge Margaret Hunsicker, will be disciplined...The uniformed deputy went to the district court to question a personal parking ticket that he had received, according to district court clerk. The clerks tried to accommodate him by looking the ticket up on the computer, the clerk said. However, it was not on the computer, she said. The deputy then demanded that the staff go through the latest batch of between 1,000 to 1,500 tickets it had received from Norristown that day to see if it was there, the clerk said. 'He was very loud, obnoxious and very, very nasty,' particularly when the clerk said they did not have time to go through all the tickets at that time, she said...." More (Norristown Times Herald 08.03.2006). Comment. This constitutes the deputy's one "hot-headed moment," employment law's equivalent of the "one-bite rule" for dogs.
Annals of Iowa jurisprudence. Two "eating establishment" permit cases out of Iowa that jurisprudential scholars may wish to compare and contrast:
Iowa judge nixes dog-friendly cafe. "A businesswoman's plan to open a dog-friendly cafe has been rejected by a judge who said it would present too great a health risk. Holleen Lawrence hoped to win an exception to a state law that prohibits animals from restaurants, but Administrative Law Judge John Priester ruled in favor of state officials who say Lawrence's proposed cafe could be a health risk to customers. Lawrence said she plans to appeal Priester's decision. Although Lawrence had not chosen a site for the cafe, her plans show precautions to ensure food safety...Animals would be banned from areas where food is prepared and an 'elimination team' would stand by to clean up any pet accidents. Lawrence, who has a petition with more than 1,000 signatures supporting her plan, can appeal to the director of the Department of Inspections and Appeals. If that is denied, she could appeal to district court." More (Cedar Rapids Gazette 08.03.2006).
Iowa judge says yes to nude juice bar. "An eastern Iowa business owner will get the special permit he needs to open a controversial nude juice bar. A district court judge ruled the Waterloo Board of Adjustment inappropriately denied a special permit to Earl Baugh of Waterloo...." More (KWWL 08.03.2006).
Comment. Hey, I've got an idea for a totally fictionalized movie treatment -- The Food Courts of Madison County -- based very loosely on the decisions (and not at all on the parties) in these two important, precedent-shattering restaurant-permit cases. The movie will have everything going for it. It's to be set, of course, in Iowa -- the summer of 1995 (which, by the way, is when lots of frustrated married women were seeing The Bridges of Madison County multiple times, wishing they could connect with a guy like Clint Eastwood -- or me). The kids of the couple in the movie are grown. Hubby, Dickster, who is a small town judge, heads for the state fair to serve as celebrity judge of the jam&jelly competition. Wife Frannie, who's Swedish and has forgotten more than hubby will ever know about jam& jelly, is irked with him for always having to be the star -- even in her areas of expertise. To spite him, she decides to stay home alone on the family's hobby farm with the dogs. Hubby isn't concerned she'll do anything wrong. Nor is she concerned he'll do anything wrong. Bob Kinky, who has plans to open a nude juice bar in the area, drives into the ditch near Rosamunde Bridge. Frannie rescues him, then invites him to come home with her and "warsh up." There in Frannie's kitchen, eating a hot beef sandwich she made while grooming her dogs, he explains his juice bar plans but worries aloud that a) he won't be able to get a permit and b) he won't be able to persuade any attractive Iowa women (are there any?) to serve juice in the nude. Frannie confesses sheepishly that she has a similar dream, to open a restaurant that will cater to people who want to eat out with their dogs. She says she's not worried about getting the necessary permit, because there are no conceivable sanitation/health issues to worry about, since every family in Iowa lets the family dogs hang out in the kitchen during the cooking and eating of meals. Furthermore, there are animals all over the fairgrounds where all the cheese curds are fried, the foot-long weiners are put in buns, etc., etc. And finally -- and this is the clincher -- her hubby is a judge -- who would dare deny a permit to the wife of a judge!? Just then Hubby Dickster returns. He's slightly paranoid and imagines -- wrongly!! -- that Bob Kinky and Frannie are lovers. But like most judges, Hubby Dickster is too passive-aggressive to make a scene. Instead, he broods and broods on the matter over the next several weeks, eventually deciding to get a judicious kind of revenge. Specifically, to spite Frannie, he gets a colleague to rule against her permit application. Upon learning of Hubby Dickster's role in this, Frannie gets her own revenge, using her wiles to persuade a colleague of hubby to grant Bob Kinky's application to open a nude juice bar. Frannie then divorces Dickster and throws herself upon Bob Kinky, saying she's always loved juice and running around in the nude and that she'll work for him in the bar. He flat out rejects her. Ironically, Dickster becomes a "regular" at the juice bar and meets Joy, a small-breasted little tease who works there. The movie credits start to roll and Frannie is seen alone in her kitchen, her farm dogs comforting her, as she "puts by" jar after jar of jam&jelly. The cast? As a Clint-Eastwood-look-alike, I will play the part of Bob Kinky. A digitally-created Donna-Reed-look-alike will play the part of Frannie. Judge Dickster will be played by an actual underpaid judge who has to moonlight in order to make ends meet on the paltry salary he receives as judge.
When lawyers 'work around' a judge. "DuPage Circuit Judge Perry R. Thompson has never been a favorite among prosecutors. But his recent ruling in a gang-related fatal shooting may be the final straw. Prosecutors are expected to request a judge substitution in all high-profile, victim-oriented 'heater cases' to which Thompson is assigned. State’s Attorney Joseph Birkett would not confirm if that will be his office’s practice, but his assistants blocked Thompson from at least two such cases this week...." More (Chicago Daily Herald 08.03.2006).
Substitute judge faulted for not being perfect. "The state Court of Judicial Discipline has ruled that Judge Ernest Marraccini violated the rules governing standards of conduct by magisterial district judges when he filled in for Magisterial District Judge Susan Evashavik in May 2004...The complaint contended Marrac-cini threw a tantrum and dismissed 30 traffic cases involving defendants in the waiting room, then insulted them when they did not leave immediately...." More (Gateway 08.03.2006).
Intimidated judges. The latest on judicial independence, or the lack of it, in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. More (Independent Online 08.03.2006).
Judge filmed shopping during work hours will quit. "[Deborah Tyner, 49,] an Oakland County Circuit Court judge, who came under fire earlier this year after a television news crew caught her on camera spending weekday afternoons shopping and working out at the gym, told her colleagues Tuesday that she would leave the bench at the end of the year. [She] has been on the bench for 16 years...." More (Detroit Free Press 08.02.2006). Earlier. More on the judge caught playing hooky - Annals of TV 'sweeps' and judges 'caught on camera.'
Court clerk saves judge's life. "A Bronx judge who suffered a heart attack in his chambers yesterday was saved by a court clerk - who also happens to be an FDNY paramedic, officials said. Judge Bertram Katz, 76, a retired Civil Court judge awaiting approval to become a judicial hearing officer, collapsed while talking with colleagues in Bronx Supreme Court about 11 a.m. Witnesses ran to find John McConnell, a 46-year-old court clerk who works nights as a paramedic with Battalion 26 in Morrisania...." More (N.Y. Daily News 08.02.2006). Related. Ex-judge who battled alcoholism chokes to death. Comment. From high school onward, I've enjoyed the company of most janitors, clerks, and yeah, secretaries, more than the company of most of their so-called "betters" in my places of study or employ. Some of them, I've even found, are smarter or wiser or funnier or kinder -- or "all of the above." Back in the late '50's, when I was in secondary school in Benson, MN, a piece of chicken bone became lodged in my windpipe as I was eating my "hot lunch" with friends in the old northside school cafeteria. Not wanting to humiliate myself in front of any of the girls I had my eyes on in those days, I rushed outside, thinking I could cough it up gracelessly without anyone seeing me do so. Turns out I couldn't. Turns out I might have choked to death. Turns out none of my teachers or friends was observant and/or caring enough to follow me out and help. Turns out one of the janitors, Dick Jossart, was. He used the old-fashioned, pre-Heimlich, "Janitor Manuever," well-known in my hometown, pounding me on the back forcefully until the little bone that was out to kill me popped out. Dick Jossart, whose autograph appears next to his image in the photograph of the custodial staff in my copy of the 1958 Chippewa, the high school yearbook, did something no teacher or friend or boss ever did for me -- he saved my life.
'The most perfect pie I've seen.' "Slightly hung over Napier baker Jason Heaven is not a great fan of pears, despite the fruit featuring in the pie that last night won him the top award at the national competition. The pie of caramelised baby pears resting in vanilla pastry cream beat 3363 pies from 295 bakeries to win the supreme award. The fruit pie was, said chief judge Peter Grant, 'the most perfect pie I have seen.' 'We opened the box and it just blew us away, the appearance of it was just incredible,' Mr Grant told National Radio...." More (New Zealand Herald 08.02.2006). Comment. Professional pie judges don't always use the standards you or I might use in judging a pie. For example, some of them emphasize the appearance of the pie. Imagining my past experiences eating pies, I guess I'll have to say the best pie I ever ate was a slice of apple pie made, I think, by Rose Duresky herself in Rose's restaurant across the street from the old Merchants Hotel in downtown Benson, MN., where a number of the customers on my Minneapolis Star afternoon paper route lived. Occasionally of a summer afternoon I'd stop in there as I approached the end of my deliveries and treat myself to a piece of pie, topped with vanilla ice cream. If I recall correctly, a slice cost 15 cents and a scoop of ice cream on top cost an extra 5 cents. Rose, who lived in the Merchants and was a customer, ran the restaurant with help from Hannah Fauld, another customer who lived over the northside meat market, a block west of the restaurant. See, also, my discussion of Lettie Iverson's pies and "Christian charity/love" disguised as "pie commerce" among church ladies in the 1950's in my hometown in a 12.26.2002 "sermon" of mine titled "Annie Dahlen's rosettes" at BurtLaw's Secular Sermons for Lawyers & Judges (scroll down). Related. Celebrity judge to grace Pie Day at Braham Evangelical Lutheran Church (Isanti County News 08.03.2006).
Constable arrested for abusing judge's wife. "Manoj Singh Thakur, 32, a constable attached to the DN Nagar police station was arrested last week for allegedly abusing Jyoti Patil, 36, wife of an additional sessions court judge. Thakur was charged under Sections 448 (trespass), 504 (intentional insult) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. Police sources reveal that some time ago, the judge wrote to the police commissioner complaining about Thakur’s visits to his Haji Ali residence in his absence, and his alleged involvement with his wife...'Then, on July 28, at 1.30pm [police] received a call from the judge who complained that Thakur came to his house and was abusing his wife'...Advocate Majeed Memon said even if two married adults were in a physical relationship, if the lady changed her mind at any time, it could spell trouble for the accused." More (Daily News and Analysis - India 08.03.2006).
Judge's instincts help him spot forgery of court papers. "An accountant facing jail for forging a crucial letter to a court made things even worse by faking another one -- to the judge who was about to sentence him. Today Paul Rigney is starting an 18-month prison sentence for writing the two letters in a desperate attempt to avoid punishment for a minor breach of the bankruptcy laws. It was thanks to Carlisle Crown Court’s Judge Paul Batty QC that the 46-year-old’s deception was exposed. He was so suspicious of a character reference submitted to him by Rigney that he ordered an immediate check -- which found the accused had written it himself...'I was a little suspicious, not only of the content of the letter but also of some of the terms in which it was couched,' Judge Batty said...." More (News and Star - UK 08.02.2006). Related. Nurse charged with forging judge's signature (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 08.03.2006); attorney disbarred for forging judge's signature (North Country Gazette 08.03.2006). Comment. In my 28+ years as a trusted aide/adviser to a state supreme court I detected a number of scams, telling omissions, curious modifications, etc., while reading letters to the court (one from an inmate seeking permission to attend a funeral who falsely claimed he was a famous quarterback's brother), law clerk applications (same guy applied two years in a row, with the LSAT score listed on his second application 100 points higher), briefs (attorney making novel claim failed to inform court he had made identical claim in a couple other jurisdictions and claim had been rejected), etc.
Annals of judicial tirades. "A Clarksville Police sergeant has filed an official complaint with a state judicial disciplinary counsel against General Sessions Judge Ray Grimes for the judge's handling of a case before him last month...[Sgt. Mark] Wojnarek Sr.'s complaint stems from [the hearing following] an arrest he made June 24 of a father accused of assaulting his 11-year-old daughter upon learning she had been cited for shoplifting at Governor's Square Mall. Wojnarek Sr. said Tuesday the father slammed the girl down on a bench and placed his hands around her neck, as if to choke her...The case was heard 2 1/2 weeks later in Grimes' court, where, according to an audio file from the hearing, the judge disagreed vehemently with the father's arrest. In his complaint, Wojnarek contends Grimes addressed him personally during the hearing, pointing his finger at him 'while his yelling got louder and louder.' 'I'm just going to be quite honest with you,' Grimes said on the audio file. 'I don't find (the father's) actions offensive'...Grimes went on to recount to the court how he disciplined his own son, when he failed ninth grade. 'When I found out, I did everything I could to choke him in the car, with the window open and my glasses flying out the right side,' Grimes said of his reaction...." More (Clarksville Leaf Chronicle - TN 08.02.2006). MP3 audio file of judge's remarks.
Judge is 'cleared' in campaign probe. "A complaint alleging that Municipal Judge James M. DeLeon engaged in prohibited campaign conduct during his 2003 bid for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been dismissed by the Court of Judicial Discipline. The court said it acted based on the state Judicial Conduct Board's lack of diligence in pursuing its case...The board, under its own rules, had 180 days from June 6, 2003, to complete its investigation. But the board's investigation lasted 2 ½ years, until Dec. 5, 2005...." More (Philadelphia Daily News 08.02.2006).
Angry dad paints courthouse doors purple. "A man painted the doors of Assen courthouse purple on Tuesday morning to highlight what he says is system's bias against fathers seeking parental access. Police arrested Gerben Rorije, a member of the Familie4Justice group, for vandalism. Rorije said purple is the colour for equality, which is a principle that is lacking in the law governing parental access. He accused the Child Welfare Council of preparing inadequate reports which were always to the detriment of fathers in divorce cases...." More (Expatica 08.02.2006).
Charges filed against judge. "A disciplinary hearing for Franklin County juvenile court judge opened today with claims that she mishandled a child custody dispute by delaying a decision and berating one of the attorneys, yelling at her as she tossed a law book on the table before her. Judge Carole Squire is trying to defend herself against four disciplinary counts being heard by the state Supreme Court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Squire is accused of abusing the rights of people who came before her, failing to follow the law and violating judicial rules...." More (Columbus Dispatch 08.02.2006).
Judging by price. "One of the biggest mistakes novice wine drinkers make is equating cost with quality. Don’t assume the $20 bottle is better than the $10 one...." More (Wilkes Barre Times-Leader 08.02.2006). Comment. Experienced judges will tell you that the salaries of the attorneys involved and the amounts of money at stake in a case do not necessarily equate with skill of the attorneys or public importance of the case.
Those courthouse domestic violence awareness exhibits. "A semi-annual display in the Lorain County Justice Center that commemorates domestic violence victims is under attack from a local attorney. Chris Crobaugh said the life-size wooden silhouettes, each labeled with the name of a woman who died from domestic violence in Lorain County, easily could influence jurors and jeopardize a man's right to a fair trial. 'It's just not appropriate for a courthouse. I would think anybody could see the problem with this stuff,' Crobaugh said...." More (Cleveland Plain Dealer 08.02.2006). Related. Commissioners vote to remove victims monument near court entrance. Comment. Allowing such an exhibit inside or right outside a courthouse is sort of like allowing one candidate in a contested election to put up posters inside and lawn signs right outside the door to a polling place.
Judge's flower girl is back in trouble. "A 17-year-old girl who was handed flowers earlier this summer by a Manitoba judge as a reward for turning her life around has been charged with assaulting a police officer...More than a month ago, the girl was handed a bouquet of multi-coloured chrysanthemums by judge Marva Smith. Along with the flowers, Smith gave the youth a card and movie passes...." More (Calgary Sun 08.02.2006). Comment. Things are so out of whack that I find myself thinking I won't be too surprised if the somewhere down the line the girl sues the judge for civil damages, claiming the judge's gifts created a pressurized atmosphere of overly-high expectations that directly and ineluctably caused her to assault the officer.
Judge is robbed. "When it comes to street crime in the city, even well-known Detroiters are not immune. In the past week, Denise Ilitch, a lawyer and daughter of Detroit pizza magnate Mike Ilitch, and Wayne Circuit Judge Leonard Townsend were crime victims. Ilitch was walking from her car to a political function in the 8000 block of Kercheval around 4:45 p.m. July 25 when two men approached her and demanded her purse, police said. Ilitch handed it over, and the two fled...Townsend said he was robbed at gunpoint Friday night in front of his home in Detroit, and his vehicles were stolen before the next morning. He said it was at least the third such robbery in his neighborhood. Townsend said the robber went through his pockets and took his car keys, wallet and briefcase...." More (DetroitNews.Com 08.02.2006).
Charges against ex-judge dropped, his wife pleads guilty. "In an unusual plea deal, the Kentucky attorney general's office yesterday agreed to dismiss all charges against a former Shelby County judge accused of paying his wife for work she didn't do -- on the condition that he never seek appointment or re-election to the bench. As part of the agreement, former Judge William Stewart's spouse, Sarah Dutton, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors -- one count of theft under $300 and one count of unlawful access to a computer -- and received a 12-month sentence that was conditionally discharged for two years. She entered an Alford plea, meaning she denied her guilt while acknowledging there was evidence to convict her...." More (Louisville Courier-Journal 08.02.2006). Earlier. Ex-judge will go on offensive in trial for theft-by-deception - Jury deadlocks in trial of judge. Related. Read on...
Judge's son is accused of residential burglaries. "Paul Robertson Brown, the 33-year-old son of Judge George Brown, was arrested Monday evening, after a chain of residential burglaries, one of which took place at the home of professional golfer Paul Azinger. Brown remains in the county jail on a $64,120 bond and facing multiple charges, according to jail officials. Brown was located by sheriff's officials just after 5 p.m., sleeping on the porch of one of the burglary victim's homes, according to spokesman Dave Bristow. His nap wrapped up what authorities believe to be a crime spree..." Brown has prior convictions for grand theft auto, dealing stolen property, DUI, and leaving the scene. More (Bradenton Herald 08.02.2006). Update. Police say judge was with son during burglary. Related. Judge disciplined for involvement in son's case - Judge says he still loves incarcerated wife - Annals of judicial spouses - Another judge's son in trouble - a trend? - Your kids' constitutional right - to dinner with you - Chief Justice as Dad - The judge who grew up as 'princess' daughter of mobster - Judicial secretary sues judge who fired her - Court dismisses allegations by secretary against judge - Retiring judge facing sanctions for supporting wife - Judge accused of campaigning for spouse's election - Litigation Strategy & Tactics 101: Creating a conflict for the judge - Judge's hubby charged with kidnapping - Judge's beau arrested - the perils of judicial vanity plates.
Count 'em: not one but two county judges in trouble with the law. "Winnebago County judges are used to presiding in court not appearing in court. 23 News has learned that not one but two Winnebago County judges are in trouble with the law. In June we told you about Judge Steven Nordquist receiving a DUI...Over the weekend 17th Circuit Court Associate Judge Patrick Heaslip threw a party for his 24-year-old son who just got out of the military. The party was held at his cabin in Lake Mills Wisconsin which is east of Madison and north of Milton. After receiving a complaint about what was going on outside the party, Lake Mills police stepped in...One of the people involved in [a] fight [the officers investigated] was Judge Patrick Heaslip's son, Mitchell. In the report Mitchell says he was hit. But others involved say Mitchell threw the first punch. In the end Mitchell was charged with two counts of battery and one count of disorderly conduct. But he's not the only Heaslip facing charges. His father has been charged with providing alcohol to a minor...Officers say they were interrupted several times by Judge Heaslip. The report...state[s] that Judge Heaslip called the officers 'dumb hick cops' saying 'that they don't know how to do their job.' The officers told Judge Heaslip to go back to his home. Moments later the report states that he came back and was again asked to leave or he would be arrested for disorderly conduct. Heaslip told the offers to 'shut up.'"
Calling a judge a 'jackass.' "Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger's vulgar tirade against three state appeals judges who had ruled against one of his clients was not protected by the First Amendment and violated Michigan standards of attorney conduct, [the] Michigan Supreme Court ruled Monday [in a 4-3 decision]. The court majority found the comments...could be punished because of their potential to undermine respect for the legal system. In an agreement reached before the case was heard by the Supreme Court, the only discipline Fieger faces is a public reprimand, with no interruption to his legal practice. He is...expected to appeal the Michigan decision on constitutional grounds to the U.S. Supreme Court...Justices Michael Cavanagh, Marilyn Kelly and Elizabeth Weaver dissented, chiefly on the grounds that Fieger's comments were made outside the courtroom [on the radio], were not directly addressed to the appellate judges and were free speech under the First Amendment. In her dissent, Weaver criticized [the four members of the majority, Chief Justice Clifford Taylor and Justices Maura Corrigan, Stephen Markman and Robert Young Jr.] for participating in the case at all. A long history of acrimony between Fieger, the Democratic candidate for governor in 1998, and the four, who were all initially appointed by Fieger's opponent in that election, should have caused them to recuse themselves, Weaver wrote...." More (Detroit Free Press 08.01.2006). Link to opinion in Grievance Adm'r v. Fieger (html). Related. A mess of allegations, including over judges and their lawyer spouses - May the state discipline an attorney for calling a judge 'a nonsense judge'? Not totally un-related. Journalist gets year in jail for 'libeling' Egyptian judge (Buffalo News 03.09.2006). Comment. There's a great Pedigree dog food commercial that shows a number of cute dogs & has the punch line, We're for dogs (there also are ones that say, "We're for pups" and "We're for shelter dogs"). We here at the international headquarters of BurtLaw's The Daily Judge boldly state that we, too, are for dogs, especially ones named Mathilda, Jane or Alice. We are also for love and a lot of other good things, including that quaint, old-fashioned notion that people ought to be free to have their say. No, we're not "for" over-the-top rudeness -- or, for that matter, for over-statement in general -- but the First Amendment doesn't just protect polite speech. Nor is there an exception when the speech is critical of the judiciary. Judges ought not be immune from criticism -- not even harsh, unjustified criticism. And, at least out of the courtroom, outside pleadings, etc., lawyers -- who, after all, get to know judges pretty well -- ought to be as free as the next guy to deliver that criticism.
More on Michigan Supremes' split over free speech. "In a split [4-3] ruling, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision to dismiss a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the Ford Motor Company on the grounds that the plaintiff and her lawyers discussed with reporters evidence that the court had deemed inadmissible...Claiming the decision is a blow to freedom of speech, the plaintiff in the case and her lawyers said they planned to appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court...Other legal experts added that there did not appear to be any evidence that pretrial publicity would have affected attempts to find a fair and impartial jury pool in the case. 'This is inconsistent with opinions of appellate courts and even the United States Supreme Court that have found that pretrial publicity is not a ground for overturning a conviction in a criminal case, much less a civil case,' said Herschel P. Fink, a lawyer who specializes in First Amendment issues...." More (N.Y. Times 08.01.2006). Note. The split in this case was the same as in the Fieger case that we've also noted, with Justice Weaver, Kavanaugh and Kelly dissenting. See, Calling a judge a 'jackass' (includes commentary and links to earlier postings relating to Fieger and the four justices in the majority). We agree with their dissents in this case as in the Fieger case. For a discussion of the sharp, "personal" divisions on the court that are on display in these decisions, see, Annals of judicial colleageality: a frictionalized, fractured supreme court. Extras. Link to opinion in Maldonado v. Ford Motor Co. (html); link to opinion in Grievance Adm'r v. Fieger (html); link to order Re Appointment of Chief Judge of the Kent County Probate Court (html) (yet another decision where the same personal divisions are on display).
Those 'free' tickets. "The Michigan Supreme Court on Monday publicly censured a Traverse City judge who accepted college football tickets from an attorney during a court hearing. All seven justices agreed 86th District Judge Michael Haley should be censured, though they differed on the reasoning...." More (Michigan Live 08.01.2006). Link to opinion in In Re Haley (html). Earlier. The judge and those free football tickets. Comment. It would be interesting to know what per cent of judges, state and federal, have accepted free tickets -- or, say, reduced-rate or free memberships in exclusive dining clubs, free golf green fees, free law books from a law book publisher, free dinners, etc. -- at some point during their tenure. I'd bet the per cent would be high rather than low. Update. "How, pray tell, do two tickets weaken judicial integrity, when judges and justices across the state routinely accept campaign contributions of far more value directly; financial favors that help ensure they get to keep their jobs?" More (Lansing State Journal - Opinion 08.09.2006).
Annals of judicial reform. "The two judges who oversee the Massachusetts district court system said last night that they have launched a series of reforms designed to address 'issues' in the courts' treatment of debtors raised in a Globe Spotlight Team series, including retraining for judges and clerks, new efforts to make debtors aware of their rights, and possible legislation aimed at curbing abuses by debt collectors...." More (Boston Globe 08.01.2006). Comment. Clarence Darrow said, "There is no Justice in or out of court." Perhaps it makes sense not to quibble with the overstatement involved in such a condemnation but to simply accept it as a generalization based on many, many instances of injustice both in and out of court -- and as a reminder to all of us of the need for Jeffersonian "eternal vigilance."
Judicial independence in Liberia. "The Assigned Judge of the First Judicial Circuit Criminal Court 'A' Cllr. James Zotaa has been suspended by Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis allegedly on orders by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Although no exact reason for the president's decision was given, however, Chief Justice Lewis said the suspension takes immediate effect as per the president's mandate. The president order appears to run contrary to Article 71 of the Liberian Constitution, which states 'The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior. They may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.'" More (All Africa - Editorial in The News 08.01.2006).
Judicial vacations. "The Turkish judiciary's five-week summer recess starts today...." More (New Anatolian 08.01.2006).
Couple to make court history. "One of this year's normally overlooked judicial races looks like it just made history -- matrimonial history that is. The predetermined election of Sally Kest (she qualified with no opposition) means that she and her husband, Judge John Kest, appear to be the Orange-Osceola circuit's first husband-and-wife judicial team. The couple, married for 33 years with three grown children, say they're not sure what to expect. 'Well, I know she'll now see me at the office,' said John, a former president of the Orange County Bar. 'That was some of the attraction,' added Sally, who specializes in family law." More (Orlando Sentinel - Scott Maxwell column 08.01.2006). Related. Lawyers wage war over wife's selection as judge - Judicial campaign rivals spar over spouse issue - Judge and spouse both running for statewide office. Comment. As we have noted previously, there are numerous ethical issues raised when a judge is married to or romantically allied with another politician/government employee, robed (another judge) or unrobed (a non-judge running for judicial office or a candidate for or holder of an executive or legislative office). It would be difficult to formulate rules dealing with all the possibilities. Minnesota's Governor, Tim Pawlenty, is married to a district court judge: she did not participate in his campaign in 2002 and has been careful not to cross the ethical line in her other role as First Lady. One of the earliest and still one of the best articles on ethical issues raised by a judge's spouse's activities is by a revered Harvard Law School teacher of mine, Prof. Andrew L. Kaufman, "Judicial Ethics: The Less-Often Asked Questions," 64 Wash. L. Rev. 851, 862 (1989). See, also, "When good relations can be a potential problem" at Court Gazing II at BurtLaw's LawAndEverythingElse.Com (scroll down). Ought one necessarily be concerned when judges who are married to each other sit on the same bench or serve in the same courthouse? We don't think so. Judge Kest and Judge Kest, by the way, are not the first couple to pull this sort of thing off.
The most important rule for judging. "The most important rule for judging the quick breads contest at the fair may be a simple one. Don't eat before you get there. The entries -- from biscuits to pumpkin bread -- are all delicious, but a bite or two of each can be filling, says Judge Marcia Smith...." More (News-Leader 08.01.2006). Comment. Might Judge Smith's rule have broader metaphorical application for common law judges? BTW, Kate Baldi's biscuits won the Blue Ribbon.
$20,000 pay hike for state chief justice. "State lawmakers yesterday overrode Gov. Mitt Romney’s veto of a pay hike for judges, insuring that jurists will get 14 percent raises retroactive to January. Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey have been vocal critics of the size of the judicial pay raises. 'The governor is not opposed to a pay increase for judges, but he believes it should be smaller and that there’s no need to make the increase retroactive,' Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said. The pay hike, the first since 1998, sends the salaries of most judges from $112,777 to $129,694, with Chief Administrative Justice Robert Mulligan getting an $18,000 annual raise that boosts his salary to $140,358. Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall will receive a $20,000 boost to bring her salary to $151,239...." More (Boston Herald 08.01.2006).
Runaway judge is found living the good life in India. "For nearly 20 years, she lay low. Malaysian Balbir Kaur had jumped bail to escape corruption charges in 1987. No one knew where she had gone. The Malaysian government had been looking for the former majistrate all these years without luck. Now, comes news that she has been leading a life of comfort in India's Chandigarh city under a different name...." More (Electric New Paper - Singapore 08.01.2006).
Judge takes lunch break at cemetery. "After an hour of emotional and sometimes testy testimony this morning, a civil court judge decided he couldn’t rule whether a central Tampa cemetery was in disrepair without seeing it for himself. Judge Rex Barbas took his lunch break at the Memorial Park Cemetery, located at 2225 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., looking over the 20-acre site...." More (Tampa Tribune 07.31.2006).
Chance of receiving asylum depends on who is judge. "Immigration judges vary sharply in their willingness to grant asylum to foreigners seeking to live in the United States...A foreigner seeking asylum in the United States is far more likely to be rejected if the case is decided by Judge Mahlon Hanson in Miami than by many other judges in the system...From the 2000 budget year through the first months of the 2005 budget year, Hanson had the highest proportion of denials, rejecting 96.7 percent in his 1,118 decisions in cases in which the asylum seeker had a lawyer. On the other hand, New York Judge Margaret McManus rejected just 9.8 percent of her 1,638 cases in which the asylum seeker had a lawyer...." More (Seattle Times 07.31.2006). Comment. We've never said that all judges with the surname of "Hanson" are necessarily outstanding, anymore than that having the surname "Anderson" makes one more qualified to be a judge. We have noted, however, that in MN having the surname "Anderson" makes it more likely one will be appointed judge. There currently are three Andersons, all appointed by Republican governors, on the seven-member state supreme court -- i.e., a whopping 42.857% of the court's membership! Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's wife, Mary, who is also an Anderson in this Land of 10,000 Andersons, is a district court judge. Might there be something about being named "Anderson" that makes one more qualified to be a judge? We ask the question in the naive belief that perhaps there is. Just as a boy named "Jack" perhaps tries to fulfill the qualities of "Jackness" thought to be embodied in the great "Jack's" of history, perhaps a young boy or girl named "Anderson," at least in Minnesota, somehow senses that judging is part of his or her manifest destiny, something "expected" of an Anderson. Perhaps in the future, the only way non-Andersons can be assured of equal consideration by the governor is for all judge applicants to be interviewed behind a screen (a la The Dating Game T.V. show), with all identifying information on their applications being blacked-out. Or perhaps any lawyer who wishes ought to be able to change his or her professional name to Anderson. If women are allowed to use one name as a professional name and another at the P.T.A. and in signing checks, maybe all lawyers, male and female, ought to be able to use professional names different from their domestic names. (Consider, in this regard, the distinction Yale Law School Professor Charles Reich makes in his 1976 autobiography, The Sorcerer of Bolinas Reef, between a lawyer's "professional" or "public" self and his "real" self.)
Opinion: judicial elections tame judicial egos. "Judicial elections are important, if only because they make change possible. It doesn't have to happen. It rarely if ever does. But the mere threat of a sitting judge getting voted off the bench is enough to force better behavior. Thanks to the 2004 miracle of Gordon Maag...judges have gotten the message...Anyone who doubts this is a very good thing hasn't paid much attention to Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis, hustling this summer to present progress to the electorate before it judges her this November...She wants to keep her job. It wasn't always this way. Drunk on a cocktail of voter ambivalence, topped with a splash of incumbency and a trial lawyer cash garnish, Madison County's judges plainly didn't mind being infamous...Our judges were arrogant because they thought they would never lose...One election changed everything. There's talk that a constitutional convention is on the horizon, at which Illinois' system of electing judges could be replaced. Alternatives would include letting a governor appoint them, or creating a brand new 'non-partisan' state commission to do the job. It would, according to plan, choose the 'best' nominees for us. In our opinion, either/or would be a mistake. We don't deny that our political process can be messy and expensive. It doesn't always give us ideal results in the short run. But state government is here for the long haul, and there isn't a better means of holding public officals accountable than slapping their names on a ballot." More (Madison County Record - Editorial 07.30.2006).
The new chief justice. "Parliament approved President Hamid Karzai's nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court on Monday, handing the U.S.-backed leader a victory after his first nominee for the top spot was rejected. Lawmakers also approved the nominees for five other positions on the nine-member court, which has great influence over the role of Islam in government and society in Afghanistan. The vote for the U.S.-educated Abdul Salam Hazami, 69, as chief justice also was vital to efforts to reform Afghanistan's judiciary and dismiss corrupt judges...." More (San Francisco Chronicle 07.31.2006).
Former supreme court justice acquitted of child abduction, molestation. "The acquittal of former Supreme Court Judge Pio Teek on child abduction and molestation charges has left the Namibian Police in the dock, accused of carrying out a tainted and flawed investigation. Teek's trial ended in the High Court in Windhoek on Friday when South African Judge Ronnie Bosielo acquitted him on all eight charges that he faced. These included two counts of abduction, two counts of rape, charges of supplying liquor to a person under the age of 18, and charges of committing an immoral or indecent act with a child under the age of 16, alternatively indecent assault...." More (AllAfrica 07.31.2006). Earlier. Top judge, awaiting trial on charges of raping two girls, retires.
Judge Anna Pacitto speaks. "You should show what is up-and-coming; your forecast for the future. Don't cross the line into fantasy -- it's a completely different thing." -- Anna Pacitto, in New Zealand judging the 2006 L'Oreal Colour Trophy. Judge Pacitto "is herself no stranger to awards, with her salon 'Pure' awarded Salon Entrepreneur of the Year and the incredible title of North American Hairstylist of the Year." More (Thread 07.31.2006). Comment. Compare and contrast Judge Pacitto's sage advice with the oft-used metaphor of common law judge as wise arbiter who stands in the present, one eye on the past, another on the future, respectful of both, slave to neither. We offer a modest suggestion to the folks who are planning the next A.B.A. convention: get a two-fer by hiring Judge Pacitto to speak to the subject of judicial hairstyles, past, present and future, and to the subject of the relevance of hair judging to judging in the great common law tradition. Further reading. Klara's judicial makeovers.
Convicted judge gets no pension, no refund of contributions. "[Cook County Judge Thomas] Maloney was convicted in 1993 on racketeering, extortion and other charges for taking bribes to fix cases. The following year, retirement system officials voted to terminate his pension benefits. In 2003, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that judges who lost their benefits due to felony convictions could get a refund of the money they had contributed to their own retirement accounts. After that decision, Maloney sought a refund [of his contributions of $72,855]." What result? Held, by an Illinois appellate court, reversing a trial judge, the time for appealing the 1994 decision terminating his pension has long since passed and the judgment is final. More (Chicago Tribune 07.30.2006). Comment. Yes, the judgment terminating his right to a pension became final, but the question is whether that judgment is res judicata with respect to the refund issue. It's arguable it shouldn't be. Without knowing more, I think that if I were Maloney, I'd be inclined to seek further review.
Judge is locked up in court. Mr. Recorder Guy Hungerford, a Reading Crown Court judge, was upstairs at the Old Shire Hall in Reading, Berks, working on the next day's cases on Thursday evening when "everything went very quiet and the lights went off." When he tried to leave, he discovered he'd been locked in accidentally by staff. Over the next couple hours, the judge "frantically tr[ied] to find a way out" of the "six-court, four-storey complex." Unsuccessful, he searched for an hour before he found a phone that was working and called for help. Police arrived but couldn't find a key. Unable to force open a door, firemen rescued the judge via a first-story window using a ladder. More (Sunday Mirror 07.30.2006). Comment. I recall how proud some planners were of the top-of-the-line locks at the new judicial center in St. Paul when the MN Supreme Court moved there from our quarters at the capitol. Alas, a judge got locked in her chambers because of a failure of one of the locks, and a locksmith had to be called to free her.
'Unbridled animosity among the justices.' "The ordinarily mundane appointment of a Kent County chief probate judge last week laid bare the simmering conflict on the [MI] Supreme Court, offering a rare public glimpse of petty sniping common among some justices. Justice Elizabeth Weaver claims her colleagues were wrong to reject Judge Patricia Gardner, who was backed by Weaver and local judges. Chief Justice Clifford Taylor shot back, saying Weaver unfairly suggested there is 'antagonism' toward Gardner because she was rebuked by higher courts in two high-profile cases...." More (Grand Rapids Press 07.30.2006). Comment. As the article points out, usually these appointments are, at least at the public announcement stage, unanimous. What sets this one apart is that the order making the appointment was a 4-3 order with a public display of sniping and animosity in five pages of written exchanges.
Courthouse security and 'people's judges.' "Nueces County has spent at least $1.13 million on security at its courthouse since 2000. Most of the money, primarily from a $4 fee tacked onto traffic tickets, has gone toward security guards at the courthouse. The money also has paid the food and veterinary bills of a bomb-sniffing dog, the salary of a secretary in the building maintenance office who sometimes monitors security cameras, and the $44,000 annual cost of a deputy sometimes stationed at the courthouse. Later this year, about $50,000 will go to buy lights for the parking garage. What the $1.13 million hasn't done is ease the worries of two justices of the peace whose offices are in the courthouse...." Turns out that district and county court judges are protected by checkpoint with metal detectors but the two JPs, the "people's judges," are not. courts are not.... The JPs have large red emergency buttons they can press but they say when they've used them the response has been inadequate. More (Corpus Christi Caller Times 07.30.2006).
Allegation: judge's neglect caused man to spend extra year in prison. "A man spent more than an extra year in prison after a judge neglected to follow a higher court order, a state judicial commission said. Madison Superior Court Judge Thomas Newman Jr. has 20 days to file a response to the disciplinary charges filed by the Indiana Supreme Court Judicial Commission. The case then will be reviewed by three judges appointed by the high court. The charges filed Friday stem from a 2001 case in which the state Supreme Court ordered the release of an inmate who had been sentenced by Newman the previous year. But the man was not notified and spent another 14 months in prison before he was released...." More (Fort Wayne News Sentinel 07.30.2006).
A judge's Archimedean lever. "An angry New Orleans judge said Friday that next month he would start freeing people held in jail without trial because the legal system was in a 'shambles' after Hurricane Katrina. Facing a shortage of public defenders due to a lack of funding, some poor defendants who cannot afford their own lawyers have been left in jail. District Court Judge Arthur Hunter ruled that was unconstitutional. 'If the Constitution still means something, then why is the criminal justice system 11 months after Hurricane Katrina still in shambles?' he said in an emergency order. 'It is a pathetic and shameful state of affairs....'" More (Houston Chronicle 07.29.2006).
Permanent law clerk loves her job. "Ten years ago, Laura Watkins Jordan had mapped out her future. She had plans of becoming a high-powered litigator, making lots of money as a partner in a top law firm, and traveling the country to try cases. After briefly pursuing that path, the Decatur-native traded what she once thought she wanted for a career that has proven far more rewarding. Her position in Birmingham as U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor's permanent law clerk has allowed her more time with family and greater opportunities to make a positive impact on those around her. 'As a child, I didn't want to be a teacher, nurse or astronaut like other kids. I wanted to be a Supreme Court justice,' she said. 'I have always had an idealistic view of the justice system in general and judges in particular....'" More (Decatur Daily 07.30.2006). Comment. A beautiful and smart young woman, she has the right attitude about public service. I felt the same way during my nearly 30 years as an aide to the justices of the MN Supreme Court.
Judge halts demolition of historic church. "One day after demolition began at a historic East Village church, a judge yesterday ordered that it be halted. The move ensures that the church, which is more than 150 years old, will stand for at least another month. The reprieve is the latest development in the saga of St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church, on Avenue B and Eighth Street, one of Manhattan’s oldest houses of worship. Built by Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine, the church has been the subject of a bitter dispute between the Archdiocese of New York and a dogged coalition of residents, former parishioners and preservationists...." More (N.Y. Times 07.29.2006). Comment. The best depiction of what is taken when a beloved public building is taken down was a 1971 episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, They're Tearing Down Tim Reilly's Bar, which Serling said in his final interview was one of his favorite creations. Among the beloved buildings of my youth in a small town in western MN that have been demolished are the Carnegie library, the southside grade school, Our Savior's Lutheran Church, and the Great Northern Ry. Depot. Another such building, the Paris Hotel, was destroyed by fire. The destruction of each historic building is one more reason not to go home again -- except in memory.
Judge criticizes woman, is given the boot. "The judge who criticised Miss Universe contestant Erin McNaught has been barred from the Australian arm of the pageant. Jonathan Westbrook...criticised Ms McNaught for being photographed topless for a men's magazine and wanted her replaced by runner-up Leah Fuhrmann...Miss Universe Australia director Jim Davie blamed Ms McNaught's failure to make it into the top 20 at the international final last week on a 'smear campaign.' 'Erin was the most beautiful girl in the pageant,' Mr Davie said...But Mr Westbrook said he did nothing wrong. 'All I have done is point out that she did not meet the Miss Universe criteria,' he said. A spokeswomen for Ms McNaught said the model might take legal action against Mr Westwood...." More (Melbourne Herald Sun 07.30.2006). Comment. Don't beauty pageant judges enjoy the same immunity from suit that their common law brethren enjoy?
Amid controversy, judge decides to retire. "A Prince George's County judge accused of misconduct submitted a letter yesterday saying he is retiring, a month before he was to face a public hearing for allegedly making disparaging comments to and about women seeking protective orders. In one of those cases, that of a woman later badly burned by her estranged husband, District Court Judge Richard A. Palumbo's actions drew national attention. He also was accused of disparaging three women seeking protective orders by likening them to buses that come along every 10 minutes...." More (Washington Post 07.29.2006). Earlier. State trooper improperly voided judge's speeding ticket - More on Judge Palumbo & the state troopers.
Judge bases suspension on suspicion: student smelled of marijuana. "A court ruling that says the mere smell of marijuana on a student is enough to warrant a suspension is a victory for schools in the fight against drugs, Elida schools Superintendent Don Diglia said Friday. The ruling issued this week by Allen County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Reed upheld a 10-day suspension against an Elida High School student who reportedly smelled like marijuana on March 17 during his first class...." More (LimaOhio.Com 07.29.2006). Comment. What do I think of this? I expressed my views on this very issue in a mini-essay at my original blawg back in July of 2001 in a section I call BurtLaw's Law & Kids (scroll down for original). Here's a copy&paste of the posting:
What would John Adams say about this? The AP reports [link at original] that high school Principal Jane Modoono in Hopkinton, MA -- i.e., John Adams Country -- is going to "send a strong message" to students by suspending them for up to five days if they "smell like smoke." One's first reaction is to laugh once again at the idiocy of school administrators as they try turn each school into a miniature version of a police state. My second reaction is to recall an incident that occurred when I was a junior in high school, in a small town in western Minnesota. I left school at 1:55 p.m. everyday and worked as a rock'n'roll deejay from then until the station went off the air, which varied depending on the time of year. The man who ceded the control room to me when I arrived smoked cigarettes. I'd hang my coat in there & sit down right after he finished the hourly news and start spinning platters. That was the year I quit the varsity basketball team because I didn't like the crew-cutted coach, who, among other things, kept trying to get me to cut my not-very-long hair real short (I guess so I'd look like him). It was also the year the best guy on the team, a lifelong friend of mine and the most natural, all-around athlete I ever knew, was caught smoking in the movie theater by a teacher who coached another sport and was ruled ineligible. If we both had remained on the team, the team might not have been great but it would have been better than it was (or so I think). Anyhow, one night I went back to the school after signing off, after playing the obligatory recording of Perry Como singing "The Lord's Prayer" (I'm not kidding) and some band playing our National Anthem, and after closing up the station. I was wearing my smoke-saturated jacket when a coach of one of the several team sports (not the varsity basketball coach), a coach I'll call "X," grabbed me gently by the arm and asked in an accusatory tone if I'd been smoking. No, I said. But he persisted, trying to get me to confess to something I hadn't done. I'm an honest guy and if he'd asked me if I'd smoked in the bushes along a country road not far from my house back when I was 8 years old, I'd have said yes. I'd probably have added that the brand I'd smoked was the brand sophisticated folks liked, "Parliaments," in the flip-top box. But I hadn't been smoking and I persisted in denying I had been. (Interestingly, this coach was the same guy, whom I'd liked, who'd chastized me for truthfully answering a basketball referee's question -- "Did you touch the ball?" "Yes" -- a year or two earlier in a non-varsity game against a team from another school.) Teachers and coaches come to know that they can only go so far with certain kids, the ones who are lucky enough to have strong, active parents who give a damn and will fight for their kids. Faced with my denials and knowing full well I had strong, active parents who gave a damn, Mr. X could only do nothing -- nothing but train his investigative eye on someone else or, better yet, go back to coaching and otherwise being a nice guy, things at which he was fairly skilled. But back to my question: what would old, tough, fair-minded, gloriously-rebellious John Adams say to or about Principal Jane Modoono? Damned if I know. But I know what I want to say to her: boys and girls have memories. They remember kind teachers who teach and motivate and encourage. And they remember ones who don't. (07.02.2001)
Cops are investigating neo-Nazi threat to kill judge. "Missouri police are investigating a call on a white supremacy website to kill a Canadian federal judge and an Ottawa lawyer. 'We have some letters from some people in Canada,' said Kirksville, Mo., Police Chief Jim Hughes. 'We take these complaints seriously.'" More (Ottawa Sun 07.29.2006).
Pie judging isn't the same without Judge T. Peter Craven. "'I don't believe this is in keeping with the spirit of Peter Craven,' pie judge Davis Farrar said of the concept of a moment of silence. 'We want a moment of rowdiness,' he declared, and his fellow judges erupted in agreement. After almost a straight minute of hollers and yells in honor of Chief Judge Peter Craven, who died of a heart attack last month at age 65, Farrar somehow managed to sound solemn and devious at the same time when he pronounced, 'Let the games begin!' The official theme of this year's pie competition at Carbondale's Mountain Fair was 'Be your own judge,' but the unofficial theme was Craven's life and times. All 27 of the contest judges received free T-shirts sporting a photo of Craven from one of his earliest appearances at the contest, in which he dressed as a mad hatter. Above the photo were the words 'Peter Craven - a judge for all reasons.' But the judges also paid homage to their fallen comrade in their own ways - by retelling old stories, by proposing toasts, even with what they wore...." More (Aspen Times 07.30.2006). Earlier. Judge dies suddenly while biking. Comment. Is a common law judge, that specialist in being a generalist, able to judge even a pie contest? Read on...
Is a T.V. meteorologist qualified to judge a pie contest at fair? "49 News' Chief Meteorologist Matt Miller helped judge the 4-H Pie Contest at the Shawnee County Fair Friday afternoon. The winner of the baking competition was Dylan Brown with a granny smith apple pie. It's not too late if you want try out your culinary skills against Matt Miller's perfect pie palate. Just be a resident of Shawnee County and get your pie at the Kansas Expocentre before the 2 p.m. judging Saturday." More (49ABC 07.29.2006). Comment. Is it right, you ask, to have a meteorologist judge a pie contest at the fair? Shouldn't the fair officials hire one of the specially-trained pie judges, with years of experience on the circuit, to fly in for the competition? Sir Burton replies: it is a premise of our common law system that having general-jurisdiction courts with generalist judges works better, for a number of reasons, than having specialty courts/judges. We all find it easy to judge whether a TV meterologist is good at forecasting/explaining. And most of us can tell whether pie slice A is better than pie slice B. Indeed, deciding whether a pie is "great" is sort of like deciding whether pie is obscenely bad: we know it when we taste it.
But, see... "Not letting an unruly rooster ruffle your feathers is one key to winning poultry showmanship at the Shawnee County Fair. Unlike other poultry events at the fair, which continues through Sunday at the Kansas Expocentre, the judge's eyes aren't focused solely on the birds in showmanship. 'I'm supposed to judge the kids on the way they present the birds and their knowledge of the birds,' said event judge Richard Marteney, of Manhattan, who put 15 4-H'ers and their feathered friends through the paces Friday afternoon in Exhibition Hall...[I]t pays to...strut your avian acumen, especially with a judge like Marteney, who said: 'I've been around poultry all my life. I've got feathers in my blood. My dad ran the largest poultry farm in the state for years.' None of the questions Marteney posed to Ryan Scott stumped the 15-year-old member of the Riverside 4-H Club...." 4-H poultry judging isn't for birdbrains (Topeka Capital Journal 07.29.2006).
Daycare at courthouse? "When Jaclyn Miller appeared in court recently to explain to a judge why she hadn’t her paid fines from a criminal case, she carried her 8-month-old son with her up to the bench...Chief Judge Elizabeth Robb said children and courtrooms don’t mix and that judges have talked for years of ways to address the problem. County officials believe the solution will arrive within months during a $9.5 million remodeling of the Law & Justice Center. Plans call for a waiting room to be created on the third floor where parents can leave their children while attending court. Workers from the Children’s Foundation will staff the room...." More (Bloomington Pantagraph - ILL 07.29.2006).
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