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.
Judge is censured for behavior at getaway for judges. "A Dickson County judge has received a public censure for allegedly getting drunk at a judicial conference and making racial and sexual slurs. The censure was against Judge A. Andrew Jackson pursuant to an agreement with the Investigative Panel of the Tennessee Supreme Court...." More (Chattanoogan 05.24.2007). Further reading. Annals of judicial junkets.
Ex-judge is jailed for failing to pay child support. "A disgraced former judge was taken from a courtroom in handcuffs and jailed Thursday after being arrested on a warrant because he has failed to pay more than $250,000 in child support. The arrest warrant for the former Brooklyn judge, Reynold Mason, now of Hampton, Ga., was valid, Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis said...." More (Newsday 05.25.2007).
Questions of the day. a) Judges are always yammering about the need for judicial independence. Why are they silent on the arguably more important issue, given the reality of the law clerks' role in the judicial process, of law clerk independence? We'd sorta like to know.... b) Why don't we call them, or at least some of them, "equity clerks"?
Judge wants bigger room for his disciplinary hearing. "Arkansas Appeals Court Judge Wendell Griffen accused of being too outspoken asked a state disciplinary panel Thursday to hold its July 20 hearing in a large venue because of public interest in his case. Griffen asked the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to hold the hearing at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock instead of the panel's normal hearing room...." More (Pine Bluff Commercial 05.25.2007).
President wants four justices of supreme court to resign. "President Evo Morales demanded the resignation of four Supreme Court justices this week in a growing campaign against Bolivia's judicial system, which he accuses of hampering his efforts to nationalize key parts of the economy and remake Bolivia as a socialist state...." More (Washington Times 05.25.2007). Comment. Hmm, here in the U.S. the President would like four SCOTUS justices to resign, too.
Vegas justice. "There's another surprising development in the ongoing saga of District Court Judge Elizabeth Halverson. Late Thursday afternoon, Halverson's former judicial assistant filed a defamation lawsuit against the judge over allegations of ticket fixing. It was during an interview with the I-Team that Judge Halverson first revealed she believed her former assistant was fixing tickets. Now that assistant, Ileen Spoor, is firing back with a lawsuit...[On Thursday] Judge Halverson declined to speak with the I-Team about any aspect of her situation, including the documents filed Wednesday with the Nevada Supreme Court. In those documents, former staff members claim Halverson had them stand at attention and even had a bailiff give her a foot rub...." More (KLAS 05.25.2007).
Judge waxes poetic. "This action is concerned with the always-vexed questions which arise when the relationship between parties who have lived together as if man and wife has broken down; where sadly, only bitterness has proved to have flourished in the soil in which once hope and love had briefly seemed viable...." -- From judgment of Mr Justice Lindsay, High Court judge, in a legal dispute of "ex-lovers," carpenter Barry Young, 49, and his ex-partner Rebecca Lauretani, "over a Twickenham property valued at over £650,000." More (Wimbledon Guardian 05.25.2007).
The judge, her lover, the intruders and the child maid. "The murder of a Tata Motors executive who was hurled from the balcony of his girlfriend's eighth floor apartment by intruders would normally be sensational enough. Now it transpires the only witness was a child maid, which could land the [girlfriend] -- a Central Administrative Tribunal judge [Ms Sadhna Srivastava] -- in court for violating child labour laws...Jagan, the domestic help, is the only witness to the attack and has recounted graphic details of the Sunday incident to the media...Police say the couple were planning to get married after widower Mr Mahto spotted Ms Srivastava's matrimonial advertisement. After contact over the Internet the couple had decided to meet...." The man accused of the intrusion and murder is "Mr Anil Singh." More (The Statesman - India 05.25.2007). Earlier. Murder mystery: Why was man flung out window of judge's 8th floor apartment? Further reading. Annals of judicial internet dating (which includes links to other postings on judicial romance, judicial dating, and judicial cyber-dating).
What makes for a 'famous trial'? "The proceedings had a number of ingredients essential for a famous trial. The first is a celebrity defendant who has little contact with reality...The trial also had the necessary element of a defence lawyer whose powers of advocacy on behalf of a client are not confined by the boundaries of established fact...Also required for a famous trial is a supporting cast of absurd relatives and unbelievable witnesses...." From an amusing piece on the Paris Hilton hearing by David Pannick, QC, in The Times of London. More (Times UK 05.22.2007).
Judicial corruption around the world. "Widespread bribery of judges around the world and inappropriate political interference in judicial systems are denying millions their right to a fair and impartial trial, a leading global anti-corruption group said Thursday. Transparency International asked nearly 60,000 people in 62 countries last summer what they thought about their country's judicial systems. In more than 25 countries, at least one in 10 households reported paying a bribe to get access to the court system...At the top of the list, more than 80 percent of those contacted in Paraguay, Peru, Cameroon, Macedonia and Bolivia perceived their legal systems to be corrupt...." Countries in which the fewest reported corruption? Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland...and Singapore. More (IHT 05.24.2007). Transparency International's press release.
Students criticize office of judicial affairs at Duke U. "The Office of Judicial Affairs has come under criticism from the Duke Student Government for its evidentiary standards, raising questions about the University's relationship with the Durham Police Department following the lacrosse case...." More (Duke Chronicle 05.24.2007).
Avenue of Flags at county courthouse. "Perry County's Avenue of Flags, honoring 133 Perry County men who gave their lives in the defense of our nation, will make its first appearance on Memorial Day at the county courthouse [in Tell City, Indiana]...." More (Perry County News 05.24.2007).
Federal judge rules alleged conduct by judge was not 'sexual harassment.' "A Cook County judge did not sexually harass a female court reporter, a federal judge has ruled, but a second charge that the clerk's supervisors retaliated against her may continue on in court. Regina Clemmer filed suit in June 2006 alleging a Cook County judge -- unnamed in the suit at that time -- made unwanted sexual advances toward her. As proof, she alleged that the judge -- later identified as domestic violence court Judge Anthony Iosco -- had told her 20 to 25 times that she 'looked good,' or 'beautiful,' or called her 'honey' or 'dear.'" The judge also allegedly brushed up against her once in the hallway. More (Daily Herald 05.24.2007).
Former Syrian judge becomes U.S. citizen. "Mohammad Ahmad Abdul A Al, a former Palestinian resident of Syria, was for 25 years a civil court judge in Damascus before moving to Kulpmont in Northumberland County about five years ago to be near his adult children, among them Dr. Hussan Abdul of Kulpmont and Maram Abdul, a pharmacist in nearby Mt. Carmel. Another daughter is a lawyer in Arizona. The retired judge, 71...[was] part of a diverse group of immigrants given the oath of citizenship by U.S. District Senior Judge John E. Jones III during a late-morning ceremony...." More (Williamsport Sun-Gazette - PA 05.24.2007).
Court says in swearing in witness in NC, any religious text will do. "A Wake County [NC] judge ruled Thursday that any religious text can be used to swear in a witness or juror in the state's courtrooms, not just the Bible. The American Civil Liberties Union argued a law that some judges said required the state's courts to use the Bible alone is unconstitutional because it favors Christianity over other religions...State law allows witnesses preparing to testify in court to take their oath in three ways: by laying a hand over 'the Holy Scriptures,' by saying 'so help me God' without the use of a religious book, or by an affirmation using no religious symbols...." More (NBC17 05.24.2007). Earlier. May a witness in court swear on any old book? Related story. Swearing on the Koran.
Why security for NJ justices was increased. "Police beefed up security for four New Jersey Supreme Court justices after a self-proclaimed 'pro-white' host revealed their addresses in his weekly Webcast. Hal Turner released the information after the court ruled in October that gay couples were entitled to the same rights as married couples...." More (6ABC 05.24.2007). Comment. As courts have held, one's address is public information. That goes for anyone, even a judge. But that doesn't mean courts have to make it easy for people to learn where judges live. Court personnel, for example, ought to be instructed never to give a judge's home address or personal phone number to anyone who calls asking for it -- and people do call and ask. Moreover, I think it's rude and uncivil to picket the home of a judge or any other public (or private) figure (and also rude and uncivil for reporters to camp out outside a person's home). Picketing outside a courthouse ought generally to be permitted -- see, my comments at Limiting speech outside courthouse -- but picketing outside a judge's home in a residential area ought not generally be permitted.
Stealing from the blind guy's courthouse deli. "For the third time in a month, police have arrested someone for stealing from the blind owner of the deli inside the Hamilton County Courthouse. Andre Wilson, 43, of Winton Hills, was arrested at 8:30 a.m. today by sheriff's deputies and charged with two counts of theft. Kent Parker, the blind owner of the deli, contacted deputies about several items missing from his shop. Deputy Ken Pendleton reviewed videotape from the deli and identified Wilson as the man stealing a fruit pie and drink -- valued at $2.30 -- from the shop...." More (Cincinatti Enquirer 05.24.2007).
Justice who improperly edited court transcript is let off with warning. "A repentant Justice Marvin Zuker acknowledged he committed judicial misconduct when he altered court transcripts in 2005, after learning they were to be used in an appeal case. As a result, the well-respected family law judge was let off with only a warning yesterday by the Ontario Judicial Council. The panel could have recommended Zuker's removal, but said his spotless 28-year record, coupled with his apology and emotional stress since the scandal broke, justifies the lesser punishment...." More (Toronto Star 05.24.2007).
Warning to kid: 'If you misbehave, you'll have to work as a judge.' "A naughty child can be threatened with being made 'a judge if he is mischievous and chief justice if he is more mischievous,' a senior [Pakistan] Supreme Court judge has said. This observation was made by Justice Khalilur Rahman Ramday, who is presiding over the 13-member full court of the Supreme Court hearing the constitutional petition of suspended chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry...." More (DNAIndia 05.24.2007). Comment. When I was a kid people used to say that those who misbehaved or didn't study would grow up to be ditchdiggers or garbage haulers. Now it's judges. :-)
Top judges in open revolt. "Britain's most senior judges last night moved into open revolt against the government after eight weeks of talks broke down over safeguards for the independence of the judiciary following the creation of the Ministry of Justice. Amid a growing constitutional crisis, the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, told MPs the department was only created to 'clear the decks' so that the home secretary, John Reid, could mount a 'concerted attack on terrorism.'" More (The Guardian 05.23.2007).
Annals of justice being a wee bit slow. "Over three million cases are pending in India's 21 high courts, and an astounding 26.3 million cases are pending in subordinate courts across the country. At the same time, there are almost a quarter million under-trials languishing in jails across the country. Of these, some 2,069 have been in jail for more than five years, even as their guilt or innocence is yet to be ascertained...." More (ZeeNews 05.23.2007). Comment. A modest proposal: outsource cases to American judges. Fair is fair.
Primary winner in traffic court contest has a tiny ticket problem. "Willie Singletary won a Democratic nomination for Traffic Court last week despite being a scofflaw of major proportions. As of primary day, Singletary, 26, owed $11,427.50 for 55 violations, including reckless driving, driving without a license, careless driving, driving without registration, and driving without insurance...As a result of the violations, his driver's license has been suspended through at least 2011." More (Philadelphia Inquirer 05.22.2007). Comment. At least he has experience in the field.
The judge's nonexistent daughter's shenanigans. "Deborah Bernini is a Pima County Superior Court judge and the woman calling herself Rebecca Bernini knows it. She told one of [her fraud] victims 'not to mess with her because her mother is a Superior Court judge. She would have the heat brought down on her hard if she did not stop harassing her,' court documents read. On Tuesday, the Tucson Police Department asked for help in finding the woman they say has been posing as Rebecca Bernini -- real name Rebecca Burke...." More (Arizona Daily Star 05.23.2007).
Department of misleading headlines. The caption to a photo accompanying a story in the Montgomery Advertiser read: "Sherri Williams, an Alabama business woman, is fighting the state's ban on selling sex toys to the Supreme Court." A wag named Tim Halstrom of Montgomery wrote a letter to the editor in response, stating, in part: "How dare our Legislature ban the selling of sex toys to the United States Supreme Court. 'Tis true, they can get their sex toys from other states, but that's not the issue. Haven't we enough to worry about with our own judiciary that we have to meddle in the affairs of federal justices?" More (Montgomery Advertiser 05.23.2007).
Judge calls law allowing judges to pack firearms in court 'wise' legislation. "A new law specifying that district judges can have guns in courthouses is 'important and wise legislation,' said a Tulsa judge who made headlines when he armed himself during a court commotion a year and a half ago. The law, signed last week by Gov. Brad Henry, 'will greatly enhance court house security for all the citizens,' Tulsa County District Judge Tom Thornbrugh said...." More (Tulsa World 05.22.2007).
When a defendant creates chaos in the courtroom. "A tough-as-nails judge yesterday sent a message to courtroom clowns seeking to disrupt their trials, denying a defendant who cold-cocked a juror a mistrial and instead ordering him chained to the floor. 'It is becoming increasingly common for violent' offenders to try to 'derail' their trials by creating chaos, said Suffolk Superior Court Judge Patrick F. Brady. But accused cop shooter Richard Glawson, 46, would not prevail as a martyr of mayhem...." This catchy prose is by award-winning crime reporter Laurel J. Sweet. More (Boston Herald 05.22.2007).
Woops! I didn't mean to call judge corrupt. "A man who accused a suspended High Court judge of corruption, has now beaten a hasty retreat and disowned the complaint that forced the judicial officer out of the Bench. The accuser now says he did not facilitate the bribing of Justice Msagha Mbogholi's, which earned him suspension...." More (AllAfrica - Kenya 05.22.2007).
Judge who died always wished he'd had a clerk named Adrian. "The fun-loving, brief-aholic, piano-playing, El-riding, Daily News aficionado -- whose precedent-setting opinions shaped the law of the land -- had only one regret: He never hired a law clerk named Adrian. Edward R. Becker, senior judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, who died of prostate cancer last May, always said he wanted to call out: 'Yo! Adrian.'" A nice report of the memorial service, attended by three members of SCOTUS. More (Philadelphia Daily News 05.22.2007).
Prominent judge breaks nose. One of the most-prominent judges in the world, Judge Paula Abdul, broke her nose over the weekend. "She tripped to avoid stepping on Tulip, one of her Chihuahuas," a press rep is quoted as saying. More (Newswatch50 05.22.2007).
Quote of the day: 'Do these people realize they work with the public?' From a letter to the editor by a man who recounts being treated rudely by courthouse security when he forgot to put his asthma inhaler in a tray before walking through a metal-detection screening device. More (Port Huron Times-Herald 05.22.2007). Comment. We don't know the facts but we will say that court employees need to be reminded again and again that they are public servants and that every person who enters the courthouse deserves to be treated with courtesy. Who knows but what courtesy contributes more than screening devices to courthouse security.
Murder mystery: Why was man flung out window of judge's apartment? "The mystery behind the murder of an executive, who was flung out of the 8th floor apartment of a Central Administrative Tribunal judge, today took a new turn with the judge telling the police that two intruders involved in the killing and in burgling the flat, had expressed their anger over a verdict against a suspended former police chief. Sadhna Srivastava, from whose flat Suresh Mahto, a senior executive of Tata Indicom, was pushed to death yesterday, has told the investigators that the two intruders had expressed displeasure over an adverse judgment passed by her against former Bihar DGP Narayan Mishra, police said. Mishra, who was quizzed by the police, has denied his involvement in the crime...." More (The Hindu 05.21.2007).
Judge in 11-year-long terror trial is constantly guarded. "Designated Tada judge Pramod Dattaram Kode goes to work every day in a bullet-proof [A]mbassador in the halo of Z-plus security. For over eleven years he has been presiding over Asia's longest terror trial and he hasn't missed a single day. Not even when his father expired a few years ago...The nature of the case is so sensitive that he is one of the most guarded men in the country. Forty-five men stand sentry. He never steps out of his New Marine Lines home except when he has to go to court or when he goes on his annual Shirdi visit...." More (Times of India 05.21.2007).
Federal judges threaten to move offices if parking garage is built next door. "A proposal by the city to build a parking garage within one foot of the federal courthouse in this city's downtown has provoked a strong and uncommonly public reaction from some judges, who say it would allow potential terrorists to get dangerously close to their courtrooms. The chief judge of the Federal District Court here, James G. Carr, and the chief judge of the District Bankruptcy Court, Randolph Baxter, warned in a letter to Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic that unless the city changed course, they would move their offices and courtrooms elsewhere...." More (NYT 05.20.2007). Comment. These days many judges, realizing what death and destruction a car bomb can cause, feel uncomfortable having parking ramps next to or directly under the courthouses in which they work. Perhaps judges in courthouses without full-time guards screening cars entering their ramps could make under-utilized law clerks and secretaries and clerks take turns doing security duty. Official-looking uniforms could be provided -- perhaps those spiffy martinet ones designed by Richard Nixon for White House guards, uniforms that were never or only briefly used, could be taken out of storage.
Black pastors rally around black judge accused of impropriety. "Five black ministers Thursday rallied around embattled Ingham County Circuit Judge Beverley Nettles-Nickerson. The judge, who also is black, is the subject of a 10-count complaint filed this week by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. Reading from a prepared statement inside Friendship Baptist Church in Lansing, Pastor Lester Stone characterized the judge as the victim of a public lynching...[The pastors] believe the complaint is unfair, in part because they said they believe it was filed in retaliation for public accusations Nettles-Nickerson made in January 2006 [that] Chief Circuit Judge William Collette discriminated against her because she is black. An independent investigator later found her allegations to be unfounded...." More (Lansing State Journal 05.18.2007).
Judge gets supremes to reverse order barring her from courthouse. "A Las Vegas judge barred from the bench for bringing private bodyguards to court won a temporary ruling Thursday from the Nevada Supreme Court letting her return to work. The high court ruling favored Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Halverson, who was barred by the chief judge, Kathy Hardcastle, for jeopardizing security by letting the bodyguards bypass security checkpoints at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas...." More (Las Vegas Sun 05.18.2007).
Courthouse tragedy. "Five newborn baby ducks peep-peep-peeped as they paddled alongside their mother in the fountain outside the Seminole County Courthouse on Thursday morning. It was a glorious day, one that judges and clerks and gun-toting deputies had long awaited. For four weeks, they had watched as the mama duck tended to the eggs in her nest in a fountain planter just outside the back door. The babies hatched Wednesday, and maintenance man Butch Housel spotted them in the water Thursday morning. It was their first swim. A small, adoring crowd gathered. But there was a problem: The babies couldn't get back into their nest. It was too high. Housel scooped them up and put them back, but they just jumped right back out, he said. So a call went out to Animal Services...." And then...tragedy. More (Orlando Sentinel 05.18.2007).
Gay judge to become TV judge. "Hollywood once again has raided the Miami-Dade Circuit Court bench. This fall, David Young will become the third local judge with a television show in syndication...Young is one of a small number of openly gay judges in the country. His partner of 12 years, Scott Bernstein, is a Miami-Dade Family Court judge. Young said he intends to be open about his sexuality on the show. 'But I don't want this to be the 'Gay Judge Show,' he said...." More (Miami Herald 05.18.2007). Comment. I wonder what the set will look like.
Nominating commission's attempt to hold meeting by conference call fails. "It's a good thing the phone went dead. On Tuesday night, the Judicial Nominating Commission tried to have a member vote via speakerphone as it began picking five finalists for a Superior Court vacancy. The phone connection kept getting lost, so Chairman Stephen J. Carlotti abandoned the effort...As it turns out, the state Open Meetings Law was amended in 2005 -- to explicitly prohibit public bodies from using telephones and conference calls to do anything other than schedule meetings...." More (Providence Journal 05.18.2007).
Judge in internet terrorism trial asks, 'What's a website?' "A British judge has admitted he was struggling to cope with basic terms like 'website' in the trial of three men accused of inciting terrorism via the internet. Judge Peter Openshaw broke into the questioning of a witness about awWeb forum used by alleged Islamist radicals. 'The trouble is I don't understand the language. I don't really understand what a website is,' he told a London court during the trial of three men charged under anti-terrorism laws...." More (Sydney Morning Herald 05.17.2007). Comment. That's okay. Any good common law judge is at heart a generalist. It's counsel's job to educate a judge and/or jury sufficiently in the specialized info/terms needed to determine the facts and apply common law and statutory law to the facts. A good judge is not afraid to let counsel know he needs enlightenment in this or that. What counsel ought to fear is the know-it-all judge who doesn't know the vastness of his ignorance. Update. The court's press office issued this explanation: "Trial judges always seek to ensure that everyone in court is able to follow all the proceedings. They will regularly ask questions -- not for their own benefit -- but on behalf of all those following a case, in the interests of justice. In this specific case, immediately prior to the judge's comment, the prosecution counsel had referred to various internet forums with postings of comments relevant to the case. Mr Justice Openshaw was simply clarifying the evidence presented, in an easily understandable form for all those in court. Mr Justice Openshaw is entirely computer literate and indeed has taken notes on his own computer for many years." For an opinion suggesting the judge was just a tad too clever at playing dumb, see, this column by Marcel Berlin. (Guardian 05.21.2007).
Is your name on the Lord Chancellor's 'secret list' of judges? "The Lord Chancellor has been forced to disclose that he holds a list of judges disciplined for misuse of their computers, including viewing pornography. The ruling on disclosure by Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, comes after Lord Falconer of Thoroton's ministry, the Department for Constitutional Affairs, refused to divulge the number and rank of judges and magistrates who have been disciplined. But Mr Thomas said: 'It is important for the public to know and be assured that the Lord Chancellor [now the Office for Judicial Complaints] thoroughly investigates each and every allegation of computer misuse by judges.'" More (UK Times 05.17.2007). Further reading. a) Judge apologizes, gets reprimand for viewing porn on court computer. b) My eccentric views on putting a scarlet letter on judges who view porn.
Newly-elected justice admits violation of judicial ethics code, agrees to pay fine. "Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice-elect Annette Ziegler has acknowledged she violated the state's conflict-of-interest law and agreed to pay $17,000, including a $5,000 fine, the Wisconsin Ethics Board announced Wednesday...." More (Wisconsin State Journal 05.17.2007).
Retired judge who was ripped-off finally gets new digs. "A retired judge who languished in a Bronx nursing home while his vast fortune dwindled under the care of court-appointed guardians finally left the facility yesterday, 21/2 years after being virtually locked up there and forbidden to receive visitors. John Phillips, 83, who was known in his days on the Brooklyn bench as the 'Kung Fu Judge' thanks to his interest in martial arts, walked out of the East Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Eastchester Road and into a waiting van...." More (N.Y. Post 05.17.2007).
Judge is suspended, locked out pending probe of claim she sold TPO's. "For allegedly selling temporary protection orders (TPOs) and several other complaints against her, a Makati RTC judge [Evelyn Arcaya-Chua] was ordered by Chief Justice Reynato Puno to be preventively suspended. The Chief Justice also ordered her court to be padlocked while an investigation and judicial audit of her sala are going on...." More (Manila Times 05.17.2007).
Old guitars and mandatory retirement of judges. "Guitar-makers, or luthiers, as they like to be known, have tried to isolate the magic in older instruments, only to find that it lies largely in age itself. Time transforms a guitar's materials. The wood grows stiffer and more resonant. The lacquer develops hairline cracks, relaxing its straitjacket grip on the wood. The magnets in pickups weaken and rust, deepening and mellowing the tone. A new guitar is like a novice choir: a gathering of disparate parts, held together under pressure, straining to carry the same tune. The more it's played, the more it settles into its true voice. The neck and body, joints and braces, bridge and fingerboard stop fighting one another and start to sing in unison." Burkhard Bilger, 'Struts and Frets,' The New Yorker, May 14, 2007, 79, 85. Further reading. BurtLaw on Mandatory Retirement of Judges.
Judges' 'war council.' "The judiciary last night set itself on a collision course with the Lord Chancellor when an unprecedented 'council of war' unanimously backed demands for constitutional safeguards to protect the position of judges under the Ministry of Justice. A crisis meeting convened to discuss the new ministry, attended by judges of all ranks, gave 'full backing' to the Lord Chief Justice and other senior judges who want safeguards to protect 'the independence of the judiciary' and 'proper administration of justice.'" More (UK Times 05.16.2007).
Family court judge to would-be pro se litigants: 'This is not television.' "After two hours spent riding herd over a parade of teenaged mothers, deadbeat parents and argumentative spouses, the last thing Judge Harvey Brownstone wanted to deal with was another unrepresented litigant raising a smorgasbord of legal issues. 'This isn't a grocery store where you can come and tell me what you want,' the exasperated Ontario Court judge said...The vignette illustrates a problem that is plaguing the courts, Judge Brownstone said in an interview outside the courtroom. Litigants weaned on TV shows such as Judge Judy and People's Court seem to believe just about anybody is capable of representing themselves in court...'They have chosen to represent themselves, partly because they watch too much television and see that nobody has a lawyer on Judge Judy. They feel they can tell their own story better than any advocate could. But this is not television....'" More (Globe and Mail 05.16.2007).
Chief judge irked at blog postings. "The chief-judge-for-life doesn't much like the criticism of his regime that's busting out in the blogosphere. Undermines the judiciary, Broward Chief Judge Dale Ross complained...The judge's words were reminiscent of his letter published in The Herald last September complaining that one of my columns was undermining his judiciary...I had called the Broward judiciary a cabal of 'bubba judges' who maintained a good-ol'-boy system of cronyism usually associated with courthouses in unsophisticated rural backwaters...." From a column by Fred Grimm. More (Miami Herald 05.15.2007).
Comment. Without specific reference to this case and speaking generally, we've noted that whereas Presidents who are criticized over unpopular, unnecessary wars tend to claim the criticism aids the enemy, judges under fire seem prone to claim the attacks are undermining judicial independence. Check the speeches on judicial independence -- rarely do judicial orators bother to mention judicial accountability, which is the interdependent siamese twin of judicial independence. BTW, the blog, which we've linked to before, is located here.
Annals of judicial accountability. "The Saskatchewan Party called on NDP Justice Minister Frank Quennell Monday to make public the allegations that have led to the suspension of a provincial court judge [Prince Albert Judge Terry Bekolay] who will be subject to an inquiry...After raising the issue in question period, [Opposition justice critic Don] Morgan told reporters that Quennell should disclose the allegations because the 'rumour mill is running rampant in Prince Albert.'" More (Saskatoon Star-Phoenix 05.15.2007). Update. The judge has resigned, and the inquiry into who-knows-what apparently comes to an end. More (Saskatoon Star-Phoenix 05.21.2007).
Too many judges? "A yet uncompleted analysis of the Justice Ministry indicates that the Czech Republic has too many judges, though Czech courts are criticised for protracted proceedings both home and abroad, the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes today. The Czech Republic has the highest number of judges per 100,000 inhabitants in the European Union, but its courts work slower than those in advanced countries, the paper writes...." More (Prague Daily Monitor 05.15.2007).
Former supremes claim death-row inmates not properly represented. "Three former Alabama Supreme Court justices are asking the country's highest court to hear the case of Alabama death row inmates who say they don't have adequate legal representation, but the state is arguing the inmates' claim is 'a work of fiction.'" More (Montgomery Advertiser 05.15.2007).
Judge is described as 'hopping mad' when told there's no room at the inn. "Supreme Court Judge Al-marie Sinclair-Haynes was hopping mad yesterday when she issued a stern warning that, unless suitable accommodation was provided for her, she was not going to preside in the West-moreland Circuit Court. The judge explained in court that she journeyed from Kingston to Westmoreland Sunday night only to find she had nowhere to stay...." More (Jamaica Gleaner 05.15.2007). Update. "[T]he Honourable Mrs. Justice A. Haynes...has done a great service to her colleagues and to Jamaica. The fact is that this incident with the learned judge's accommodation is symptomatic of the indignities which have, over the decades, been heaped on the judicial system in general and our judges in particular." From a letter to the editor by a lawyer. More (Jamaica Gleaner 05.23.2007).
Thieves attempt to steal courthouse ATM. "Arlington police were investigating whether an automated teller machine theft at a store Monday was connected to an attempted theft of a cash machine minutes earlier at a Tarrant County sub-courthouse...." More (Dallas Morning-News 05.15.2007).
Was judge banned from resort for allegedly sexual harassing masseuse? "A Memphis judge is banned from a Florida resort. He's accused of sexually harassing an employee. Eyewitness News Everywhere uncovered this is not the first time Criminal Court Judge Fred Axley has been accused of sexual harassment...On Wednesday, the Okaloosa Sheriff's Department was called to the Silver Shells Beach Resort in Destin[, Florida,] because of Axley. He was not arrested, but he was given a written trespassing warning. On it, a manager at the resort said 'this subject is barred permanently for sexual harassment of employees.'" More (ABC 24 Eyewitness News Memphis 05.15.2007). Update. Judge Axley announces retirement (Memphis Flyer 06.06.2007).
Honoring a judge by planting an oak. "While leaving Sunday services at St. Anne's Episcopal Church, landscape architects Eric Groft and his wife Shelley Rentsch noticed that the county courthouse courtyard seemed a bit bare, especially after a linden tree had come down. They decided to honor a friend with the gift of a tree in that location, and after working with various city and county officials over seven months, they fulfilled their wish. A 18-foot-tall, 3-year-old willow oak was planted Friday morning in the courtyard in memory of the late Judge Warren Duckett...'It'll grow about 60 feet tall, right in front of the window where the judge's office used to be,' Mr. Groft said...." More (Hometown Annapolis 05.13.2007).
Cardinal of Catholic church urges judges to forego salary hikes. "Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez has told the Accounts Chamber judges that they should give up their [recent salary hikes] which he said were unjustified in a country where most workers earn low wages...." More (Dominican Today 05.13.2007).
Did SCOTUS get taken in by a video? "The Supreme Court recently rendered a decision based on watching a video -- and in so doing fell for a trick that has been seducing moviegoers for more than a century. The court's decision in Scott v. Harris holds that a Georgia police officer did not violate a fleeing suspect's Fourth Amendment rights when he caused the suspect's car to crash, rendering the suspect a quadriplegic. The court's decision relies almost entirely on the filmed version of the high-speed police chase...It may be the first time...that the Supreme Court has disregarded all other evidence and anointed the film version of the disputed events as the truth. In [so doing], the court fell into a dangerous and common trap of believing -- to the point of enshrining in our law -- that film captures reality...." From an interesting op/ed piece by Jessica Silbey, who is an assistant professor of law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. More (Baltimore Sun 05.13.2007).
GOP judge upset at $2,300 donation in his name to Democratic campaign. "Matt Johnson started his day Monday by fielding a phone call from a friend who was wondering why the Republican judge had donated $2,300 to Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson. A Tribune-Herald story that day had listed a group of Waco residents who had donated to various presidential candidates and there was a Matt Johnston among the donors...He did a little digging, searching Richardson's donations on the Federal Election Commission Web site. What he found was more troubling. There is no explanation for why his name was misspelled, but the person who donated the money listed Johnson's previous residence in the 1500 block of Northcrest Drive for the address and listed 'self-employed' and 'attorney' as employer and occupation...." More (Waco Tribune Herald 05.13.2007). Comment. The investigation continues. The judge wants to make it clear he hasn't donated money to any presidential campaigns. Is it all a mistake? Or is it a mean practical joke played on him by someone -- sort of like someone's entering a judge's chambers and using his computer to access porn sites, leaving a hidden digital record behind, or someone's subscribing to a subscription to Playboy in the judge's name so that the issues will arrive at the court's mailroom and be spotted by court personnel. Update. Richardson confirms judge's claim, apologizes (Waco Tribune Herald 05.15.2007).
Complaint alleges supreme court justice went too far in trying to protect son. "Like any father, Roberto A. Rivera-Soto loves his son and does not want him to get hurt. But Mr. Rivera-Soto is a New Jersey Supreme Court justice, and he now faces an ethics complaint charging that he abused his position when he contacted several local officials in an attempt to help his son, who was having trouble with a teammate on his high school football team. In a rare action against a member of New Jersey's highest court, the state's Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, which filed the complaint on Friday, accused Justice Rivera-Soto of violating court rules...His lawyer, Bruce P. McMoran, said the justice broke no rules and acted reasonably. 'He's a father, and he acted like a father,' Mr. McMoran said...." More (New York Times 05.12.2007). Comment. A judge as father ought to be able to complain to school officials if someone at school is harming his son. The issue is whether the judge, by identifying himself to school officials as a judge, etc., tried to use his judicial position to get action.
Updates. Panel recommends censure (San Diego Union Tribune 07.11.2007); SCOTNJ, 5-0, upholds censure (NYT 07.21.2007). Comment. This being a teachable moment, I note that one of the mistakes the judge made was giving police his court business card in what was a personal matter. In all the years I worked for the state supreme court, I wisely never had the court provide me with any of the court business cards, which, if I recall correctly, carried an expensive gold-embossed state seal and were pretty impressive. Too impressive. And too tempting to use improperly to impress. And pretty vivid evidence to be introduced against one in a case like this. Sadly, I think at times, there ought to be a wall of separation between personal and judicial that is greater than that between church and state. Yale Law School Professor Charles Reich, in his 1976 autobiography, The Sorcerer of Bolinas Reef, distinguishes between a lawyer's "professional" or "public" self and his "real" self. Splitting one's self in this way can have significant adverse emotional and inter-personal consequences, as Reich and others point out, but failing to maintain a separation of the two can also have adverse professional consequences. As readers of this blog know, it is the "real" self that gets the "public" self in trouble every bit as much as the demands of the "public" self gets the "real" self in trouble.
Legislating judicial accountability. "Parties involved in civil lawsuits would receive information explaining judicial ethics rules and how to review judges' financial holdings under a bill approved by the [Wisconsin] Senate today...The bill would require court clerks to give people information spelling out when judges are required to recuse themselves. The document also would explain how to request a list of a judge's stock holdings and other income sources...." More (WBAY 05.10.2007).
Judge wants ex-wife's allegations in custody matter stricken. "District Court Judge Brad Allen says allegations made by his ex-wife are inadmissible in court and should be stricken from the public record. In a motion filed in Alamance County Superior Court earlier this week, Allen contends that an affidavit, which his ex-wife filed as part of an ongoing child custody and child support proceeding, is invalid because most of her allegations were prefaced with the phrase 'upon information and belief.' In his two-page response to the 15-page affidavit, Allen contends that affidavits are based on personal knowledge and cannot rely on information provided by others, which is what the phrase means...." More (Burlington Times-News - North Carolina 05.10.2007). Comment. Without reference to the specific facts of this case, one ought in general take all allegations in divorce, custody, family feuds, etc., as being just that, allegations, not proven facts. How respond if you're in the public eye? Many just grin and bear it. I know of a case in which a family member filed papers in a probate matter making blatantly false and defamatory statements against a public official. What did he do in response? Turned the other cheek.
Bulletin! Bare-bellied co-eds may face judicial action! "Several female students at Framingham State College are accused of stealing about one-thousand copies of the student newspaper, apparently because they thought they looked fat in a front page picture...The color photo in The Gatepost shows seven female students at a women's lacrosse game wearing tank tops and shorts with the name of a player spelled out on their bare bellies...." More (WHDH 05.10.2007). Comment. To my superannuated eyes, the babes' bellies look great.
Annals of judicial campaign supporters. From a letter by a supporter of a candidate for judicial office: "Tom Lonardo, my brother-in-law, is a brilliant man with a photographic memory. He knows law; he talks law, as well as eats and sleeps law. Because of his sharp mind and his compassion for victims, he will make sure criminals stay off the street. With Tom as a judge in Lehigh County, victims and survivors will not have to go through tortuous appeal processes because of judges' errors...He would be the people's judge...." More (Allentown Morning Call Online 05.10.2007). Comment. No more judicial error, no more time and money wasted on "tortuous" appeals! Who is that masked man wearing the black cape?!
Judge uses doggerel to silence squabbling attorneys. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin, Texas, in Keystone Media International LLC vs. David B. Hancock, used doggerel to deal with attorneys squabbling over a deposition. It is quoted in full in the St. Petersburg Times and ends with these lines:
So, let me tell you both and be abundantly clear:
If you can't work this without me, I will be near.
There will be a hearing with pablum to eat
And a very cool cell where you can meet
AND WORK OUT YOUR INFANTILE PROBLEM WITH THE DEPOSITION.
Annals of high-profile trials -- herein of the 'D.C. madam.' "Star defense attorney Preston Burton was appointed yesterday to defend 'D.C. madam' Deborah Jeane Palfrey in federal court. (Palfrey, who has lost most of her assets to government seizure, had recently fired the public defender assigned to her case.)...How did he end up doing legal aid? The judge asked him...." More (Slate 05.09.2007).
Those defendants who stand before you accused of crime. "More than half of all defendants that appear before NSW courts suffer from mental illness or drug addiction according to a report released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research...." More (AHN - Australia 05.09.2007).
Annals of judicial illnesses and conditions -- Parkinson's. "Some court reporters and attorneys who appear before [Lee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph] Simpson, who suffers from Parkinson's disease-like symptoms, are concerned his condition is affecting his speech, hampering their ability to record and transcribe cases and to defend clients...." More (Fort Myers News-Press 05.09.2007). Update. Judge is taking speech-therapy classes and will wear lapel microphone (Fort Myers News-Press 05.18.2007).
Judge, judge, please don't leave us. "When 61-year-old Judge Crispin B. Bravo announced his early retirement to his Metropolitan Trial Court staff just before the end of 2006 he didn't know that 21 members of his legal staff, lawyers and other judges would sign a petition asking him to reconsider...." More (Adventist News Network 05.09.2007). Comment. This is a Walter Mitty Fantasy of many judges -- to be missed after retirement. Other such Walter Mitty judicial fantasies? a) To be recognized as a celebrity by ordinary people when shopping, robeless, at the mall. b) To be as respected by one's kids as much as one seemingly is respected by sycophantic staff members, attorneys, etc. c) To be in attendance at one's own memorial service and hear scores of eulogists say things like, "This was a man!" d) To be paid as much as attorneys are paid at the big silk-stocking law firms. e) To hear a lecturer at a CLE course speak of one of one's opinions as "Holmsean." f) To argue in dissent that the guy is obviously innocent and then to have one's opinion vindicated ten years later by the Innocence Project. g) To get a call from the President's counsel for judicial appointments. h) To have Harvard Law Review devote a special issue to one's jurisprudence. i) To get a call from the producers of Judge Judy saying she's retiring and they have only one person in mind to replace her. j) To have one's kids make it through adolescence without being arrested and through college without getting put on academic probation. k) To get asked to write one's memoirs. l) To write a dissent to a circulating opinion and get all the other judges to sign on to the dissent, including the author of the circulating majority opinion. m) To spend a three-day weekend at the Fall's Motel with....
Former appellate judge is subject of a criminal summons. "Former state Court of Appeals judge David Barber of Prestonsburg has been named in a criminal summons by Floyd County school officials, charging him with second-degree criminal trespass. Floyd County Attorney Keith Bartley said yesterday Barber allegedly went into Prestonsburg High School last week 'unlawfully with the intention of having two minors engage in a fight.'" More (WKYT - Kentucky 05.09.2007). Comment. Apparently the allegation has something to do with a dispute his son was having with another student over a girl. See, Walter Mitty Fantasy j) above. A judge as parent is just an ordinary parent, just as prone to over-reacting when his kid is involved as any other parent. We hope the former judge will be cut the same slack any other parent would/should be cut.
Annals of judicial buildings. "The Alabama House voted Tuesday to spend up to $7.5 million to repair leaks and do other maintenance on the state judicial building...." More (Decatur Daily 05.09.2007).
Comment. The building is only 14 years old!
Someone wants to blow up the judge's house 'real good.' "Police arrested a man in northern Vietnam for attempting to blow up the house of a judge four times with homemade bombs after the judge ruled against him in a land dispute last year...." More (Thanhnien News 05.09.2007). Comment. In case you missed it, the headline's allusion is to one of the popular recurring sketches on the great SCTV, specifically: "Farm Film Report aka Farm Film Celebrity Blow-Up: Two hicks named Big Jim McBob (Flaherty) and Billy Sol Hurok (Billie Sol Estes and Sol Hurok, played by Candy) interviewed celebrities and ultimately encouraged them to 'blow up' (creating the catch-phrase '...blow'd up good, blow'd up real good!'). Exploded guests included Dustin Hoffman, David Steinberg (both played by Short), Bernadette Peters (Martin) and Neil Sedaka (Levy)." More (Wikipedia - Second City Television 05.09.2007).
Annals of free speech: defamation and public officials. "[Massachusetts'] highest court upheld a $2.01 million libel verdict against the Boston Herald yesterday in a sharply worded decision calling the newspaper's 2002 articles about Superior Court Judge Ernest B. Murphy 'defamatory and false.' The stories portrayed Murphy as soft on crime and generated widespread outrage by quoting anonymous sources as saying that the New Bedford jurist had declared of a 14-year-old rape victim, 'Tell her to get over it.'" More (Boston Globe 05.08.2007). Comment. I hope the newspaper gets SCOTUS to review the case on First Amendment grounds.
Judges who think they should be beyond criticism. "When judges talk about threats to judicial independence, which is constantly, they sometimes make important points about the value of the rule of law in a democracy. Other times they are looking for a pay raise. But lately, more and more, they seem to be saying their work should be above criticism. They have been lashing out at lawyers and even other judges who say harsh things about their decisions. ..." From Adam Liptak's "sidebar" titled A Bit of Thin Skin Peeks Out of the Robes (N.Y. Times 05.07.2007).
Pot-smoking judge pleads guilty, apologizes. "A Broward County judge [Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda] apologized in court Monday for smoking marijuana in a Hollywood, Fla., park, cutting a deal on his misdemeanor drug case but leaving his judicial career in jeopardy...." More (Ledger 05.08.2007).
A suspended chief judge's Walter Mitty fantasy come true. "The suspended chief judge of Pakistan told thousands of cheering supporters Sunday that dictatorship was a thing of the past and that states which ignored the rule of law and basic rights got destroyed. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry arrived in the eastern city of Lahore after tens of thousands of supporters turned out to greet him as he traveled by road from Islamabad. The trip normally takes four hours but took him more than 20...." More (IHT 05.06.2007).
Judge is disciplined for 'passing' on some traffic tickets. "The Mississippi Supreme Court has suspended Union Municipal Judge Benton Rex Gordon Jr. for 30 days for fixing 14 traffic tickets in his court...Gordon said it is unfortunate he was suspended, but that his actions were in response to what he thought was an unfair way of issuing the traffic tickets. 'There was a situation where people were getting stopped, and some got tickets and some didn't and I didn't think that was fair...Either you give a ticket to all or don't give a ticket to any.' Gordon told [the issuing officer] that he intended to 'pass' all of the citations to the files and issue warning letters to the defendants instead...." More (Jackson Clarion-Ledger 05.05.2007). Comment. This is not what one commonly thinks of when I think of "fixing" tickets. The judge's error, I guess, was that he didn't wait until those ticketed appeared in court and contested the fairness of the process that led to the issuance of tickets. Further reading. Judges judged on handling of traffic tickets - Procedures may be changing in Dakota County, where some judges have settled cases in an informal manner (Minneapolis Star-Tribune 05.04.2007).
Judge tells drinker hamburger would have slowed absorption of booze. "It may have been a tongue-in-cheek, eyebrow-raising comment, but 'old drinker' Judge Barry Morris seems to know what he was talking about. During a sentencing this week, Judge Morris asked Hastings drink driver Peter Brittin whether he had 'problem with grog or was it just a night out drinking?' 'Take a tip from one old drinker to another. Have a dinkum old-style hamburger first -- not the modern ones.' Massey University nutritionist John Birkbeck said yesterday Judge Morris was correct in his advice to Brittin..." More (New Zealand Herald 05.05.2007).
Judge is charged with misconduct for criticizing colleague in written opinion. "For daring to question the ethics of a fellow judge, 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Michael E. Allen is facing formal misconduct charges...In charges filed with the Florida Supreme Court, the [state's judicial qualifications] commission said that by criticizing Judge Charles J. Kahn Jr. in a written court opinion, Allen could 'impair the confidence of the citizens of this state in the integrity of the judicial system.'...The charges against Allen stem from a June 28, 2006, court decision affirming the bribery conviction and prison sentence given former Sen. W.D. Childers...A three-judge panel headed by Kahn voted 2-1 to overturn the conviction...Over Kahn's vehement objections, the full appeal court reconsidered the case and voted 10-4 to uphold the conviction...." More (St. Petersburg Times 05.04.2007). Further reading. Judicial rift surfaces (St. Petersburg Times 04.11.2007). Speaker of House opens investigation of Judge Kahn (St. Petersburg Times 12.08.2006). Judge Kahn gives up role as chief in face of revolt by fellow judges (St. Petersburg Times 11.18.2006). Comment. The JQC said Judge Allen should have reported his belief to the commission rather than stating it in the opinion. I think the JQC is wrong. Allen, as judge of a multi-judge appeals court, may have breached one's notion of colleageal ettiquette in criticizing in an opinion a fellow judge's failure to recuse, but I don't believe what he did constitutes judicial "misconduct."
A judge's $65 million lawsuit against immigrant cleaners over lost pants. In May of 2005 a District of Columbia administrative hearings judge, Roy Pearson, took some suits in to The Chungs, immigrant dry cleaners from South Korea, for alteration. When one pair of pants went temporarily missing, the judge demanded he be reimbursed over $1,000, the price of the suit. Two days later the Chungs found the pants and refused to pay. The judge sued, representing himself. The Chungs have offered to settle on three occasions - the last offer being $12,000. But the judge wants $65 million: a) consequential damages of $15,000, which he says is the price to rent a car every weekend for 10 years to drive to another cleaner; b) statutory penalties, pursuant to the D.C. consumer protection law, of $1,500 per violation, per day or 12 violations over 1,200 days, multiplied by the three Chungs. The judge "has appointed himself to represent all customers affected" by what he terms the Chungs' "fraud," a claim based on some signs promising satisfaction and "same-day service." A former National Labors Relations Board chief administrative law judge, Melvin Welles, is quoted in The Washington Post urging "any bar to which Mr. Pearson belongs to immediately disbar him and the District to remove him from his position as an administrative law judge." More (Washington Post 05.03.2007). Comment. Why wear (wear out!) expensive suit pants sitting on the bench? Try our innovative BurtLaw Judge-Endorsed Bench Pants. Updates. a) In an admirable and touchingly conciliatory gesture, the judge has reduced his claim from $67 million to $54 million. More (Washington Post 06.06.2007). b) Judge breaks down while testifying in support of his claim. More (Washington Post 06.12.2007). c) Some scenes from the trial (Washington Post 06.18.2007). d) Judge rules against judge (Washington Post 06.26.2007).
Attorney files judicial conduct complaint alleging judge made racist remarks. A 29-year-old black Dallas attorney, Nuru Witherspoon, says 18-year-veteran Tarrant County Judge R. Brent Keis made racially-insensitive comments last month during a hearing on a personal injury claim filed by Witherspoon's clients against an insurer based on a traffic accident. When Witherspoon introduced himself, the judge allegedly asked him the origin of his first name, Nuru, and Witherspoon said it was African but he was not from Africa. The judge then allegedly said "that he thought slavery and the Middle Passage made my people better athletes," that "weak slaves were thrown overboard and never made it to the Americas." Witherspoon also alleges the judge made inappropriate statements in giving what the judge says is his standard spiel to litigants, that a trial is like a roulette wheel but that "if [plaintiffs] want to 'bet on black,' it's [your] choice." The judge says he should have said "You can bet on red." He says the conversation about athletics was "off-the-cuff" and Witherspoon misunderstood his comments as racist. More (Houston Chronicle 05.03.2007).
Judge acquits city manager of charges stemming from using ladies restroom. "An Allegheny County Common Pleas judge has agreed with Carnegie Manager Stephen Vincenti that his use of the ladies restroom in the municipal building last spring was an innocent mistake. Judge Robert C. Gallo found Mr. Vincenti not guilty of one count each of defiant trespass and disorderly conduct April 25 for using a second-floor ladies' restroom instead of the adjacent men's restroom on May 1, 2006...." More (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 05.03.2007). Comment. In the spring of 1966, while I was a 2L at Harvard Law living in Ames Hall, a male residence hall (there were no co-ed dorms in those days), I was in the men's room one weekend night minding my own business when an attractive young woman who presumably was on a date with one of my dorm mates emerged from one of the stalls. I must have looked surprised because she said something about "In Europe, all the bathrooms are co-educational." My quick beer-influenced reply, "What's 'educational' about going to the bathroom?" Needless to say, I never thought of reporting the incident or filing a complaint.
Chief judge is removed over altercation at daughter's softball game. "[In Kykotsmovi, Arizona t]he Hopi Tribal Council met in special session Tuesday and voted 11-6-3 to terminate the employment of Hopi Tribal Court Chief Judge Gary LaRance for cause following his arrest April 14 on disorderly conduct and assault and battery charges... The altercation and assault consisted of yelling and a physical fight, which reportedly caused both teams to lose concentration and resulted in spectators who witnessed the confrontation stepping in to break up the fight, the complaint states...." More (Gallup Independent - New Mexico 05.03.2007).
Ex-judge is sued for back taxes. "The federal government has sued former state District Judge Hector Villarreal for tax evasion, accusing him of owing more than a $1 million since 1993...." More (The McAllen Monitor - Texas 05.03.2007).
Annals of judicial fisticuffs. "A Lancaster County district judge pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of misconduct for twice punching a police officer during a June 10 altercation. In a deal worked out just prior to a hearing in Harrisburg before the state's Judicial Conduct Board, District Judge Maynard A. 'Bud' Hamilton, whose district covers Pequea, Strasburg and West Lampeter townships and Strasburg Borough, admitted punching Sgt. Robert Buser of Southern Regional Police Department at a golf course...." More (Lancaster Online - Pennsylvania 05.03.2007). Comment. The story contains excerpts from the detailed complaint. The dispute apparently began at the courthouse and erupted into a physical altercation at a birthday party for a mutual friend at the golf course. We hope the board goes easy on the judge. Like every dog, every judge deserves at least one bite before he's sent off to the metaphorical pound.
Ye olde courthouse bar, restaurant and beauty salon. "Plans to convert Peebles' former court building into a bar, restaurant and beauty salon have been approved by Scottish Borders Council...." More (BBC News 05.02.2007).
Judge lashes out at 'fake lawyer.' "'Ons skrik vir niks (we are scared of nothing)' was the advertising slogan of alleged 'fake attorney' Marthinus Gouws. Yet there was little of that tough veneer to Gouws when he was ordered into the witness box during a murder trial and hauled over the coals by Judge Siraj Desai for allegedly fleecing R11 050 from the disadvantaged parents of a young murder accused...." More (Independent - South Africa 05.02.2007).
Expert: sleeping judges need help, not dismissal from service. "Author Professor Ron Grunstein, head of sleep and circadian research at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, [has] condemned an Australian case in which a New South Wales District Court judge was forced to retire after media reports of his [on-the-bench] sleeping habits...Prof Grunstein argues that occupational sleepiness in white-collar workplaces such as courtrooms and hospitals is a serious issue [but] not uncommon. The specialist examined 15 cases of judicial sleepiness, including the Dodd case and others involving The Hague War Crimes Tribunal and US Supreme Court. He condemned Judge Dodd's dismissal...." More (Sydney Herald-Sun 05.02.2007). Comment. For some of my views on judicial napsters, click here.
First drug courts, then gambling courts -- why not pickleball courts? "When the city of Cadillac asked residents what kind of recreational activities they would like, many requested pickleball courts. The sport, which is popular with senior citizens in the south, is growing in popularity more and more up north. 'I received about 12 requests (for the rec plan), and half of them were from seniors requesting pickleball courts,' said Cadillac Area Community Director Jerry Adams...." More (Cadellac News 05.02.2007).
Search sought of Elysee Palace in inquiry into judge's death. "Two judges tried to enter and search France's presidential palace on Wednesday in an inquiry linked to the death of a French judge in Djibouti in 1995, judicial sources said. The attempted search...occurred as outgoing President Jacques Chirac held his last cabinet meeting. The judges arrived with police officers and experts but were not immediately granted access to the African affairs department they were hoping to search...Djibouti authorities initially said [Judge Bernard] Borrel, who had been working as a consultant to the country's Justice Ministry, had committed suicide, but his widow has accused high-ranking local officials of involvement in the murder of her husband...." More (The Scotsman 05.02.2007).
Impoverished judges hold rally for pay boost. "Judges stood on the steps of Bronx Supreme Court yesterday asking for justice -- in their paychecks. The more than 60 men and women wearing their black robes noted that they have not gotten a salary increase in nine years...." More (N.Y. Post 05.02.2007). Comment. Our hearts go out to the impoverished judges, who are paid only $136,700 and are demanding a pay hike of only 21%.
Chief criminal judge requests transfer over allegations he used acronym 'NHI.' "[Broward County] Criminal Administrative Chief Judge Charles Greene -- who has been on the bench for nearly two decades -- [has] requested [a] transfer one day after Public Defender Howard Finkelstein asked the county's chief judge to remove him for using the acronym 'NHI,' which Finkelstein said stands for 'no humans involved.' The pejorative phrase...dates back to the 1970s and was used to describe why some crimes against prostitutes, gays or blacks may not be pursued as vigorously as those with white victims, Finkelstein said. The case he was presiding over involved black victims, a black defendant and a black witness...." More (Miami Herald 05.02.2007). Further reading. "Chief Judge Dale Ross on Friday announced his decision to invite Shahrukh S. Dhanji of the state's Commission on Human Relations to help the circuit address diversity and human-relations concerns." More (Sun-Herald 05.05.2007). Comment. Some of the Broward judges are complaining about JAABLOG, a blawg (law blog) that Broward "defense attorneys last year started chronicling courthouse issues...with reports of judges' impatient and condescending behavior among the top issues." Id. Update. Judge Greene is cleared of wrongdoing (Miami Herald 07.04.2007).
You be the judge. "The 'You be the Judge' event is giving people in Cheadle, Stockport the chance to hear real cases and decide on the sentence they feel fits the crime...[C]ases are being presented to the panel, made up of residents from the area, by a crown court judge, magistrates and other members of the criminal justice system. All cases are real but have key elements changed to protect the identities of those involved. After the sentencing decisions are made, the judge will read out the real verdict and explain how the decisions were reached...." More (BBC News 05.02.2007).
Judicial norms in Pakistan -- the good old days. "After Shahabuddin became judge of the high court, Aziz, a practising lawyer at the time, went to see him at his residence. He was surprised to see that Shahabuddin ha[d] become pale and frail. When he asked the reason behind his falling health, the judge replied that after his induction in the judiciary, he ha[d] stopped meeting people and going to any function and ha[d] no social life...Sajjad's grandfather Mohammad Sharif became high court judge in 1945. At the time, the judges were allowed to attend only two official functions organised to welcome and bid farewell to the governor general. Sharif used to often find fault with his son-in-law, also a superior court judge, when the latter would go to different functions and would take part even in poetry competitions. 'The judge should keep himself away from such engagements,' the elderly man would say...." From an interesting background piece by Tariq Butt titled "A Tale of Two Judges," on the judicial crisis in Pakistan. Focusing on the behavior of the embattled Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the author says that the judicial norms against engaging in media hype, meeting with members of the other branches of government, etc., "have undergone drastic changes" -- not for the better -- in recent years. More (The News - Pakistan 05.01.2007).
China reports detained judge died in cell of 'adult sudden death syndrome.' "A judge charged with corruption died in his cell from 'adult sudden death syndrome,' Xinhua news agency has reported. Investigators said that Li Chaoyang, 38, had been unco-operative while in detention in Xing'an county in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south-western China. 'Cuts on his face and other injuries' had been caused by a fall during an escape attempt, they said...Shi Shaosen, head of the Guilin municipal law enforcement supervisory section and chief investigator in the case, said the prisoner had not been maltreated...." More (The Age - Australia 04.30.2007). Comment. Believing in balance and fairness, we have no hesitancy in giving the same full faith and credit to the news agency's report that the judge was "mentally unstable" and not subject to coercive interrogation as we would give to a similar report by the White House regarding the death by "adult sudden death syndrome" of one of the detainees at Gitmo.
Judge, a supreme court wannabe, is landlord of problem apartments. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story yesterday about Common Pleas Court Judge Willis W. Berry Jr., who hopes to serve on the troubled PA Supreme Court. Berry, it appears, owns eleven rental properties in north Philly and has not been doing a super job of maintaining some of them. It also appears he's been running his business from chambers: "There's a sign on the door [of one unit]: 'For Rent, 215-683-7124.' Dial the number and the phone rings in the [judge's] chamber[s]." More (Philadelphia Inquirer 04.29.2007). Related. Judge's public office, staff used for personal business (Philadelphia Inquirer 04.29.2007). Comment. Might this all be the result of judges being dramatically underpaid? It would seem possible. The Inquirer reports: "Berry, who is paid $152,000 a year as a judge, also said financing the repairs had been a problem: 'I can't seem to borrow no money,' he said." (For my views on judicial pay, see, Ten out of 10 pundits agree: Chief's Report on paltry pay was appalling and included links.)
Toilet in Palace of Justice is found clogged with 30 pounds of marijuana. "Courthouse maintenance workers responding to a complaint about a clogged toilet found 14 kilograms (30 pounds) of hashish in a pipe leading from a restroom used by prisoners, officials said Monday...." More (IHT 04.30.2007).
Judge whose estate has been mismanaged may be released from nursing home. "A state Supreme Court judge took matters into his own hands yesterday in the guardianship matter of retired Judge John Phillips, who has been languishing in a Bronx nursing home for two years while a battery of attorneys wrangle over his mismanaged estate. At a hearing yesterday, state Supreme Court Justice Michael Pesce gave his tentative approval of plans for Phillips to move into Castle Senior Living, an assisted living facility on Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn -- pending approval from Phillips' niece and personal guardian, Symphanie Moss...." More (Brooklyn Daily Eagle 04.30.2007).
Annals of judicial selection: the secret commission process. "The secret process of applying for a judicial appointment is an arduous one that begins with a lengthy application and ends, with luck, in the governor's office. Applicants are culled by Sharon Majors-Lewis, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's judicial appointments adviser. If the applicant has the required 10 years of legal practice, she said, they are usually vetted with a local judicial selection advisory committee made up of members of the Monterey County Bar Association. Majors-Lewis said members of that committee are kept confidential so they won't be lobbied...." Those selected by that committee go to the state bar association's judicial nominee evaluation committee. There are 38 members but only four or five of the 38 evaluate any one applicant's papers and references, and only one or two interview the applicant. The committee then ranks them and conveys the rankings to the governor's office. The governor's adviser makes recommendations. The governor may ignore the rankings. The names of unsuccessful applicants aren't revealed. More (Monterey County Herald 04.29.2007). Comment. Sounds like a judicial selection process that is of the bar association, by the bar association, and for the bar association. We prefer the long-standing Minnesota Plan, with the ultimate authority for selecting (and not just confirming) judges resting where it belongs, out in the open, with the People.
When a judge appears on TV antiques show with a valuable court document. "When an appraiser told retired judge Bruce Chandler on national TV that a 1976 affidavit signed by then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter could be worth $5,000 or more, tongues throughout Maine legal circles began to wag. The affidavit was part of Carter's successful legal challenge to Maine's decision to identify Carter as 'James Earl Carter' on the 1976 presidential ballot rather than his better-known moniker, 'Jimmy.' Chandler got ahold of the one-page legal document because he represented Carter's campaign in Kennebec County Superior Court while working as a lawyer for the Maine Democratic Party." The judge reportedly told PBS's Antiques Roadshow, "This was an exhibit that was entered into evidence in the hearing we had. When the hearing concluded, I simply asked the judge if I could have his permission to substitute a copy for the original. No problem. It's done all the time in lawsuits and so, as a result, I have the original. It's hung on the wall of my office for a while and it's just been a family keepsake." More (Kennebec Journal 04.29.2007). Comments. a) My tongue is not wagging. I take the judge's explanation at face value. b) The judge's appearance on the show has spurred a debate in Maine about the importance of uniform practices in the maintenance of court records.
'Save our courthouse.' "A crowd gathered at the county courthouse Saturday despite the chilly and overcast morning, frequently applauding and raising their voices to echo a sentiment posted on a nearby sign: 'Don't tread on the courthouse.' A trio of speakers -- including an impersonator of the 1884 building's long-dead architect -- spoke on behalf of saving the structure slated by county officials to be totally or partially razed." More (Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune - Ohio 04.29.2007). 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 old courtroom in the courthouse was, I believe, cut up to make smaller courtrooms, and a not-attractive-to-my-eyes jailhouse addition to the courthouse was built. The wonderful Railroad Park was diminished in size to provide more downtown parking. The destruction of each historic building is one more reason for me not to go home again -- except in memory. But people around the country are showing there are alternatives to tearing down beloved old public buildings. Any community that wants to save historic main streets, promote restoration rather than teardowns (& the obscene McMansions that replace them), etc., should contact former-Minnesotan & former-Mondale-aide Richard Moe and his staff at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a terrific organization. Too bad the folks in my hometown didn't have the wisdom to do that. But, wait! It's never too late to start afresh. I'm thinking of the historic second-floor Benson Opera House, which, last I heard, was used for storage by its private owners. Perhaps funds could be obtained to purchase and restore it.
Judge to take four-month leave for hip replacement. "Dodge County Circuit Judge Daniel Klossner is taking a four-month medical leave of absence for hip replacement surgery. Klossner says he needs the operation to correct an injury he sustained during the Vietnam War...." More (WKBT - Wisconsin 04.29.2007). Comment. We've got an idea. Why not schedule a month for the surgery and post-op, then work for a year, take a month off for the next stage of recovery, work another year, take... -- that approach would minimize the disruption to the judicial process. It's our way of supporting the goal of Better Justice Through Smart Professional Judicial Administration. Seriously, we wish the judge well.
Former P.M. is acquitted of judicial bribery. "Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian billionaire, media magnate and former president, has been acquitted of judge bribery by a Milan appeals court...." More (Post-Chronicle 04.28.2007). Comment. Silvio, Silvio, we always assumed you were innocent. We based our pre-judicial assumption on a quaint concept called the presumption of innocence.
Judge is admonished for rudeness toward attorney. "Superior Court Judge Ronald M. Sohigian was admonished by the state Commission on Judicial Performance for treating an attorney in a 'belittling, rude and sarcastic manner.' Sohigian, 69, was criticized Thursday for ordering the lawyer -- who did not have a document with him -- to research an issue at the law library across the street and return to court in 20 minutes...." More (San Diego Union-Tribune 04.28.2007). Comment. Judges need to model their courtroom behavior on classroom behavior of kindergarten teachers. Instead of being sarcastic and negative with underperforming attorneys, they need to employ positive reinforcement, as by awarding stickers and paper stars and certificates of accomplishmentto those who comport themselves admirably.
Female judge is punished for supporting suspended Pakistani chief justice. "Civil judge Sajida Chaudhry, who was the first serving judicial officer to have shown support to the controversially suspended chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, at his maiden address to the Rawalpindi Bar on March 26, has been posted to Bhakkar, several hundred kilometres from her family...." More (Gulf Times - Qatar 04.28.2007).
Circuit judges request investigation of prosecutor for remarks in speech. "In a highly unusual move, all nine Circuit Court judges have filed a complaint with the Virginia State Bar against Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey Bryant. The judges have asked the bar to investigate whether Bryant violated State Bar ethical rules during a Republican breakfast at the Beach on Feb. 3...According to Harvey, the judges' letter, dated Feb. 7, stated in part: 'During his speech, Mr. Bryant reportedly criticized the Virginia Beach judiciary and made the statement that he was keeping a record of all the 'illegal conduct' of Virginia Beach judges 'until I need it'...." More (Virginian Pilot 04.28.2007). Comment. The prosecutor says the judges' info is wrong. I say, "First Amendment." Since when are judges immune from criticism -- even unfair or inaccurate criticism -- in speeches made outside of court? Or, to put it differently, who the hell do they think they are?
Judge's stepfather pleads guilty to sexually abusing her as child. "Richland County Probate Judge Amy McCulloch tearfully watched Friday as her former stepfather pleaded guilty to repeatedly sexually assaulting her about 30 years ago...McCulloch publicly revealed in September that she had been molested repeatedly by her stepfather starting when she was 9 years old until she was 15. Through her attorney, Earl Ellis of Columbia, she said then she decided to go public after learning McMillan was using her name to arrange tennis lessons with children...." More (The State - South Carolina 04.28.2007).
Judge is acquitted of charge he accepted bribe. Last January Taipei District Court judge Wu Meng-liang acquitted TV show host Hu Gua of charges he installed hidden cameras in his house to cheat fellow mahjong gamblers. Someone alleged Wu accepted a $300,000 bribe to acquit him. Now the judge has been acquitted. More (Taipei Times 04.28.2007).
A tale of two courts. "The American judicial system, while hardly perfect, is a far cry from the middle ages when Jews could expect unjust and partial treatment before civil courts. I have seen just as many miscarriages of halacha before various bet dins as miscarriages of justice before civil courts. Indeed, I have found that a vast majority of claims are decided identically pursuant to halacha as civil law...." From an entertaining piece by Ari Weisbrot titled A Tale of Two Courts (New Jersey Jewish Standard 04.28.2007).
The Catholic Court? "Here is a painfully awkward observation: All five justices in the majority in Gonzales [v. Carhart, the much-criticized recent 5-4 abortion case] are Catholic. The four justices who are not Catholic all followed settled precedent. It is embarrassing, indeed mortifying, to point this out. Perhaps it is mere coincidence. But it is too obvious to ignore. However awkward the question, it is legitimate to ask whether, in deciding this case, the five justices in the majority ignored the critical line between religious belief and public morality...." Geoffrey Stone, Our Faith-Based Justices (Belief.Net 04.26.2007). For a contrary view, see Richard Garnett, Carhart, Casey, and the Supreme Court's Catholics (Jurist 04.25.2007).
Judge gives low bond to defendant after he passes Bible quiz. The Cincy Enquirer reports that Eric Hine, 43, appeared before Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge John Burlew on a charge of wrongly using a stolen credit card. Hine's attorney, seeking low bond, said Hine was employed and a regular church-goer. Judge Burlew tested Hine, to see if that latter averment was true, asking him to recite the 23rd Psalm. "Hine then reeled off all six verses and 118 words -- and even drew some applause from those sitting in the courtroom. Burlew was true to his word and released Hine on a $10,000 unsecured appearance bond." More (Cincinnati Enquirer 04.26.2007). Update. SCO-OH (Supreme Court of Ohio) says judge did no wrong (Cincinnati Enquirer 07.13.2007).
Ethics complaint by abortion opponents against judge is dismissed. "A state panel has dismissed an ethics complaint filed by abortion opponents against a Sedgwick County district judge [Paul W. Clark] who threw out a criminal case against the state's best-known abortion provider...." More (Lawrence Journal-World 04.26.2007). Comment. The outgoing A.G., an anti-abortion activist, filed the criminal charges against the provider. The day after the A.G. left office, the D.A. moved for dismissal of the charges, and Judge Clark granted the motion. The ethics complaint argued that Clark should have disclosed that during his 2004 re-election campaign he received maximum contributions of $500 each from the law firm representing the doctor and from the D.A.
Facing re-election, MI's C.J. joins the state's cost-saving parade. Michigan has a "fiscal emergency" and people have been looking around for ways for the state to save money. As readers of The Daily Judge know, someone from the Detroit Free Press called the public's attention to the fact that Michigan's appellate judges have been driving state-owned cars. Now, Brian Dickerson, who has written a number of interesting pieces focusing on MI's troubled supreme court, has written one about MI's chief justice, Cliff Taylor, titled, "Hurrying to the front of the parade." It's worth reading in its entirety. An excerpt:
It has been a week of epiphanies for Cliff Taylor, chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. First, he's shocked to discover that he and other appellate judges have been driving cars paid for by Michigan taxpayers -- an indefensible luxury, the chief justice says, given the state's fiscal emergency. Then it turns out that, in the years since Taylor's wife vetted most of them for appointment by former [Republican] Gov. John Engler, some of the judges Taylor oversees have had so little to do that, once they retire with full pension benefits, it will be unnecessary for Engler's Democratic successor to replace them...How is it, you're wondering, that neither of these cost-saving opportunities occurred to Chief Justice Taylor until now?
Muslim veil allowed in courts. "Muslim women will be allowed to wear a veil in court under new guidelines issued following a dispute last year. The Judicial Studies Board's Equal Treatment Advisory Committee examined whether women should be allowed to wear the full facial covering, the niqab.
Decisions should be made on each case and veils should not interfere with the administration of justice, it found...." More (BBC News 04.25.2007).
Prosecutor, judge had sex in chambers, showered together at courthouse. A complaint filed last Friday with the Colorado lawyers discipline board seeks discipline of Douglas County Deputy D.A. Laurie Steinman, 29, and Douglas County District Magistrate Grafton Biddle, 57. The complaint says the two began an affair in 2006 that included their having sexual intercourse in the judge's chambers over the July 4th holiday and the judge's "on a number of occasions...sneak[ing] into the women's shower facilities in the courthouse early in the morning" to shower with Ms. Steinman. Ms. Steinman allegedly argued two cases in front of the judge without revealing the relationship to the other side. Judge Steinman resigned last December and Deputy D.A. Steinman was fired a few days later. Turns out the judge's wife, his fourth, learned about the affair and spilled the beans in a letter to the chief judge. More (Denver Post 04.24.2007). Further reading. Sympathetic profile of Judge Biddle (Rocky Mountain News 04.26.2007). Comments. a) Any shock that judicial censors register at the judge's having had sexual intercourse with his gf in his office reminds me of what Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) said in Casablanca (1942): "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" Who was it who first decreed that judges ought not be human? In view of the pervasiveness and democratic equality of failure and of its importance to the human condition and to our success as a species, might we expect too much of judges in literally expecting them to be perfect and never to fail? And how good a judge is The Perfect Man who has never failed and never had the soul-stretching pleasure of learning from failure? b) One other matter. Maybe we all ought to just calm down a bit and ask "why" a judge might have to carry on in chambers as opposed to moving the affair to, say, a hot-sheet motel. I think you know the answer: Many judges around the country are paid so little that they not only are abandoning courtrooms in droves (or said to be likely to do so, absent pay raises) but are having difficulty paying property taxes on their suburban houses (or is it their vacation houses?), sending their kids to private schools, paying for gasoline for their new SUVs, and even paying for the increasing price of a bag of candy ("You could buy a quarter-pound Baby Ruth for a nickel when I was a kid"). And yes, they don't have the money to get a room by the hour at a love motel. c) So what am I saying? This: i) Rehire the judge on condition he marry the woman and make it all legal. ii) Give him a pay hike. Further reading. For your edification, here's a 2002 posting from BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else - Court Gazing titled "Romancin' wit de judge":
The 01.15.2002 episode of Philly, titled "Ripley, Believe It or Not," ended with the lead character, Kathleen Maguire (Kim Delaney), a divorced mom and criminal defense attorney whose "ex" is the D.A., doing what TV tells us most criminal defense attorneys do at the end o' the day, having a romantic dinner date with a judge, in this case Judge Ripley (Jamie Denton). In the next episode, aired 02.05.2002, first part of a two-parter titled "Meet Me in Philly," Judge Ripley denies a motion by a man convicted of rape for a new trial based on newly-discovered evidence, a motion argued by the judge's new lover, Ms. Maguire. Afterward, Judge Ripley and Ms. Maguire discuss the case ex parte in chambers and the judge tells her what sort of evidence it'll take for him to change his mind and grant her client a new trial. Is this the way the system works? Yes and no. Recently the MI Supreme Court reviewed a proposed one-year suspension without pay of a trial judge, Susan Chrzanowski, who had an affair with a lawyer, Michael Fletcher, who subsequently was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife. The Judicial Tenure Commission based its findings and recommendation on evidence that Judge Chrzanowski improperly assigned cases to her lover-boy, didn't disclose the relationship to opposing counsel, and lied to police when they questioned her in their investigation of the murder. The Supreme Court ruled that the judge's conduct was "unbecoming" but reduced the suspension without pay from a year to six months, reasoning that the judge's 17-month suspension with pay ($134,366 a year) while the disciplinary proceeding was ongoing had had a "chastening effect" on her. (I wouldn't mind being "chastened" to the tune of $134,366 a year.) According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, the Chief Judge of the district in which Judge Chrzanowski serves has said that when she returns to the bench after her suspension, he "plans to advise her not to repeat the behavior that got her suspended." That is always good advice to give to a judge returning to the bench after a suspension. One other matter: at the conclusion of its opinion, the Supreme Court stated, "We emphasize, moreover, that [Judge Chrzanowski] is being disciplined only for her improper appointments of counsel, her failure to disclose those appointments, and for her false statements to the interviewing officers." In other words, she is not being disciplined for having had a romantic relationship with Mr. Fletcher. In this Valentine season, when we celebrate "luv," that bit of emphatic reassurance by the Court ought to restore hope to all judges and lawyers -- nay, to all of us -- that "luv" still is not only possible, it's permissible. (02.06.2002)
Board wants judge disciplined for allegedly making racist statement. "A Hinds County [Mississippi] Justice Court judge says her actions at a 2005 conference do not equal judicial misconduct. But the state's judicial watchdog group disagrees. [It] is recommending a public reprimand for Judge Nicki Boland for comments she made in September 2005 at a National Drug Court Training Conference in Dallas...During a training session with the Hinds County Drug Court Planning team, Boland [allegedly] became upset and combative with the group and said that as far as she was concerned 'the African-American community can just go to hell.'" More (Jackson Clarion-Ledger 04.25.2007).
Judge throws support behind 'go polycarbonate' campaign. "A Northamptonshire judge [Richard Bray] has backed a ['go polycarbonate'] campaign to introduce plastic glasses in every bar, pub and club in Northampton...According to the Northampton Chronicle the judge made his call after hearing a case in which serious injuries were caused, in a Daventry pub, when a man had a pint glassed smashed into his face. He reportedly said: 'I cannot leave this case without saying this is yet another glassing case and to express my support to the campaign now being waged in this county for the banning of glass in public houses and nightclubs over the weekends.'" More (Morning Advertiser - UK 04.23.2007).
After heart attack on bench, judge tentatively remounts the bench. "Ask Judge Prentis Smiley how he is doing, and he answers one question with another. 'Is that a clinical question or a salutatory greeting?' Three weeks after suffering a heart attack on the bench, the judge is taking his first tentative steps back to his York County courtroom. Smiley said he will be back in court on 'light duty today, but won't be sitting through a full day's docket.'" More (Daily Press - VA 04.23.2007).
Ought judges live in their subcircuits as condition of office? "Is there value to having judges live in the various neighborhoods of Cook County instead of all bunched up in a few prestigious lakefront ZIP codes? The state Senate thinks so. It has unanimously passed a bill that would require judges elected from one of the county's 15 subcircuits to continue living there -- and to win retention from the subcircuit's voters every six years -- as long as they want to keep their seats...." More (Chicago Sun-Times 04.23.2007).
Women vow to sue corrupt divorce judge. "A day after Brooklyn divorce judge Gerald Garson was convicted of taking bribes, women who lost in his courtroom said they will sue him for ruining their lives...." More (N.Y. Daily News 04.21.2007).
MN judge is reprimanded for favoritism. "Dakota County's longest-serving judge has been fined and reprimanded after ordering a jailer to release his former neighbor without bail or conditions and then failing to tell the county attorney's office. Judge William Thuet accepted a public reprimand Friday from the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards for his conduct in two drunken driving cases, both involving the same woman...." More (Pioneer-Press 04.21.2007).
Mobile courts coming soon. "Mobile village courts, the much-vaunted project of the union law ministry, are all set to become a reality soon, with the Centre sanctioning funds for the purpose. The project envisions a new tier of courts, 'grameen nyayalayas' (village courts) aimed at ensuring easy accessibility of justice to the rural poor...." More (The Tribune - India 04.21.2007).
SCOOH may need to resolve dispute over retired judge's key to clerk's office. "The Ohio Supreme Court may be called in to mediate a disagreement between Carroll County Common Pleas Court Judge Dominick E. Olivito Jr. and retired Common Pleas Judge William J. Martin. At issue is whether Martin should retain keys to the county clerk of court's office...Martin [says] former Carroll County judges had full access to the courthouse after their retirements for needed supplies...Olivito...[says] he doesn't think it is proper for retired judges to have use of the clerk's office letterhead, fax number or correspondence...." More (New Philadelphia Times-Reporter - Ohio 04.21.2007).
What some appellate judges do first. "The very first thing that the federal appellate judge for whom I clerked would read when a new set of appellate briefs reached his desk was the trial court's opinion. This just goes to show that, if you're representing on appeal a party that lost in the trial court, not only do you have to convince appellate judges that the trial court's ruling was erroneous, you also have to overcome the fact that the appellate judges' introduction to the case likely consisted of reading the trial judge's explanation for why the ruling challenged on appeal is correct...." Howard Bashman, The Trial Judge as Adversary on Appeal (Law.Com 04.21.2007).
Judge says $100 a year enough to feed prison inmate -- with month-old bread. "Judge Walter Williams said Friday the Hamilton County Jail would be a different place if he served as the warden...The former city judge who was filling in for General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon, said, 'I'd give you bread and water. There would be no air conditioning. I'd give you fans from Franklin-Strickland (Funeral Home).' Judge Williams added, 'If I was warden, I'd cut the budget. It would be $100 a year for food -- month-old bread.'" More (The Chattanoogan 04.20.2007).
Annals of judicial politics: the great commission system. "[Tennessee] Gov. Phil Bredesen's battle over the Supreme Court selection process continued Wednesday as the governor said the Judicial Selection Commission did not do a good job selecting their recent high court nominees. Bredesen said that the current slate of Supreme Court nominees are not the 'most qualified' candidates that the Judicial Selection Commission could have submitted. 'I think their job is to get me the three most qualified nominees,' Bredesen told reporters. 'I don't think you can look over that list and say that's what I got.'" More (Nashville City Paper 04.19.2007).
Guns 'n' robes. a) "Trial-court judges could bring their guns to work if they have concealed-weapons permits in a bill that tentatively passed the N.C. House yesterday after a debate that touched on the shootings this week at Virginia Tech...." More (Winston-Salem Journal 04.19.20070. b) "A majority of Illinois House members voted Wednesday to allow judges and prosecutors [and public defenders] to carry guns but the measure failed...Democrats, who control the chamber, ruled before the vote that the bill needed a three-fifths majority in favor, or 71 votes, because it would have overruled local communities' gun-control laws...." More (CBS2 04.19.2007).
Jury service as a path to fame? Who knew? "[Larry Paul Fidler, t]he Los Angeles judge presiding over the Phil Spector murder trial[,] has warned prospective jurors the case would not be an opportunity for them to seek fame...." More (Post-Chronicle 04.18.2007).
Blockade of court. "Ukraine's Constitutional Court has resumed revision of the presidential decree to dissolve parliament and call early elections, despite a blockade of the court building by opposition and ruling coalition forces. The court session was delayed by an hour after some 4,000 to 10,000 supporters of both camps gathered in front of the building early Wednesday, preventing the judges from entering the court for a second day of hearings on the decree...." More (RIA Novosti 04.18.2007).
Judge killed in plane crash. "The only municipal judge for the small town of Mountain Grove died when the small plane he was piloting crashed in a heavily wooded ravine, authorities said Tuesday. William 'David' Relyea, 63, was flying his personal plane back from lunch with a friend Monday when the plane went down in south-central Douglas County, about 25 miles south of Mountain Grove, the Douglas County sheriff's office said...." More (News-Leader - MO 04.18.2007).
Warrant issued for arrest of Hopi judge. "Hopi Judge Leslie Delfred was left no choice Monday but to issue a bench warrant for Hopi Chief Judge Gary LaRance after he failed to appear in court for arraignment. LaRance was jailed Saturday afternoon following an altercation at the Hopi High School Softball Field during a girls game between the Hopi Bruins and the Window Rock Scouts...." More (Gallup Independent 04.18.2007).
In re judges' luxury parking on what was lovely courthouse lawn. "Reserved parking for elected officials on the west lawn of the Gibson County Courthouse is an undeserved luxury and an eyesore, downtown business owners told Gibson County Commissioners Tuesday. Terra Schmidt, whose family has maintained the courthouse clock for years, owns Scraper's, a jewelry store on the south side of the square. Schmidt said she doesn't think it's necessary for the county to provide reserved parking privileges for elected officials...Schmidt wants the lawn restored. 'I don't see why we have to have a concrete pad up there.'" More (Princeton Daily Clarion - IN 04.18.2007). Comment. We agree with the business owners. For those "judicial parking fetishists" who are totally obsessed with the topic of judges and their parking (and/or parking lot) problems, we recently provided convenient links to some of our relevant earlier entries. These links may be found in the body of our posting titled Sessions judges ask parking spaces for secretaries.
Tax travails of retired judge under guardianship in nursing home. "To see a man with really bad tax troubles, look no further than the East Haven Nursing home in the Bronx, home to a retired judge who owes more than a million dollars in taxes. For the last six years, April has come and gone without a tax return from John Phillips, who was for decades a prominent political figure in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. Mr. Phillips, 84, suffers from dementia and is hardly a tax cheat. Since 2001, the responsibility for his taxes has been with a string of law guardians appointed by the state court...But for reasons that are not yet clear, the lawyers involved in the case never filed tax returns...Mr. Phillips was once a colorful political figure in Brooklyn, where he ran a political club that doubled for a martial arts studio. He ran for office as the 'Kung-Fu Judge.'" More (N.Y. Sun 04.18.2007).
Appeals court frees scared juror dismissed from jury but detained by judge. "A state appeals judge Monday released a juror who had been detained by a trial judge after he said he wondered whether his family would be in danger if he judged four lesbians accused of attacking a man last year. Appellate Division Justice Michael Kavanagh ordered the release of Bruce Nussbaum, an assistant managing editor at Business Week magazine. Nussbaum's lawyer, Michael Bachner, filed a petition Friday, saying State Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin abused his discretion and acted outside the scope of his authority by detaining Nussbaum...." More (Newsday 04.18.2007).
Mouse 'causes' courthouse evacuation. "The Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Mass., was evacuated about noon Tuesday after an employee thought she smelled a 'slight amount' of gas in the attic. It turned out that the smell actually was coming from a dead mouse, County Administrator Craig Weinaug said...." More (Lawrence Journal-World - KS 04.18.2007).
Ukranian judge faces corruption probe. "Susanna Stanik, a judge of the Constitutional Court, is under corruption investigation after her close relative has apparently received $12 million worth of property and real estate as a gift over the past two years. Stanik is a key figure in hearings that are scheduled to start on Tuesday at the Constitutional Court on the legality of President Viktor Yushchenko's decree to dismiss Parliament...." More (Ukranian Journal 05.17.2007).
Commissioner Wayne Spiggle focuses ire on courthouse vending machines. "County Commissioner Wayne Spiggle would like the help of the Mineral County Extension Service Food and Nutrition Program in ridding the county's courthouse of unhealthy snacks...The targets of his ire [are] the soda and snack vending machines located on the main flood of the courthouse just outside the courtroom...." More (Cumberland Times-News - W.Va. 04.16.2007).
Merkel faces revolt over premier's praise for Nazi-era judge. "Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a rebellion inside her conservative party after Günther Oettinger, premier of the conservative southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, refused to retract a funeral eulogy in which he praised a disgraced Nazi judge...." More (IHT 04.1.2007).
Suspended judge gets two pay raises. "A judge suspended over an affair with a South Norwood cleaner is being paid £2,000 a week for doing nothing -- and has received two pay rises. Judge Mohammed Ilyas Khan, 61, has been collecting his salary since he was ordered to stand down last September pending an investigation into his role in an alleged love triangle with a woman immigration judge and his Brazilian lover, Roselane Driza...Judge Khan, an immigration judge, saw his salary of £105,972 go up in November to £108,220 and on April 1 to £109,784, in line with a judicial pay review affecting all judges...." More (Croydon Guardian 04.15.2007).
A historical view of judicial misconduct in Louisiana. "A few high-profile cases from yesteryear:
1846: Rice Garland...a Louisiana Supreme Court justice from 1840 to 1846...forged the signatures of philanthropist John McDonogh and Chief Justice Francois Xavier Martin, who was blind, to a monetary note...
1942: ...District Judge James W. Jones Jr....[wrote] a letter to a constituent complaining the man had supported his opponent in the primary and reminding him that he could have foreclosed on the constituent's mortgage and sent his son to prison -- and that the son was due in court again on another criminal charge...
1970: Judge Edward Haggerty of New Orleans' Criminal District Court...was arrested at a motel bachelor party for which he had supplied pornographic movies and prostitutes...." More (KATC 04.15.2007).
Annals of politico-judicial correctness. "The state panel that rules on judges' conduct is trying to remove its chairman for writing a best-selling humor book with comic Jackie Mason that says 'allegedly' means a charge is true and that affirmative action is 'insidious.' Attorney Raoul Felder, chairman of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, co-wrote the book, Schmucks! Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, Liars, the Armed and Dangerous, and Good Guys Gone Bad...'Loosen up, guys, this is humor,' Felder said Friday. He said he will fight back in court...The panel said the excerpts indicate that Felder...cannot make fair judgments...." More (Newsday 04.15.2007). Update. Gov. Spitzer wants Felder to resign (First Amendment Center 04.17.2007).
Governor signs bill providing public financing of judicial campaigns. "Gov. Bill Richardson has signed into law a bill that allows statewide judicial candidates to get public financing for their campaigns. As promised, he vetoed language in the bill that said it would take effect only if voters changed the constitution next year to do away with so-called retention elections...Under the current system, judges are appointed, run once in a partisan contest and then face only retention elections...." More (Santa Fe New Mexican 04.15.2007). Related. Suit: N.C.'s public financing of judicial elections violates First Amendment.
Op-ed: Tennessee should restore voters' power to pick supreme court justices. "Advocates of the Tennessee [Merit] Plan claim that...it 'takes politics out of the courts.' In fact, nothing is farther from the truth. [In practice,] the Tennessee Plan actually makes the judicial selection system more prone to the effects of campaign contributions and favoritism. The Judicial Selection Commission has become a haven for nepotism and political paybacks...." Drew Johnson, who is president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. More (Jackson Sun 04.15.2007). Comment. More and more, states are finding that the Missouri Plan and its variants -- much-loved by lawyers and political science profs -- aren't what they're cracked up to be.
New board is proposed to oversee state judges in MN. "Under a bill introduced by [a GOP representative and GOP senator,] the [MN judicial] standards board's current composition of four judges, two lawyers and four nonlawyers appointed by the governor would change to eight citizen applicants chosen at random who would then appoint two legislators. The new board could remove judges from office directly. Under existing law, only the state Supreme Court can do that...." More (Mpls. Star-Tribune 04.12.2007).
Breyer: 'lots' of SCOTUS' decisions are 'wrong.' "'We make a lot of wrong decisions in our court. I admit it,' U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer declared from the Modlin Center stage yesterday at the University of Richmond. 'But people will follow them even when they're wrong. That's the rule of law,' he added. Breyer was among high-ranking judges from England and America who assembled at UR's School of Law yesterday for the first of a four-day Rule of Law Conference...." More (Richmond Times-Dispatch 04.12.2007).
Judge arrested following hit-&-run has had 'tough time' coping with charges. "As State Supreme Court Judge Amy Jo Fricano prepares to head to court after her arrest Monday evening, her attorney says she's remorseful about the hit-and-run that sparked the incident. 'She's having a tough time, but she's doing her best,' Buffalo attorney Joel L. Daniels said. 'She's very sorry about what happened. She feels terrible.' Fricano, 52, allegedly told a sheriff's deputy she had taken prescription painkillers before crashing into a utility pole on High Street in front of Emmet Belknap Middle School and fleeing the scene. The accident caused about 1,200 customers to lose power...Daniels said Fricano was on her way to report the accident on High Street to city police when she was pulled over...." More (Lockport Journal 04.12.2007).
Ten court rulings that cemented Canadian freedoms. "A panel of the country's foremost constitutional experts has chosen a 1986 Supreme Court of Canada decision -- Regina v Oakes -- as being the most influential Charter ruling of the past 25 years. By defining how courts could determine whether a Charter violation was reasonable or not, the Oakes ruling provided a crucial blueprint for all future Charter interpretation. The runner-up was a 1985 ruling, known as the B.C. Motor Vehicle reference, which greatly expanded the power of judges to interpret the Charter guarantee of life, liberty and security of the person...."
More (Globe & Mail 04.12.2007). Comment. We suspect that of all the Canadian exports -- judicial and nonjudicial -- the one that has had the greatest impact on American judges, though not necessarily American jurisprudence, is SCTV. Coming in a close second...Black Horse Ale.
Bankruptcy judge teaches credit skills. "A bankruptcy judge who has tired of seeing people burdened with credit card debt in his courtroom has decided to do more than help them untangle their finances. Judge John C. Ninfo II founded Credit Abuse Resistance Education, or CARE. It sends volunteers from the bankruptcy system -- including judges, trustees and private attorneys -- to talk to young people around the country about developing good money skills and avoiding debt traps...." More (Town Hall 04.12.2007).
Judge breaks down, weeps inconsolably, at farewell. "Justice B J Shethna broke down and wept inconsolably at a farewell hosted by the Gujarat High Court Bar Association...on Wednesday. It was when the vicepresident of the association, Anil Dave, in his speech, referred to him as a martyr who symbolised the fight against corruption that an already emotional Justice Shethna could not hold back his tears...." More (Times of India 04.12.2007). Comment. Shethna and a fellow judge, Justice P. B. Majmudar, were both ordered transferred out of Gujarat following a dispute they had with each other that resulted in media attention. Shethna is quoted as saying, in protest of the transfer, "Don't expect me to kiss anyone's toes. I am not one of those." More (CNN-IBN 04.12.2007).
More on the advice line for for lonely judges. District Judge Stephen Gerlis, in a piece in the UK Times, responds to those who've had fun with the earlier story about the advice line for lonely judges. He says, in part:
I challenge anyone to sit for months at a time hearing and deciding cases that involve terrible abuses done to children by those who are supposed to be caring for them, without being in some way affected. But this is what care judges do, day in, day out. Some courts, such as the new Gee Street courts set up in London, do virtually nothing else. Many care judges will readily admit that they need a break from the work every now and then in order to reset their emotional compasses. The same can be said for criminal judges who have rape or child abuse tickets. No one can have a full diet of such matters and be unaffected.
More (Times Online - UK 04.12.2007). Comment. For over 28 years, as an aide helping a state supreme court decide criminal appeals, I got a daily fill of such stuff, reading thousands of transcripts, hundreds of thousands of pages, filled with the stuff of criminal law, murder, robbery, rape, child abuse, etc. As the good judge says, "No one can have a full diet of such matters and be unaffected."
Top judge demands pay hike from legislature, threatens suit. "[Court of Appeals Chief Justice Judith Kaye, t]he state's top judge yesterday threatened to either ram through a pay raise for jurists on her own or sue the governor and Legislature if they don't increase judicial salaries by the end of the legislative session in June...." More (N.Y. Post 04.10.2007).
Courthouse communicables -- herein of 'crabs.' "A sexually transmitted disease forced the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas to shutdown Monday. Maintenance workers found what appeared to be crabs in a courthouse bathroom. The crab conundrum caused stopped everyone from conducting all types of business and legal matters. Area residents found the situation peculiar...After fumigation, the courthouse is expected to reopen Tuesday morning." More (WTKR 04.10.2007). Comments. a) In the popular imagination crabs are something one catches during an afternoon liaison at an hourly-rate, hot-sheet, no-tell love motel, not while conducting legal business at the local courthouse. We fervently hope and trust that no court employees in any courthouse in America would stoop so low as to carry on an assignation on court premises, in either a semi-public area like a bathroom or in a private area like a judge's chambers. Such conduct would, indeed, so shock the judicial conscience as to be unconstitutional. b) Note, however, that a distinction may be made between an on-premises liaison and an off-premises one, typically, in one of the aforementioned "hourly-rate, hot-sheet, no-tell love motels." Memo to male judges: Always let "the woman" drive to the motel and have her register in her name and using her car's license plate number. It's a helpful BurtLaw Judicial Tip-of-the-Week. Further reading. Those "randy" Swede (not Norwegian) judges.
Gifts to judges are being questioned. "One judge accepted a free ticket to the 2006 Super Bowl, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Another spent a night at the ritzy Nemacolin Woodlands Resort as a guest of a trial lawyers group. A third accepted two nights of lodging, food and drinks for himself and his wife from the to a casino in Atlantic City, N.J...In taking the freebies, none broke the law [in PA] or violated any state ethics rule...But some experts on judicial ethics say the cases underscore the need for Pennsylvania to join the majority of states in adopting a general ban on judges accepting gifts from special interests...." More (York Dispatch 04.09.2007). Further reading. Hidden camera shows NY judge accepting expensive cigars; video symbolizes corruption probe (Arizona Star 04.09.2007).
Two-thirds of Canadians back electing judges. "A strong majority of Canadians supports the idea of elected judges, according to a Globe and Mail/CTV poll...." More (Globe & Mail 04.09.2007).
Judge warns journalists against verbatim reporting. "The President of the Limbe Magistrate Court, Justice Henrietta Nyamndi, has given a stern warning against verbatim reporting by journalists in their newspapers or organs of court proceedings until when final verdicts must have been passed...." More (All Africa 04.09.2007).
Judges re-decide the Dred Scott Case. "Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer and nine U.S. appeals court judges presided over a reconsideration of Dred Scott v. Sandford at Harvard Law School Saturday, determining that Scott would likely have had to remain a slave under 1850s law, but that the most significant parts of the Court's opinion were completely erroneous...." More (Harvard Crimson 04.09.2007). Comment. Some judges have too much free time on their hands.
Harley-riding judge is killed in crash. "[John Gaylord, 50, a] Maricopa County judge who handled several high-profile cases, including a student terrorism threat at a Chandler high school, was killed in a collision while riding his motorcycle south of Florence, officials said Saturday. More (Arizona Republic 04.08.2007).
Judge writes funny memoir. "Twice Told Tombigbee Tales by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills of Oxford...is a wonderful collection of stories and life lessons told by a rural Mississippian who grew up to be a state legislator, a state Supreme Court justice and later a federal district judge in Mississippi's Northern District...." From a review by a friend of the judge. More (Hattiesburg American 04.08.2007).
Local judge is rescued from sinking cruise ship. "A 469-foot cruise ship sank Friday morning off the Greek island of Santorini. Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Ron Durby and his wife, Vicka, were on board along with other family members, Jim and Inna Hall. Judge Durby and his family were safely rescued, but lost all of their luggage while salvaging their passports and credit cards...Greek navy divers are continuing to search for two French tourists missing after the ship sank. They have been identified as a 45-year-old man and his 16-year-old daughter...." More (Chattanoogan 04.07.2007).
Two judges who didn't get along are re-assigned. "After a prolonged battle ultimately Justice B J Shethna and Justice P B Mazmudar have said good-bye to Gujarat. They have been transferred to Sikkim and Rajasthan High Court respectively. The two senior judges had a personal feud which turned public and had even divided the Bar association of the state. Justice Mazumdar had alleged that Justice Shethna had misbehaved with him and even slapped him...." More (Gujarat Global 04.06.2007).
Annals of judicial perks: the judicial bungalow crisis. "The Delhi High Court has expressed its disappointment over the manner, in which the Centre retracted from its commitment to allot bungalows to the judges of this court. 'This is sending a wrong signal as this court has earlier referred a list of few bungalows to the High Court committee for allotment,' a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice M K Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Khanna said...." More (The Hindu 04.06.2007).
Opinion: when maybe more judges ain't the solution. "In 1986...the Legislature...creat[ed]...22 family court judgeships to help ease the burden of the state's 65 circuit court judges. Now, 21 years later, the 22 appointed family law masters have grown into 35 elected family court judges. Curiously, the number of circuit judges never decreased even as parts of their caseload were shifted to this new category of judges. And the number of family court judges will grow by 10, to 45, under a law Gov. Joe Manchin signed into law on Wednesday. But Manchin vetoed a bill to add six more circuit judges...The population of West Virginia 21 years ago was about 1.8 million. It is no larger today...." More (Charleston Daily Mail 04.06.2007).
Opinion: a troubling verdict on trial judges. "Michigan Lawyers Weekly revealed the results of its first judicial performance survey, in which lawyers who make regular court appearances in southeast Michigan's five largest circuit courts were asked to evaluate the competence of the region's 98 circuit court judges. The good news is that more than half of the 1,000-plus lawyers who participated said they would be at least 'somewhat comfortable' if a member of their immediate family had a case pending before the judges they were asked to rate. But an almost equal proportion -- 48% -- said they'd be 'not at all comfortable' if their family member were in front of the rated judges...." More (Detroit Free Press - Opinion piece by Brian Dickerson 04.06.2007). Comment. And the ratings are by lawyers, who I believe are more prone to generosity than litigants and the general public in rating judges. BTW, we commend to our readers all of Brian Dickerson's columns in the Detroit Free Press on MI courts. It would be great if every major metropolitan newspaper had a columnist who covered the courts as well as he does.
'Girls Gone Wild' defendant says judge has gone wild. "The founder of the 'Girls Gone Wild' videos has defied a federal judge [Richard Smoak], calling him a 'judge gone wild' and refusing to surrender to U.S. marshals on a contempt citation..." More (MSN Money Central 04.06.2007). Comment. Readers of The Daily Judge regularly read stories about judges whose conduct, if videotaped, might fill a Judges Gone Wild video sold on late-night T.V. Why is this? For the answer, read: Is the judiciary a rule-free class -- or are we too tough on judges?
Judge abused power, panel says. "Described as abusive and impatient and accused of misusing her authority, Judge Martha Sassone of the 24th Judicial District Court has been recommended for suspension from the bench for 60 days without pay by the Louisiana Judiciary Commission...." More (New Orleans Times-Picayune 04.06.2007).
Panel: Judge Can Serve On UAFS Visitors Board. "A Sebastian County [Arkansas] circuit judge [James O. Cox] can serve on the Board of Visitors of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and remain on the bench, the state Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee said in an opinion released Tuesday...." More (Fort Smith Times Record 04.05.2007). Comment. In some, perhaps most, other states, this would not be allowed, for obvious reasons.
Woman arrested for bringing butcher knife into courthouse. "Sheriff's investigators said someone in the [Darke County] courthouse notified officials after seeing a woman -- later identified as Lynn Perez, 30 -- enter the building carrying [a butcher] knife with a 12-inch blade and get on an elevator...." More (Dayton Daily News 04.06.2007).
Lower fees drive rush on law courts in China. "Court fees were made cheaper on Monday, in a revision of regulations on lawsuit fees, made by the State Council and the Supreme People's Court...[As a result, a] record number of cases are being filed in areas such as property, marriage and labor disputes. The Beijing Xicheng District People's Court, for example, put on record 108 cases on Tuesday alone, compared with 34 on the same day last year, while Fengtai district court registered 192, compared with 88 last April 3...." More (People's Daily Online 04.06.2007).
Annals of tardy chief justices. "The Monday appointments of two Big Island District Court judges [by the state supreme court chief justice] were too late, the state Attorney General has ruled...Under the state Constitution, the chief justice appoints District Court and Family Court judges from a list submitted by the Judicial Selection Commission within 30 days of receiving the list...[The chief] did not make the nominations within the 30-day time period. 'Because the Chief Justice's nominations were untimely, it is the responsibility of the Judicial Selection Commission to independently make the appointments of its choice...,' [Deputy AG Russell] Suzuki wrote...." More (Honolulu Star-Bulletin 04.04.2007).
State panel admonishes judge for fundraising. "Suffolk County's chief matrimonial judge [Marion T. McNulty, 56,] should be admonished for using the prestige of her position to raise funds for a nonprofit women's group she belongs to, directly soliciting donations from court employees and attorneys who have appeared before her, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct has determined...McNulty created fliers promoting fundraising events of the women's group, which she mailed to attorneys who had appeared before her, personally handed out to court employees and attorneys in the courthouse and posted on the door of her chambers. McNulty also held drawings for free tickets to the group's fundraisers...." More (Newsday 04.05.2007).
Judge makes waves outside courts. "Ask a lawyer about newly elected Judge Carlos Cortez, and you're bound to get a smile or a groan. Ask the judge, and he'll tell you he doesn't care what people think -- but probably in more colorful terms. The judge over the 44th Civil District Court has become the talk of the legal community with his fiery speeches denouncing the Dallas Bar Association, calling the former Republican judges 'a disgrace' and questioning a Texas Supreme Court appointment as a political favor to President Bush...." More (Dallas Morning News 04.05.2007).
Ex-judge tells hotel to stub out staff noise. "The Grosvenor Hilton hotel faces being ordered to take down a staff smoking shelter after one of Scotland's most senior legal figures[, Lord McCluskey,] complained chatting smokers are keeping neighbours awake at night...The shelter was built without planning permission about three months ago. The hotel has applied for retrospective planning permission but officials have recommended the application be refused, meaning the shelter would have to be taken down...." More (Scotsman 04.05.2007).
Multi-count indictment accuses judge of tax evasion. "A Jefferson County [Alabama] judge[, Circuit Judge Dan King, 51,] surrendered to authorities Tuesday after a 56-count indictment accused him of tax evasion and ethics violations for allegedly depositing campaign donations into a personal account and failing to report the income...An attorney for King, Ralph Armstrong, denied that the judge did anything wrong...." More (Decatur Daily 04.04.2007).
Court: Former judge appeals against jail term. "Former judge Patrick Vella, who was recently jailed for two years for accepting a bribe to reduce the jail term of drug trafficker Mario Camilleri, yesterday appealed against the definitive prison term...." More (Malta Independent 04.04.2007).
N.Y. judges, upset over stagnant pay, may have to sell hot dogs to make do. "As the news sunk in over the weekend that once again raises...were not to be, New York's state judges lashed out at every available target...Judges reported talk about strikes, slow downs, a mass protest in the state capital and recusals from cases handled by legislators' firms and even firms that donated to legislators' campaigns...Justice Stanley Sklar...said some judges want the ethics rules changed so they can take a second job. One Brooklyn judge...talked up the rule change so he could sell hot dogs in Yankee Stadium like one judge did in the 1950s...." More (N.Y. Law Journal via Law.Com 04.04.2007).
Courthouse green comes alive as Jamestown celebrates its 400th. "County officials and members of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities and residents on Monday had a grand opening for the restored and remodeled green, a $140,000 project...The complex is known as one of the earliest and most complete courthouse greens in Virginia. In addition to the 1731 courthouse, the debtors' prison and the clerk's office, the other parts of the green include the 1913 four-square jail complex, the 1899 Romanesque Revival courthouse, the neo-colonial and vernacular offices of Lawyer's Row, the 1810 old brick store currently used as a private office and the restored Eastville Inn -- one of the few surving courthouse taverns in Virginia. It operates as now as a popular restaurant...." More (Delmar Daily Times - VA 04.04.2007). Comment. Makes me want to visit.
Bulletin: Poultry judging workshops begin April 9! "Emanuel County 4-H Poultry Judging workshops will begin on Monday, April 9. Classes will be taught by Jennifer Bowen, Emanuel County 4-H Volunteer Leader. Each workshop will be from 4-6 p.m. at Varner 4- H Center. Any 4-H member who is interested in Poultry Judging must attend the sessions and be willing to study at home in order to learn the grading standards...." More (The Forest Blade 04.04.2007). Comment. In my experience, good poultry judges make not just good neighbors but good common law judges.
Courts to launch youth-focused web site. "Kids with an interest in [New York S]tate's court system are going to have their very own targeted resource tool at the end of the month, when the Unified Court System will launch a youth-focused Web site...[A] link will be available at www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew."
More (Staten Island Advance 04.04.2007). Comment. Considering how "dumbed down" and content-empty most court web sites are, one wonders what a typical court web site for "youth" would look like.
Iron County Courthouse stands the test of time. "Iron County residents call their courthouse the jewel of Iron County. The courthouse is the tallest and oldest building in the county and it's also a national landmark. The courthouse, which has stood in Crystal Falls for the past 117 years, has undergone expansions and renovations, but the original structure of the building is still intact...Courthouse employees say the real story of the building lies in the legends and ghost stories in its history. Iron County Clerk Joan Luhtanen says, 'We were in court, myself and some others, and were right by the judge's bench, and we could hear a knock knock knocking so I told the bailiff...I said, 'Oh the jury wants to talk to you,' and we went inside and they had not knocked at all.' Luhtanen says she also heard typing coming from her office one morning before starting work...." More (WLUC TV 04.04.2007). Comment. And if you work in one of our many haunted courthouses and you think you hear secretaries chattering in the next room about the latest sale at the department store or how "neat" that outfit is on p. 29 of the catalog they both have or what happened to Paris Hilton or who said what to whom, you're not hearing ghosts talking -- no, you're hearing an authentic American courthouse conversation. Happy Secretaries Month.
Ill. judge trims $3 million from chief justice's defamation verdict. "A judge slashed $3 million from the damages a suburban Chicago newspaper [Kane County Chronicle] must pay the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court [Robert Thomas] in a defamation case. The lawsuit filed by Thomas, a former Chicago Bears kicker, sought $7.7 million in damages after former columnist Bill Page wrote in 2003 that Thomas softened his position in a disciplinary hearing for former Kane County State's Attorney Meg Gorecki after her supporters backed a judicial candidate he favored...." More (Insurance Journal 04.03.2007). Comments. Illinois has long been known as a plaintiff-friendly venue. We won't be surprised if SCOTUS eventually hears this; if it does, we hope it reverses the verdict on First Amendment grounds.
DA loses fight to remove judge. "An embattled South Texas district attorney's request to ban a local judge from hearing any cases that his office prosecutes was rejected Monday. Willacy County District Attorney Juan Guerra had sought to remove District Judge Migdalia Lopez, claiming she had a vendetta against him and had swayed a grand jury to indict him on corruption charges...Guerra said he plans to approach the State Commission on Judicial Conduct." More (Houston Chronicle 04.03.2007).
Area youths hone judging skills. "Parents usually discourage their children from being judgmental and too critical of their peers. But as a group of students gathered around a pigpen Monday night at Tabor Arena in Bryan, parents and educators encouraged them to do just that. It was, the parents said, for the students' benefit. The participants were judging animals as part of the Brazos County Youth Livestock Show...The youth judging event...allowed the children to compare their notes to the actual judges' to help them better prepare for future competitions...." More (Bryan College Station Eagle 04.03.2007). Comment. It reminds me of that old song that is traditionally sung at the awards show at the Annual Junior Judges Camp of the good old days when junior judges all gathered round the pigpen in the gloamin' and serenaded the pig they'd judged "best" before roasting it over the campfire and eatin' it.
Annals of new wine in old courthouse -- developer says make it a law school. "The site of many historic courtroom battles could become a training ground for lawyers and judges of the future under a local developer's plans to turn the old Nueces County Courthouse [in Corpus Christi], which was completed in 1914, into a law school...." More (Corpus Christ Caller 04.03.2007). Comment. The opposite of our old but still novel idea, which is to turn law schools into courthouses.
Do judges systematically favor the interests of the legal profession? "Abstract: This Article answers this question with the following jurisprudential hypothesis. Many legal outcomes can be explained, and future cases predicted, by asking a very simple question: is there a plausible result in this case that will significantly affect the interests of the legal profession (positively or negatively)? If so, the case will always be decided in the way that offers the best result for the legal profession...." Benjamin Barton, U. Tenn., Knoxville - College of Law, Do Judges Systematically Favor the Interests of the Legal Profession? (SSRN).
Former town judge to spend 90 days in jail. "The former police chief and town judge in McBee will spend at least 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to allowing people to give the town money, automobiles or other items in exchange for dropping criminal charges, authorities said...." More (Wilmington Star 04.03.2007).
Arraignment set for judge in armed driving incident. "Columbus Municipal Court Judge Haywood Turner, who is formally accused of brandishing a firearm while recklessly driving, is scheduled for an arraignment in court April 20. Turner, 62, allegedly pulled a gun on two motorists while driving on J.R. Allen Parkway last August...The alleged reckless driving isn't the first time Turner has encountered difficulty as a judge. While seeking a pay raise four years ago, he said in open court that the only way to get the Columbus Council's attention was to set off a nuclear bomb on the roof of the Government Center...."
More (Columbus Ledger-Enquirer 04.03.2007).
Jury convicts millionaire attorney, two ex-judges of bribery. "Millionaire attorney Paul Minor and two former judges face sentencing on June 14 after being convicted of bribery late Friday. Prosecutors said during the two-month trial that Minor checks and gifts to secure favorable rulings from former Circuit Judge John Whitfield and former Chancellor Wes Teel. All three had pleaded not guilty...." More (Hattiesburg American - MS 04.02.2007).
Roast and toast honors career of Judge Schnelz. "Judge Gene Schnelz, one of Oakland County's most respected jurists...who is retiring in July after serving 32 years as a judge, was the honoree of a 'roast and toast' on Wednesday, as nearly 300 well-wishers filled the ballroom of the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham for a $150-a-plate dinner...[One attorney] quipped that Schnelz -- a devout Lutheran -- treated his motions as Lutherans do a hymnal. 'He'd open my brief to page one and never look down again,' [he] said...Schnelz, whose real retirement party is in May, recalled his colleagues did get away with his couch as a birthday prank, admitting he only noticed it after waking up from his nap on the floor...." More (Royal Oak Daily Tribune 04.02.2007).
Mom recalls outburst by judge who's now on trial for corruption. "A Brooklyn woman claims she was ordered to leave her baby at home and to pump her breast milk before coming to divorce court -- or indicted Brooklyn judge Gerald Garson would give her infant to welfare services. 'You have to get rid of that baby immediately. If someone doesn't take her, I'm going to send her to the agency,' Garson allegedly told Enbar Bloomer, 38, during her child custody case...The red-faced and ranting judge often berated women from Brooklyn's Jewish Orthodox community while he allegedly took bribes from their ex-husband's lawyers, others alleged...." More (N.Y. Post 04.01.2007).
The buzz at the courthouse. "Miami firefighters shut down streets Saturday in order to stop a buzz invading the courthouse. For months, three massive beehives had been causing problems at the judicial center...Firefighters used ladder trucks to reach the hives, one of them 7 feet tall, city officials said...." More (NBC6 - Miami 03.31.2007).
Judge helps lawyers and jurors dry their moist hands. "The restrooms in the new Harris County Civil Courthouse downtown have wall-mounted hand dryers, and many jurors complained that they couldn't dry their hands completely during brief breaks. [District Judge Sharolyn Wood] thought lawyers and their clients might have the same trouble in the courthouse's public restrooms, which also have the dryers. So she places paper towels at washroom sinks on the 10th floor, where her 127th District Court is...." More (Houston Chronicle 03.31.2007).
Panel seeks judge's removal from the bench. "The state Judicial Tenure Commission on Thursday asked the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately suspend 36th District Court Judge Jeanette O'Banner-Owens because of erratic behavior on and off the bench...In one [alleged] incident in July 2005 Judge O'Banner-Owens entered her courtroom and announced: 'When intelligence leaves the room, all you are left with is ignorance,' then walked out. When the court reporter went to her chambers to ask what she meant, the judge told her she didn't have the intelligence to understand...." More (Detroit News 03.30.2007).
Tapes in judge's corruption trial reveal a potty-mouthed judge. "As they mire through the nearly endless video surveillance footage taken from the...private sanctuary [of former judge, Gerald Garson], prosecutors learned much about the bribes the jurist allegedly received. But they seemed to have learned more about Garson's thoughts on Jews and overweight women...On [one] surveillance reel, Garson [is] seen and heard calling an Orthodox Jewish judge a 'Yarmulke...a yammy bop.'" More (Fort Green Courier 03.30.2007).
Judge is indicted on perjury charges. "[Amando Abascal, III, a] state district judge from Eagle Pass already indicted on charges of lying about the source of campaign funds...now faces new charges of lying to a grand jury...." More (KTEN 03.30.2007).
Man jailed for egging judge. "[William Hammerton, 52, a] father wrongly imprisoned because of a 'sorry story of administrative and judicial errors' was back behind bars on Friday -- for throwing eggs at the judge who first jailed him...." More (Metro - UK 03.30.2007). Comment. Not entitled to a 'freebie'?
Judge who was accused of sexual assault won't face charges. "An Orange County [Florida] judge, who went on administrative leave during a sexual assault investigation, will not face criminal charges...[Judge James] Hauser stepped down [temporarily] from the bench after a law school student accused him of exposing himself to her in her apartment...Investigators...said Judge Hauser[, who has claimed consent,] passed his own and a sheriff's office voice stress test and agreed to call [the 34-year-old alleged victim] while wearing a wire. But...[she] has clammed up...." More (WFTV 03.30.2007).
Republicans woo Judge Larry Seidlin for White House. "The Republican Party is wooing a new contender for the 2008 presidential campaign after exhaustive market research proved positive in identifying Judge Larry Seidlin as the outsider most likely to get the compassion vote from Middle America. Not much is known about Judge Sedlin's political leanings or ambitions. But his ratings were so excellent during the televised Anna Nicole Smith funeral rights hearing that no other potential contender can rival his scores...." More (The Spoof - UK Satire 03.30.2007).
A judge speaks with candor about judicial cop-outs. "Rarely does an audience get to hear a sitting judge deliver anything more than the usual clichés about 'blind justice' and the like. [Speaking at] the annual Innocence Network Conference held this weekend at Harvard Law School, Massachusetts's own federal district judge Nancy Gertner displayed a level of candor unusual for someone in her position...[Her] target: the glaring flaws in our legal system that produce a disturbingly large number of wrongful convictions each year and the judiciary's reluctance to deal with them head-on...She compared some modern judges to those who, in the antebellum period, enforced the Fugitive Slave Laws...." -- Prominent Boston civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate. More (The Phoenix 03.29.2007). Comment. Harvey is a fellow member of my graduating class at Harvard Law School.
Judge denies divorce to feuding spouses who built wall in NY apartment. "Feuding spouses who built a wall through their three-story row house because neither would give it up cannot divorce, a jury ruled. Jurors on Wednesday shot down the 'cruel and inhuman treatment' Chana Taub cites as grounds for divorcing Simon Taub after more than 20 years of marriage and four children. 'I'm dismissing the whole case. That's it,' Justice Carolyn Demarest said. To revive the case, Chana Taub would have to file it again, on new grounds...." More (San Diego Union-Tribune 03.29.2007). Comment. Another example of NY's antiquated divorce laws in action. The denial of divorce reminds me of a Minnesota Supreme Court decision from, I think, the 1940's, when the court, through an opinion by Justice Olson, denied a divorce to a cuckolded husband, telling him he should follow the example of Jesus' telling a fallen woman to "go and sin no more."
Judges take on extra workload to help fellow Democrat stay on the bench. "Supreme Court watchers often speculate about aging justices holding off retirement until the election of a president who will pick an ideologically similar replacement. Some conservatives are now questioning whether a federal district judge in South Dakota is doing the same thing -- and getting help from two colleagues who have taken on some of his cases. U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann, 69, put off his retirement after two fellow Democratic judges agreed to share his workload, a move that could allow someone from their party to get Kornmann's job if a Democrat is elected president in 2008...." More (San Diego Union-Tribune 03.29.2007).
Two defendants on trial are banned from courthouse cafeteria. "A man and woman on trial on charges accusing them of scamming stores out of millions of dollars were banned from the courthouse cafeteria after a police officer spotted her lifting a free meal...." More (Akron Beacon-Journal 03.29.2007).
A creative solution to shortage of courtrooms in Hernando County? "[Recently, lacking a courtroom, Pasco County] Circuit Judge Linda Babb decided to hold forth in the [otdoor] courtyard...Hernando [County] has two county judges and six circuit judges...[but t]here are only six courtrooms. So, if the dockets align in an unfortunate way and all the courtrooms are taken, it could mean at least one judge would take his show on the road. In Dade City, Judge Babb presided while perched atop a concrete planter...I suggest that Hernando County invest in a mobile bench for the judge who finds himself odd robe out. (Those love seats Rubbermaid sells as pool furniture are nice, and they have under-the-seat storage for gavels, law libraries, and other legal whatnot.)" More (St. Petersburg Times- Op/ed piece 03.29.2007). Comment. Or, the county could invest in one of our innovative BurtLaw Portable Courtrooms, first announced here. With the BurtLaw Porta-Courthouse, a judge need not hang around the courthouse to receive a jury verdict. He can go to the all-important ball game and receive the verdict. With our wireless digital technology and our instantly-inflatable, soundproof "courtroom," which can be carried deflated in a briefcase, the judge can set up shop on a ramp in the stadium, receive the verdict remotely, poll the jurors, thank them for their service, and return to his seat in under 15 minutes. The cost? Only $1,999.99. Further reading. See, extended discussion of mobile and portable courtrooms/judges in my mini-essay titled If you cry out for justice, a judge will appear: bus as mobile courtroom. Cf., posting of ours titled "The Portable Church" at BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else - War on Terrorism IV in October of 2001 (scroll down).
Good fortune smiles on the judge's house. "Some houses have all the luck. The Judge Jacob Tysen House is one of them. Built facing the Kill Van Kull by an illustrious 18th-century Staten Island family, it was moved many years later to a more secure location on the grounds of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and survived immense pressure to have it demolished. Today it is home to a well-known preservationist, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and eventually will fall under the stewardship of Historic Richmond Town...." From an in-depth piece by James G. Ferreri of the Preservation League of Staten Island, NY. More (Staten Island Advance 03.29.2007).
Law professor is keeping the heat on troubled state supreme court. "Tension is thick between the state Supreme Court justice who wrote last year's opinion upholding judicial pay raises and a prominent critic of the state judiciary, Bruce Ledewitz of the Duquesne University School of Law. The conflict came to light yesterday during a [legislative] hearing...During his testimony, Mr. Ledewitz said he felt threatened by a letter Justice Ronald D. Castille wrote saying he could be disciplined for calling the court corrupt and characterizing the pay-raise decision as a 'judicial swindle'...Mr. Ledewitz...said he did not accuse judges of crimes [but of 'b]ending the law to suit [their] own self-interest..." More (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 03.29.2007). See, Reaction to PA Supremes' snatching their pay raise from jaws of repeal -- more do-not-retain campaigns? (containing links to many earlier postings relating to the troubles in PA).
Mutual respect is the rule for two judges who are married to each other. "Married [CT] state Superior Court judges Dale Radcliffe and Carmen Lopez have heard all the jokes. 'Hey, who wears the robes in your family?' 'If you lose an argument, do you appeal to the Supreme Court?' But as they celebrate their sixth anniversary, they may have the last laugh at people who said a relationship of two such diverse people couldn't last. While in the state legislature, Radcliffe had a reputation as its most conservative member...Lopez is a lifelong Democrat...." More (Newsday 03.29.2007). Comment. Interesting article. The movie version should star Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. Further reading. See, Marrying the courts, which includes links to some of our prior postings on judicial romance.
Judge's wife charged with offenses. "A Plentywood woman who has pleaded guilty to driving on the wrong side of the interstate is fighting drunken driving and felony criminal endangerment charges. Beverly Cybulski, 51, the wife of District Judge David Cybulski, pleaded not guilty to the endangerment charge in District Court on March 31. Cybulski was arrested on Aug. 31, 2006, after allegedly driving about 80 miles from Miles City to Glendive on the wrong side of Interstate 94...." More (Great Falls Tribune 03.29.2007).
Should Legislature have more power over Judiciary? "A bill that would let Connecticut voters decide on expanding the General Assembly's authority over the Judicial Branch recently cleared a major legislative hurdle...." More (Connecticut Post 03.28.2007).
New probe targets judge. "Even as he awaits a pending ethics trial in Montgomery that could end his judicial career, suspended Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas became the focus last week of an investigation being conducted by District Attorney John Tyson Jr.'s office...Some of [Thomas'] fellow jurists on the 13th Circuit told the Press-Register and, subsequently, the Judicial Inquiry Commission that Thomas has interfered on behalf of his friends or relatives in cases on other judges' dockets [leading to the ethics charges]...[On Thursday] officials on Tyson's staff entered Thomas' chambers on the eighth floor of the courthouse at Government Plaza with a grand jury subpoena...." More (Register 03.28.2007).
Judge's courtroom behavior sparks controversy; he passes breath test. "Municipal Judge Mark Hassett voluntarily took a Breathalyzer test Friday after reports that he exhibited peculiar behavior in the courtroom. Hassett's blood-alcohol level registered at 0.011 percent, a level low enough not to cause impairment, Police Chief Tim McKenna said. An over-the-counter cough syrup could cause a similar result, McKenna said...A review of the video tape of Hassett's court Friday revealed no apparent irregularities...Last year, the judge took a medical leave of absence days after appearing out of sorts during a May court session." More (Cleveland Plain-Dealer 03.28.2007).
Law clerk testifies against judge in bribery trial."The judge sat at the defense table. The law clerk sat on the witness stand. The law clerk looked across the courtroom and pointed at the judge. 'He's wearing the, uh, I guess it's a green suit,' said the law clerk, Lawrence N. Rothbart. Mr. Rothbart himself wore a tight suit and a 5 o'clock shadow. He was testifying yesterday in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn against the judge, his former employer. The judge, Gerald P. Garson, formerly a State Supreme Court justice, has been charged with accepting bribes to manipulate divorce cases. He was suspended from the bench four years ago and is now retired...." More (NYT 03.27.2007).
Chief Justice: We need proper walkway between courts. "Chief Justice Dato Seri Paduka Mohammed Saied yesterday said the majority is of the view that there should be a proper walkway from the High Court building to the newly built Law and Courts building.'Walking over to the Magistracy now by the shortest route has one hazard to overcome, that is, to cross over a ditch immediately next to which is the boundary wall, which is two to three feet high...." More (Borneo Bulletin 03.28.2007). Related. How about a courthouse tunnel?
Aussie jurists condemn GITMO detention of Aussie who pleaded guilty. "The International Commission of Jurists' Victorian chairman Glenn McGowan, SC, said...'One of the many reasons why the law disapproves of prolonged incarceration without charge or trial is because of the intolerable pressure it places on the accused to plead guilty just to escape detention. Who amongst us would not consider...pleading guilty just to escape a hell-hole?'" More (The Age 03.27.2007).
China arrests judge for running gambling den. "Chinese police have put an end to the lucrative sideline business of a judge who was arrested for running a gambling den...The judge of the Lishi District court in north China's Shanxi province was caught earlier this month after armed officers stormed the underground casino and arrested 122 people...." More (New Zealand Herald 03.27.2007).
Hearing set for judge whose wife sat on jury. "A Mercer County judge who permitted his wife to sit on a jury in his courtroom is facing a hearing Thursday before the Advisory Committee on Judicial Consent. The ACJC, a judicial review board, is responding to a letter received last May from defendant Johnny Jones, who complained that Superior Court Judge Andrew J. Smithson's wife, Ruta, was allowed to serve as a juror at his trial...." More (Trenton Times 03.27.2007). Comment. In the interests of accuracy, we note that the judge's wife was an alternate and didn't deliberate with the jury that decided the defendant's case. Nor did defense counsel object at the trial. That doesn't necessarily mean the judge acted wisely.
Disgraced judge regains license. "A former Ontario judge [Kerry Evans] who resigned from the bench after being found guilty of sexual misconduct with court employees has regained his right to practise as a lawyer...Evans resigned from the bench on Nov.14, 2004, before the Ontario Judicial Council sanctioned him for misconduct with co-workers that included several instances of patting their groins and buttocks, French-kissing and the force-feeding them ju-jubes. At the Judicial Council hearing in 2004...." More (Toronto Star 03.27.2007).
Judge pulls gun after man jumps railing and punches defendant. "A Circuit Court judge [John Merrett] pulled a handgun in his courtroom after a man jumped a railing and punched a handcuffed defendant accused of molesting his son...A police report said the father landed several punches and threatened to kill [the defendant]. It took five bailiffs to restore order. More (First Coast News 03.27.2007).
Annals of Norwegian judges: Are some of them 'saboteurs'? "Oslo police are furious after local courts keep releasing or ordering short prison terms for a repeat offender who's been arrested with 197 knives over the past six years. The 36-year-old [knife collector] has been convicted 16 times for a series of offenses, including robbery and assault. Last week he was arrested in possession of six knives and a Samurai sword in a public place...The man was ordered held in custody by a city court, but an appeals court ordered him released 'in light of his special interest for knives.' Prosecutor Knut Jostein Sætnan of the Oslo Police District likened that court order to 'sabotage' of police work...." More (Aften Posten 03.27.2007).
Advice line is set up for lonely judges. "A 24-hour counselling helpline is being set up to help judges to deal with the emotional problems and stresses of the job. The Lord Chief Justice is introducing the helpline after a survey found that judges felt in need of 'practical and emotional support'...Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Britain's most senior judge...said: 'Judging is necessarily a solitary task, and can be lonely'...[Judges] can seek advice on stress, bereavement, emotional issues, relationship problems, retirement, general health concerns and the effects of trauma after assaults or accidents...." More (Times UK 03.26.2007).
Rural judges more apt to order prison time. "A man convicted of breaking into a house in Hillsdale County often ends up in prison if the judge has the ability to send him there. Doing the same thing in suburban Detroit would more likely get the convict jail time, probation or a lighter punishment. Michigan's sentencing guidelines are meant to ensure that consistent sentences are handed out for similar crimes. But...." More (Lansing State Journal 03.26.2007).
Judge guessed wrong on which ruling would define his career. "Twenty-five years ago, Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht was 44 years old and about to hand down a decision on what he thought would be the court case that defined his career. 'I wrote an opinion in 1982 that basically declared the penitentiary in Moundsville to be unconstitutional,' Recht said in an interview...
The prison issue barely registered as a blip on the radar screen for most people in the state...It was that other case in 1982[, the one dealing with school funding,] that eventually would become known around West Virginia as the 'Recht Decision'...." More (Charleston Daily Mail 03.26.2007). Comment. Give me one moment in time....
He recused...and then un-recused...and he ain't telling why. "Supreme Court sources confirmed Friday afternoon that Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. has decided to rejoin the case of Credit Suisse v. Billing, set for argument on Tuesday. This, after he had recused from the outset of the case...So why did Roberts rejoin?" More (Law.Com - Legal Times dated 03.26.2007). Comments. Ours is not to question why....
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