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 has devoted his entire professional career to the public interest. 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 (archived here), contained a personal campaign weblog, possibly the first campaign blog. In 2004 he also used the personal blog format in his primary campaign for Congress. That site, BurtonHanson.Com, has morphed into a public interest political opinion blog and also contains the archives of his 2004 campaign web pages and blog postings.
Some of our recent postings. a) Accuseds' 'happy' demeanors irritate judge. b) Ex-wife claims 'Judge X' sexually abused young children. c) Scalia to receive award for being somewhat like Mother Theresa. d) Summoned to jury duty 10 times in 13 years, woman says enough is enough. e) Norwegian judge is being touted for European parliament. f) Nazi war criminal as 'judge.' g) Gender and power. h) Dahlia Lithwick on Sarah Palin -- Justice Barracuda? i) $70 million remodeling of federal courthouse in St. Paul is completed. j) Annals of judicial nightmares. k) Reforming Mexico's judicial system. l) MN 'attorney' is charged with fraud because he's 'not an attorney.' m) With judicial pay so low, it's hard to recruit lawyers to serve as judges? n) Philippines' 'Judge Hitler' is a woman. o) Best & worst judicial systems in Asia. p) Sharia 'courts' in the UK. q) 'Tony G., the Judge Maker,' dies at 82. r) The elaborate $1 billion federal courthouse planned in LaLa Land. s) Judge dismisses $1 million suit by restaurateur over damaged umbrella. t) Federal judge gets hit with two-year suspension. u) Judicial conduct board bans judges' ordering defendants to give to charities. v) Judge issues 'fatwah' against owners of satellite TV channels. w) Annals of judicial candor: 'judge' is fired for calling women 'munters.' x) 'Quirky' judge dies, at 93. y) Are 'container vans' the answer to courtroom shortages? z) Remembering 09.11.2001. aa) Legislator files complaint against judge for soliciting/accepting free tickets. bb) Former C.J. of SCOMN endorses GOP's Norm Coleman over Al Franken. cc) Annals of judges stabbed in the back. dd) Annals of fender-benders involving judges and dog wardens. ee) SCOMN primary recount needed. ff) Judge delays court while sheriff finds better-fitting jail pants for inmates. gg) Quote of the Day. hh) Opinion: 'Justice needs to be blind to a judge's lawful sexual interests.' ii) 'Hoodlums in robes'? 'Lifestyle checks' for judges? jj) Illinois' 120th (!) chief justice is (don't blink or there'll be a newer one).... kk) Annals of Courthouse Carnage: Tearing down 'Our old Kentucky courthouses.' ll) SCOMICH sides with constitutional 'protectors' against 'reformers.' mm) Protect your nerdish kids! nn) Annals of reasons for judicial delay: new judge is still settling into her role. oo) When retirement isn't retirement, except for tax purposes and title. pp) Moving out of the old courthouse is bittersweet. qq) 'Last of Scotland's old-style judges' -- 'Big Al' -- leaves large estate to Lady. rr) CJI recommends impeachment of high court judge. ss) Headline-of-the-Day. tt) The high cost to taxpayers of 'Ten Commandments' battles. uu) Lloyd 'Hot Dog' Simpkins, death penalty judge, will be roasted. vv) Women-only courts? ww) Q&A with the CJ of Malta. xx) Commie says judges think they're 'descendants of God.' yy) Councilwoman says judges are 'lazy, inefficient.' zz) Judge bans attorney from park for asking parents if he may tickle their kids. aaa) Courthouse tests don't back judge's mold complaint. bbb) Controversial Vegas judge in hospital, hubby ('Evil Ed') in jail. ccc) POTUS nominates TV Judge Pepper Cartwright to SCOTUS. ddd) PM nominates 'judicial triathlete' to SCOCAN. eee) On judicial elections in Tennessee. fff) Judicial style -- herein of lime green suits. ggg) Those missing ballots in cliff-hanging FLA judicial election. hhh) Telephonic court appearances save time, money, gas? iii) GOP convention mean big business for MSP -- er, 'big bidness' for their courts. jjj) Judge rejects argument prison inappropriate for defendant suffering from claustrophobia. kkk) Senator's letter to judge during trial urging harsh sentence prompts mistrial. lll) Retired judge admits recruiting prostitutes for Royal Order of Jesters party. mmm) Latest on death row inmate who claims prosecutor, judge affair. nnn) Bd. suspends license of judge over nonpayment of bar dues while in practice. ooo) A teensy-weensy £90m 'black hole' in judiciary budget? ppp) Chief Justice warns judicial staff. qqq) Two top judges from the same street. rrr) Judge writes fact-based lynching novel. sss) Some judges are jumping from the GOP ship. ttt) SCOMISS may change way C.J. is selected. uuu) A critique of coroners' courts in the UK.
Accuseds' 'happy' demeanors irritate judge. "Five men [charged with corruption], including two state executive councillors[,] were sharply reprimanded by a Sessions Court judge yesterday for 'joking and laughing' instead of taking the corruption charges against them seriously. 'I don't see what is so funny. You may think you are innocent. So challenge the evidence and witnesses. There is nothing funny about the charge. I don't see why you are joking and laughing. You are in court. I hope you will take it more seriously,' said judge Tan Hooi Leng." Get serious, judge tells 'happy' accused (New Straits Times 09.16.2008). Comment. While the judge is entitled to maintain "order in the court," I don't think it's any of his business whether the accused are "happy" or not as apparently concerned about the charges as other defendants are who appear in his court.
Ex-wife claims 'Judge X' sexually abused young children. "Police have been ordered to review their handling of the case of a judge accused of sexually abusing young children after claims that they failed adequately to investigate him because he was a friend of the chief constable. The judge, who for legal reasons can be named only as Judge X, has been accused by his former wife of abusing children...The judge has denied all the allegations. The former wife's allegations in June 2006 were referred by social services to Dyfed Powys police, who investigated and concluded that they were baseless. The judge's former wife then complained that the investigation had been inadequate and had the appearance of bias...." More (UK Guardian 09.16.2008). Comments. a) Public reports of complaints against judges in the UK typically refer to the judges as "Judge X," "Judge Y," etc. b) One of the ex-wife's allegations is that Judge X "us[ed] transcripts of trials involving sexual offences for his personal gratification." That's a new one. I've never seen such an allegation before, and I've seen a lot of them (as well as read an awful lot of transcripts in sex cases). c) We know nothing about the facts of this case. But we note that there are some who take the position that it is "too easy for women to file false claims against men in the public eye." See, 'Women suing men' at BurtLaw's Law and Women. See, also, 'Crying Wolf' (and the linked-to article of the same name by Christie Blatchford) at BurtLaw's Crime and Punishment.
Scalia to receive award for being somewhat like Mother Theresa. "[Justice] Scalia is scheduled to attend a lunch and Mass at the [St. Edmund's Retreat Center] on Enders Island [on 10.03.2008] before being one of three recipients of the St. Edmund's Medal of Honor for Service to the Church and Community during a black-tie dinner at the Mystic Marriott...Rev. Thomas Hoar, director of the retreat center, said the five-year-old award honors those who live a life of virtue like St. Edmund, the archbishop of Canterbury, England in the 13th century [who] was regarded by the people of his time much like the late Mother Theresa is seen today...." More (The Day 09.15.2008). Comment. Scalia, one of whose sons is a priest, is one of five Roman Catholics on SCOTUS; the others are Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas. If you're thinking Scalia is more like, say, Jesus Christ than Mother Theresa, you're probably a little off in your thinking. But that's okay with me. In personality, I'd say that, paradoxically, he's more like Martin Luther. As Richard Marius writes of Luther, "Luther's temperament was his tragedy. He was an absolutist, demanding certainty in a dark and conflict-ridden world where nothing is finally sure and mystery abounds against a gloom that may ultimately be driven by fate...." Richard Marius, Martin Luther: The Christian Between God and Death 485 (1999).
Summoned to jury duty 10 times in 13 years, woman says enough is enough. "Fran Best of Mount Pleasant won't be voting in November, partly because she revoked her registration to minimize her chance of getting called for jury duty. Best has been summoned 10 times in the past 13 years by assorted municipal, county and federal courts, and she has grown weary...." She says it's reached the point that she's a "professional juror" and that "If you get picked to go this often, you're going to go in with an attitude." More (Charleston Post and Courier 09.15.2008). Comment. As anyone knows who has studied statistics, one example like this doesn't prove that the juror selection processed used are not random; however, when a person gets called this often, one at least has to wonder. Further reading. See, my essay at Thinking about mostly-white jury pools on a snowy white day in MN (The Daily Judge 12.03.2005).
Norwegian judge is being touted for European parliament. "The leader of the Green group in the European parliament, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, is pushing for a Norwegian[, Eva Joly,] to top his list in next summer's European elections...Joly was born in Norway but has held duel Norwegian-French citizenship for the past 41 years. She made her name as a fierce anti-corruption investigating magistrate in France and more than anyone was responsible for exposing the scandal at state oil giant ELF-Aquitaine...." More (EU Observer 09.15.2008). Comment. One must always take care not to confuse Norwegian judges, magistrates, etc., with Swedish ones. See, Those 'randy' Swede (not Norwegian) judges (The Daily Judge 06.17.2005). Further reading. Courthouse Fashion, part II: The Viking influence on judicial fashions; Annals of Clintonian constructionism -- held, Swede judge didn't pay for 'sex'; Law and Norwegians; The Half-Norwegian (on the Mother's Side) American Bar Association.
Nazi war criminal as 'judge.' Some Italians are reportedly outraged because organizers of the local "Star of the Year" beauty pageant in Lazio -- in what was intended as "a humanitarian act" and part of "a process of pacification" -- invited former S.S. Captain Erich Priebke, a 95-year-old convicted war criminal who is serving a life sentence under house arrest, to serve, by video remote, on the panel of judges. More (UK Telegraph 09.15.2008).
Gender and power. "The Sex and Power report was mainly concerned with the continuing low proportion of women in the country's top jobs. For some strange reason it presented its findings in terms of gastropods undertaking highly unlikely journeys. So someone calculated on taxpayers' money that a snail could travel round the M25 nine times[, which would take 55 years,] before there are likely to be as many senior women judges as men...Coincidentally, last week five new high court judges were appointed, of whom two were women. There are now 14 women high court judges, in addition to the three on the court of appeal and one law lord, Lady Hale. In the light of these new figures, I am anxious to know what changes will have to be made to Sex and Power's predictions. How far will the snail have to travel? How long will it take her?" - From Marcel Berlins, Judges and equality: it gets worse (UK Guardian 09.15.2008).
Dahlia Lithwick on Sarah Palin -- Justice Barracuda? "[Our] third branch of government is wildly overrepresented by insider lawyers with identical résumés...[A] court that once included governors and senators and former football stars is now overrun by an elite cadre of mostly male, mostly East Coast lawyers. If ever there were a branch of government crying out for jurists with checkered and varied life experiences, it's the Supreme Court. And if any branch of government is in need of a mother of five who likes shooting wolves from helicopters, the court is it...No fair arguing that Sarah Palin isn't experienced enough to sit on the highest court of the land. What matters -- far more than experience -- is one's unyielding moral certainty; one's gender, and being 'relatable.'" From Dahlia Lithwick, Justice Barracuda? Why John McCain should put Sarah Palin on the Supreme Court (Slate 09.14.2008). Comment. McCain's nominating Palin to SCOTUS would be no more absurd than his carnival pitchman-like nomination of her as the person best-qualified ("exactly who this country needs") to succeed him when/if he dies or is incapacitated. McCain's reality is at least as funny as Lithwick's on-target parody. I ask as I've asked before, What is it that causes old guys to go all giddy over inexperienced 40-something women and pick them for high position? On the serious note, there is a lot to be said for appointing highly qualified people of diverse backgrounds to SCOTUS. See, my essay on this titled A 'farraginous' Supreme Court (The Daily Judge 06.23.2005).
$70 million remodeling of federal courthouse in St. Paul is completed. "Court will be in session today at the Warren E. Burger Federal Building in downtown St. Paul now that a three-year [$70 million] remodeling project is complete. Judges and staff had been working in temporary quarters in a nearby building...." More (Star-Tribune 09.15.2008). Comments. a) Boy, that's a lot of taxpayer money to remodel a building. I'm not fond of the building. During the 1973-1974 term, while its then quarters on the second and third floors of the east wing of the state capitol were being remodeled, SCOMN temporarily relocated its operation to the rarely-used quarters in the St. Paul federal building of the judges of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is headquartered in St. Louis. As a deputy commissioner, I shared a windowless, poorly-ventilated larger "closet" off of the law library with a normally-pleasant older woman who was in charge of the no-longer-extant court reporter's office. She liked the atrocious quarters no better than I did, and was prone to justifiable loud and frequent sighing over her plight. I'm one who generally internalizes stress (rather than, say, by letting it out in loud and frequent sighs) and I found it necessary to my sanity to take a long walk outside every lunch break and even had to take a tranquilizer for a couple weeks to deal with the stress. It was during that year that I came to realize the importance of sunlight to my well-being. For a piece presenting some of my views (and those of Dr. O. W. Holmes, Sr., Justice Holmes' father, the world-renowned doctor, professor, novelist-poet, and sun-lover) on the importance of sunlight -- actual and metaphorical -- to judicial and personal well-being, see, What about that quote we just attributed to Brandeis? b) BTW, the highly-publicized seven- or eight-month trial of American Indian Movement leaders on various federal charges stemming from the takeover of Wounded Knee, on the Pineridge Reservation of SD, was conducted during our stay in the building. John William Sayer, Ghost Dancing the Law - The Wounded Knee Trials (1995 Harv. U. Press). The leader of the defense team, whom I saw in the halls frequently, always wearing a corduroy suit, was legendary defense lawyer, William Kunstler (1919-1995). c) The generosity of the federal government ($70 million for the federal courthouse renovation) ought to be contrasted with grassroots stinginess when it comes to courthouse renovation. I refer you to this piece in the Catskill Daily Mail (09.15.2008), which details the opposition by an area legislator to the $270-a-month-for-18-months storage costs ($5,000 during the course of the project) that come with moving and storing certain items during the renovation of the local courthouse. For another example, see, this piece in the Youngstown Vindicator (09.15.2008), on the budget battle between Youngstown, Ohio city administrators and the local judges over the court budget (the city says judges are inefficient, while the judges say they're overworked and are considering suing to force the city to build a new $10 million courthouse). If either of these pieces amuses you, you may enjoy reading my earlier exploration of judicial expenditure battles in my mini-essay titled Annals of judicial chambers makeovers - Reining in those wild-spending judges (The Daily Judge 12.18.2005).
Annals of judicial nightmares. "It was the turn of the country's top judges to bear the brunt of Tamil Nadu's power woes. Four judges, including one from the Supreme Court, had a first-hand experience of the power-cut regime on Sunday, when they were trapped inside an elevator in the Madras high court premises for a while. Owing to an unannounced power disruption, their lift got stuck on the first floor of the new library building in the court, forcing them to spend more than 10 minutes inside the lift...." More (Times of India 09.15.2008). Further readings. For links to my previous "courthouse elevator" postings, some of them quite interesting, see, Courthouse elevator falls! (The Daily Judge 07.31.2008).
Reforming Mexico's judicial system. "Since the Spanish conquest in the 1500s, Mexico has had an inquisitorial system adopted from Europe in which the accused is not presumed to be innocent and proceedings are largely carried out in writing and in secret. Inquisitorial systems are still used in many countries. But Mexico's version had become so corrupt, [Cristal] Gonzalez said, that 'if police put someone's head in excrement and the person confessed, the confession was admitted if the paperwork followed procedures as far as fingerprints, the signature of the public minister, etc.'" Under constitutional changes, Mexico's 32 states have eight to replace their closed proceedings with "public trials in which defendants are presumed innocent, legal authorities can be held more accountable and justice is equal." Ms. Gonzales, a U.S.-trained attorney, is one of a number of attorneys helping educate judges, attorneys, police and others in the new system. More (San Francisco Chronicle 09.14.2008). Comment. Isn't it shocking to the American conscience that Mexican investigators would resort to interrogation tactics such as those described by Ms. Gonzalez? We're "hopping glad" (an old Norsk expression) that no American investigator would ever stoop so low and that no American lawyer would ever condone such practices.
MN 'attorney' is charged with fraud because he's 'not an attorney.' "A man accused of pretending to be a lawyer in at least 10 states -- including [MN] -- is facing federal charges in North Dakota. Howard O. Kieffer is charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of false statements in impersonating a lawyer. Court documents show he has worked on federal cases in at least 10 states, but North Dakota is the first state to prosecute him. Kieffer was arrested earlier this month in Duluth, Minn., where authorities said he had a law office and was living with his wife and two children...." More (Chicago Tribune 09.13.2008). Update. Profile of 'Attorney' Howard Kieffer (Duluth News Tribune 09.15.2008).
Philippines' 'Judge Hitler' is a woman. "Judge Hitler was once a teen star of the '60s. Esperanza 'Espie' Fabon Victorino, who was the partner of singer Eddie Peregrina in that popular love team, was appointed judge of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court in 1997. These days, Victorino is fondly referred to as 'Hitler' because she's a stickler for punctuality and she values discipline...." More (Inquirer 09.14.2008).
Best & worst judicial systems in Asia. "Regional financial centres Hong Kong and Singapore have the best judicial systems in Asia, with Indonesia and Vietnam the worst, a survey of expatriate business executives showed...." More (Economic Times 09.14.2008).
Sharia 'courts' in the UK. "Islamic law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases...Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court...Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996. Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case...." More (UK Times 09.14.2008). Comment. If UK Muslims are being coerced into submitting to the "jurisdiction" of these "courts," then the government need not recognize their judgments and ought to do what is necessary to remedy the abuses. But if both parties to a civil dispute are UK Muslims and freely and voluntarily submit their case to what in effect is a religious form of third-party dispute resolution, then the government's interest would appear to be in regulating the process, as it does arbitration and mediation in general, rather than banning it. BTW, "Jewish courts" have operated on identical terms in Great Britain for centuries. Further reading. Shariah law for the UK? (The Daily Judge 02.08.2008); Is beth din the model for sharia courts? Pro and con responses to the question (Jewish Cronicle 02.16.2008). The late and prolific Yiddish writer, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature, wrote a book I like about his father, a Rabbi, titled In My Father's Court - A Memoir (1966). See, Isaac Bashevis Singer's dad's view of pledges (The Daily Judge 07.03.2006).
'Tony G., the Judge Maker,' dies at 82. "Anthony Eugene Gargiulo Jr. -- 'Tony G.' to anyone who was anyone at the Broward County Courthouse -- a consultant in nonpartisan judicial races to both Democrats and Republicans, died Tuesday...Known as the 'Judge Maker,' Gargiulo charged $25,000 to run a campaign and managed no more than four candidates at a time. He would only handle nonpartisan races as a matter of maintaining trust and credibility. Clients didn't choose him; he chose them. They had to be honest, ethical and hard working...." More (Miami Herald 09.13.2008). Comment. My friend, Judge Louis Schiff (click here, here and here), is quoted in the article saying, "He had a talent to mobilize grass-roots campaigns, bringing people of different backgrounds and philosophies of life together. What bound all these folks was their trust and confidence in Tony.''
The elaborate $1 billion federal courthouse planned in LaLa Land. "Costs for a much-touted federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles have tripled to $1.1 billion, according to an audit that said the grand plans might need to be scaled back dramatically. The audit, released this month by the General Accounting Office, raises questions about the elaborate courthouse federal judges want built -- a landmark building that Los Angeles officials hoped would be part of the revitalization of the tired civic center area...." More (LAT 09.13.2008). Comment. Three times over original estimate? Close enough for government.
Judge dismisses $1 million suit by restaurateur over damaged umbrella. "Mr. [Nello] Balan, a tabloid darling as the owner of Nello, an upscale Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side, recently sued a member of the esteemed Rothschild banking family and a supermodel for $1 million, claiming that they had damaged an umbrella he said was given to him by the fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. In a ruling made public on Friday, Justice Joan A. Madden of State Supreme Court in Manhattan not only dismissed the lawsuit, but she also fined Mr. Balan's lawyer, William S. Beslow, for filing a frivolous claim...." More (NYT 09.13.2008). Comment. The umbrella in question is valued new at $5,000. Therefore, reasoned the judge, the claim -- which plaintiff had amended to be for only $30,000 -- clearly belonged, at best, in small-claims court.
Federal judge gets hit with two-year suspension. "A panel of federal judges suspended U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of New Orleans for two years for alleged misconduct...[T]he Judicial Council of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals declared that Judge Porteous had 'brought disrepute to the federal judiciary.' The alleged misconduct included failing to report gifts from lawyers who appeared before him and concealing debts while in personal bankruptcy...." More (WSJ 09.13.2008). Comment. Removal would require impeachment. The WSJ says it's a possibility.
Judicial conduct board bans judges' ordering defendants to give to charities. "Every year for more than a decade, Municipal Court Judge Nancy Luth has held a one-day food drive in her Great Falls courtroom. On that day in December, she makes defendants an offer: donate 10 cans of food to the Great Falls Community Food Bank and have $50 suspended from your fine...." The practice has spread and "Judges across Montana have been ordering defendants to make donations to charitable organizations instead of, or in addition to, paying fines to the state." Now the state's judicial standards board has ruled the practice is unethical and has banned it. More (Billings Gazette 09.13.2008). Comments. a) Judge Luth is quoted as calling the news "heartbreaking." My response: "Get over it." b) I've always felt it's wrong to use any form of coercion or pressure, subtle or overt, to get people to give money to charity. Many years ago, I stood up to a usually-jovial court administrator, no longer with us, who firmly insisted I give to the annual "United Way"-type combined-charities campaign. He wanted 100% participation -- a prerequisite, I recall, to his being invited to a banquet for managers who got 100% participation from their employees. I said I didn't like it when employers pressured employees to contribute to charity, that coerced giving wasn't real giving, and moreover I liked to give to specific charities that mattered to me. He told me he needed 100% participation and was going to contribute $1 in my name, but I told him I'd raise a fuss if he did. I was a lowly law clerk serving at the pleasure of a particular judge & I worried a bit that my "stand" might get me in trouble. Not to worry -- the secretary for the judge I clerked for, the late Marlene Kane, a brave woman, told the administrator she wasn't giving either. Others soon said no, too. Sometimes one brave act sets off an avalanche. Sometimes it doesn't. No matter. If you don't take on bullies or bully broads (and I've known a few) on little matters, then i) you're not a man but a mouse, and ii) their bullying will only increase. Further reading. Here's a link to a relevant poem by W.H. Auden that I first read as a student in Freshman English taught by the wonderful & beautiful then-twenty-something Elizabeth Breeland Rogers during the 1961-1962 school year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. It's called The Unknown Citizen. Are you one? See, also, Let's-Make-a-Deal Courts (The Daily Judge 09.14.2007).
Judge issues 'fatwah' against owners of satellite TV channels. "The most senior judge in Saudi Arabia[, Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan,] has said it is permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV channels which broadcast immoral programmes...." More (BBC News 09.13.2008). Update. Amid a general outcry even in Saudi Arabia, over his "fatwah," the judge has clarified his remarks just a bit: "He insisted that he had not meant to refer to all 'immodest' television programmes, merely to those that broadcast black magic and sorcery. He did not backtrack on the suggestion that network owners could face the death penalty, but said execution could take place only after a 'judicial process.'" Saudi judge modifies his 'fatwah' (The National 09.15.2008).
Annals of judicial candor: 'judge' is fired for calling women 'munters.' "A judge in a beauty contest has been sacked after describing the contestants as 'munters.' Joe Amphlett was shown the door from contest to find the sexiest female fans of League One side Millwall after making the jibe about the girls' looks live on radio...." More (UK Telegraph 09.12.2008). Comment. Our guest editorialist today is our resident expert, Armond Poussaint, to whom, along with Dr. F. Lavoris Pusso, Ph.D., we frequently turn:
'Munter' is British slang for an unattractive woman. While being interviewed on radio, Judge Amphlett said a lot of the contestants had tattoos, which turned him off, and a lot of them were "munters" who don't have a chance of winning. After being fired, he was courageously unrepentant, saying he only told things as he saw them and that "Some of the girls are more Kate Moose than Kate Moss." I ask, "Is the firing of Judge Amphlett a threat to judicial independence?" If, as John McCain contends, "We are all Georgians," are we all, also, Amphlettians? One is reminded of the "poem" that begins, "In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist [etc., etc.]...And then...they came for me...And by that time there was no one left to speak up." First they came (Wikipedia). Judge Whoever-You-Are, as you sit there astride the bench overlooking the plebs seated below you, is it impossible for you to put yourself in Judge Amphlett's shoes?
'Quirky' judge dies, at 93. "'He always reminded me of a country philosopher sitting on the front porch of a general store,' Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice Cohill said. 'He had such a quirky view on things.'" The "he" in the above quote is Barron Patterson McCune, a former federal district judge in Pittsburgh who died the other day at age 93. Unfortunately, the news story, in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review (09.12.2008), doesn't explain in what way McCune was "quirky." I think I might have liked to be told.
Are 'container vans' the answer to courtroom shortages? "Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim on Friday inaugurated two new mobile courtrooms fashioned out of container vans...The vans were customized into a courtroom complete with a judge's table and seat, conference table, seats for the hearings. Fans were also donated for courtrooms' ventilation...'The inmates [of the Manila City Jail] need not go to the City Hall for their hearings. They will just walk a few steps and have the hearings right here [in the vans,]' Lim said. Lim said they thought of converting container vans into courtrooms as an offshoot of the Justice on Wheels Project of Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno last July." More (GMANewsTV 09.12.2008). Comment. Since 2000 I have publicly ridiculed the relatively new fad among SCOMN justices of making personal appearances, giving frequent speeches, etc., as part of their judicial outreach efforts and faux openness (taking the court on "dog 'n' pony style" tours to law schools, high schools). Taking their outreach idea a notch further, perhaps the judges could build a mobile replica of the court's coldly-modern "Beam me up, Scotty" Star-Trek-style Minnesota Judicial Center courtroom, put it inside a container van, and take "the courtroom" with them on their various reach-out-and-touch-someone public relations forays -- sort of the way the City of Edina's Sousa Band is able to take its mobile bandstand with them to [erformances in various city parks. Further reading. Judges to toss wigs, get new 'Star Trek' gowns (The Daily Judge 05.13.2008); Annals of outrageous judicial corruption (The Daily Judge 04.13.2008); If you cry out for justice, a judge will appear: bus as mobile courtroom (The Daily Judge 10.13.2006).
Remembering 09.11.2001. I was one of the first of the law bloggers, and I blogged heavily on matters of war and peace in the days immediately following 09.11.2001. Those early post-09.11 entries, originally filed at BurtLaw's LawAndEverythingElse, are archived in four sections of that blog beginning with War on Terror I (which links to the other sections), and, more significantly and completely are also a part of the Library of Congress' 09.11 Archives and may be accessed here.
Former CJ of SCOMN endorses GOP's Coleman over Franken. As I was retiring last night (09.10.2008), I heard on my TV radio (audio feed of local TV channels) the unmistakable voice of a man I worked closely with at SCOMN and still admire, A.M. "Sandy" Keith, the former DFL legislator from Republican Rochester and former DFL lieutenant-governor who later was appointed by his then-friend, DFL Governor Rudy Perpich, as associate justice and then chief justice at SCOMN. The voice was "in" a new TV advertisement aired by Stormin' Norman Coleman, the former DFL Mayor of St. Paul and now GOP Senator, who is opposed in the general election by Al Franken, the MN native, Blake School and Harvard College graduate who went on to fame and fortune as an SNL cast member/writer, author of best-selling volumes of political satire, and host of a national radio political talk show. In the ad Sandy praises Coleman and disses Franken. Two years ago Keith undoubtedly helped GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty win a close re-election contest by endorsing him shortly before the election (Keith said that year that Pawlenty had done more for Rochester than any governor since DFL Gov. Perpich). Keith also was a booster of the much-maligned, highly-controversial Rachel Paulouse, whom Norm Coleman got appointed U.S. Attorney. Comment. When I stood (but didn't really run) as a Prosperity-Through-Peace Eisenhower Republican and Anti-Iraq War candidate in the 2004 GOP primary against gung-ho Iraq War supporter Third District Congressman Jim Ramstad (who is not running for re-election this year), I received a number of e-mails accusing me of being a so-called "RINO," that is, "Republican In Name Only." I, of course, have always felt that the moderate folks, like Peace-and-Prosperity Ike and Slavery-Ending Honest Abe, were better and truer Republicans than the radical so-called "religious" right-wingers who've run the party and the country into the ground in recent years. I don't doubt that some DFLers are calling Sandy a "DINO" or "DFLer In Name Only." Perhaps they don't realize that Keith, who was born and raised in and represented conservative Rochester in the legislature, has always been a sensible Rochester-loving Mayo-Clinic-loving centrist, coexisting with all the others under the big DFL umbrella. Believe it or not, a lot of the original Farmer-Laborites, of which my grandfather's bro, Lewis Herfindahl was one (he was party secretary at the time of Floyd B. Olson's death), were what we'd today call centrist in a lot of matters. Anyhow, while I still admire Keith, I don't admire his admiration for Pawlenty, Paulose, and Coleman. Some of my prior comments on them may be found in the pages of my 2004 campaign website and in the pages of the political opinion blog, Sometimes Left But Always Right, into which the campaign website morphed. Incidentally, you'll find Sandy Keith (whether he likes being there or not) in my extended campaign essay titled 'My Political Heroes.' Further reading. For a still-valuable 1966 Harvard Crimson profile of Sandy that I read and clipped out when I was a student at Harvard Law School, see, How to Get Mangled in Minnesota Politics - Sandy Keith Succumbs to Sympathy Vote (Harvard Crimson 11.01.1966). Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry on him (not to be confused with this Alexander "Sandy" Keith, the notorious Halifaxian, or this Sandy Keith, the FLA collector of bagpipe music, or this A.M. "Sandy" Keith, the late Mayor of Little Rock. If you like reading judicial opinions, here's a link to a list of judicial opinions written by Keith during his tenure at SCOMN. (Some of the ones in criminal appeals are especially good.)
Legislator files complaint against judge for soliciting/accepting free tickets. "State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha has filed a complaint against an Omaha judge[, Douglas County District Judge J. Michael Coffey,] who allegedly sought and received hundreds of dollars worth of free tickets to events at the Qwest Center Omaha...." More (Omaha World-Herald 09.10.2008).
Annals of judges stabbed in the back. "The Placer County District Attorney's Office is trying to determine whether to file charges against a woman who allegedly stabbed a former judge in the back of the neck during a dispute at their Auburn home...." The former judge, Robert A. Young, 67, played down the incident, saying it was "a misunderstanding," that "no harm was done," and "everything is cool," but Young was treated at a hospital and police arrested a 41-year-old woman identified as Noel Brady in the incident. More (Sacramento Bee 09.11.2008). Comment. If every woman who stabbed her hubby or threatened him with a knife or attacked him physically were arrested, we'd have to hire a lot more police, prosecutors and defense attorneys and add a lot of judges. Fact is, female-on-male-crime is vastly under-reported.
Annals of fender-benders involving judges and dog wardens. "A Toledo Municipal Court judge[, Michael Goulding,] and the Lucas County dog warden[, Tom Skeldon,] were involved in a [rear-end] fender-bender accident on Summit Street near Clayton Street close to downtown Toledo...A front tow hook on Judge Goulding's sport utility vehicle punched a hole in the rear plastic bumper of Mr. Skeldon's personal van...." More (Toledo Blade 09.11.2008). Comment. I stoutly resisted the urge to use a laugh-seeking headline that came to mind as I read the news report.
SCOMN primary recount needed. Horse-riding SCOMN Justice Lorie Gildea, appointed by GOP Gov. Pawlenty to replace a justice who retired before his term was up, is running for a full six-year term. She faced three primary opponents but managed to pull in 53.45% of the total vote. However, the race for the other place on the General Election ballot was so tight that an automatic recount is required. Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund got 17.86 percent in the initial machine count and Attorney Jill Clark got 17.43 percent. More (MN Lawyer Blog 09.10.2008). Meanwhile, in the other primary contest, bicycle-riding Paul Anderson got 64% to second-place finisher 9th District referee Tim Tingelstad, who got 22%. They'll face each other in the general election. More (MN Lawyer Blog 09.10.2008). Comment. Contrary to the "sky is falling" and "something bad is about to happen" predictions of those who want to deprive MN voters of their historic say in judicial selection, the various judicial election contests in MN, as usual, have been clean and fairly fought, without dirty campaigning and without the infusion of any "big money" or "outside money." See, Why SCOMN's novice chief should listen to SCOWIS's more experienced chief; Challenger judge beats SCOWIS justice 51%-49% in contested election; WSJ on the 'why' of judicial elections -- with reference to Wisconsin; Election of judges as a check on corruption and as guarantor of judicial independence from other branches of government; More on the big money behind 'judicial reform'; The campaign to deprive MN voters of a role in judicial selection; More on the fallout from the voters' choice in Wisconsin; 'Reality check' on Missouri-Plan 'merit' selection commissions; The Return of the Ancient Mariner -- or is it Minnesota Scariner?
Quote of the Day. "If the image of Judiciary has gone down it is...judges themselves who are responsible." P. N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India. Judges to blame for fall in image (NDTV 09.11.2008).
That a federal case should be made of Judge Kozinski's website is...bizarre...There is no suggestion that the material collected by the judge was unlawful. It was for his private entertainment. It is a matter for the judge whether to spend his leisure time collecting stamps, learning to speak Chinese or looking at saucy pictures of naked women. The response of the investigating panel of the [USCC] should be similar to that of the juror in Hamilton County, Cincinnati, in 2004 who was hearing an obscenity case concerning a video, Maximum Hardcore Extreme, Volume 7. The trial had to be abandoned when, during the showing of the offending video, the juror dozed off....
'Hoodlums in robes'? This is the first time I ever heard the expression. It was uttered by a lawmaker in the Philippines, Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante, who claims the judiciary isn't doing a good enough job policing itself and that more needs to be done to "cleanse the judiciary of 'bad eggs'" and "completely rid [it] of 'hoodlums in robes.'" His proposal? He suggests what he's calling a "lifestyle check" to be "performed on all members of the judiciary" and "to be undertaken by an independent body under the Supreme Court." More (Manila Inquirer 09.10.2008). Comment. What would a "lifestyle check" consist of? Would it be a sort of "lifestyle" or "whole person" equivalent of a complete physical exam by a medical doctor? My guess is if everyone were subjected to a true "lifestyle check," we'd all come out wanting. But my perspective on man is the Old/New Testament perspective, that we're by nature sinful, that we've all fallen short of the Glory of God, and that each of us is daily in need of forgiveness. But that's just me, a small-town Norwegian Lutheran who spent a lot of time in church when I was growing up listening to the likes of Rev. Harold S. Nasheim, the Norwegian Lutheran pastor of my confirmation years. Here's a poetic doodle I jotted off several years ago, not meant in criticism of Rev. Nashiem but offered rather out of an affection for the whole man, including his saliva-laden sun-lit expostulations....
'Happy Easter!' Rev. Nasheim should have said.
But Our Savior's Lutheran was filled to the rafters,
and many of the folks hadn't been there since Christmas!
'Twice-a-year Christians!' he bellowed.
The sputrum flying forth from his red mouth as he spoke
passed through a stream of April light and glistened
as it arced downward, transformed by Grace.
'Happy Easter!' said the Sun....
Illinois' 120th (!) chief justice is (don't blink or there'll be a newer one).... "Thomas Fitzgerald is Illinois' 120th chief justice, dating back to the state's admission into the Union in 1818. For 90 years, the court had a new chief justice every year. Since the mid-1970s, chief justices have served three-year terms...." More (Springfield State Journal-Register 09.09.2008). Comment. Fitzgerald replaces Republican Bob Thomas, the former pro football place-kicker (the guy who prevailed in a libel suit). More on ILL justice's big defamation award (The Daily Judge 11.20.2006). In a posting titled Court upholds dismissal of judge's libel suit against TV station (The Daily Judge 10.12.2005), I express in detail my view that the cause of action for defamation ought to be eliminated for a number of reasons, including that it is inconsistent with First Amendment values.
SCOMICH sides with constitutional 'protectors' against 'reformers.' "Voters are unlikely to weigh in on a sweeping ballot measure that would have rewritten large sections of the state constitution now that the Michigan Supreme Court has agreed with the state Court of Appeals. [See, MI Court of Appeals knocks 'Reform Michigan' amendment off ballot (The Daily Judge 08.21.2008).] In a 6-1 decision, many of the justices said it wasn't possible to communicate in a 100-word summary what the 19,000-word ballot proposal would do...Justice Marilyn Kelly dissented, saying she would have granted leave to appeal and sent the matter to the Board of State Canvassers, asking that it give the court the 100-word summary it found acceptable...." More (Ann Arbor News 09.09.2008). Comments. a) SCOMICH members are probably reading this story in their morning papers and breathing a sigh of relief that the good justices of SCOMICH ("Who are those good people?") had sense enough to keep the proposal off the ballot. The proposed changes in the constitution included, inter alia, i) reducing the size of the senate from 38 to 28, the house from 110 to 82, the supreme court by two seats (to five from seven) and the court of appeals by seven seats (to 21 from 28), and increasing the number of trial judges by ten; ii) reducing by 25% the pay of the governor and legislators and by 15% the pay of judges; and iii) cutting pension benefits for judges who remain on the job after the amendment takes effect. b) I'm guessing a skilled wordsmith could reduce the 19,000 word proposal to a 100 word summary -- perhaps "Change is good!" or "Change you can believe in!" c) Amusingly, the proponents call themselves "Reform Michigan Government Now." This necessitated an opposition group with an equally-lofty sounding title, "Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution." Basically, though, the battle lines were some Democrats and union members proposing and some business types opposing. d) My main posting on this "reform" proposal is a 06.25.2008 mini-essay in The Daily Judge titled A coup d' judiciaire masquerading as 'reform'? In it I also give my general skeptical views on proposed amendments to state constitutions by those who deceptively cloak themselves in the self-righteous robes of "reform," e.g., those in MN who under the banner of "Reform!" are trying to persuade voters to give up their historic role in judicial selection that now is guaranteed by the MN Constitution. e) How can voters protect themselves against all the foolish proposed amendments to their state constitutions that self-styled "reformers" keep proposing? My recommendation: Decide that your default response to all such proposals is just plain "No!" f) Want to provide your nerdy kids with similar protection against the silly ideas of the popular crowd at school? Read on....
Protect your nerdish kids! I read a story in The Onion about some obviously-good parents who are rightly concerned that their nerdish kid will fall in with the popular crowd. One thing those parents could do is buy their kid one of our BurtLaw Nerd Club Pocket Protecters. Worn in the left front pocket of a nerdishly-white dress shirt, this badge of pathos will say to the popular kids, "I'm a nerd; stay away." And (this is the good part), it really works! Only $14.95, plus a modest shipping & handling charge of only $20.05. Free BurtLaw Nerd Club Member certificate included.
Annals of reasons for judicial delay: new judge is still settling into her role. "The six-year-old dispute over the Robertson Foundation's $900 million endowment will face yet another delay. Superior Court Judge Maria Sypek postponed the trial date from October until January because she is still settling into her role as a Chancery Court judge and has several other cases lined up on her docket, The Times of Trenton reported...." More (Daily Princetonian 09.08.2008).
When retirement isn't retirement, except for tax purposes and title. "U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann said he will carry a full caseload at least until his replacement is confirmed by the Senate. The judge assumed senior status at the end of July...Kornmann estimated it will be 18 months to two years before the Senate confirms his replacement...[T]he senior status announcement means only that Kornmann won't have to pay $630 a month in Social Security taxes, he said. In essence, tax law considers the money paid to federal judges on senior status a pension instead of a wage, but in reality the money is a salary, Kornmann said... 'I don't ever intend to retire as long as I'm physically and mentally capable to handle the job,' he said...." More (Rapid City Journal 09.07.2008).
Moving out of the old courthouse is bittersweet. "It's not just our office I'll miss, but the courtrooms and their inhabitants that still live with me. Whenever a young lawyer complains about a judge chastising them, I just laugh. 'Did the judge throw a pencil at you (the late Honorable D. T. Marrone) or lecture you in law so thoroughly as to make you question your choice of occupation (the late Honorable Leonard Sugerman)?' 'Were you ever the sacrificial lamb for the late Judge Robert Gawthrop's wit?' When I had just started, that was me, doing a plea to a driving an overweight vehicle charge...and in front of a packed courtroom...." Patrick Carmody, First ADA of Chester County says goodbye to "an old friend," the 1840s' era Chester County Courthouse, designed by the same guy who designed the U.S. Capitol's dome. He'll soon be moving "west on Market Street" to the new courthouse. More (Chester Daily Local 09.08.2008). Comment. It's still not clear what's to become of the old courthouse. Carmody hopes it will be preserved. So do I. See, my essay on historic preservation, The failed campaign to save a historic courthouse from demolition.
'Last of Scotland's old-style judges' -- 'Big Al' -- leaves large esate to Lady. "Lord Charles Johnston died on June 14, aged 66. His newly published will shows he bequeathed his entire legacy of £1,302,378 to his wife Lady Anthea. Lord Johnston, who was appointed a QC in 1980, was known affectionately in Edinburgh's legal circle as Big Al and was regarded as one of the last of Scotland's old-style judges...." More (Daily Record 09.08.2008).
CJI recommends impeachment of high court judge. "The Indian judicial system is facing tough time as the Chief Justice of India, K G Balakrishna, has recommended the removal of a Calcutta High Court judge for misappropriation of funds. In his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the CJI wants PM to initiate impeachment process for removing Justice Soumitra Sen...." More (NDTV 09.08.2008).
Headline-of-the-Day. Headline in Legal Brief today (09.08.2008): 'Judge thought best suited for ConCourt job probably won't get it.' Comment. That, of course, is not news. The last time a judge "thought best suited" by SCOTUS actually was appointed to SCOTUS was when President Hoover, a Republican, bowed to pressure, including from GOP Senator William Borah of Idaho, and nominated Benjamin Cardozo, a Democrat, to succeed Justice Holmes. The Senate, which had rejected two of Hoover's previous nominees, confirmed Cardozo unanimously. Further reading. Andrew L. Kaufman (my commercial transactions teacher at HLS), Cardozo 461-67 (1998) (Google Books excerpt); Cardozo for Holmes (Time 02.22.1932).
The high cost to taxpayers of 'Ten Commandments' battles. "A long legal fight over courthouse displays of the Ten Commandments could cost two southern Kentucky counties nearly $400,000...." Under federal civil rights law the ACLU of KY, which sued and obtained injunctive relief, is entitled to be reimbursed for reasonable legal fees. It's seeking $390,000. More (Detroit Free Press 09.07.2008). Further reading. See, my Daily Judge posting titled Court o.k.'s Bush's '10 Commandments' & their own, but not all, and my 2001 Law and Everything Else posting titled The 'Ten Commandments movement' revisited.
Lloyd 'Hot Dog' Simpkins, death penalty judge, will be roasted. Circuit Judge Lloyd "Hot Dog" Simpkins, at 88 the oldest sitting judge in MD, a self-described "good, clean Methodist boy," who "figures he holds some kind of record for trying more death penalty cases than any other judge in the nation," will be "roasted" on Friday, 09.12.2008, on the occasion of his receiving the award of Somerset Distinguished Citizen for 2008. More (DelmarvaNow 09.07.2008). Further reading. BurtLaw on Capital Punishment (LawAndEverything Else.Com); Burton Hanson on Crime & Punishment (Burton Hanson for Congress Position Paper 2004).
Women-only courts? "The Sindh provincial government [in Pakistan] has reportedly decided to establish separate courts for women, Provincial Law Minister Muhammad Ayaz Soomro said here last evening...." More (NewsPostOnline 09.07.2008). Further reading. This news story refers to the Muslim Sindh people in Pakistan. At the time of the division of India in 1947, most Muslim Sindh people remained living in the territory that became Pakistan, and most Hindu Sindh people migrated from that area to what is now India. More (Wikipedia).
Q&A with the C.J. of Malta. Chief Justice Vincent De Gaetano is the subject of this Q&A session conducted by reporter Steve Mallia, Judging the judges (Times of Malta 09.07.2008). Excerpt.:
Q. So you disagree with judges going to casinos.
A. Yes, I would disapprove.
Q. Do you disapprove of them going to nightclubs?
A. If one is going to a nightclub on a regular basis, perhaps. It also depends on who one associates with...Let's put it this way: the judicial office carries with it, to use a Latin word, a degree of gravitas. Anything which detracts from that detracts from the office and the moral authority of the judge or magistrate.
Commie says judges think they're 'descendants of God.' "Judges see themselves as 'descendants of God' who came down from heaven to the bench thinking whatever they say is divine, says the Young Communist League's national secretary[, Buti Manamela]...." More (Independent - South Africa 09.06.2008).
Councilwoman says judges are 'lazy, inefficient.' "Plenty of city leaders are calling for an overhaul of Houston's municipal court system. To put it simply, the court hasn't kept pace with the number of traffic citations issued each year...Councilwoman Toni Lawrence believes the big problem is the municipal judges. She said that many of them are lazy, some are inefficient and she thinks a few of them need to be replaced...." More (Texas Cable News 09.06.2008).
Judge bans attorney from park for asking parents if he may tickle their kids. "[Madison County Associate Judge Steve Stobbs] on Friday banned a local attorney[, Charles R. Douglas,] from a Glen Carbon park after police charged [him with four counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct for] asking people whether he could tickle their children...." Douglas, who is 58, says he's been doing what he calls a "tickle monster routine" with kids for years and has never done it without first asking and getting parental permission. He says he may sue. More (Belleville News-Democrat - ILL 09.06.2008).
Courthouse tests don't back judge's mold complaint. "New tests haven't found high mold levels inside the Grant County Courthouse. But a judge who moved his offices from the building says he's still concerned about its safety because of health problems he and others have suffered...." More (FOX28 09.06.2008). Earlier. Last month we posted an entry on this, with commentary: Judge refuses to hold court in courthouse in James Dean's hometown! (The Daily Judge 08.18.2008).
POTUS nominates TV Judge Pepper Cartwright to SCOTUS. "President Vanderdamp has a Supreme Court seat to fill, and in a stroke of genius, he has nominated America's most popular TV judge: Pepper Cartwright, star of Courtroom Six. Beautiful and headstrong, Cartwright spews folksy Texas wisdom when not quoting Shakespeare, packs a LadySmith revolver and delivers judicial decisions from the hip...." From Blake Wilson's review of Christopher Buckley's new novel, Supreme Courtship (Sunday NYT Book Review 09.07.2008). Comment. The nomination is no more absurd than John McCain's carnival pitchman-like nomination of the self-described "lipstick-wearing pitbull," Sarah "Hockey Mom" Palin, as the person best-qualified ("exactly who this country needs") to succeed him when/if he dies or is incapacitated. Once again, reality is as least as funny as parody. What is it that causes old guys to go all giddy over inexperienced 40-something women and pick them for high positions in state and federal government?
PM nominates 'judicial triathlete' to SCOCAN. "On the eve of an election call, [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] nominated a Nova Scotia judge[, Thomas Cromwell,] Friday to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada, cutting off the work of an advisory panel that had been vetting a list of contenders...Philip Girard, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, described Cromwell as 'a triathlete of jurists' because of his rich experience as a lawyer, law professor and judge...." More (Montreal Gazette 09.06.2008). Comment. Ya gotta presume Judge Girard is the "best person" for the job, else the PM wouldn't have pulled the rug out from under the advisory panel and picked him, right? I don't know anything about Girard, but on the penchant of pm's, presidents and governors to characterize each of their picks of lawyers, many of whom just happen to be pals, as the "best person" for the job of judge, I refer you to my extensive comments (with included links) at Annals of cronyism: MN's Pawlenty appoints another colleague to bench (The Daily Judge 06.25.2008), and Pawlenty picks pal as new chief justice (The Daily Judge 03.18.2008).
Judicial style -- herein of lime green suits. "In Britain, judges are wedded to a tradition of elegant attire: scarlet and ermine robes, tippets over the shoulders, black girdles and, of course, the crimped, gray horsehair wig. In the United States, judges have been less attached to such grand garb. Robes were not even a necessary part of their attire in the decades after the Revolutionary War, though it eventually became the accepted fashion. But even today, New York does not require judges to wear robes, and various judges spurn them altogether from time to time, or at least try to wear them with a bit of flair...." One of those who sometimes wears a black robe (with some of the buttons unfastened and accented with a scarf or necklace) is Judge ShawnDya L. Simpson of Manhattan, who recently "wield[ed] the gavel in a lime-green suit." John Eligon, From Behind the Gavel, a Sense of Style (NYT 09.06.2008), a feature on judicial style in general and Judge Simpson in particular. Earlier. Judges to toss wigs, get new 'Star Trek' gowns (The Daily Judge 05.14.2008). Recent developments. Latest developments in courthouse fashions (The Daily Judge 01.13.2008); Annals of the history of judicial courage: the polka-dot stockings-short-skirt scandal (The Daily Judge 11.27.2007). Essential readings on judicial and courthouse fashions. Here are links to some of our essential postings dealing with judicial fashions, judges dressing up as clowns, judges getting in trouble for dressing up as Santa Claus, judges getting nabbed wearing blackface, male judges driving under the influence wearing dresses, men in long flowing gowns upholding the ban on same-sex marriage, etc: a) Annals of Courthouse Fashion, part I: Another judge tries instituting courthouse dress code. b) Courthouse Fashion, part II: The Viking influence on judicial fashions. c) Courthouse Fashion, part III: Judges voice objection to some lawyers' attire. d) On judicial swimsuits & the Rules of Judicial Conduct. e) Judge-endorsed BurtLaw Bench Pants. f) BurtLaw Super-Privacy Robes. g) Durham courts follow lead of NBA. h) Judge Hlophe speaks out on courtroom dress & decorum. i) Contemptuous courtroom attire? j) What's so bad about shorts & tube tops in courtroom? k) A nostalgic look back at another instance of judicial stickling. l) Judges allowed to go bare-headed during U.K. heat wave. m) Should you beware of a judge who dresses up as a clown or Santa Claus? (scroll down).
Those missing ballots in cliff-hanging FLA judicial election. "More than 30 workers today were sifting through thousands of ballots at the tabulation center off Belvedere Road, desperate to come closer to a conclusion in the race between Circuit Judge Richard Wennet and challenger William Abramson. But unlike last week, the workers weren't recounting votes in the controversial race. This time around, they were merely counting the number of ballots...." More (Palm Beach Post 09.04.2008). Comments. a) The original machine count showed Abramson winning by 17 votes out of 102,523 cast. Then a manual recount showed Wennet ahead by 60 out of 99,045 cast. In other words, there were 3,478 missing ballots! But, hey, this is Palm Beach County -- isn't a discrepancy of 3,478 close enough for Palm Beach County government? Apparently not. "Staffers" now say they've recovered 2,700 of the missing ballots and it looks like another hand recount is inevitable. b) Readers of The Daily Judge are familiar with Judge Wennet. Previous posts include i) The judge had her arrested; now she's written a book, and Ex-girlfriend of judge is charged over taping of judge at public beach. c) According to an 09.03.2008 posting on the Daily Business Review blog Inside Track, "it was anchors aweigh as [Wennet] and a girlfriend left on a cruise hours after the recount gave him the victory." Further reading. Jose Lambiet, Conveniently timed book bashes YouTube judge (Palm Beach Post 05.16.2008). Update. County wants courts to decide (TC Palm 09.05.2008).
Telephonic court appearances save time, money, gas? "Since 1995, hundreds of judges and tens of thousands of attorneys have quietly led the charge to help save the environment, save gas and save hundreds of millions of dollars in litigation expenses by embracing CourtCall's telephonic appearance program...." More (BusinessWire Press Release via MarketWatch 09.04.2008).
GOP convention mean big business for MSP -- er, 'big bidness' for their courts. "While the RNC ends Thursday night, the convention related court cases will wind their way through Minnesota's legal system for months, maybe even years to come. The courts in New York still have cases pending from activities related to the Republican National Convention there four years ago. It's unclear whether those same kinds of suits would be an option here...." Elizabeth Stawicki, Long after the RNC ends, the courts will still be dealing with the fallout (Minnesota Public Radio 09.04.2008).
Judge rejects argument prison inappropriate for defendant suffering from claustrophobia. "Mr. Balliro suffers from severe anxiety. He has difficulty driving across a bridge or through a tunnel. Any period of incarceration, even one day, would cause him severe emotional distress." This was an argument made by attorney Thomas Bello in an attempt to persuade U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler to consider alternatives to inarceration of his client, former postmaster John F. Balliro, who was convicted of corruption for "steering contracts to private businesses in return for cash and other favors and getting an employee to do work at his home." Judge Chesler's response? "He's not going to be confined in an elevator, a train or an airplane. It's going to be in a federal correctional facility that has four walls and a roof, just like the place he resides in now." For how long? Thirty-three months. More (Star-Ledger - NJ 09.05.2008).
Senator's letter to judge during trial urging harsh sentence prompts mistrial. "After beginning his letter [faxed to Circuit Judge Jack Day] with 'I realize that I cannot get involved in the Eloise Mudway case,' [State Sen. Mike] Fasano launches into his thoughts. 'If [Joseph] and Cynthia Clancy have done even half of what they are alleged to have done, they should get the strongest possible sentence,' Fasano wrote. 'Too often we read of deadbeat individuals in this state taking advantage of our elderly residents. Enough is enough!'" The fax arrived as Day was presiding, without a jury, over the trial of a couple accused of cheating a 91-year-old woman out of her house, etc. The judge properly revealed the letter's contents to the defense and the defense moved for an order of recusal, which the judge granted, thereby ending the trial. More (The Suncoast News 09.04.2008). Comment. "A similar conflict arose in August 2003 after then-Gov. Jeb Bush sent a letter to Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer, who was presiding over the Terri Schiavo case." Id. When will elected officials, who ought to know better, learn that this sort of thing ain't kosher?
Retired judge admits recruiting prostitutes for Royal Order of Jesters party. "[Former State Supreme Court Judge Ronald H. Tills, 73, of Hamburg has admitted] in federal court that he recruited prostitutes for events sponsored by a fraternal men's club known as the Royal Order of Jesters. [Judge Tills] pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the federal Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines for the purposes of prostitution...." The prostitutes were hired to "service" fellow Jesters, a 23,500 member group "[d]edicated to the pursuit of 'mirth and merriment.'" One of the good judge's former law clerks has also pleaded guilty. More (Buffalo News 09.05.2008). Comment. Judicial burnout is often expressed in peculiar conduct or misconduct that is wholly atypical for the judge. If you've been reading these pages and the "Court Gazing" sections of my other blawg, you know of what I speak. Some judges seem to benefit from letting down their hair and having a little fun every now and then. One might call it a "misconduct preventative." Such judges who like to have that "fun" out of the jurisdiction might want to avoid having it at that next judicial retreat in Dubai, the sun-and-fun capital of the Middle East. ("When in Dubai, do-do-do as Du-bai-ins do"). But where, oh where, can a judge go, have a little of the aforesaid "fun," and not have to suffer any adverse consequences? Several years ago we suggested two novel ways of preventing in-jurisdiction misconduct by judges (only partly with tongue in cheek) in 'On judicial swimsuits and the Rules of Judicial Conduct -- part II' (scroll down) at BurtLaw's Law and Swimsuits -- specifically, i) a formalized annual "Judicial Mardis Gras" or, if you will, "moral holiday," and ii) a variant on that idea, a "Judicial Safe Place" on some privately-owned judiciously-governed Caribbean island, a program that would be modeled after that adopted by St. Paul, Minnesota, in the 1920's, when it was "notorious as a safe haven for gangsters." It should be noted that we long ago also suggested that many cases of judicial burnout might be prevented simply if court systems allowed for three-month or six-month "judicial sabbaticals" or "timeouts" every x-number of years. Misbehaving kids benefit from "timeouts." Why not judges? For an example of Lord Falconer struggling to deal with the matter of judicial burnout in the UK, see, 'Career breaks' for judges -- a misconduct preventative? Further readings on Mann ('White Slave') Act. Should we send all judges and legislators to jail? (In re Frank Lloyd Wright's experience being wrongly arrested in MN and spending night in jail for allegedly violating Mann Act); More on the Mann Act (about the history of the Act, overly-broad interpretation of it, and abusive use of it by federal prosecutors). Further readings on Masons, Shriners, and Jesters. Masonic bodies; Shriners (Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine); Royal Order of Jesters. As I understand it, and I'm not sure of this, one must be a Mason to be a Shriner, and one must be a Shriner to be a Jester.
Latest on death row inmate who claims prosecutor, judge affair. "A state judge had scheduled a hearing to determine whether Verla Sue Holland, the judge in Charles Dean Hood's death penalty trial, and former Collin County District Attorney Tom O'Connell must give depositions about their reported affair. But the hearing was scheduled for Sept. 12 -- two days after Hood is scheduled to die for a 1989 double murder...." More (ABC News 09.04.2008). Comments. a) Isn't that just like Texas Justice, to schedule the hearing for after the guy making the claim is executed. b) According to the story, a couple dozen former prosecutors and judges are urging Gov. Rick Perry (who, like his predecessor, Geo. W. Bush, never saw a death warrant he wasn't eager to sign) to grant a temporary reprieve. Earlier. Annals of Judicial Romance: Lawyers for death-row inmate allege judge-prosecutor affair (with links to other postings on judicial romance); Ardor in the Court (Salon 06.24.2005). Updates. a) "A judge moved a condemned inmate's hearing date Thursday so that it's no longer scheduled after his execution date. State District Judge Greg Brewer in suburban Dallas moved the date to Monday, two days before convicted killer Charles Dean Hood is set to die. Brewer's decision reverses a decision by another judge who had set a similar hearing for Sept. 12...." More (Houston Chronicle 09.05.2008). b) "A judge and a prosecutor who handled the murder trial of a man sentenced to death here have admitted under oath that they carried on a secret affair for years, lawyers for the condemned man said Tuesday in a letter to Gov. Rick Perry...'Judge Holland and Mr. O'Connell confirmed that they kept the relationship secret,' [he] wrote to the governor. 'She never disclosed it to a single litigant or lawyer who appeared before her, and she never recused herself from hearing a single case because of her affair with the elected district attorney.'" More (NYT 09.10.2008).
Bd. suspends license of judge over nonpayment of bar dues while in practice. "The State Bar of Texas has suspended District Judge Bruce Priddy's law license for three months for "professional misconduct," but he can continue to work as a civil judge...The state bar panel issued the suspension Aug. 25 in response to a complaint that Priddy, while still in private practice, was hired to represent a client while on administrative suspension for nonpayment of Bar Association dues...." More (Houston Chronicle 09.04.2008). Comment. Oh, my God! The judge actually was late in paying his sacred bar dues when he was in private practice! Without reference to the fine folks on the Texas board, it's my observation that, more and more, disciplinary boards around the country seem to be populated by a bunch of people who expect lawyers and judges to observe codes of conduct that not even Jesus Christ likely would enforce. Do we want "perfect people" as lawyers and judges? Who are these "perfect people"? There is wisdom, I believe, in the words of Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd: "Fill the seats of justice with good [people], not so absolute in goodness as to forget what human frailty is...." Show me a man who hasn't known a bit of failure in his life, who hasn't made some mistakes and learned from them, and I'll show you a fellow who's not yet a man and not yet experienced enough to be judging others.
A teensy-weensy £90m 'black hole' in judiciary budget? "Court sittings could be cancelled, trials delayed and magistrates even made redundant as a result of a £90m 'black hole' in the budget of the courts service, according to documents leaked to the Conservatives. The budget crisis is revealed in a letter sent by Lord Justice Leveson, the senior presiding judge for England and Wales, to all judges and magistrates last Friday, warning them that £27m extra savings had to be made by next March, with an urgent action plan to be presented to the justice ministry later this month...." More (UK Guardian 09.04.2008). Comment. The £90m figure is an estimate of the cuts needed over the next three years. Why the crisis? It appears there's been "a sharp reduction in cases brought by Revenue & Customs chasing unpaid taxes and a sharp drop in child protection cases after the introduction of full-cost fees in May," meaning "a sharp fall in fee income for the courts." Maybe if the number of cases falls dramatically, the number of judges, support staff, etc., needed ought to fall accordingly -- no?
Chief Justice warns judicial staff. "The Chief Justice [in Ghana], Georgina Theodora Wood, has issued a stern warning to the nation's Judicial Service staff with a pledge that her office would deal ruthlessly with anyone of them caught engaging in criminal activities...." Among the reported acts of criminal misconduct by staff reaching her: "falsification of certificates, destruction or mutilation of official documents[,] deliberate failure to make required entries on dockets[, and] posing as lawyers to dupe the unsuspecting public." More (PeaceFM 09.03.2008). Comment. Sounds like more of the usual harmless hijinx of the sort routinely perpetrated by judicial staff the world over. (Just joking.)
Two top judges from the same street. "Robert French broke new ground yesterday with a tribute to the role of indigenous people in Australia's history as he was sworn in as the nation's 12th Chief Justice...French family friend John Toohey, who served on the High Court from 1987 to 1998, suggested there was another milestone. He met the future Chief Justice French as a schoolboy more than 50 years ago when they both lived in Phillip Road, Dalkeith, Perth...." More (The Australian 09.02.2008).
Judge writes fact-based lynching novel. "One night in October 1878, a white mob stormed the jail and lynched four innocent African-American men on the public square in [Mount Vernon, IND]. Three more black men were killed even more horribly -- one cut to pieces and thrown into a jailhouse privy, another stuffed into a hollow tree, a third thrown, alive, into the fiery steam engine of a train...Circuit Judge James Redwine -- whose office 130 years later overlooks the same square and who has written a novel called 'Judge Lynch!' about the heinous episode and its cover-up -- is hoping the book brings atonement...." More (Evansville Courier-Press 09.02.2008). Further reading. Lynchings in Duluth on 06.15.1920 (Minn. Hist. Soc.). (Minnesotans aren't always as "nice" or law-abiding as they'd like you to believe.)
Some judges are jumping from the GOP ship. "Monday, Dallas County Court at Law Judge Mark Greenberg plans to announce at a Democratic Party Labor Day picnic that he's leaving the Republican Party...At least two other judges are expected to leave the GOP before November. 'They are looking at the numbers and the demographics and realizing that they can't win by running as Republicans,' said Darlene Ewing, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party...." More (Dallas Morning News 09.01.2008).
SCOMISS may change way C.J. is selected. "The state Supreme Court is moving toward changing the way it picks the chief justice -- a move one member says breaks the law. 'This is spitting in the face of the Legislature,' Justice Chuck Easley said. Under state law, the chief justices and two presiding judges are chosen by seniority. Under a plan endorsed by a majority of the court, the justices would elect a chief justice...." More (Jackson Clarion-Ledger 09.01.2008). Comment. The proponents of the change say that under the separation-of-powers doctrine, the legislature may not tell the judiciary how to pick its chief. Even if so, the legislature has indirect ways of getting its way. And when that happens, the judiciary has its way....
A critique of coroners' courts in the UK. "I start all my client appointments with an apology for the inadequacy of the current coronial system, whose rules are out of touch with modern society...." A commentary by Amanda Stevens, Immensely stressful courts are out of touch with society (UK Times 09.01.2008).
History of political campaign blogging. Some credit the Howard Dean presidential campaign in 2004 with maintaining the first campaign blog. Others cite as the first campaign blog one maintained by a congressional candidate in 2002. Actually, one has to go back earlier, to 2000. I was a nonpartisan candidate for Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in the general election in November 2000. I began planning my first law blog, BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else, one of the pioneering law blogs, in 1999, but I delayed starting it until after the 2000 general election. My 2000 campaign website, the no-longer-extant VoteHans.Com, contained a personal campaign blog (weblog or web journal), i.e., a blog actually written and maintained by the candidate, not by some staffer. I like to think it was the first campaign blog (a/k/a weblog or web journal), although it's quite possible someone else independently came up with the idea and executed it contemporaneously in 2000 also. Because most "web archivers" were not in business in 2000, there has been no web record of my campaign website and campaign blog. For archival purposes and in the public interest, I have reproduced and reposted as near as I can, given software changes, the backed-up contents of what was VoteHans.Com as it appeared in 2000. Here are the links: Campaign Home Page; Campaign Journal; Earlier Journal Entries; Even Earlier Journal Entries; Earliest Journal Entries; Endorsements and Contributions; Mandatory Retirement of Judges; Judicial Independence and Accountability; Questions and Answers; BRH Speech; Emerson for Judges; Quotations for Judges; MN Const. Art. VI; About BRH.
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Slate's list of Judge Roberts resources. Slate has created a John Roberts Roundup, a regularly-updated page of links to some of the better web postings relating to Judge Roberts. Click here.