The Daily Judge
© 2006 Burton Randall Hanson
       Archives - 04.02.2006 - 04.12.2006
"All the news that gives judges and lawyers fits."
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.

    April, the cruelest, coolest bittersweet month. "It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there." That's what one of our favorite poets, William Carlos Williams, who made his money as a medical doctor in New Jersey, wrote. The "news" one gets from poetry is not always sweet, nor is it always bad. More typically it is bittersweet, something that helps make one more capable of dealing with (exploring, experiencing) antinomy, paradox, and irony. Not a bad thing for judges or other politicians.

Bitter-sweet

Ah my deare angrie Lord,
Since thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.
I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sowre-sweet dayes
I will lament, and love.


For some of my essaying into the everyday usefulness of understanding and appreciating the "bittersweet" nature of all reality, see, 'Liberals' and 'Conservatives' and BurtLaw on Judicial Independence and Accountability. Click here, here, here, here, here and here for earlier poetry-month postings.

    Convicted judge, still awaiting trial on sex charge, sues for lost pay. "Former judge Evangelos Kaloussis yesterday took his case to the European Court of Justice, claiming 3 million euros in damages [for lost wages, lost pension benefits] from the Greek state after receiving a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence last week for accepting bribes." The judge, linked to an alleged trial-fixing ring, is still to be tried on charges of sexual exploitation and money laundering. He says his detention is illegal and that the judges trying his case have been unfair, giving in to "the expediency of the moment and a journalistic dictatorship." More (Ekathimerini 04.11.2006). Comment. Clarence Darrow said, "There is no justice in or out of court." There've been a number of times in my life when I've felt acutely that he was right. Curiously (see, April, the cruelest, coolest bittersweet month), at the same time I've felt that, I've continued to feel that ours is a pretty damn good system, maybe the "best ever" in ye olde proverbial "history of the world." :-) Anyhow, if Darrow's statement has any conceivable relation to reality with respect to American justice, one ought to leave open the possibility that it might have some conceivable application to Greek justice.

    Annals of judicial retention - New Hampshire's way. In 2000 articles of impeachment were filed against Chief Justice David Brock of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and a trial was held in that state's senate, which resulted in the judge's acquittal. More. Impeachment is not the only legislative means to remove a judge in N.H. N.H. also has what is known as a "Bill of Address." Such a bill has been filed by one or another lawmaker three times in the last 70 years. By it lawmakers may remove a judge without providing a trial and with a lower standard of proof than is required for impeachment. Such a bill was filed recently by Rep. Dick Marple, described in today's Concord Monitor as "one of the Legislature's most notorious firebrands." Rep. Marple based his bill on "the complaints of a single former New Hampshire resident -- a retired airline pilot [named MacFarlane] who said he once committed accidental bigamy and who has a history of filing unsuccessful lawsuits." Judge McHugh and MacFarlane "first crossed paths in 1999, when the judge dismissed a lawsuit that MacFarlane had filed in an attempt to overturn an earlier divorce ruling." McFarlane has been complaining about McHugh ever since. He eventually "moved to Latin America to express his disgust with the legal system, according to a protest letter he wrote to the state Commission on the Status of Men. That might have ended it, but for the power of the bill of address. MacFarlane found an ally in Marple, who filed the bill this year." Marple's filing of the bill "triggered an automatic hearing and vote on McHugh's career by a panel of six representatives and six senators." Now the panel has voted 12-0 to dismiss the bill. One committee member is quoted as saying, "This was a pretty wild and crazy episode, and poor Judge McHugh has gone through the ringer on this one." Alas, it's not over: the full House must vote on it. Detailed story (Concord Monitor 04.11.2006). Comment. My fine ex-brother-in-law, whom I still like just as much despite the divorce, practices law in New Hampshire (he's a friend of both Brock and of Justice Souter). It's long been my impression that it's a quirky state. See, Condemn Justice Souter's home? The great Robert Frost, who's maybe my favorite poet, wrote a long poem titled New Hampshire, which contains these lines: "Just specimens is all New Hampshire has,/ One each of everything as in a showcase,/ Which naturally she doesn't care to sell." I think Frost got her just right.

    Judge talks tough to long-time twice-convicted panty thief. "Convicted for the second time for stealing womenís underwear, a Menomonie man [Anthony A. Scholfield, 25] will spend the next year in the Dunn County Jail...Judge William Stewart...placed Scholfield on 10 years probation with a host of conditions, including a yearís stint -- beginning immediately -- in the Dunn County Jail...." Scholfield's first conviction followed a search of his apartment that uncovered more than 850 pairs of stolen women's underwear. He was caught again shortly after being released from probation in 2005. A number of burglaries involving the theft of women's underwear prompted clever investigators to put two and two together and suspect Scholfield. A search of his apartment this time yielded 14 pairs of stolen panties. Scholfield's girlfriend spoke on his behalf, as did his pastor, who said, "I believe there is a change in Anthony." "Assistant District Attorney Kristine Cusick noted that by his own admission, Scholfield had been stealing womenís underwear since the age of 15, beginning in laundromats and from friends while attending parties, before breaking and entering into residences recent years." More (Dunn County News 04.11.2006). Comment. If, as Jesus said, the poor are always with us, it seems equally true that panty fetishists are always with us. :-) We just quoted some Robert Frost lines from New Hampshire: "Just specimens is all New Hampshire has,/ One each of everything as in a showcase,/ Which naturally she doesn't care to sell." It is my theory that practically every small town in the U.S. has in its historical showcase one of the specimen known as "panty thief." As an amateur historian of my hometown, I know that mine has at least one. Panty fetishism is one of the so-called paraphilias discussed in DSM-IV. To understand how "common" Mr. Scholfield's conduct really is, click here for the results of a Google search designed to uncover such cases. Some might say that Mr. Scholfield ought to be glad he received such "lenient" punishment, be glad he wasn't banished. See, Banishment of panty fetishist from Isles of Scilly. But I offer a modest rhetorical question: Is the criminal justice system's arguably fetishistic (as in sado-masochistic) model of conviction and punishment necessarily the only or best way of dealing with this sort of conduct? In his great 1897 speech, The Path of the Law, the fearless Justice Holmes asked a similar rhetorical question: "What have we better than a blind guess to show that the criminal law in its present form does more good than harm?" And he asked, further, "whether fine and imprisonment do not fall more heavily on a criminal's...children than on himself." I'm not sure we've even begun to really inquire into the multitudinous varieties and inter-related purposes of obsessiveness, including so-called fetishistic or paraphiliac obsessiveness, in human behavior. But would it hurt so much to try? What, e.g., is "behind" the panty fetishist's fetish and why does he find himself stealing panties from outdoor clothes-lines or breaking into houses to steal them (made "necessary" perhaps by the abandonment of the use of outdoor drying of "the wash" on clothes-lines?), instead of, say, buying them? But, you say, you can't buy worn panties! Ahh, but in this day of Anything Goes, you can. See, Deborah Picker, One woman's dirty laundry is another's obsession. Welcome to the wild and whacked-out world of selling used undies online (MetroActive). See, also, results of a Google search for "worn women's underwear." I don't claim to know the answer ("the answer" clearly is not "The Three-Stadium Solution") but I think it might be worth exploring whether conviction and punishment, necessary as they may be when theft and burglary are involved, provide a very good solution to the underlying underpants fetishism that our judicial fulminations portray as so disgustingly deviant. One might explore, similarly, for that matter, whether the psycho-therapeutic "treatment" model, particularly "aversion therapy," makes great sense. Might it not make as much sense to say to Mr. Scholfield, "Hey, you're not that far out. Lots of people are 'weird' in one way or another. You can be weird if you want, but you can't be weird in a way that involves breaking the laws against theft and home invasion. Did you know you can buy worn panties online? Maybe it's the answer, young man. Go forth. Be brave. Be law-abiding." We're, of course, speaking partly with tongue in cheek. But only partly. Mostly we're urging people to be always skeptical of whether the settled way of dealing with a problem is the right way. Many politicians, even the kind whose "fetish" involves wearing long flowing robes -- see, What's behind the judiciary's apparent "gown fetish"? -- are too afraid to ask questions like these or suggest reasonable answers because they worry that the answers won't win them any votes, something talking tough has been proven to do. We could just blame the politicians, those "rabid partisans and empty quacks," saying that they lack the kind of "civic courage" of which William James spoke so eloquently; but we voters share the blame for being persuaded by their cheap rhetoric and by electing them in droves.



    Experts defuse bomb in bus carrying judges. "A possible attack was narrowly avoided when the charge in the battery of the mobile phone attached to the explosive device ran out...." More (Zaman Daily News - Turkey 04.10.2006).

    Judge orders reluctant juror to sit in dunce's chair - who's the dunce? In January William Schramm, a 31-year-old self-employed retirement planner in suburban Detroit, received a summons to sit on a grand jury three days a week until July. He "freaked out" and wrote a letter to Chief U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman saying, in the words of a newspaper report, that "he did not respect law enforcement or believe in the court system." According to Schramm, Chief Judge Friedman questioned him in person, told him his letter was "b.s." and he didn't believe him, then, without making a finding of contempt, ordered Schramm to sit on a bench on the first floor of the courthouse every day the jury sits. The judge told him he couldn't read and wouldn't receive the per diem pay or mileage reimbursement sitting jurors get for their trips to the courthouse. More (Detroit News 04.10.2006). Comment. The judge, now under scrutiny by the press, said he was surprised Schramm has sat there for eight weeks without coming to him and complaining: "All he has to do is come in and talk about it." According to the Detroit News story, "Schramm said he has not complained because he is afraid of further upsetting the judge and being found in contempt, which he said could put his license to sell securities at risk." Some experts have questioned both the legality and the appropriateness of the order. Although I favor life-tenure on good behavior for the members of the U.S. Supreme Court, I'm not sure it's justified for federal trial judges. The extraordinary job security turns some of them into petty tyrants. Judge Friedman in effect sent Schramm to sit in the corner in the dunce's chair. Who's the dunce? Related. As I said yesterday -- see, Study suggests people yearn for judicial 'purity' -- I tend to judge a particular judge not by whether he tips the waitress or growls at the neighbor's dog or reads Playboy (I take it as "a given" that in one way or another he's probably as flawed as I am); rather I judge a judge by his or her overall performance of the judicial role -- does he get to work on time and open court on time, does she give the parties a fair hearing, does he get out his decisions on time, do her decisions pass muster, does he treat the attorneys well, does she treat judicial employees with respect, etc.

    Legislators angry with courts respond by tightening purse strings. "A politician scorned can be a vengeful force. Just ask the judges of Missouri and Kansas. Courts in both states have issued rulings that have riled certain lawmakers...Some legislators havenít accepted these setbacks gracefully...Fortunately, most measures intended to clip the courts havenít mustered the needed support. But disgruntled lawmakers have found a way to exact revenge on judges -- through the pocketbook. In its budget recommendation for next year, the Kansas House cut $3.7 million from the judicial branch...Kansas district and appeals judges are worried that angry legislators will shelve a separate measure that would increase their pay for the first time since 2000. Supreme Court justices already have been excluded from any pay raise proposal. In Missouri, it looks as though judges wonít receive a 4 percent raise planned for most state employees. A Senate budget committee withdrew an increase for judges...after lawmakers were told Gov. Matt Blunt would veto the raise...." More (Kansas City Star - Editorial 04.10.2006). Related. Some Kansas legislators are irked because a federal district judge, Monti Belot, "wrote to lawyers in [a] case that 'your guess is as good as mine' as to why the Legislature made a law requiring the plaintiffs to prove 'gross negligence' without defining what it is. 'The only answer I can give is that it was the Kansas Legislature -- the same Legislature which spends weeks arguing over legislation to protect animals from mistreatment and laws to permit Kansas citizens to carry concealed firearms when they go shopping or to a movie, instead of resolving the far more important question of how to fund our children's education,' Belot wrote." More (Wichita Eagle 04.10.2006).

    Judge candidate criticized for trying to avoid jury duty. Kasia Quillinan, a Salem attorney and former city councilwoman who wants to be a municipal judge in Salem, has had her county courthouse-access key-card privileges suspended and is now the subject of public criticism because she entered the chambers of Judge Terry Leggert and asked him to excuse her from jury duty in county circuit court. More (KGW - Oregon 04.10.2006).

    Marrying judges in Iowa can now charge $200 for off-duty weddings. "Polk County Judge Joel Novak loves to marry people. It's a hobby, a mission, a bit of self-help. 'Why don't you play golf?' Novak's wife, Kay, asks him. I love marrying people,' he tells her. So on nights and weekends when many other lawyers and judges are teeing off during what Novak calls 'marrying season' -- Valentine's Day to Labor Day -- you can find him in backyards, parks, beaches, hot-air balloons, cemeteries, hospitals, senior centers, ballparks, even churches, asking people to have and to hold...." And now he can charge $200 instead of $100, thanks to a recent order by the Iowa Supreme Court. More (Des Moines Register 04.10.2006).

    Respected judge loses re-election -- sons' troubles cited. "The Old Testament warns of the sins of the fathers being visited upon their sons, but 49th District Judge Manuel Flores knows all too painfully that it can also work the other way. Flores was upset last month in the Democratic primary in his bid for a sixth term, and negative publicity about his two sons' legal troubles likely cost him the race...." More (San Antonio Express-News 04.10.2006). Comment. I'm reminded of the famous statement by President Warren G. Harding (1865 - 1923) concerning the shady shenanigans of friends he gave jobs to in his Administration: "I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my goddamned friends, they're the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!" Harding is also the genius who uttered these immortal lines, which certainly rank up there with the words of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

Progression is not proclamation nor palaver. It is not pretense nor play on prejudice. It is not of personal pronouns nor perennial pronouncement. It is not the perturbation of a people passion-wrought, nor a promise proposed. Progression is everlastingly lifting the standards that marked the end of the world's march yesterday and planting them on new and advanced heights today.

    Dead millionaire judge's lover gets AG to review his death. In 2001 Andrew Chubb, a 58-year-old millionaire judge, told his wife of 33 years he was leaving her for a younger woman, Kerry Sparrow, now 38. Less than an hour later "a fireball engulfed a shed in the grounds of his 19th-century farmhouse in Somerset" and his dead body was found inside. "A coroner ruled that the death was accidental, but it later emerged that the original police investigation into Mr Chubb's death was flawed," and now Lord Goldsmith, the AG, has rewarded Ms. Sparrow's efforts to reopen the case for a hearing in "the High Court." More (UK Times 04.10.2006). Background. Nick Davies, How a judge's death in country garden exposed fatal flaws in system - part one and part two (Guardian Unlimited 12.13.2003). Comment. Sounds like the making of a plot for Mystery on PBS.

    Some divorced women say judge hates women. "A Westchester special referee is being accused of rampant sexism by a group of wealthy divorcees who say he screwed them out of alimony -- and threatened to take their children if they objected." So reports the N.Y. Post, saying that the "court inspector general" is investigating complaints alleging that "James Montagnino, 51, who mediates divorce cases in Supreme Court...has it in for stay-at-home moms and grossly favors husbands." The newspaper says that in a continuing education lecture at a law school in 2003 he "warned lawyers to 'beware of the 10583 Syndrome,' a reference to posh Scarsdale's ZIP code. 'The 10583 mentality...says that 'I'm entitled and I ought to be able to get the house, I ought to be able to get support... I ought to be able to live with my son's drum instructor happily ever after and it all should be on his dime.'" Montagnino is quoted as saying the accusations "[are] absurd and that the investigation's timing [is] suspicious -- coming just one week after he filed a complaint against his boss, Westchester County Administrative Judge Francis A. Nicolai, alleging case fixing." More (N.Y. Post 04.10.2006). Comment. Allegations like this need to be investigated with a cool, dispassionate eye. For every story like this one, there is a story reporting allegations by men that they are being mistreated by female judges or by the family court. See, e.g., Family court judges have become 'quasi-legislators' (accusing family court judges of having a "deep pro-wife bias").



    The Masters. I'll be watching The Masters golf tourney today. It's always been my favorite. Lawyers & judges have always played a prominent role in golf. The father of my ex-wife, the late John M. Kitchen, former head of the Indianapolis Bar, former president of his Indianapolis golf club, with whom I played many sober but friendly rounds of golf on the lovely Harbor Point Golf Course overlooking Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan in Harbor Springs, Michigan, used to say that one could tell a lot about a man's character & temperament by the way he responded to the ups & downs of golf. (It's perhaps too bad we don't know how judicial candidates play the game.) Mr. K. also loved to point out that Bobby Jones, the great gentleman of golf who designed Augusta National, where The Masters is played, was a Harvard grad & a first-class lawyer. The nicest thing Mr. K. ever said to me was that he admired the way I conducted myself in the face of misfortune on the course. The nicest thing I ever did for him (& for his descendants) was take a series of sequence still shots of his swing and film a 3-minute movie of him demonstrating for his descendants the proper grip, proper form, etc. Mr. K. carried a copy of The Rules of Golf with him on the course the way Justice Hugo Black carried a copy of the U.S. Constitution with him in his suitcoat pocket. Those beloved Rules, he was proud to remind me, were the product of golfers trained in the law.

    The Masters - and Mathilda. Readers of BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else, of which she has been the poster gal for five years, know about Mathilda, Wonder Dog, the beloved tri-colored Australian Shepherd my ex-wife and I have shared since late 1995. A few weeks ago, when Mathilda last spent some time here, I got the sense that these were her "valedictory days" -- as I sometimes feel they are mine, too -- and I said so to the kids. Friday we learned the sad news that Mathilda has a tumor on her heart and that her days are numbered. I'm already grieving, because during what has been the most difficult decade of my life, she has never failed me as a friend and, when with me, has never failed to cheer me. I wouldn't trade her for a dozen of my soi-disant friends or a court full of "pure" judges. She'll be coming here again any day now, and when she comes thundering in the door looking for the nearest tennis ball for me to toss her, I'll loudly sing, as I always do at that moment, my altered gibberish lyrics to "The Masters" song, which is also titled "The Song of the South": "Mathilda, the dogwoods are blooming,/ Mathilda...." The official lyrics include these lines: "Augusta, your dogwoods and pines,/ they play on my mind like a song./ Augusta, it's you that I love,/ it's you that I miss when I'm gone." It's Mathilda I love, Mathilda I'll miss when she's gone.

    Study suggests people yearn for judicial 'purity.' "President A P J Abdul Kalam has conducted a study on what people want from the judiciary. He found that every citizen wants purity in the judicial system. Mr Kalam disclosed the findings of his study in Bangalore on Friday while inaugurating the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Karnataka High Court. His study has found that eight interfaces of the society -- political leaders, law makers, MPs and MLAs, citizens, administration, police, lawyers and law schools, judges of Supreme Court, High Court, sub-ordinate courts and the media -- have to be transparent and pure to emanate an integrated solution from judiciary...." More (Deccan Herald 04.09.2006). Comment. How about a little nuance? I'm all for purity in the judicial process, along with all the other agreed-upon judicial good things, e.g., "judicial independence and accountability." But after a year of Daily Judge-blogging, five years of Court Gazing, and, before I started that, 29+ years working as an up-close-and-personal aide to MN judges, I've come to the conclusion that we've carried Judicial Puritanism too far. See, e.g., my extensive comments last week at Top justice, denying reports of sexual affair, resigns. I seriously question whether requiring judges to act like proverbial members of the choir in their personal lives makes sense. For one thing, members of the choir -- OMG, even ministers -- don't necessarily lead "purer" lives than anyone else. Moreover, when you have a doctor operating on you to remove a tumor, do you really give a damn whether he doesn't get along with his wife? Isn't on-the-job competence and expertise and relevant experience what you want? My perspective is that of someone who was raised as a Norwegian Lutheran. Although I rarely attend any church, I adhere to that church's view of human nature and sin -- we've all, even judges, fallen short of the Glory of God and we're all, even judges, daily in need of God's redeeming grace and forgiveness. Indeed, in matters judicial, the case can be made that one's mistakes, one's slipping and falling and picking oneself up, one's suffering, one's everyday human-ness all combine to make one not only a better person but better qualified, rather than less qualified, to judge others. "Fill the seats of justice with good [people], not so absolute in goodness as to forget what human frailty is...."  Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd. And thus I tend to judge a particular judge not by whether he tips the waitress or growls at the neighbor's dog or reads Playboy (I take it as "a given" that in one way or another he's probably as flawed as I am); rather I judge a judge by his or her overall performance of the judicial role -- does he get to work on time and open court on time, does she give the parties a fair hearing, does he get out his decisions on time, do her decisions pass muster, does he treat the attorneys well, does she treat judicial employees with respect, etc.

    Annals of 'judicial outreach': 'The Run for Justice.' "It was perhaps for the first time that the members of the judiciary took to the streets, literally. They rubbed shoulders with sportsmen, advocates, politicians and presspersons -- all for a cause. The programme , which was flagged off from the main portico of the High Court building, passed through Mahatma Gandhi Road and Cubbon Road before ending on the High Court premises. Billed as a 'run for justice,' the event drew over 2,000 people, including scores of tiny-tots and schoolchildren...All the participants were welcomed with a T-shirt and after the event they were given a certificate and treated to breakfast and tea...." More (The Hindu 04.09.2006).

    Poetry month - a recommended collection. Recommended reading: R. Bly, J. Hillman, M. Meade, The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart (1992). This is one of my favorite books, an anthology of poetry for men that every man, every parent of a boy, every woman who wants to understand men -- and every judge -- should own. I've given copies to a number of judges over the years. The selections and the architecture of the book are superb, as are the essays at the start of each themed chapter. Earlier. Click here, here, here, here and here for earlier poetry-month postings.

    Judges 'doling out hush money'? "State trial court officials -- already under investigation over their handling of tens of millions of dollars -- doled out nearly $2 million in secret payments since 2002 to settle legal claims, including allegations of workplace discrimination and federal civil rights violations, state records show. Among those who have obtained taxpayer-funded settlements is a Framingham District Court clerk whose male boss in 2000 hit her with his cane, pulled her hair, dropped paper clips down her shirt, squirted her with water and once choked her 'like a rag doll,' court records show...Trial court officials already have come under fire for spending decisions after the Herald reported in January they spent $63 million on a computer system that operates in just two courts statewide...." Judges dole out $2M in hush money...and itís your taxes! (Boston Herald 04.09.2006). Related story. Worker: Judge launched into 'tirades' (Boston Herald 04.09.2006) (the judge in question also allegedly "terrified her by ordering her to open a package for him he suspected was a mail bomb").

    Gov. curtails advisory panels on judicial nominations. "With an abundance of judicial vacancies likely this year, Governor Mitt Romney has seized control of the way judges are nominated in Massachusetts, weakening a 35-year-old panel intended to evaluate candidates without regard to politics...The changes strengthen Romney's ability to put his own stamp on the state's judiciary, as he prepares a possible run for president in 2008. Romney's actions have stunned lawyers and judges in Massachusetts because the governor made a point of elevating the role of the Judicial Nominating Commission when he came to office in 2003, invoking John Adams as he pledged a 'squeaky clean process that has no room for politics and favors.'" More (Boston Globe 04.09.2006). Comment. Gov. Willard Mitt Romney (R. Mass.), b. 1947, has impressive academic credentials (B.A., Brigham Young; joint MBA-JD, Harvard Law), & somehow managed to get elected in a state some have filed away under the stereotypes of "liberal" & "Democrat." Also, he has going for him the fact that his brother was a classmate of mine at the law school. :-) But, like his father, former Republican Gov. Geo. Romney of Michigan (who knocked himself out of the Presidential sweepstakes by saying he had been "brainwashed" into supporting the Viet Nam War), he keeps stumbling over his own feet, as he did, for example, last year in twice making judicial appointments that proved embarrassing. We suspect he is weakening the commission because he couldn't "brainwash" its members. It's no secret he wants to be President and from this it's clear he'll follow the Rove playbook if it will help him. Earlier. Romney rips judges - Gov. withdraws judicial nomination - Second judicial appointment embarrassment for Gov. in 2 weeks.

    Funny opinion piece about 'low' judicial pay. "A job for life, generous bennies, the pick of tee times, and compliments from every lawyer in town can't make up for the reality of 'low' pay on the federal bench. Making between $149,132 and $208,100 (on par with the Vice President and House speaker) just doesn't cut it anymore for the black-robed class. Listen to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'We are patronized when we meet judges from England, the European Union, or Malaysia, whose salaries double that of ours,' he tells a House subcommittee. 'They say, 'We're so sorry about your salaries.' You shouldn't put us in that position.'" From Paul Bedard, Oh, the Indignities of a Judge's Paycheck (U.S. News & World Report 04.17.2006 issue, posted 04.09.2006). Comment. It may or may not make sense for us to substantially increase federal judges' salaries. But the arguments that advocates of a big raise always tirelessly trot out are filled with flaws and omissions. For the flaws (e.g., that some young lawyers in Wall Street firms get paid more is really beside the point) and omissions (proponents fail to mention the extraordinary benefits of a federal judgeship, including extraordinarily generous pensions, life tenure with no mandated retirement, good hours, many bright law clerks to help them do their job, etc.) and for the kind of approach I recommend, see, my mini-essay from 01.01.2002 titled  I could be making lots more if I were Michael Jordan. As for the argument that somehow the independence of the federal judiciary is threatened by the supposedly meager pay given federal judges, I would respond that a) if virtue in office increases with pay, then one cannot account for the corporate scandals of recent years perpretrated by CEO's and others receiving obscenely-high compensation, and b) the real threats to judicial independence come from other sources, including those who establish narrow-minded litmus tests for judicial nominees. Related reading. BurtLaw on Judicial Independence and Accountability - BurtLaw on Judicial Economics.

    TV judge is upset over firing. "Former Divorce Court judge Mablean Ephriam says her firing after seven years by a division of Fox Entertainment Group is a 'racial and ethnic issue...Fox said Ephriam was let go over money issues. She was making $2 million a year...Ephriam said her hair was an issue with the network, 'because of my ethnicity -- African American, Black, Negro, whatever term you prefer to use.'...She [is being] replaced by former Ohio judge Lynn Toler, who is also African-American..." More (NewKerala.Com 04.09.2006). Comment. We feel sorry for Judge Ephriam and can't understand why TV judges aren't given the same life tenure and protection against removal (impeachment only for high crimes and misdemeanors) that federal judges have.





    Plaintiff in 1970 same-sex marriage case weighs in on MN court controversy. "The recent apology by Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson is unfortunate. I believe every word he spoke...I learned early in law school that when you place a black robe on a politician, what you end up with is a politician in a black robe. What you do not get is Solomon." From Attorney Jack Baker's opinion piece (Pulse of the Twin Cities 04.06.2006). Comment. Mr. Baker was the plaintiff in Baker v. Nelson, 291 Minn. 310, 191 N.W.2d 185 (Minn. 1971), appeal dismissed for want of federal question, 409 U.S. 810 (1972), reproduced here, the original same-sex marriage case. As he makes clear in the opinion piece, he still believes that my main mentor at the court, the late Justice C. Donald Peterson, acted improperly in serving as Chmn. of the Minnesota News Council while still on the Court. For the latest news, including links to our prior in-depth postings containing our views on how this controversy should be investigated and our policy views on the issue of same-sex marriage, see, Latest developments in controversy involving MN Supreme Court justices.

    Bar evaluators: Chicago's new chief federal judge has temper problem. "The man poised to become the next chief judge of the federal district court in Chicago -- James Holderman -- got the lowest score of any of the 20 judges on the court, based largely on an alleged temper problem. James Holderman, 59, -- jokingly referred to as 'Holdermaniac' by some of his critics -- 'yells screams and intimidates,' according to a study released Thursday by the Chicago Council of Lawyers, a reform-minded bar association...." More (Chicago Sun-Times 04.07.2006). Comment. Some judges probably would croak if they knew the nicknames lawyers, court insiders, fellow judges, journalists and members of the public give them. Judge Holderman managed to hold his temper in responding to the evaluation: "'I appreciate the time and effort the Chicago Council of Lawyers spent in preparing the survey and the feedback you have provided the active federal judges. I will keep a copy in my desk as a daily reminder of where I can improve.'"

    Former judge gets 10-year term for sex tourism offense. "Stephen W. Thompson's journey from the Superior Court bench to the sex-offender registry moved forward yesterday when he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for videotaping a sexual encounter with an underage boy in Russia...." More (Philadelphia Inquirer 04.07.2006). Earlier. State judge convicted of federal sex tourism charge, acquitted of porn charge - Trial continues in sex-tourism, child porn trial of ex-judge - Ex-judge on trial in federal court for traveling to Russia to have sex.

    Internet trials to be tested in Korea. "Weblogs, or Internet diaries, are about to gain more than just curious readers. Korean courts are now experimenting whether they could operate court trials and hearings just through Internet postings, saving everybody the trouble of actually entering the courtroom.
The Seoul Administration Court recently designated one of its court units, which rules on labor-management relations and industrial accidents, to develop a prototype model for Internet-based trial models by the end of this month...." More (Korea Times 04.07.2006). Comment. The Korean proposal is to use the internet as a tool. It does not appear to contemplate programmed decisionmakers, that is, literally-robotic judges. That is where the U.S. seems to be far in the lead. Thanks to creative reapportionment, most Congressional seats in most states are "safe" seats for one party or the other, which has led to top-down politics. Currently we've got basically a majority consisting of a bunch of Republican representatives who have shown almost no independent judgment on any issue that really matters. As I've said before, one could get the same votes by programming robots to vote the party line as developed by the people at the top. Might this work in the judicial sphere? If we all agree that the words and intent of the Framers are "clear" and not subject to "interpretation," then perhaps any well-programmed robot could sit on the U.S. Supreme Court and interpret and apply the Constitution. And if we can do that, why have nine justices, when all nine properly-programmed robots would agree with each other in deciding every case? This being poetry month, this might be a good time to link to a good 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 S.M.U. It's called The Unknown Citizen. Are you one?

    Judge finds self, as an innocent witness, in middle of baseball scandal. "A federal judge in Boise woke up Thursday morning to find himself in the middle of the Barry Bonds steroids scandal. Chief U.S. Magistrate Larry M. Boyle last month wrote a one-page letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who is investigating steroid use in baseball. Boyle wrote to Selig about a 2002 chance encounter he had with Greg Anderson, a longtime personal trainer for Bonds and a key figure in the BALCO steroids scandal. Boyle, who also sent Selig a letter that he wrote to Boise-based U.S. Attorney Thomas Moss in 2004, supplied both letters to The Idaho Statesman...." More (Mercury-News 04.07.2006).

    Two different judges sign order in same case at same time. "Figuring out which Madison County judge should hear a case has turned so tricky that on March 29, two judges entered orders at the same time in the same case. The mistake caused no harm, but it captured the confusion that Circuit Judge George Moran left behind when he cleared out and retired...." More (Madison County Record 04.06.2006). Earlier. See, Internet-dating judge resigns and our 02.05.2006 entry titled Annals of Judicial Romance and embedded link to earlier story about Judge Moran's internet dating and to detailed commentary. Related. For a story in today's press on judge-shopping in Madison County, see, Madison County judge and law firm butt heads again (St. Louis Post-Dispatch 04.07.2006).

    Israel's Supreme Court curbs power of rabbinical courts. "[T]he Supreme Court rejected a divorce agreement that stipulated that any future financial disputes between the couple be resolved in a rabbinic court. The high court said the rabbis had authority strictly over marriages and divorces, but not separate financial matters...." More (Khaleej Times 04.07.2006).

    Judge with 'spirit pals' is dismissed. "The Supreme Court has dismissed a judge in Malabon who claims to have dwarfs as his 'spirit guides.' [T]he Court said Judge Florentino V. Floro...is unfit to stay on because of his 'medically disabling condition of the mind.'...Examined by Court-appointed doctors, Floro admitted that he believed in 'psychic visions.' He said he had dwarf friends named 'Luis, Armand and Angel.' Floro claimed he could write while in a trance and could be in two places at the same time. He considered himself an 'angel of death' out to punish lawbreakers, especially corrupt court officials...'Psychic phenomena, even assuming [they] exist, have no place in a judiciary...,' the Court said...." More (Manila Times 04.07.2006). Comment. It's good that The Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, and Abraham Lincoln, among others -- all people who at one time or another "suffered" from profoundly-spiritual crises, "hearing voices," etc. -- never wanted to be judges in the Philippines. It's good that a wonderful district court judge I knew back in 1970 didn't let too many people know he prayed to his "spirit pal" (i.e., God) for guidance in difficult cases.

    Poetry month. Here's one of many, many poems I love by Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886):

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
íT is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, -- you íre straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

Click here, here, here and here for earlier postings. BTW, not too many people know that Emily Dickinson carried on rather wantonly with a judge, name of Otis Lord, to whom she gave the nickname "The Owl." Read on at Emily Dickinson's own judge. Sometimes, it seems, the woman who presents herself as shy, modest, quiet, passive, and passionless is anything but....

    Bomber targets Chinese courthouse. "A bomb explosion at a courthouse in south-west China has killed one man and injured a judge. Officials in the city of Guangyuan in Sichuan province said they suspected it was a suicide attack and said the dead man appeared to be the bomber...." More (BBC News 04.06.2006).

    Judge Gavin Little issues ruling, then affiliates with 'blonde' winner. "Mitchell's Easter Prize Show and Sale of Best Butchers' Cattle at the Cockermouth Mart drew a fine entry of cattle and a well supported ring of local butchers and wholesalers. The sale judge was Penrith butcher, Gavin Little, who was most impressed with the quality of cattle. His champion award was given to John Fell, of Stanger Hill, for a Blonde heifer which went on to make £909.50 (170p/kg) and was bought by the judge...." More (Business Gazette 04.06.2006).

    Judge says she was beaten at party. "Los Angeles police detectives are investigating a report by...[J]udge Paula Abdul that a man threw her against a wall and left her with spinal injuries and a concussion after they argued at a private party over the weekend on a Hollywood studio lot...." More (L.A. Times 04.07.2006). Comment. We trust that this unfortunate incident involving one of our most respected jurists will not be "used" by any of the parties in the serious on-going public policy debate over judicial security issues such as how secure our courthouses should be, whether all judges should be provided body-guards, etc. Read on...

    Judge receives 'contagious' letter. "Police descended on the Lake County Government Center on Wednesday after Magistrate Michael Pagano received an envelope in the mail with the words 'contagious' and 'liver cancer' scrawled on it. The envelope also featured a return name and address that matched a litigant from Paganoís courtroom...." Fortunately, the envelope was empty. Police are investigating. More (Post-Tribune - NW Indiana 04.06.2006). Comments. a) Many judges these days believe that violence against judges is on the rise. I'm not sure it's true. It may be one of those accepted truisms that won't hold up if subjected to legitimate scientific statistical and historical study. Even if it is true in some sense, that doesn't mean it makes sense to turn our courthouses into fortresses. See, Latest courthouse threat? Students who want pop - Is this America? No, Cook County - Shooter targets judge leaving courthouse - Building courthouses with security in mind - How about a courthouse surrounded by & filled with flowers? b) Back in the 1930's there was a string of violent rural bank robberies. My late dad, a small-town banker for over 50 years, starting in the '30's, told me of the time back then when local authorities received a tip that the Swift County Bank, dad's employer, was going to be robbed on a certain day. Dad said a peace officer, armed with a loaded shotgun, hid in a locker near him all day, prepared to pounce out and fire away. "Boy was I nervous that day!" The robber never appeared. A banker in nearby Starbuck was killed in a robbery, if my memory is right. In any event, bankers didn't turn their banks into fortresses and armed bank robbery in rural MN became a thing identified with the '30's. In the 1980's, however, a group of banker-haters (they are always with us) convinced themselves that bankers were the cause of all their troubles. I still have copies of crazy threatening letters Dad received from members of that group. Dad could have had the sender prosecuted, but I suggested to Dad that that might stir the guy up, pushing him over the line between thought and action. Two southwestern MN bankers actually were murdered by a farmer and the farmer's son in 1983. See, Andrew H. Malcolm, Final Harvest (1986). Rural bankers took the threats and the murders seriously but didn't react by turning their banks into fortresses.

    Judiciary trials under way in Greece. "Former Court of First Instance judge Evangelos Kaloussis was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail yesterday on charges of bribery in the first trial stemming from a cleanup of the judiciary system that was launched last year. Kaloussis, who is also accused of sexual exploitation and money laundering, denied the charges to a three-member appeals court...A judicial investigation into alleged trial fixing in Greece has been running for over a year and has involved a number of middle and high-ranking judges, an MP, lawyers and churchmen...." More (Ekathimerini 04.06.2006).

    Top justice, denying reports of sexual affair, resigns. "A Taiwanese high court judge resigned on Thursday but denied news reports that he had an affair with a woman, saying he took her to a hotel only because she wanted to use the bathroom. Cheng Chung-mo, 66, said he offered his resignation to the head of the Judicial Yuan, Taiwanís highest judicial body, where he holds the posts of grand justice and vice president. As a grand justice, he supervises the court system and helps to interpret the constitution. Cheng said he would resign from both jobs because the hotel event 'has been misreported and exaggerated by the media and damaged the reputation of the judiciary.'" His resignations apparently have been accepted. More (Khaleej Times 04.06.2006). Comment. Cheng, 66, allegedly drove a woman, Wang Meihsin, a 37-year-old assistant law professor, to a so-called "love hotel" (a/k/a in various cultures as "hot-sheet motel" or "cheap motel" or "hourly-rate motel" or "no-tell motel") and emerged with her 70 minutes later. The press apparently published pictures of the couple walking side by side out of the woman's apartment as well as into the hotel. Cheng "explained on Wednesday that Wang fell sick while he took her out for a break after helping her with her law papers. He then drove her to the hotel to let her use the bathroom, he said." We would never assume that a judge -- or a minister or anyone else -- isn't telling the truth. But even if Cheng did go with Wang to the hotel and register for a purpose other than using the bathroom, we'd understand. And we wouldn't assume that Cheng "took" Wang there anymore than we'd assume she "took" him there, or that either one was "using" the other. Instead, we'd hope they really cared for each other and went there because they both wanted to do so. Back in 1970, Sen. Roman Hruska (R-Nebraska), while defending failed Nixon Supreme Court nominee, Judge G. Harold Carswell, against criticism that he was "mediocre," said: "Even if [Judge Carswell] is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they -- a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Cardozos, and Frankfurters, and stuff like that there." Employing Hruskan logic, we would say, "Even if Judge Cheng and Professor Wang went to a hot-sheet motel together, there are a lot of ordinary people who do that. Aren't extraordinary people allowed to be ordinary once in awhile -- to have a little chance?" To ask the question, is to answer it. That said, we issue this rhetorical caveat, which does plead for an answer: Why only 70 minutes? Related entry. Those "randy" Swede (not Norwegian) judges.

    S.M.U. grad does well - he's Judge Alex's bailiff. "Victor Simon is the bailiff on the...Judge Alex television show that is going into its second season...He is the only son of Jesse and Dorothy Simon [of Houston]...and...earned his degree from Southern Methodist University [where he] played...on the Mustang...football team...." More (African-American News 04.06.2006). Comment. Mr. Simon was a court bailiff in real life and now is a court bailiff in, what, an entertaining version of real life? Whatever. He did it by way of S.M.U. and, as a fellow "son" of S.M.U., we congratulate him. S.M.U., Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, is where the President's wife, Laura, went -- and where I spent my freshman year in college, during the 1961-1962 school year. For what it's worth, of the three institutions of higher learning I attended -- S.M.U. for one year, the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis (from which I received my B.A. degree in 1964), and Harvard Law School (from which I graduated in 1967) -- S.M.U., which not for no reason was called by some people the "Harvard of the Southwest," provided me with the most challenging teachers and the best overall educational experience. Moreover, and this is no small matter, something about the spirit of S.M.U. (the spirit of Texas?) brought out the best in me and I worked harder and stretched myself more there than at any other place. As a friend of S.M.U. and as a fellow who occasionally still dreams about some of the beautiful bobby-sox-wearing (yes, it's true -- bobby-sox were in vogue) Southern babes in my class and of my dazzlingly-attractive then twenty-something but not bobby-sox-wearing Freshman English teacher, Elizabeth Breeland Rogers, I salute a fellow Mustang who's done well.

    Latest developments in controversy involving MN Supreme Court justices. Two attorneys have filed complaints with the Board on Judicial Standards and the Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility asking for an investigation into whether one or more of the justices of the state supreme court made improper statements to the state senate majority leader, Sen. Dean Johnson (DFL Willmar), regarding the likelihood that the court would review and sustain against constitutional challenge a state law banning same-sex marriage. Click here for links to this story and prior stories, including our prior in-depth postings containing our views on how this controversy should be investigated and our policy views on the issue of same-sex marriage.



    Poetry month. Although poetry is never out of season with us, we're cooperating with the culture lords who have decreed April as poetry month. Click here, here and here for earlier postings. Today's poem was a favorite of Congressman Tip O'Neill, who could recite it from memory. It's by a man with the greatest middle name in the history of literature, Charles Hanson Towne (1877 - 1947):

Around The Corner

Around the corner I have a friend,
In this great city that has no end;
Yet days go by, and weeks rush on,
And before I know it a year is gone,
And I never see my old friend's face,
For life is a swift and terrible race.
He knows I like him just as well
As in the days when I rang his bell
And he rang mine.
We were younger then,
And now
"Tomorrow," I say, "I will call on Jim,
Just to show that I'm thinking of him."
But tomorrow comes--and tomorrow goes,
And the distance between us grows and grows
Around the corner!--yet miles away....

"Here's a telegram, sir...."
"Jim died today."

And that's what we get, and deserve in the end:
Around the corner, a vanished friend.

While we're at it, we may as well post another of his poems:

Of One Self-Slain

When he went blundering back to God,
His songs half written, his work half done,
Who knows what paths his bruised feet trod,
What hills of peace or pain he won?

I hope God smiled and took his hand,
And said, "Poor truant, passionate fool!
Life's book is hard to understand:
Why couldst thou not remain at school?"

A similar poem I've always loved, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was found among FSF's papers after he died; it speaks of "some unfinished chaos in [his] head" being "dumped to nothing by the great janitress of destinies." You'll find it in Arthur Mizener, The Far Side of Paradise: A Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald, originally published in hardbound in 1951 and in paper in 1964, when I bought it. It's out-of-print, I think, but still available at places like Amazon. I'm convinced it is the fate of each one of us to go "blundering back to God" with a great deal of "unfinished chaos" in one's head being swept to nothingness by Fitzgerald's "janitress."

    Tea-time brawl erupts in judges' common room. "A tea room brawl in the privacy of the judges' common room at the Cape High Court on Wednesday is the latest incident to hit the scandal-prone Bench as Judge President John Hlophe prepares to go on long leave [04.10 - 07.23] amid renewed speculation that he may quit. The altercation, which apparently did not degenerate into a bout of fisticuffs, involved Judge Siraj Desai and Judge John Foxcroft and was witnessed by Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso and other judges...Ironically, the tiff marked the same day that the Judicial Services Commission resolved to write a letter to both Hlophe and Desai asking them to 'cool it' after their highly publicised row over the past few days. It is understood that Desai approached [and said something to?] Judge Foxcroft during the morning teabreak for allegedly telling fellow judges that he (Desai) was responsible for the whispering campaign about Judge Hlope...." More (IndependentOnLine 04.06.2006). Earlier. Two judges slug it out in public in South Africa, with commentary and links to earlier postings about the two judges.

    Court awards judge half of his legal costs in discipline appeal. "Judge Brian Curtin, who lost his Supreme Court bid to stop an Oireachtas committee investigating his alleged misbehaviour, has been awarded half the costs of the High Court action and the appeal. The case was estimated to have cost 2 million and Judge Curtin's own costs would run to over 500,000. Giving the Supreme Court's decision on costs today, the Chief Justice, John Murray, said the case had raised fundamental issues [as to how such an inquiry should proceed, the resolution of which was a public benefit]. Judge Curtin tried and failed to stop an Oireachtas inquiry into his alleged misbehaviour in relation to accessing child pornographic websites...." More (RTE 04.06.2006). Related. Judicial conduct board weighs in on cleared judge's request for $1.77 million (last time we checked, the state supreme court had not as yet ruled on the request for reimbursement).

    Judicial participation in voter registration has judicial motive. "For the third year in a row, [Allegheny County Common Pleas President Judge Joseph M. James] and a handful of colleagues have made the rounds of city high schools to promote voter registration and jury duty, answer questions and pass out registration cards...'The courthouse is the old building that looks like a castle in the middle of Downtown Pittsburgh,' [Judge James] said [at one school], inviting the students to stop in and catch the 'flash and dash' of a criminal trial. Judge James...said the effort signed up 26 voters yesterday and 1,500 over three years. During the three years, he said, black representation on jury pools has increased from about 5 percent to 8.1 percent. Not all of the increase is attributable to the school visits, however. Judge James...said officials have increased the number of jury summonses mailed to predominately minority neighborhoods and tried to make jury service more convenient for young, financially strapped residents. Those efforts include a day-care service, $5 parking and discounts at restaurants near the courthouse...." More (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 04.06.2006). Comment. Sounds like a good program. We like especially the judge's encouraging young people to feel free to visit the courthouse and watch trials. Kids who are well-behaved should always be welcome in any public building, including a courthouse. See, Latest courthouse threat? Students who want pop - Is this America? No, Cook County - Shooter targets judge leaving courthouse - Building courthouses with security in mind - How about a courthouse surrounded by & filled with flowers?

    Labor-oriented radio show to cover supreme court decisions in Ohio. "It's America's Work Force, not American Idol, but nonetheless Ohio Supreme Court justices will soon find their actions critiqued in Northeast Ohio. Beginning next week, the long-running, labor-oriented America's Work Force radio program will feature a segment hosted by Cleveland attorney Mary Jane Trapp, who will discuss Ohio Supreme Court decisions and their impact on common folk...." More (Cleveland Plain Dealer 04.06.2006).



    Appreciating the dappled beauty in law and everything else. Although poetry is never out of season with us, we're cooperating with the culture lords who have decreed April as poetry month. Click here and here for earlier postings. Today's poem is a little gem by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 - 1899) titled "Pied Beauty." If you're a judge and you have to ask what it means or what possible relevance it might have to judging, you're probably one of those lost souls (we don't really believe anyone is a lost soul) who has to ask, "What is 'Jazz'?" To paraphrase the famous response to the jazz question attributed to Louis Armstrong, if you have to ask, you'll probably never know.

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things --
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced-fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes -- their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers forth whose beauty is past change;
Praise him.

I wrote a mini-essay on this poem titled "Pied beauty, pied lawns, pied dogs, pied politics," and posted it on my political opinion website on 05.08.2005 (scroll down). I said there, in part, "I not only yearn for pied government, but for pied politicians." A pied judiciary, too? You betcha. See, A 'farraginous' Supreme Court and New High Court Justice not a 'crazy feminist.'

    Judge's donation of kidney gave bro an extra decade. "A piece of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stanford Blake died Monday when his brother passed away after a long illness at age 65. Robert Blake's doctors told him he would have died much earlier, but Judge Blake gave his brother a kidney 10 years ago. 'It's been an extra decade to share births and weddings and marriages and bat mitzvahs and Thanksgivings and family time together,' Judge Blake said Tuesday. 'He had been such a fighter for so many years. Any time I could give him was well worth it.'" More (Miami Herald 04.05.2006). Comment. So many of the news stories we link to are stories about judicial wrongdoing. We can't help it. It's the bulk of what newspapers publish -- and we don't fault them for keeping an eye on the judiciary. But we love saying good things about judges. It was our privilege to work "up close and personal" with top judges for 29+ years. We can't think of a one who wasn't/isn't a "good person." As Fred Rogers might say, even good people sometimes do bad things but that doesn't necessarily make them bad. Judge Stanford Blake sounds like a good person who did not a bad thing but a very good thing, and we salute him. He can be glad it worked out as long as it did. It doesn't always. One of my cousins donated a kidney to his mom, my dad's half-sister, Ruth, at Mayo in the hope of dramatically extending her life and improving the quality of her life. Alas, Ruth died of complications following surgery. But the glow emanating from my good cousin's good act continues.

    Woman gives birth in courthouse bathroom. "A woman visiting Superior Court in Derby [CT] for a small claims matter gave birth in a bathroom stall there Monday, aided by courthouse marshals...." More (Boston Globe 04.05.2006). Comment. Who says good things don't happen in courthouses? Read on....

    Courthouse 'Wall of Fame' of judges, lawyers dedicated. On Monday, 04.03.2006 a new "Wall of Fame" honoring 82 lawyers and judges was dedicated at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center downtown. "The [idea for the] Wall of Fame was born seven years ago when U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Arthur L. Alarcon suggested to the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. that the legal profession should do more to honor colleagues." Among the honorees is the late Earl Rogers, the legendary criminal defense attorney: "Rogers served as defense counsel in 77 murder trials, losing only three. At least some of his clients, as even Rogers admitted, were probably guilty. In 1932, a decade after Rogers died, attorney and author Erle Stanley Gardner reincarnated him as the fictional attorney Perry Mason." More (L.A. Times 03.26.2006).

    More good news: annual Easter egg hunt scheduled for courthouse lawn. "An Easter egg hunt sponsored by the Paris Main Street Program will begin at 2 p.m. April 15 on the lawn of the Bourbon County courthouse. The area will be sectioned off into areas for children ages 1 to 3; 4 to 6, and 7 to 8. The Easter eggs will contain candy, toys, cash or coupons. The event is free." More (Lexington Herald-Leader 04.05.2006). Comment. Here's an idea for a coupon: a "get out of jail free" card, with no expiration date.

    New $13 million system designed to increase efficiency clogs courts. "Elizabeth Magner and Justine Brooks hadn't met before they showed up at Houston municipal court early Tuesday morning. By 1 p.m., as they waited to have their traffic tickets dismissed, the women had become fast friends, dashing together from their crowded courtroom to grab a snack from vending machines. 'It's like Survivor in here,' said Magner, who enjoyed a boxed apple pie and a soda for lunch, referring to the reality television show. The women were among scores of people who have endured long waits this week as the courts launched a new electronic case-management system. The $13 million network is designed to increase the courts' efficiency...." Detailed story (Houston Chronicle 04.05.2006). Comment. I'm still not close to being convinced that from a cost-benefit standpoint the computerization of court records around the country has been "worth it."

    Justice Kennedy opposes Senate bill requiring cameras in Supreme Court. "Kennedy made clear that he thought the camera decision was the court's business -- not that of Congress. 'We've always taken the position...that it's not for the court to tell the Congress how to conduct its proceedings, Kennedy said. 'We feel very strongly that this matter should be left to the courts.' Kennedy added, 'We have a dynamic that's different than yours: not better, not worse, but different.'" More (Fox News 04.04.2006). Earlier posting, with comments. Cameras in the Supreme Court?

    Judge agrees to censure for distorting judge's record in campaign. "A state judicial commission came down hard today on Newburgh City Court Judge Peter Kulkin, censuring him for distorting his opponent's record during the 2004 election...[The commission] said that Kulkin distorted the record of incumbent City Court Judge Jeanne M. Patsalos in his campaign fliers. The fliers claimed that Patsalos refused to handle parking tickets in her court, which cost the city over $400,000. The commission found that the decision not to handle parking tickets had been made before Patsalos took office...." More (Times Herald-Record 04.04.2006).



    Judge to artists: we'll display 'appropriate' art in courthouse. "Judge James Taylor, the presiding judge of Provo's 4th District Court, believes adding a little impressionism or an abstract oil painting goes a long way in lifting the often heavy mood in the district's courtrooms. The practice started in the courthouse years ago when Judge Ray Harding Sr. hung an abstract piece his wife had painted in his court room, Taylor said...Today, private works of art approved by the judges can be found in three courtrooms in the building. 'If a local artist has a piece that's appropriate, we'd love to display it in court,' Taylor said. 'The bottom idea is to make the courtroom nicer and a more warm place, but still maintain the dignity of the courtroom.'" More (Daily Herald 04.04.2006). Comment. I take it the judges wouldn't be interested in exhibiting provocative oil paintings, e.g., one depicting Martin Luther slinging mud at the Catholic Church or one depicting Brigham Young saying, "It's Miller Time."

    Court clerk who got judge to close web site over postings relents. Last week we posted a link, with comments, to news that a judge had shut down a web site that has a bulletin board on which allegedly defamatory anonymous comments of a sexual nature were made about Diane Fremgen, a female clerk of court. Court clerk, claiming libel, gets judge to shut down web site. Now the court has allowed the web site to resume operations after its owner agreed to ban two users from posting to the bulletin board. Fremgen's lawyer says she won't seek damages from the owner if he cooperates, as he has agreed to do, with determining the identity of those who posted the allegedly defamatory comments about Fremgen. More (Duluth News-Tribune 04.04.2006).

    Poetry month. As we said yesterday, although poetry is never out of season with us, we're cooperating with the culture lords who have decreed April as poetry month. Here's a poem by William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939) from Responsibilities and Other Poems (1916):

An Appointment

Being out of heart with government
I took a broken root to fling
Where the proud, wayward squirrel went,
Taking delight that he could spring;
And he, with that low whinnying sound
That is like laughter, sprang again
And so to the other tree at a bound.
Nor the tame will, nor timid brain,
Bred that fierce tooth and cleanly limb
And threw him up to laugh on the bough;
No government appointed him.

    Judge disciplined for demeaning, mocking crime victim. According to a decision released yesterday, a judge in Syracuse, N.Y., Karen Uplinger, 58, agreed to a reprimand by the N.Y. Commission on Judicial Conduct for a) mocking an assault victim in one case, even though the jury had believed his testimony and found the defenant guilty, "comparing [the victim] to Jon Lovitz's pathological liar character Tommy Flanagan from Saturday Night Live," and for b) "admonish[ing] two witnesses [in another case] for not being in court [even though] the prosecutor had told the witnesses they could go to lunch." In that case, "Uplinger told the witnesses upon their return that they could be in contempt of court and that they could not go anywhere, including the bathroom, without her permission." Uplinger's 96-year-old mother, for whom she has been caring, died Friday. More (Syracuse Post-Standard - NY 04.04.2006).

    Investigators uncover alleged plot to bomb courthouse in 'nice' Minnesota. "A plot to blow up the Rice County Courthouse and law enforcement center and perhaps kill several public officials has been uncovered, authorities said Monday...." The suspect is a 44-year-old farmer. More (Minneapolis Star-Tribune 04.04.2006).



    April, the cruelest month - some poems. April, in addition to being not just the cruelest month and one of the loveliest, is, appropriately for people of negative capability who love paradox, a month when some of the big wigs of poetry tell us who should celebrate poetry by reading it. Just as every day in Alexandria, MN is like the 4th of July in Kensington, MN -- as a Scandinavian restauranteur who moved from Kensington to Alexandria said -- every day here at the 110-story international headquarters of BurtLaw's The Daily Judge is poetry time. That said, we're not against cooperating with the big wigs in encouraging not only the reading of poetry by our readers but the development in them of their poetic sensibilities. Accordingly, this month we'll try reprint here some poems (all in the public domain) that might appeal to our readers. Here's one by a lawyer who once was a law partner with Clarence Darrow but who also happened to be a widely-read poet, Edgar Lee Masters; it's from his 1916 Spoon River Anthology:

Mrs. Charles Bliss

Reverend Wiley advised me not to divorce him
For the sake of the children,
And Judge Somers advised him the same.
So we stuck to the end of the path.
But two of the children thought he was right,
And two of the children thought I was right.
And the two who sided with him blamed me,
And the two who sided with me blamed him,
And they grieved for the one they sided with.
And all were torn with the guilt of judging,
And tortured in soul because they could not admire
Equally him and me.
Now every gardener knows that plants grown in cellars
Or under stones are twisted and yellow and weak.
And no mother would let her baby suck
Diseased milk from her breast.
Yet preachers and judges advise the raising of souls
Where there is no sunlight, but only twilight,
No warmth, but only dampness and cold --
Preachers and judges!

    Latest developments in controversy involving MN Supreme Court justices. Two attorneys have filed complaints with the Board on Judicial Standards and the Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility asking for an investigation into whether one or more of the justices of the state supreme court made improper statements to the state senate majority leader, Sen. Dean Johnson (DFL Willmar), regarding the likelihood that the court would review and sustain against constitutional challenge a state law banning same-sex marriage. Click here for links to this story and prior stories, including our prior in-depth postings containing our views on how this controversy should be investigated and our policy views on the issue of same-sex marriage. BTW, this controversy is starting to get national attention. The Washington Post, e.g., referred to it in a story today on same-sex marriage.

    What did he call Condi Rice? Although we may never know whether one or more justices talked with Sen. Johnson and/or other legislators about same-sex marriage or, if they did, what they said (see previous posting), we apparently do know that British Foreign Minister Jack Straw inadvertently referred to Secretary of State Condi Rice, while she was in his presence, as "condom." More (UK Telegraph 04.03.2006).

    Judge accused of sexually inappropriate gesture. "Elko District Judge Michael Memeo is in trouble with the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission. The panel says he allegedly held a marker about one inch away from a woman employee of the Juvenile Probation Department and pretended to draw circles around her breasts...." More (KRNV 04.03.2006). Comment. It would be interesting to know a) the extent and nature of female conduct of this sort directed at men in the workplace and the extent and nature of male conduct of this sort directed at women, b) the relative rates of complaining formally, and c) what prompts a woman to complain or not complain as compared with what prompts a man to complain or not complain.

    And what should we make of Judge Scalia's gesture? Several days ago I posted an entry titled Did Scalia give critics an obscene 'Sicilian blessing'? I'm a naive small-town boy at heart who, despite living in Boston for several years while attending law school and despite my affection for Italian-Americans, is not fluent in obscene Sicilian gestures, but I linked to a 2001 NYT travel piece that described several not-so-nice Sicilian gestures. A Supreme Court p.r. person (why, oh why, is public money being spent on p.r. people for our courts?!) described the gesture as not obscene but "dismissive." More. Apparently unwilling to leave things at that, Scalia fired off this letter to the Boston Herald for publication:

To the Editor:
   It has come to my attention that your newspaper published a story on Monday stating that I made an obscene gesture - inside Holy Cross Cathedral, no less. The story is false, and I ask that you publish this letter in full to set the record straight.
   Your reporter, an up-and-coming "gotcha" star named Laurel J. Sweet, asked me (o-so-sweetly) what I said to those people who objected to my taking part in such public religious ceremonies as the Red Mass I had just attended. I responded, jocularly, with a gesture that consisted of fanning the fingers of my right hand under my chin. Seeing that she did not understand, I said "Thatís Sicilian," and explained its meaning - which was that I could not care less.
   That this is in fact the import of the gesture was nicely explained and exemplified in a book that was very popular some years ago, Luigi Barziniís The Italians:
   "The extended fingers of one hand moving slowly back and forth under the raised chin means: ĎI couldnít care less. Itís no business of mine. Count me out.í This is the gesture made in 1860 by the grandfather of Signor O.O. of Messina as an answer to Garibaldi. The general, who had conquered Sicily with his volunteers and was moving on to the mainland, had seen him, a robust youth at the time, dozing on a little stone wall, in the shadow of a carob tree, along a country lane. He reined in his horse and asked him: ĎYoung man, will you not join us in our fight to free our brothers in Southern Italy from the bloody tyranny of the Bourbon kings? How can you sleep when your country needs you? Awake and to arms!í The young man silently made the gesture. Garibaldi spurred his horse on." (Page 63.)
   How could your reporter leap to the conclusion (contrary to my explanation) that the gesture was obscene? Alas, the explanation is evident in the following line from her article: "'Thatís Sicilian,' the Italian jurist said, interpreting for the 'Sopranos' challenged." From watching too many episodes of the Sopranos, your staff seems to have acquired the belief that any Sicilian gesture is obscene - especially when made by an "Italian jurist." (I am, by the way, an American jurist.)
    Sincerely,
   Antonin Scalia

Then on Thursday, 03.30.2006, The Herald published a copy of a free-lance photographer's photo of Scalia making the gesture and this: "'Itís inaccurate and deceptive of him to say there was no vulgarity in the moment,' said Peter Smith, the Boston University assistant photojournalism professor who made the shot." More. On Friday The Herald announced that the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper, The Pilot, had fired the photographer for releasing the photo to The Herald. More. Comment. Justice Stewart in his concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 US 184 (1964), said "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." Whether a photograph of a naked woman is art or obscenity may depend only partly on the photograph but also on who is viewing the photograph and under what circumstances. What Justice Bluenose might find to be obscene, you or I might find to be art. Looking at the picture of Justice Scalia making the gesture, you may get the impression he's making an obscene gesture whereas I may get the impression he's having fun. Then again, one person may look at a picture of a naked woman and think she's doing something bad, while another may look at it and say she's having fun. Maybe they're both right, maybe we're both right. Further reading. Dahlia Lithwick, How do you solve the problem of Scalia (Slate 03.30.2006).

    Judges hope to dispel fusty image. "They may still cling to their 18th century horsehair and elaborate robes, but today the judges of England and Wales will take their first tentative step into 21st century cyberspace. Their first website goes live today, with interactive multiple choice quizzes and a game of 'you be the judge.' The aim is to inform the public about the work judges do and dispel the perceived view that has emerged from surveys -- that they are elderly, fuddy-duddies, who are out of touch with most people's lives and inclined to let criminals off with marshmallow sentences...." More (UK Guardian 04.03.2006).

    Two judges slug it out in public in South Africa. "Mr Justice Siraj Desai will hand a letter of complaint about Cape Judge President John Hlophe to the Judicial Services Commission and Chief Justice Pius Langa today. This follows Judge Hlophe's weekend statement suggesting Judge Desai was behind leaked reports...linking Hlophe to the Oasis Crescent Retirement Fund...In 2004, Judge Hlophe granted the Oasis Group permission to sue Judge Desai for defamation relating to remarks he allegedly made at a 2001 public meeting called by University Estate residents opposed to the building of the group's headquarters in their area. Rumours about Judge Hlophe's business interests have been openly speculated about in the Cape Provincial Division and it appears he believes Judge Desai is part of the whispering campaign...." More (Cape Argus 04.03.2006). Comment. You'll need to read the full story to get a flavor of the controversy. Earlier entries. We've posted entries before concerning Desai (Judge accused of defamation. South Africa - judges & race) and Hlophe (Judge Hlophe speaks out on courtroom dress & decorum - Saving the truth - Free lunch for judges - literally - Chief judge apologizes for 51 judges' acceptance of free lunch).



    Cameras in the Supreme Court? "The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would require the Supreme Court to permit camera coverage of its proceedings. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), would require the court to allow cameras unless a majority of the justices determined that the constitutional rights of a litigant would be violated in a particular case. The measure was approved on a 12-6 vote...." More (L.A. Times 04.02.2006). Comment. Although I favor opening up to contemporaneous broadcasting (as in cable-casting or web-casting) of all Supreme Court arguments, state and federal, I question the constitutional authority of the Congress and the Executive to compel the Supreme Court to do it. But, even without the authority, the keeper of the court's purse has its ways, just as the Court, of course, has its ways to accomplish certain things at the extreme border of its authority. Earlier. Ailing supreme court justice keeps in touch via webcasts of oral arguments.

    WashSCt.: judge in harassment case erred in restricting web speech. "The [Washington] Supreme Court ruled Thursday a trial judge overreached his authority when he restricted a man from posting information on a Web site. Paul Trummel was jailed for more than three months in 2002 in his free-speech standoff with the judge over the Web site he used as a forum for attacking the Council House, a federally subsidized retirement home where he once lived...Trummel currently faces six charges of violating the anti-harassment order, said his criminal attorney, Brad Meryhew. Meryhew said he did not know how the justices' ruling would affect those charges...." More (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 04.02.2006). Paul Trummel v. Stephen Mitchell (75977-4 filed 03.30.2006). Compare and contrast. Court clerk, claiming libel, gets judge to shut down web site.

    Justices, denied permit to build homes near capitol, may do so anyhow. "A local zoning commission has denied the plans of two state Supreme Court justices to build town homes in a neighborhood near the state Capitol. The Capitol Medical Center Improvement and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Friday to deny permits to justices Joseph Watt and Yvonne Kauger. But the justices said there are questions about the commission's jurisdiction in the case and that they might build the town homes without the permits. Watt has proposed building three town homes on two lots that he owns, while Kauger's plans are to build a town-home style duplex on her property...." More (KOTV-OK 04.02.2006). Comment. Lest one get the wrong idea, I should add that the justices don't claim they're above the law. The AG says it's not clear a permit, which is required for "multi-family housing" (a building housing three or more families) is required for a townhome-style duplex on a lot. The justices, btw, say they plan to live there.

    Man plans to campaign against retention of two supreme court justices. "A North Platte man is attempting to organize committees to campaign against the retention of two Nebraska Supreme Court judges in the November election. Ernest P. Kruger filed papers, called Statements of Organization, with the state Accountability and Disclosure Commission March 22, commission head Frank Daley said this week. Daley said Kruger is organizing two committees, one opposed to the retention of Judge Kenneth C. Stephan, the other opposed to the retention of Judge Michael McCormack...." More (Lincoln Journal-Star 04.02.2006). Comment. This worked before in Neb., in 1996, when a justice was not retained. In November angry voters in PA rejected one of two PA Supreme Court Justices up for retention and narrowly retained the other. The voters were angry over a) legislative pay raises for legislators and judges, b) the court's role in approving so-called garbage bills, and c) recent disclosures about the justices' expense account uses. See, my posting titled Justice loses retention election and embedded links.

    Intemperate judge's fate rests with supremes. "The Michigan Supreme Court will [hear arguments Tuesday on] whether a Detroit judge [District Judge David Bradfield, 58, a 19-year veteran of the bench] should be suspended without pay for a year and ordered to undergo psychological counseling for his anger[-management problem]...Bradfield, 58, was cited for two incidents including an April 6, 2005, [parking space] confrontation with Detroit Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams outside a Detroit courthouse...The Judicial Tenure Commission...said Bradfield confronted Anthony Adams, used vulgar language and thumped him in the chest...The other incident involved an October 2002 confrontation with a parking attendant at Detroit's Gem Theatre when Bradfield wanted to park his Corvette in a spot that was not his...." More (Detroit News 04.02.2006). Comment. The commission's brief states that the judge "is prone to the tantrums of a two-year old: he acts out how he wants, when he wants and where he wants, regardless of the impact on other people. He has committed two acts of assault and battery and verbally abused a fellow judge." We think judges -- who, after all, are human -- ought to be given more slack outside the immediate confines of court. How much slack? That's the question. It all depends on the proverbial "totality of the circumstances" surrounding a particular instance of extra-judicial misconduct.

    Judge and DA in spat after judge briefly jails DA. "District Attorney Paul Howard...said Saturday he's considering taking action against Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. after the judge ordered him to be handcuffed and locked in a holding cell Friday...The incident started Friday night after a jury acquitted an accused rapist and the judge told them they could leave or stick around and talk to the attorneys who handled the case. The jurors agreed to give the attorneys for the defense and prosecution feedback. After the foreman asked a question, Howard stepped in to respond, instead of one of the assistant district attorneys who handled the case. The judge told him to butt out, but Howard refused and [Bedford ordered him] taken away in handcuffs. Howard spent about 20 minutes in a cell that recently has housed murderers and serial rapists. Once the judge left for the night, deputies let Howard go home...." More (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 04.02.2006). Comment. This is worth reading. The jury foreman, who said Howard was just trying to ask a question, referred to the two as "two stubborn mules." For a mini-essay on the perils to a judge's career of misusing the contempt power, see my comments at Judge who lost cool over cellphone ringing has immunity from suit.

    Will election opponent regret having 'nothing' good to say about judge? "Rock County's Circuit Court Branch 7 race is unfamiliar territory-for the candidates, the voters and the county's legal community. A sitting judge last was challenged 31 years ago when Gerald Jaeckle unseated John Boyle...Since then, judicial races have been to fill open benches. But this year, a dogged prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Perry Folts, is trying to unseat savvy legal veteran James Welker..Folts' primary issue is that Welker regularly exhibits conduct not fit for the judge's bench-displaying arrogance and condescension and demeaning people, chiefly women, in his court...." More (Janesville Gazette - WI 04.02.2006). Comment. This piece, which should be read, strikes me as a good piece of journalism. The reporter offered anonymity to attorneys -- some praised the incumbent, some said Folts' criticism has merit. The incumbent says Folts has insufficient trial experience. One theme that emerged from talking with some who attended a candidates forum: they didn't like it when Folts said "nothing" when asked if he had anything good to say about the judge. It appears that in Wisconsin, as in Minnesota, some people don't respond well to criticism that isn't clothed in "niceness."

    Bailiff/law clerk wins friends with courtroom cartoons. "In courtroom 301 at the Provo courthouse, Don Olsen watches the proceedings from his desk, drawing inspiration from his surroundings. Olsen, a recent graduate of Brigham Young University's law school, is learning about life in the courtroom. The 31-year-old is the bailiff, clerk -- and cartoonist -- for 4th District Court Judge Lynn Davis. Yes, that's right. The cartoonist...Judges will stop by his office and ask for cartoons by name, attorneys often request cartoon subjects and the court even created a Don Olsen-created cartoon calendar as a Christmas present for the staff...." More (The Deseret News 04.02.2006). Comment. Eons ago we knew a fine judge, long since deceased, who, we have it on hearsay, used to doodle while listening to arguments. Afterward, he'd toss the doodles in the trash. A janitor, emptying the wastebasket every day, thought some of them were good and saved them. I heard this from the janitor, long ago deceased. I never saw any of the doodles. Wish I had. BTW, smart judges -- and, yes, other people, including, it appears, law clerk/bailiffs  -- can do two things at once. Holmes used to write long, literate letters while sitting on the bench listening to arguments. The letters are among the best in the language and are collected in volumes every lawyer and every judge should read. See, e.g., The Holmes-Laski Letters. Other judges daydream while presiding -- daydream about anything that suits their fancy. For example, Judge Cass Timberlane, the great judge of Grand Republic, MN, found himself daydreaming about the ankles of an attractive young female witness one day; indeed, he eventually courted her and married her. See, Annals of Judicial Romance. To paraphrase Delmore Schwartz, in a judge's (or clerk's) daydreams or doodles or letters begin, what, greatness, romance, immortality? You name it. Further reading. BurtLaw's Law and Comics.

    Updates on MN's he-said/she said controversy involving senator, justices. "Saying they doubted they could force state Supreme Court justices to testify, members of a Senate ethics panel Friday agreed to dismiss a complaint against Majority Leader Dean Johnson, averting an inquiry that would have pitted the credibility of the court against that of the senator...."Details (Minneapolis Star-Tribune 03.25.2006). On Monday Johnson apologized to his colleagues for making an "inaccurate" statement to ministers and reiterated he received no "commitments" from any supreme court judges on how the court would decide same-sex marriage case. But we also have learned that "Johnson's lawyer...Ellen Sampson said if the special subcommittee on ethical conduct pressed on, Johnson was prepared to call witnesses who would testify to discussions he had with justices. 'If the committee tells us to name them, we will name them and we will call the witnesses who were in those meetings and heard those conversations,' Sampson said during a closed portion of a hearing held by the panel...."More (Minneapolis Star-Tribune 03.28.2006). To the same effect, see, St. Paul Pioneer-Press (03.28.2006) ("[Johnson's apology for making an 'inaccurate' statement at the ministers' meeting] does not clear up who is telling the truth about conversations Johnson has claimed to have had with Supreme Court justices about the 1997 law. The senator maintains that he had some conversations about the subject, and last Friday his lawyer said several of those conversations had witnesses...."). Today we learn that two senators on the ethics panel are saying Johnson's claim he has witnesses is plausible: "GOP Sen. Tom Neuville of Northfield and DFL Sen. Wes Skoglund of Minneapolis said they couldn't dismiss the possibility that conversations [with justices] took place...'I think it is possible he had a meeting and the topic came up,' said Sen. Thomas Neuville, R-Northfield. 'If push had come to shove, I think (Johnson) would have had witnesses. I didn't sense he was gaming or bluffing.'" More (Grand Forks Herald 03.29.2006). "Two attorneys -- a Minnesota House member [Rep. Tom Emmer] and a crusader against state Supreme Court rules [Greg Wersal] -- filed separate ethics complaints Friday...with the Board on Judicial Standards and the Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility, question[ing] whether [one or more] justices violated the [court's rules] by [allegedly] talking to Johnson about the 1997 state law that bans gay marriage...." More (St. Paul Pioneer-Press 04.01.2006). Senate committee rejects proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (KARE-11 04.04.2006). Earlier. Here are links to our previous, more-detailed postings on this controversy, in reverse chronological order: Minnesota's he-said/she-said controversy: Is somebody necessarily lying? (03.22.2006). The chief tries again -- did he do any better? (03.21.2006 posting) - The latest on what, if anything, MN's Supremes told a senator (03.18.2006 posting) -  What, if anything, did one or two or three supreme court justices say? (03.17.2006 posting).



Our Motto - "Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat" (Horace). Loose translation: Does anything prevent telling the truth with a smile?

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Affiliated Web sites

   U. Mich. L. Library's Alito links. The University of Michigan Law Library has compiled a webpage devoted to links to information about and writings by Samuel A. Alito, Jr. They are categorized and are arranged in reverse chronological order within each category.

   U. Mich. L. Library's Roberts links. The University of Michigan Law Library has compiled a webpage devoted to links to information about and writings by John Glover Roberts, Jr.  They are categorized and are arranged in reverse chronological order within each category.

   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.

   U. Mich. L. Library's Miers links. The University of Michigan Law Library has compiled a webpage devoted to links to information about and writings by Harriet Ellan Miers.  They are categorized and are arranged in reverse chronological order within each category.

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