The Daily Judge
© 2007 Burton Randall Hanson
      Archive - 12.15.2006 - 01.05.2007
"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.

    Update on he-said/she-said controversy at SCOMINN. Our recent in-depth posting on this revived controversy involving the Supreme Court of Minnesota may be found here: Leading senator accuses MN's chief justice of 'outright fabrication.'

    The future Chief, afraid of CIA, trying to escape hospital in pj's. In 1981, dependent on Placidyl, a powerful pain medication, which he had taken for ten years for back pain, then Associate Justice William Rehnquist began slurring his speech during oral arguments. He checked into a hospital for a weeklong stay, during which doctors, who couldn't understand why any doctor would prescribe it, especially for long periods, took him off the drug. This "caus[ed] what a hospital spokesman at the time said was a 'disturbance in mental clarity.' [His] withdrawal symptoms...included trying to escape the facility [in his pajamas] and discerning changes in the patterns on the hospital curtains. The justice also thought he heard voices [of CIA operatives] outside his room discussing various plots against him." -- From a news report based on 1,561 pages of recently-released FBI files generated primarily during his confirmation hearings in 1971 and 1986. More (Guardian Unlimited 01.04.2007). Earlier. Alan Dershowitz, Telling the truth about Chief Justice Rehnquist (Huffington Post 09.04.2005); Jack Shafer, Rehnquist's Drug Habit - The man in full (Slate 01.05.2007 - reprinted from 2005). Comment. I've yet to meet a person who is immune to the vicissitudes of fate, fame, and fortune or one who could not be reduced to mental and emotional rubble by the right coicidences of circumstances. As our friend Anne (of Green Gables) said, "There is a Book of Revelations in everyone's life" -- and, one might add, there is always hovering nearby a Perfect Storm that, if it strikes, no one in its path, not even holders of high office, can escape unscathed. I cite as "legal authority" a poem by Robert Frost that I have always liked titled "The Fear of God," with its caution to those who "rise from Nowhere up to Somewhere" of the need to "Stay unassuming" and to "keep repeating to yourself/ You owe it to an arbitrary god/ Whose mercy to you rather than to others/ Won’t bear too critical examination...." One would think that the temporary reduction of a person to rubble would give one a greater understanding of human fallability and increase one's capacity for forgiveness, but, alas, it doesn't always work that way. What it always does do, however, is provide a ready indication of who among one's friends possibly are real friends and not just faux friends.

    Ten out of 10 pundits agree: Chief's Report on paltry pay was appalling. Each year the Chief Justice, whoever he may be, issues a year-end/year-beginning "Report" on this-or-that relating to the federal judiciary. Typically -- always? -- a big topic of concern is judicial pay. Each year we in turn criticize that aspect of the Report, not because we don't wish judges to receive adequate pay but because we don't like the style and content of the arguments typically, invariably advanced. Each year we describe our views as "contrarian." This year -- see The Chief Justice's annual harangue about his paltry pay -- we have done so again, criticizing, inter alia, the Chief's sorry playing of the Judicial Independence Card and the Constitutional Crisis Card. Apparently we're no longer alone. To our surprise we find that, according to the incomparable Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, "Ten out of 10 pundits polled believe that the [Report] was offensive, outrageous, and appalling." Her summary of their critiques of the Chief's "dubious" analysis and comparisons calls to mind (my mind, at least) my mini-essay from 01.01.2002 titled I could be making lots more if I were Michael Jordan. Lithwick, as I am, is particularly offended by the Chief's playing of the aforementioned "cards." She writes:

[Roberts], more than most, should know that the words "constitutional crisis" start to lose their meaning when they are deployed in the interest of judicial pay hikes. And that the words "independent judiciary" -- which have been stretched of late to include everything from judicial immunity from popular criticism to freedom from physical attacks -- similarly begin to ring hollow when they are used to simply mean "underpaid jurists."

See, Dahlia Lithwick, O Mighty Crisis -- The 'constitutional collapse' over judicial pay (Slate 01.02.2006). Further reading. See, in addition to my 01.01.2007 posting on the Chief's Annual Report (The Chief Justice's annual harangue about his paltry pay, with embedded links), my 2000 essay, BurtLaw on Judicial Independence and Accountability. Some of many specific entries on judicial independence and accountability. 1) Annals of judicial independence and accountability. 2) Arizona becomes a sunshine state in re judicial complaints. 3) World Bank loans big bucks for judicial reform. 4) Court clerk tampered with records. 5) Judicial junk-science junkets. 6) Judges on p.r. tour. 7) Bill establishing U.S. judicial branch inspector general. 8) The 'Citizens Commission.' 9) Court bailiff convicted of felony theft for lying about work hours. 10) Judicial independence and its pal, judicial accountability. 11) The 'uncritical lovers' of the judiciary. 12) The 'unloving critics' of the judiciary. 13) A flurry of stories about judicial independence and judicial accountability [a) Salaries of court employees - coming soon to a web site near you? b) Breyer Commission files report on federal judicial discipline system. c) Chief Justice Roberts tries to make federal judiciary more accountable. d) Should MN take away judicial selection from the electorate? e) Reaction to PA Supremes' snatching their pay raise from jaws of repeal -- more do-not-retain campaigns? f) Annals of judicial independence - Iraq government sacks Saddam judge. g) 38 new varieties of judicial open-ness? h) SCOTUS transcripts PDQ.] 14) Acting chief justice urges cameras in court, other reforms. 15) Candidate makes issue of summary dispositions. 16) A judgeship as a patronage job. 17) Scalia on judicial independence. 18) Hearings involving ex-chief offer peeks behind red velour curtains. 19) Leading senator accuses MN's chief justice of 'outright fabrication' (especially at paragraph 23). 20) Letting the sun shine in. 21) Top judge posthumously criticises Supreme Court for lack of independence.

    The Chief Justice's annual harangue about his paltry pay. "Chief Justice John Roberts devoted his annual year-end report on the state of the nation's courts to just one issue, albeit one he said has 'now reached the level of a constitutional crisis and threatens to undermine the strength and independence of the federal judiciary.' He continued: 'I am talking about the failure to raise judicial pay.'" More (Seattle Times 01.01.2007). As he did last year, the Chief again asks for a substantial pay-raise for federal judges, making basically the same arguments his predecessors have made: that "real pay" has declined dramatically, that lower federal judges are leaving the bench in large numbers, and that unless something is done the only good people we'll attract to the bench will be the rich and those who are not in private practice but who have chosen public service, law teaching, etc., as a career path. Earlier. Scalia decries 'stink[ing]' judicial salaries. Comment. I offer a contrarian's opinion: The Chief Justice is paid $212,100, and Associate Justices are paid $203,000; U.S. Circuit Court Judges receive $175,100; U.S. District Court Judges receive $165,200. In other words, they're all easily in the top 5% of wage earners/taxpayers. It may or may not make sense for us to substantially increase federal judges' salaries. But the arguments that advocates of a big raise, including the Chief, always tirelessly trot out are filled with flaws and omissions -- flaws and omissions that "press-release journalists" never perceive or mention. For a) the flaws (e.g., that some young lawyers in Wall Street firms or top law profs at top schools like Harvard Law, my alma mater, get paid more is really beside the point), b) the omissions (e.g., 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 c) the kind of approach I recommend, see, my earlier mini-essay from 01.01.2002 titled I could be making lots more if I were Michael Jordan. As for the sky-is-falling argument that somehow the independence of the federal judiciary is threatened by the supposedly meager pay given federal judges -- "stink[ing]" pay is how Justice Scalia described it -- 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.

    Annals of judicial perks: State's judges are piling up sick leave. "Like other state employees, judges can tap their unused sick leave to buy health insurance in retirement. The less sick leave they use now, the bigger the retirement benefit. Many judges have earned six-figure benefits. A Journal Sentinel analysis of state records found that 207 of 235 judges, or 88.1%, recorded no sick leave last year. By comparison, 16.9% of employees at large state agencies claimed no sick leave last year... In 2005, six of seven Supreme Court justices and 12 of 16 appeals judges recorded no sick leave, records show...The Journal Sentinel used the open records law to obtain sick leave information for all judges...Appellate Judge Thomas Cane, who has been on the bench since 1972, has a benefit worth more than $364,000, the most of any appeals judge. Topping the list for circuit judges is Winnebago County Circuit Judge William Carver, who has a benefit worth $329,200. Their benefits will continue to grow until they retire...." More (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 12.30.2006). Comment. Our hats are off to the Journal-Sentinel on this reporting. We need to see more use of sunshine laws by the press to ferret out information like this. And when we read yet another story about the need for judicial pay increases, we ought to insist that policymakers and purse-holders look at the entire picture, not just the stated annual salary, in determining what compensation judges are currently receiving.

    Top judge posthumously criticises Supreme Court for lack of independence. "A High Court judge who died shortly before Christmas has left a posthumous critique of the justice system in which he accuses members of the Supreme Court of attempting to curry favour with a potentially hostile media during the controversy last year over the release of offenders convicted of unlawful carnal knowledge, writes Peter Murtagh. Mr Justice Seán O'Leary also implies that the court, and particularly what he terms its 'younger members,' are not sufficiently independent from what he calls a populist media consensus...." More (Irish Times 01.03.2007). Comment. Former President Gerald Ford, who died last week, left journalist Bob Woodward with some parting criticisms, for publication after his death, of the current President and his failed war on Iraq. We welcomed the criticisms, which were right on the money, but wished he'd made his opposition clear before the invasion, as we did, i.e., when it might have given our weak Congressmen the courage they lacked, the courage to question the President's decision. Now Mr. Justice Seán O'Leary has left us a posthumous critique of his fellow judges for being too ready to bow to popular opinion during the current hysteria over prosecution and punishment of sex offenders. We welcome his comments, especially the reminder that judicial independence is not something given to judges on a silver platter and requiring nothing of them.

    Court system cashes in on public access to online records. "Los Angeles County's court system is making millions of dollars charging for online access to records, turning its management of public information into a profit center. No other major urban county in California charges for online access to court records...Tapping into the civil index 'ought to be free,' said Michael Roddy, executive officer of the San Diego County Superior Court, the second-largest trial court in California...." More (L.A. Times 01.01.2007). Comment. We think it's outrageous to charge the public to look at public records. The court seems to be saying, "We can be open, but we're gonna make a buck off of it."

    Quote-of-the-day. "Fill the seats of justice with good [people], not so absolute in goodness as to forget what human frailty is...." Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd.

    Top judge has a vision. "Florida's top judge [Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis] wants children in every public school to learn about the American justice system, not just from teachers, but from attorneys and judges who volunteer to talk about the law, our courts and our Constitution. 'Justice Teaching' aims to pair an attorney, judge or other legal professional with every elementary, middle and high school in Florida...." More (South Florida Sun-Sentinel 01.01.2007). Relevant earlier postings. a) A new kind of "judicial outreach" program -- lecturing kids while driving school bus. See, "Q&A of Dr. F. Lavoris Pusso, SuperNintendent of Schools" at BurtLaw's Law & Kids (scroll down). b) Judges in high demand; availability trumps other qualifications!

    Judge rules dog can 'stay, stay.' "A North Haven woman who relies on her dog for help with post traumatic stress will be allowed to take the pooch to court during the trial of her lawsuit seeking damages from the state and the driver of a car that crashed into her six years ago...." More (Hartford Courant 01.04.2007). Comment. The good judge who so ruled is Superior Court Judge Linda K. Lager. We raise a tankard of premium home-brewed Norwegian lager to Judge Lager as we name her the first winner of the Mathilda Award for Judicial Understanding of Canine Superiority, named after our beloved Mathilda, Wonder Dog, who despite veterinary predictions of her imminent demise last April, is still with us, as she always will be.

    A judge's nightmares. "I have nightmares. Sometimes I dream I'm a student again, and shortly before a class I realize there's a big exam that I didn't know about, and I haven't studied...There's another kind of nightmare, but this kind occurs when I'm awake. I hear about an innocent person who has been raped or murdered, perhaps a child or young woman. Then I receive a phone call from someone who tells me that the perpetrator is someone I had in court -- someone I released or someone for whom I set bail in an amount they were able to post to be released...." From a column by Judge George Harrelson. More (St. Paul Pioneer-Press 01.01.2007). Comment. We've said it before -- see, MN judge under fire for bail decision not 'soft on crime' -- & we'll say it again: Too many people are too ready to blame a trial judge in specific or judges in general every time someone released on bail commits a crime. A worse nightmare, in our view, than that described by Judge Harrelson is of a judge being too mindful of what the late Justice Seán O'Leary described as judges being too ready to bow to popular opinion over prosecution and punishment of people accused of crimes. See, Top judge posthumously criticises Supreme Court for lack of independence.

    Marrying the courts. "Peggy S. McGraw, the presiding judge for Jackson County Circuit Court, is married to Judge Gary A. Fenner, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri...[They] quietly married in his Kansas City chambers five years ago...McGraw, 55, and Fenner, 59, first met years ago when he was a state judge in St. Joseph and she was the clerk of the state appeals court in Kansas City...Each went through a divorce before they dated and married each other...." More (K.C. Star 01.01.2007). Further reading. For links to some of our prior postings on judicial romance, see Judge resigns and prosecutor is fired over 'romantic relationship.'

    Divorcing the courts. "What started off as a controversial ruling last April by Supreme Court Justice Ayala Procaccia in the case of Sima Amir versus the rabbinical courts has turned into a political hot potato with the potential to bring down the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert...." More (Jerusalem Post 12.29.2006).

   Judge resigns and prosecutor is fired over 'romantic relationship.' "A Douglas County [Colorado] judge has resigned and a deputy district attorney was fired over an alleged romantic relationship between the two, the Rocky Mountain News reported...." The prosecutor is identified as Deputy District Attorney Laurie Steinman, 29, who "handled cases" in the judge's court, and the judge is identified as Grafton M. Biddle, 57. More (Denver Channel 12.30.2006). Comment. We make no comment on the story itself other than to wish the parties in question well. On the related subject of Judges and internet and computer-match dating, see, a) Annals of judicial cyber-dating and 'judicial hellholes.' b) Annals of judicial cyber-dating, part II. c) Annals of judicial cyber-dating, part III -- Which judge named to Supreme Court was a computer dating pioneer? d) Annals of judicial internet dating. Options for the lovelorn judge. On the subject of what's a lovelorn judge to do, see our extensive comments at a) Judge publicly admonished for 'inappropriate' relationship with employee and b) Commission says judges can't socialize with courthouse hoi polloi. More on judicial romance. a) Internet-dating judge resigns. b) Annals of Judicial Romance. c) Valentine's Day links. d) Want another post-Valentine's Day downer? e) Judge scolded for romance with lawyer. f) Annals of judicial romance revisited.

    SCOTUS' first decade. "Call it 'The Supreme Court: The Missing Years.' A small team of legal historians is wrapping up the work of reconstructing the Supreme Court's first decade, a period largely lost to history due to poor official records, misleading contemporaneous accounts and the fire that burned the Capitol, where the Supreme Court was located, in the War of 1812. The last volume is the culmination of research that turned up 20,000 documents about the early justices, including letters and case files...." More (NYT 12.30.2006).

    The dark days of '06. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick has posted an interesting year-end list: "The Bill of Wrongs -- The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006." No. 7 on the list she titles: "Slagging the Courts": "It starts with the president's complaints about 'activist judges,' and evolves to Congressional threats to appoint an inspector general to oversee federal judges. As public distrust of the bench is fueled, the stripping of courts' authority to hear whole classes of cases -- most recently any habeas corpus claims from Guantanamo detainees -- almost seems reasonable. Each tiny incursion into the independence of the judiciary seems justified. Until you realize that the courts are often the only places that will defend our shrinking civil liberties." More (Slate 12.30.2006).

    Report: "Notorious Ninth" has hired law firm to investigate federal judge. "The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has launched an investigation of a federal judge who awarded more than $4.8 million in judgments and fees without apparently disclosing his personal, political and business ties to those who benefited, two sources close to the inquiry told The [L.A.] Times. [The judge is] U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan of Las Vegas, a popular state judge who joined the federal bench in 2002 after his nomination by President Bush...." More (L.A. Times 12.30.2006).

    D.C. Circuit rejects amicus brief submitted by ex-judges. "A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which will soon decide an important case concerning detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, rejected a friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the case by [seven] retired judges...." Abner J. Mikva, one of two former chief judges on the brief, is quoted saying that rejection of the brief was motivated by personal animus "'clearly aimed at me'...because he opposed allowing judges to accept free trips to resorts for seminars sponsored by private groups...[and that] 'They really should grow up.'" More (NYT 12.30.2006).

    Judge quits, cites dispute with former law partners. "Superior Court Judge James L. Pfeiffer resigned Friday...[saying i]n a letter to Gov. Jon Corzine [that] his decision 'is based solely on the continuing business dispute and resulting litigation between myself and my former law partners regarding their buyout of my interest in my former law firm.' In a suit filed Tuesday, the judge accuses his former law firm colleagues of stealing his money to fund their new practice...." More (Express-Times 12.30.2006). And see, Judge sues ex-colleagues (Express-Times 12.28.2006).

    What's happening at SCOMICH? Is it 'civil war' or 'insurgency'? Pundits and politicos have been debating of late whether what is happening right now in Iraq is appropriately called "civil war." Some say a better term is "insurgency." Others prefer "anarchy." We here at the International Headquarters of The Daily Judge, where it's always 70 degrees F., calm, and sunny, occasionally find ourselves obliged to call our reader's (yeah, we've only one) attention to judicial feuds, misdemeanors, felonies, skirmishes, omissions, commissions, etc., but those happenings are what they are. We're not yet sure what to call that which is happening -- has been happening -- with our friends at Supreme Court of Michigan. "Civil war"? "Insurgency"? "Family feud"? News stories to read and enjoy. Justices lose one to Fieger - Federal appeals court gives him chance to prove bias (Detroit Free Press 12.27.2006); Oyez, oyez: God help this dysfunctional court! (Detroit Free Press 12.22.2006); State Justice Weaver lashes out at GOP colleagues (Detroit Free Press 12.22.2006); Editorial: Fairness questioned at state supreme court (Detroit Free Press 12.22.2006). Some fun 4-3 opinions and orders. Maldonado v. Ford Motor Co.; Grievance Adm'r v. Fieger; Order Re Appointment of Chief Judge of the Kent County Probate Court (4-3 decision); Administrative Order 2006-48; Administrative Order 2006-08. Some of our relevant past postings with commentary. Annals of judicial colleageality: a frictionalized, fractured supreme court; Calling a judge a 'jackass'; More on Michigan Supremes' split over free speech; May the state discipline an attorney for calling a judge 'a nonsense judge'?; A mess of allegations, including over judges and their lawyer spouses; More on supreme court judge who decided not to retire.   

    Popularity that follows, not that which is pursued. "I will do my duty unawed. What am I to fear? That mendax infamia from the press, which daily coins false facts and false motives? The lies of calumny carry no terror to me. I trust that the temper of my mind, and the color and conduct of my life, have given me a suit of armor against these arrows...[When I have supported the Government,] I have done it without any other reward than the consciousness of doing what I thought right...I wish popularity, but it is that popularity which follows, not that which is run after. It is that popularity which, sooner or later, never fails to do justice to the pursuit of noble ends by noble means. I will not do that which my conscience tells me is wrong upon this occasion, to gain the huzzas of thousands, or the daily praise of all the papers which come from the press. I will not avoid doing what I think is right, though it should draw on me the whole artillery of libels - all that falsehood and malice can invent, or the credulity of a deluded populace can swallow...Once for all, let it be understood that no endeavours of this kind  will influence any man who at present sits here." William Murray, Lord Mansfield, in Wilkes' Case, 98 E.R. 327 (1768 King's Bench).

    Person of the year? "For her commitment to restoring public confidence in the Madison County Courthouse, as well as the poise she displayed walking a political tightrope during a precarious judicial election cycle, our hats are off to the Record's 2006 Person of the Year. Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis took over leadership from former Chief Judge Ed Ferguson in May and since then has ushered in a number of reforms including limiting judge shopping, out-of-state lawyers and cases filed under seal...." More (Madison Record 12.29.2006).

    Social workers to instruct court clerks on what to say to queries. "Clerks at the Bexar County Courthouse answer thousands of calls each day. They will help you file a will, petition for a divorce, fight for child custody and apply for mental health assistance. Soon, they will be meeting with social workers from UTSA to learn what's best to say to people...." More (WOAI.Com - San Antonio 12.29.2006). Comment. Why do I hear myself mumbling, "Hmmmm"?

    Annals of creative sentencing: 'No more panties for you! "A convicted sex offender from Albion is free to go home but he's forbidden from possessing pornography and women's panties. The unique terms of probation were imposed yesterday by Justice Nancy Mills [on] 23-year-old Nicolas Leathers...[Leathers will] be subject to searches to make sure he has no pornography or women's underwear." More (WCSH6 12.29.2006). Comment. Judge, would it be okay if he got some of those cotton unisex panties that anyone can wear? May he watch cable television? May he read those old Montgomery Ward catalogs or the old Victoria's Secret catalogs? How about those old National Geographics from the 1950's?

    Two judges agree to sanctions. "Two Surprise municipal judges [Joseph Malka and Jerry Colglazier] have admitted acting inappropriately in their courtrooms and agreed to disciplinary sanctions after an Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct investigation resulted in administrative charges against them...The statement of charges alleges that Malka pushed a woman's case back a week because she cracked her knuckles too loudly, disrupting the courtroom...Malka and Colglazier are accused of conspiring to raise a defendant's bond with no credible explanation, denying the defendant his right to speak with a lawyer and holding an informal contempt hearing with no sworn testimony from the defendant or any opportunity for the defendant to give a response...." More (Arizona Republic 12.29.2006).

    Annals of judicial parking: Brooklyn judges who park on walkways. "After a series of articles in the Daily News, Brooklyn judges recently agreed to stop parking on a stone walkway next to Borough Hall, but will keep a parking lot in Columbus Park...In 1999, then-Administrative Judge Michael Pesce said judges would remove their cars from at least the walkway once a new courthouse garage at 330 Jay St. was completed. But even when the 80-spot garage opened last year, judges' cars continued to hog the park. Community activists were outraged by the judges' broken promise, particularly after the Daily News found 152 on-street parking spots in downtown Brooklyn reserved for the borough's 150 state judges...." More (N.Y. Daily News 12.28.2006). Further reading. For those "judicial parking fetishists" who are totally obsessed with the topic of judges and their parking (and/or parking lot) problems, we recently provided convenient links to some of our relevant earlier entries. These links may be found in the body of our posting titled Sessions judges ask parking spaces for secretaries.

    Justice accuses fellow supremes of being 'blind.' "Justice Larry Starcher of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals called his colleagues blind for throwing out a mangled miner's lawsuit...." More (West Virginia Record 12.27.2006).

    SCOMASS: we can't force legislators to act on gay marriage amendment. "The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said it cannot force lawmakers to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The court said lawmakers are defying the constitution by not voting, but said it has no authority to force them to act...." More (Boston Globe 12.27.2006).

    From bench to Baghdad: NH judge headed back to Iraq. "The war in Iraq is pulling Derry District Court Judge John Coughlin away from his second high-profile public job in three years...The former U.S. Marine was first called to service in Iraq with his [N.H. National Guard] unit, the 197th Field Artillery Brigade, in January 2004...." More (Union-Leader 12.27.2006).

    Attorney appointed to prosecute judge for DWI says own record is irrelevant. "The attorney [appointed to prosecute] St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young on drunken driving charges has been arrested twice himself for DUI. John Randall Patchett of Marion -- who served as Williamson County state's attorney in the 1980s -- says his previous arrests won't affect his ability to justly prosecute Young...." More (Chicago Sun-Times 12.27.2006). Read on...

    Madison County judge named to hear DUI case against judge. "The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed a Madison County associate judge [Janet Heflin] to hear the drunken-driving case against a circuit judge from neighboring St. Clair County...Heflin, 40, was criticized earlier this year when she allowed an Alton lawyer convicted twice of drunken driving to receive court supervision, despite a state law limiting supervision in such cases to once in a lifetime...A hearing to revoke Young's driver's license [for refusing to submit to blood alcohol testing] had been scheduled for Tuesday but was delayed...Even if his driver's license is revoked, Young could apply for a judicial driving permit that would allow him to drive." More (Belleville News-Democrat 12.27.2006).

    What judicial law clerks are, what they do -- in SoDak. "Each of South Dakota's seven judicial circuits has a law clerk who works for a year. In simplest terms, the clerks help judges do research and write opinions...During their year on the job, clerks also get to meet a lot of lawyers and observe their courtroom techniques...Sometimes, [law clerk Sarah] Baron said, people confuse her with the clerk of courts. The jobs have similar titles, but the clerk of courts handles the county's legal records...." More (Aberdeen American News 12.27.2006).

    Top army judge criticizes detention of Palestinians without trial. "A top Israeli military judge disclosed that 2,700 Palestinians have been detained without trial this year, criticizing the military prosecution for not filing charges against some of them...The practice of administrative detention has been harshly criticized by Palestinians and human rights groups, who say that if the military has evidence against suspects, it should put them on trial. The military has responded that sometimes evidence is too sensitive to submit to a trial...." More (IHT 12.27.2006). Comment. Sound familiar?

    A blue Christmas for judge whose car, presents are stolen. "A Hopi tribal judge's [2005 Grand Am] was stolen early Christmas Eve in the tribal housing community... [Judge Dale] Leslie's wallet, including his bank cards, credit cards, and driver's license were in the stolen vehicle. Other items include a cell phone, a pow-wow breast plate, camera, $400 in CD's, six holiday hams, and numerous Christmas gifts. Dale estimates that the vehicle contained a minimum of $2,500 worth of items...." More (Gallup Independent 12.27.2006).

    In city courts, even the dead await justice. "Sir Sobha Singh, renowned builder entrusted with the task of constructing India Gate, South Block and other important buildings in Lutyens' Delhi, had filed two civil suits in 1960. While the builder died on April 18, 1978, the two cases have survived him by over 28 years. The suits are still pending before senior civil judge Sanatan Prasad in Tis Hazari courts, earning the dubious distinction of being the oldest two cases in any Delhi court. These are civil suits. More shockingly, there are almost as old murder and land acquisition cases still awaiting a verdict at the first step of justice -- the lower courts in Delhi...." More (Times of India 12.27.2006).

    For trial judges, laptops not in sight, nor telephones at home. "A year ago, trial court judges looked forward to an IT-enabled revolution in the subordinate judiciary as PM Manmohan Singh promised laptops to all judges and computerisation of all courts. However, the tool for dispensation of justice by most courts remains the same -- ramshackle typewriter...[Moreover,] a majority of these judicial officers still lack something as basic as a telephone at their residential offices...As against a sanctioned strength of 14,412 district and subordinate judges, the lower judiciary in the country has a working strength of 11,849 presiding officers with 2,546 posts lying vacant." More (Times of India 12.27.2006).

    Another haunted courthouse. "Some people think the Summers County Courthouse is haunted. Employees have even refused to work in the castle-like courthouse at night, for fear of hearing the footsteps of a former prosecutor [Thomas Reed] as he walks back and forth across the second-floor courtroom...Reed, who had an artificial leg, served as the county's prosecutor from 1928 to 1972...Tales of possible ghosts just seem natural in the Romanesque Revival style structure, which looks like a castle with its six towers. Part of the red-brick building dates back to 1875, making it one of the oldest in the state...." More (Charleston Daily Mail 12.27.2006). Comment. Does anyone out there know of any horror movies set in an old courthouse. I'm working on a treatment for a possible movie set in one of the newer fortress-style courthouses, a romance/thriller in which all the security features installed since 09.11 prove to have been one big mistake.

    High Court upholds dismissal of judge over drunken revelry. "A drunken night-out [in 1999]...has proved to be the undoing of...a lower court judge [R. R. Kale]...[During a party Kale and another judge, R. A. Pawar] abused each other and indulged in fisticuffs. Kale then chased Pawar's domestic, one Balu alias Malu Moghe, with a hockey stick and assaulted him. They then called up a third judge N. K. Chavan and abused him over the phone...." Kale was dismissed from judicial service in 2004. More (Times of India 12.27.2006). Comment. Despite what you may have heard, judges are not members of a "rule-free class." We don't just expect them to abide by the normal rules we all are expected to follow -- we unreasonably expect them, like ministers' kids, to be better than the rest of us. Our expectations aren't always met. Readers of The Daily Judge regularly read stories about judges whose conduct, if videotaped, might fill a Judges Gone Wild video sold on late-night T.V. Why is this? I think most judges make a good-faith effort to meet our overly-high expectations. But "being better" than the rest of us all the time not only ain't fun, it leads to harmful repression of the old Freudian fun instinct. All that repressed fun builds up and eventually erupts, with societal or at least judicial consequences similar to those that occur when the proverbial Protestant minister's daughter goes wild, hooks up with the local rebel without a cause and stands on the steps of the local Catholic church late at night baying at the moon and mocking the Pope as he lies dying of hiccups. What's worse is that when the repressed fun doesn't erupt in some violation of "the code," it manifests itself in various, arguably more harmful, ways. Witness the straight-and-narrow goody-goody judge who lawfully takes it out on some poor sap who negotiates a check with insufficient funds or who monitors his secretary's lunch and coffee breaks with a stop-watch. What to do? We think a "Judicial Mardi Gras" is one answer and the related concept of a "judicial safe haven" (in the interest of increasing MN tourism we recommend St. Paul, MN, as the location and urge that the plan be called "the O'Connor layover plan"). See our coordinated proposals in "On judicial swimsuits and the Rules of Judicial Conduct -- part II" (scroll down) at BurtLaw's Law & Swimsuits.

    More sunshine in CT. "Connecticut's judges have wisely decided to install new bulbs in their chambers. They voted this past week to open meetings of the state Superior Court Rules Committee to the public...." More (Hartford Courant 12.26.2006).

    A glimpse into one lawyer's appointment to the bench. "How much do we know about our circuit court judges? How do they get on the bench in the first place? And how do we know they're doing a good job once they do?...Files obtained by the Gazette-Times give a look into [Circuit Judge Janet] Holcomb's 1997 appointment by former governor John Kitzhaber. Holcomb and four others sought the judgeship vacated by the retirement of Frank Knight...." More (Corvallis Gazette-Times 12.26.2006). Comment. We need more journalistic inquiries into how lawyers get themselves appointed to the bench -- not because such inquiries necessarily will establish that anything nefarious occurred but because it's always a matter of public importance that the public know about such things. Without specific reference to Judge Holcomb's appointment, we note that many judges around the country like to pretend that they are not political, that politics has no proper place in judicial selections (or judicial elections), and that they themselves were appointed solely on merit, sort of the judicial equivalent of a virgin birth. The truth is often different, and the press ought to insist that the appointment process be totally open.

    Judge's new book is controversial. The judge, who recently got 70% of the vote in a retention election, is Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker, Jr., of St. Louis. The book, due next week, is provocatively titled The Tyranny of Tolerance: A Sitting Judge Breaks the Code of Silence to Expose the Liberal Judicial Assault. Some are complaining that the judge ought to be brought before the judicial ethics folks for writing and promoting it. More (St. Louis Post-Dispatch 12.26.2006). Comment. Although we doubt we'd agree with much of what the judge says, we see no problem with his writing it or promoting it. Lots of judges have written books expressing opinions on this or that. No one ever complains when someone like Sandra Day O'Connor writes a bland book that says nothing. Those who complain when a judge like, say, Richard Posner, writes one that's provocative can go on complaining. Complaining about such things is protected by the First Amendment. So is writing books.

    Web error reveals vote to censure of U.S. Judge. "A judicial discipline council [in November] voted overwhelmingly to impose sanctions on a veteran Los Angeles federal judge [Judge Manuel L. Real, 82,] who improperly seized control of a bankruptcy case to protect a probationer he was supervising. But it is far from clear when, or even whether, the decision of the judicial council of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will become officially public...Real appealed on Dec. 15...However, the council's order was inadvertently posted for more than a week on the Internet by Thomson/West, a legal publishing service...." More (L.A. Times 12.23.2006).

    The latest on judicial reform, or the lack of it, in Nevada. "The Nevada Supreme Court, which recently refused to bar judges from personally seeking campaign cash, said Friday that a judge's donation of more than $100 to another candidate doesn't come under the definition of a prohibited endorsement. The high court also adopted a rule requiring judges to disclose when former law clerks appear before them in court within three years after leaving the judge's employ...The Supreme Court is considering various [other] judicial reform proposals, including one from Rose to allow peremptory challenges of the state's senior judges in some cases...." More (Las Vegas Sun 12.23.2006).

    Annals of specialty courts: teen courts. "After District Court in Lynnwood closes for the day, Judge Carol McRae hands the robe over to teen judge Shelbie Stemm. McRae oversees the Lynnwood program...Cases heard in teen court are diverted from juvenile court, for minor law infractions...Defendants already have pleaded guilty and have chosen to come to teen court to have the matter heard by peers who will assign a sentence, ranging from letters of apology to community service...Nationwide, the concept is so popular that 45 states have legislation allowing cases to be diverted to the courts...There are a variety of styles of teen courts. Some handle only traffic cases; others handle cases occurring only at school...." More (Seattle Times 12.23.2006).

    Stun guns as threat to courtroom safety. "A criminal defendant this week carried a stun gun into a Jackson County courtroom after security guards mistakenly thought it was a cell phone. Someone saw it in the defendant's satchel and alerted deputies, who planned to charge the man -- until they realized he broke no law. A county law forbidding weapons in court does not include stun guns. Missouri and Kansas do not outlaw them. And a federal law that bars convicted felons from carrying firearms does not define stun guns as firearms. That worries court officials. They fear someone could use a stun gun to zap a deputy, take his real gun, and kill or create havoc in a courthouse...." More (Kansas City Star 12.23.2006).

    Obituary: tall judge was commanding figure who had a way with dogs. "Anne Rogers Clark, a commanding figure in the world of show dogs who won renown at the Westminster Dog Show as a handler, a judge and a breeder, died Wednesday in Wilmington, Del., at the home of a friend. She was 77 and a longtime resident of Greenwood, Del. At 6 feet 2 inches, Mrs. Clark was an imposing and instantly recognizable presence in the show ring. For six decades, she was a fixture at Westminster, and she holds many of its records [as a handler]. She also shared the record for most judging appearances at Westminster, with 22...She had more than a deep knowledge of dogs...she had a way with them...." More (NYT 12.23.2006).

    Retired judge is barred from bench. "[Recently r]etired Orange County Superior Court Judge Susanne S. Shaw was barred permanently from courtrooms Thursday after a state investigation concluded she had been 'abusive and demeaning' toward defendants, attorneys, witnesses and a prospective juror...
The state Commission on Judicial Performance reviewed five criminal cases in 2003 and 2004 presided over by Shaw and found 42 instances of misconduct... Before Thursday's action, Shaw has been rebuked three times by the commission and repeatedly admonished by Court of Appeal for her courtroom conduct...." More (L.A. Times 12.22.2006).

   Supremes discipline judge for negligent failure to release inmate. A trial judge, named Newman, should have ordered release of an inmate pursuant to a supreme court decision. He didn't and the poor guy, unaware of the decision, didn't get released right away. The judge blamed his staff, but the disciplinary board has ruled the judge must bear responsibility. More (Indianapolis Star 12.22.2006).

    Government will provide High Court judges with luxury cars. "The state government has decided to purchase 25 Maruti Esteem VXIs for judges of Patna High Court at the cost of over Rs 1.44 crore...This is in addition to the 12 Maruti Esteem VXIs purchased by the state government recently for the 12 new judges of Patna High Court at the cost of over Rs 69 lakh...." More (Times of India 12.24.2006).

    A retiring judge says people are basically good. Although a thoroughbred Percheron gelding is one of his best friends and although as Cayuga County's top judge for 27 years he has come in contact on a daily basis with people who've done some pretty bad things, like Anne Frank he still believes that, in the words of a reporter who's written a fine profile of him, "people are essentially good." Indeed, "[h]e says that you can go to Auburn Correctional Facility, get to know the inmates there, and realize that most of them are good people who took a wrong turn." The good judge's name is Peter Eugene Corning. Lest you think he's a Pollyanna, he's not unaware of our specie's tendencies, even when we gather together to form the small towns that are idealized in the popular media: as he told the reporter, "The small community can be the most gracious and caring or it can be the most vicious. I've seen both sides of it." Although he's still at the top of his gain, Corning is retiring at the end of the month. Why? Mandatory retirement. He's 70. More (Auburn Citizen 12.24.2006). Further reading. He's demonstrably the best but the rules say he has to retire.

    When a judge dresses up as Santa Claus, is he violating the Code? You may remember the reports about the Louisiana judge who got suspended for six months for dressing up in a prison jump suit and "blackface" for a Halloween costume party. But have you heard the one about the judge who was told by a Florida judicial ethics committee he could get in trouble for putting on a Santa Claus outfit and ringing bells next to a Salvation Army kettle? Fla. JEAC Op. 04-36.

    From the projects to the bench. "[W]hile growing up, he saw a friend die in a drive-by shooting, and a cousin convicted in a gang killing. Friends became drug dealers. People from the neighborhood were stabbed and sexually assaulted. Neighbors landed in jail or juvenile hall." But he -- Troy L. Nunley, who appointed to the Sacramento Superior Court bench four years ago at age 38 --became a judge. And a sister is now an IBM exec, a brother is a minister, and another brother is studying nursing. How'd they do it? Judge Nunley gives his mom credit. She was a single teenage mom with four kids. Believing education and hard work were the answers, both for her kids and herself, she set a good example by holding down two jobs, getting college degrees and becoming a probation officer, and she sent her kids to Catholic schools and "insisted [they] work hard, do well in school and stay out of trouble." They were afraid to let her down, and they didn't. -- From a terrific profile in the Sacramento Bee that's worth reading. More (Sacramento Bee 12.24.2006). Further reading. Judge Nunley's mom had a vision. So did the dad of India's new Chief Justice. Read on....

    When the lowest shall be highest. "For the first time, a member of India's lowest Hindu caste will become chief justice of the Supreme Court...Justice K.G. Balakrishnan will succeed Y.K. Sabharwal, who is retiring next month, The Times of India newspaper said. An official announcement is expected next week. Caste divisions exist in traditional Hinduism, setting limits on economic and educational advancement. Discrimination persists despite the outlawing of the caste system...." More (International Herald Tribune 12.23.2006). Further reading. Want to learn more about the new chief? Read on....

    New Chief Justice: 'Judges shouldn't appear to be running this country.' "Preparing to take over as the country's Chief Justice, the first Dalit, Konakkupakkattil Gopinathan Balakrishnan has not quite forgotten the casteist slights that he had to put up with. 'People from all communities helped me throughout my career, though I can't say that I did not have my share of such problems. But I learnt early to take things sportingly -- that was the only way to overcome it,' Justice Balakrishnan told The Indian Express today...." His dad was a "copyist" at a local court. He wanted his kids to get a good education but kids from the lowest caste weren't welcome in government-run schools. So he turned to the Christian missionary-run schools. Now his boy is the top judge in the country. -- From a profile worth reading in full. More (Indian Express 12.25.2006). A couple interesting quotes from the new chief: a) "Every case that comes before a judge is a human issue, not a technical question. Judges need to remember that, try to help the affected, and speed up disposals." b) "Judicial activism is alright as long as it goes in the right direction [but judges] should not appear to be running this country." Further reading. One of the big controversies in judicial circles in India these days is over how to rein in judicial corruption and ensure judicial accountability. Read on for one perspective....

    The tempest over judicial accountability in India. "Q. Today, it is possible to say that the majority of the subordinate judges are corrupt. What do you think of the latest Bill for judicial accountability? A. The Bill is a sham. It restricts the power to investigate into complaints against higher judges in the hands of their colleagues and fellow court members...The new law only intends to give people a false feeling that there is a safety mechanism...." -- From an interview by Avinash Dutt of former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan. More (Tehelka - Issue dated 12.30.2006).

    Judges boycott reception of justice minister who criticized them. "Most of the senior judges in the State boycotted a Christmas drinks reception given last night by Minister for Justice Michael McDowell in protest at his remarks about their failure to implement the law on bail and mandatory sentences for drug dealing...One of very few senior judges who did attend the reception was Mr Justice Declan Budd of the High Court, but the vast majority of the more than 40 judges of the Supreme Court and High Court did not attend as a mark of their anger at the Minister's comments...." More (Irish Times 12.23.2006).

    Man barred from courthouse after criticizing judge settles suit "A former Rutland County sheriff has agreed to a 500,000-dollar settlement with a man who successfully fought authorities' efforts to keep him out of the courthouse. Scott Huminski...won a federal civil rights lawsuit earlier this year against the former sheriff, judges, court staff, and others. They were sued when they barred Huminski from a Rutland courthouse in 1999...Huminski has won a total of $708,428, including a previous $200,000 settlement from the state...." More (Boston Globe 12.23.2006). Earlier. Barring court access results in $400k judgment for fees, expenses.

    Protecting the personal privacy of judges and their families. "The desire to protect judges and their families from the wrath of the public outside of the courthouse has led to the publication of a 20-page guide that offers tips on how best to protect one's privacy...Protecting Your Personal Privacy, a collaborative effort of The Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law at The John Marshall Law School and the Chicago Bar Association (CBA), is an easy-to-read informational booklet that has been distributed to all federal judges in the 7th Circuit, and now is being distributed to other federal circuits as well as state court judges. The booklet has been made available to the families of judges through the Judicial Family Institute and is also available to the general public...." More (PRWeb.Com - Press Release 12.22.2006).

    Courthouse's Angel Tree to honor 2 more DUI victims. "Two more angels will be placed on the Angel Tree in the Yellowstone County Courthouse today...Each year, the [Yellowstone County DUI Task Force] adds angel ornaments representing people who died as victims of alcohol-related incidents in the past year. Their names are etched on a victims' plaque that hangs in the courthouse year-round...." More (Billings Gazette 12.21.2006). Further reading. Those courthouse domestic violence awareness exhibits. Commissioners vote to remove victims monument near court entrance. Does courthouse monument compromise criminal defendant's rights? Comment. There's room for different views on this but some people believe that allowing such an exhibit inside or right outside a courthouse is arguably sort of like allowing one candidate in a contested election to put up posters inside and lawn signs right outside the door to a polling place.

    Courtroom 2A is turned into winter wonderland. "Inside Courtroom 2A on Wednesday, the area around the judge's bench was transformed into a winter wonderland with a cardboard fireplace, artificial snow and live Christmas trees decorated with multi-colored lights. Happy parents and anxious children sat on wooden benches, restlessly waiting for Santa Claus -- not a judge -- to appear. Suddenly, the lights went out and the glow from the trees lit the courtroom. 'Ho, ho, ho!' someone said from behind a set of doors decorated with holiday wrapping paper. 'Santa!' the children exclaimed...." The event, at the Robeson County Courthouse, during which 175 selected kids received gifts, was the brainchild of "Gwen Chavis and Superior Court Judge Frank Floyd," with execution by the entire courthouse staff, law enforcement officers, lawyers and participating merchants and other people. More (Fayetteville Observer 12.21.2006).

    Disgraced judge's indictment to be dismissed. "A Brooklyn judge accused of looting his elderly aunt's fortune will soon be off the hook for criminal charges, the Daily News has learned.
State Supreme Court Justice Michael Garson, under indictment for grand larceny, gets to retire and go into private law practice under a deal with Brooklyn district attorney's office, according to several sources. Garson earned the reprieve from District Attorney Charles Hynes because of the undercover work he did in Hynes' ongoing investigation into judicial corruption...." More (N.Y. Daily News 12.21.2006).

    Jurors acquit suspended judge of some charges, can't agree on others. "A[n Ohio] judge accused of using money from an estate he handled while in private practice for personal expenses and of lying to investigators has been acquitted of some charges, but jurors deadlocked on others. Suspended Highland County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Hoskins mouthed the words 'thank you' to the jury yesterday after the verdicts of not guilty were read for eight of the 15 charges against him...." More (Columbus Dispatch 12.21.2006).

    High Court judge holds court at home. "A High Court (HC) judge [Justice Mir Hasmat Ali] Thursday set up a makeshift court at home to carry out judicial activities amid hartal called by the Awami League (AL) and its allies...." More (Financial Express 12.21.2006).

    Annals of judicial-mayoral exchanges. "A Christchurch judge has taken the unprecedented step of returning fire at Mayor Garry Moore, who attacked judiciary comments about the extent of violence on city streets. On Tuesday, Judge Phil Moran said in sentencing a man that Christchurch streets were no longer safe for citizens to walk late at night for fear of being attacked by drunken youths. Moore described the judge's comments as 'absolute crap.' Yesterday, during a Crown sentencing list reading, Christchurch District Court Judge Murray Abbott noted...'The fact that in the Crown list this morning there are two cases of serious unprovoked street violence places into some perspective comments by the Mayor, Mr Moore'...." More (The Press - NZ 12.20.2006).

    Governor wants taxpayers to finance judges' and challengers' campaigns. "[Washington] Gov. Chris Gregoire wants public financing of Court of Appeals and Supreme Court races and included $4.4 million in her state budget proposal Tuesday for a pilot project, saying that something has to be done about excessive spending in those campaigns...." More (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 12.20.2006). Comment. Earlier (at Should we shed tears for 'small-budget' subsidized judicial candidates?) I wrote:

Justice ought not be for sale. Until now, in MN, the "big" spenders have been the incumbents in those few instances in which there've been challengers and a good chunk of the incumbents' money has come from lawyers. When I ran against C.J. Blatz in 2000, her proxy collected a war chest of around $125,000-130,000 even though I promised to not spend more than $100 and in fact did not spend more than $100. Other states have had problems with moneyed interest groups trying to influence the voters. Washington State this year is an example. MN has not had a problem and I doubt that it will. If outside money comes in, the "good guys" -- i.e., candidates like me :-) -- can refuse the money and/or disavow the attack commercials, and the voters, whom I trust, presumably will vote for the good guys. If the voters don't vote for the good guys, well, then maybe they don't deserve better. But I do trust our "above average" voters here in MN. In any event, I oppose any system of state financing of judicial campaigns, here or elsewhere. Taxpayers' hard-earned money ought not go toward financing silly commercials, paying campaign consultants, etc. I wouldn't waste any of my own money on them, so how could I in good conscience endorse a plan that would allow me to waste taxpayers' money on them? In short, I don't feel anyone should shed tears over the small-budget subsidized judicial candidates in NC. I do feel we voters should shed tears over the miserable coverage the press gives to judicial campaigns. Big-city newspapers, although happy to report in depth whenever a sitting judge allegedly commits misconduct, literally never cover judicial campaigns in any significant way other than to parrot the judicial establishment's (and the papers' editorial boards') view that they're a bad thing, that they signal the end of judicial independence, etc., blah-blah, etc.

For more of my views, see, Free speech is a bad idea?

   Censured judge won't seek another term. "Superior Court Judge Rosemarie R. Williams, whose personal life spilled into the public eye and left her reputation sullied, has announced that she will not seek a third term on the bench. The beleaguered jurist had already been suspended from the bench in 2001 for three months after a very public quarrel involving a sheriff's officer 21 years her junior with whom she was romantically linked. And earlier this year Williams, 54, of Hopewell Township, surrendered her driver's license for driving while intoxicated. In September, the state Supreme Court censured Williams for her conduct...." More (Trenton Times 12.20.2006).

    Bora Laskin -- Canada's first 'judicial celebrity.' "The nation's first Jewish Supreme Court justice, Bora Laskin, was lauded last week as Canada's first 'judicial celebrity.' The assessment was made by Philip Girard, a Dalhousie University law professor and the author of Bora Laskin: Bringing Law to Life, published by the University of Toronto Press. Girard's cradle-to-grave biography, the first of its kind, starts with his birth in Fort William, Ont., (now part of Thunder Bay) in 1912 and ends with his death in Ottawa in 1984...." More (Canadian Jewish News 12.20.2006). Comment. Ahh, I remember him well.

    A judge pontificates on whorehouse etiquette. "The etiquette when attending Queenstown's Candy's Gentlemens Club was explained in detail by Judge Dominic Flatley in the Queenstown District Court yesterday. The last time Mathew Jon Rako, 39, attended the brothel he had lost his temper and control of himself causing $5500 damage to the interior and fittings as well as intimidating the three women present at the time...Rako offered in court yesterday to repair the damage himself because he was a painter and decorator. The club accepted Rako's offer but Judge Flatley laid down the law about the way to behave at such a club...." More (Stuff.Co.NZ 12.20.2006). Comment. According to Stuff, Judge Flatley, who deferred sentencing, said that when Rako goes to the club pursuant to the accepted offer, he is, among other things, to "get on with [your] work and say very little to anyone" and "not to engage in conversation" [Emphasis by us].

    To avoid groupies, judge wears baseball cap and sunglasses while traveling. "I try to keep a low profile when I travel...A baseball cap and sunglasses usually help me blend in with the traveling public. But I have a distinctive voice that always seems to give me away...I talk when I have to -- like when I'm checking in for a flight. And that's usually when the...road show starts...." Judicial superstar, Judge Glenda Hatchett, as told to Christopher Elliott. More (NYT 12.19.2006). Comment. We've long had a "problem" of being pursued by groupies of all sorts, Blawger Groupies, BurtLaw Nerd Club Groupies, Harvard Law Grad Groupies, Norwegian-American Groupies, Groupies-Who-Think-We-Look-Like-Clint-Eastwood, Women Who Can't Resist Men With Great Hair, Intellectual Groupies, Athletic Adonis Groupies, etc. It's a burden.

    Suspended judge says his slow performance was caused by diabetes. "Regional Trial Court Judge Demosthenes Magallanes yesterday admitted that his diabetes has been causing his slow performance in resolving plenty of pending cases at his sala. In an ABS-CBN interview, he accepted wholeheartedly the decision of the Supreme Court to suspend him for three months without pay. He, however, vowed to continue working even without pay just to resolve the pending 76 cases in sala at Branch 54. Bacolod RTC Executive Judge Roberto Chiongson also also promised to help Judge Magallanes in resolving the pending cases...." More (Sun-Star 12.19.2006).

    Jewish babe's Sicilian godfather is named Nino. "The most obvious question about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's appearance before the Northern Virginia Technology Council last week was: What was he doing there? It was answered pretty quickly, as NVTC president and chief executive Bobbie Greene Kilberg talked about neighborhood Fourth of July parties with the vast Scalia clan and mentioned that Scalia and his wife, Maureen, are her youngest child's godparents...." More (Washington Post 12.19.2006).

    Annals of misleading headlines. "Dayton Man Faces Judge Accused Of Setting Girlfriend On Fire." -- Headline to a story that begins "A Dayton man accused of using lighter fluid to torture his girlfriend faced a judge on Tuesday." More (WHIO-TV7 12.19.2006).

    Unionizing the courts. "York County, its elected clerk of courts and his top assistant are facing charges of unfair labor practices for allegedly threatening to deter employees' union activity. Teamsters Local 776, which represents unionized clerk of courts employees...alleges that [the clerk of courts] and his administration interfered with employees' basic union rights, that unionized employees faced discrimination to discourage their union membership and that [he] improperly instituted disciplinary guidelines not in the county's contract with unionized Clerk of Courts employees...." More (York Dispatch 12.19.2006).

    Work stoppages by courts union threaten courts. "Sittings at Magistrates Courts could be cancelled over the festive period as staff start a work to rule, union leaders say. Around 16,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union working for the court service have started the work to rule in a dispute over a below inflation pay offer of two per cent. Emergency Saturday and Bank Holiday sittings will be hit over the festive period as clerks, ushers and security staff refuse to work out of normal weekday hours, says the union...." More (Sheffield Today 12.19.2006).

    Fourth theft of judge's car is foiled. "Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman has had unusually bad luck when it comes to cars. Three of his vehicles have been stolen from the county's Downtown lot in recent years, court officials said, and he might have lost a fourth yesterday afternoon were it not for an alert parking attendant who reported a man trying to break into the judge's rented Camry...." More (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12.19.2006).

    Is granting summary judgment a form of judicial activism? "For the most part, today's intense debate over...judicial activism...focuses on a small number of Supreme Court decisions. This is unfortunate, because the lower federal courts decide far more seemingly unremarkable civil cases that matter a great deal for understanding when judges overreach...In our legal system, juries, not judges, are supposed to decide the facts...In a string of recent cases, however, some appeals-court judges have voted to allow trial courts to grant 'summary judgment' -- or dismiss a case before trial -- even though a jury might reasonably see a violation of the law in the evidence. The problem appears to be acute on the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, where nine of the 11 active judges are Republican appointees, seven of them chosen by Bush...." -- From Seth Rosenthal, "The Jury Snub -- A conservative form of judicial activism." More (Slate 12.18.2006). Comment. My own view is that, even in cases where it clearly is mandated, many trial judges will not grant summary judgment. They know that typically the movant may not appeal immediately from a denial of summary judgment and that therefore there is little risk that the denial will ever be reviewed. Thus, I think summary judgment may be too rarely granted rather than too frequently granted.

    Husband wins £3m over sex problem caused by work injury. "A man who lost his sexual inhibitions after suffering a severe head injury at work has won more than £3m [in London's High Court]. Stephen Tame, 29, fell from a gantry while working in a cycle warehouse in Wickford, Essex, in January 2002...." More (BBC News 12.19.2006). Comment. People paid Dr. Freud good money in hopes of losing their sexual inhibitions. Mr. Tames will receive £3m because he's lost his inhibitions.

    Is $100M Guantanamo courthouse to try 60 people necessary? "The U.S. government already has a courthouse at Guantanamo Bay, but the Pentagon isn't satisfied, CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports. It plans to spend $100 million of your tax dollars to build a huge new facility just down the hill. 'This is very expensive for the number of cases, 60, which they anticipate trying,' says Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif...I asked [Defense Dept. officials] if they had looked at alternatives in the United States...and the answer was no,' Feinstein says...." More (CBS News 12.19.2006). Comment. It's gotten so that to the folks who run the country, the state, and most big corporations, a mere million is peanuts.

    Judge sentences ex-lawyer to prison for intimidating a judge. "A former Oak Harbor attorney was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for intimidating a judge and a former colleague. Elsebeth Baumgartner, 51, received four years for both the offenses against visiting Judge Richard Markus and former colleague Brian DuBois, with whom Baumgartner once ran a Web site. The two terms are to be served consecutively...." More (Sandusky Register 12.19.2006).

    The wily 'court jester' who wins big time for his clients. "Ladies and gentleman, Sy Gaer, a little old man who is something of a giant in courthouse circles. Here is a lawyer who turns routine hearings into comedy theater, but also regularly wins trials, even though he refuses to prepare. His lines are legendary in the Justice Building. To Gaer, every case is a potential 'miscarriage of justice,' all prosecutors are 'persecutors' and every client a 'poor innocent child' no matter how old, or how heinous the alleged crime. He's been known to comment that a certain prosecutor had 'his diaper wrapped too tightly.' Gaer, 75, even has a favorite line for judges: 'Just once before I die, I'd like to hear the word 'granted' in this courtroom'...." More (Miami Herald 12.19.2006).

    What his colleagues say about Sy Gaer. "Assistant State Attorney Philip Maniatty: 'He will go through an entire trial and refer to his client by the wrong name and the jury will acquit anyway.' Assistant State Attorney Marie Mato, after losing a case to Gaer in August: 'He didn't really pull any stunts. It's one of these cases where he got lucky with the jury. I thought the case was a slam dunk. The jury came back after five minutes. It's like, well, Sy did it again.'" More (Miami Herald 12.19.2006).

    Annals of creative sentencing. "A man who shot his Great Dane in the head may have his jail sentence reduced if he dresses up as a dog. Municipal Judge Michael Cicconetti offered Thursday to cut Robert M. Clark's sentence to 10 days in jail if he wears a Safety Pup costume and visits the city's five elementary schools...." More (Chicago Sun-Times 12.18.2006). Comment. I wonder if the judge has tried "the stocks" or "the dunk tank." I don't like the idea of humiliating people, which is what Judge Cicconetti sometimes seems to do, but I think a case can be made that it's better in many cases than sending them to jail. Must it be either/or? Why not neither? We jail too many people for piddly things (at great expense) & imprison too many people for far too long (at enormous expense) for "non-piddly" offenses. See, BurtLaw on Crime & Punishment. (I know I'm in the very small minority on this.) Further reading on Judge Cicconetti. Dept. of Judicial Dangers: Fishing - Judge uses 'humor & humiliation' rather than jail - Annals of creative sentencing. Further reading on the harshness of our sentencing policies. Doug Grow, Should society give up on its worst criminals? (Minneapolis Star-Tribune 12.17.2006) ("'Once you start down the road of longer sentences, you can't go back,' said former state Sen. Allan Spear, who for years represented logic in crime and justice issues. 'Nobody ever is going to campaign for shorter sentences.'"). That is, nobody did until I ran for Congress, in 2004. See, the campaign position paper on Crime and Punishment that I wrote and posted on my campaign website in my 2004 anti-Iraq-war primary campaign against entrenched incumbent follow-the-leader, paint-by-the-numbers Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad. For an eloquent judge's courageous stand, see, Top judge says 5-year-term is a 'very weighty punishment' and my comments thereto.

    Carbon-copy judge quits. "A federal Court magistrate who was exposed as a serial plagiarist has finally handed in her resignation and abandoned a salary package of about $250,000 a year. Jennifer Rimmer, who was based in Brisbane, agreed after meeting with Chief Magistrate John Pascoe to formally terminate a judicial career that had become a humiliating scandal...Ms Rimmer said a medical condition [undiagnosed hypothyroidism] and her heavy workload in judging matrimonial and commercial disputes were key factors influencing her propensity to plagiarise...Scrutiny of a number of written judgments showed Ms Rimmer had copied significant portions word for word from the judgments of other magistrates...." More (The Australian 12.18.2006). Earlier. Judge takes leave after plagiarism complaint. Comment. We earlier posted an extensive entry on judicial plagiarism: Judicial election issue: Did justice lift quotes in applying for judgeship? While we're on the subject, here's a BurtLaw Tip: If you're a judge who relies heavily on drafts written by a law clerk, you need to know that you could easily get "burned" if you sign your name to a draft provided by a law clerk if the clerk "lifted" someone else's words without proper attribution. In saying that, we don't mean to imply that any law clerk was responsible for Judge Rimmer's troubles.

    Suspended judges find solace by going back to law school. "Punishment may sometimes pay dividends to the victim. This was demonstrated a fortnight ago when two suspended High Court judges graduated with master's degrees in law. Mr Justice Richard Kuloba, now retired, and Lady Justice Roselyne Nambuye proved one could convert unenviable circumstances to considerable gain when they were conferred Master of Law degrees at the University of Nairobi...." More (The Standard - Kenya 12.18.2006).

    Call for Artists: Courthouse Gallery Seeks Exhibition Proposals. "The Lake George Arts Project invites emerging and professional artists to submit exhibition proposals for the Courthouse Gallery 2008 exhibition schedule. The Courthouse Gallery presents 5 to 7 exhibitions yearly of regional and national contemporary visual artists in all media. Artist's submissions are reviewed and selected by a Gallery Committee. Strong preference is given to experimental or non-traditional work created within the last two years...." More (Absolute Arts 12.18.2006). Comment. I wonder if the committee would be interested in a joint collaborative submission by our resident experts, Armond Poussaint and Dr. F. Lavoris Pusso, tentatively titled "Judicial Figure Studies."

    Afghanistan's justice system is driven by bribes. "In the halls of justice [in Kabul], almost everything is for sale. It can take one bribe to obtain a blank legal form and another to have a clerk stamp it. Lawyers openly haggle in corridors and parking lots over the size of payoffs. A new refrigerator delivered to the right official might help solve a long-running property dispute. Court dockets don't exist. The Koran, the basis of Islamic law and also the Afghan legal code, is often the only book on the shelves of poorly trained judges...." More (L.A. Times 12.18.2006).

    Hanging judge's bench is stolen. "Authorities are looking for a bench swiped from the Fort Smith National Historic Site, an area where visitors can explore the Trail of Tears and the courthouse used by an infamous judge...Isaac C. Parker, nicknamed the 'hanging judge.' More (ABC News 12.18.2006).

    The sesquipedalian septuagenarian. "That is, Judge Bruce M. Selya of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, who at 72 continues to write perhaps the wittiest and wordiest opinions in the federal judiciary...In more than 1,000 decisions over nearly 25 years on the federal bench, the past 20 in Boston as one of six judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Selya has beguiled -- and at times baffled -- colleagues and litigants with obscure and occasionally less than judicious verbiage...The judge's mix of arcana and acidity -- what he might call a 'salmagundi' of 'hyperbolic rodomontade' -- has been compared with that of Holofernes, the pompous schoolmaster in Shakespeare's Love's Labor's Lost who spoke in Latinisms. And over the years it has raised questions about the proper balance of clarity and style in judicial opinion writing...." More (Boston Globe 12.10.2006).

    Editorial: Judges should keep court schedule/calendar public "Those outside the inner workings of the civil justice system have no way to keep tabs on when judges are actually at work. Although the judges must use a card to get into their parking lot, county officials say no records are kept of when they come and go. In the past, taxpayers footing judicial salaries, lawyers heading to courthouse or courthouse staff could log on their computers and see which judges were working on any given day -- but no more. Administrative District Judge David Berchelmann recently told staff to stop providing court status information that lists which courts were out for vacation or other reasons. His comment to Express-News reporter Elizabeth Allen was, 'The only people who need to know what's going on among all of us are all of us.' Berchelmann seems to have lost sight of the fact that, whether they like it or not, judges are public servants. The public has a right to know what judges are doing on a day-to-day basis...." More (San Antonio News - Editorial 12.17.2006). Comment. This is from a good editorial that deserves reading in full. It echoes what I've been saying publicly since 2000. See, the recent story, my comments, and links at Letting the sun shine in.

    Poultry judging team places 2nd nationally. "Penn State's poultry judging team took home second place overall at the 41st National Collegiate Poultry Judging Contest in Fayetteville, Arkansas recently. The team [has] placed in the top three at national competitions in three straight years...." More (PAFarmNews 12.17.2006). Comment. Justice Scalia recently gave a talk in which he decried "stink[ing]" judicial salaries, saying that paltry salaries for judges will lead to a system of career-minded, bureaucratic, "beady-eyed" judges. See, Scalia decries stinking judicial salaries, bureaucratic career judges. We don't share his concern. Indeed, we envision an ideal judicial world that we like to compare to a barn. Judicial accolytes would start out learning the ancient and honorable craft of common-law judging by judging poultry competitions, etc., then dog shows, then jam'n'jelly competitions, then beauty pageants, etc., etc., working their way up ye olde judicial ladder that leads to the judicial equivalent of the exalted heights of the hay mow, the U.S. Supreme Court, where the pay is not, as Scalia suggests, paltry-poultry chicken feed but more than adequate -- unless, of course, one chooses to have a dozen kids. Further reading. Ethics 101 - May a common law judge serve as judge of beauty pageant? BurtLaw's Dog Judging, Jam&Jelly Judging, Etc.

    Those letters to the trial judge. The Arizona Daily Star has a long piece on the topic of letters to trial judges -- from victims' friends and families, from defendants' friends and families -- offering them info that might or might not be helpful in sentencing. More (Arizona Daily Star 12.17.2006). Examples of letters.

    Judge says charges against her are fiction, not fact. "Sitting on the bench in Luzerne County court, Judge Ann Lokuta is asked daily to decide right from wrong, fact versus fiction. Now Lokuta finds herself on the opposite side of the bench, faced with the biggest personal challenge a court of common pleas judge can encounter. The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline will determine if Lokuta, 52, should face sanctions ranging from reprimand to removal from the bench as a result of a long list of allegations. Lokuta's explanation of the charges is simple -- they're all fiction, not fact. has said she will be ready to defend herself...." More (The Citizens' Voice 12.17.2006).

   Judge lodges complaint against daughter's would-be bridegroom. "A civil Judge (Raath, Hamirpur) lodged an FIR with the Madiaon police station on Friday night against the would-be bridegroom of his daughter and his family members...." Civil Judge Prahlad Singh says the family of his prospective son-in-law, an engineer, improperly made a last-minute demand for more money than agreed to and called off the marriage when he couldn't pay it. More (The Hindustan Times 12.17.2006).

    William Rehnquist was no Scrooge. "William Rehnquist loved Christmas, and he loved to sing. Though it caused him grief every December, he presided as Chief Justice over what he steadfastly called a Christmas party. The highlight came when the Chief Justice led the Supreme Court and its staff in a round of carols. Caroling with Chief Justice Rehnquist during the Christmas season of 1992 remains one of my fondest memories of the year I spent working at the Supreme Court. So dearly did Chief Justice Rehnquist love 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' that he commanded us, 'That is my favorite carol. We shall sing it again.' And so we did." Jim Chen (RatioJuris 12.10.2006).

    Profile of judge whose boys write for best show on television. Judge Warren Pate is retiring at the end of this month after nearly a quarter century on the bench. "Pate was appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt and was uncontested in the following five elections. He's too modest to attribute that fact to his performance. Instead, he jokes that it's the job itself that kept people out of the race. 'Well, the job doesn't pay enough for Republicans, and it's too much work for Democrats,' Pate said, laughing...." He loves to tell stories and he's passed that on to two of his sons, Josh and Jonas Pate, who "write, produce and direct television shows," their latest project being "two episodes of Friday Night Lights, an NBC series about football in a small Texas town." More (Fayetteville Observer 12.17.2006). Comment. The sons are a good ad for the dad. I think the show is the best show on TV.

    He's demonstrably the best but the rules say he has to retire. "With mandatory retirement near, the pacer Air Albert seems to be making a statement the only way a horse can. With 23 victories this year, more than any North American horse in harness or thoroughbred racing, he is clearly not ready to be put out to pasture. But that is where he is headed. A 14-year-old gelding, Air Albert can race for only another 15 days. Jan. 1 is the official birthday for all racehorses, and any horse 15 or older is not allowed to compete in harness racing...." More (NYT 12.16.2006). Comment. Mandatory retirement of judges is just as big a mistake as mandatory retirement of Air Albert and his hooved kind. See, BurtLaw on Mandatory Retirement of Judges.

    Sessions judges ask parking spaces for secretaries. "Judge David Bales stated, 'The present assignment of parking spaces has become patently unfair and inequitable especially in view of the creation of two new judgeships in General Sessions Court. All judges and their staff should be treated equally in the allocation of court facilities and parking spaces.'" Bales is just one of several judges who are asking for parking spaces for the two new secretaries of the two new judges now working in a courthouse that has a limited number -- 29 -- of parking spaces in the secured, underground parking facility  More (The Chattanoogan 12.16.2006). Comments. a) Battles over choice offices, choice parking spaces, etc., are always amusing to me, especially when judges are involved. The judges may have precedent -- that is, the opinion of higher judges -- on their side. According to the story, "Judge Moon [says] the Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled that...'[t]he courthouse, as the term implies, is chiefly for the use of the court, the remaining uses being subordinate and to a great extent incidental.'" b) Justice Frankfurter said that the most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen. We think it's okay for the people who manage the courthouse to provide reserved spaces for judges and secretaries, provided the judges and secretaries pay for the spaces or the IRS gets notified of the market value of their reserved spots. But we think the managers have a greater obligation to provide convenient parking for the ordinary people who use the courthouse, which is their house. Compare and contrast. See, Judge Edward H. 'Big Foot' Johnstone ("On his first day at work in 1977 at the U.S. courthouse in Paducah, Johnstone ripped down the parking lot sign that said, 'Reserved for Federal Judge.' 'I didn't want to be treated differently than any other citizen,' he said during an interview last week at his modest, $75,000 home in Princeton, where he and his wife Kay have lived since 1952. The sign is now planted in his yard."). Judicial parking and the law. For those "judicial parking fetishists" who are totally obsessed with the topic of judges and their parking (and/or parking lot) problems, we herewith provide convenient links to some of our relevant earlier entries: a) Judge Donna Mills arrested! (scroll down). b) Should judges get free valet parking while other government employees pay? c) Angled parking comes to FLA courthouse. d) The $8.3 million 'judicial garage.' e) Ex-magistrate barred from judicial office for five years. f) Judge convicted of tampering with a record. g) Former traffic-ticket judge used 'inside knowledge' to try beat system. h) Intemperate judge's fate rests with supremes (a judge's parking confront-ations) and Court orders judge to see psychiatrist). i) Re-beautifying an uglified courthouse ("[Judges'] fenced parking lot is an architectural travesty. The 8-foot-tall iron fence looks like it belongs in front of the jail, not the people's courthouse...Making matters worse, the county also gouged out what little grass there was on the courthouse square and covered it with asphalt for judges' cars. The fenced parking lot is just another indignity done to the courthouse, which now has only one public entrance -- on the south side of the building, where the public is immediately confronted with a battery of metal detectors and security guards."). j) How about remote parking for jurors? (and other ways to discourage people from serving on juries). k) Park-and-glide rules at courthouse parking lot (on illegal parking by courthouse employees). l) Latest on controversy surrounding ex-judge (the terrible troubles that can befall and are befalling an ex-judge for trying to beat a parking ticket and a speeding ticket). m) Judge sentences car in his spot in parking lot to lockdown. n) When judges do battle over perks ("A Columbus judge has dropped his two-month court battle to get a parking space for one of his employees -- saying he'll give his court reporter his own spot").

    Courts quiet after defeat of judges. Since the November elections, when "the Democrats won all contested Dallas County judicial races, which...set in motion an unprecedented departure of nearly 40 Republican judges," a large number of people being called for jury duty are being sent home. Reason? A lot of the defeated judges aren't holding court, even though their terms aren't up. Some, however, are still working. One is a judge named Kelton. Notes columnist Jacobson of the Dallas Morning News, who was one of the prospective jurors sent home, "Judge Kelton's jury may not appreciate his willingness to work until the last day of his term, Dec. 31, but I certainly do. As a disappointed potential juror, I applaud his uncommon dedication. Good job." More (Dallas Morning News 12.15.2006).

    Ex-judge will be state auditor's new deputy. "The No. 2 leader at the State Auditor's Office is leaving the post after nearly two years on the job, Auditor Les Merritt announced Thursday...Replacing her will be Kris Bailey...a former Wake County District Court judge who unsuccessfully sought a seat on the Court of Appeals, losing to Judge Robert Hunter in the Nov. 7 election...." More (Wilmington Star 12.15.2006). Comment. Hmm, are more and more judges finding new life as deputies, law clerks, staff attorneys? If one generalized from the a few particulars, one might assume so. See, Judge to leave bench, become staff attorney.

    Burly men show up at courthouse, destroy records -- the state sent 'em. "Jefferson County judges and prosecutors were stunned by a move that erased misdemeanor records that were at least five years old...The records were destroyed under a statewide document-retention policy that was amended last year to include electronic records. The policy is designed to free up space and save money on storage costs, but previously it only called for paper court files to be destroyed after five years. The Administrative Office of the Courts sent 'six or seven burly men' to the courthouse Nov. 29 to haul away all microfilm and microfiche records dating from before 2001, interim Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Michael Losavio said. All the records have since been destroyed. Electronic records of old misdemeanor convictions also have been purged from the state court computer system...." More (Lexington Herald-Leader 12.16.20060. Comment. It's just our opinion, but we think this is a bad idea. We think it might come back to haunt the system.

    Former judge pleads guilty to misconduct in office. "Former Myrtle Beach Municipal Court Judge Phillip W. Hudson pleaded guilty to misconduct in office on Friday and was given a suspended sentence [of four years in prison]...and pay a fine of $1,000 and serve two years on probation. Hudson, who served roughly eight years as municipal judge, was suspended in April 2004 by the S.C. Supreme Court after accusations of wrongdoing surfaced. On Friday he pleaded guilty to dismissing a traffic charge for a former student at Horry Georgetown Technical College, where he also was a teacher...." In other word, he "fixed" a ticket. More (Myrtle Beach Sun News 12.16.2006).

    Judge to stand trial on weapons charge. "A Bellevue district judge accused of carrying a concealed gun without a permit last month was held for trial yesterday. Police arrested Senior District Judge Donald Presutti, 59, on Nov. 29 at West View Auto Body, where they said he had returned armed with a 9 mm pistol after an earlier altercation with his father-in-law, Earl Quillen. When Sgt. James Simmons confronted him, Judge Presutti pulled the loaded, cocked handgun from his suit pocket. The sergeant immediately grabbed it from him...In trying to get the charges thrown out, his lawyer, Michael Witherel, relied on three arguments to justify carrying the gun [the judge needed it for self-protection, at common law a judge is a "law enforcement officer," and the gun wasn't completely concealed but stuck out from his suit pocket]...'To quote the late, great Johnnie Cochran,' he told Judge Lawrence O'Toole,  'If it doesn't fit, you have to acquit.'" More (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12.15.2006).

    Woman sues High Court judge over alleged assault. "A High Court judge, Lady Justice Murugi Mugo is facing a civil suit over claims she violently and without provocation struck another woman with fists and nails. The plaintiff Ms Rosebell Wanja Nyaga, who filed the suit against the judge on Wednesday, accuses the Judge of engaging in 'extreme and outrageous conduct'...Nyaga, who is seeking special damages of Sh15,300, claims her earlobe was torn during the attack...." The attack allegedly occurred at a private residence in Nairobi. More (The Standard 12.16.2006).

    Judge upholds governor in dispute with judicial selection commission. "A Davidson County chancellor today ruled in favor of Gov. Phil Bredesen by blocking two rejected candidates from being reconsidered for the fifth and final seat on the state Supreme Court. The governor, who sought a summary judgment from Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle, sued the Judicial Selection Commission because its most recent three-person panel of candidates included a nominee the governor had previously rejected. Under the Tennessee Plan for judicial selection adopted in 1994, the governor chooses new justices from a panel compiled by the commission. If he rejects the first panel of nominees, the governor must select one of the nominees in the second panel.
More (The Tennessean 12.14.2006).

    That rotten odor emanating from the courthouse. "A spilled quart-sized container of insecticide was the source of the strong odor that smelled of rotten eggs that caused the evacuation of the White County courthouse Friday, Dec. 8. White County Fire Chief Dickie Howard said it s not clear how the container fell off the shelf in the storage room in the back of the courthouse at about 2:30 that afternoon. He said the insecticide had been in storage for about 15 years...." More (White County News-Telegraph 12.15.2006). Comment. But, and this is the good news, employees sent home that day will receive full pay for the day.

    Judge says it was okay to expose breasts to protest ban on exposing breasts. "A woman did not break the law when she exposed her breasts to protest laws that bar women from publicly going bare breasted, a judge has ruled. County Judge David B. Beck said Thursday that Elizabeth Book, 44, of Ormond Beach, did not violate disorderly conduct laws. Book was arrested by Daytona Beach police July 2, 2005, for disrobing in public...." More (Miami Herald 12.15.2006). Further reading. Judge dismisses indecency charge against nude protester; Should women be allowed to wear topless swimsuits (unikinis) at public beaches? (BurtLaw's Law and Swimsuits - scroll down); Judicial candidate worked as topless dancer; If you were a Senator & you could ask Judge Roberts just one question...; More on grandmas' nude-calendar fundraiser for save-the-courthouse protest; Annals of judicial prudery - what does da judge have against female breasts?

    What is it that Judges do? "[W]hat is it that Judges do? In a formal sense, the work of judges primarily focuses on the due administration of justice, that is, sitting in court and deciding cases  brought before them but a lot of judging is done everyday of our lives in different fora and circumstances. Thus, in an informal sense, a family head, pastor, community  leader, clan head, an age grade, idol worshippers, juju priests and even market masters may be engaged in some form of judicial or quasi-judicial activity or the other...." -- From an after-dinner speech on 12.09.2006 by Hon. Justice  C.N. Uwa at a party sponsored by the Abia State Judiciary to honour Uwa and Hon. Justice I.F. Ogbuagu. More (Vanguard - Nigeria 12.15.2006).

    Judging a man by his face. "Many U.S. adults believe there is a link between a person's appearance and their personality -- and possible suitability as a mate, a study finds. 'It's remarkable that minor physiological differences lead people to pre-judge a man's personality and behavior,' said Daniel J. Kruger, a research scientist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research...." More (UPI.Com 12.14.2006).

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