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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.
What's 'unprecedented,' what's not. "An ethics board is investigating [Clay County District Judge Lisa Borgen,] who was recently criticized by the Minnesota Supreme Court for 'unprecedented' misconduct while she was a prosecutor handling a murder case [State v. Mayhorn] in 2004...[The] Court...ordered a new trial, saying Borgen engaged in misconduct while cross-examining Mayhorn, particularly when she told him, 'You wouldn't know the truth if it hit you in the face'...." More (St. Paul Pioneer Press 09.28.2006). Comments. I've read the opinion in Mayhorn. It's by Justice Helen Meyer, not known for her great familiarity with or expertise in criminal law. See, e.g., this case note, criticizing one of her flawed criminal law opinions. In her 5-1 opinion awarding a new trial to Mr. Mayhorn -- a disposition on which I see no need to express an opinion -- she describes the prosecutor's misconduct at trial as "unprecedented in this court's memory." That only suggests, to me at least, a lack of familiarity with the rich body of Minnesota Supreme Court precedents dealing with prosecutorial misconduct. Having actually read thousands of transcripts of criminal trials over a period of nearly 30 years in my former role as the court's resident expert in criminal law, I could probably fill a typewritten page, using single-spaced typing, with the names of prior cases in which the misconduct was, in my present personal opinion, just as serious. What would be far closer to being "unprecedented" would be the disciplining by the Minnesota ethics folks of a prosecutor for this not-at-all-unprecedented misconduct. I think I could tick off fairly easily the names of some leading, even powerful, members of the organized bar who, in their youth, made arguments -- arguments that are still part of the public record, though buried in transcripts filed away in an archive somewhere -- that were equally, perhaps more, improper. Perhaps those lions of the bar hypothetically might truly say in the cliched quiet of the early morning, if by chance they find themselves unable to sleep, "There where Lisa Borgen is but for the grace of -- what or whom? -- might I have found myself."
Attorney General Gonzales cautions judges. "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is defending President Bush's anti-terrorism tactics in multiple court battles, said Friday that federal judges should not substitute their personal views for the president's judgments in wartime...." Gonzales cautions judges (Washington Post 09.29.2006). Comment. This arguably is far more serious "prosecutorial misconduct" than any engaged in by Lisa Borgen, supra. It reminds me of a comment by President Bush's press secretary shortly after 09.11. Here's my contemporaneous posting:
Ari Fleischer needs to watch what he says. Yesterday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, after unnecessarily commenting on a statement by Bill Maher, who already had apologized, added: "Americans...need to watch what they say." No, Mr. Fleischer -- you need to watch what you say. As Governor Nelson Rockefeller said at the 1964 Republican Convention, when the rabid Goldwater delegates tried to hoot him down, "Ladies and gentlemen, it's still a free country." Of late I've noticed that our President's more "conservative" supporters have been trying to silence or discredit those who don't necessarily agree with every one of their views on how our country should respond to the terrorists' attack. For example, they've been trying to discredit Secretary Powell. Many of those folks aren't really "conservatives" -- they're right-wingers. Real conservatives value free speech. They don't like hearing a Presidential spokesman saying "Americans need to watch what they say." They don't believe in shouting down well-meaning Americans who have a different viewpoint than they have. (09.27.2001) Reprinted from BurtLaw's War on Terrorism II at BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else.
Similarly, I don't like hearing Gonzales, "who is defending President Bush's anti-terrorism tactics in multiple court battles," cautioning federal judges in their handling of those cases. But, I must say, I'm not surprised. Gonzales is the Harvard Law grad who advised the President to ignore the Geneva Conventions in our treatment of prisoners on Guantanamo Bay, and helped draft and then defended, on the NYT's op-ed page, Bush's unconstitutional executive order on the military tribunals -- of which, I'm proud to say, I was one of the earliest and most-outspoken critics, back when there were scores of gutless politicians and office-holders who believed the order was wrong but who remained silent because they feared the political ramifications of criticizing it. He's also the guy who, when Bush was merrily signing death warrants as governor of Texas, was sitting at Bush's right hand, advising him to do so after ostensibly having carefully reviewed clemency petitions. He apparently didn't have the same teachers at HLS that I had. See, BurtLaw's Harvard Law School.
'Judges are just human beings who make mistakes.' A senior immigration judge whose private life was exposed in a highly embarrassing blackmail case appealed for sympathy yesterday...'I deeply, deeply regret the very fundamental error of judgment that I made with Driza[, the blackmailer], believing her when she said she was legal and not realising she was such a devious woman...Judges are human beings. They also make mistakes. I have made a mistake, in judging her character, but in my work I do not make character judgments.'" More (The Telegraph 09.29.2006). Comment. This is the first report on the case that I've read that contains good biographical info on Judge Khan, one of the two judges in the now-notorious judicial love triangle involving the "Brazilian cleaning lady." For an interesting posting related to Judge Khan's internet dating and for links to earlier postings, read on...
Annals of judicial internet dating. "Blackmail scandal judge Mohammed Ilyas Khan...is a regular user of the Udate website and was chatting up women online while awaiting the verdict in the court case that stunned the legal world. The judge...pestered Renate Butler for a meeting after spotting her profile. The couple shared romantic dates in London and Surrey and enjoyed lengthy lovemaking sessions at his £500,000 North London flat. But after six months he turned cold and vanished after a weekend together. Yesterday sales rep Renate branded Khan 'a sad fool' -- and said she could see he was on Udate just days before the end of the trial...." More (The Sun 09.29.2006). Comment. Ms. Butler is quoted calling Judge Khan an "internet predator," but nothing in the story really supports that characterization. She says Khan contacted her through Udate last winter and was persistent in his e-mails, urging her to call him, which she eventually did. She admits she was very attracted to him and, after many dates, began having sexual relations with him. She says he was "so thoughtful and nice and kind," was "an attentive lover,"and it was a "huge disappointment" that he stopped seeing her. How does any of the above make him an "internet predator"? Earlier postings. a) Judge lost control, called her boy friend judge's lover a 'Brazilian bitch'; b) Blackmailed judge describes his tumultuous affair; c) Brazilian cleaner in love triangle with judges is accused of video blackmail; d) Such people are commonly referred to as 'the judiciary.' e) Judge became 'a complete and total puppy' of his cleaning lady. f) Results are in case of judicial love triangle and blackmail. Further reading on judges and internet dating. 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? On the subject of what's a lovelorn judge to do, see our extensive comments at d) Judge publicly admonished for 'inappropriate' relationship with employee and e) 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. Update. Judge's cyber-dating profile.
Judge says hot-tub sex was not 'indecent.' "Will County Judge Marilee Viola ruled that a man and woman who were naked in a hot tub last November were probably having sex, but there was no evidence the two thought anyone could see what they were doing. Viola found Cook County Sheriff's Police Lt. Kelly Mrozek, 38, who owned the Lockport duplex with the hot tub, and Mark T. Sumner, 22, of Orland Park, not guilty of public indecency...." More (Chicago Sun-Times 09.29.2006). Comment. Some of the other newspaper reports of this verdict that I came upon using Google news search suggested the judge somehow gave the okay to public sex in outdoor hot tubs. Not so. The Burger connection. Are you interested in the connection of Warren Burger, the late Chief Justice, to indecent exposure law -- and, at the same time, interested in understanding the limited but significant nature of the judge's decision in this case? Then read What doors has she been knocking on?, an entry I posted originally at BurtLaw's Law and Politics on my original law blog, BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else, on 01.17.2002.
Judge's name to remain misspelled on a million ballots. A Cook County Circuit Court judge’s name will be misspelled on more than 1 million [paper] ballots for the November election. The Chicago Tribune reported it is too expensive to change the ballots that identify Criminal Court Judge Victoria Stewart, who is up for a vote for retention, as 'Victorial' Stewart...." More (CBS2 Chicago 09.29.2006). Comment. As the old expression goes, "Close enough for government."
Acting chief justice urges cameras in court, other reforms. "The acting chief justice of the state Supreme Court recommended a pilot program Thursday to allow television cameras in Connecticut courtrooms...Senior Associate Justice David M. Borden, the acting chief justice, endorsed 35 of 38 recommendations made by an 18-member group of lawyers, judges and journalists that he appointed in May. Borden said he plans to enact many of the recommendations as soon as possible, including the posting of criminal docket information online...Gov. M. Jodi Rell has appointed a commission to examine similar issues."
More (Stamford Advocate 09.29.2006). Comment. Both these commissions are the result of the public uproar involving, inter alia, retiring Chief Justice William Sullivan's deferring release of an opinion dealing with access to court records for a political purpose. We've posted a number of entries on the scandal: Latest on supreme court scandal; Legislators subpoena former chief justice; More fallout in CT court scandal; The 'Judges Protection Council'?; CT Supreme Court mess: lawmakers to ask justices to testify; Latest on uproar over C.J.'s deferring opinion's release; and Outgoing C.J. admits holding up decision to help colleague succeed him. The fact that there are two task forces or commissions, one established by the acting chief, one by the governor, gives you some idea of the turf war, which also involves the legislature, that's taking place. Here's a link to an earlier posting about the acting chief's task force as well as a link to the report: 38 new varieties of judicial open-ness?; Public Access Task Force Report (in irritating PDF format). Here's a link to a posting about the governor's task force: Seeking judicial control. On the subject of task forces in general, see, Those 'blue-ribbon' commissions and task forces. BTW, we argued for greater real (as opposed to faux) openness of courts in an essay/position paper we wrote in 2000 in connection with our general election campaign for state chief justice in MN. See, BurtLaw on Judicial Independence and Accountability. And see, a flurry of recent postings on the subject of judicial accountability and transparency.
Proposed amendment would reduce domiciliary time for judges. "Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 on the September 30 ballot states: to provide that a person shall have been admitted to the practice of law for ten years preceding election to the supreme court or a court of appeals and for eight years preceding election to a district court, family court, parish court or court having solely juvenile jurisdiction; and to decrease the requirement that a person be domiciled in the respective district, circuit or parish from two years to one year preceding election. Effective January 1, 2008, and applicable to any person who is elected to the office of judge on and after January 1, 2008."More (Bossier Press-Tribune - LA 09.29.2006).
Judge killed in motorcycle crash. "[Howard Scott Lichtig, 56, a] Curry County Circuit Court judge died Thursday in a motorcycle crash on northbound Interstate 5 south of Cottage Grove...." More (Oregon Live 09.29.2006).
Annals of judicial relatives. "The judge in a case involving the Hidalgo County District Clerk says her family is suffering retribution. Omar Guerrero showed up late to court and then his attorney asked for a private hearing. The lawyer wanted the media out of the room for Guerrero's arraignment on domestic abuse charges. Justice of the Peace Mary Alice Palacios said no...After the arraignment...the judge's daughter-in-law was fired from her job in the district clerk's office." More (KRGV TV - TX 09.28.2006). See, also, Relatives of Saddam judge are murdered (Sydney Morning Herald 09.30.2006).
Judge attending Nat'l Judicial College is victim of extortion in sex case.
"A rural Nevada judge was extorted for money after having sex in his Reno hotel room with a known drug user and former legal client, a Fallon newspaper reported Friday. Reno police confirmed District Judge Wayne Pederson  of Yerington reported that his wallet had been stolen in July by Irene Bailey  after the two had sex...Afterward, Pederson reported receiving phone calls from Bailey and unidentified men, threatening to report that the judge had raped her unless he gave them money...Pederson was in Reno attending courses at the National Judicial College at the time...." More (Las Vegas Sun 09.29.2006). Original report (Lahontan Valley News - NV 09.29.2006). Comment. Pederson was appointed by the governor in April and is opposed in the November election by a county attorney. We assume the magnanimous, always-forgiving voters won't let these revelations about his personal life affect their decision. Stuff happens....
Man wears cardboard box to court to conceal identity. "A man accused of theft arrived for an initial court appearance wearing a cardboard box on his head in an effort to conceal his identity...." More (International Herald Tribune - PA 09.29.2006). Comment. It was his lawyer's idea.
Judge lays down law to rich neighbor. "The arrival of new money in Brisbane's most exclusive enclave has led to a costly legal squabble between neighbours, pitting one of Queensland's wealthiest women, Maxine Horne, against Federal Court judge Berna Collier. At stake are property values, multi-million-dollar views, sun on the backyard pool and polite society harmony. 'A lot of people have disputes with their neighbours and I'm having a dispute with mine, Justice Collier told The Weekend Australian. 'I talk to lots of neighbours. The primary issue here is between me and one of my neighbours'...On the high side of Hamilton Hill, with its spectacular outlook to the Brisbane River and city high-rises, Ms Horne, 43, is determined to build the dream family home, a sprawling pile that would be more than double the size of the existing historic house, Berrimilla, built circa 1895...[O]n the lower side of the hill, Justice Collier, 45, an expert in property law, lives in a relatively modest weatherboard house, adjacent to the tennis court and former servants quarters of Ms Horne's intended mansion...[O]n some afternoons in winter, Ms Horne's proposed home would cast the Collier backyard into shadow...." More (The Australian 09.29.2006). Comment. Sounds like the judge's neighborhood is experiencing the same thing that I'm witnessing here in my neighborhood, where million dollar houses are being torn down and replaced by gaudy, oversized McMansions. Click here for my expostulations on the subject.
Those 'blue-ribbon commissions' and 'task forces.' "I’ve slogged through enough reports from the National Academy of Sciences to know they’re often not shining examples of the scientific method. But -- call me naïve -- I never thought the academy was cynical enough to publish a political tract like 'Beyond Bias and Barriers,' the new report on discrimination against female scientists and engineers. This is the kind of science you expect to find in The Onion: 'Academy Forms Committee to Study Gender Discrimination, Bars Men from Participating.' Actually, it did allow a total of one man, Robert Birgeneau of Berkeley, on the 18-member committee, but that was presumably because he was already on record agreeing with the report’s pre-ordained conclusion: academia must stop favoring male scientists and engineers...." John Tierney, Academy of P.C. Sciences (N.Y. Times 09.23.2006). Further reading. Group-think on judicial selection - The 'Citizens Committee on the Preservation of an Independent Judiciary' - Sorry, bar association, but.... - Big surprise: panel backs retention of 108 judges - Those 'impartial' and 'nonpartisan' judicial selection commissions - Press release: 'W&M law faculty to serve on judicial futures commission' - Stacking the so-called nonpartisan nominating commissions - The lure of judicial retirement - cushy service on commissions? - Judges getting 'political,' politicians getting 'judicial.' Read on....
Seeking judicial control. "Speakers at a public hearing before the Governor's Commission on Judicial Reform Tuesday overwhelmingly urged members to recommend a constitutional amendment to strip the judicial branch of its rule-making authority and vest it in the legislature instead. The commission's draft report stopped short of recommending such a dramatic measure, but the members are free to reconsider before giving their final report to Gov. M. Jodi Rell next week...." More (Hartford Courant 09.27.2006). Comment. Out of comity, some state supreme courts have deferred to their legislatures' grants of judicial rule-making authority. The reasoning seems to be, Why go off on a separation-of-powers tirade when we don't need to? SCOTUS seems to have taken a similar approach with respect to its Congressional grant of rule-making authority -- and its deferential indications in dictum to Congress' authority to determine jurisdiction of federal courts. But, we think and hope, if Congress is short-sighted and narrow-minded and bull-headed enough to try strip jurisdiction from federal courts over certain cases or issues, the Court will not be so deferential. Similarly, we think it would be a mistake for the folks in CT to vest judicial rule-making authority in the legislature. Battles like this are going on in other states. For example, the legislatures, we think, interfere too much with judicial matters in MA and NH. This is not to say that some courts don't "have it coming." Court rules advisory committees in many states are "stacked" with members of a certain viewpoint or with members beholden to the justice who serves as liason to the committee; rule-making processes are often not transparent; the rule-makers, including the judges with the ultimate power to make the rules, are often not sufficiently accountable.
Son's trial over, Victoria Gotti praises Judge Shira Schiendlin. "I will thank our good fortune every day for a judge like Shira Schiendlin. She is the difference between a fair trial and a railroad job. God bless her...." From a guest piece by Victoria Gotti, mother of John Gotti, whose third trial, like his first two, ended in a hung jury. More (N.Y. Daily News 09.28.2006).
Judges parade in robes before Pope's rep in Atlanta. "Clad in black robes, judges of all stripes paraded through a downtown Atlanta church Thursday to receive a blessing of peace and justice...at the annual 'Red Mass' ceremony, an ancient service that dates to the Middle Ages. The service was billed as an interfaith celebration...[b]ut the ceremony was not without a heavy political undertone. Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia and the event's guest speaker, urged the judges to re-examine the death penalty and called for a ban on embryonic stem cell research. Of abortion, he said that 'evil remains evil even when declared legal.'" More (Columbus Journal-Ledger 09.28.2006). Related. Judges dodge holy blessing at start of term - Red Mass to signal start of court term. Comment. If I were a judge, I wouldn't attend even if my nomination to SCOTUS depended on it. But that's just me.
Annals of specialty courts -- a 'cup court.' "Special courts are planned for the 2010 Fifa World Cup to deal with offences related to the event, national police said on Wednesday. 'In the case of offences committed by visitors, these special courts will speedily resolve cases before their departure,' police Assistant Commissioner Peter Mathogwame told a media briefing in Pretoria. He stressed that locals who found themselves on the wrong side of the law for World Cup Soccer-related misdemeanours would also find themselves in the docks of these special courts...." More (Mail & Guardian - South Africa 09.27.2006). Comment. Compare with spring break court.
'Religion judge.' "North Korea hit back on Wednesday to U.S. charges that it suppresses religion by telling Washington to stop acting as the world's 'religion judge.'" More (Malaysia Star 09.27.2006).
Ex-judges form pool. "A pool of 11 retired state judges will investigate any ethics complaints filed against Scottsdale’s mayor or City Council. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve contracts to pay the retired judges between $65 and $375 an hour to serve as independent investigators should any ethics complaints arise. So far, none has been filed, said City Attorney Deborah Robberson. The city has budgeted $200,000 for the judges’ services, but the actual amount spent will be dependent on the number of complaints received and the time it takes for the judges to investigate them. More (East Valley Tribune - AZ 09.27.2006).
Judge arrested in incident over neighbor's dog. "For the third time in as many weeks, Hinds County Chancery Judge William Singletary is attracting attention for his off-the-bench behavior. Just after midnight Tuesday, Singletary was booked at the Clinton Police Department on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge after he went to a neighbor's home in Clinton because of a barking dog...." More (Jackson Clarion Ledger 09.27.2006). More on Judge Singletary's recent problems. Judge removes machete from courthouse - Assessor claims judge wielded machete.
Courthouse is newest 'hot spot' in town. "Tourism in Spotsylvania County usually centers on the 1860s. But officials are now turning to the 21st century. 'It's a new day in Spotsylvania,' said Hap Connors, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. The latest change is the county's move to wireless. Now, anyone traveling through the courthouse area can connect to the Internet with a laptop or personal data assistant. Wireless connections are available along State Route 208 from the county offices to the Spotsylvania Museum, according to a county press release. The service is free...." More (Free Lance-Star 09.26.2006).
Who are the bane of the judiciary? Court bailiffs. "The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Adetula Alabi, has blamed lack of professionalism in the conduct of court bailiffs and corruption as the bane of the justice system in Nigeria. Justice Adetula made the observation during the introduction of 30 new court bailiffs of the state judiciary...." More (Nigerian Tribune 09.26.2006). Comment. Hmm. I didn't know that.... I always thought it was those damn law clerks.
a) "In the U.S., our 'source of inspiration,' judges are elected in democratic elections. In [Israel's] 'judicial church,' however, a judge is not elected but rather 'a friend brings a friend'... The high priest knows what's best for the ignorant masses...But we shall continue to follow our forefather's faith and we shall pray to the lord to realize Isaiah's prophecy: 'I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.'" -- Rabbi Israel Eichler.
b) "Barak initiated the constitutional revolution passed by the Knesset, a revolution that turned Israel into an enlightened, Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of Israel's prophets." -- Shlomo Cohen, head of the Israeli Bar.
A large, hidden world of judicial ineptitude. First of a three-part investigative report on New York State's decentralized system of town (justice-of-the-peace) courts. Readers of The Daily Judge will be familiar with some of the horror stories recounted, since we occasionally have linked to examples. More (N.Y. Times 09.25.2006). Part two. Part three. Comment. One ought not get the impression that all nonlawyer judges are bad judges. Consider, e.g., the probate/juvenile judge of my youth in the 1950's, Judge C.A. ("Chris") Larson, last of the non-lawyer judges in my home county:
I grew up in the '50's in a small town on the eastern end of the Great American Prairie. It was a wonderful time and place to be a boy. My friends and I pretty much had the run of the town. (Our dogs did, too.) Everything was less regulated then. Some of us did things, minor things really, that if we'd been caught, we might have been taken before the juvenile court. The judge of juvenile court was a man named C.A. Larson. He may have been the best judge ever to preside in the Swift County Courthouse and he wasn't even a lawyer. If any of us had been caught doing something wrong and taken before Judge Larson, odds were he would have handled it informally, equitably, leniently, and kindly -- more with the discretion of a wise father than that of a judgmental judge. But I don't recall any kids I knew ever getting taken before Judge Larson. Things were handled informally, extrajudicially. If a kid got caught shoplifting, the owner of the store would call up the kid's parents and they'd handle it, intrafamilially. Most of us guys carried pocket knives in the summertime. We used them often....
Such people are commonly referred to as 'the judiciary.' Oliver Pritchett has written a funny piece in The Telegraph titled"My lady 'who does' wouldn't hang around with judges," about the much-publicized (in the UK) blackmail trial arising out of a love triangle involving a "Brazilian cleaning lady" and two judges. See, our postings titled a) Judge lost control, called her boy friend judge's lover a 'Brazilian bitch'; b) Blackmailed judge describes his tumultuous affair; and c) Brazilian cleaner in love triangle with judges is accused of video blackmail. He writes: "The word for it is 'unseemly.' All those tales from the Old Bailey last week about the two judges, the Brazilian cleaner, the affairs, compromising videos, intimate emails and alleged blackmail. This sort of thing can only damage the respect in which cleaning ladies are quite properly held. The impressive Mrs Copping, who comes to sort out my house, is in complete agreement with me over this. 'Beyond a peradventure,' she said as she prodded round the cupboard under the sink, searching for the Cif. 'It is a sorry state of affairs when cleaners consort with persons of that ilk. I am given to understand that such people are commonly referred to as the judiciary.'...." More (The Telegraph 09.24.2006). Update. Ms. Driza, the "Brazilian cleaner," testified today she kept the videotapes not to use as blackmail but as "insurance" in case anything happened to her, e.g., Judge J's paying someone to kill her. More (Reuters 09.25.2006).
Why a guy in the UK likes Judge Judy. "Every weekday afternoon at 5.45 I slink upstairs, furtively lower the blinds in my bedroom and succumb to a guilty but addictive pleasure. My neighbours can probably hear the voice of an elderly woman screeching at me. 'Baloney!' she cries, or 'Speak not!' When her patience frays, she yells, 'Get outta here!' They may not know that I am watching Judge Judy, ITV2's tiny legal termagant who berates welfare scroungers, deadbeat dads and kleptomaniac teens in a Los Angeles courtroom. Brooklyn-born Judith Sheindlin is the scourge of the shiftless, greedily litigious under-class. As well as laying down the law she delivers much-needed lessons on etiquette...I think of Judge Judy whenever I see people...committing some...breach of the social contract. Like a militant super-ego, armed with a gavel and robed in funereal black, she polices a world that sometimes seems to have driven her mad with rage. If God is small, red-headed, Jewish and female, this is what the Day of Judgment will be like." -- Peter Conrad in The Observer. More (The Observer 09.24.2006). Comment. Mr. Conrad seems to like her for the same reason Adam Cohen dislikes her. See, Adam Cohen on Judge Judy and my comments thereto. See, also, France's answer to Judge Judy; The way things work: behind the scenes at 'Judge Judy'; TV courtroom shows -- the 1950's; comment at Best judge is she who...; and The cheap version of 'Judge Judy' which, inter alia, reprints "BurtLaw's 'Modest Proposal.'"
Commissioners rescind decision to tear down courthouse. Now comes word that the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana has removed the Randolph County Courthouse from its list of endangered historic landmarks, given that the county commissioners have rescinded their decision to tear down the building. Readers of The Daily Judge may recall that it was a group of older women who belonged to a bridge club who rallied forces opposing demolition by posing "nude" for a fund-raising (and fun-raising) calendar. More (WTHR 09.25.2006). Earlier postings. Grandmas' nude-calendar fundraiser for save-the-courthouse protest - Earlier links. Comment. A cautionary note. Once women get into porn -- even the soft kind -- there's no telling when they'll stop, if ever -- the courthouse ladies, it appears, are still "at it": "They've created a 2007 calendar to raise money to help replace the courthouse's mansard roof and clock tower, which were removed in the 1950s." For an example of women getting into it much earlier in their lives, read the comment c) to the next posting.
Judicial notice in Finland: Judge weighs in on value of groping. "A fee of 25,500 euros (17,000 pounds) is way too much for a woman to charge a man for fondling her bosom, a Finnish district court [in Kokkola in northern Finland] ruled...." A 74-year-old man who suffers from dementia "willingly" paid that amount to fondle a woman's breasts on ten occasions. When authorities learned of this, they charged the woman and a confederate, both in their 20's, with "extortionate overcharging." "Although he made no attempt to set a precise fair market value to the fondling, Judge Hasse Hakki ruled that, "[b]ased on general life experience alone," the fee clearly met the statutory test." The cost to the couple? A year of Finland's version of incarceration. More (The Scotsman 09.22.2006). Comments. a) For more on Finland's incarceration policies, see, my 2004 Congressional campaign essay, Burton Hanson on Crime and Punishment at BurtonHanson.Com. b) On whether Scandinavian men are more prone to be victims of such a crime, see, "In Norway it's fun to be robbed," an 08.01.2001 of mine at BurtLaw's Law and Norwegians. c) On whether one there is a "market value" on "a feel" or a kiss, consider: i) "[I]n Beijing, parents of marriageable age children meet routinely at a 'love market' to compare their respective children's photos, work histories, salaries, and animal signs in an attempt to gauge compatibility, or, better yet, strike it rich with the likes of a 'diamond bachelor.'" China's Love Market (Utne 06.15.2006). ii) In early 1966, during my second year at Harvard Law School, before I met my now ex-wife, I dated a bright, attractive raven-haired member of the Wellesley College Class of 1967. On what I recall as our first date, I asked her what she might recommend in the line of light reading. She recommended Rosalind Erskine's The Passion Flower Hotel, a boarding school novel first published, in paperback, in 1962. I still have my copy, the Oct. '63 printing, cover price 50 cents. The plot? Some girls at an all-female boarding school form a "syndicate" to provide, er, "services" for a fee to the sex-starved boys at a nearby all-male boarding school. I think of it now because the girls actually do set a price on the sort of groping for which the 74-year-old Finn willingly paid 2,550 euros for each session. As can be seen from the following "tariff card" that the girls at the fictional Bryant House drew up for the boys of nearby Longcombe School, the price charged a customer in 1962 for 30 minutes of touching (groping) "above waist only" was a we-think-reasonable 2s. 6d.:
THE SYNDICATE - LIST OF CHARGES
CATEGORY ONE - Vision Only:
Above Waist Only 5s.
Below Waist Only 7s. 6d.
Entire Operative 10s.
Time Limit: 15 minutes
Electric Lighting will be provided, and can be
adjusted according to Client's requirements
CATEGORY TWO - Touch:
Above Waist Only 2s. 6d.
Below Waist Only 15s.
Entire Operative £1
Time Limit: 30 minutes
Nothing Barred short of La Pénétration £1 10s
Nothing barred £2
No time limit
'The Syndicate Will Meet Your Needs'
'Actions Speak Louder Than Words.'
For an interesting, detailed retrospective piece on the novel, see, Paul Edmund Norman's Gateway. Dean Erwin Griswold was right that we would learn as much about law and life out of class -- in the larger university community -- as we learned in class. BTW, the gal in question now has a Ph.D. and a most-impressive job. And, no, she wasn't "that kind of girl." She was in all things a model of decency.
Latest on reignited public outcry over PA judicial pay raises. PA Chief Justice Cappy has responded to vociferous criticism of the PA Supremes' nixing of the attempt to repeal controversial judicial pay raises by arguing that PA judges "are underpaid, likely to leave for higher salaries, and, by relying on the Legislature for salaries, unable to maintain judicial independence" (quote of a paraphrase of his argument). An editorial in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review characterizes Cappy's reasoning as "bizarre" and counters by pointing to a think-tank study indicating PA's judiciary is among the 10 highest paid in the country. It also reminds everyone that "there's no shortage of judicial candidates and no evidence judges are fleeing" and that "judges take an oath swearing to make independent rulings." It concludes: "Considering the disgraceful state judiciary, when Mr. Cappy claims, 'We are losing our best judges...and we're not replacing them with the same quality,' let's hope he's right." More (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Editorial 09.25.2006). See, also, Pay rise fight rekindles on two fronts (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09.21.2006). Earlier. Reaction to PA Supremes' snatching their pay raise from jaws of repeal -- more do-not-retain campaigns? (and comments with embedded links to postings about the controversy that began in 2005). Comment. For the kind of approach I recommend in evaluating requests by judges for pay raises, see, my much-read pieces, I could be making lots more if I were Michael Jordan and The Chief Justice's Annual Report.
Should we shed tears for 'small-budget' subsidized judicial candidates? "Four years ago, [North Carolina] started a taxpayer-financed campaign system for judicial candidates. Participants are allowed to raise a maximum of about $70,000 in contributions. The state then chips in, giving candidates for Court of Appeals judge about $144,000 and Supreme Court Chief Justice hopefuls about $217,000. Those amounts are based on what candidates for the bench were generally able to raise on their own, and are well short of the estimated $1 million a candidate needs to gain meaningful name recognition in all 100 counties of North Carolina, said Democratic campaign consultant Thomas Mills...There are eight people seeking four seats on the Supreme Court this November, including that of Chief Justice, and four running for a pair of open on the state's Court of Appeals. All are for eight-year terms...." More (Durham Herald-Sun 09.23.2006). Comment. 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 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 they don't, 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') views that they're a bad thing, that they signal the end of judicial independence, etc., blah-blah, etc.
Judicial appointments ombudsman appointed. "Karamjit Sukhmindar Singh has been appointed Northern Ireland's first Judicial Appointments Ombudsman.
He will investigate complaints where maladministration or unfairness is alleged to have occurred during the judicial appointments process...He is being appointed in the part-time post for an initial period of five years and will be independent of government, the judiciary, the Court Service and the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission...." More (BBC News 09.25.2006). Earlier. "At the moment, the Lord Chancellor oversees the process of appointing judges, following recommendation from the Northern Ireland Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr. It was announced on Tuesday that a new [12-member] Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission will take over responsibility for appointing and recommending candidates, up to and including High Court judges...." More (BBC News 09.07.2004). The Lord Chief Justice chairs the commission, which includes five members of "the public."
Judge Forrest Gump? "Judge Richard L. Bohanon was in his office, a block away from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, when a truck bomb exploded on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was in New York on a temporary assignment in an office near the World Trade Center towers. 'Somehow, I was spared -- twice,' Bohanon told The Oklahoman...." More (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 09.25.2006). Comment. Somehow, I, too, was spared -- twice. On April 19, 1995, I was working away in my office on the fourth floor of the MN Judicial Center, oblivious to what was happening in OK, and on September 11, 2001, I was shopping at Cub Food in Edina, MN, when I was alerted by a checkout lady that one of the twin towers had been hit. The judge and his wife say that they have chosen not to let fear run their lives. Neither have I.
Conduct commission's annual summary. "[The Utah] Judicial Conduct Commission's annual report...shows the JCC investigated 98 complaints against judges in fiscal year 2006. All but nine were dismissed." One judge, a polygamist named Walter Steed, was removed and two other judges, also named, were publicly reprimanded. "Three other judges, whose names were not released, received warnings from the JCC even though the complaints against them were dismissed...[The commission's] work is generally kept secret, and most judges [who are disciplined] receive private, informal reprimands. Judges are named only in those rare cases when the Utah Supreme Court removes a judge or issues a public reprimand." More (Salt Lake Tribune 09.23.2006). Comment. Arizona has a better idea. Its supreme court took a big step in the right direction of greater real openness earlier this year, agreeing that the state's commission on judicial conduct post almost everything relating to complaints against judges on its web site, including dismissed complaints (with judges' names deleted from dismissed complaints). See, Arizona becomes a sunshine state in re judicial complaints. And see, Link to commission's website. For a flurry of recent postings relating to judicial accountability and transparency, click here.
Annals of in-court protests by litigants. a) "A courtroom in this community south of Edmonton turned into a scene of bloody chaos yesterday when a convicted fraud artist began slashing his throat when he learned he was going to jail...." Man slashes throat in courtroom after being sentenced (Victoria Times-Colonist 09.23.2006). b) "A Mechanicsburg man who is thousands of dollars behind on child support payments told a judge Thursday that he might as well take the shirt off his back -- and then stripped down to his underwear and socks in the courtroom, authorities said. Associate Judge Charles Gramlich, apparently not amused, had Nicholas A. Hickman, 27, jailed until Friday for direct criminal contempt of court...." Man tells divorce judge to take it all -- then strips (Springfield State Journal Register 09.23.2006). Comment. Two instances of verbal acts, acts that in these two instances actually spoke louder than words.
Interpreters as circuit riders. "Alabama is among 20 states with two or fewer people who are legally certified to act as interpreters in federal courts, where language specialists are required to have more training and testing than in state courts. When certified interpreters aren't available, officials try to fill the gaps with telephone interpretation and, sometimes, less-qualified interpreters. But often, experts...are hired to shuttle between states and court districts to both provide oral interpretation and translate documents during court proceedings that, despite the long commute, sometimes take no more than a few minutes. They're paid $355 a day, plus airfare and other expenses." More (Kentucky.Com 09.23.2006).
Annals of judicial junkets -- blowing $16,000, then quitting. "Former chief justice David Malcolm billed taxpayers $16,307 to attend conferences in Kuala Lumpur and London just weeks before he announced his retirement last year, documents released under Freedom of Information laws reveal...Malcolm travelled to Malaysia and Britain last August and September while on long service leave. When he returned he told Attorney-General Jim McGinty he would be retiring...A total of 42 jet-setting [West Australian] judges and magistrates spent $264,759 of taxpayer funds in the same period to attend conferences around the nation and the globe, a rise of more than $30,000 on the previous year. Britain, Singapore, Fiji, Malaysia, the US and New Zealand were among the international destinations costing $53,008 in airfares, accommodation and conference fees...." More (The West Australian 09.23.2006). Some earlier postings on judicial retreats and junkets. a) No belt-tightening for New Orleans judge traveling on public's money. b) Revelations about those junkets for federal judges. c) Judicial 'Educational' Junkets. d) Judges huddle in high style on taxpayers' money. e) Judicial junk-science junkets. f) The 'Wacky Courthouse' playground as alternative judicial retreat. g) Will Senator's response to junket exposé affect judicial junkets? h) Three Senators want to end judicial junkets. i) Judicial privileges. j) Some judges are more judicious in spending. k) Judges of troubled court head for the beach for 'education.' l) The annual convention of the state chief justices. m) Did MN judges use public funds for lessons on how to get re-elected?
Judge says being judge is like being in 'war zone,' 'tsunami.' "Franklin County Judge Carole Squire frequently meandered and occasionally contradicted herself when answering questions yesterday about her decisions on the bench...Squire took the stand yesterday for the first time in her disciplinary hearing. She is accused of mishandling cases...On the stand, Squire, 53, portrayed herself as a hard-working judge who carried more cases than the four other judges in the county’s Domestic Relations/Juvenile Court. She compared the pace in her courtroom to a 'tsunami.' 'It was very difficult to survive in that environment,' she testified. 'I would insist (her staff members) do double work, too, and everybody around them were sitting there doing things like polishing their nails.' But two of her colleagues in the court testified that she didn’t have the most cases among the judges...." More (Columbus Dispatch - OH 09.23.2006). Comment. Hmm. We've certainly seen cases with far more serious allegations of misconduct. The misconduct allegations aired thus far include yelling at litigants (Squires says she just has a loud voice), not allowing a hearing to be recorded by a court reporter, improperly delaying action on an emergency custody application. In addition to comparing her courtroom to a "tsunami," she also compared it to a "war zone." The hearing resumes in mid-October. Squires faces a different "panel" in November -- the voters.
So small a town, so many patent suits. "What sets Marshall[, TX, 130 miles east of Dallas,] apart from [other cities of its size] is a red-hot patent docket. Four years ago, 32 patent lawsuits were filed in the Federal Eastern District of Texas, which includes Tyler, Texarkana and Marshall. This year, an estimated 234 cases will be filed in the district, a majority of them in Marshall. What’s behind the rush to file patent lawsuits here? A combination of quick trials and plaintiff-friendly juries, many lawyers say. Patent cases are heard faster in Marshall than in many other courts. And while only a small number of cases make it to trial -- roughly 5 percent -- patent holders win 78 percent of the time, compared with an average of 59 percent nationwide...." According to the story, "Only the Central District of California, in Los Angeles, will handle more patent infringement cases" this year. Worth reading in full. More (N.Y. Times 09.24.2006).
Judge lost control, called her boy friend judge's lover a 'Brazilian bitch.' "A 'chilli-hot' Brazilian cleaner told a blackmail trial today of the moment she discovered a home made video of two judges having sex while the female snorted cocaine. Roselane Driza, 37, told the Old Bailey that she discovered two videos made by her lover, an immigration judge known as Mr I. One showed him having sex with a blonde woman. The other showed him and her former employer, another judge known as Miss J. According to Miss Driza the video, filmed in Thailand, showed Miss J snorting the class A drug and having intimate relations with Mr I...." It's Judge J (a/k/a "Miss J") who allegedly called Driza a "Brazilian bitch." More (The Times - UK 09.22.2006). Other reports on the latest day of testimony: Judge 'in hurry to be with lover' (BBC News) and Sex case judge 'made suicide threat' (This is London). Earlier postings. Blackmailed judge describes his tumultuous affair and Brazilian cleaner in love triangle with judges is accused of video blackmail. Comments. a) As we indicated earlier, this is "good stuff," or, as one might say, "judicial juice," and we recommend, as we always do, clicking on the links and reading the full stories. b) These days when a co-worker or colleague goes off with a judge to a no-tell, hot-sheets, hourly-rate love motel, she (he) just never knows whether it's all being recorded with a hidden video or audio recorder -- or, for that matter, whether "the recording" will show up on some Internet websites or maybe be held in abeyance to counter any unexpected, unjustified claim of harassment/coercion.
Top judge's criticisms angers prosecutors, lawyers. "Lee Yong-hun, chief justice of the top court, recently sparked a backlash from prosecutors and lawyers by urging judges to 'throw away' investigation records of prosecutors and saying attorneys deceive people with manipulative language. He said testimonies collected by prosecutors 'behind closed doors' should not outweigh statements made during trials. Prosecutor-general Choung Sang-myoung said the entire law sector has been shaken by the chief justice's 'improper' criticism...." More (Hankyoreh - South Korea 09.22.2006). Comment. "Testimonies collected...'behind closed doors'" perhaps refers to confessions and other extrajudicial statements made during interrogation. The only truly-effective and fair way to deal with this problem is the way we deal with it here in Minnesota. See, BurtLaw's CaseLaw. Update. Judge apologizes for 'slip of the tongue' (Chosun 09.26.2006).
Candidate makes issue of summary dispositions. "[Ray Vaughan, a] candidate for the [Alabama] Court of Civil Appeals wants to change the court's longtime practice of [deciding] appeals without explaining why. [Vaughan] introduced a five-page proposal this week saying that if elected, he would never affirm a trial court's ruling without issuing an opinion explaining how he came to his decision...Vaughan said the court has either affirmed or issued decisions without written opinions in nearly 400 cases this year." Critics say the judges are overworked and requiring them to write opinions is impractical. But Vaughan said that "in 95 percent of the rulings with no opinion, a judge issues a memo informing fellow judges why he or she will affirm the trial court's ruling [and t]hat memo could easily be turned into an opinion...'It's completely doable, and anybody who says it isn't is -- excuse me -- they're late for their tee time,' he said. 'This is not an overworked court.'" More (Montgomery Advertiser 09.22.2006). Comments. a) The court in question is a so-called intermediate appellate court -- that is, a court to which parties may appeal of right. Despite therefore being a "high volume" court, there is no reason the court can't provide written opinions in every appeal. Minnesota has a high-volume intermediate appellate court and, last time I checked, its judges are required to decide appeals by written opinions. The court is an efficiently-run court. b) We believe in more, rather than less, transparency in the judicial process, and believe a) all appellate decisions on the merits and all decisions dismissing appeals, whether by an intermediate state appellate court or by a state supreme court, should be by written opinion, b) all opinions should set forth sufficient facts and reasons so the public may understand and fairly evaluate the court's decision, c) all opinions should be published and available online, and d) all parties should be free to cite any such opinions "for what they're worth." A state supreme court, which decides which appeals it hears, should abide by the same rules with respect to appeals it grants and decides but shouldn't have to file an opinion when it simply denies a petition for leave to appeal. However, a) the votes of each justice on such a petition should be a matter of public record and b) any justice who wishes to dissent in a written opinion from the order denying review or who otherwise wishes to explain his/her vote on the petition ought to be free to do so. For a flurry of recent postings dealing with the much-neglected topic of judicial transparency and accountability, click here.
Family court judge resigns amid allegations. Oklahoma Special Judge Michael has resigned in response to allegations he acted inappropriately toward "female attorneys, female law students and women with cases before him." As a special judge, Chionopoulos served at the pleasure of the district judges, who voted to remove him. Chionopoulos allegedly "ordered a female stripper in a child-custody case to personally deliver to him the results of drug tests every Friday" and female attorneys alleged he "called them repeatedly on their cell phones -- sometimes late at night." More (KTEN -TX 09.22.2006). Comment. If a few typical male employees were to get together and write a monograph about all the "inappropriate" things female bosses and coworkers have said or done to them over the course of their various employments, it might open the eyes of many people. But men, who learn a code when they grow up, generally a) overlook a lot of petty on-the-job misdemeanors by co-workers, b) do not file a complaint when a boss (female judge) makes an "inappropriate" comment or suggestion, c) do not call the cops when the spouse hurls a jar or throws a punch or wields a knife.
Judge apologizes, gets reprimand for viewing porn on court computer. "[Circuit Judge Brandt C. Downey III,] who repeatedly viewed pornography on the computer in his chambers[,] apologized Friday after receiving a public reprimand from the Florida Supreme Court for violating judicial ethics...The Supreme Court accepted an agreement in which Downey, 60, admitted accessing pornographic Internet sites from 2002 through 2005. The deal...requires Downey, who has served 21 years on the bench, to retire when his term expires Jan. 1, receive counseling, never again seek re-election or reappointment and not do any post-retirement work as a senior judge...." More (USA Today 09.22.2006). Earlier postings about this case. Deal allows judge who viewed porn at court to apologize, retire at end of term - Viewing porn on court's computer may result in judge's firing - Another case of judge charged with viewing porn on court-owned computer. Postings about other judges/public officials nabbed possessing lawful adult porn at work. Judge releases contents of mayor's laptop - Judge removed for viewing porn on court-owned computer. Postings about judges nabbed possessing unlawful child porn. Ex-judge in plea deal for possessing child porn - Parliamentary investigation of judge over child porn allowed to continue - News from 'The O.C.': Ex-judge who possessed child porn can't sub - Is judge's son, charged with possessing child porn, being dealt with differently? Unlawful 'sex tourism' by judges. Former judge gets 10-year term for sex tourism offense - State judge convicted of federal sex tourism charge, acquitted of porn charge - Trial continues in sex-tourism, child porn trial of ex-judge - Ex-judge on trial in federal court for traveling to Russia to have sex. Selling calendars with photos of 'nude' grandmas to save courthouses. Grandmas' nude-calendar fundraiser for save-the-courthouse protest - Earlier links. Mobile courts to curb porn. Mobile courts to curb obscenity in films?
Comment. Would the result have been different if the judge had been "caught" visiting daily-prayer sites on the office computer or simply using the court-owned computer to e-mail a friend? How about if a secretary discovered a pornographic magazine in a drawer in the judge's court-owned desk or on the court-owned desktop? Would it make a difference if she discovered a Bible in the drawer? How about a copy of Lolita? How about if a secretary listened-in on a judge as he talked dirty with his mistress over the court-owned telephone? Different result if he talked dirty with his wife? How is a "computer desktop" different from an old-fashioned desktop? What's so determinative about the fact that the court owns the computer? Can the Government, without running afoul of the First Amendment, remove a judge if he reads a pornographic magazine during a break at work but not if he reads the Bible during a break? How about if it's "Christian porn"? The short of it is, I don't think the analysis courts are using in cases like this will or ought to pass constitutional muster. Further reading. Foes of monitoring of judges' computer use win first round (BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else - Court Gazing II - 09.08.2001 with updates - scroll down) (recounting the role of Judge Alez Kozinski and the Judges of the Ninth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, taking on Leonidas Mecham, Director, Administrative Office of United States Courts, over the issue of monitoring computer use by judges and their employees).
Chirac stands up for judges. "President Jacques Chirac has backed the French judiciary in a row with Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who said some judges had been too soft on criminals. Mr Chirac said he strongly supported 'the independence of judges' and expressed confidence in them. More (BBC News 09.22.2006). Comments. a) Good for you, Jacques. Politicians who yammer about judges being too soft on criminals are usually just trying to follow the tired old formula of stirring up the public in order to win votes. Here's a link to a campaign position paper on Crime and Punishment I posted on my campaign website in my 2004 anti-Iraq-war campaign against entrenched incumbent Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad. It's what many more politicians -- of the judicial and legislative kind -- would like to say but are afraid to say for fear of losing votes. b) Next time you hear some vote-hungry politician or attention-craving pundit -- the Rush Limbaughs of the world -- rant & rave about "out-of-control liberal judges," judges who are "soft on crime," etc., remember this: if it weren't for such judges, we in the proud USA might still be reading about the use of the third degree by police to extract unreliable confessions. Come to think of it, we still occasionally read about the use of such methods, which is i) why the Minnesota Supreme Court's case law requiring recording of custodial & other interrogations (see, BurtLaw's CaseLaw) is so significant and ii) why we must remain ever vigilant and not be seduced by distorted critiques of our judges.
Court says Senator Graham can't be military judge and senator. "It is unconstitutional for Sen. Lindsey Graham to serve as a member of Congress and a military judge at the same time, a military court has ruled...." More (Seattle Post Intelligencer 09.21.2006). Earlier, more-detailed posting. Is it okay to be both Senator and Judge? Comment. Hypothetically speaking, it's sort of like a part-time state legislator serving as a "law clerk" to a state court of appeals judge. But that's so obviously a no-no, in our humble opinion, that it'd never happen.
Blackmailed judge describes his tumultuous affair. "Y]esterday the hushed court heard Judge I admit in the witness box he had behaved like 'a complete and total puppy' in his relationship with [Roselane Driza,] the 37-year-old immigrant, that he had been 'stupid' to send text messages and e-mails about her in glowing terms, and that he always intended to erase the videotapes which, the court heard, showed him having sex with Judge J [as well as with other women]. Then there was the tantalising mystery of Miss Driza's delicious 'P' -- as Judge I called [her pubic hair in text messages to her] -- and how he missed it so much while he was away. Not to forget Judge J's affair with another immigration judge -- Judge N -- who was married with a family and separated from his wife." In one of the text messages Judge I referred to Driza, whose pic is in the paper (she's very attractive), as "real chilli hot stuff." At one point, Judge J, suspecting Judge I was having an affair with Driza, caught them in the act: "On Boxing day , she came round to Judge I's flat while he was in bed with Miss Driza. Judge I told the court: 'She shouted my name and said she wanted to speak to me about something. She wanted me to open the door. Miss J went to the front of the flat where the bedroom is -- looked, I think, through the window -- and saw us in bed. We met up the next day and she was pretty appalled that I had lied to her.'" More (Daily Mail - UK 09.21.2006). Comment. As we indicated earlier in posting a link to a report of the first day of testimony -- Brazilian cleaner in love triangle with judges is accused of video blackmail -- this is "good stuff," or, as one might say, "judicial juice," and we recommend, as we always do, clicking on the links and reading the full stories.
Senators and judges clash over proposed 9th Circuit break-up. "A broad array of judges, law professors, bar associations and political leaders came out Wednesday against splitting the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, as the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington took up the thorny issue. The overwhelming majority of the circuit's judges, led by Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder of Phoenix, signed a letter reiterating their opposition to the breakup. Schroeder, Carlos Bea of San Francisco, Consuelo Callahan of Sacramento and four other 9th Circuit judges -- Alex Kozinski, a Reagan appointee from California, Sidney Thomas, a Clinton appointee from Montana, Johnnie Rawlinson, a Clinton appointee from Nevada, and Richard Clifton, a George W. Bush appointee from Hawaii -- attended the hearing to express their opposition...." More (L.A. Times 09.21.2006). Comment. The proposal to break up the so-called "notorious Ninth," the Circuit the Republicans love to hate, is primarily motivated by partisan politics, not by considerations of good judicial administration. "'Let's be frank: the motivation behind splitting the circuit is political,' said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. 'It's an attempt to control the decisions of the judiciary by rearranging the bench.'" More (San Francisco Chronicle 09.21.2006).
Judge calls newspaper article a 'hatchet job.' "Municipal Judge George Parker denounced an Enquirer article published Wednesday that said his controversial behavior had caused police and prosecutors to try to avoid his court. Parker, who faces state disciplinary charges because of his actions, characterized the article as 'a hatchet job.'" More (Cincinnati.Com 09.21.2006). Link to article referred to: Everyone avoids judge (Cincinnati Enquirer 09.20.2006): "When state troopers patrol for speeders and drunken drivers along the northern stretches of Interstate 71, many take pains to avoid pulling over cars in Mason or Deerfield Township. That's just one example of how police and prosecutors are doing anything they can to stay away from Mason Municipal Judge George Parker...An Enquirer investigation reveals that even as avoidance tactics have caused the number of court cases handled by Parker to decline, the court's budget has significantly increased...." More Earlier. Controversial judge keeps getting reversed in DUI cases - Judge's midnight hearing at request of prominent doc under investigation.
Three changes ordered in oversight of Nevada judges. "The chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court has ordered three steps to heighten scrutiny and supervision of the state's judges, who have become the target of a reform effort amid allegations of impropriety and cronyism in the courtroom and on the campaign trail. The changes were disclosed in a four-page statement sent to the Los Angeles Times by Chief Justice Robert E. Rose. They come in the wake of a Times investigation into the state's judiciary, especially the Las Vegas bench...." More (L.A. Times 09.21.2006). Links to our postings on the Times series. For judge and friend, one good turn led to another - 'Stacked judicial deck' in Vegas?
'Orderly' as perk for retired judges of supreme court? "The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to amend the Supreme Court Judges Rules, 1959 allowing a consolidated amount Rs. 14,000/- p.m. to the retired Judges of the Supreme Court, in place of the present allowance of Rs. 4,000/- p.m. for engaging an orderly and for defraying secretarial assistance on contract basis...." More
(Indlaw.com 09.21.2006). Comment. Under a rigid Scalian textualist approach, which forbids looking outside the text for the meaning of words being interpreted, we must assume the word "orderly" in India means the same thing as it means in the U.S., which prompts us to congratulate India for the way they treat their retired judges.
Chief judge airs court's dirty linen, endorses colleague's challenger. "It's been a long-standing tradition that 35th District Court judges don't endorse candidates -- either incumbents or challengers -- campaigning for six-year terms on the bench. However, Chief Judge John MacDonald has broken that heritage -- and created a firestorm -- by announcing he's endorsing Westland attorney Jim Plakas over incumbent Ron Lowe for the judgeship to be decided by voters in the Plymouth, Canton and Northville communities Nov. 7." The chief says that "there's always a negative attitude on his part, questioning what we're doing without any real solutions." Lowe says the chief is opening a Pandora's box and adds, "We shouldn't be washing our laundry in the public light." More (Northville Record - MI 09.21.2006). Comment. Ought the job description of a judicial orderly include airing the court's dirty linen?
Annals of judicial creativity - or 'If you're guilty, just say so.' "Supreme Court judge Ingrid Mangatal on Monday urged persons scheduled to be tried for murder, bestiality and other crimes not to maintain pleas of innocence if they were in fact guilty...." More Jamaica Observer 09.21.2006). Comment. In other words, why waste the judges' time. But wait...the judge didn't go far enough. Couldn't we save even more time and money if we just abolished courts?
Judge James deAnda dies. Jose De La Isla has written a fine profile of judge James deAnda, "a Mexican-American icon who belongs in civil-rights history alongside the likes of Thurgood Marshall." The judge died earlier this month at his summer home in Traverse City, MI at age 81. "DeAnda was part of a five-lawyer team that took the landmark Hernandez v.The State of Texas case to the United States Supreme Court...." More (Press of Atlantic City, NJ 09.21.2006).
A flurry of postings on the much-neglected topic of judicial accountability. Click here.
Our Motto - "Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat" (Horace). Loose translation: Does anything prevent telling the truth with a smile?
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Slate's list of Judge Roberts resources. Slate has created a John Roberts Roundup, a regularly-updated page of links to some of the better web postings relating to Judge Roberts. Click here.