The Daily Judge
© 2007 Burton Randall Hanson
      Archive - 01.06.2007 - 01.28.2007
"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.

    Judges play at being judges. "It's the second day of a contentious trial in which a woman stands accused of stabbing her cheating husband. During a conference at the bench, the wife manages to grab the knife and sneak it back to the defense table before the judge notices. It was a test to see whether the judge would notice. Her move was one of many 'traps' set for 110 new judges from across the state who came to Orlando recently for Florida Judicial College...." More (Sarasota Herald Tribune 01.28.2007).

    Emergency, emergency! Judge as 24/7/365 Super Hero. "Some 300 state judges mandated to periodically be on call nights, weekends and holidays intervened in 7,375 emergencies last fiscal year, the majority of the alerts to quell domestic rage...Every week, from Thursday at 4:30 p.m. to the following Thursday at 8:30 a.m. -- except in Berkshire County, where judges are on call a month at a time -- eight judges keep vigil over eight regions, waiting for police to call...The round-the-clock calls seek restraining orders, mental health commitments, medical decisions and search warrants. Most of the calls come from local police...." More (Boston Herald 01.28.2007). Excerpt from judge's diary of emergency judging. An excerpt from a diary Superior Court Judge Paul Chernoff kept during a recent Holiday stint as an ErmergiJudge: "'While playing tennis with another judge one night, I got a call that a man had come into the emergency room of a Boston hospital complaining of an unbearable headache. The MRI showed no tumor, but the neurologist was certain there was one and wanted to confirm it by extracting and testing spinal fluid. The patient refused. I upheld the patient's decision and he walked out of the hospital. Don't know what happened after that....'" More excerpts (Boston Herald 01.28.2007).

    Running for judge, he hurts knees walking dog. "Even if he weren't running for a seat on the Brown County bench, Thomas Schober could use a lot of support these days. Schober blew out both knees in a freak accident while walking his dog on Thursday...." More (Appleton Post-Crescent 01.28.2007).

    Judge Wortham's chambers' loveseat. "A new loveseat at the Jefferson County Courthouse is not sitting well with some members of commissioner's court. Monday, commissioners will vote on whether or not to pay $1,275 for the loveseat. The loveseat was purchased by 58th District Court Judge Bob Wortham for his office. During budget-planning, commissioners had set aside $1,555 for 4 chairs and a sofa that had been requested by the new judge. Judge Wortham bought those items for $3,788 at Mason Salter's Fine Furniture in Natchitoches, Louisiana, but since it was more than the amount budgeted, Judge Wortham agreed to pay $2,513 for the chairs, and now wants commissioners to pay the loveseat's cost...Commissioners will also be voting on spending $2,095 for a desk and 4 chairs for Justice of the Peace, Ransom 'Duce' Jones, and $651 for a chair for county judge, Ron Walker." More (KFDM-TV 01.28.2007). Further reading on interior decor for judges. Earlier we explored judicial interior design matters/crises in a mini-essay titled Annals of judicial chambers makeovers - Reining in those wild-spending judges.

    Judge wins a First Amendment award. "Federal Judge Marvin H. Schoob, [84,] who has struck down several state laws challenging free speech, received the Weltner Freedom of Information award Saturday night from the Georgia First Amendment Foundation...Appointed to the federal bench by Jimmy Carter in 1979, Schoob has ruled on several key cases involving free speech out of Georgia. In 1997, he struck down a state law criminalizing online anonymous speech and the use of trademarked logos on Internet links...." More (Macon Telegraph 01.28.2007). Comments. a) I suppose all judges like to think of themselves as friends of the First Amendment. But, it turns out, some are better friends than others. Sadly, on a number of occasions during its existence our state supreme court here in MN has found itself figuratively slapped on the behind by the U. S. Supreme Court over a restrictive application of the First Amendment. b) "Since 1992, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has celebrated the birth and ideals of its namesake by calling attention to those who in the past year forgot or disregarded Mr. Jefferson's admonition that freedom of speech 'cannot be limited without being lost.'" The Center's awards are called The Jefferson Muzzles. Further reading. Should we televise judicial awards show? -- asking whether an "American Judicial Walk of Fame" might be a great tourist attraction for some court, drawing judicial groupies from all around the globe:

It could be a money-making proposition, sort of like a museum gift shop, with friends who want to "immortalize" a favorite judge there being required to pay a modest fee, say, $5,000. The Judicial Walk of Fame Gift Shop could sell judicial bobble-head dolls, autographed copies of opinions by judges, etc., etc. The profits could be used to supplement the shockingly-low poverty-level salaries of judges and help fund a dream project, The Big Court, a rent-subsidized retirement court where the individual units would look like courtrooms by day but that could easily be converted to bedrooms at night through the use of Murphy beds, etc. During the day the judges would occupy themselves hearing moot court cases from local law schools. They would be allowed to play hooky and head for the golf course each afternoon without reporting their time off "the bench." Nurses would be required to address them as "Your Honor" -- or "Your Lordship."

    BurtLaw's 'Daily Judge Retiring Courthouse Employee of the Month Award.' "For almost 15 years, defendants, witnesses, jurors and attorneys have heard the words, 'Jefferson County Circuit Court is now in session, the honorable judge Berlin C. Jones is presiding, please be seated and turn off your cellular telephones' from bailiff Charley Cook, followed by 'How you doing this time Judge Berlin C. Jones?' On Jan. 31, Cook[, 88,]...[is] heading off to retirement...[Cook] had a variety of jobs...before he got a telephone call about his present position. 'Judge Jones' wife was my late wife's second cousin and she called my wife and said tell Charley to come up, judge needs somebody to be a bailiff,' Cook said...." More (Pine Bluff Commercial 01.28.2007).

    Judge is removed. "The state Supreme Court on Friday removed a Jefferson Davis Parish judge[, Wendell R. Miller,] from office...Most of the charges stemmed from a relationship with his secretary that ultimately soured and resulted in a sexual harassment lawsuit that the state paid $50,000 to settle. Besides Miller's failure to recuse himself from his lover's divorce case, the judge was accused of improperly using official court stationery to recommend her for a new job at a law firm and of having sex with her on a weekly basis in his chambers...." One of the four justices hearing the case dissented from the remedy of removal. More (2The Advocate 01.27.2007). Further reading. For links to some of our prior postings on judicial romance (which we encourage), see, Judge resigns and prosecutor is fired over 'romantic relationship.' And read on....

    Annals of courthouse love (sometimes spelled 'luv') crises. "Cupid is back at the courthouse on Elgin Street, proving that a short tubby toddler with a weapon is more powerful than political correctness and bureaucracy combined. Employees in the family courts area at the courthouse were told to take down cheery St. Valentine's Day decorations Thursday after a woman filing divorce papers complained that she found the display offensive, courthouse sources told The Citizen yesterday...Employees in the small claims and civil courts area were also ordered to take down a similar Valentine's display. But after The Citizen made several phone calls to the attorney-general's office in Toronto, employees in small claims were told yesterday afternoon that the decorations could go back up...It was unclear yesterday whether employees in the family court area would be permitted to mount their Valentine's decorations again...." More (Ottawa Citizen 01.27.2007).

    Suit accuses ex-judge of unwanted advances. "[A] suit, Theresa Wooten, alleges that [ex-Harris County Judge] Gary Michael Block, 45, without her consent massaged her shoulders, tried to place his face in her lap, exposed himself to her and masturbated while holding her hand during a meeting in [chambers in] 2005...." Block denies the allegations. More (Houston Chronicle 01.27.2007). Comment. The paper reports that this isn't the first time the judge has been accused of inappropriate touching. It says the state commission on judicial conduct previously received a complaint alleging he "caress[ed]" an ADA without consent during a meeting in February of 2005. Block denied that allegation as well. He stepped down from the bench effective 12.31.

   Judge takes offensive against her accusers. "She's been accused of wrongdoing and being unruly during her tenure on the bench. On Friday, Judge Ann Lokuta unleashed her own charges against her accusers. Lokuta said the state's Judicial Conduct Board violated numerous rules, used aged information, and even dabbled in criminal activity by relying on stolen documents in producing misconduct charges against her...[Allegations against her include] making a former employee, Judith Flaherty, clean her home, shovel snow and scrub her floor by hand on county time...stopping proceedings if a deputy sheriff's keys rattled too loudly...." More (Times-Leader 01.27.2007).

    Dahlia Lithwick on SCOTUS media celebs. "It's no secret that the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have served some hard time in the makeup chair this year...Even some of the justices still unwilling to talk to the cameras have been more amenable to speaking on the record...But a funny thing is happening on the way to the soundstage. Some justices are refusing to discuss certain areas of the law in these extrajudicial discussions. And that raises interesting questions about which justices avoid which topics and why. Does the selective chill reflect fissures on the court, in the law, or both?...." Dahlia Lithwick, Talk of the Gown - What the Supreme Court justices won't say speaks volumes (Slate 01.27.2007).

    Judge, citing lack of a courtroom, tosses misdemeanor criminal cases. "A judge threw out two misdemeanor criminal cases Friday because, he said, Riverside County Superior Courts had run out of room to try them. The decision to dismiss the vandalism and illegal-dumping cases followed a sharp exchange between Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger and Supervising Deputy District Attorney Vincent Fabrizio, who suggested that court[rooms] not traditionally used for criminal cases should be...." More (Press-Enterprise 01.27.2007). Comment. Perhaps the judge might propose to court administrators that they buy one of our modestly-priced 100% not guaranteed BurtLaw Porta-Courthouses.

    Judicial brain drain continues. "For the second time in as many years, the judge of New Castle City Court has resigned to run for another political office. Jim Small this week resigned his judgeship when he announced he would be a Republican candidate for mayor in this year's city election...." More (Muncie Star-Press 01.27.2007).

    Surprise! SCOMINN's chief wants more judges, staff, more money. "Minnesota's chief justice says the state's court system needs more funding, more judges, and more staff to keep up with rising caseloads. Russell Anderson says the court system is asking the Legislature for about $70 million over the next biennium. The court is seeking money for new judgeships, increased security at the judicial center, and more drug courts...." More (MPR 01.27.2007).
Comment. Without specific reference to the request by the current occupant of the chief justiceship at SCOMINN, I'll simply offer this general opinion: too often the plea of chief justices and other judicial administrative types -- in MN and elsewhere -- is the simple-minded plea for more money, more judges, more staff, etc. Operating within a fixed rather than expanding budget for a period of time might be compared to writing a poem within one of the traditional forms, say, a sonnet. The resistance of the obstacle or the form sometimes stimulates creativity in the actor, who finds, to his surprise, he has within him the power to turn a minus into a plus (which can be as easy as drawing a vertical line through a horizontal one).

    Annals of judicial foibles -- drunk-driving. a) Former district judge Jim Bob Steel, who is also an ex-prosecutor, has pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge. More (Northwest Arkansas News 01.27.2007). b) A Marion Superior Court judge was sentenced to one year on probation Friday after pleading guilty to drunken driving. Judge John Hanley, 51, was arrested Dec. 4 after an Indianapolis police sergeant pulled over his car on East 52nd Street. More (Indianapolis Star 01.27.2007).

    A former judge and a scratched bumper add up to a two-day trial. "Both sides rested yesterday in the case of Rhode Island's most famous scratched bumper, bringing to close the trial of former Traffic Tribunal Judge Marjorie R. Yashar, who stands accused of driving into another car in a courthouse parking lot and driving away without leaving a note...Just one witness testified yesterday: traffic court Magistrate Domenic A. DiSandro III, the owner of the car Yashar is accused of striking...He said Yashar claimed at first she didn't recall the incident, then acknowledged she hit his car and offered to pay for the damage...." More (Providence Journal 01.27.2007).

     Minister is slammed over 'no white male judges' ruling. "Opposition parties have called for the resignation of Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla, and accused her of racism and of sabotaging the judiciary for her refusal to appoint white male acting judges in the Free State to fill temporary vacancies, according to a report in The Witness. The DA, Freedom Front Plus and the IFP warned yesterday that Mabandla's refusal would hamper the sound administration of justice and lead to further backlogs in the Free State court. The IFP's Justice spokesperson Koos van der Merwe said there were 'literally hundreds' of reserved judgments that were not being delivered. The judiciary needed competent persons to be appointed to the Bench, irrespective of the colour of their skin, he said...." More (Legal Brief Today 01.26.2007). Further reading (Business Day 01.26.2007).

    Courts starting to resist Bush secrecy, interference. "The Bush administration has employed extraordinary secrecy in defending the National Security Agency's highly classified domestic surveillance program from civil lawsuits. Plaintiffs and judges' clerks cannot see its secret filings. Judges have to make appointments to review them and are not allowed to keep copies. Judges have even been instructed to use computers provided by the Justice Department to compose their decisions. But now the procedures have started to meet resistance...." More (NYT 01.26.2007).

    High court grants judge's motion to open his ethics hearing. "A state appeals judge's hearing before a judicial panel considering whether his public comments violated judicial canons should be open, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday. State Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen petitioned the high court to order the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to open a hearing on Griffen's conduct in speaking out publicly on a number of issues, including the Iraq war and the state minimum wage. The discipline committee planned to hold the hearing behind closed doors...Some of his comments being scrutinized were made during a speech to a Baptist convention in Atlanta...." More (Nortwest Arkansas Online 01.26.2007). Comment. We wonder if the members of the commission have read Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002), and its progeny.

    High court censures retired judge for inadequately supervising his wife. "The Wyoming Supreme Court on Thursday publicly censured retired Sublette County Circuit Court Judge John Crow, whose wife and court clerk was said to be rude to her deputy clerks and to the public...Crow, of Pinedale, retired last month. His wife, Jacqueline Ingersoll, quit the court clerk job last February...Ingersoll's behavior allegedly caused three deputy clerks to quit...Crow said...the censure...was aimed at him personally. He said the Supreme Court demanded his resignation when he married Ingersoll in 2001; she had been his court clerk since 1995...." More (Billings Gazette 01.26.2007). Comment. With respect to disputes among courthouse employees, the judge is quoted as saying, "'I've been in this business for more than 40 years...And always in that time there have been conflicts between clerks and secretaries and those employed in the courthouse. I have had success in large part because I have stayed out of those petty conflicts...I don't apologize for my clerks any more than I would apologize for the conduct of other people involved in the intrigues.'" Id. We've noted before that judges are no less prone to cliched thinking than other mortals. One cliched phrase oft heard in state supreme courts and intermediate appellate courts across the country is "the court family." The cliche is meant to suggest a number of things, including a) that despite disagreements in conference, etc., the members of the court are members of a collegial body who treat each other with respect, disagreeing without ever being disagreeable, b) that the members keep their disagreements and dislikes "within the family" and present a united front to the "outside world," i.e., the public, much as any family is expected to try to present a united front to the outside world, and c) that everybody within the "court family" -- regardless of title or pay or authority or place on an organizational chart -- cares for everybody else, treats everybody else with respect, etc. Do you believe it?

    Choosing judges on 'merit.' "Gov. Ed Rendell says ordinary Pennsylvanians should not be allowed to choose their appeals court judges. So do large portions of the legal community. Well, there's a slap across the snout from the guy the voters just returned to office for a second term. Help us out, Mr. Rendell:
List the judges who are no darned good and tell us why...We are informed that judges should get their jobs through merit-based selection, not politics. Instead, a coterie of political appointees would submit names to the political governor. He would send a nominee over to the political Senate for approval. But hold on a minute. Wasn't it the electorate that went nuts over the unconstitutional 2005 pay-jacking that got the seal of approval from the governor, Legislature and the Supreme Court? Wasn't it the electorate that booted a Supreme Court justice over the pay raises and tossed a bundle of lawmakers? Voters will lose the right to elect their appeals court judges only if they approve a constitutional amendment that first must pass two consecutive sessions of the Legislature. Our suggestion to the public: Don't vote away that right. You're not as dumb as the powers that be would have you think. Whose government is it, anyway?" More (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 01.26.2007). Comment. I urge you to read the entire editorial, which is terrific.

    Judge allegedly threatened attorney who's suing another judge. "An unidentified Supreme Court justice in Manhattan intimidated and threatened a lawyer for bringing a legal malpractice case against another attorney, who is now a judge, according to a published report citing court documents. The female judge warned Manhattan lawyer Ravi Batra he would never win another motion or case again in that borough because of the lawsuit against George Silver, who is now a judge. Batra's accusations come as he tries to get the malpractice suit, filed on behalf of New Springville resident Margherita Merola, moved to Staten Island. Ms. Merola is suing Silver and his former law partner Steve Santo and accusing them of a botching a wrongful death suit she had filed on behalf of her dead son and then trying to cover it up...." More (Staten Island Advance 01.26.2007).

    Annals of life after judging. "Former judge and Competition Bureau Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein has been appointed chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the country's broadcast regulator...." More (Canada.Com 01.26.2007).

    Court rips ex-judge. "A former Brooklyn judge was found in default yesterday for stiffing his kids out of nearly $230,000 in child support, setting the stage for a judge to order his arrest. Former Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Reynold Mason was ordered last month to appear in a Manhattan courtroom and explain why he hasn't paid court-ordered support for three years for his three children with his former wife, Tessa Abrams Mason...In an exclusive Daily News exposé on Tuesday, Abrams Mason said her ex-husband paid $5,000 in cash to Carl Andrews, a Brooklyn political operative, to win Democratic support for his election to the Civil Court bench in 1994. Andrews, a former state senator, is now an aide to Gov. Spitzer and denies the story...Abrams Mason faces eviction from her home in a New York suburb, where she is raising two teens and a 9-year-old on the wages she makes at Wal-Mart...." More (N.Y. Daily News 01.26.2007).

    When the judge says 'not guilty,' confetti streams down. "When the judge in a murder case pronounces a defendant not guilty, I doubt that confetti streams from the ceiling. I also suspect that the prosecutor is rarely a foul-tempered teenager who carries a whip and curtsies when she presents compelling evidence. But if trials were as entertaining in the real world as in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Justice for All, it might be worth jury duty just see it all firsthand. Phoenix Wright is the spiky-haired defense lawyer previously seen in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. In this sequel from CapCom for Nintendo DS, most of the rest of the cast also returns, including Phoenix's psychic sidekick, Maya, and the glum detective Dick Gumshoe...[T]estimony comes from odd characters, including a ventriloquist who is continually insulted and pummeled by his dummy, a clown who uses makeup that is 'sensitive enough for a baby, strong enough for a mime' and a security guard who wears an astronaut suit and carries a toy ray gun that she fires whenever she is annoyed...." More (NYT 01.25.2007).

    Advice to judges: be dull in public. "Here's what I'd advise their honors: Stock up on inoffensive platitudes, and distribute them generously. Learn to be only ceremonial in public discourse rather than colorful or provocative or 'interesting,' no matter how clever or eloquent a judge may think he is. Cultivate dullness. Aim for the banal. Any speech by a judge should be like the perfect gentleman's tie: forgettable. Leave the flashy comments to newspaper columnists; in exchange, we'll promise not to lay down the law. It was said of Dwight Eisenhower that as president he would go through his speechwriters' drafts and strike every memorable phrase. It drove them crazy, but Ike realized he was more than a politician; he was a head of state. He was president of all the people, not just his own partisans...." -- From a column by Paul Greenberg, Judges should err on side of silence (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via Sioux Falls Argus Leader 01.25.2007). Comment. I sorta like it when judges occasionally exercise their First Amendment rights and show a little color when they speak in public. But few judges can pull it off. Holmes could. He rarely spoke in public, but when he did he said things worth hearing.

    First woman this-and-that dies. "Retired Federal Judge Elsijane Trimble Roy died Tuesday. She was 90. She was a first -- the state's first female circuit judge, the first woman on the Arkansas Supreme Court, the first woman appointed to a federal judgeship and first woman appointed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals...." More (KTHV - Little Rock 01.25.2007).

    19th century graffiti uncovered at courthouse. "Jurors serving here in the 1890s finally got their point across. In the course Monday of removing old paper from a wall of what will soon be the second-floor White County Courthouse office of Judge Mark R. Stanley, community service worker Travis Napier and coordinator Mike Knight uncovered messages written on the wall as long ago as 1890 -- when the Courthouse was only seven years old --  and as recently as 1905. 'Up all night. Plenty of room, no cover, no fire and no prospect of getting out,' wrote one person in 1894. Those sound like the words of a prisoner, and some of those who viewed the messages Monday surmised that the room might have been used as a jail. But Judge Thomas H. Sutton suggested that it was probably a jury room instead...." More (Carmi Times 01.23.2007).

    More on veiled testimony. "A Muslim woman who lost her small-claims case against a car rental company after she refused to remove her veil while testifying in court has been granted a new hearing. The decision came after Ginnnah Muhammad, 42, of Detroit, wore a niqab -- a scarf and veil that covers her head and face, leaving only the eyes visible -- during a court hearing in October in Hamtramck -- a city surrounded by Detroit that has been the site of several disputes between a growing Muslim immigrant population and the other residents...." More (IHT 01.25.2007). Earlier. Pakistani judge bars female lawyers from wearing veils in courtroom.

    Annals of courthouse preservation. "Dayton, Tenn. The square around the courthouse where the famed 'monkey trial' took place is one of six to be revitalized under a pilot program in Tennessee. The program allows two cities in each grand division of the state to use five and a half percent of the sales tax generated in a designated courthouse square zone to be used for improvements within the zone...." More (WMC Stations 01.25.2007).

    Judge as local hero: Chicago judge lets Chicago Bear play in Super Bowl. "Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson will play in the Super Bowl -- with court approval and a warning from a judge to stay out of trouble. Cook County Judge John Moran granted a defense request Tuesday to allow Johnson to leave the state of Illinois as he awaits trial on gun possession charges. The Bears will play the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl in Miami on Feb. 4...." More (L.A. Times 01.24.2007).

    Anti-abortion advocate proposes judicial appointments 'sonogram test.' "Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade...Appearing at yesterday's [Washington Mall] rally, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) declared that judicial nominees should be given a sonogram test before being confirmed. 'If we have a judicial applicant…who can look at a sonogram of an unborn child and not see the value of human life,' then 'he will not receive a judicial appointment,' Hunter announced...." More (ThinkProgress 01.23.2007).

    Another state court under investigation by the feds. "KDKA has learned that federal agents have started a major investigation into potential corruption in the Allegheny County [PA] Courthouse. Sources say judges are the focus of the case which involves allegations of influence peddling. The allegations are that high profile lawyers were given court appointed cases and, in exchange for those cases, the lawyers paid expenses for judges including, trips, country club fees and even bar tabs. Sources confirm federal agents have been to the Grant Street Tavern Downtown -- a long time courthouse watering hole known as a hangout for judges and lawyers...." More (KDKA 01.24.2007). Comment. As readers of The Daily Judge know, there've been many federal prosecutions of state judges recently for bribery, etc., & in almost all of them the feds use legal fictions to obtain jurisdiction. One fiction involves relying on federal grants given to the court systems in which the judges work. Another is using the mails in committing fraud. When I was in high school I argued in a debate before the local PTA that federal aid to secondary school education would lead to federal control. As a Junior GOP-Man I was, of course, just mouthing the political platitudes of the GOP party. But it turns out I was right, as evinced by the GOP's "No Child Left Behind" initiative (which pulls off the slick trick of accomplishing federal control of education without much or any aid). And now, it seems, federal aid to state courts = federal criminalization of judicial conduct that the states traditionally have been thought (by old-style Republicans, at least) able to regulate. Can it be fairly said that Republicans -- & I am one, though of the liberal Eisenhower-Rockefeller variety -- still believe in states' rights? Or do they feel they have a "roving commission," to use Justice Cardozo's phrase, to clean up state and local government? But wait! I think the states where all or most of these investigations/prosecutions have occurred are historically Democratic, on the local level, at least. Hmmm. What's the great principle -- that it all depends on whose ox is being gored?

    N.H. judge reprimanded over tardiness in disclosing courthouse romance. More (Boston Globe 01.24.2007). Comment. The sequence of events in this earth-shakingly-important matter is arguably a little confusing in the news reports, which is why I tried to set the events out in a more boring but maybe clearer, chronological way in an earlier entry that I cleverly titled, The path of true love doth not run smooth -- even in the courthouse.

    Outgoing GOP governor's last-minute appointments of GOP judges. "The following judges were appointed by Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican, during his final days in office. All are Republicans...." There follows a list of 12 new GOP judges. More (Akron Beacon Journal 01.24.2007). Comment. And critics say, with a straight face, that direct elections of judges "politicize" the judiciary.

    Annals of contempt: judge should have 'quiet reflection' before punishing. "The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, in Regina v Huggins, 01.23.2007, by Lord Justice Moses, held that Judge Waller at Croydon Crown Court erred in giving himself only ten minutes before imposing custodial sentence on Raffael Huggins for contemptuous shouting at judge and jury when his mom was found guilty and sentenced to prison for importing drugs. 'The appellant had offered an immediate and sincere apology...The judge should have dealt with the matter by adjourning the case overnight to give himself time for quiet reflection and to consider the appropriate sentence.'" More (Times Online - Law Reports 01.23.2007).

    Annals of jury room contraband -- herein of vodka in a water bottle. "[Judge Geoffrey Morris of Jefferson County Circuit Court in KY] ordered a new trial in a case in which a juror sipped vodka throughout the trial...The jury foreman told Morris that the juror had been disruptive and unco-operative during deliberations, and eventually became so inebriated she could not participate. After the verdict came in, Morris discovered that the clear liquid the woman had been sipping all day from a plastic water bottle was vodka...." More (Canada.Com 01.23.2007).

   The struggle at SCOTUS. "ABC News correspondent Jan Crawford Greenberg argues that in one area President Bush has succeeded where his father, as well as Ronald Reagan and Richard M. Nixon, did not, achieving a longtime conservative goal: he has moved the Supreme Court decisively to the right and shaped its direction for the next three to four decades...." She makes her argument in a new 340 page book, Supreme Conflict - The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court (Penguin Press, $27.95). More (NYT 01.23.007).

    Annals of judicial selection: 'How my ex-hubby paid to be judge.' "In a shocking new twist in the exploding 'judgeships for sale' scandal, [Tessa Abrams Mason,] the ex-wife of a disgraced Brooklyn Supreme Court judge[, Justice Reynold Mason,] has revealed details of a systematic payoff scheme that bought her husband his seat on the bench. Tessa Abrams Mason alleges the couple spent nearly $100,000 -- some of it bribe money -- to boost the legal career of her then-husband, former Supreme Court Justice Reynold Mason...Mason, 57, now a real estate agent in Georgia, has been ducking court-ordered child support payments for years...Reached by telephone last week, Mason vehemently denied the charges...." More (N.Y. Daily News 01.23.2007).

    Jurist denies allegation he propositioned small-claims litigant. "Part-time Denver magistrate Robert E. Gilbert was accused Monday of using his position to proposition a [small-claims] litigant[, Rena Rodriguez,] for sex and destroying phone records showing he called the woman...." Gilbert denies the allegations. His attorney, Fred Bibik, is quoted as saying, "'You will be hard pressed to find a man who loves his wife more than Robert Gilbert. Why would he risk everything for a dalliance with a small-claims litigant?'" More (Denver Post 01.23.2007). Comment. Has any big-claims litigant ever been propositioned by a judge or alleged such a proposition?

    Lord Justice denies he 'flashed' woman on train. "One of the most senior judges in the country has been arrested in connection with a 'flashing' incident on a train. Lord Justice [Stephen] Richards, 56, of Wimbledon in southwest London, is alleged to have indecently exposed himself to a female passenger...." He was released on bail. He has not been charged. He denies the allegation. More (This Is Local London 01.22.2007). Comment. Our initial thought: He's innocent. You think we say that because he's a top judge. Not so. We presume he's innocent, as in "presumption of innocence." It's a "point of law," as the old 5-minute radio segment hosted by Charlie Boone on WCCO-AM, the "Good Neighbor to the Northwest," used to say.

    Judge, family members booked and awaiting charges in his wife's death. "[Nishith Thakkar, a]n additional sessions judge of Jetpur court...has been booked for allegedly abetting suicide of his wife...[P]olice [are] awaiting permission from the Gujarat High Court to arrest him. [He] and his five family members -- three sisters, father and aunt -- were booked after his wife, Archana, allegedly committed suicide by immolating herself early this month...The deceased's mother, Padmaben, has lodged a complaint with the police...[and] the six have been booked under IPC Sections 306 (abettment of committing suicide), 498-A (dowry harassment) and 114 (abetter present when the offence is committed), he said...." More (Zee News 01.22.2007).

    Judges collect pay as active judges and pension as retired judges -- at same time. "Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker 'retired' after his election to a state appeals court last fall. That decision will earn him about $74,000 per year in retirement benefits on top of his new $128,500 salary, pushing his judicial income to more than $202,000 a year. He's not the only judge from Hamilton County taking advantage of a law that allows a person to retire from public service and continue to work for the public. Two others are doing the same thing: Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals Judge Sylvia Hendon and Hamilton County Domestic Relations Judge Ronald Panioto. All three are Republicans...." More (Cincinnati Enquirer 01.22.2007).

    Judge John Deed's 'tempestuous relationships.' "An idealist at heart, [Judge Deed's] more traditional colleagues regard him as something of a renegade. He's made it to the top of his profession on his own terms, armed with a sharp intellect, a rakish charm, keen wit and a passionate belief in justice. Fearless and independent, he is sworn to serve state and sovereign, not the government hacks that constantly try to influence his decisions." The judge also has a personal life: "tempestuous relationships with Jo Mills...and the Rochesters...his student daughter's pregnancy by a married tutor and his ex-wife's engagement to a Cabinet Minister." -- From an announcement of the 02.12.2007 release in the UK of the DVD containing all the episodes from the second series. More (Easier.Com 01.22.2007).

    Trial of 35 judges, lawyers, bankers on corruption charges opens. "Nearly three dozen judges, lawyers, bankers and businessmen went on trial Monday in what officials have described as Serbia's largest-ever anti-corruption sweep. The 35 defendants, including the former president of Serbia's Trade Court, are charged with criminal conspiracy, abuse of power and giving and taking bribes, according to the indictment...." More (IHT 01.22.2007).

    When the young use the law to get rid of the old. There's an interesting op-ed piece by Wiktor Osiatynski titled "Poland Makes Witch Hunting Easier" in today's NYT. It concerns the use of "lustration" -- the purging of former secret police collaborators --as "a tool not only of revenge, but of politics." When Communism fell, "a procedure was designed that called for all appointees or candidates for public office (as well as lawyers, but not the clergy) to submit affidavits stating whether or not they had been secret agents. Those who [were determined to have] lied were to be disqualified from public service. A special lustration court was established." But how define "secret agent" and "collaboration"? What if the opening of secret police files, which contained thousands of names, revealed files that contained your name? "In 2000, the Supreme Court declared that those who had merely appeared to cooperate, but who avoided providing the security services with any vital information, could not be considered collaborators, even if they signed agreements [to cooperate] and met with agents." In other words, you wouldn't be barred from serving as, say, a judge. Unfortunately, according to Osiatynski, in the last couple years lustration has become a mechanism for political and cultural power-grabbing by younger Poles, who "use the past to forward their own careers." More (NYT 01.22.2007). Further reading. Lustration (Wikipedia). Lustration (Encyclopedia Brittanica 11 ed.). Comment. Perverting institutions and procedures in order to bump out the old is nothing new. Thus, e.g., half a century ago young members of a "new school" of sociological thought at a prominent eastern university neutralized the powerful "old school" chair of the sociology department by creating a new department with a slightly-different name, leaving the powerful old department head as head of a sociology department in name only. In the judicial sphere, one of the (primarily-hidden but sometimes-ackowledged) goals of some of the prime movers for adopting mandatory retirement of judges in certain jurisdictions was to get rid of "old white men" so as to free up positions for women and members of previously-under-represented minorities. For my 2000 essay opposing mandatory retirement of judges, click here.

    Courts struggle to comply with new law to protect Social Security numbers. "Churchill County agencies that must comply with a new law to protect Social Security numbers are scrambling to make sure the personal information is kept confidential on official documents. A new state law went into effect Jan. 1 that prohibits the release of public documents that contain Social Security numbers. It also forbids those identifying numbers on documents that must be filed with a public agency unless the law specifically requires those numbers...The law, enacted by the 2005 Nevada Legislature, was passed to prevent identity theft...." More (Nevada Appeal 01.22.2007).

    Does instant appeal make fact judge lax? "Line judges are being tested by a television instant replay for the first time at the Australian Open, and the results so far support the old adage that no one's infallible...On the men's side, 39 [challenged] calls were upheld and 40 overturned, for a percentage of 50.63. Judges fared better among the women, with 25 of the challenged decisions being upheld and 19 overturned, or 43.18 percent...Players are allowed two challenges each set using the 'Hawk-Eye' system, retaining their challenge each time they get it right. Some players don't like the system, including Roger Federer, who says it gives the chair umpires an excuse to be lax and leave the onus on players to challenge...." More (IHT 01.22.2007).

    More on SCOMICH-MESS. "The notion of black-robed judges as symbols of decorum and civility seems almost laughable these days in Michigan. Justices on the Michigan Supreme Court have fallen into sniping and name-calling and trading accusations of unprofessional conduct. One justice referred to another as a 'very angry, sad woman' and suggested she go on a hunger strike...'as it seemed to have the potential for everyone to be a winner.'" More (Boston Globe 01.21.2007).

    The SCOCONN C.J. controversy and its aftermath - a trio of editorials:

a) Editorial on legislature's Judiciary Committee investigation of former C.J.'s Sullivan's resignation, including the C.J.'s changing his mind and agreeing to testify "voluntarily" in the face of a threatened impeachment hearing if he didn't testify. More (The Day 01.20.2007).

b) Editorial praising Acting C.J. David Borden, who "has begun leading his fellow judges out of their long, dark night of secrecy...making the courts public in the true sense," by creating the "Judicial Branch's Public Access Task Force," by recommending legislation "revis[ing]...the sealing of search-warrant affidavits, making available competency evaluations and waving fees for copying documents" and by ordering the "[p]ost[ing of] criminal docket information online...increas[ing] electronic coverage of the Supreme and Appellate courts...[e]ncourag[ing] judges to open department [and advisory committee] meetings...[s]tudying what committees should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act...[e]stablish[ing] a Judicial-Media Committee...." More (The Day 01.21.2007).

c) Editorial regarding Gov. Rell's anticipated nomination of a new C.J. "who will continue Acting Chief Justice David Borden's effort to make the judiciary a more open and less mystifying entity to the public and end the secrecy and hostility that have marked the department in recent years." More (The Day 01.21.2007). Comment. Alas, no matter how good a job Acting C.J. Borden is doing, he is ineligible to be appointed as the new chief. Why? Under the mandatory retirement law, he must retire soon. Read on...

    Judge who wasn't re-appointed sues, claiming age/disability discrimination. "Former Municipal Court Judge Paul J. Carr said he is suing Tuckerton for age and disability discrimination after the borough chose not to re-appoint him to another term...Carr, [60,] who serves as judge for four other municipalities, was Tuckerton's judge for 10 years until January 2005, when the Borough council unanimously voted to replace him with Judge James A. Liguori...." More (Asbury Park Press 01.21.2007).

    Libya says its judiciary is truly independent. "Secretary of Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation ...[says] that the stances of some European countries regarding the [Libyan] court's ruling in [the case of injecting Libyan children with HIV] is unfair. 'On one hand, they request transparency and fairness of Judiciary, but when they realize the fairness and transparency of judiciary, they demand the state's interference in the work of judiciary,' he explained...He stressed that no one in Libya can interfere in the work of judicial system, [saying that] even the Leader of the Revolution, himself, can not interfere in the laws and rulings issued by the Libyan Judiciary...." More (Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation 01.21.2007). Comment. We appreciate the explanation. What is there to doubt?

    The courthouse 'liberty pole.' "Adjacent to the Napa County Courthouse, Old Glory snaps in the brisk breeze from its tether over 100 feet in the air. Fancy iron latticework rises from the sturdy four-footed base into a seemingly delicate tapered top. It's hard to imagine that 23 years ago, the then almost 100-year-old structure came close to becoming scrap metal. What is the origin of the Eiffel Tower-like flagpole and how was it saved?" More (Napa Valley Register 01.21.20070.

    New bio of legendary federal judge, complete with 'juicy stories.' The book is The life of Chief Judge Willis W. Ritter, by Patricia F. Cowley and Parker M. Nielson, University of Utah Press, 372 pages, $34.95. "Ritter, who served as a U.S. district judge for Utah from 1949 until his death in 1978, was a legendary, enigmatic character in the local legal profession." After hearing "juicy stories" about the judge, Ms. Cowley asked, "'Was he an 'intellectual giant' or a 'despicable, fat mouse'?" According to the reviewer, Cowley and co-author portray Ritter "as an arresting character -- a person who possessed both brilliance and idealism. But he...was also a self-important womanizer who often appeared to be a common drunk...[He] was so audacious and condescending that by the end of his life he had lost all his friends -- and had become, for some at least, a tragic joke in the legal community." More (Deseret Morning News 01.21.2007). Comment. So was he both an intellectual giant and a despicable, fat mouse? The two are not mutually exclusive, are they?

    The two sides of Judge McCullough. "The austere black robe Judge [M. Bruce] McCullough, [chief judge for U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Downtown,] 62, has worn since being elevated to the bench a dozen years ago hasn't modulated his sharp tongue, a weapon all the more effective because of his formidable intellect, experience, instincts and a righteousness born of being a minister's son. Whether he's exhorting a 212'er -- what he calls New York attorneys -- to 'give me a break' by halting a spurious argument or reprimanding a flummoxed lawyer representing a bankrupt individual, there's never much doubt about what's on Judge McCullough's mind...." More (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01.21.2007). Comment. The other side: he's also a "softie," according to the long profile.

    Lawyer-legislators' unjustified privileges threaten justice system. "The state of Virginia owes Portsmouth Del. Ken Melvin a debt of gratitude. Last November, while doing his other job as a defense attorney, he openly announced he'd use his elected position to punish a Portsmouth judge who had the temerity to make a decision he didn't like...Melvin stated, 'You know full well that I am a member of the delegation. I am opposing your reappointment as a circuit court judge based on the quality of the work that's been done in this court.'...Finally, the conflict between our part-time legislature, with its power to appoint and review judges, and the independence of Virginia's judiciary is clear for anyone who cares to see...When delegates and senators practice in front of the very judges whose jobs they control, are the decisions tainted? Does the power of a state legislator to cancel long-scheduled court hearings with little notice or to selectively complain of conflicts with judges allow him to avoid tough jurists and help his clients escape long sentences? When defendants hire lawyers who also serve in Richmond, do they believe they are buying special treatment?" More (The Virginian-Pilot - Opinion 01.21.2007).

    Religious preferences, zoning law, 1,000 judges and a tiny town. "There, on a 100-acre tract purchased for $13 million, a Brooklyn-based group called the Congregational Rabbinical College of Tartikov plans a college where, organizers say, 1,000 rabbis, living with their families, would study for 15 years to become religious judges presiding over civil disputes among Orthodox Jews...[O]n a property zoned for single-family homes on one acre, drawings and plans developed by the group show as many as 10 buildings with space for at least 4,500 residents, parking for 1,000 cars and buildings as high as six stories...All this in a village[, Pomona, N.Y.,] with a population of around 3,200...." More (NYT 01.21.2007). Comment. A court battle is likely. The developers have on their side the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which says that absent a "compelling" public interest, towns like Pomona (and cities like yours) may not reject land-use developments by churches/religious groups. Congress' stated intent in enacting RLUIPA was to "protect religious liberty." Does RLUIPA go too far? We're troubled by it. A lawyer representing the developers is quoted as saying, "'It's in our Constitutional tradition to put a thumb on the scale in favor of religious institutions, and for good reason.'" Really?

    U.S. District Judge declares 'Black and Gold Friday' for New Orleans Saints. "Like the rest of Acadiana and Louisiana, the Federal Courthouse in Lafayette embraced Saints mania with [U.S. District Chief Judge Richard Haik's] declaration of 'Black and Gold Friday.'" More (Daily Advertiser 01.20.2007).

    Two announcements regarding judicial appointments process in MA.

a) Governor says he's 'reconstituting' judicial nominating commission. "[Democrat] Gov. Deval L. Patrick announced yesterday that he is 'reconstituting' the state's 21-member Judicial Nominating Commission, with the goal of recruiting potential judges who represent a true cross-section of the community. It was unclear whether Patrick would conduct wholesale housecleaning or keep a few commissioners appointed by former [GOP] Gov. W. Mitt Romney. 'Gov. Patrick will be appointing his own commission,' said Chief Legal Counsel Ben T. Clements...." More (The Republican 01.20.2007).
Comment. It's o.k. with us if a commission member wants to and does believe that "commissions" are not "political." But we think otherwise. See, our comments at Sorry, bar association, but.... For some of our views on so-called merit appointment systems, appointment commissions, etc., click here.

b) Governor bans lobbying for judicial nominees. "Governor prohibiting lobbying for nominees entirely. Previously, lobbying was not permitted while a person was under consideration by the Judicial Nominating Committee, but was allowed after names had been recommended to the governor." More (Eyewitness News TV WPRI 12 01.20.2007). Comment. And Moses said, "Thou shalt not exercise thine right of free speech."

   'Notorious 9th Circuit' update: oral argument is held with no judges present. "So many people came to listen to lawyers argue the death penalty appeal of convicted Chino Hills murderer Kevin Cooper that dozens of overflow spectators had to watch from the courthouse cafeteria on a closed-circuit television. But three seats remained empty during the hearing last week in the large ceremonial courtroom of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. They were the chairs reserved for the judges, who were hundreds of miles away, listening to the arguments via video hookup, and occasionally asking questions...[I]n recent months, an increasing number of 9th Circuit judges have invoked their privilege of appearing via video, even when they did not have a compelling reason...." More (L.A.Times 01.16.2007).

    Yikes! A bat at the courthouse! "Anyone who ever doubted that the Bibb County Courthouse is an old building with all the problems that can come with age should have been there Tuesday afternoon when a bat -- yes, a bat -- suddenly appeared in the fourth floor lobby...[O]ne county employee fled the room. Others, emerging from the elevator and on their way back to their office, covered their heads with paper and made mad dashes...Eventually a staffer from the county's Buildings and Properties Department showed up with a net and captured the little beast, ending all the drama. As the bat was carried away, county employees swore that Tuesday's intrusion was not an isolated incident. 'Bats get in here all the time,' one of them said...." More (Macon Telegraph 01.20.2007). Comment. During my 28+ years as an aide to the Justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court I typically worked a flex-time schedule, getting to work at 6:30 a.m. but leaving in mid-afternoon to pick up my kids at school. I recall two incidences like the above in which screams would have been justified, both when the court occupied the 3rd & 4th floors of the East Wing of the Capitol. One morning I spotted a bat in a common area & alerted the head custodian. He killed it with a broom. In the other I had my window open to let in a bit of fresh air & a pigeon entered through it. I asked the assistant custodian, a fellow who once had pigeons as pets, for help. He grabbed it with his hands & released it through the open window. In neither instance did I scream. They don't teach courses -- in law school or at the NYU Institute for new appellate judges or at the Judicial College in Reno or in continuing judicial education programs -- on dealing with bats or pigeons -- or with pigeon doo. But every judge in nearly every courthouse in America eventually becomes aware of the problem. I recall as a new law clerk at the Minnesota Supreme Court in the fall of 1970 seeing layers of pigeon doo on the floor of the portico just outside the Court's conference room on the second floor of the east wing of the State Capitol in St. Paul. The problem of keeping pigeons away was by then an old problem, with no great solution. Some of the doo may have been old enough to be featured as a historic artifact on the PBS show in which people bring in antiques for valuation.

    Judge demands newspaper publish correction. "Appeals Court Judge Mitchell J. Sikora Jr. is asking the Boston Herald to 'undo the damage' he claims the newspaper caused him in a Nov. 30 story about his handling of the sentencing of a motorist who struck and killed a Medfield police officer in 2000...Sikora's attorney, Howard M. Cooper of Boston...specifies that [the correction] bear the headline: 'Herald's Portrayal of Judge Inaccurate,' that it report the contents of the hearing transcript and that it 'correct each of the factual errors discussed above. Your doing so will end this matter.' ...[Cooper] has also represented Superior Court Judge Ernest B. Murphy, who sued the newspaper for its February 2002 coverage of his conduct in a rape case. The Herald's appeal of a $2 million libel verdict to Murphy in that case will be heard by the Supreme Judicial Court early next month." More (Mass. Lawyers Weekly 01.19.2007). Further reading. For postings related to the Murphy case, see, Newspaper attacks $2 million libel verdict awarded trial judge.  I know nothing about the merits of Judge Murphy's or Judge Sikora's case under existing law. But I believe the cause of action of defamation ought to be eliminated as inconsistent with First Amendment values. I express my views in greater detail at Court upholds dismissal of judge's libel suit against TV station.

    Governor announces, then un-announces judicial appointment. "Governor Mike Easley named Johnston County prosecutor Dale Stubbs to a district judgeship Friday -- then took it back two hours later...Easley's press office said the news release was sent in error. More judgeships will be released next week, but it's not clear whether Stubbs will be one of them...." More (News Observer 01.20.2007).

    Annals of throwing stuff at judges.

   One litigant hurls shoe at judge, another hurls verbal abuse. "Court officials and advocates [in Surat] were stunned when an undertrial threw his footwear and another hurled abuses at a magistrate in a local court on Wednesday. The duo, allegedly, were miffed over the delay in their trial, which began in 2004. Santosh Ghanvat and Rajesh Mehta, accused in a 2004 theft case were presented before judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) M S Soni around 1 pm. But as the judge again deferred proceedings, the duo got wild. While Santosh threw his footwear at the judge, Rajesh used abusive language. The duo wanted their cases to be settled quickly...." More (Times of India 01.05.2007).

   Another disappointed litigant hurls slippers at a judge. "A convict on Friday threw slippers at the additional district judge R K Mahajan at the district court after being sentenced to life imprisonment in a murder case...One of the slippers hit the judge who was in his chair...[T]he convict also banged his head against the wall and hurled abuses towards the ADJ after the sentence was handed out. He was later referred to JA hospital after he became unconscious...." More (Hindustan Times 01.20.2007).

Related. Man who threw slippers at judge gets 16 months; Man hurls shoe at judge after being sentenced to 11 years for rape (Monster & Critics - India 08.07.2006).Comment. Are we witnessing the start of an epidemic in India of criminal defendants throwing shoes at judges? Consider this posting from a year ago:

 Throwing chappals at judges - a trend? " Infuriated over a verdict convicting him in a dacoity case with a life term, an accused hurled a chappal at a sessions judge here in the courtroom. However, the judge dodged and the chappal missed the target at the fast-track court yesterday...Last year, a similar incident had occurred in a sessions court when an accused had thrown his chappal at the judge after being convicted...." More (NewKerala.Com - India 02.07.2006). Comment. "A chappal is an item of Indian footwear, which resemble flip flops but have the added feature of a toe strap. In India it is considered the height of belligerence to brandish a chappal in one's hand, as a threat of physical violence against any would-be antagonizer, no matter how trivial the perceived aggravation may be. Thus, the chappal can also be considered as the weapon of choice for the common man...." More (Wikipedia 02.07.2006).

I suppose one can detect some cultural differences in the fact that recent tossings by litigants in the U.S. -- at least the ones I'm aware of -- involve a microphone and a file folder full of papers.

    Defendant throws file of papers at judge. "A threatened criminal court judge had to hit the panic button calling court security Thursday...Security officers took down to the floor and handcuffed inmate Timothy Hampton who railed against Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez, throwing a file of papers at the judge....Hampton, 31, is charged with murder, battery and neglect of a dependent...Last week, Hampton cursed at Vasquez during a hearing, and the judge found the defendant in contempt. After dismissing the jury Thursday, Vasquez sentenced Hampton to one year in jail for the contempt charge. That's what set off Hampton, court officials said...Vasquez cited Hampton with two more contempt charges." More (N.W. Indiana Times 01.19.2007).

    SCOMICH MESS. "Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver on Friday ramped up her feud with her four fellow Republican colleagues on the state's highest court, calling for the creation of a three-member commission to investigate the 'misconduct and abuse of power' she says is rampant on the court...Earlier this week Justice Marilyn Kelly, one of the court's two Democrats, said she would ask her colleagues to appoint a commission to investigate Weaver's claim that the four Republicans -- Taylor, Maura Corrigan, Stephen Markman and Robert Young Jr. -- have abused their power...." More (Detroit Free Press 01.20.2007).

    Rosie O'Donnell and 'The View' blast judges. "[Rosie] O'Donnell and her The View co-hosts have joined the growing chorus of critics upset about the cruel comments and open ridicule that American Idol's judges and producers heaped on many of the show's contestants during this week's season-opening broadcasts of the sixth season's Minneapolis and Seattle open auditions...." More (Reality TV World 01.18.2007).

    Judge's fiance is charged with rape for allegedly paying for sex with child. "A retired judge from Murfreesboro was summoned to Memphis for a bond hearing today in an unusual case, one in which a Shelby County sheriff's department employee [Wayne Logan, 60,] was charged with paying a woman for sex with her 8-year-old daughter. The accused is also engaged to a Memphis judge [Joyce Broffitt]...The rape charge was filed when the girl picked Logan out of a photo lineup...." More (The Tennessean 01.18.2007).

    Senior trial referee says judge who beat him in election forced him out of job. "Andra Sparks, a Jefferson County Family Court senior trial referee, said he was forced out of his job last week by the man who beat him in the November election for Juvenile Court judge. Sparks, 42, said he was told Friday afternoon by Judge Brian Huff to resign within the hour or be fired, which would have affected his retirement benefits after 12 years of working for the court...'I can only assume it was retaliation for running for that seat[,' Sparks said.]" More (Birmingham News 01.19.2007).

    Ex-judge chided for representing litigant in case over which she presided. "The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a public reprimand for former Chancellor Ceola James who violated court rules of conduct that bar a former judge from representing a party in case over which she previously presided...." James presided over a mother's petition for child protection, barring the father from unsupervised visits. Later, after leaving the bench and after the parties divorced, James tried to represent the mother in seeking modification of the divorce decree. More (South Mississippi Sun-Herald 01.19.2007).

    Courthouse is 'abuzz' as defense attorney returns to work. "Less than a week after sheriff's deputies say they caught [Larry] Charles buck-naked with a 14-year-old girl inside the Criminal Justice Center, the shamed defense attorney was back representing clients...Charles' courthouse appearance set off a buzz as everyone from clerks to cops phoned each other to report 'Larry sightings.' Even janitors were atwitter...On Monday, Charles, 49, was arrested and charged with aggravated statutory sexual assault, corrupting the morals of a minor and false imprisonment. He posted a $5,000 bail. According to police records, Charles ushered the girl into a secluded, third-floor conference room and barricaded the door with a chair. Then he stripped naked and masturbated in front of her...." More (Philadelphia Daily News 01.19.2007). Comment. This isn't the first time an attorney has been caught in flagrante delicto with a client in an interview room.

    Supreme Court justices will teach, lecture at Sandra Day's Place. "Current Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Stephen Breyer will join retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as guests of the UA's law school over the next two years...O'Connor taught at the UA for the first time last year and will return in February to again teach a course on the inner workings of the Supreme Court, with visiting faculty fellow RonNell Andersen Jones, a former clerk of hers...." More (AZ Daily Star 01.18.2007).

    The NYT gets around to covering the SCOMICH MESS. "The justices' exchanges, which continued this week, have been fueled by personal animus. But their disagreements involve serious issues, including First Amendment principles and judicial ethics. The justices differ about whether they may disclose the details of the court's internal deliberations, about whether lawyers are free to criticize them personally and about how motions seeking their disqualification should be treated...." More (NYT 01.19.2007).

    Annals of strict construction: life in prison for adultery? "Michigan's courts are the talk of the nation this week -- and that's not necessarily a good thing. Web sites and radio talk shows coast to coast are atwitter about a pair of controversies in which state judges may be entering uncharted legal waters. The first is a criminal case in which Michigan's second-highest court recently ruled that the state's penal code, as currently written, authorizes prosecutors to charge philandering spouses with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison. The second is a public hearing set to begin this morning in Lansing, where the Michigan Supreme Court will consider whether one of its own justices can be disciplined for disclosing details of the court's internal deliberations...." -- Another good column by Brian Dickerson. More (Detroit Free Press 01.17.2007).

    Profile of an old-fashioned (the best kind) juvenile court judge. "Thursday marked the end of a 7-year investment that Oakland County Family Court Judge Eugene Arthur Moore has made in the rehabilitation of Nathaniel Abraham. But it's not the end of his lifelong commitment to troubled children. At 71, he's served on the probate court since 1966, carrying out a family legacy of compassion for kids. It's a commitment that has been in stark contrast to the national trend of giving children adult time for adult crimes, and to his family's experience as victims of a heinous crime committed by two teens...." More (Detroit Free Press 01.19.2007). Comment. One might complain about a juvenile judge who is sometimes lenient, but when one's own kid gets in trouble with the law, one may see things differently. Those who advocate "zero tolerance" blah-blah-blah lack a good memory (they were kids themselves once, weren't they?) & lack imagination (is it inconceivable that their kids might get caught doing something wrong?). See, BurtLaw's Law & Kids & BurtLaw's Crime & Punishment. Judge Moore is what one might describe as a traditional or old-style juvenile court judge, the kind who saw it as his/her main function to try help rehabilitate the troubled kid. Some of the old-time juvenile judges, with their wider discretion, were kings in their courtroom -- even tyrants. Others, including one in my hometown in the 1950s, a nonlawyer named C.A. Larson, were akin to saints. I've had lots of experience in juvenile law, from multiple perspectives, including -- initially -- the sociological perspective. I think we've lost something in making "reference" or "certification" of juveniles for trial as adults too easy. But we live in a time when cheap politicians have learned too well that "talking tough" wins votes.

    Tale of a long-delayed judicial biography. "The long-awaited authorized biography of the late Justice William Brennan Jr. is back on track. Biographer Stephen Wermiel, associate professor at American University's Washington College of Law, said last week he has recruited a collaborator and co-author to help 'jump-start' the completion of the work, which he began in 1986 while Brennan was still on the Court. Wermiel covered the Court for The Wall Street Journal at the time...." More (Legal Times via Law.Com via BizYahoo 01.18.2007).

    Judges who hire law clerks with experience. "Though the graying of Supreme Court clerks has been well documented (think Justice Samuel Alito Jr.'s first-term pick of Adam Ciongoli, former senior vice president and general counsel of Time Warner Europe, as his clerk), the increasingly older talent pool applying for federal circuit court clerkships has risen over the past couple of years as lawyers seek to boost their resumes. The trend also reflects the growing number of federal judges who have done an about-face by requiring, or strongly preferring, law clerks who draft opinions and research questions of the law to obtain some real-world experience beyond school...." More (Legal Times via Law.Com via BizYahoo 01.17.2007).

    Bush's AG warns judges to defer to White House. "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Wednesday warned federal judges not to meddle in cases involving national security, following a string of judicial rebukes of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism initiatives...." More (San Francisco Chronicle 01.18.2007).

    Latest on attempt of GOP majority on SCOMICH to gag dissenter. "Michigan's fractious Supreme Court heard testimony from other judges and the public Wednesday about their feuding. And, like the court itself, opinion was divided. After the hearing, Justice Marilyn Kelly, one of the seven-member court's two Democrats, said she would ask her colleagues to appoint a special commission to investigate Justice Elizabeth Weaver's claims that Chief Justice Clifford Taylor and Justices Maura Corrigan, Stephen Markman and Robert Young Jr. had abused their power...Kelly made the proposal after the court met Wednesday to weigh a rule aimed at preventing disclosure of its internal discussions and writings...." More (Detroit Free Press 01.18.2007).

    Top Zimbabwe judge says justice system has collapsed. "The president of the High Court of Zimbabwe, Judge Rita Makarau has broken tradition and issued a stinging criticism of President Robert Mugabe's administration. The judge has accused the president of starving the state legal system of resources and undermining democracy...." More (Voice of America 01.18.2007).

    A proposal to open juvenile courts. "Lawyers who work in the state's closed juvenile courts have no shortage of horror stories about abused and neglected children suffering in unsuitable care because the state bureaucracy has failed to move quickly enough to help them. If lawmakers are serious about helping abused and neglected children and holding state agencies accountable, child advocates said Wednesday, they need to hear the heartbreaking stories that currently remain behind closed doors...." More (Hartford Courant 01.18.2007).

    Ex-judge (Jim Bob Steel) is charged with DWI. "A former district judge who agreed to leave the bench after pleading guilty to first-degree assault after a 2005 traffic accident has been charged with driving while intoxicated, speeding and refusing to be tested for alcohol. Jim Bob Steel, 57, of Nashville was arrested Friday afternoon at Mineral Springs after police Officer Jeff Witherspoon clocked him driving 49 mph in a 35-mph zone, Chief Billy Kuykendall said. Witherspoon found an open can of beer in the vehicle, Kuykendall said, and the judge 'refused all field sobriety tests and chemical tests.'..." More (Pine Bluff Commercial 01.18.2007).

    State justices allow orders with e-signatures by judges. "In a unanimous decision, the [AZ Supreme Court] said court orders that are electronically signed by a judge are as valid and enforceable as those in which the documents bear the actual imprint of pen on paper...." More (AZ Central 01.18.2007).

    Courts eye paperless system. "The Iowa Judicial Branch will soon begin a bidding process for software providers, launching the implementation of a statewide paperless court system, a state official said Wednesday...The proposed system will not only update state courthouse organization, it will also expand the depth and variety of information currently accessible online. In addition, the system will continue to allow those with Internet capabilities to access court documents round-the-clock...." More (Daily Iowan 01.18.2007). Comment. Once again, Iowa leads the way, pushing aside the tall stalks of corn to emerge from the darkness onto a sunlit Field of Dreams. But see, Shielding information could undermine trust in courts.More (Des Moines Register 01.18.2007).

    Judge is in race for job of U.S. Attorney. "In a highly unusual development, veteran Judge Dickran M. Tevrizian has emerged as one of the leading candidates for the job of top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles. Tevrizian, who has been a federal judge for 21 years, was considering leaving the bench to go into the lucrative field of private judging. But he was recruited by local lawyers to apply for the position, according to a number of people in the legal community...." More (L.A. Times 01.18.2007).

    Should judge recuse in cases involving campaign contributor? "A proposal supporters said is meant to keep the state's judicial branch honest was panned Wednesday by district judges and attorneys as a costly and unnecessary restriction on campaign contributions. The measure by Rep. Scott Mendenhall, R-Clancy, would require all state, district and municipal judges to remove themselves from a case when an involved attorney donated to that judge's most recent election campaign....''The people of Montana deserve to know their judges aren't on the take,'' Mendenhall told the House Judiciary Committee...Mendenhall said judges have an easy way out of any possible dilemmas -- don't accept any campaign contributions from attorneys that could cause problems...." More (Billings Gazette 01.18.2007).

    Secret court to oversee wiretapping. "The White House said yesterday that it has agreed to seek warrants from a secret court before eavesdropping on the phone calls of Americans, saying that it has reached an agreement with a judge of the court to make the approval process quicker and more efficient. Administration officials informed Congress that the judge, who was not named, has already issued 'innovative' orders authorizing the government to target phone calls and e-mails between people in the United States and foreigners when there is 'probable cause' to believe one of the participants is part of a terrorist group...The White House decision seemed timed to block a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which was set to go before an appeals court on Jan. 31...[S]ome legal specialists and members of Congress demanded to know more about the new authority granted by the FISA court...." More (Boston Globe 01.18.2007).

    Maoists dissolve kangaroo courts in Nepal. "Nepal's Maoist guerrillas say they are disbanding their parallel 'people's governments' and 'people's courts' all over the country since they have returned to parliament and are due to join the legal government soon...." More (Telugu Portal 01.18.2007).

    Judicial emergency measure offered. "A measure that would allow the state court system to respond in times of emergency was introduced Tuesday in the South Dakota Legislature. Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson said the need for such a law became evident when the Corson County Courthouse was destroyed last year by an arsonist and when many courthouses were closed for several days during the 2005 Thanksgiving ice storm...." More (Sioux City Journal 01.18.2007).

    Body-builder judge faces colleague's jab. "One can't say for sure if Justice B. J. Shethna really packed some power in the punches he allegedly rained on his colleague, Justice P B Majmudar, in Ahmedabad on January 11. But, if he really did, then Justice Majmudar should consider himself lucky that he didn't suffer much damage. Just three days before the skirmish, the former president of the Gujarat High Court Bar Association sent a petition to the then Chief Justice of India, Y K Sabharwal, objecting to Justice Shethna posing for a local health club...." More (Times of India 01.18.2007).

    Retired judge leads active, colorful life, in court and on TV. "[Judge V.J.] Femia has a knack for turning a colorful phrase...[His] blend of personality and professionalism makes him an ideal choice as a legal expert, something producers of major network news programs have known for the past 25 years...Femia, 70, is a retired Prince George's County circuit court judge...[His] foray into journalism started in 1979 when his friend, a Prince George's County Journal editor, asked him to write an op-ed piece...Femia filled his 15-inch column, published every other week from 1979 to 1999, with his takes on an array of subjects. He even devoted one column to telling his favorite lawyer jokes...Then in the early 1980s, producers with network-affiliated television stations in Washington, D.C., started seeking Femia's on-camera opinion for law-related news stories. From there, producers of national TV news programs started tapping Femia as their legal expert...." -- From a long profile. More (Cecil Whig 01.18.2007).

    Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates trade barbs at luncheon. "State Supreme Court candidate Linda Clifford called a fundraising letter sent on behalf of opponent Annette Ziegler an 'adolescent diatribe' at a luncheon sponsored by WisPolitics today. Ziegler defended the content of the letter written by former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow, saying it raised legitimate concerns about the court's direction. Clifford, a Madison attorney; Ziegler, a Washington County judge; and fellow primary contender Joseph Sommers, a Madison-based attorney...are running toward a Feb. 20 primary, with the top two vote-getters emerging for an April 3 election. Some consider the race pivotal in determining the direction of the court, which is currently split 3-3 between liberal and conservative justices...." More (Wisconsin Politics 01.17.2007).

    Judge stuns court with remark. "A judge stunned a court yesterday when he told a man on a racial abuse charge: 'Next time call him a fat bastard and don't say anything about his colour.' Matthew Stiddard, 36, admitted racially aggravated harassment by telling a police surgeon: 'F*** off you Paki, I want an English doctor not a f****** Paki.'..The judge told Exeter crown court the doctor 'should not have taken it so seriously....'" More (UK Mirror 01.18.2007).

    Judge takes a cut in pay. "For a man whose wallet will be nearly $270,000 lighter when his term ends in six years, Crenshaw County Probate Judge James Perdue didn't appear upset Tuesday. 'I didn't know how much the job paid when I was appointed and when I found out, I did my best to reduce it,' said Perdue, whose new salary will be about $72,000 annually instead of $116,000...." More (Montgomery Advertiser 01.18.2007).

   Judge cleared of 'Jewish bias.' "Scotland's first female judge has been cleared of allegations of bias stemming from her membership of a Jewish law association. Appeal judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday rejected claims Lady Cosgrove's impartiality when ruling on an immigration case of a Palestinian woman was compromised by being part of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists...." More (The Herald 01.18.2007).

    Prof shoots judge using crossbow. "Police filed for an arrest warrant Tuesday against a 50-year-old former university professor [Kim Myung-ho] on charges of attempted murder. He was detained late Monday after shooting a Seoul High Court judge [Park Hong-woo, 55,] with a crossbow. [Kim] ambushed [Park] at his house...around 6:40 p.m....[A]n arrow...penetrated about 1.5 centimeters into [Park's] stomach...Kim, fired by the university in 1996, held a grudge against Park who dismissed his claim that he lost his job unjustly in a court ruling last week...." More (Korea Times 01.16.2007).

    State chief justice asks for modest increase of 63 more judges. "Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey wants to put more people on the bench. In what could be her last State of the Judiciary address, Mullarkey asked a joint session of the Legislature for 63 more judges in 15 of the state's 22 judicial districts over the next three years...The 63-year-old judge has multiple sclerosis, and gets around with the aid of a walker...For years, Mullarkey has complained that the current Colorado Judicial Building, located adjacent to the Capitol, is old and dilapidated. It was built in 1977, and was overcrowded soon after the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals moved in...." More (Pueblo Chieftain 01.16.2007).

    People may 'vote' online for worst judges. " and have launched a new feature that allows visitors to vote for the worst judges of 2006. Each website has a directory of over 27,000 of the nation's judges, including judges in all 50 states and the federal courts. The websites are free, and no registration or log in is required so that voting may be anonymous. The voting totals are being combined from both websites and are instantly displayed for each judge. Voting will end on February 28, 2007. After voting ends, overall results and rankings will be displayed nationally, and by jurisdiction, venue and court. In addition to voting for the worst judges, visitors may anonymously complete judicial evaluation surveys for rating the performance of judges, and post comments in the forums about judges, courts and cases." More (PRWeb 01.16.2007).

    Judge says King would be displeased with black community. "Martin Luther King Jr. would be displeased with the state of the black community today, a local court official declared Monday. Judge Randolph Baskerville delivered that opinion minutes after the unveiling of the new sign for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. He said that the civil rights leader would be appalled by rap music that denigrates women and elevates deviant and criminal behavior...and...would be dismayed by the lack of emphasis on education and achievement." More (Henderson Dispatch 01.16.2007).

    Hinds judge calls Bush presidency a 'nightmare.' "Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie T. Green said Monday during the Martin Luther King Junior scholarship breakfast it is 'a nightmare' to have 'a president like George W. Bush.' Speaking at the Vicksburg Convention Center to about 300 people, Green said...'Dr. King is here with us today in spirit, but he's having a nightmare...' Green said America fared better with former President Bill Clinton in power...Mississippi lawmakers also came under her attack. Green was sworn in as a judge in January 1999, becoming the first woman elected as a judge of Hinds County Circuit Court...." More (Biloxi Sun-Herald 01.16.2007).

    DA says party chair sold judgeship for 50G -- & 6G in stamps. "Brooklyn prosecutors are seeking to indict deposed Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman Clarence Norman for allegedly selling a judgeship for at least $50,000 in cash and $6,000 in postage stamps, it was reported yesterday...Sources told the Daily News that [former Civil Court Judge Howard] Ruditzky was granted immunity and recently testified before a grand jury, where he revealed he paid $70,000 for the judgeship...The [Village] Voice said it had pinpointed only $56,000 in payments...." More (N.Y. Daily News 01.14.2007).

    A judge and and another official are killed. "Saddam Hussein's half-brother [Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti] and a former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court [Awad al-Bandar] were hanged early yesterday...." More (Sydney Morning-Herald 01.15.2007). Comment. Yet another "judicial assassination," proving once again that, as Justice Holmes said so many times, especially in his letters, ultimately everything is based on raw power. While this execution, like that of Saddam Hussein, is a case of "victor's justice," each of those two words should themselves be in separate quotes, for there have been no winners and that which is called justice isn't what we think of as justice.

    Ex-judge flees. "The embattled former President of Kamembe Sector Gacaca Court, Deo Nsengiyumva has reportedly disappeared to an unknown location, according to Gacaca authorities in the area...." More (The New Times via All Africa 01.15.2007).

    Ex-judge and his lawyer wife are caught in welfare scam. "He may have been a high court judge in Hong Kong. His wife used to be a lawyer. Now, they are facing jail terms after being convicted of welfare fraud. The pair, who had assets totalling HK$1.92 million ($380,000), defrauded the Social Welfare Department out of HK$100,000 and a public housing unit. Miles Henry Jackson-Lipkin, 82, and Lucille Yun-shim Jackson-Lipkin, 81, failed in the last attempt to delay court proceedings. Prosecutors...[say] the couple...took five flights to London and Beijing while on welfare, have a membership in the posh American Club and once faxed the Hong Kong social welfare office from the even posher Hong Kong Club...Jackson-Lipkin still sports a nicely trimmed white beard, wears tailored three-piece black pinstriped suits and a bowler hat...." More (Electric New Paper 01.15.2007).

    Our crazed new world? From a report in the Washington Post on 09.26.2001of comedian Jerry Seinfeld's planned comedy benefit at Carnegie Hall on 10.08.2001: "[I]sn't Seinfeld worried that his infant daughter, Sascha, has to grow up in the new world? 'Yeah, I'm worried. But the world that you and I grew up in had some problems, too.'" Indeed, it did. I remember going with my parents to the Great Northern Ry. Depot in my hometown of Benson, MN and watching the local contingent of the National Guard leave for Korean War duty. I remember when I was 9 years old being in Rochester, MN with my parents for "Ploughville, MN Celebration" and being patted on the head by General Eisenhower as he came down the grand stairs of the hotel and walked by us. I remember when I was 10 years old, after Ike was President, reading the long lists of returning P.O.W.'s in the Minneapolis Star every day to see which ones were from Minnesota. I remember watching the films of H-bomb tests as part of the Movietone News, which, in the days before good TV reception came to Benson, preceded the movies. I remember being instructed how to brace oneself at one's school desk in case of attack. I remember Governor Rockefeller of New York urging a national program for people to build bomb shelters in their backyards. I remember my mom ordering four "bomb shelter kits," one for each family member, for $30 or so. I remember sitting at a nook table in the cafeteria at Centennial Hall at the U. of MN and listening to Kennedy's bellicose Cuban Missile Speech, which scared hell out of some of us. I remember sitting in my dorm room at Centennial on 11.22.1963 and listening on my transistor radio to the report by Walter Cronkite that President Kennedy had died. I remember standing outside the Episcopal Church near Harvard Square in the spring of 1967 to get a glimpse of Martin Luther King after he emerged from a meeting relating to his opposition to the continuation of the war. I remember attending a speech by Clean Gene McCarthy on Brattle Street in Harvard Square shortly before he announced his anti-war candidacy in the fall of 1967.  I remember watching TV in the spring of 1968 when the program was interrupted with the news King had been shot. I remember watching the first TV report that Bobby Kennedy had been shot in June of 1968 following the California Presidential Primary. I remember being grateful when Richard Nixon ended the draft. As Jerry Seinfeld said, "[T]he world that you and I grew up in had some problems, too." Robert Frost said the same thing, in his unique way: "[Y]ou will often hear it said that the age of the world we live in is particularly bad. I am impatient of such talk....All the ages of the world are bad -- a great deal worse anyway than Heaven....[I]t will always be about equally hard to save your soul...your decency, your integrity." {Note: I posted this on 09.27.2001. It was a crazy world then. It's even crazier now.)

    Quote-of-the-day. "If the relation between the three [branches of government] become cosy, then independence of [judicial] decision- making will be lost. It will spell danger." - Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, speaking following what The Times of India refers to as "two thumping surgical judgments on expulsions of MPs and Ninth Schedule laws [that] may have shrunk Parliament's supremacy and ruffled feathers of many a legislator adding to the already tense relations between legislature and judiciary." More (Times of India 01.14.2007).

    Judicial marshal is accused of holding knife to co-worker's throat. "A trainer at the Judicial Marshals Services Academy has been placed on paid leave amid allegations that he held a knife to a co-worker's throat, judicial officials said...The suspension comes three weeks after another trainer at the academy...resigned after he was confronted with a racist e-mail he sent from his work computer, judicial officials said...." More (The Day 01.14.2007).

    Judicial nominee may face tough hearing over patronage allegation. "A Winthrop lawyer[, Charles 'Chuck' Dow, 33,] whose resume consists largely of political jobs at the Statehouse will be asked Tuesday to explain why he should be confirmed as a judge in the Maine District Court System. ..Sen. Debra D. Plowman, R-Hampden,...said Dow's nomination by [Gov.] Baldacci is a creation of 'pure politics.' 'This absolutely screams patronage'...." More (Central Maine Morning Sentinel 01.14.2007).

    'Dynamic Judicial Duo' to the rescue. "On Thursday night the State Lokayukta Justice N. Santhosh Hegde and Upalokayukta Justice G. Patri Basavanagoud turned up as good samaritans for two youths, who were struggling in a pool of blood on the Siraguppa- Bellary highway...The Lokayukta and Upalokayukta brought the two youths to VIMS. But...there was no doctor or medical officer to admit and treat the youths. Even the chief medical officer was nowhere to be seen. The duo...called the VIMS Principal Dr R.S. Channagiri and Resident Medical Officer Dr Koppalkar, to the hospital...[and] expressed dissatisfaction...." More (New India Press 01.14.2007). Comment. To paraphrase the words of a song from the Law School Musical in the spring of my third year at HLS, "If you cry out for justice, they will appear."

    $390M courthouse is sinking. "Construction is complete on the state-of-the-art, $390 million [11-story] Bronx Criminal Courthouse on East 161st Street, but an alarming structural sag in the parking garage and last-minute snags have delayed its opening yet again. The project, started in 2001 and slated for completion in 2005, is a year behind schedule and has already cost $65 million more than originally expected. Officials had hoped to open the courthouse by last summer, then by the end of 2006...." More (N.Y. Post 01.14.2007).

    Judges' 'spat' has hurt image of judiciary. "Deeply hurt by media reports on fist blows given by a Gujarat High Court Judge to his colleague, Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal on Saturday said the apex court collegium is contemplating suitable action as the incident sullied the image of judiciary...." More (Times of India 01.14.2007).

    Judge Posner's take on judicial taking of others' words. Judge Richard A. Posner's latest book, The Little Book of Plagiarism (Pantheon. 115 pp. $10.95) is being reviewed in various rags and mags. Here's a brief pertinent excerpt from a review by David Walton:

Posner dismisses the question of conscious or unconscious "borrowing" and focuses on the legal issues of plagiarism: concealment, fraud, unfair competition...By this measure, judges who put their name on opinions widely understood to have been written by their clerks are not committing plagiarism, while professors who put their names on their research assistants' papers are. Neither Shakespeare nor Eliot was at fault because each borrowed openly, and enhanced the original. The reader must be deceived, and must act differently as a result -- buy one book rather than another, assign some grade or promotion. This element of "reliance" lies at the heart of the legal definition of "fraudulent copying," a term more precise than the common idea of "copyright infringement."

More (Philadelphia Inquirer 01.14.2007). Comment. Is anyone surprised that a judge would apply the same standard to judges and profs but let judges off the hook while nailing profs?

    Judge and police superintendent wife appear in nude calendar. "[Mark Davies, 54, a] British immigration judge...was featured as Mr. July in a calendar that raised money for the Pennine Foxhounds. In it, he stands naked behind a concertina. 'Would you like a squeeze?' the caption says...[H]is wife, Joan Williams, 53, a police superintendent with the South Yorkshire, England, force...appears as Miss February." More (UPI 01.14.2007). Comment. Why be troubled? Many great artists have depicted Justice as a scantily-clad woman. If that be so, why shouldn't judges be allowed to emulate Her?

    Disgraced judge launches 'anti-establishment' law firm for 'battlers.' "Jeff Shaw, the former NSW attorney-general and Supreme Court judge, has embarked on a new...[as] a senior partner with The People's Solicitors, a new firm specialising in criminal law, migration, employment, commercial and traffic matters. 'We are anti-establishment and work for the battlers,' said Mr Shaw, whose judicial career ended after a drink-driving incident near his home in Birchgrove in October 2004...A Police Integrity Commission report is with the Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, QC, asking him to consider charging the former judge with perverting the course of justice over a blood sample taken after his 2004 car accident...." More (Sydney Morning Herald 01.13.2007).

    Latest on latest judicial parking crisis. "Hamilton County District Attorney General Bill Cox has volunteered to give up his personal secured parking space for a secretary in General Sessions Court. He said he did so in response to a request from Judge Bob Moon...." More (Chattanoogan 01.11.2007).

    Long term imposed in assault on judge. "A North Philadelphia man, left a paraplegic when he was shot while lunging at the judge who was about to sentence him on a parole violation, was sent to prison yesterday for 16½ to 35 years for the 2004 courtroom attack, and a later assault while he was in a rehabilitation hospital...." More (Philadelphia Inquirer 01.13.2007). Comment. Seems excessive to me, but I guess I'm soft on crime.

    Defender's office complains about 'direspectful' judge. "The Broward Public Defender's Office sent a letter of complaint to Circuit Judge Ilona M. Holmes on Thursday raising several grievances after she locked up a client who had stepped out of court for a few minutes. The letter...complains that Holmes is inaccessible, 'disrespectful and dismissive' to attorneys and does not promptly schedule hearings for people in jail who want to plead guilty...." More (South Florida Sun-Sentinel 01.13.2007).

    Annals of life after judging: domain speculating. "A retired judge who bought the Internet domain name in 1999 has the site up for sale on the online auction house eBay. Flagstaff resident Tom Jacobs, a retired Phoenix-area judge, is asking a minimum of $10,000 for the Web address. A supporter of former first lady and current U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, he said he hopes the site is sold to someone who will boost the potential presidential candidate's fortunes...Jacobs said he bought the domain name believing Clinton might be a candidate in the future...." More (KVOA News4 01.13.2007).

    Former judge is accused of indecent exposure while still a judge. "A former Harris County judge who quit over a possible sex scandal could now face criminal charges. Former Judge Gary Block resigned earlier this month after an assistant D.A. accused him of sexual harrassment. Now another woman has come forward claiming the former judge exposed himself to her inside his chambers...." More (KHOU 01.13.2007).

   Lawyer is arrested for kissing court employee. "A criminal defense attorney...Ralph Crozier, 55, of Southbury was arrested [for disorderly conduct] Thursday for kissing a female judicial marshal at Waterbury Superior Court on Dec. 22. 'This is the biggest baloney I've ever seen in my life,' Crozier said Thursday. 'How many tens of thousands of people in Connecticut wished their co-workers and friends `Merry Christmas' the day before Christmas?'" More (Newsday 01.12.2007). Comments. a) Like everything these days, the act was caught on tape by a security camera. Crozier is quoted as saying the tape will vindicate his claim the kiss was neither "weird" nor "sexual" but was a mere Christmas peck on the woman's cheek. b) According to the story, Crozier was arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant and freed on $10,000 bond. Is it necessary in a case like this to i) arrest someone rather than formally "summon" him and ii) require the posting of a $10,000 bond rather than merely releasing him on his own recognizance? If the genders had been reversed, with a man complaining about a woman, would the woman have been arrested and required to post a $10,000 bond? We don't know the answer. We merely pose the question.

    Man is charged with impersonating judge. "A Jefferson County grand jury has indicted a Beaumont man [Randall Walker] on a charge of impersonating a public servant [Judge Layne Walker]...." Apparently Mr. Walker received a trespass warning not to visit a certain nightclub. He allegedly contacted "Crockett Street officials" pretending to be Judge Walker attempting to convince them to remove the trespass warning. More (KFDM 01.12.2007).

    Judge charges colleague with misbehavior -- were blows struck? "Senior Justice B. J. Shethna of Gujarat High Court is once again into a controversy. This time his colleague Justice P B Majmudar has charged him with misbehavior. Insiders...claim that Shethna not only abused Majmudar but he also dealt severe blows in his stomach this morning...[B]oth Shethna and Majmudar are tight lipped about [the incident]... [Chief Justice Meena reportedly] asked [Majmudar] not to go to police and assured him that he would look into the matter...." More (Gujarat Global 01.11.2007)

    Ex-judge is relased from prison early. "[Francis Flores, a] former high ranking San Benito city official sentenced to time behind bars is preparing to walk free and that isn't sitting well with the community...The former municipal judge was sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing nearly 750 thousand dollars in fines and fees...Flores will be walking out from behind bars in 2 weeks, 4 years before her sentence was scheduled to be done...." More (KGBT4 01.11.2007).

    SCOINDIA: Parliament's actions are subject to judicial review. "The Supreme Court has held that the actions of Parliament are subject to judicial review and no absolute immunity can be claimed to usurp the jurisdiction of the court. Writing the majority judgment upholding the expulsion of MPs in the cash-for-query scam, Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal [nonetheless added]: 'Parliament is a co-ordinate organ and its views do deserve deference even while its acts are amenable to judicial scrutiny.'" More (The Hindu 01.11.2007). Excerpt from opinion: "Constitutional system of government abhors absolutism and it being the cardinal principle of our Constitution that no one, howsoever lofty, can claim to be the sole judge of the power given under the Constitution. Mere co-ordinate constitutional status, or even the status of an exalted constitutional functionary, does not disentitle this court from exercising its jurisdiction of judicial review of action which partakes the character of judicial or quasi-judicial decision."

    Proposed state public official ethics panel would use ex-judges. "Changes that would create a six-member panel of retired judges to oversee secret investigations of potential ethics, lobbying and election-law violations by public officials, and then give local district attorneys the first chance to prosecute them, were made public Wednesday...A supermajority of the board, or four of its six members, would be needed to take any action, including investigating alleged wrongdoing or asking a district attorney to charge an official with a crime. The Senate must confirm three of the first six board members, and the Assembly must confirm the other three -- a concession that reflects the partisan split of the Legislature. Democrats control the Senate, while Republicans run the Assembly." More (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 01.11.2007).

    Lawyers and staff are complaining about new $44 million courthouse. "Dane County's $44 million courthouse turns one year old this week, still plagued by some construction problems and with some systemic changes that many lawyers contend are changing the way justice is delivered in Dane County, and not for the better...Courthouse staff, although not as united as lawyers in their criticism of the building, have also been plagued with problems and many feel a sense of isolation from their peers because of the building's layout. Security concerns drove many of the design decisions for the building, but it is those features that draw many of the biggest complaints...'It's like getting into Fort Knox,' said Assistant State Public Defender Dennis Burke...'A lot of cases got resolved in the halls [of the old courthouse],' said veteran Assistant District Attorney Michael Finley, adding that now lawyers rarely see each other to get that business done, which adds to the overall burden in the prosecutor's office and the public defender's office, which are both short-staffed...Criminal defense attorney David Knoll said the new building and the isolation of its judges 'has changed the whole culture of how we practice law,'  by cutting off attorneys from staff and judges...." More (Madison Capital Times 01.10.2007). Comment. "Dane County Circuit Court Judge Michael Nowakowski admits "pushing for many of the building's security features" and thinks the "isolation of the judges" is a good thing. He says the building is "a huge improvement over the situation in the City-County Building." As readers of The Daily Judge know, I'm not a fan of fortress-style courthouse architecture. We know nothing of the new courthouse in Dane County but we think, in general, too many courthouse architects think their client is the judiciary. No, courthouses belong to the people, not to judges. Courthouses ought to welcome people. Instead, too many of the new ones seem to say to people: "Stay away!"

    Top judge says courts need to improve on accountability. "The Missouri courts system needs to improve its system of accountability, Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Wolff told the General Assembly on Wednesday...." More (News-Leader 01.11.2007).

    Judge's daughter is indicted in DWI death of boyfriend. "The 19-year-old daughter of a Harris County juvenile court judge was indicted Wednesday on a charge of intoxication manslaughter with a deadly weapon...Elizabeth Shelton, the daughter of Judge Pat Shelton, is accused in the Oct. 23 death of her boyfriend, Matthew McNiece, 19, said Assistant District Attorney Paul Doyle. McNiece was killed in an accident on the Southwest Freeway while riding in a sport utility vehicle Shelton was driving...Shelton's blood-alcohol level was 0.28...." More (Houston Chronicle 01.11.2007).

    Judge apologizes for her comment about jurors with big lips. "A Black Hawk County [Iowa] judge has apologized for making a comment about jurors with big lips -- a reference she denies was racially charged. Judge Kellyann Lekar has withdrawn herself from an excessive force trial after the plaintiff complained about the comment and notified the [NAACP]. The judge says she made the comment yesterday while sharing a story she has told all her juries to explain the varying strategies behind jury selection. Lekar says a former law partner of hers chose jurors based on lips -- finding those with thicker lips are more generous...[The plaintiff] says, as a black woman, she was offended...." More (WQAD 01.11.2007).

    Legislator wants capitol murals covered up -- he 'don't like 'em.' "With lawmakers poised to move across the street next year and hold their session in the old Ada County Courthouse while the [Idaho] Capitol is renovated, more attention is being focused on that building's controversial Depression-era murals -- including one that depicts the lynching of an American Indian...Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, of Idaho Falls, said...'At a minimum, they should be covered up...I personally don't like 'em, was troubled the first time I saw them.' Arthur Hart, director emeritus of the Idaho Historical Society, is a leading advocate of preserving the murals...'They're mostly allegorical. It's not accurate history. But that isn't the point. They are major works of art, the likes of which we don't have anywhere else in Idaho,' he said. 'They may not be great works of art, but they have great historic significance....'" More (Spokesman-Review 01.11.2007). Comment. On covering up public art, see, entry titled On judicial swimsuits and the Rules of Judicial Conduct -- part I at BurtLaw's Law and Swimsuits. Excerpt:

Undoubtedly, a judge's wearing nothing but a swimsuit in the courtroom would be deemed to not only demean the judiciary but cause disrespect for the judiciary and interfere with the administration of justice. This is so despite the fact that some of the greatest artistic representations depict Justice as a scantily-clad (and blind) woman and Law as a scantily-clad (and all-seeing?) man. For example, there are two huge statues in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., one titled "Spirit of Justice," a woman whose flimsy toga-like garment reveals a bare breast slightly larger than 34B, the other titled "Majesty of Law," of a man whose main reproductive organ, presumably of large size (this being America), is covered by a cloth not much larger than a towel typically worn by an old retired judge sitting with his poker buddies in a communal Turkish bath. That Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Clarence Thomas could not get by wearing this sort of garb in the courtroom of the Supreme Court without being said by some to have demeaned the judiciary is made manifest by the fact that last year our fundamentalist Attorney General, John Ashcroft, ordered the statues draped in blue cloth, at a cost of $8,000? Why cover them? To prevent the taking and publication of more embarrassing photos of him [standing in front of them]? [Entry from January, 2002.]

    First black female judge dies at 98. "Jane Bolin, who became the first black female judge in the United States in 1939, has died in New York at 98. Bolin, who was also the first black woman to graduate from Yale University Law School, the first to join the New York City Bar Association, and the first to work in city's legal department, died Monday...." More (Post-Chronicle 01.11.2007).

    A comment on Justice Roberts' complaint about his salary. "U.S. Census data? These data show that if you have [a federal] judge's [average] household income, you are already in the top 2.7 percent of all American households. Justice Roberts wants to boost those judges up to the top 1.5 percent. He is arguing that being richer than 97.3 percent of all American families is not enough, that judges need to be richer than 98.5 percent of all Americans and that the lack of this last remaining increment of advantage constitutes a constitutional crisis...." Hartford resident Rand Richards Cooper is a novelist and magazine writer. More (Hartford Courant 01.09.2007).

    Odor in the court . Worth a read in regard to the SCOMICH MESS: Odor in the Court -- Fumigation can't come too soon after Justice Weaver's charges, by Ron Dzwonkowski (Detroit Free Press 01.07.2007).

    Annals of life after judging. "Veteran Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Kevin J. Murphy[, 58,] is stepping down from the bench to become District Attorney-elect Dolores Carr's second-in-command. Murphy is scheduled to retire Jan. 12 and begin his new job as chief assistant district attorney three days later, said Carr, who announced Murphy's appointment Thursday. It will be up to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to choose a replacement on the court...Carr, who will be sworn into office Monday, ran on a platform promising to change a win-at-all costs culture within the department that had came under the scrutiny of a Mercury News series last year. By hiring Murphy, who also teaches ethics and criminal law at the Santa Clara University School of Law, Carr appears to be intent on making good on her promise...."  More (San Jose Mercury News 01.05.2007).

    Annals of judicial outreach: judge as didact. "Like most people, Columbia County's Chief Magistrate Judge Wade Padgett is glad he didn't get caught doing some of the things that a lot of teenagers do. But as much as he hates to admit it, the world has changed a lot since he was a teen. And as a judge, he has seen more teens go to jail than he cares to think about. That is why he decided to come up with a program that would give teens and their parents the nitty and the gritty of the law on a wide range of topics, without confusing them with legal jargon. Thus, 'Teenage Years 101' was born...Teenage Years 101 will be presented at the First Baptist Church of North Augusta on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m., and again on Feb. 5 at the same time. Senior Pastor Gary C. Redding will assist. The first seminar will be just for adults and the second seminar will be just for teens...." More (Aiken Standard 01.05.2007).

    The perils of digital records. "The courts in an Ohio county almost lost many of their records to a computer 'time bomb' in the software. Proware, the Cincinnati contractor that has maintained computer systems in the Cuyahoga County courts since 1999, is in a contract dispute. The county is changing contractors in a money-saving move, and Proware notified the Juvenile Court in November that it was revoking its license for the software effective Dec. 30, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. A judge at the last minute ordered the time bomb reset from Dec. 31 to Jan. 31 to give the company and officials time to work out differences. A hearing is scheduled for later this month. William Danko, Proware's local lawyer and a former court administrator, said the time bomb or termination module had always been there to protect the company's proprietary software." More (Playfuls.Com 01.05.2007).

   Judges wearing robes at night. "Night courts have been introduced in India in an effort to clear a backlog of 25 million cases that is crippling the justice system. Judges routinely have more than 100 cases on the schedules every day. Squabbling business rivals try to bury each other in red tape. Now the state of Gujarat has resorted to an after-hours approach to speed up the disposal of legal disputes, some of which take years to resolve. The experiment is being hailed as a resounding success after 16,000 cases were cleared in only 45 days of operation. The court, running nightly for two hours from 6.15pm, allows judges to listen to petty cases, leaving the day free to deal with serious crimes. The time also means that litigants and defendants do not have to take time off work to be present...." More (Times of India 01.04.2007).

    Annals of life after judging. "David F. Levi, Chief U.S. District Judge of the Eastern District of California and a national leader in legal reform and civil procedure, has been selected as the next dean of Duke Law School, Duke University Provost Peter Lange announced Wednesday.Levi will be a second-generation law dean...His father, the late Edward H. Levi, served as dean of the University of Chicago Law School and then as that university's president, before being appointed by President Gerald Ford as U.S. Attorney General in 1975." More (Duke News 01.03.2007).

    Appeals court chastises judge for calling it a 'kangaroo court' -- but did he? "The state's 3rd District Court of Appeal in a written decision published this week chastised [Retired Superior Court Judge K. Peter Saiers,] a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge[,] for calling it a 'kangaroo court' and coercing a Stockton man into taking a plea deal against his will...Stephen Taylor, the San Joaquin County deputy district attorney who prosecuted [the case], said Thursday that the panel of three appellate judges completely misread Saiers' comments while reviewing the court transcripts...Taylor said...did use the words 'kangaroo court,' but the judge was describing his frustration with the District Attorney's Office on an upper floor of the courthouse which reviews so-called 'striker cases,' not the appeals court. is three." More (Stockton Record 12.29.2006). Comment. Maybe the chastizers need to be chastized?

   Judge is charged with misconduct. "Magistrate Court Judge Charles T. Carter was arrested Tuesday...accused of not telling authorities that one of his employees had an improper sexual relationship with a state inmate. Judge Carter...was charged with misconduct in office and failure to report sexual misconduct, both misdemeanors...The charges against Judge Carter stem from the earlier arrest of Aimee L. Barton, who worked in the Graniteville magistrate court...." More (Augusta Chronicle 01.10.2007). Comment. How many judges and other government officials around the country -- who could've "reported" misconduct of various sorts but for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad, didn't -- are or ought to be saying, right now, "There but for the Grace of God go I"?

    'Savages' create leprechaun-sized riot in Ireland courtroom. "A garda was treated in hospital following a riot in Kilkenny courthouse yesterday. Mayhem erupted in the court shortly after lunchtime. Members of a family were in the courtroom and suddenly became agitated. A man sitting in the back row started roaring and Judge William Harnett asked for him to be removed by gardai. Within seconds a number of men who were all present in the courtroom became involved in a violent brawl...." The judge is quoted saying, "'These people have behaved like savages and will be treated accordingly when they are charged.'" More (Kilkenny Today 01.10.2007).

    High Court tells lower courts to reject frivolous PIL's. "Angered by frivolous PILs [public interest lawsuits] that eat into courts' time and choke up an already burdened judicial system, the Supreme Court has directed all courts to not only reject these cases but also come down 'ruthlessly' on such 'busybodies' [who file the suits] by penalising them...There has, indeed, been a recent spurt in frivolous cases -- such as a PIL seeking deletion of certain scenes from the film Chingari and another seeking deletion of the word 'Sindh' from the national anthem...The SC's clear directive on the issue may help dissuade people from filing cases like the latest one against actress Mallika Sherawat for doing a New Year's dance in a body suit...." More (Times of India 01.09.2007). Further reading. For a history of PIL's in India, click here.

    Judge recovering after foot removed to prevent spread of cancer. "Kenton Family Court Judge Chris Mehling was recovering well Monday after surgery to remove his right foot...On Dec. 21, Mehling was diagnosed with malignant epithelioid perineurioma, a rare form of cancer involving a tumor in his foot...The Crestview Hills, Ky., attorney was elected judge for the first time in November, defeating Fort Mitchell, Ky., attorney Dan Zalla by just 132 votes out of 34,778 cast." More (Cincinnati Post 01.09.2007).

    Architect criticizes new courthouse. Back in November, in connection with the new federal court building in Euegene, OR, Judge Michael Hogan was quoted as saying, "I'd challenge anyone to do a better job in a contemporary building than we have." Comes now a highly-respected Oregon architect, Glen Howard Small, to take issue with that grandiose overstatement which almost demanded that someone take issue with it. His in-depth review states, in part, "Stand back and look at the building. It is a machine -- a shiny, glaring, stainless steel ribbon box with a green-tinted glass base and an American flag popping out. The building could be dropped anywhere, like a 70-foot-high industrial dishwasher with rounded corners. In fact, Denver has one. Los Angeles has one. San Francisco has one. All of these shiny, steel-clad buildings disrupt the context in which they are set. It is like introducing a giant silver airplane hangar to the neighborhood, and now every city needs one." He concludes his review by saying, "Yes, I could do better." More (Eugene Register-Guard 01.09.2007). Earlier. A shiny new gem of a courthouse. Comment. As lovers of free speech, we find it refreshing to read a thoughtful review like this of a new court building. All too often the critics are afraid to speak out and tell it like it is -- or, at least, as they see it.

    Press release: 'Federal Courthouse has a Happy Ending to a Moldy Situation.' "Th[e] four-story landmark federal building [in West Pal Beach, FLA] was abruptly closed as result of mold growing in and outside of the building's walls. The mold was spawned from water leaking into the building spurred on by Florida hurricanes Frances and Jeanne...Ultimately, all the governmental employees of this federal courthouse including judges, court employees, federal marshals and countless clerical staff members had to relocated to new facilities...The General Services Administration (GSA) researched the industry and found Pure Air Control Services to be one of the most qualified, competent, interdisciplinary indoor environmental quality (IEQ) firms in the country...Pure Air Control Services comprehensive plan consisted of six (6) timely steps: 1. Establish all IEQ baseline conditions including containment and microbial contaminant concerns....2. Develop a...." More (TransWorldNews 01.09.2007). Comment. We have no basis for doubting the need for the services of "Pure Air Control Services" in this instance or the quality of Pure Air's services in this instance or in general. But just as asbestos removal from courthouses (and other public buildings) was a big "necessity" that cost taxpayers zillions not too many years ago, don't be surprised if mold removal isn't the "next big thing." All we're saying is that the Holmsean skeptic in us prompts us to be skeptical of all "next big things."

    Judge berates Nadine Gordimer's biographer in dismissing his libel action. "The biographer of the Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer was eviscerated by a South African court today in a savage judgement dismissing a libel action against a local newspaper. Ronald Suresh Roberts, who is also writing an authorised biography of President Thabo Mbeki, sued the Johannesburg Sunday Times for, among other things, describing him in a headline as 'unlikeable.' Mr Justice Leslie Weincove described Roberts among other things as 'venomous,' 'vindictive,' 'haughty' and 'grandiose'...." More (Guardian Unlimited 01.09.2007). Comments. a) One of the risks one takes in filing a defamation action is that one will come out of it worse than before. b) I think the cause of action for defamation ought to be abolished in the U.S. I express my views in greater detail at Court upholds dismissal of judge's libel suit against TV station.

    Annals of entry into the hallowed halls of justice. "Graduates of Seoul high schools located south of the Han River or specializing in foreign languages accounted for about a third of newly appointed judges last year. Seoul¡¯s southern section, known generally as 'Gangnam' -- though this also refers to a smaller district in the same area -- is the location of a concentration of its wealth. Foreign-language high schools rank among Seoul¡¯s most elite public schools...." More (The Hankyoreh 01.09.2007). Comment. For an interesting posting on where British judges tend to hail from, see, The Oxbridge advantage.

    Annals of judicial honors: ex-judge doesn't want building named after him. "A former municipal court judge[, Lynn B. Griffith, Jr.,] said that although he is flattered by a city council proposal to rename the Municipal Justice Building after him, he doesn't feel it is necessary...'I'm very surprised and flattered...but I don't think it's appropriate to name the building after me,' Judge Griffith said Monday. 'The municipal building belongs to the citizens of Warren.' More (Youngstown Vindicator 01.09.2007).

    Chief judge in notorious Madison County plans new outreach effort. "Chief Judge Ann Callis plans to have [Madison County] judges -- normally reserved and reticent -- take off their black robes and head out into the community. Circuit Judge David Hylla, along with associate judges Tom Chapman and Steve Stobbs, will spend the coming months talking to doctors, lawyers and others about public perceptions and hear complaints about the Madison County courthouse as it relates to medical malpractice cases. The judges will report back to the full circuit and make recommendations for changes in the court process in the county as needed, Callis said...." More (St. Louis Post-Dispatch 01.08.2007).

    Keeping courts safe from hairsprayers. "Court officials have banned several items at both the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles and the old courthouse in Geneva...." Among the items banned is hairspray. More (Kane County Chronicle 01.08.2007). Comment. How about those deadlier weapons, high-heeled shoes? Look under the desk of any woman (when she's not there) and you'll likely see five or six spare pairs of 'em, enough to arm a brigade and launch an attack on the county commissioners.

    Annals of judicious governor's wives:

    New governor's wife intends to keep her job as judge. "Baltimore District Judge Catherine Curran O'Malley, the wife of Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley, intends to keep her job as a judge -- even while living in the governor's mansion in Annapolis. Maryland's Constitution requires the governor to live in Annapolis. The law also demands that district court judges reside where they work. 'We do intend to live in the mansion, we definitely do,' Judge O'Malley told The (Baltimore) Sun in an interview Friday. 'But our intention is to remain as Baltimore City residents for the rest of our lives'..." More (Baltimore Examiner 01.07.2007).

    MN Governor's wife resigns as judge, freeing herself for political activity. "First Lady Mary Pawlenty announced this week she will be resigning her position as a district court judge in February to assume the role of general counsel for the National Arbitration Forum...Pawlenty served as a district court judge for 12 years, being appointed by Gov. Arne Carlson. One aspect of Pawlenty's career change is that it will free her up for political activity...." More (Coon Rapids ECM Publishers 01.07.2007).

Related. Lawyers wage war over wife's selection as judge - Judicial campaign rivals spar over spouse issue - Judge and spouse both running for statewide office - Couple to make court history. Comment. As we have noted previously, there are numerous ethical issues raised when a judge is married to or romantically allied with another politician/government employee, robed (another judge) or unrobed (a non-judge running for judicial office or a candidate for or holder of an executive or legislative office). It would be difficult to formulate rules dealing with all the possibilities. Minnesota's Governor, Tim Pawlenty, is married to a soon-to-be-former district court judge: she did not participate in his campaign in 2002 or 2006 and has been careful not to cross the ethical line in her other role as First Lady. One of the earliest and still one of the best articles on ethical issues raised by a judge's spouse's activities is by a revered Harvard Law School teacher of mine, Prof. Andrew L. Kaufman, "Judicial Ethics: The Less-Often Asked Questions," 64 Wash. L. Rev. 851, 862 (1989). See, also, "When good relations can be a potential problem" at Court Gazing II at BurtLaw's LawAndEverythingElse.Com (scroll down), which, coincidentally, relates to a 2001 news story concerning Judge O'Malley.

    Courts braced for divorce demands. "More people start divorce proceedings in early January than any other point of the year, research suggests. A new website focused on the breakdown of relationships interviewed over 100 divorce law firms. It found rates of divorce proceedings in early January can be 50% higher than at any other time of the year -- with Christmas stress partly to blame.'s survey interviewed more than 2,000 people, with 30% citing infidelity as the cause of divorce...." More (BBC News 01.08.2007). Comment. When we read stories like this, we're not sure if they count as good news or bad news. Back in the early 1950's, when my mom had a carpet installed by a local mortician-carpet installer, I asked the mortician-installer if he was sad when people died. He said he was: "Oh, Randy, I wish people didn't have to die. I wish I'd go broke." I'd never say he wasn't telling the truth. Do you think lawyers and judges -- who owe their livelihood in part to the litigation explosion -- are telling the truth when they condemn, e.g., the high rates of divorce? I feel obliged to say I presume they are. But I also must add that a) some divorce attorneys for clients with deep pockets can be pretty creative at converting a divorce that should take a few months to get decided into one that takes four or five years to make it through the system, and b) courts, too, can be part of the problem. A few years ago a former judge who knew what he was talking about said that a divorce that Hennepin County, MN judges might take four years to decide would be decided, easily, within six months by judges in another MN county with a large population. I've come to the conclusion that legislators need to get into the act of "divorce reform" rather than leaving it to lawyers, particularly divorce lawyers. Indeed, it's my general opinion that the bench and bar have never been very good at self-reforming and self-policing.

    Chief Justice denies ties to corrupt judge. "Chief Justice Lee Yong-hun denied a report in a local newspaper that he gave a cash gift of 1 million won ($1,066) to a former Seoul High Court judge arrested last year for taking bribes from a businessman. The vernacular daily, Chosun Ilbo, reported in its Monday edition (click here) that Lee regularly gave cash to 10 or more judges as gifts for promotions or transfers during his days as a practicing lawyer. The newspaper also reported that Lee gave 1 million won in 2005 to Cho Kwan-haeng, a former presiding judge at the Seoul High Court [who was] was arrested last year...Last week, Lee was forced to defend himself against allegations that he dodged income taxes while practicing law in 2004...." More (Korea Times 01.08.2007). Comment. Just allegations unless and until proven.

    Annals of judicial retirement plans. "Judge Bert Goolsby...will retire this year from the S.C. Court of Appeals. When he's not in court, the tall, bespectacled lawyer with an Alabama accent can be found hanging out with a local writers group called the Inkplots...Goolsby has authored legal books on the death penalty and the state's Tort Claims Act. But he has another passion -- writing fiction. Since the mid-1990s, he has written two novels -- Her Own Law and Harpers' Joy -- along with several short-story collections, including The Box With the Green Bow and Ribbon and Sweet Potato Biscuits and Other Stories. His New York literary agent is looking for a publisher for a new novel, Rubber Guns and Slingshots...." More (The State - SC 01.08.2008). Comments. Back when I was a kid, in the 1950's, we made "rubber guns" using small blocks of wood, nails, clothes pins, and bands of rubber for ammo and, on one occasion I recall, used them in a neighborhood "war." Slingshots? We made 'em but by far the best -- and quite dangerous -- was the "Whammo"-brand slingshot bought from Johnson, Smith & Co. in Detroit, the great catalog retailer of novelty items, magic tricks, practical joke paraphernalia, etc. I still own two "Whammos," although the huge rubber "bands" used to propel the rocks, etc., long ago deteriorated. The memories have not deteriorated. Judge Goolsby, who doesn't know how to spell his own first name (it should be B-u-r-t), seems like an interesting guy. He also collects lawyer and judge figurines.

    Did retiring judge use his influence to help former client? "[Mike Padden, a] retiring Spokane judge and former state lawmaker[,] used his influence over the years to help a former [client] collect millions of dollars through county contracts and special-interest legislation, moves that forced many traffic violators and others to pay substantially higher fees. [Padden] disputes any impropriety, but acknowledges that his advocacy on behalf of Valley Empire Collection gave the appearance of a conflict. Padden served as the company's lawyer prior to being appointed to the Spokane County bench in 1995 and while he was serving in the state House of Representatives...." Details (Seattle Spokesman Review 01.07.2007).

    Judge on High Court is a victim of MySpace fraud. "High Court judge Michael Kirby has been defamed by identity thieves using the internet site MySpace. A profile page, claiming to have been written by the Australian judge, also contains sordid and sexually charged material...The alleged autobiography of Justice Kirby, which has been on the site for at least 15 months, includes a photograph of a smiling Justice Kirby beside a blonde woman under the headline 'I'm A Pimp.'"  More (Sydney Morning Herald 01.07.2007).

    Probate judge plans career as belly dancer or kickboxer when term is up. Yvonne Boyle, who is beginning her second term as Otero County Probate Judge. Because the law in New Mexico prohibits her from serving a third consecutive term, she's already planning what to do when her term is up. Maybe she's joking, maybe not, but a profile of her in the Alamogordo newspaper says when her second term is up "she plans to embark on a career as a belly dancer or kickboxer." More (Alamogordo Daily News 01.07.2007). Comment. Boyle is quoted as saying, "'Anytime someone loses a loved one, it would be wise to contact the probate judge.'" We like that advice, especially since it seems likely that if you contact her, you'll receive a compassionate response. Boyle says: "'If you don't have compassion, it would be hard to be a probate judge.'" Her office hours are "Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but she is willing to travel if needed. She also takes official calls at her home." Why do the words from a great late 1950's song sung by the immortal Jimmy Jones (sung much later and not as well by James Taylor) come to mind? I'm referring to the song "Handy Man," which I first heard listening to KOMA-AM, a clear channel station out of Omaha, while listening in the basement on our family's old console tube-model radio, which I now have sitting in my house waiting to be repaired if I can find someone to do it.

    Speedy justice (one nabbed going 103 in an Audi 4). "On an afternoon in December, an unmarked patrol car tracked Paula Jean Kurshner, 60, jetting through Wood Village on Interstate 84 at 103 mph...Wait a minute. Paula Kurshner? The Honorable Paula Kurshner? University of Oregon grad? Lewis & Clark Law School? Multnomah County Circuit judge? The one and only. Going one-oh-three in her Audi A4...." -- Columnist Steve Duin. More (The Oregonian 01.07.2007). Comment. Contacted by Duin, Judge Kurshner said, "This was major stupid. It will never happen again." She was fined $1,182 and received a license suspension of 30 days. She's never had a speeding ticket -- not even a parking ticket -- before.

    Annals of High Court Judges caught on tape. "A Pretoria High Court Judge was arrested for drunk driving on Friday night after smashing his Jaguar through a precast wall in Hurlingham, north of Johannesburg. Judge Nkola Motata, who allegedly resisted arrest, also had to be wrestled into a Johannesburg Metro Police patrol car by five officers...Motata yesterday denied that he had been driving under the influence of alcohol and disputed all the allegations...[I]n an audio recording of the drama at the scene, Motata is heard repeatedly swearing at the owner [of the wall] for accusing him of being drunk...." More (Sunday Times 01.07.2007). Comment. The owner of the wall used his cell-phone camera to photograph the judge and the phone's audiorecorder to record his exchanges with the judge. The Sunday Times story is accompanied by links to six audio clips the audiophiles among us can download and perhaps include in personal "CD mixes" of favorite audio moments in judicial history; the story also helpfully provides a link to edited transcripts of the tapes. Excerpt: "Don't think I'm a fool...I say f*** you...get to hell...I don't care about the law." We also recommend South Africa: 'Drunk' Judge's Amazing Outburst (Cape Argus via AllAfrica 01.09.2007).

    Justice delayed: judge has waited 12 years for justice. "Twelve years after she filed a case of physical abuse and harassment against a colleague, Sujata Kohli wants to withdraw the case...'I want to withdraw the case as a sign of protest against the prolonged delay of justice,' says Kohli. The wait for justice is not an uncommon Indian story. But what makes Kohli's case unusual is that she is an additional sessions judge herself...." More (Delhi Newsline 01.07.2007).

    Annals of out-of-control jurors. "In any prosecution of the jury system for incompetence, Exhibit A would be the ouija board. An English jury used one to convict an indebted insurance broker, Stephen Young, for murdering his creditor and the creditor's newly wed, and swiftly dead, wife...[P]erhaps the most startling new evidence of jury incompetence emerged only this week. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research questioned 277 jurors immediately after they delivered their verdicts in 25 trials involving child sexual assault...In only six of the 25 juries could all the jurors correctly state the verdict they delivered only minutes before. In one case, nine of 10 jurors got the verdict wrong, and none could report that they had just acquitted the defendant of all child sex charges being faced...." More (Sydney Morning Herald 01.06.2007).

    Veteran federal appeals court judge battles death penalty. "A veteran federal appeals judge has turned up the volume in his opposition to the death penalty, drawing increasing attention with his unusually blunt and outspoken opinions. Former Chief Judge Boyce Martin, a Jimmy Carter appointee on [the 6th Circuit,] one of the most sharply divided appeals courts, is building a reputation for his stand, such as with a [recent] dissent...described as blistering...Martin, a liberal voice in a court with a Republican-appointed majority, has frustrated some colleagues and family members of murder victims, while adding to arguments by anti-death penalty groups...." More (Lexington Herald-Leader 01.06.2007). Comment. Good for him. We've long been unalterably opposed to the death penalty, even with respect to people like Sadam Hussein. His execution was a disgusting spectacle after a victor's show trial, but we'd have been against it even if it had been carried out with the proper hangman's etiquette after a decorously perfect trial.

    Judge is scolded for forcing defendant to make a game show choice at trial.
"A Brooklyn judge [Justice Joel Goldberg] was scolded by a higher court for forcing an accused robber to make a five-minute 'game show' choice -- plead guilty to a lesser charge and serve a year in jail or await the jury's verdict...In its decision Tuesday, the appeals panel threw out Damian Nicholson's guilty plea and let his [subsequently-announced] acquittal stand...." More (N.Y. Daily News 01.06.2007).

    Judge's son is charged with major bank fraud. "Federal prosecutors Friday levied charges against the son of an Allegheny County judge for his part in a major bank fraud scheme that involved his unsuspecting father and a Dormont businessman already facing federal charges. Lee Mazur Jr., 37, is accused of working with Christopher Fekos in a scam that ripped off banks and lending agencies by filing fraudulent loan applications -- including some in the name of Common Pleas Judge Lee J. Mazur, without his knowledge...." More (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 01.06.2007).

    When an O.C. trial judge doesn't follow directions from on high. "When an appeals court sent a drug case back to Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald, it gave him a chance to get the law right. But when Fitzgerald could not get it right a second time, the court overturned the conviction and issued a stinging rebuke of the judge...The appeals court also criticized the Orange County Superior Court's controversial practice of allowing police to keep...sealed [search warrant] affidavits instead of turning them over to the court...." More (L.A. Times 01.05.2007).

    Annals of judicial fashion -- wigs out, neon-colored robes in?

    Judges are poised to scrap wigs, 300 years of tradition. "Although the final details have yet to be hammered out, a consensus against the retention of wigs for civil cases has emerged from a review set up by the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips. But judges presiding over criminal trials are expected to keep their wigs for the time being. Criminal court judges and barristers argued that the horsehair headgear confers a degree of anonymity, protecting them from confrontations outside court with criminals, and adds to the dignity of court proceedings, helping to keep order. Lord Phillips has long felt that wigs contribute to the public view of judges as fusty and out of touch. He has described the judges' large wardrobe as ridiculous and favours a simple European-style black robe fastened with Velcro...." More (Guardian Unlimited 01.05.2007).

    Wigmakers tight-lipped about possible loss of business. "The prestigious wigmakers at Ede and Ravenscroft kept their mouths zipped shut when asked by The Lawyer how [the scrapping of wigs] would affect their business. One wigmaker said: 'It's our policy not to talk about such issues.' A judge's wig can cost anywhere between £500 and £1,700 and with hundreds of judges sitting on the civil bench the losses to wigmakers would hit into the hundreds of thousands...." More (The Lawyer 01.06.2007).

 Essential readings on judicial and courthouse fashions. a) Annals of Courthouse Fashion, part I: Another judge tries instituting courthouse dress code. b) Courthouse Fashion, part II: The Viking influence on judicial fashions. c) Courthouse Fashion, part III: Judges voice objection to some lawyers' attire. d) On judicial swimsuits & the Rules of Judicial Conduct. e) Judge-endorsed BurtLaw Bench Pants. f) BurtLaw Super-Privacy Robes. g) Durham courts follow lead of NBA. h) Judge Hlophe speaks out on courtroom dress & decorum. i) Contemptuous courtroom attire? j) What's so bad about shorts & tube tops in courtroom? k) A nostalgic look back at another instance of judicial stickling. l) Judges allowed to go bare-headed during U.K. heat wave. m) Should you beware of a judge who dresses up as a clown or Santa Claus? (scroll down).

    Competing quotes on wigs. a) "Telephoned the Bar Council today to put on record my views concerning the wearing of wigs and traditional court dress. I cannot understand why solicitors want barristers to abandon their wigs? How can it sensibly be suggested that a tightly knotted piece of horsehair worn on the head does anything other then lend a grandeur, dignity and solemnity to the head of the wearer? In these days of computers and mobile phones, the barrister's wig must surely be seen as more relevant than ever." - Diary entry of London barrister John Fuller-Carp, quoted in The Independent. See entry dated 07.31.2001 at BurtLaw's Law & Brits at BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else. b) "Although it is perhaps not inappropriate that we sit in red on May Day, I would myself have preferred to sit in a plain black robe with my pate exposed to public gaze." Western Australia's new chief justice, Wayne Martin, whose plan for an overhaul of the courts includes abolishing the inherited British garb (red robes and wigs) and broadcasting court proceedings on the internet. More (The Australian 05.03.2006).

    Justice Weaver again criticizes other GOP justices on SCOMICH. "Justice Elizabeth Weaver's feud with other Republican members of the Michigan Supreme Court escalated Friday. Weaver filed a 17-page memorandum with the court detailing why she didn't support Chief Justice Clifford Taylor's reappointment earlier this week as the high court's leader. Taylor was elected by his peers to a second two-year term as chief justice. The vote was 4-3...." More (Michigan Live 01.05.2007). Comment. For earlier postings, see, our entry titled What's happening at SCOMICH? Is it 'civil war' or 'insurgency'? We think the other GOP justices on the sadly-divided court made a big mistake in relying on the so-called "judicial deliberations privilege" to prevent Justice Weaver's publishing a dissent. The privilege at best is something the court may invoke against the inquiry of outsiders. It was never intended to be used to prevent a judge from saying what she wants in a dissent or from otherwise "going public."

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

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

   Slate's list of Judge Roberts resources. Slate has created a John Roberts Roundup, a regularly-updated page of links to some of the better web postings relating to Judge Roberts. Click here.

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

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