The Daily Judge
© 2005 Burton Randall Hanson
             Archives - 06.13.2005 - 06.23.2005
"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 "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 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.

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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.

    A 'farraginous' Supreme Court. Back in the 1970's, I believe it was, a literate editorial writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, whose first name was Austin & whose last name I can't spell, wrote a piece on the op/ed page titled "Our farraginous supreme court," describing the varied backgrounds & views of the members of the Minnesota Supreme Court. I served the public as a trusted confidential aide at the court for over 28 years, under six different chief justices and many more associate justices. They were indeed a farraginous lot. "What in the hell are you saying about them -- were they perverted?" No, "farraginous" does not -- should not -- denote or connote perversion in this context. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) defines the word as follows:

Farraginous \Far*rag*i*nous\, a. [See {Farrago}.] Formed of various materials; mixed; as, a farraginous mountain. [R.] -- Kirwan. A farraginous concurrence of all conditions, tempers, sexes, and ages. -- Sir T. Browne.

My ideal state or federal "final" appellate court would involve, as "Sir T. Browne" (whoever the heck he was) put it, "A farraginous concurrence of all conditions, tempers, sexes, and ages." Every time a seven- or nine-member "final" appellate court loses & adds a member, it becomes a different court. My favorite & my vote for "best" of the many, many Minnesota Supreme Courts I observed up-close-&-personal was one in the days just before & after the creation of the intermediate appellate court, the Minnesota Court of Appeals, i.e., when the supreme court still consisted of nine, not seven, members. It was "best," I think, because it was "least homogenous" & "most farraginous" of all the courts I observed.

It's too bad that our President's ideal court would seem to be one only with members whose opinions on various issues he believes he can predict with considerable certainty. As so many Presidents have found out, one's appointees, once anointed by being tapped on the head with the golden sword of judicial independence, tend to surprise their benefactors. That being so, one wonders why President Bush doesn't go for "the best," not "the best Texan," he can find, regardless of age, regardless of race, regardless of religious background, regardless of gender. You know he ain't doing that when none of his "lists" includes Judge Richard Posner. I don't particularly like Posner as a person but I think he's the smartest judge in America. Although I might not even choose him if I were President, I would expect him to be on the list given me. Any list without his name is a sad, inadequate list. And see No to Judicial Choir.

    When judges lobby legislators. "Led by Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman, small armies of judges have converged on the Legislature week after week, visiting lawmakers, bumping elbows with lobbyists and competing for attention with activists, pressure groups and influence peddlers of every stripe. Sometimes they individually call on legislators in their home districts. Sometimes they approach them en masse...." They want -- guess what? -- a pay raise. More (N.Y. Law Journal 06.23.2005).

    Yet another specialized court. "Scotland's only dedicated weapons court designed to fast-track offenders has been launched...." More (BBC 06.23.2005). And see, 'Protest court' & 'Equality Court' & How about 'Practical Joke Court'?

    Asking court to do what legislators & governor can't? "[B]oth [MN] Attorney General Mike Hatch and Gov. Tim Pawlenty have filed petitions asking the [district] court to order funding for essential services, should budget negotiations go past June 30...." More (Minneapolis Star-Tribune 06.23.2005). Comment. In Robert Frost's early poem, Death of the Hired Man, two characters muse on the return of a hired hand to die. One says, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there,/ They have to take you in." The other responds, "I should have called it/ Something you somehow haven't to deserve." From North of Boston (1915; reprinted at Bartleby.Com). One might say that our lawmakers (the legislators and the governor) look upon the court as "the place where, when we go there, they have to take us in." And I might respond by calling the court "something the legislators and the governor don't always deserve." One sees it often. Differing factions cannot agree on a precise dividing line, as in when a person injured by a governmental entity is entitled to sue the government for damages; the lack of agreement may find its way into a politically palatable compromise on somewhat vague language that allows each faction to go to its base & say, "Ve von" (translated from Norwegian, "We won"). The lawmakers in effect delegate a policy-type decision, to be made on a case-by-case basis, to the court. And then if the court decides a case in a way not to one faction's liking, the members of the faction may blame the court, even call it "activist." But judges shouldn't complain about the criticism. As Felix Frankfurter so aptly put it, "Weak characters ought not to be judges." They should try politics, instead.

    Plagiarism charges against judge dropped. "While calling some of the accusations against Circuit Judge Gregory Holder 'troublesome,' the state Judicial Qualifications Commission dismissed the charges in an order Wednesday...." More (Tuscaloosa News 06.23.2005). Link to earlier entries.

    Latest on check-bouncing judge - removal? "The state Supreme Court has ordered a Traffic Tribunal magistrate with a history of writing bad checks to appear before the court next week and show why she should not lose her job. The Supreme Court's order comes after the Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline last week recommended that the high court remove magistrate Aurendina 'Dina' G. Veiga from the traffic court bench...." More (Providence Journal 06.23.2005). Earlier entry.

    Judicial 'filibuster' -- Israeli style. "The appointment of three new Supreme Court justices has been delayed for months because of a dispute between the chair of the Judicial Appointments Committee, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Supreme Court President Aharon Barak over the candidacy of Prof. Ruth Gavison. Until recently, Livni had worked doggedly to promote Gavison's appointment, while Barak stood firm as a rock against it. Within the nine-member committee, five people back Barak's position and only two support Livni. Livni is using her authority as chair to refrain from convening the committee in the hope that something will change in the balance of power, and according to media reports, she is liable to continue putting off the meeting for another six months or more - which is undesirable in itself." Avraham Tal, in an interesting piece today (06.23.2005) in Haaretz titled No to Judicial Choir, argues that the Barak forces oppose Gavison because she has argued against the High Court's "activism." He concludes that "[A]n opposing voice on the court is important: so that we do not have a judicial choir. Gavison's presence in the Supreme Court would promise stormy confrontations between her and some of her colleagues, but this should not deter them from accepting her into their ranks." Earlier entry: Court most trustworthy state authority in Israel.

    Latest on Mississippi judicial bribery trial. "Attorney Wayne Drinkwater would have handled his client's lawsuit differently had he known the opposing attorney, Paul Minor, helped the judge out of a financial bind and was also assisting him with a serious legal problem...." More (Sun Herald 06.23.2005). Earlier entries - here & here.

    Scalia under scrutiny. A report in the San Francisco Chronicle today (06.22.2005) focuses on Justice Scalia and what kind of Chief Justice he might make, given his reputation for petulant behavior, including making fun of his colleague's opinions. A former clerk of his, Prof. Lawrence Lessig, is quoted as saying, "The real question is whether [the] justice[,] who has, from the beginning of his career, thought that his job was to stake out principled positions, could be a real consensus-builder." Comment. Students of social psychology know that where one stands and how one acts in any social group, including an appellate court, depend in considerable part on where one sits within the group and what "others," both outside and inside the group, expect of him or her. A judge of an appellate court, state or federal, who sits at the head of the conference table may behave quite differently than he behaved when he sat elsewhere at the table at various stages of his movement up the ranks in seniority. For example, a pesty novice member of an appellate court, oblivious to the traditions and etiquette of the body, may become a model of judicial etiquette and civility. Some are horrible at playing second or third fiddle but excellent at playing first chair -- and vice-versa. Moreover, a judge's judicial philosophy may undergo a tweaking, even a significant change, both with experience and with a change in position.

    Pay a bribe to judges & win appeal? "'Forget the merits of the appeal, all you have to do is put in the appeal and if you have got money to bribe the judges, you win the appeal.'" From a report in Sydney Morning Herald in issue dated 06.23.2005 to the effect that the Indonesian lawyers representing an Australian appealing her Indonesian drug conviction and sentence "tried to get the Australian Government to give them $500,000 to bribe the Indonesian judges overseeing her appeal...." Related stories: click here, here & here.

    Swearing on the Koran. "The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national civil rights group, is offering free copies of the Qur’an to North Carolina courts that allow them to be used for swearing witnesses in to testify. Yesterday, CAIR issued a statement asking the state judges’ conference to follow the legal advice of a state judiciary committee and allow the religious text to be used." Apparently there is a split of authority in N.C. as to whether a witness has the right to use the Koran in swearing to tell the truth. More (The News Standard 06.22.2005).

    Opening statements in Louisiana judicial bribery trial. "Alan Green sat expressionless in federal court Tuesday as his accuser and his defender painted contrasting portraits of the indicted state judge: A self-indulgent politician who subsidized a cushy lifestyle by milking bribes from a 'bottom-feeding' bondsman, or a dedicated public servant with a long-held belief in helping people by doing exactly what his job required...." More (New Orleans Times-Picayune 06.22.2005).

    Court eases courthouse cell phone ban. "The Wayne County courthouse cellular phone ban starts in a little more than two months. But lawyers and reporters can rejoice: Those with current State Bar of Michigan cards will be exempt, along with members of the media...." More (Detroit Free Press 06.22.2005).

    Gonzales blames Supreme Court decision for lighter sentences. "Too many criminals are getting light sentences because of a Supreme Court decision earlier this year, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said yesterday. He urged Congress to approve new punishment guidelines to make sure federal judges can't be too lenient...." More (Boston Globe 06.22.2005). Comment. More playing to the GOP's "base," which is easily manipulated by that which is "base." Gonzales, who apparently is still on President Bush's list of possible Supreme Court nominees, is the Harvard Law grad from Texas who advised the President to ignore the Geneva Conventions in our treatment of prisoners on Guantanamo Bay & who, when Bush was happily signing death warrants as governor of Texas, was sitting at Bush's right hand, advising him to do so. He apparently didn't have the same teachers at HLS that I had. See, BurtLaw's Harvard Law School.

    Judge resigns from High Court. Mr. Justice Hugh Laddie, 59, has resigned to join a private firm. He's been bored on the bench. Resigning from the bench to enter private practice in the UK apparently is unheard of: "One of his friends, Peter Leaver, QC, said he believed that the resignation would 'upset' the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, and the new Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips. 'They will view it as a breach of the unwritten rule -- almost an unspoken oath -- that joining the Bench is a one-way street.'" More (Telegraph 06.22.2005). Comment. Being a High Court judge is, to paraphrase Don Quixote, an "austere calling," akin to that of monk or knight-errant. Not all lawyers, indeed, few, are sublimely suited for it. Those who aren't typically either leave it or, sadder for the common law tradition, try to turn it into something it is not, as by taking the court "on tour," engaging in silly "judicial outreach" programs, making public appearances, speechifying, etc.

    Should judge serve on board of advocacy group - another judge says it's okay. "A federal judge has dismissed a complaint against another judge who serves on the board of a libertarian group that opposes some environmental rules and provides free seminars to judges. James B. Loken, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, ruled May 23 that the complaint against Danny J. Boggs, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, lacked merit...." More (Washington Post 06.22.2005). Comment. I'm not so sure it's okay. As the article notes, three other judges -- "Douglas H. Ginsburg, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; Jane R. Roth, judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit; and U.S. District Judge Andre Maurice Davis of Baltimore" -- resigned from the board after being publicly criticized for membership. Judge Loken, in his ruling, is said to have complained that critics of membership were tarnishing the reputations of good judges. Come on now, judge. The group is an advocacy group & it's been busy providing all-expenses-paid "educational" trips for judges. Judges shouldn't serve on boards and shouldn't accept free anything except from family & long-time friends who aren't lawyers or politicians or parties involved in litigation. For a contrary view, endorsing such junkets, see Junkets for Judges (National Review 06.23.2005) ("Contrary to critics’ beliefs, privately sponsored judicial conferences broaden judges’ minds"), by Jonathan H. Adler, a law professor who has attended some of the privately-sponsored judicial conferences both "as lecturer and as a participant." His apologia for the junkets doesn't change our views.

    Petition with 4,000 signatures won't save historic courthouse. "A rally and a petition with more than 4,000 signatures were not enough to persuade Randolph County commissioners to take another vote on whether to demolish the county's 128-year-old courthouse...." More (Chicago Sun-Times 06.22.2005). Comment. See, Save the courthouse? By the time the voters have voted the guys out who approved the demolition, the old courthouse will be gone. Too bad. The best depiction of what is taken when a beloved public building is taken down was a 1971 episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, They're Tearing Down Tim Reilly's Bar, which Serling said in his final interview was one of his favorite creations.

    Specter speculation. "[Sen. Arlen Specter, Chair of Senate Judiciary, told a Philadelphia Bar luncheon Monday] that his recent observations...have 'led me to the conclusion that we're not about to have a retirement by Chief Justice Rehnquist' in the near future...Specter [also] recounted that while he was seated next to O'Connor at a recent event, he thought of the public speculation that she could be named as Rehnquist's successor as chief should he retire. If she were to become chief justice, she would be the first woman to hold that post...." More (The Legal Intelligencer 06.21.2005). Comment. We've also speculated recently on the possibility that the Chief might surprise everyone by not retiring. See, But will Bill retire? The notion that President Bush might appoint Justice O'Connor, a pragmatic "moderate" or "centrist," as Chief if Rehnquist retires is not ludicrous. Her elevation would not hinder the "conservative cause" any more than Scalia's elevation would help it, and might make Bush "seem" conciliatory to the centrists and thereby it easier for him to gain Senate approval of an ideological conservative to become the eighth Associate Justice. In any event, if only Rehnquist retires, the new kid on the block will hardly be more conservative than Rehnquist.

    Profile of Texan who's vetting supreme court candidates. She's the White House Counsel. Her name is Harriet Miers. Like her predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, she's from Texas. More (Washington Post 06.21.2005). Comment. And one should not be surprised if President Bush goes the parochial, provincial route, as he has done in so many of his appointments, and picks someone from Texas, e.g., Judge Luttig.

    The Village Voice's take on list of possible S. Ct. picks. "This list of second- and third-rate jurists is unimpressive. No wonder polls show that the public is tiring of the court. There are a couple of strong right-wingers in the group, but for the most part it's a bedraggled lot. Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia look like veritable giants in comparison...." More (The Village Voice 06.21.2005). Comment. Of those listed, I can't help thinking President Bush might turn to Theodore Olson, the former Solicitor General, whose wife, the right-wing polemicist, was killed in the plane that hijackers crashed into the Pentagon on 09.11.

    Judicial Conference will again consider rule to publish all opinions. "The U.S. Judicial Conference this fall will take up the controversy over whether lawyers should be allowed to cite unpublished opinions, following a unanimous vote June 15 by a lower committee...." More (The Recorder 06.21.2005). Approximately 4 out of 5 opinions filed by federal circuit courts and a high percentage of state appellate opinions are "unpublished" -- unpublished in the sense that although they are made public and are available online and in other databases, the parties (depending on the jurisdiction) may not cite them nor may courts consider them of precedential value. The late Judge Richard Arnold of the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals once described these rules as follows: "We may have decided this question the opposite way yesterday, but this does not bind us today, and, what's more, you cannot even tell us what we did yesterday." More (N.Y. Times 12.25.2002). Judge Alex Kozinski, of the 9th Circuit, himself an unpredictable broadly-respected darkhorse Supreme Court nominee, described his opposition to publication of all opinions in testimony before Congress in 2002. More. Comment. Evidence is often admitted "for what it's worth." We believe in more, rather than less, transparency in the judicial process, and believe all opinions should set forth sufficient facts and reasons so the public may understand and fairly evaluate the court's decision, all opinions should be published and available online, and that parties should be free to cite any such opinions "for what they're worth," if only to apprise judges what other judges in their circuit and other circuits have done in like situations. Judge Kozinski's statement that if opinions are unpublished, many judges, himself included, will say less in the opinions that otherwise would have been unpublished, calls to mind the fellow when I was a kid who said if he didn't get his way he'd take his ball & go home.

    Chief suspends self from rabbinical court pending bribery investigation. "Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yonah Metzger on Tuesday advised the High Court of Justice that he suspends himself from his positions as religious court magistrate at the Rabbinical High Court and as member of the committee for appointing religious magistrates...." The chief is suspected of "having accepted perks equivalent of NIS tens of thousands from the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, where he has been staying with his family for the high holidays in recent years." More (Haaretz 06.21.2005).

    No more jury trials in big fraud cases in U.K.?  Lord Goldsmith, the A.G., announced planned legislation that will "allow a single judge to sit on complex fraud trials, ending the 800-year-old tradition that defendants are tried by a panel of 12 jurors...." More (Telegraph 06.21.2005). Comment. The Government has lost some big fraud trials, apparently, so it wants to do away with jury trials in those cases, 18-20 a year.

    Court dismisses allegations by secretary against judge. "An Ohio Supreme Court disciplinary panel has dismissed all charges against a Franklin County probate judge [Lawrence A. Belskis] who had been accused of misusing funds and ethics violations." The Court ruled that the judge "made some bad decisions but did not break the law." It appears that "Belskis' former secretary and her husband...accused the judge of using court employees to type term papers for his children, prepare paperwork for his wife's business and perform other personal tasks...." More (Akron Beacon Journal 06.21.2005).

    Judge denies lesbian judge a change of venue in campaign finance case. "Superior Court Judge Diana Hall, charged with falsely reporting a campaign contribution, was denied a change of venue request by defense lawyers who claimed a fair trial was impossible because Santa Maria is biased against homosexuals. Hall, who continues to hear civil cases in Santa Maria, is charged with four misdemeanors for allegedly falsely reporting a $20,000 contribution from her former lesbian partner Deidra Dykeman during the judge's 2002 re-election campaign...." More (San Jose Mercury News 06.21.2005).

    Falwell & ex-Judge Moore address Baptists. Falwell is quoted as saying that Evangelicals won the 2004 election for Bush. More (Jackson Sun 06.21.2005). Moore, the so-called "Ten Commandments Judge," said "his removal [from the position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for violating a court order] was a necessary sacrifice to illustrate the 'judicial tyranny' that he said is sweeping the nation." More (Houston Chronicle 06.21.2005).

    Judge checks into alcohol treatment program. "Within a week of being the subject of a 911 intoxicated-pedestrian call, [Montana Judge Jeffrey] Langton has entered an in-patient treatment center. Last Thursday, Langton's attorney, Keithi Worthington released a statement: "Judge Langton is making arrangements to enter an intensive in-patient alcohol treatment program to deal with his alcohol problem." More (Ravalli Republic 06.21.2005).

    Judge agrees to turn self in on charge of leaving scene. "State police got an arrest warrant Monday for Pike County District Judge Jim Bob Steel, but did not serve it after Steel promised to surrender today on charges of leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury and driving left of center. The warrant followed a weekend in which law enforcement officials tried to find out why Steel left an accident scene Friday evening, including an exchange in Steel's bedroom during which the 56-year-old judge reportedly told an Arkansas state trooper trying to interview him: 'Come on, I've always been on you guys' side.'" More (Texarkana, TX Gazette 06.21.2005).

    May a judge hold attorney in contempt for statements in hallway? "Soon after [Attorney William] McElroy left [Northampton County Judge Leonard] Zito's courtroom on May 20, Zito called him back. McElroy gave The Morning Call a transcript of the brief hearing Zito conducted after calling McElroy back to the courtroom. In it, Zito tells McElroy he learned that after leaving the courtroom, McElroy had ''expressed criticism'' of the court and Zito, ''and I want to know the specifics of that from you, sir. Did it occur, and, if it did, what did you say?' McElroy responded, ''I'm going to refuse to answer.'" Later, the judge accepted the attorney's apology & opted not to jail or fine the attorney. More (Mcall 06.21.2005). Comment. Probably a wise move on both sides, though I don't think a finding of contempt for statements of criticism made by an attorney in the hallway after a hearing, without more, would be upheld.

    May courthouse bailiff bar people from posessing brochures? "Free speech doesn't end at the courthouse doors. A special order issued Monday by the Salt Lake County sheriff puts officers on notice that they can't restrict 'speech-related or expressive activity' inside a courthouse or on its grounds without a judge's order. That includes fliers such as the one attorney Robert Breeze had in his briefcase when sheriff's officers at the Matheson courthouse refused to allow him inside the downtown Salt Lake City building in April..." More (Salt Lake City Tribune 06.21.2005).

    Moscow chief judge denies allegations of misconduct. "Responding to criticism from former judges and the press, Moscow City Court's chief judge, Olga Yegorova, said that she neither colluded with prosecutors nor had city judges fired for dissent or leniency...." More (Moscow Times 06.21.2005).

    'Protest Court' & 'Equality Court.' "Israel has built a special court to try opponents of this summer's Gaza Strip pull-out who are arrested for attempting to scupper the withdrawal, says the Israeli courts authority on Monday...." More (News24 06.20.2005). And see, Justice minister launches Cape Town 'equality court' (Mail & Guardian 06.21.2005). Comment. There is a trend toward creation of more specialized, narrowly-focused single-subject courts -- teen courts, drug courts, gun courts, mental health courts, community courts, domestic violence courts, tennis courts, etc. In courts, as in everything else, there are fad & fashions. I'm generally against specialization by trial or appellate judges. In most instances, the "cons" outweigh the "pros," in my opinion. What the system supposedly gains in consistency, efficiency, and other values associated with specialization, it loses in narrow-mindedness, rigidity, and other assembly-line values associated with "experts" and bureaucracies. For the ABA's views, see Concept Paper on Specialized Courts (ABA 06.25.1996).

    Cruise considering taking squirter to court. "Tom Cruise is considering suing a bogus reporters who squirted him in the face with water from a fake microphone while the actor was in London for the premiere of the War of the Worlds movie with fiancee Katie Holmes...." More (Daily India 06.20.2005). Comment. Perhaps the case will be tried in the Practical Joke Court, the same one that would have been appropriate for the food-fight case decided last week -- or perhaps in the court where kids are tried for watching late movies at a theater.

    Judge's highway sign warns speeders of consequences. "The sign is the brainchild of Shafter [Cal.] Superior Court Judge Gary Ingle, who came up with the idea two years ago. 'I can't advertise in the L.A. Times or the San Jose Mercury News, so I thought, why don't I put up a sign where I get the folks coming into where, into the area where I serve?' said Ingle...." The sign informs drivers that Ingle & Co. have confiscated licenses of over 1,200 speeders. A state trooper says citations of people for driving over 100 m.p.h. are down 30%. More (KGET-TV 06.20.2005). Comment. The start of another judicial trend, like state supreme courts going on spring & fall "tours" as part of "judicial outreach initiatives"? Maybe the Congress & state legislatures ought to appropriate money so that every judge in the land gets to put up one highway sign. Justice Scalia's might read, "Ours is a Dead Constitution - Long Live the Constitution." See, Scalia on the 'Dead Constitution.'

    India court rooms go high tech with sound systems, microphones. "Until now at courts in the city, you had to strain to hear the incoherent mumbling of a timid lawyer or huddle around the judge’s table so you didn’t miss the final judgement of a nail-biting case. All that is set to change. On Monday, for the first time, the division bench of Justice A P Shah and Justice D Y Chandrachud used mircophones in a pilot project initiated by the Bombay High Court...." More (Express India 06.20.2005). Comment. Think how much we could save if we "outsouced" our cases to our common law brothers & sisters in India.

    Police shoot & kill man in Seattle federal courthouse. "A man carrying a hand grenade and a sheaf of papers including a 'living will' was fatally shot by police Monday in the lobby of the downtown Federal Courthouse, authorities said. The grenade was a dud, but police could not see that as the man held it in his hand, Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said...." More (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 06.20.2005).

    Latest in Mississippi judicial bribery case. "A former chancery judge [J.N. Randall] testified today in the judicial bribery case against Paul Minor, saying the wealthy Gulf Coast attorney played an instrumental role in getting him [appointed by the governor to]a seat on the bench....Minor is accused of bribing state Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., former Circuit Judge John Whitfield and former Chancery Judge Wes Teel...." Randall testified that once he, Randall, was on the bench, Minor allegedly paid him ex parte visits, seeking special treatment in a case in Randall's court in which Minor represented a bank. More (Clarion-Ledger 06.20.2005).

    Schwarzenegger's judicial appointments. "So far, Schwarzenegger has selected 37 Republicans, 25 Democrats and eight who decline to state a party, according to his office...Of Schwarzenegger's 70 lower-court selections, 27 percent have been women, 2.9 percent have been Latino, 1.4 percent have been black and 8.6 percent have been of Asian descent, the Governor's Office reported...." More (San Diego Union Tribune 06.19.2005).

    How long may a single judge delay a decision by an appeals court? "Can a single High Court justice indefinitely delay a hearing on a petition? According to the regulations of the High Court of Justice, such a power is granted only to a panel of three justices or more. However, in reality, for two years Justice Asher Grunis has prevented a hearing on a petition by Yesh Gvul, an organization of Israel Defense Forces reservists who oppose service in the territories...." More (Haaretz 06.20.2005). Comment. It's not a problem only in Israel's High Court.

    Judge Legal in trouble for speaking mind? Judge Hubert Legal, head of a five-member panel of the 25-member Court of First Instance reviewing Microsoft's appeal from a European Commission antitrust decision, is in trouble for an article he wrote referring to judicial assistants as "young ayatollahs" of free enterprise. The clever proposal for dealing with the crisis, it appears, is transfer the case to an enlarged panel. More (This Is London 06.20.2005). Earlier report.

    'Judicial Olympics' to be held in Beijing. "The 22nd Congress on the Law of the World to be held in Beijing and Shanghai this September has attracted 31 foreign chief justices to attend, said the Chinese organization committee of the congress on Monday. Statistics from the committee show that 47 high-ranking judicial officials from 37 countries, including Germany, Russia, France, Britain, Canada, Australia and Japan, have confirmed that they will participate in the September congress...." More (China View 06.20.2005). Comment. It is fitting that the Congress be held in a country where the Rule of Law is so respected.

    Profile of possible Bush pick, Burger protege Luttig. "Luttig seems the opposite of Scalia, with a boyish face, an unassuming manner, teetotaling ways and a friendly Texas drawl. He also has a sense of humor: A few years ago, he 'applied' for a first-year associate's job at Hogan & Hartson, which, he suspected, would pay more than the salary of a federal appeals judge. Responding in kind, then-Hogan partner John Roberts Jr. -- now a possible high court nominee himself -- turned Luttig down. Roberts informed him that first-year associates normally lack life tenure, are not assigned a battery of law clerks to assist them, and don't wear black robes, even on casual Fridays...." More (Legal Times 06.20.2005). Comment. Of all the things listed in the article that he has going for him, it seems to me that likely the most important, in Bush's ears, is his "Texas drawl." See, Bush may pick Texan for Supreme Court.

    Save-our-courthouse rally draws 200. "Carrying homemade signs and standing underneath the cool cover of trees on the courthouse lawn, about 200 people gathered Saturday morning to protest the planned demolition of the Randolph County Courthouse...." More (Muncie Star-Press 06.20.2005). Details & views.

    The Supreme Court debates where to take Irish judges to dinner. "Dear Colleagues: Sorry, but I will be unable to join you for dinner. I will, as usual, be enjoying my apple and yogurt, while hiding out under my desk. Sincerely, David Souter...." From Dahlia Lithwick, An Inside Look at Supreme Court Decisionmaking (The American Lawyer 06.20.2005).

    Trial of judge on rape charges set for October. "Suspended [Namibian] Supreme Court Judge of Appeal Pio Teek (58), accused of raping two young girls in late January, will go on trial in the High Court in Windhoek on October 17...." More (Legal Brief 06.20.2005). Earlier item: "Judge President Pio Teek has laid charges of contempt of court against two Namibian dailies, The Namibian and Die Republikein, as well as the Society of Advocates over comments they made about his refusal to uphold a court order for the release of a former UNITA spokesman...." More (IFEX 02.05.2001)

    Justice Gibbs Salika: Let's let victims whip & cane rapists in public. "Justice Gibbs Salika made his call in the National Court in Port Moresby when he sentenced a man to 11 years jail for armed robbery, [Papua New Guinea's] Post-Courier newspaper reported today...." He thinks it'll deter others from commiting these crimes. More (The Age 06.20.2005). For more on deterrence in other, lesser contexts, click here.

    Judges weigh ways to return 'tainted' contributions. "With politicians from President Bush to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger scrambling to rid themselves of campaign cash from Tom and Bernadette Noe, local judges are also trying to figure out what to do...." More (Toledo Blade 06.20.2005). Comment. Recently, a majority of the members of the Ohio Supreme Court recused themselves from hearing & deciding three appeals involving the contributor in question. More (Toledo Blade 05.19.2005). I pre-emptively avoided any such quandries when I ran for Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court by refusing all donations and endorsements. My opponent, the current chief, spent around $130,000, I spent less than $100; she won big, I lost big. I'd have "lost" even if I'd spent $130,000 -- indeed, even if I'd gotten more votes than my opponent. See, BurtLaw on Judicial Independence & Accountability.

    Profile of V. L. 'Budd' Fairfield, 78, 'dean' of court bailiffs. "McLean County [Ill.] Sheriff Dave Owens, who employs the court bailiffs, said Fairfield is 'very conscientious.' 'He's very likable and friendly and has a strong work ethic,' Owens said. McLean County Circuit Judge Scott Drazewski called Fairfield 'the informal dean of our court bailiffs.'" More (Pantagraph 06.20.2005).

    Judicial bribery trial begins in Louisiana. "Judge Allen Green is accused of selling justice; he proclaims he is innocent. In the high-profile trial that begins Monday, the public trust is at stake...." More (New Orleans Times-Picayune 06.19.2005).

    Did judge seek special prison treatment for secretary's son? "An attorney general's investigation revealed that a...judge met with the director of the state Department of Corrections last year to seek a transfer for his secretary's son...." The probe was dropped when the judge resigned. More (KOTV 06.19.2005).

    Holmes' father's hunt for the captain. "In the dead of the night which closed upon the bloody field of Antietam, my household was startled from its slumbers by the loud summons of a telegraphic messenger.  The air had been heavy all day with rumors of battle, and thousands and tens of thousands had walked the streets with throbbing hearts, in dread anticipation of the tidings any hour might bring...." This is from a famous piece -- My Hunt After "The Captain" -- that Holmes' father, the world-renowned doctor and writer, wrote about his search for his battle-wounded son. It was later collected in a terrific volume of his miscellaneous writings titled Pages from an Old Volume of Life. Eventually, he found him:
In the first car, on the fourth seat to the right, I saw my Captain; there saw I him, even my first-born, whom I had sought through many cities. "How are you, Boy?" "How are you, Dad?" Such are the proprieties of life, as they are observed among us Anglo-Saxons of the nineteenth century, decently disguising those natural impulses that made Joseph, the Prime Minister of Egypt, weep aloud so that the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard, nay, which had once overcome his shaggy old uncle Esau so entirely that he fell on his brother's neck and cried like a baby in the presence of all the women. But the hidden cisterns of the soul may be filling fast with sweet ears, while the windows through which it looks are undimmed by a drop or a film of moisture....

    Charles Evans Hughes: My Father the Chief Justice. "I remember well the rides in mother's electric automobile to take father to the Court and often call for him there. During that period I began to realize that my family was different, and I felt a compelling need to do the best I could so as not to 'let father down.' There was no mention of this at home; but my brother, sisters, and I just felt it and carried on as best we could....Even though I sensed father's need for deep concentration at times, even at home, and acted accordingly, he was by no means a stern parent. He left most of the child disciplining to mother, and although heavily burdened with work, he seemed to forget it all at mealtimes. And so I remember only happy dinners, with much laughter and light conversation. Father was an inveterate story-teller, with a great ability as a mimic, especially in dialects...." -- Elizabeth Hughes Gossett. More (Supreme Court Historical Society Yearbook 1976).

    Justice Black's kids (& two fellow Justices) select his coffin. "Our group included three family members -- my brother, my step-brother, and myself—and two Supreme Court Justices -- Byron White and William Brennan....Huddling for a final conference, some-one asked, 'Shall we get the pink, the cheapest?' and we all gave a resounding 'YES.' We said we would buy the pink for $165 with the cloth stripped off. The salesman said that was impossible, it would look terrible. We, however, wanted to see for ourselves since this was our coffin of choice. First one of us pulled away a little cloth to take a peek, then another ripped more forcefully, and finally we all started ripping off the fabric with careless abandon. Off came the bows, the coffin skirt, and all but a few patches of stubbornly glued pink organza. There stood a perfectly fine plain pine box. The debris littered the elegant carpet, but we were practically euphoric. We had followed my father's directive almost to a tee, with added bonus of deflating pretensions in this very pretentious room (though my father would have felt some compassion for the poor coffin salesman)." -- Josephine Black Pesaresi, 'Simple and Cheap,' My Father Said (Funerals.Org).

    Future Justice O'Connor's dad. "'We like John,' said her father. 'But I've seen better cowboys.'" Future Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's father's first impression of his future son in law, John Jay O'Connor III, quoted in Susan Gordon, Wedding Days 12.20 (1998). Of her father, Justice O'Connor said in 2002:

I felt very close to him. But, of course, when I was little... How many children get to be with their parents all day, every day? And go to work with your father, so to speak. If a father goes off to the office, the child is probably not going to be with him all that time. And, yet, on the ranch when my father would go out around the ranch, he liked to have company and I'd go with him. And whatever it was, we'd be together. He was very intelligent, curious about everything, and loved to talk. And it was just quite an experience being with him.

Interviewed by Gwen Ifill, 02.01.2002 on PBS' News Hour. More.

    Rehnquist's clerks hold annual two-day event - Scalia stars. "Two of Rehnquist's fellow members of the court, Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy, contributed videotaped messages to the occasion. Scalia brought the house down by jokingly denying any ambitions to be chief justice himself. He would rather be pope, he quipped, according to witnesses...." More (Boston Globe 06.19.2005).

    Highest sports court holds forth in castle. "At a party on June Lausanne, Switzerland...the highest officers in sport governance toasted the highest court in the sporting world [the Court of Arbitration for Sport], which has moved into the Château de Béthusy, a restored castle near the International Olympic Committee headquarters...." More (N.Y. Times 06.19.2005). Comment. I'd agree to be on the World Fashion Court, provided a) the court was in France or Italy and b) I was furnished with an appropriate residence or villa befitting my status as fashion arbiter and a fashion-food expense account to supplement my pay. In at least one of my trend-setting illustrated opinions, I'd paraphrase Thomas Wolfe: "She who is whored by Fashion will be whored by Time." With that I presumably would be summarily ejected from the court, in the same fashion that the minister was thrown out the front door of the church by the seat of his pants for giving a sermon confirming all the scandalous rumors about Mary Magdalene. Then I would write a tell-all book about the fashion world & appear on all the talk shows & get rich.

    Judge looted estate, got caught, but has he paid the price? "He looted a $2.2 million estate. He refuses to tell where the money went. And he still collects a $72,000 judicial pension....[The judge] looted the $2.2 million estate of a local businessman and managed to keep the crime a secret while he served for 12 years on the bench. The money he took was to fund a charity that would benefit the local community...." More (Chicago Tribune 06.19.2005).

    Man steals, crashes judge's car, flees. "A man driving a stolen vehicle belonging to a Vallejo judge got away early Wednesday morning after slamming it into several other parked cars...." More (Vallejo Times-Herald 06.19.2005). Comment. Random occurrence or yet another threat to judicial independence?

    Sleeping, snoring bailiff, jurors, judge, gallery? "The judge started a coffee habit just to keep from drifting off. A juror, lawyer and journalist regularly closed their eyes. And a court officer once actually had to jostle awake a guy in the front row...." This was the Enron trial. But it could have been a scene at other trials: "Nancy King, a law professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Law...surveyed hundreds of judges about 10 years ago. When asked about sleeping jurors, 69 percent of the jurists said they'd had a juror nod off in the previous three years. The judges, she said, usually left it up to the lawyers to deal with the dozer. 'After all, it was (the lawyers) that put the juror to sleep,' King wrote of the judicial attitude...." More (Houston Chronicle 06.19.2005). Related news items. Click here, here, here.

    More threats to judges, one under 24-hour protection. "A federal judge who received death threats is being protected by a rare 24-hour security detail of U.S. Marshals. The FBI and other federal agencies are investigating threats against Senior U.S. District Judge Edward H. Johnstone in connection with a Louisville arson case...Last week, a federal prisoner at the Lexington Medical Center was charged with plotting to kill U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman...." More (WKYT 06.19.2005).

    Trial judge self-publishes crime novel with judge as victim. "[The book, Broken Gavel,] chronicle[s] an attempted assassination of a Brooklyn judge on the golf course at the Richmond County Country Club right here on Staten Island...." More (Staten Island Advance 06.19.2005).

    Some in Congress revive effort to split controversial 9th Circuit. "'The reason that the issue of splitting the circuit comes up repeatedly is because of dissatisfaction in some areas with some of our decisions,' said Mary M. Schroeder, chief judge of the Ninth Circuit and a strong opponent of any split. 'This has a long historic basis beginning with some fishing rights decisions in the 60's and going forward to the Pledge of Allegiance case and presently some of the immigration decisions.'" More (N.Y. Times 06.19.2005).

    Congress takes another stab at courts. "The House of Representatives took a little- noticed but dangerous swipe at the power of the courts this week. It passed an amendment to a budget bill that would bar money from being spent to enforce a federal court ruling regarding the Ten Commandments. The vote threatens the judiciary's long-acknowledged position as the final arbiter of the Constitution...." More (N.Y. Times 06.19.2005).

    Judge charged with misconduct over delays seeks delay. "The board had filed four counts of judicial misconduct against [Judge William R.] Shaffer on May 13, accusing him of 'unreasonable and unjustifiable' delays in nine divorce matters. In three cases, he waited nearly three years to render a verdict...." Now he wants an extension of several weeks to respond. More (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06.19.2005).

    New chief justice, Nick Phillips, is 'brainy modernizer.' "A brainy moderniser who keeps fit by swimming outdoors all year round is to become the new top judge in England and Wales when Lord Woolf retires at the end of September. Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers will take over as lord chief justice for England and Wales from October 1. Nicholas Phillips, 67, will move from the number two post in the judiciary, master of the rolls, to the top job...." More (UK Guardian 06.18.2005). Earlier item. Comment. Let's hope his "modernizing" is wise & good & not just "brainy." We've seen "modernizers" with impeccable academic credentials who are neither wise nor good & foolishly say things like, "Change is good." It may be or it may not be.

    The courts & the prime minister. The way it works in the U.K. is that any witness named in a summons must appear or apply to the judge for permission not to attend. The mother of a young Brit killed in Iraq two days after the U.S. & Britain invaded Iraq has withheld tax payments in protest, saying she'll pay when Tony Blair shows her evidence of weapons of mass destruction or resigns. He apparently sent her a note saying he'd sed the evidence but he reportedly hasn't. Now, on trial, the woman has summoned Blair. More (UK Times 06.18.2005). Update. Blair is excused (Guardian 06.21.2005).

    Judicial/executive conflicts - Kenya. "Judges yesterday warned Kenya's leaders to obey court orders - or face three years in jail...Their warning -- the second given to politicians within 12 months -- followed a statement by Lands minister Amos Kimunya that a Cabinet decision to remove settlers from Mau Forest would be implemented fully, in spite of a court order banning the evictions." More (All Africa 06.18.2005).

    New 'spaceship-like' courts building in Singapore. "...Koh Juat Jong, Registrar of the Supreme Court, [said,] 'If you are familiar with the old courtroom, you will realise that the distance between the bench and the lawyer is quite far and that creates a certain distant feeling. So in the new courtroom, we want to make a design feature such that you have eye contact between judges and lawyers.'" Not everyone likes the look of the "spaceship-like" building from the outside but "the interior [is] glass[y], light, [with] lots of open spaces, modern, and functional....." There are 23 courts in the building, "with the very top of the [building] reserved for the top courts of the land -- the Courts of Appeal." One of the advanced features is a child-care center, where witnesses, etc., may take their children. More (Channel Asia 06.18.2005). For an online "tour" of the building, click here.

    BULLETIN! - Nicholas Phillips named as new Chief Justice! "Lord Chief Justice Harry Woolf, Britain's most senior judge and a champion of changes to the country's penal and civil justice systems, will retire on Sept. 30, ending a 49-year legal career. Woolf, 72, will be replaced by Nicholas Phillips, 67, currently the next most senior judge, according to a press statement on the Web site of the Prime Minister's office...." More (Bloomberg.Com 06.17.2005).

    Those "randy" Swede (not Norwegian) judges. "A Swedish judge has been fined for soliciting prostitutes, a third such case to rock the country's legal system in little more than a year, said a prosecutor on Friday. Prosecutor Mats Svensson said the judge, who was not identified, had admitted to trying to buy sex from three prostitutes at an illegal bordello that posed as a tanning salon in Malmo, southern Sweden...." More (News24.Com 06.17.2005). Comment. As we have previously emphasized in linking to reports of "randy" Swedish judges, the judges in question are Swedish, not Norwegian. We are blithely and blissfully unaware of any Norwegian judge ever having been caught soliciting prostitutes and we are doubtful any has. If one ever is caught, authorities should double-check to make sure the "Norwegian" is not a Swede-in-disguise: indeed, in my native Minnesota, it is hard to find any Swedes who will admit to being Swedish, as everyone in Minnesota is or ultimately converts to Norwegianism. (Obversely, if a Norwegian ever is caught doing anything of this nature, he should claim to be Swedish, so as not to tarnish the Norwegian record.) This being a teachable moment, we should add that Swedes, in our experience, are also more likely than Norwegians to visit "no-tell" or "love" or "hot-sheet" or "hourly-rate" motels. When a Norwegian and a Swede visit one together, proper etiquette mandates that the Swede, usually the woman, sign-in, partly because she typically is the more-experienced but also because one wouldn't want the Norwegian to be subject to unfair publicity if his cover, or whatever, were blown. More at BurtLaw's Law and Norwegians at our original law-relate blog, BurtLaw'sLawAndEverythingElse.Com. Related link: Norwegians in Politics.

    Another rebuke to Texas' legal system. "The U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of another Texas death-penalty case this week was the latest rebuke to the state's legal system...It was the fourth time in two years that the nation's highest court overturned a death sentence that Texas courts and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had let stand..." More (The Globe and Mail 06.17.2005).

    Bush may pick Texan for Supreme Court. "At least eight Texans are being mentioned as potential Supreme Court nominees as anticipation builds over prospects that President Bush soon may face his first vacancy on the high court.
...Contributing to speculation that Bush may look to his home state for a nominee -- either now or later -- is the makeup of the administration team that will shape the nomination process. Gonzales, as chief of the Justice Department, and White House lawyer Harriet Miers, a former Dallas corporate lawyer, will be actively involved in the selection. They will work closely with the president's senior adviser, Karl Rove, a former Austin political consultant...." More (Star-Telegram 06.17.2005). Comment. It's called provincialism: "The act or an instance of placing the interests of one's province before one's nation" (The Free Dictionary). "Tolstoy, in an expression that is all but impossible to render in English, described the novelist's work as a process of 'making things appear strange.' Familiarity, he observed, blinds us to what may in fact be astonishing. The writer's task, he argued, is to force us to confront the world as it is, with all its bizarre anomalies." F. Frederick Starr, Escalating the Campaign Against Provincialism (ADE.Org). In other words, he urged the writer to avoid provincialism, even when inspired, as all writers are, by the local and familiar. The President's task is, or ought to be, to overcome that pull toward provincialism in appointments that so many, but not all, Presidents have displayed, and instead go for "the best," which usually isn't someone from one's home state. The President is President of 50 United States, not President of "Moronia" (H. L. Mencken). Not all Presidents have succumbed to the pull of provincialism & cronyism in Supreme Court appointments. "Hoover [a Republican] nominated Chief Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo of the New York Court of Appeals, a Democrat, on the advice of Chief Justice Hughes [a Republican]." Merlo J. Pusey, Court Nominations and Presidential Cronyism (Supreme Court Historical Society 1981 Yearbook). In other words, he truly picked "the best person" available &, in elevating him, elevated himself & the country. Related items. Governors appointing pals to state supreme court.

    But will Bill retire? "William H. Rehnquist was tapped to be chief justice 19 years ago Friday, and while conventional wisdom says his combination of age and cancer won't allow him to stay around for a 20th, some court watchers are not so sure. They point out that he looks better than he had been, is keeping a regular schedule and, maybe most important of all, still loves his work. All that adds up to the possibility-- still slim -- that he'll confound everyone and stay put, perhaps for another full term...." More (San Francisco Chronicle 06.17.2005). Comment. Some people already have you in the grave, & even more are salivating at the chance of replacing you. Surprise them, don't retire, Bill. More & more.

    Majority of Americans satisfied with Supreme Court. "Many adults in the United States have a positive assessment of the country’s foremost tribunal, according to a poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates for the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. 57 per cent of respondents have a favourable opinion of the Supreme Court, while 40 per cent disagree...." More (Angus-Reid 06.17.2005). Meanwhile, "Increasingly pessimistic about Iraq and skeptical about President Bush's plan for Social Security, Americans are in a season of political discontent, giving Mr. Bush one of the lowest approval ratings of his presidency and even lower marks to Congress, according to the New York Times/CBS News Poll." See, Bush's support on major issues tumbles in poll (NY Times 06.17.2005).

    Does courthouse monument compromise criminal defendant's rights? "A monument to victims' rights displayed on the lawn of the Lubbock County [Texas] Courthouse could unfairly prejudice juries, criminal defense attorneys in this West Texas city say. The monument, funded with a federal grant to a regional victims' crime coalition, depicts a quote from Ben Franklin which reads: 'Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.'" More (Denton Record-Chronicle 06.17.2005).

    Is there a need for greater judicial intervention in food fights? "The judge said the food fight disrupted school activities [at Kings High School in Kings Hill, Ohio] and 'presented a risk of physical harm to persons as it is reasonable to think that someone could have slipped and fallen on the thrown food and drink.'" About 300 students participated but two were singled out for prosecution because they wouldn't stop when requested. More (ClickOnDetroit 06.17.2005). Comment. The absolutely shocking, indeed stunning, fact that apparently distinguishes this food fight from most others is that it was "planned." It seems clear that schools and colleges can't deal with these matters administratively and that resort to the judiciary was needed. We hope & trust that making an example of the two students in question will serve as a deterrent to food fighting everywhere. It may even be suggested that Ohio authorities consider the Singaporean model, including its utilitarian, one might say Benthamite, reliance on caning as an effective deterrent. See Michael Hor, Singapore's Innovations to Due Process (2000). But see, Paul Robinson & John Darley, The Role of Deterrence in the Formulation of Criminal Law Rules: At Its Worst When Doing Its Best, 91 Geo. L. J. 949 (2003).

    GOP to hold rally against Kansas Supreme Court at capitol. "Some conservative Republicans are planning to rally Saturday at the Statehouse to protest the Kansas Supreme Court's recent school finance ruling. Those attending the 'Take Back Our Constitution' rally at 1 p.m. at the Statehouse are being urged to bring signs reading either 'Stop the Kansas Sebelius Court' or 'Stop the Activist Sebelius Court.'" More (Capital-Journal 06.17.2005). Comment. And is this what it's come to -- if you disagree with a state supreme court decision, you schedule a rally outside the capitol?

    Chief judge grills burgers for construction crew. "Chief U.S. District Judge Patricia Fawsett...abandoned her jurist's robe, donned a chef's apron and hat and wore jeans and Nike sneakers. In front of construction laborers and supervisors, Fawsett grilled hamburgers and hot dogs in the sweltering heat at the construction site of a new federal building in downtown Orlando....serv[ing] several of at least 180 laborers, many dusty, sweaty and hungry from a morning shift. They were treated to the lunchtime feast to mark the completion of the last concrete placement in the $65 million project...." More (Orlando Sentinel 06.17.2005). Comment. Just plain common folks.

    Georgia Supreme Court warns judges about eyewitness instructions. "The Georgia Supreme Court warned state judges Thursday to be careful how they instruct juries about weighing the value of eyewitness identification in criminal trials. In a 4-3 ruling overturning a Fulton County armed robbery case, the court said witnesses can be unreliable, no matter how strongly they believe they have identified the right person. 'Accordingly, we advise trial courts to refrain from informing jurors they may consider a witness' level of certainty when instructing them on the factors that may be considered in deciding the reliability of that identification,' the court said...." More (Gwinnett Daily Post 06.17.2005). Comment. Indeed, sometimes the most cocksure witness is the least reliable.

    Court rules lawmakers don't have standing to challenge divorce decree. "The Iowa Supreme Court has tossed out a lawsuit that challenged a 'lesbian divorce.' A northwest Iowa judge dissolved the Vermont "civil union" of two women. A group of conservative lawmakers and a LeMars church filed a lawsuit, asking the state's highest court to rule the judge had no authority to grant that divorce...." More (Radio Iowa 06.17.2005).

    What happened to Judge Gray? "[Amy Brenneman] hints at a two hour Judging Amy movie, to tie up the loose ends left in the series finale...." More (TV Squad 06.17.2005).

    Steal a judge's laptop, go straight to jail -- for 10 years! "A 10-year prison sentence was imposed Thursday on a man who admitted stealing a judge's laptop computer from a vacant Pennington County courtroom...." More (Aberdeen American 06.16.2005).

    Florida crackdown on jury no-shows. "Not showing up for jury duty cost a Brevard County man time away from his welding business to appear before a judge and explain why. Lying to that judge cost him and his wife $1,000....[The man] is among hundreds of Brevard County residents who have been found in contempt of court since county judges pledged to punish jury duty no-shows in March, according to court records...." More (Florida Today 06.17.2005). Related stories: here & here.

    N.Y. rejects Court-TV's challenge to cameras-in-court ban. "On Thursday, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the state's 53-year-old ban on cameras in the courts, flatly rejecting Court TV's invitation to stake independent state constitutional ground in favor of electronic access to trial proceedings. The court found that a 1952 law banning cameras from the trial courts easily survives both federal and state constitutional muster...." More (New York Law Journal 06.17.2005).

    Investigation of top judge in Greece. "Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras yesterday called upon Supreme Court prosecutor Dimitris Linos to investigate corruption allegations against the court’s vice president, Achilleas Zisis, as a sixth middle-ranking judge was dismissed on sexual exploitation and other charges....Zisis, who is also the president of the Union of Judges and Prosecutors, yesterday refuted the allegations as 'falsehoods... and wretched defamations' and said he welcomed the probe so he could clear his name....." More (Kathimerini 06.17.2005).

    Canada's top court comes under scrutiny. "What does the legitimacy of abortion laws, the right claimed by a separatist Quebec government to unilateral secession from Canada, the constitutional right to equal marriage without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and the right to private health-care insurance in Canada have in common? The answer is, when each of these fundamental societal and national dilemmas reached the Supreme Court, we witnessed an institutional juggling act...." More (Toronto Star 06.17.2005). And see, Liberals love affair with court sours (Toronto Star 06.17.2005).

    The most dangerous place in the courthouse. "'All of the lawyers will tell you that pretty much the most dangerous and volatile place in the courthouse is the family law courtroom,' said [Frederic] Ury, a Fairfield [CT] attorney. 'Family is so emotional.'" Courthouse shooting underscores dangers faced by divorce lawyers (Newsday 06.17.2005).

    O'Connor to teach during winter recess. "During the U.S. Supreme Court's winter recess, Justice O'Connor will spend her time in Tucson at the University of Arizona's law college teaching a one-unit class on America's highest court...." More (AZ Republic 06.17.2005).

    Judge retires to deal with epilepsy. "[Judge Linda] Motheral, who has been on a nine-month leave of absence, was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy last year, according to her husband, Steve Moriarty. After colleagues noticed she was acting strangely, her husband said, Motheral took a paid leave of absence Aug. 30. 'She had been having difficulty with short-term memory, organization and her ability to verbally articulate what was in her mind,' Moriarty said." More (Houston Chronicle 06.17.2005).

    Chief's court says chief didn't forfeit job. "The State Supreme Court says it won't let a Providence lawyer reargue a lawsuit that sought to remove the chief justice from the bench. The Supreme Court dismissed Keven McKenna's lawsuit last week. The justices refused yesterday to hear McKenna's petition for reargument...." More (WPRI 06.17.2005). Earlier story.

    Judicial fashions: scientific evidence. We used to be told that fingerprint evidence is foolproof. Now we know better. See, Foolproof fingerprint evidence? at BurtLaw on Crime & Punishment, LawandEverything.Else.Com. Courts are as much fools for fashion as are people, because, of course, courts are run by people, as ordinary and typical as you and I are. Comes now evidence that another type of fashionable evidence, testimony about so-called "shaken baby syndrome," may be less than 100% reliable. "Experts have said that swelling of the brain, bleeding behind the eyes and between the brain and skull are symptoms of mistreatment." But "recent research suggest[s] similar injuries can be caused by falls from a relatively low height" and that "vaccinations or medication could cause a lack of oxygen to the brain, resulting in the same injuries." There are now four test cases at the Court of Appeals in the U.K. and "More than 90 other convictions could be challenged if the Court of Appeal judges throw doubt on the medical evidence relied on to establish guilt in the four test cases." More (BBC News 06.16.2005).

    What happens when a judicial "genius" retires? We're talking about the Chief Justice, of course -- Aharon Barak. "There are no people of such caliber in the Supreme Court that Barak is leaving behind. The justices are good judges. Some of them are very good. But there are no intellectuals, teachers of ethics, geniuses. What happens to every closed group that reproduces within itself has happened to the closed society of the Supreme Court justices as well. In the absence of new blood, new ideas and self-criticism, the tribe has slowly become dulled. The sect has slowly faded. The order has lost its vitality...." From an interesting profile by Ari Shavit. More (Haaretz 06.16.2005).

    Mob attacks court. "A group of people, who were possibly incited by others, invaded a district court in suburban Beijing on Monday. 'They rushed into the reception hall on Monday afternoon, breaking equipment and beating up court staff,' an official at Huairou District People's Court said yesterday. The Beijing News reported that 14 court staff members, including several police officers, were slightly injured by the invaders...." More (People's Daily 06.16.2005).

    Judges may hire own security force. "Fulton County judges are considering forming their own security force to ensure safety at the downtown courthouse where a colleague and two others were gunned down earlier this year. Judith Cramer, the judges' top administrator, said judges were still uncomfortable with safety and may form a security staff with "duties that complement the sheriff's deputies." More (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 06.16.2005).

    Judges wonder what to do about no-shows, delayed trials. "One in seven defendants is failing to turn up to court, according to new figures that show the Government is failing in a pledge to speed up justice. As MPs caution that public confidence in the criminal justice system is in decline, the figures, seen by The Times, show that more rather than less time is now spent in getting people to trial than it was last year...." More (The Times UK 06.16.2005).

    Court system as lottery? "Ashley Smith, the young widow taken hostage by Atlanta courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols in March, began sifting through book deals shortly after the ordeal. She has finally signed one: The Zondervan and William Morrow divisions of HarperCollins Publishers have acquired rights to publish a book on Smith, the publishing house said Wednesday...." More (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 06.16.2005). Comment. Perhaps the solution to the problem of prospective jurors, defendants and witnesses not showing up (see, supra) might be to include in their notices-to-appear a statement that others who have appeared have gotten book deals as a result of their court experiences and struck it rich -- and that it could happen to them. "Get yourself on the Michael Jackson jury & you might land a book deal."

    'Collections court' - bright idea? "In September 2003, the Polk County [Fla] court system started a collections court to go after millions of dollars in unpaid court costs and fines....Judges scheduled 'pay-or-appear' hearings, where people who had served their sentences but were delinquent in paying fines and costs were summoned back to court. Those who didn't show up were held in contempt, and arrest warrants were issued...." Now a judge has ruled the collections court system unconstitutional. More (The Ledger 06.16.2005).

    Judge takes P.M. to court. "First, it was Jean Chretien taking John Gomery to court. Now, Justice Gomery is taking Paul Martin to court. What gives? Gomery is annoyed that the Martin government had a secret exchange of letters with Chretien's lawyers acknowledging that even as the former prime minister dropped his court case alleging Gomery's bias against him, he could make the same accusations later after the release of the judge's findings...." More (National Post 06.16.2005). Comment. It's all Greek -- er, Canadian -- to me.

    Minnesota judge pleads guilty to DWI. "Hennepin County District Judge Regina Chu pleaded guilty Wednesday to drunken driving after hitting the garage door at her apartment complex in downtown Minneapolis. Her blood-alcohol content was 0.13 percent, above the legal limit of 0.10 percent about two hours after the accident on Friday, according to the criminal complaint. It said she had three glasses of wine with dinner...." More (Minneapolis Star-Tribune 06.16.2005). Comment. I know Reggie. She was one of my successors as special term law clerk in Hennepin County District Court, which Chief Justice Douglas Amdahl has described as "the most difficult law clerk position in the state of Minnesota." She later was a law clerk for Chief Justice Amdahl when I was Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Supreme Court. She was one of the best of the supreme court law clerks with whom I worked over the years, and from what I've heard she's one of the best district court judges. She is a petite woman and her statement that she had drunk three glasses of wine with dinner has the ring of credibility. We are fortunate that Minnesota is not one of the states in which a judge's DWI conviction leads to removal from the bench. We would be losing a very good judge if that were the case. My guess is that this incident will only make Reggie an even better judge than she has been. We err in expecting judges to be perfect. A perfect person, if there were such a bird, might not make a very good judge. "Fill the seats of justice with good [people], not so absolute in goodness as to forget what human frailty is...." Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd. (More quotes.)

    Decline in per cent of those favorably viewing Supremes. "For more than a decade, at least seven in 10 people had a favorable view of the high court. In January 2001, just after the court ruled that President Bush was the winner of the 2000 election, 68 percent had a favorable view...." Now it's down to 57%. More (Washington Post 06.15.2005). And it appears that Evangelical Protestant Republicans are more likely than others to distrust courts. More. (Washington Post 06.16.2005).

    When secular judges decide who runs a church. "The battle over the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in Israel has now reached the Supreme Court, thanks to a suit on what initially seemed a trivial matter...." More (Haaretz 06.16.2005).

    Iraqi judge gunned down. "Judge Salem Mahmud Haj Ali was gunned down in Iraq’s third largest city Mosul along with his driver, said police and hospital sources in the restive mainly Sunni Arab city north of the capital. He was at least the second judge killed in Mosul since last year...." More (Khaleej Times UAR 06.16.2005).

    Racial quotas in judicial selection? "Two thirds of judges must ultimately be black in order to represent the country's racial demographics, new justice department director-general Menzi Simelani said...." More (Sunday Times - South Africa 06.16.2005).

    Judge to rape defendant: 'You're not Michael Jackson.' "It could be dangerous for a man charged with raping a child to think he might beat it based on Michael Jackson's acquittal, a judge warned. 'You're not Michael Jackson. And you're not a celebrity,' state District Court Judge David Ritchie told suspect Nicholas Pitree, who has rejected defense attorneys' advice to accept a plea agreement...." More (San Jose Mercury News 06.15.2005).

    County commissioners bow to judge's threat to move cases. "Lincoln County commissioners voted to spend $100,000 or more to increase courthouse security by adding a metal detecter and two sheriff's deputies. The 5-0 vote Tuesday came after the incoming presiding judge said he might move court hearings [from Canton] to Sioux Falls [S.D.] unless the setup in the Canton courthouse was made safer...." More (Aberdeen American News 06.15.2005). See South Dakota judge talks tough about security for my earlier take on this "crisis."

    Text messaging to alert witnesses to come to court in UK. "Witnesses in criminal court cases in Lincolnshire can now be sent a text message when they are due to appear in court. A new computer system called XHIBIT being introduced at Lincoln Combined court can reduce the time witnesses of crime spend waiting in court to give evidence. The technology saves time for witnesses including police officers, meaning they attend court only when they are needed. It could save 80,000 police days every year and mean more policing on the streets...." More (eGOVMonitor 06.15.2005).

    How many checks did the magistrate bounce? "Aurendina 'Dina' Veiga was suspended as a Traffic Tribunal magistrate because she bounced a check and for ethical violations. But she may have more problems than that. A special prosecutor says Veiga bounced 173 checks over a 27 month period ending this March. The prosecutor also says Veiga may have never repaid 65 of those checks...." More (Eyewitness News TV - Providence, R.I. 06.15.2005).

    Pickets keep judge away from courthouse. The Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan has resumed operations for the first time in two months since rioters took control of the court, but "pickets around the Supreme Court [are still] keep[ing] the presiding judge, Kurmanbek Osmonov, away from the building." More (Itar-Tass 06.15.2005).

    Retired judge whose mom invented Nair still going strong. Interesting profile of a beloved 72-year-old N.J. judge -- State Superior Court Judge Richard Plechner -- who is still going strong & could still be serving the people as a judge were it not for the mandatory retirement law. More (Edison Sentinel 06.14.2005). See BurtLaw's Essay on Mandatory Retirement of Judges, one of the most-read pages on my personal law blog, BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else..

    Judge involuntarily removed from case because of ex parte communication. "A whistle-blowers' lawsuit accusing a contractor of cheating the state by routinely reselling returned prescription drugs and pocketing double profits might take a little longer to resolve than first thought...." The judge made the mistake of meeting ex parte with the whistle-blowers' attorney, an obvious no-no. More (Tallahassee Democrat 06.15.2005).

    Another pal gets appointed by a governor to high court. Just five days ago I wrote, in connection with the Georgia & Kentucky governors appointing pals to their state's high courts, "[I]t is funny how often the governor's legal adviser or the head of the governor's judicial appointments commission or someone who helped the governor get elected turns out to be the 'best' person when a supreme court vacancy develops." More. Comes now Gov. Janet Napalitano of Arizona to name her pal Scott Bales to the state's supreme court. How close are they? "The Center for Arizona Policy call[s] Bales a 'Democratic Party activist and a Napolitano crony who has followed her from job to job for years.'" More (The Arizona Republic 06.14.2005).

    Court-TV's coverage of Jackson trial unfair? Nick Clooney, who I think is George's father, thinks so: "Unfortunately on Court TV, they presented us with only poor excuses for reporters. Virtually without exception, they tirelessly advocated for the prosecution hour after hour, day after day...." More (Cincinnati Post 06.15.2005). Comment. I don't have cable TV so I don't know about this, but I've heard others also criticize the Court TV coverage similarly. Maybe that coverage was responsible for the high percentage of people interviewed who, despite not having sat as jurors, thought Mr. Jackson should have been found guilty.

    Is judge back to her old habits? "A King County [WA] District Court judge who was censured last year for not properly advising defendants of key rights, including their right to an attorney, now faces charges that she's done the same things again...." More (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 06.15.2005).

    Careless courthouse garbage policies? "Jackson County [Ill.] courthouse officials have pledged to improve how they dispose of documents containing personal information after some were found in an unlocked container outside the building. Some of the court documents found by The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan in a recycling bin had Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and other personal details, all of which can be used by people to commit identity theft...." More (Belleville News-Democrat 06.14.2005).

    Women convicted of mailing threatening letters to judges. "The women were accused of mailing envelopes containing copies of a newspaper story about a man who killed himself after authorities in Illinois announced he was wanted for questioning in the death of the husband and mother of a federal judge. The words 'Be Aware, Be Fair' were handwritten on each of the articles, mailed to state district court judges in Cedar Rapids and a Cedar Rapids attorney." More (WOI-TV 06.15.2005).

    ConfirmJoeBlow.Com & BorkScalia.Com? "Within two weeks of President George W. Bush's electoral victory last fall, Brian Komar, then director of strategic affairs with the Leadership Conference [on Civil Rights], registered more than 20 Web addresses that included the surnames of potential high court nominees...." This is from an interesting article in Legal Times on how all the various pro- & con-interest groups have been buying up various URLs in anticipation of various judges being picked by Bush for the expected vacancy on the Court. More (Legal Times 06.15.2005).

    Judicial transparency & King Fahd, a/k/a 'Mr. Maple.' A Jordanian-born woman who lives in London & says she is one of 83-year-old Saudi King Fahd's three wives, is suing him in the British courts, claiming he wilfully neglected her and asking for her share of his untold billions in assets. The King claimed sovereign immunity prevented the suit in the British courts and for a time was successful in obtaining judicial secrecy, with the case being labeled Maple v. Maple. But now "[t]hree appeal court judges have granted her permission to appeal against a ruling that the King [is] entitled to sovereign immunity, and have ruled that the appeal must be held in open court...." More (N.Z. Herald 06.15.2005).

    Judge Learned Hand's big fear. "As a litigant, I should dread a lawsuit beyond almost anything short of sickness and death." Comment. I think many of us who've labored many years in the judicial system and seen or reviewed our share of criminal trials dread being personally involved in a lawsuit as much as Hand and dread doubly or triply being personally involved in a criminal trial. For us, it is therefore impossible not to empathize with the man in the dock, no matter how horrendous the crime charged. With the awful power of the state behind him, even the least-skilled prosecutor has significant advantages over the defendant, no matter how well he is defended. Typically, it comes down in the end to the individual and group identity and character and wisdom and background and experience of the jurors selected. I was on a jury a couple years ago that would have gone one way, not the way the jurors wanted, if I had simply kept my mouth shut and watched and not told the others that they had misunderstood the instructions. Similarly, a different jury might well have found Mr. Jackson guilty on the same flimsy evidence, and then it would have been up to the judiciary to decide if he'd received a fair trial, if the evidence was sufficient, etc. Until the verdicts were read, no one was sure what they would be. And that is why some hearts were beating awfully fast -- and why an old Hand like Learned had good reason to dread what he dreaded.

    Sloppy judge left a trail of reversals of convictions. "Raynell Bright pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter in the death of his baby daughter, seven years after a jury found him guilty of murder. The case is just one more frayed thread from the mess left behind by former Orleans Parish Criminal Court Judge Sharon Hunter when she was ousted in 2002 for incompetence...[B]ecause Hunter's court was in such appalling disarray that she could not produce a genuine and full transcript of the trial, Bright's conviction was overturned on appeal -- one of at least five murder convictions the state has lost because of sloppy bookkeeping in Hunter's courtroom...." More (New Orleans Times-Picayune 06.14.2005).

    Obituary - Judge Harry T. Shafer, 92. "As a judge, Shafer did not shy away from controversy. He once gave a newspaper interview in which he said that judges were 'overpaid and underworked' and should not complain about their pay and benefits. He also raised eyebrows when he signed the nominating petition of a prosecutor challenging one of his judicial colleagues in 1974; when he endorsed then-Superior Court Judge Vaino Spencer...against an election challenger...and when he ruled in favor of television coverage of court proceedings, two years before the state court rule was amended to allow it. But his most enduring contribution to the profession may stem from his role as one of the three founders of what became Pepperdine University Law School...." More (Metropolitan News-Enterprise 06.14.2005).

    Save the courthouse? The Randolph County Board of Commissioners voted, 2-1, to tear down the historic old county courthouse in Winchester, Indiana, & build a new one on the spot. It won't happen without a fight from local residents. "'Is there someone that's in favor of this? I have not had one person say that they were in favor of tearing down the courthouse. That is just amazing to us,' [Betty] McCord[,who is circulating a petition,] said. 'I'm just in awe that we haven't found one person yet.'" More (Muncie Star-Press 06.14.2005). Comment. Thomas Wolfe wrote a novel, published after his untimely death in 1938 at age 38, titled You Can't Go Home Again. For many of us it's not so much a question whether you can go back to one's hometown but if there's any point. One's parents and close relatives have died and the friends of your youth, like you, no longer live there.The old family house hasn't been the same for years. Anyhow, it's no longer in the family. Why then go back to one's hometown? Perhaps to visit the some of the old public places. The public buildings and parks of one's youth, along with one's old home, may come to seem sacred. But if those places are no longer there.... In my case, most of them aren't. The powers that be in my hometown on the Minnesota prairie, acting in good faith no doubt, have torn down the church of my youth, the elementary school I attended, the Carnegie library I loved to visit, and the railroad depot where we watched the National Guard leave for Korea. The landmark Paris Hotel -- whose steps I used to climb to deliver Mpls. papers and whose cigar shop was the place I'd get empty cigar boxes -- burned to the ground, taking with it Dr. Giere's suite of offices on the southwest side. A good part of the railroad park, where I used to sit and talk to Ole Stone on summer days about his service in WWI, was long ago converted to a parking lot. Thankfully, the old courthous is still there. But with an unattractive addition and interior renovations not to my liking, it isn't the same either. No matter. With one's memory and one's imagination, one is always free, any time one wants, to revisit those sacred places, those, in Judy Collins' words, "secret gardens of the heart, where the old stay young forever"

    Courthouse covered in circus tent? "October 2006: Entire courthouse covered with large circus tent. Chief Judge Demers calls the reason 'a private matter that I cannot discuss.' January 2007: Courthouse documents reveal the purchase of 10,243 banana cream pies. Courthouse spokesman Stuart declines comment, calling it 'a matter of security.'" These are imagined future news stories out of Pasco-Pinellas Courthouse by Howard Troxler, a columnist with the St. Petersburg Times, a paper that does an excellent job as local judicial watchdog. As far-fetched as the imagined headlines are, they do not seem that far-fetched after reading some of the real ones, based on past events, set forth in the column. More (St. Petersburg Times 06.14.2005). Comment. We "covered" many of the real stories set forth in the column in the Court Gazing section of our Law and Everything Else blawg.

    Minnesota Supreme Court takes cautious approach to public info access. "Minnesota's Supreme Court has decided to tread cautiously in the digital age, aiming to increase convenience for state court customers by putting more information on the Web while still trying to keep key information from identity thieves and others who may misuse it...." More (Minneapolis Star-Tribune 06.14.2005). The amendments may be downloaded in Word or PDF format at this link. (Hint to court: if you really want to be web-user-friendly, you'll put information like this online, in html format, rather than requiring the user to download it.) Comment. One of the keys to my vision of real judicial accountability is more openness, and more detailed openness, with respect to judicial work activity and the judicial work product. Each individual judge's work calendars and timesheets and travel-and-expense reimbursement request forms are public documents readily obtainable by any citizen using the "sunshine" or openness-in-government law. These and similar documents can be made more easily accessible to ordinary citizens by placing them on the court's internet web site (with the calendars on a delayed basis, for obvious reasons). Similarly, the court should put online for public scrutiny any statistical reports that the chief justice receives. Ultimately, I believe anyone who is interested ought to be able to type in any trial court or appellate court judge's name and obtain public information that will aid one in assessing that judge's work habits, productivity, expenditures of public money, etc. Moreover, after the fact one should be able to type in the name or number of any case and follow that case from start to completion, viewing, for example, at the supreme court level, the path and accompanying timeline as an opinion circulated through the supreme court, with the public given access to the dates the majority opinion and any separate opinions were put in circulation, the name and how much time each judge spent on the case before passing it on, etc. More.

    Judge apologizes for arresting and jailing no-show juror. "A judge who had a pregnant woman arrested for skipping jury duty apologized to the woman on Monday and dismissed a contempt order that he lodged against her last month....." The woman was selected to try an assault case. She called the next day to say she was pregnant and couldn't serve. The court issued a "no bond" arrest warrant and she was arrested while still in night clothes and jailed for contempt. More (Chicago Tribune 06.14.2005). Comment. One can understand the desire of judges and others to clamp down on juror no-shows. This is a significant problem. But, as more and more news reports like this show, it's easy for a judge to get himself or herself in hot water for mistreating or being perceived as mistreating no-shows.

    More scrutiny of 'prankster' judge with record of harshness. Recently we linked to stories about a prank-loving judge who came under scrutiny after she sentenced a prospective juror to 4 months in jail for failing to disclose an arrest but who herself allegedly failed to disclose prior complaints against her by underlings in the D.A.'s office when she applied for a judgeship. More, more & more. Now comes a story that the judge, Broward Circuit Judge Eileen O'Connor, is under further scrutiny because of allegations by the public defender that she "has a policy that forces criminal defendants to take plea deals or live in fear that refusing will result in harsher sentences," thereby in effect taking on a "prosecutorial role." More (South Florida Sun-Sentinel 06.14.2005).

    Judge charged with receiving lavish gifts from bond company. "The list of purported criminal acts by indicted state Judge Alan Green begins with a $240 lunch at a New Orleans restaurant that the jurist allegedly accepted from employees of Bail Bonds Unlimited. The indictment goes on to include $750 for Green to play in a golf tournament in New Orleans, $400 for rounds of golf in Belle Chasse and $10,000 in cash...." More (New Orleans Times-Picayune 06.14.2005). Comment. When I worked at the Minnesota Supreme Court as an aide to the justices an old friend invited me to a Yale alumni lunch at which a member of the court was to speak. I accepted on condition that I pay for my own lunch. One can't be too careful when you're a judge or judicial aide. Once the second year I worked at the court I was sent to Louisiana to attend a law clerks training seminar on the court's behalf. When I submitted miniscule expense receipts for my meals, I was berated by an administrator because my miniscule expenses made those of others at similar outings look bad. "Too bad," I said.

    Court most trustworthy state authority - Israel. "Despite a certain decline in the public's faith in the Supreme Court over the past year, the highest legal authority in the land remains the most trustworthy of the state's three branches of government as far as Israel's citizens are concerned, according to the Israel Democracy Institute's annual "Democracy Index" survey conducted in cooperation with The Seventh Eye periodical...." More (Haaretz 06.13.2005). Comment. Not surprising: time & again, the court in Israel has demonstrated its independence.

    Marty Scorsese interested in tale about killing of judge. "Production could begin sometime this year on a movie version of Edward Humes' Mississippi Mud, a book that chronicles the murders of Circuit Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife, Margaret, a former Biloxi councilwoman and mayoral candidate. The couple was gunned down in their North Biloxi home on Sept. 14, 1987...In the book, the commitment of the Sherrys' daughter, Lynne Sposito, and her passion for solving her parents' murders leads readers through a chilling, real-life drama." More (San Jose Mercury-News 06.13.2005).

    Judge claims plagiarism charge is payback for fingering other judges. Florida Circuit Judge Gregory P. Holder, who is on trial on ethics charges for allegedly plagiarizing a law review paper, claims the charge is an unfounded payback for his having been an informant with the feds in their ongoing investigation into Hillsborough County courthouse corruption. Now he has named two judges as targets of that investigation. More (Tampa Bay Online 06.13.2005). Earlier entry.

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