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.
Judge: budget cuts will force small claims courts to stop taking new cases. "Starting later this fall, Milwaukee County's small claims court will be forced to stop taking new cases, and by mid-October, litigants there will have to wait eight months or more for trial dates, Chief Judge Kitty Brennan said Wednesday. More than 40,000 small claims cases are filed annually. More than three-fourths are settled short of trials, known as 'contested hearings.' Some 50 contested hearings are heard weekly. The damage limit in small claims actions is $5,000...Brennan and court administrators announced the dramatic moves after hashing over their response to Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's budget, which seeks elimination of all 10 county-funded court commissioners, including the four who handle all small claims cases...." More (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 10.05.2005). Comment. Two points: a) It is not unusual for judges to make threats like this in response to proposed budget cuts. b) I have a modest proposal for changing the way we handle small-claims cases. See, infra, BurtLaw's Modest Proposal.
BurtLaw's 'Modest Proposal.' Here in the Twin Cities there are four law schools. Both as a cost-sharing/cost-saving measure and as a tool to improve legal education and the quality of justice administered by small-claims courts, we propose that maintaining metropolitan small claims courts here become a shared responsibility of the law schools and the court system, with students being encouraged to provide "representation" to low-income small claims litigants, other students being assigned to assist the small claims judges with research memos, and many of the contested hearings being held in the law school "courtrooms." Moreover, students in other disciplines could be part of the small-claims-court laboratory: a) students of TV production could videorecord the hearings, edit them and present them on cable TV and perhaps sell "best-of" compilations to commercial TV; b) students of computer science could help develop new software for use by the court system; c) students from paralegal training and court services programs could operate the filings and records aspect of the laboratory; d) students of business management and court management could work together to assist the program; e) students thinking of law as a career could get a taste of law-in-action. Finally, and this is the good part, Judge Judy, 63, who just signed on for another four years (at more than $25 million per year?!) after ten years presiding on the tube, could be invited to bring her production unit to town once or twice a year, perhaps make the schools some money, attract attention to the schools' unique program, and teach the students a few things (both by postive-example and by negative-example). For some thoughts on the risks of soliciting federal funds to fund such an experiment, click here.
Does the President have a 'litmus test' for U.S.S.Ct. nominees? "Here we go again: Democrats pressing for a nominee's views on abortion; Republicans saying it's improper to screen nominees based on their beliefs and politics. Let's drop the piety. Miers has already been screened for her abortion beliefs and politics by the White House and its allies. A few examples...." William Saletan, Culture of Litmus - Don't you dare judge Harriet Miers on abortion (Slate 10.07.2005). Comment. Along with the NYT, Slate has provided the best coverage/commentary thus far on the Miers nomination.
'Community policing,' then 'community courts,' now... "New York State Chief Judge Judith Kaye [today] will join court and government officials at the Bronx Courthouse to unveil the Bronx Community Solutions program 'bringing the best practices of neighborhood community courts into the main courthouse.' The Bronx program will target minor offenses such as drug possession, prostitution and shoplifting that might normally be steered through Criminal Court...." More (N.Y. Daily News 10.07.2005). Comment. It looks like the feds are funding this experiment. Like the proverbial Faustian bargain with the Devil, funding deals like this sometimes bring unwanted consequences. Witness the feds' arguments with respect to law schools' attempts to ban military recruiting ("You can't ban the recruiters because we provide you with funding") and the feds' similar increasing use, documented here, of funding as the pretext for all the federal prosecutions of state judges and other state and local officials for corruption, a field traditionally thought best (especially by Republicans) left to the states. (Indeed, the feds have taken it one step further in re "No Child Left Behind" ("We get to tell you what to do, you suckers, but we won't fund those mandates"). We wonder if someday the feds -- using the fact of federal aid to fund programs like these as a pretext -- will fund some experimental "InstaCourt," which will provide instant trials and sentencing. Perhaps trials in such a court will be -- on a more modest level, of course -- sort of on the model of the sickening middle-of-the-night videotaped 1989 "trial" of Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena by a secret military tribunal, which resulted, of course, in their being found guilty of crimes against the state and their immediate execution by firing squad? On this day - 12.29.1989 (BBC News). Am I being ludicrous? Is this impossible? It can't happen here? Well, it's not all that far-fetched, considering our actual treatment and our proposed treatment of certain "military detainees" following 09.11. In other words, we wonder if "InstaJustice" in "InstaCourts" isn't exactly the sort of justice some in Washington might someday sign on to, provided, of course, one has invoked the magic word "terrorist." See, e.g., among the thousands of relevant stories on the topic, Gonzales helped set the course for detainees (Washington Post 01.05.2005), and White House Press Briefing of 10.05.2005 (President continues opposition to legislation that would codify humane standards for interrogation of military detainees). When I was in high school I debated before a meeting of the P.T.A. the issue of whether federal aid to education would result inevitably in federal control of education. I argued the traditional Republican position, that it would. In the years since I have occasionally doubted the wisdom of that high school junior or senior named Randy Hanson. Now I know he was right. BurtLaw says: "Randy, my old pal, you were right to be Right back then, but the Right in power has been wrong too often of late."
Update on 'sick' courthouse. "It remains unclear when Morgan County Courthouse employees will be able to move out of the county's administration building and back into the courthouse they were forced to vacate more than a year ago...A mysterious smell in July 2004 inside the Circuit Court chambers apparently caused some employees to become ill. An investigation traced the problem to a flawed ventilation system, and the county agreed in May to spend more than $600,000 on repairs...." That work has been completed but further testing is being done. More (Indianapolis Star 10.07.2005).
Should judges get free valet parking while other government employees pay? "Each morning, the judges of Hillsborough County pull into their super-exclusive, complimentary parking spaces behind velvet ropes at the courthouse. Bailiff/valets rush to open the doors of each Jaguar and Lexus and Mercedes as it arrives. As the judges walk into the courthouse, county clerks and secretaries fan them with giant ostrich plumes...." Actually, this isn't the way it's done in Hillsborough County, FLA, but judges do get free parking while the court underlings don't. Is this fair? Should judges have to pay? Or, should everybody park for "free," as courthouse employees do in other counties? And, what about the greater need judges arguably have for safe, secure parking? Sue Carlton, Judge for yourself: Is courthouse parking fair? (St. Petersburg Times 10.07.2005). Comment. At the MN. Judicial Center, which has two levels of luxury, heated underground parking, with judges and a select few non-judges getting to park indoors & the hoi polloi outdoors, a good question asked by court employees a few years back (and probably still): Why does the Legislature, which has access to several ramps and which meets only part of every year, get exclusive use of one of the two judicial center levels? We think, if it hasn't done so already, the Judiciary ought to tell the Legislature to get the hell out of the judicial center ramp. :-)
Judges who get 'summer shutdown' plus 4-weeks annual leave. "The NSW Supreme Court has bowed to criticism over its six-week summer shutdown, introducing an 'experiment' of opening its courts two weeks earlier than normal...Late last year, The Australian reported that judges of the nation's highest courts would begin summer shutdowns of up to seven weeks, leaving backlogs of cases and prisoners in jail who might otherwise be released...The summer closures are not counted as part of judges' four-week annual leave...." More (The Australian 10.07.2005).
Promo for Cass Sunstein's new book on approaches to judging. "[In] Radicals in Robes, [Cass R.] Sunstein, the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor in the [University of Chicago] Law School and the College...explores four different approaches to constitutional interpretation, which, he contends, have organized constitutional thinking throughout American history. He calls these approaches majoritarianism (respect for democratic outcomes unless they are plainly unconstitutional); perfectionalism (associated with the liberal Warren Court); minimalism ('one step at a time'); and fundamentalism. While sharply critical of perfectionism, he zeros in on the prominence and danger of those in the 'fundamentalist' camp, the 'right-wing' judges referred to in the book title. These thinkers, according to Sunstein, contend that judges should not depart from the original understanding of those who ratified the Constitution in 1789...." More (U. Chi. Chronicle 10.06.2005).
Another prominent justice quits. Today's (10.06.2005) Laconia, New Hampshire Citizen publishes verbatim a press release announcing that Senior Associate Justice Joseph Nadeau, 67, of the N.H. Supreme Court is quitting effective 12.31.2005. New Hampshire has been one of the states in which the Legislative branch has been extra aggressive in trying to regulate matters that the Judicial Branch believes is reserved to it, including regulation of the bar association and discipline of judges; Justice Nadeau wrote unanimous opinions siding with the Judiciary in both matters. He also wrote a unanimous opinion holding "that all courtroom proceedings in New Hampshire will be open to the media, including video cameras, unless it can be demonstrated, at an evidentiary hearing, that there is a substantial likelihood of harm to any person involved." He hopes to continue his work in helping to educate judges and otherwise improve the judiciary in Iraq. More (Laconia Citizen 10.06.2005).
Estates of slain Idahoans sue MN county over release of sex offender. In a story with a dateline of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, the San Jose Mercury News reports that "The estates of Brenda Groene and her boyfriend [have] filed a claim against a Minnesota county, saying it negligently mishandled the case of a sex offender who is accused of killing the couple and two of Groene's children. Joseph E. Duncan III was released on $15,000 bail in April after being charged with molesting two boys in Becker County, Minn. The legal claim argues the bail amount was too low for someone with his criminal history and that Becker County didn't sufficiently monitor Duncan upon his release...." More (San Jose Mercury-News 10.06.2005).
Ex-judge, acquitted of bribery, is charged with grant fraud. "Phillip Davis, a former Miami-Dade judge who admitted using cocaine on the bench as he successfully fought charges that he had accepted bribes in the early 1990s, was charged Wednesday with engineering a scam to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in county and state grants for personal use through fraudulent billing...At the [bond] hearing, a defiant Davis, in glasses and a T-shirt, appeared from jail on closed-circuit television, still able to draw upon the commanding presence he learned as a judge. 'This community has had a spirit of retaliation against me' he told Circuit Judge Thomas Petersen. 'This is a very grave misunderstanding.'..." More (Miami Herald 10.06.2005). Comment. Here's the link to the results one gets doing a basic Google-search for pages containing "all," "a," and "misunderstanding" and here's the link for the same search with the word "grave" added. We don't wish to make fun of a man who has been charged with a serious offense and we presume the ex-judge to be not guilty. However, just out of curiosity, we wonder if his T-shirt bore any slogan. If not, Mr. Davis might consider buying a black (suitable for a judge) Corpse Bride Grave Misunderstanding T-shirt, described and available here for $18.00. The T-shirt has "a beautifully distressed, moonlit front screen, 'There's been a Grave Misunderstanding' below, and a logo on the top back!"
Panic spreads among judges. "Judges and lawyers in Bangladesh demanded extra security today after fresh threats from Islamic militants suspected to be involved in this weekís bombings of court buildings. The Dhaka Bar Association said it received three handwritten letters threatening 'more bomb attacks in court buildings' if lawyers did not support their drive to introduce Islamic Sharia law in the Muslim-majority nation...'Panic has spread across the countryís courts after we have received the threatening leaflets,' the president of the Dhaka Bar Association, Abdus Sabur, told reporters. 'We need special security for judges and lawyers.'..." More (IrelandOnLine 10.06.2005). Earlier: Courts target of bomb blasts in Bangladesh. Comment. We will not make fun of a serious situation like this, but can't help saying that we don't think we've ever seen a movie with a scene in it of a large number of judges demonstrating signs of panic. How would one depict that?
Judge warns of violent young girls. "Brazen and streetwise teenage girls are responsible for an increasing share of the violent crime in New Zealand, a senior judge [Andrew Becroft] says...Their crimes tend to involve street robberies, where they attack people to get their hands on cellphones, make-up, clothing and other items. [The judge says] that 20 per cent of youth crime [is] now committed by females, compared with 15% two years ago...." More (Stuff.Co.NZ 10.07.2005). Comment. These days a fellow like me can't walk down Main Street without being terrified some violent young girls are going to attack him.
Maureen Dowd on Bush's thing for women who dote on him. "I hope President Bush doesn't have any more office wives tucked away in the White House. There are only so many supremely powerful jobs to give to women who are not qualified to get them. The West Wing is a parallel universe to TV's Wisteria Lane: instead of self-indulgent desperate housewives wary of sexy nannies, there are self-sacrificing, buttoned-up nannies serving as adoring work wives, catering to W.'s every political, legal and ego-affirming need...W. loves being surrounded by tough women who steadfastly devote their entire lives to doting on him, like the vestal virgins guarding the sacred fire, serving as custodians for his values and watchdogs for his reputation. First he elevated Condi Rice to secretary of state...Then he elevated his longtime aide, speechwriter, memoir ghostwriter and cheerleader Karen Hughes...And now he has nominated his White House counsel and former personal lawyer, Harriet Miers, to a crucial swing spot on the Supreme Court. The stolid Texan, called 'Harry' by some old friends, is a bachelorette who was known for working long hours, sometimes 16-hour days, and was a frequent guest at Camp David and the Crawford ranch, where she helped W. clear brush...." More (N.Y. Times 10.05.2005). Comment. You oughta read the full text of this one. Maureen Dowd has been in a slump, in my opinion, after returning to work following her leave to write a book and watch her mother die. But on this piece, she's found her voice again. Surprisingly, she touches on one theme that I touched on yesterday, the Wisteria Lane-connection, only in a different way than I did -- see, my posting titled Has Harriet Miers been moonlighting on Wisteria Lane? -- proving once again that great minds think alike. On the related themes of provincialism and in-breeding and cronyism, see, among my many relevant postings, One of judges of big art competition is hubby of winner; Bush appoints Harriet (Miers) to join Ozzie (Roberts); and If Harriet Miers marries another judge, will the wedding be at SCOTUS?
Judicial reform in Syria? "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sacked 81 judges and increased wages for the profession as part of a reform programme for the legal system, an official daily reported Wednesday. Ath-Thawra said the president ordered a 25-percent increase in the wages of judges and improved tax and insurance conditions for the profession, but it did not name those faced with dismissal nor give a reason...." More (MiddleEastOnline 10.05.2005). Comment. In many different ways, the judicial reform movement is taking hold around the world. The fact that the Syrian President is able to sack 81 judges (however corrupt they may be) by the stroke of a pen suggests Syria has no true judicial independence, at least as we know it. Nonetheless, the idea of reform (including judicial independence, accountability, and transparency) is taking hold. The great engines behind it are international trade and capitalism.
MT judge dies of ALS. "Former District Judge Roy C. Rodeghiero died Sunday of Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 69...." More (Helena Independent-Record 10.05.2005). Comment. My beautiful grandmother, Pauline Pederson Herfindahl, died of ALS in 1951 at age 63. It was thought then that ALS was a rare disease. We now know it's not so rare.
Traffic judge admits ethics violations; censure recommended. "A judge on [Rhode Island's] traffic tribunal admitted to four violations of judicial ethics rules, including demeaning the judicial office[,] leaving early from work[,] not following the instructions of the chief judge,...having a conversation outside court with the father of an alleged traffic offender [and] yelling at police officers when members of the media appeared at police headquarters after she was arrested for allegedly assaulting her husband...." More (Boston Globe 10.04.2005).
Are federal judges in Australia, as a group, dying earlier than expected? "The death of Federal Court judge Peter Hely has some of the legal world's best brains trying to work out just what it is that is killing the nation's judges. Justice Hely collapsed on Friday during a barging holiday in France, making him the fourth judge of the Federal Court to die in office since March. A fifth judge, Bryan Beaumont, died in June just four months after retiring when he realised he had a lethal brain tumour. Justice Hely, 61, died of a heart attack, as did his South Australian colleague Bradley Selway, 50, who died in April. In March, Brisbane's Richard Cooper, 58, died from surgical complications. Sydney's Graham Hill, 66, died in August in circumstances that are subject to a coronial inquest..." More (The Australian via The Adelaide Advertiser 10.04.2005). Comment. Some judges blame the complexity of cases, the workload and the time pressures. One judge suggested the statistics may be a "blip." Before we jump to any conclusions, we need to know what number of judges die annually, on average, in a group of judges of the age range of these judges doing comparable work. And we should know about the averages for other groups of employees with memberships displaying a similar assortment of ages. And we need to figure out the standard deviations of error for each group's average. Then & only then can we say if the number of deaths is "normal" (within the standard range to be expected) for the judges group & for the other groups.
Judges are turning criminals loose in Michigan. "Oakland Chief Circuit Judge Wendy Potts on Monday ordered sentence reductions and release of 245 inmates, some felons, in the Oakland County Jail in an effort to alleviate a jail overcrowding state of emergency. It's the county's second such emergency since August, but that release included only misdemeanor offenders...Michigan law mandates that inmates receive sentence reductions if they would not present a high risk to public safety. The Oakland County jail has been chronically over its capacity of 1,828 inmates. In recent weeks judges have been asked to take some of the pressure off by reconsidering how they sentence defendants. The problem is not Oakland's alone. While Oakland released 179 prisoners in August, Macomb released about 200 inmates in July and another 100 in August. Wayne County typically releases hundreds each month...." More (Detroit Free Press 10.04.2005). Comments. Some might say, "We gotta build more jails." The news report notes that the Oakland County Jail Population Management Task Force has issued a report making numerous findings and including a number of practical, sensible recommendations that, if followed, would obviate any perceived need to build more jails.
Married couple make history as both are sworn in as High Court judges. "A married couple [made] legal history on Tuesday when they [were] sworn in together as High Court judges. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, [presided] over the ceremony when Peter Openshaw QC, 57, and Caroline Swift QC, 50, [were] sworn in. The pair will serve in the Queens Bench Division Courts of Justice. Judge Openshaw is Resident Judge and Honorary Recorder of Preston. His wife is a Deputy High Court Judge and was leading counsel to the Shipman Inquiry." More (BBC News 10.03.2005).
If Harriet Miers marries another judge, will the wedding be at SCOTUS? As you may have read in today's NYT, for a number of years Harriet, who is 60 and has never married, has been escorted around Texas (and elsewhere?) by Justice Nathan Hecht, a conservative-activist judge of the Texas Supreme Court. Justice Hecht is an organist at a church in Texas and persuaded Ms. Miers to join. So will Miers & Hecht tie the knot & be a two-judge family, just likePeter Openshaw and Caroline Swift? But wait! There's a single dude Harriet will be seeing on a daily basis, only a few years older than she, holder of a Harvard law degree, name of Souter, older than Harriet and cuter than Hecht. Will Dave steal her heart from Nathan? Will her seeing so much of Dave make Nathan jealous and make him pump up the pressure on Harriet? These are all questions the answers to which inquiring SCOTUS-watchers wanna know. Another question/suggestion: Why get married in the Supreme Court building? Why not at the White House, with George & Harriet's alumni pal from S.M.U., Laura, hosting?
Has Harriet Miers been moonlighting on Wisteria Lane? I watched President Bush the other day as he introduced his nominee, Harriet Ellan Miers, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. I swore to myself I'd seen her recently. And then it dawned on me. She was on Desperate Housewives on 10.02.2005 playing Ida Greenberg, the neighbor who irritates Terri Hatcher's character, Susan Mayer. When Susan tosses a wrapped newspaper back at the nasty paperboy & the paper gets caught in his bike's spokes & the boy flies off the bike, Susan looks at Ida, worried that Ida will call the police on her. But Ida, who also hates the paperboy, gives Susan a thumbs-up. The official cast directory says it's Pat Crawford Brown who was playing Ida Greenberg. We think not. It should seem clear to all but the least perceptive that it was White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
Judge who did a Michael Douglas resigns in face of likely removal. "Elkhart Superior Court 1 Judge Benjamin Pfaff resigned from the bench in a Sept. 28 letter addressed to Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard. In December 2003, Pfaff was accused of entering the Simonton Lake home of an 18-year-old man, holding him at gunpoint and interrogating him about the location of Pfaff's daughter. Pfaff had been on a paid suspension from his practice since Sept. 11 after a Supreme Court-appointed panel of judges recommended removing him from office on charges of judicial misconduct...." More (More (South Bend Tribune 10.04.2005). Comment. Earlier reports: Removal urged for judge's conduct in trying to rescue daughter - Judge charged with reprising Michael Douglas' role in 'Traffic'?
One of judges of big art competition is hubby of winner. "A judge of the Wallace Art Awards was the husband of Sara Hughes, the overall winner. However, one of the five-member judging panel said Gregor Kregar played no part in discussing his wife's entry. Sara Hughes won this year's Paramount Award at the Wallace Art Awards for which she received a $35,000 cash prize and a United Kingdom residency, including air fares, for her work...[Ms. Hughes] said the art community in New Zealand [is] small and it [is] difficult to avoid conflicts of interest. One of the judges, Richard Fahey, agreed such conflicts were not unusual. 'New Zealand is a small place and the art world is even smaller.' Mr Fahey...said there was strict protocol to deal with such conflict, which had been followed. Mr Kregar had declared his situation from the outset and played no part in discussing Sara Hughes' entry, but helped the judges select other finalists." More (NZHerald 10.05.2005). Comment. In many small towns in America, where everybody knows everybody else, it's hard to pick jurors who aren't biased in some way. In small isolated communities like Hafslo i Sogn og Fjordane in Norway, where some of my ancestors came from, there was a lot of "in-breeding," the marrying of cousins, etc., what many of us now think of as almost a form of incest. In many art & literature prize competitions in the U.S. & elsewhere, it's not uncommon for some of the judges, artists & writers themselves, to vote for friends out of friendship or against foes. "In-breeding" is something all the laws against incest can't put to an end. There are "in-breeders" and there are "in-breeders." The "inbreeders" I detest are those who prate about equal opportunity and so on but literally always wind up finding "the best person in America (or Minnesota, as the case may be) for the job" right inside their own little incestuous circle -- .e.g., the "liberal" judge who blathers on about the need for more diversity, more opportunity-for-all, etc., then turns around and hires as a law clerk the kid of a friend. As Billy Joel's song says, "And so it goes, and so it goes...." Further reading: Inbreeding at One First Street (Underneath Their Robes 06.14.2004) (about in-breeding among the 35 law clerks at the U.S. Supreme Court); Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (SupremeCourtHistory.Org) (his dad was a friend of Earl Warren and Roger Traynor was best man at his dad's wedding); etc., etc.
Some Bitterroot, MT residents seek vote on recalling drunk-driving judge. "A group of Bitterroot residents wants District Court Judge Jeffrey Langton off the bench. A petition filed Friday at the Secretary of State's office asks for a recall election for the removal of Langton, who is scheduled for a public reprimand in front of the Montana Supreme Court later this month. Langton pleaded guilty to drunken driving in March and faced additional consequences after being found drunk in a Missoula hotel while under conditions banning him from consuming alcohol...." More (Hamilton Ravalli Republic 10.04.2005).
Are Utah's constitutionally-created justice courts unconstitutional? "The Utah Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in an appeal asking it to strike down municipal courts. Representing a man convicted of driving without insurance in West Jordan, attorney Mike Martinez argues the municipal courts, also known as justice courts, usurp the power of the judicial branch. Martinez also says municipal judges -- who can be hired and fired at the whim of a mayor or city council -- can't be impartial when they are expected to raise revenue...." More (Salt Lake City Tribune 10.04.2005).
Cook County judge takes the Fifth. "A Cook County judge refused to answer questions 150 times during a deposition taken in a civil lawsuit that alleges county jail officials covered up inmate beatings by officers. The lawsuit is filed by two former jail guards who claim harassment and threats forced them to resign when they refused to cover up an alleged beating in 2000. Circuit Judge Jim Ryan is not a defendant in the lawsuit. But it alleges the beatings took place during his tenure as an aide to Sheriff Michael Sheahan.
More (KWQC-TV 10.04.2005).
Woman pleads guilty to harassing judge. "A Salisbury woman who left 55 messages over four days on a judge's voice mail pleaded guilty Monday to placing harassing phone calls. Rebecca Bailey Dye, 54, did not threaten harm to Guilford County Chief District Court Judge Joseph E. Turner in the calls, investigators determined. Instead, she was upset about protective orders filed against her, and she bad-mouthed a number of individuals while saying the court system was corrupt, prosecutors said. Though her attorney denied it, prosecutors claimed she also called Turner's home...." More (Greensboro News-Record 10.04.2005).
Judge suspended for using staff to aid reelection campaign. "District Judge Mary Grace Boyle of Allegheny County was suspended with pay on Friday by Allegheny County President Judge Joseph James. The Judicial Conduct Board is investigating whether Boyle, 55, used her office and staff during the campaign. She won the primary and is seeking her fifth term. Boyle previously acknowledged that her employees contacted residents, but said they used cell phones, not her office phones...." More (Philadelphia Inquirer 10.04.2005).
Editorial: SCOTUS should allow cameras in its courtroom. "Greta Garbo was scarcely more reclusive than the camera-phobic justices of the U.S. Supreme Court... [Justice] Souter, for one, declared, 'The day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it's going to roll over my dead body.' With all due respect, it's not their courtroom. It's the public's courtroom...." More (St. Petersburg Times 10.04.2005). Comment. I wonder if Dave will allow wedding photographers in the courtroom when Harriet & he say their vows. See, If Harriet Miers marries another judge, will the wedding be at SCOTUS?
Ten Commandments Judge announces run for governor. "Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was fired in 2003 for disobeying a federal order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a courthouse, said on Monday he would be a candidate for governor of Alabama in 2006...." More (Washington Post 10.04.2005). Comment. A famous strip-tease dancer said, "Yah gotta have a gimmick." Mr. Moore has gotten a lot of mileage out of his "gimmick."
Recipient of P.M. Tony Blair's first kiss? A judge's daughter... "When Cherie Blair outed the first boy with whom she shared a childhood kiss, Stephen Smerdon, now a pub landlord, was happy to recall the tender moment. 'It was my first kiss. It was her first kiss. We didn't have a clue what we were doing,' he said last week. Yet when The Sunday Telegraph this weekend tracked down the first girl the Prime Minister himself is believed to have kissed nearly four decades ago, she was more reluctant to describe their shared experience. Amanda Hay, a judge's daughter, an independent film producer and a married mother of two, laughed off her school romance with Tony Blair, but in no way denied that she had been close to the Prime Minister. 'How would I know if I was the first girl to kiss him?' she giggled...." More (UK Telegraph 10.03.2002).
Annals of judicial romance - judge weds rich divorcee. "She had come to the courtroom in Arlington, Va., to finalize her divorce from Robert L. Johnson, the cable television executive whom she had married 33 years earlier. Together they had built Black Entertainment Television, and when they sold it in 2000 for $3 billion, they became billionaires...When Ms. Johnson and her lawyer entered the courtroom, seated at the bench was William T. Newman Jr., the Arlington court's chief judge...[A]fter the decree was signed, she asked the judge if she could approach the bench. 'I asked him if he remembered me,' she recalled. Judge Newman, now 55 and never married, most definitely did..." The rest is history: their courtship and their recent wedding are detailed in yesterday's NYT's "Style Section." More (N.Y. Times 10.02.2005).
Group opposes cross-endorsement of judicial election candidates. "A letter to Judith Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York, posted on the national, nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Judicial Accountability, Inc. (CJA) website, www.Judgewatch.org, calls for her prompt intervention to turn back the judicial cross-endorsement voting scheme reinstituted by Republican and Democratic party leaders in NY's 9th Judicial District (Westchester, Putnam, Duchess, Rockland, and Orange Counties) at this year's Judicial Nominating Conventions. To date, the Chief Judge has not responded...It is CJA's position that the specific penal prohibitions of Election Law, Section 17-158 make major party 'quid pro quo' bartering of judicial nominations a crime against the franchise, punishable as a felony. To hold otherwise would contravene New York's constitutional mandate for 'election' of its Supreme Court judges...." Press release (Business Wire 10.03.2005).
Justice Breyer's favorite movies. "When Breyer was at Harvard Law School, students were allowed to take one class at Harvard College. 'So I chose Stanley Cavell's course [in the college] on the movies,' Breyer recalled. 'Erwin Griswold, the dean, called me in. 'Why are you taking a course like that?' I said, 'I like the movies.' He gave in.'" More (Boston Globe 10.03.2005). The brief article Breyer's gives current list of favorites. "'If you want a judicial movie,' Breyer added, 'I like 12 Angry Men. The longer I've been a judge, the more I like it. It's a Sidney Lumet movie, and you feel, 'My goodness, he got it, the power of the jury.'"
Courts target of bomb blasts in Bangladesh. "Yet another series of bomb blasts at the judge court buildings in three districts of the country yesterday killed two people and injured 21 others, including two judges. The incidents of bomb blasts took place almost simultaneously in Chandpur, Luxmipur and Chittagong districts at noon yesterday. Lawyers in cooperation with people caught red-handed six of the suspected attackers immediately after the incidents...In all the incident of blasts yesterday, bombs were being carried inside large books. 'Each of the terrorists was carrying a large book, containing a bomb inside. In each case, they threw the book at the judges...' [Inspector General of Police Abdul Qayyum said]..." More (The New Nation 10.03.2005).
Bush appoints Harriet (Miers) to join Ozzie (Roberts). President Bush asked White House Counsel Harriet Miers to search the country and find the most qualified person to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. She searched and searched and reported to the President, just as Dick Cheney searched and searched to help him pick the most qualified person to be the President's running mate back in 2000. Guess what? The best person turns out (surprise, surprise) to be fellow Texan, White House Counsel, and searcher-after-the-best-possible-justice, Harriet Miers. Further reading: news report (N.Y. Times 10.03.2005); earlier profile (NYT 11.20.2004). We first noted Ms. Miers on 06.21: Profile of Texan who's vetting supreme court candidates.
Who will/should the governor appoint to fill MN's chief justice vacancy? In the wake of MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz's announcement on 09.29.2005 that she is quitting the court as of 01.10.2006, a year before the expiration of her term, the question is: Who will/should Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty appoint to fill the vacancy until the voters can have their constitutional say in the 2008 election? Although he hasn't asked for our advice, we graciously give it to him, freely, in the same spirit in which, were a down-on-his-luck Edinan to ask us for $4.00 so he could buy a cup of Starbuck's coffee, we would reply, "No, but I'll stake you on some free advice." Here it is, BurtLaw's Free Advice to Hon. Timothy Pawlenty:
We think it more likely than not that he will pick Minneapolis attorney Eric Magnuson (assuming Eric Magnuson wants it, which may not be the case). Magnuson has one strike against him: limited experience working in the judicial system. He worked as a district court law clerk while attending law school, if my memory is correct, and then supreme court law clerk. He has three things going for him: a) he is an outstanding lawyer (who helped my father prevail in a difficult case) and a greatly-experienced and widely-respected appellate advocate; b) he was a law partner of Tim Pawlenty in the Rider Bennett firm for a decade before Pawlenty was elected governor; and c) most significantly (in practical terms), he has the governor's ear, as head of his judicial selection committee. As we long have known and as the examples of Dick Cheney (who had the task of selecting a running mate for Mr. Bush in 2000) and now of Harriet Miers have reminded us, the best way to get oneself appointed to a high appointive political office these days is to get oneself (or to be) first appointed head of the advisory search/selection committee for that office. In any event, Mr. Magnuson is clearly qualified, and we like him.
If the governor picks from among the remaining current members of the court, we recommend he focus on the senior justice, Alan Page, who has the distinction of having been directly elected (rather than, in the first instance, appointed) to the court, and on Paul Anderson, appointed by Republican Governor Arne Carlson (whom, incidentally, he served as an adviser on judicial selection).
Justice Alan Page -- the only member of the court with a national reputation --is not only intelligent, experienced, and well-liked and highly-respected by literally everyone, but he is, in our opinion, possibly the best pure judge -- in terms of temperament, true modesty, and many of the other classic traits one associates with the ideal of judge -- among the current members of the court. He is, to use a term borrowed from sports, "a natural." But, as his life story proves, he has never just rested on his natural ability and has a will-to-excellence that is inspiring.
The other one we believe the governor should consider is Justice Paul Anderson. He is one of three Anderson's currently on the court in this Land of 10,000 Anderson's (hmm, should we be troubled that 42.856% of the judges currently on the court are "Andersons"?). He has one strike against him: at 62, about the age Justice Holmes was when he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, he is "too old" by today's thinking. (For my views on the folly of such thinking, on the folly of the mandatory retirement law, which fuels such thinking, and on why we should amend the law, see BurtLaw on Mandatory Retirement of Judges.) He has several things going for him, in addition to his last name: a) He served as Chief Judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals after the untimely and tragic retirement of Chief Judge Anne Simonett, which was necessitated by cancer, and has proven himself capable both of handling the administrative responsibilities that the other members delegate to the chief and of otherwise being "first among equals." b) He is an earnest man, a "straight arrow" who cares enough to do the tedious work that is so undervalued but that we as citizens ought to insist our judges do themselves rather than delegate to law clerks and others. In this regard, we offer the following:
The primary work of the appellate court is not creative or even particularly intellectual. The personal quality most required for the work is not intellect but care. Care is what is required to read tiresome transcripts and to listen to tedious arguments based on the details of the record in order to ascertain whether a trial judge has strayed from the true path of the law so far as to rest a decision on a clearly erroneous factual determination. Or whether an administrative agency has committed a substantial error 'on the whole record' before it. The importance of this work has been sadly underestimated. It is the essence of the idea of a government of law. [Paul Carrington, "Ceremony and Realism: Demise of Appellate Procedures, 66 A.B.A. Bar J. 860 (1980).]
c) While he is not a natural writer and while he has a tendency to write over-long opinions, he takes writing seriously and is devoted, almost too much some might say, to the craft. Too many appellate judges in this great country think that appellate judging is basically reading briefs and law clerks' memoranda, listening to arguments, then voting yes or no. We here at the international headquarters of The Daily Judge prefer appellate judges who are willing to tear the covers off of books (figuratively, not literally), who insist on digging in the trial records themselves, and who know that actually writing the opinions themselves is an essential part of the process of deciding cases well. Paul Anderson, who has proven he has the willingness to do those things, is a good man and is one of the few people in the state we believe qualified to be chief justice.
Who would we pick if we had the authority? Well, like the President, we'd go with someone we knew and worked with for many years. We would pick our former boss, former MN Supreme Court Commissioner C. M. Johnson. She is in her 50's, has 25 years of experience behind her as a key decisional advisor to the justices (equivalent in my opinion to 25 years of experience as a justice), is an extraordinarily hard worker, is one of the best lawyers in the state (one person of high rank has said she is "the best lawyer in the state"), knows how to read the records and research the law and write her own opinions, is smart as the proverbial whip, and has the administrative experience that few have.
Roberts and rest of Court will decide Oregon suicide case. "The first big case Chief Justice John Roberts and a reshaped U.S. Supreme Court will take on this week is one of Oregon's unique rights: doctor-assisted suicide...The Oregon case is framed narrowly: Did former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft exceed his authority under the federal Controlled Substances Act in 2001 when he announced plans to punish doctors who prescribed drugs using Oregon's law? But the ruling may be influenced by broader issues -- states' rights, the right to die and the war on drugs -- says Richard Saphire, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Dayton School of Law in Ohio...." More (The Oregonian 10.02.2005). Comment. This seems an appropriate time to reprint here an entry of mine from 07.29.2005 titled "Judge Roberts, Judge Friendly & state statutes on assisted suicide":
Judge Roberts, Judge Friendly & state statutes on assisted suicide. On reading, shortly after President Bush made his announcement, that Judge Roberts had clerked for Circuit Judge Henry Friendly (1903-1986) before he clerked for Justice Rehnquist, and that he ranked Judge Friendly as one of his judicial heroes, I couldn't help wondering if the circumstances of Judge Friendly's death, by suicide (Chicago Tribune, 03.13.1986), might in some conceivable way influence Roberts' approach to the power, say, of Oregon to permit assisted suicide without interference from the federal government. This quote of Judge Roberts that I came upon today, from a 1997 PBS interview, sheds some light on the question: "I think it's important not to have too narrow a view of protecting personal rights. The right that was protected in the assisted-suicide case was the right of the people through their legislatures to articulate their own views on the policies that should apply in those cases of terminating life, and not to have the court interfering in those policy decisions. That's an important right." More at: Assisted suicide quote from Roberts revealing, analysts say (RedState.Org 07.27.2005). Earlier entry: Who was Judge Henry Friendly? Comment. One can read too much into the above quote. It says little or nothing about how Roberts would rule in the case of a federal policy purporting to supersede a state policy allowing assisted suicide. It says nothing about any personal right to commit suicide. BTW, I recall a case where a pro se litigant who was down on life petitioned a state supreme court for "permission to die." The court, through the chief justice, issued an order saying: "There is no right to die. Accordingly, the petition for permission to die must be, and the same is, denied." I've always thought that amusing & have even wondered if it somehow influenced the fellow to hang in there rather than hang himself. For what it's worth, some of my views on suicide are set forth in an essay I wrote in April of 2002 titled "April Storms - Present & Past," posted at Law & Death (scroll down) at BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else.
Louisiana courts struggling to resume business. "Appellate Judge James Genovese of Opelousas had his hands full Friday, trying to juggle crisis situations that have arisen in his personal and professional lives.
Genovese, a judge with the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles, was handling emergency matters for the court on the same day he was making new funeral arrangements for his sister. The funeral originally was scheduled to take place during the weekend Hurricane Rita slammed into southwestern Louisiana...
The 3rd Circuit building in Lake Charles remains without electricity and phone service, but Genovese was optimistic the court could be operational soon...
The appellate court is closed at least until Oct. 14. Genovese said he hopes to be able to reopen the court on or near that date, but he said that might not be possible...'A big problem is that almost all of our employees are evacuated in Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, all over, and they don't have any place to go back to,' Genovese said....'I can't tell you what a blow it has been to the legal community," Genovese said of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. "It has really crippled the judicial system except for emergency matters. More (Baton Rouge Advocate 10.02.2005).
Those creative conditions of probation -- as in 30 nights in doghouse. "In Texas in 2003, Judge Buddie Hahn gave an abusive father a choice between spending 30 nights in jail or 30 nights sleeping in the doghouse where prosecutors alleged the man had forced his 11-year-old stepson to sleep...." From an interesting opinion piece by JonathanTurley, a professor of public-interest law at George Washington University, in the Washington Post titled Court-ordered humiliation mistakes Judge Judy antics for clever justice (reprinted in Delaware Online 10.02.2005). Comment. The piece does a better job of articulatings the "cons" than the "pros" of using creative conditions of probation as an alternative to incarceration. The ridiculous excesses aside, there is much to be said for almost anything that is "less than" or an alternative to incarceration. That many defendants choose probation when ridiculous or even pointlessly cruel conditions are attached over incarceration speaks to this very point. Cf., my comments in entry titled Judge orders child molester castrated.
Did court system cover up purchasing policy violations? "Utah court officials admit they were aware of state purchasing policy violations from within their offices and took steps to fix them. But did they also take steps to keep the news of their mistakes from reaching the Legislature? Now at least one legislative leader has said the court's purchasing practices deserve a closer look in light of an internal audit obtained by the Deseret Morning News...." More (Deseret Morning News 10.02.2005). Comment. If found to have improperly covered anything up, we believe the offenders should retain their jobs but put on probation, a condition of that probation being that they wear signs for a few days saying "I did a bad thing -- I covered up violations of state purchasing policy."
World Bank to assist India in establishing mediation centers. "The World Bank is expected to provide financial assistance to India to facilitate the establishment of expert-supported mediation centres across the country to reduce the burden of cases on courts...." More (WebIndia123 10.02.2005).
Are do-it-yourself divorces 'clogging' the courts? "Pro se cases are 'the cholesterol of the judicial system'" said Mike Mullane, a professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law. 'They're the bane of my existence,' admitted Benton County Circuit Judge John Scott. Often litigants aren't sure how to proceed, and they frequently want help, which judges are prevented from giving because of judicial ethics, he said...Internet businesses prosper with the sale of divorce kits. Users complete forms online, and they're delivered ready to file. Wording is supposedly suited to individual state laws, but judges like Washington County Circuit Judge Mike Mashburn flatly said the companies are 'ripping people off.' Countless times, judges see pleadings that cite 'irreconcilable differences.' That's not even grounds for divorce in Arkansas...." More (Springdale Morning News 10.02.2005). Comment. Three comments: a) This is from a good piece of reporting on the problem (divorce lawyers are too expensive for a lot of people who don't qualify for legal aid, but the do-it-yourself divorce kits offered by businesses aren't always good and don't always save money) and what the Arkansas bar is doing to address the problem. b) It's not just pro-se do-it-yourselfers who "clog" the courts. Some divorce attorneys for clients with deep pockets can be pretty creative at converting a divorce that should take a few months to get decided into one that takes four or five years to make it through the system. And courts, too, can be part of the problem. I was told once by a former judge who knew what he was talking about that a divorce that Hennepin County, MN judges might take four years to decide would be decided, easily, within six months by judges in another county with a large population. c) It might be wise for legislators to get into the act of "divorce reform" rather than leaving it to lawyers, particularly divorce lawyers. In my opinion, the bench and bar have never been very good at self-reforming and self-policing.
More on embattled Judge Mary Grace Boyle. "Embattled Pleasant Hills District Judge Mary Grace Boyle [who is under investigation by the PA Judicial Conduct Board] yesterday was suspended for 30 days because of continued complaints about the operation of her office. The suspension marks the second time in three months that President Judge Joseph James of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court has taken personnel action in Boyle's office. In July, James ordered two of Boyle's office workers moved to different offices because she refused to talk to them...." More (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10.02.2005). For more details, see our earlier entry, Judge under investigation gives staff the silent treatment.
Prosecutor moves to dismiss DWI charge against judge. Travis County, Texas Judge Sam Biscoe, 58, was stopped for erratic driving in August 2004. "According to the arrest affidavit, the officer noticed Biscoe's bloodshot eyes and a faint odor of alcohol, and the judge had difficulty balancing and following directions. Biscoe refused to take a blood alcohol test but told the officer that he was on medication for diabetes and high cholesterol, the affidavit said." Biscoe was arrested and charged with DWI. A special prosecutor now has moved to dismiss the charge because he believes diabetes could have caused the judge's coordination problems -- and, presumably, the erratic driving. Biscoe is quoted as saying: "The system worked as it's supposed to. I'm pleased with the result." More (KRIS-TV 10.02.2005).
Police foil possible assassination attempt on Lebanese judge. The target was Judge Nazem Khoury. "The incident comes at a time of high tension in Lebanon, as a UN-mandated probe into former Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination near its end and a spate of bombings targeting politicians, journalists as well as commercial and residential areas continues...." More (Jerusalem Post 10.01.2005).
State judge sentenced to prison for federal mail fraud. Deborah A. Neal, 54, a municipal court judge in Missouri for eight years who resigned in November and "admitted funding a gambling habit with money she solicited from attorneys who practiced before her," received a harsher prison sentence, 28 months, than contemplated by the federal sentencing guidelines (18 - 24 months). was sentenced Friday to 28 months in prison. "Prosecutors said [she borrowed] about $36,000...from at least 17 attorneys." Although there was evidence she gave preferential treatmentsome of the attorneys, "prosecutors decided not to pursue charges of judicial wrongdoing. Neal pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud stemming from financial reports the judge filed that failed to mention some loans." More (Washington Post 09.30.2005). Comment. A comment I made in my political opinion blog on Wednesday, 09.14.2005, titled "Federal-regulation-through-prosecution of local government & politics?" bears on this:
In recent months I've been astounded at all the federal investigations & prosecutions of state & local judges & other elected officials around the country, including here in Minnesota, that I've read about while maintaining my blawgs. Am I the only one troubled by the federal government's literally having taken over a function that traditionally has been left to each of the states, i.e., policing its own political system? It seems in many of these cases that the federal court's justification for taking jurisdiction -- e.g., that the state court system accepts federal dollars -- is flimsy at best. In so many ways, the Republican Administration seems to have abandoned its traditional commitment to the classic principles of federalism, one of which is that crime control is traditionally a matter left to the states. I think we as individuals, who need ever to be vigilant in protecting our rights, ought to be more than a little concerned about the increasing federalization of the criminal law and the increasing federal-regulation-through-prosecution of local government & politics.
State judge convicted of federal sex tourism charge, acquitted of porn charge. "A federal jury on Friday found a former Superior Court judge guilty of sexual exploitation for traveling to Russia and videotaping a sexual encounter with a teenage boy [in December, 2002]. But jurors found Stephen W. Thompson not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of possessing child pornography [discovered and seized in an April 2003 search]. Thompson, 59,...faces 10 to 20 years in federal prison when he's sentenced." More (Cherry Hill Courier-Post 10.01.2005). Comment. Yet another federal prosecution of a state judge (see, above). The defense theory was that the judge's problems "were a result of severe friendly-fire wounds suffered in Vietnam in 1969. Those wounds mutilated his genitals and led to the amputation of his leg. Psychiatrists for the defense testified the loss of Thompson's sex organs caused post-traumatic stress and created a single-minded drive to regain his virility [through using pornography, etc.]." A sad case all around. It appears the jurors accepted the testimony that Viet Nam ruined the judge, but they made a distinction between viewing pictures and having inappropriate urges, on the one hand, and going to Russia and acting on those urges, on the other. It might be difficult to rationally understand why the insanity defense led to an acquittal of the possession charges but not of the tourism charge. However, given the normal rule that a jury, in the exercise of its raw power of lenity, is free to deliver rationally inconsistent verdicts, we would be surprised if the inconsistency argument, without more, prevails on appeal. There's a long mandatory prison term for the tourism conviction. A fie on mandatory prison terms. They substitute rule for judgment.
Traffic judge cleared of fixing tickets resigns. "The Monterey County traffic commissioner accused of fixing tickets for friends resigned Thursday after being cleared of possible criminal wrongdoing. Prosecutors did, however, express serious concerns about Richard Rutledge's judicial behavior, specifically that he did not recuse himself in conflict-of-interest cases." More (Monterey County Herald 10.01.2005).
Lawyer: Judge was abusive after she called him "Judge," not "Your Honor. "A Cebu Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge is facing an administrative complaint for berating a pregnant lady lawyer. Her 'mistake': She failed to call him 'Your honor' [rather than 'Judge']. Private prosecutor Maria Dolores Carpofora de la Serna-Unchuan filed the complaint against the judge before the Office of the Court Administrator Saturday...Unchuan said that a group of 16 lawyers signed a letter-petition against the judge, reporting his use of 'offensive comments and use of gutter language in open court and his regular and habitual behavior of insulting lawyers in front of clients, party litigants and witnesses.'" More (Philippines Sun-Star 10.02.2005).
'No room for parallel courts in India.' At a meeting of the Mulsim Women's Conference in India, some words of caution about shariat courts:
National Committee member Sehba Farooqui...cautioned against the sudden spurt in shariat courts and Dar-ul-qazas which, she felt, delivered insane decrees in the guise of quick judgments. 'There is no room for parallel courts in a democracy. At no point should women resort to appealing to such platforms because they are only leading the way to inhuman verdicts like the one passed in Baka near Patna recently where a raped woman was asked to lick her husbandís spit before he would accept her back. Even after doing this, her husband refused to accept her so the shariat court appealed to the rapist to marry her, who too refused, agreeing to pay Rs 15,000 as compensation! Thatís the justice you get at such courts.'
More (Express India 10.02.2005).
Kozinski dissent opens window into cloistered world of judicial discipline. "Over stinging dissents, a judicial disciplinary council has declined to impose sanctions on a veteran Los Angeles federal jurist who improperly seized control of a bankruptcy case to protect a female probationer he was supervising. U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real's intervention permitted Deborah M. Canter to live rent free for three years in a Highland Avenue house, costing her creditors $35,000 in rent and thousands more in legal costs, according to court documents. Real 'offered nothing at all to justify his actions -- not a case, not a statute, not a bankruptcy treatise, not a law review article...not even a [blog],' 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, based in Pasadena, wrote in his dissent. 'I also believe that the aggrieved creditors are entitled to an apology from the judges of our circuit for the cost, grief and inconvenience they suffered in one of our courts because of [Real's] unprofessional behavior,' Kozinski wrote. 'The judge who committed the misconduct refuses to offer such an apology, and it is therefore up to us. Because I cannot speak for the Judicial Council, a majority of whose members see far too little wrong with what [Real] here did, I offer mine.'" More (L.A. Times 10.01.2005). Comment. Judge Kozinski is an unpredictable broadly-respected darkhorse Supreme Court nominee, a favorite of law reviews and law students for his always interesting opinions. Emily Bazelon, The Big Kozinski (Legal Affairs Jan-Feb 2004). He's surprisingly open and accessible. I exchanged e-mails with him several times in connection with the skirmish in August 2001 between Leonidas Ralph Mecham, Director, Administrative Office of United States Courts, and the Judges of the Ninth Circuit over the issue of monitoring of computer use by the judges and their employees. Judge Kozinski was the leader of the opposition. See, Foes of monitoring of judges' computer use win first round (BurtLaw's Court Gazing II 09.08.2001 with updates - scroll down).
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