Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Georgia Supreme Court permanently barred a senior judge from active service for, during a hearing on a petition by a former husband for a change of custody (1) announcing that he was ruling against the former wife so long as she was living with a man to whom she was not married before hearing any evidence; (2) interrupting an expert witness’s testimony with wholly irrelevant remarks, asking her questions about her marital and parental status, and commenting that he would welcome a particular witness if she was as “sharp looking” as another female witness; (3) instructing counsel not to ask the couple’s 18-year-old daughter questions because he was not going to listen to her; and (4) at the close of the hearing, refusing to make findings of fact to support his decision to change custody to the former husband, basing his decision instead on a Bible verse and on his perception of the moral standards of 90% of the Christians in the county. In the Matter of Noland, 407 S.E.2d 743 (Georgia 1991).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge who had failed to disqualify himself from a case that arose from an incident that occurred outside the restaurant and bar his mother owned and over which the judge lived even though the complaining witness was a long-time acquaintance and regular customer of the bar, his father was a witness, and the defendant was a political adversary of his father; issued an arrest warrant and arraigned the defendant even though the complaint was clearly deficient on its face, then attempted to have a valid complaint drawn; and gave false testimony at the Commission hearing. In the Matter of Mossman, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 24, 1991).
  • Pursuant to an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct admonished a judge who had served on the local school board and ran for re-election even after he had received a judicial ethics opinion advising that such service was prohibited. In the Matter of Vosburgh, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 24, 1991).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge who had (1) in 3 cases, committed defendants to jail without setting bail, in violation of a state statute; (2) in 3 cases, committed defendants to jail in lieu of bail without considering their community and family ties as required by state statute; (3) failed to disqualify himself in 11 cases in which his son was the arresting officer, complaining witness, and representative of the prosecution; (4) in 6 cases, failed to advise defendants of their right to assigned counsel if they could not afford a lawyer, in violation of a state statute; (5) coerced guilty pleas in 3 cases, 2 of them involving the same unrepresented, 19-year-old defendant; (6) left an 18-year-old defendant charged with traffic infractions in jail for 26 days in lieu of bail by failing to set a date for his return to court; (7) summarily held 3 defendants in criminal contempt and sentenced them to jail for their behavior at arraignment on other charges without following proper statutory procedures and without completing the arraignments; and (8) handled 23 cases over which he had no jurisdiction. In the Matter of Winegard, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 26, 1991).
  • Approving an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct admonished a judge who had repeatedly failed to remit court funds to the state comptroller by the tenth day of the month following collection as required by state law. In the Matter of Ranke, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 30, 1991).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct admonished a judge, who had been charged with driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and/or drugs and unlawful possession of marijuana under 40 grams. In re Coughenour, Stipulation and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 6, 1991).

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