Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • Approving a conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended a judge from office without pay for 7 days for meeting ex parte with a defendant in a case pending before him and failing to disqualify himself from a case in which that defendant was a key witness. In the Matter of Sanders, 674 N.E.2d 165 (Indiana 1996).
  • Concurring with a joint resolution and affirming the findings of fact and agreed sanctions, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former municipal court judge who had incarcerated a defendant without notice or hearing, sentenced a second defendant to more jail time than allowed by law, and found the same defendant guilty of perjury based on his own affidavit and warrant even though perjury is a felony and beyond the jurisdiction of the municipal court. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Fletcher, 686 So. 2d 1075 (Mississippi 1996).
  • Granting a joint motion for approval of a recommendation, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge who had engaged in irregularities in the disposition of traffic-related offenses, including reducing 3 DUIs in violation of a statute, assessing costs or fines in excess of the statutory maximum in 6 cases, failing to require affidavits in 4 cases, issuing orders without authority, and allowing cameras in the courtroom; the judge was also fined $2,628 and ordered to pay all costs. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Emmanuel, 688 So. 2d 222 (Mississippi 1996).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for (1) acting on an ex parte communication, quashing a warrant lawfully issued by another judge; (2) unilaterally assuming jurisdiction over a dissolution of marriage action at the ex parte request of the husband based on a personal relationship even though the judge knew that a dissolution action was pending in Arizona and that the parties’ minor child was residing with the mother there; improperly issuing an arrest warrant and writ of extradition for the mother and advising the father as to the proper method to seek enforcement of said writ in Arizona; and refusing to consult with the judge in Arizona regarding the case; (3) discussing the specifics of a plea bargain in an ex parte communication with the prosecutor; (4) conduct that repeatedly gave the appearance of ex parte contacts with both parties and counsel outside of court where issues in controversy were discussed and substantive matters appeared to be decided; (5) demeanor that on multiple occasions gave the impression to parties and attorneys that he was failing to be attentive to the matters pending before him; (6) a level of competency below that demanded of a superior court judge in civil matters; (7) failing to avail himself of educational assistance programs for judges; and (8) giving the appearance that he was swayed by personal affiliations and relationships with members of organizations to which he belonged. In re Jorgensen, Stipulation (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 6, 1996).

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