20 years ago this month:
- The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for 3 ex parte contacts with a defense attorney in a capital murder case. Public Admonishment of Maciel (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 1, 1997).
- The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications publicly admonished a judge for releasing a defendant being held on his own recognizance without giving the prosecution a chance to be heard and making the unsubstantiated entry in the record that the release was due to the state’s failure to proceed. Admonition of Evrard (Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications December 31, 1997).
- The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for an intemperate diatribe that included name-calling and dehumanizing remarks during pre-trial plea discussions in a case. In the Matter of Hannigan, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 1997).
- Pursuant to an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for attempting to coerce guilty pleas in traffic cases, failing to hold public court sessions as required by law, and a practice of receiving ex parte communications from police officers concerning the merits of traffic cases before him, including representations that the actual speed that defendants had been driving was greater than the speed charged. In the Matter of Westcott, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 1997).
- The New York Court of Appeals upheld the removal of a judge for displaying bias and improper demeanor in a number of cases, including commenting to his court clerk that “every woman needs a good pounding now and then” and stating to his clerk and another judge that he felt that orders of protection “were not worth anything because they are just a piece of paper,” were “a foolish and unnecessary thing,” and were “useless” and of “no value.” In the Matter of Roberts, 689 N.E.2d 911 (New York 1997).
- The New York Court of Appeals publicly censured a judge for summarily disposing of 2 criminal cases without affording the prosecution the right to be heard, dismissing 1 charge as a favor to the defendant and his wife who were social acquaintances, and giving evasive and disingenuous testimony before the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. In the Matter of Skinner, 690 N.E.2d 484 (New York 1997).
- Based on a stipulation of facts, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a former judge for (1) making handwritten entries of “guilty” in the cases of 2 individuals who had indicated their intent to plead not guilty; (2) attempting to have a defendant plead guilty with the knowledge that the defendant was represented by counsel who was not present in court; (3) refusing to credit a defendant with jail time served as required by law; and (4) making statements and taking actions, in and out of court, that some could consider as less than patient, dignified, and courteous to attorneys, witnesses, litigants, and court personnel. In re Renfer, 493 S.E.2d 434 (North Carolina 1997)