What they said that got them in trouble in the second half of 2017

Top judicial ethics stories of 2017

In the courtroom

  • “$4,000,000,000.” Judge imposing bond on a murder suspect.  Brown (Texas Commission 2017) (reprimand for this and other misconduct).
  • “Brief appearance for the hat. P***ed off the rest of the judges because they all voted for Hillary, so [sic].  I was the only Trump supporter up there, but that’s okay.”  Judge explaining why he wore “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” baseball cap in the courtroom the day after the U.S. presidential election.  Zabel (Ontario 2017) (30-day suspension).
  • “We’re going to switch judges.” Judge before giving her robe to a clerk/staff attorney and allowing her to sit behind the bench and preside over cases.  Turner (Illinois Commission 2017) (retirement for being mentally unable to perform duties).
  • “We don’t know whether he’s some white guy like me making a threat or somebody who’s, you know, more likely to be a gangster.” Judge during murder trial outside presence of jury.  North (Washington Commission 2017) (admonishment).
  • “I’m not an expert, I’m not a developer, I’m not a contractor, but I’ve been involved in real estate a little bit” and, “the truth gets left out when people are trying to cover their butts.” Judge in a small claims action.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).

To jurors

  • “I am disturbed by the way you came back with such a harsh verdict and sentence for this man’s life in such a short time. Did you even discuss the details of the case at all?”  Judge to jury following guilty verdict.  Hawthorne (Texas Commission 2017) (reprimand for this and other misconduct).
  • “This is one of the few things this country asks our citizens to do, come up here and pass judgment. And in return, we send you disability checks.  And you turn around and come up to me and tell me, I don’t want to serve because I do not understand.  You understand perfectly.  Your English is no problem.”  Judge to prospective juror.  Aguilar (Texas Commission 2017) (reprimand for this and additional misconduct).

To or about litigants

  • “I’m aware there’s been multiple violations of the order of protection.” Judge relying on ex parte information from two sources.  Curran (New York Commission 2017) (admonishment).
  • “[You need] to do a research program on Charlie Manson and the cult that he has. Your behavior in the hall with me months ago, your behavior in this courtroom, your behavior back there, is unlike any I’ve ever seen in any 46,000 cases.  You, young man, are the worst one.  So you have bought yourself living in Children’s Village, going to the bathroom in public, and maybe Summer school, I don’t know . . . .”  Judge to 13-year-old boy in custody proceeding.  Gorcyca, 902 N.W.2d 828 (Michigan 2017) (censure for this and similar comments).
  • “To some extent I think ‘dumb-a**’ should be engraved on his forehead.” Judge about defendant during sentencing hearing.  Ditsworth (Arizona Commission 2017) (reprimand).
  • “Is it you like the money? Or you just like the action?”  Judge taking the plea of a defendant charged with prostitution.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Gift for the day.” Judge when sentencing criminal defendants.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Just so you know, ma’am, I grew up in a relationship where I used to get the crap beat out of me on a regular basis by a stepfather . . . . So I have some understanding of what you’re going through, okay?  From a child’s perspective.”  Judge after defense attorney said that defendant was in an abusive relationship.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Slap him upside the head a few times, make sure he stays off the drugs.” Judge to defendant’s mother.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “No cerveza. No tequila.  No alcohol.  Nada”  Judge to defendant with Spanish surname.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).

To or about attorneys

  • “If they’re coming for me, they are likely coming for you.” Judge ex parte to public defenders after city attorney’s office filed a blanket challenge against him.  Kreep (California 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “So our district attorney’s failure to do the job with which he was being paid to do has created a lot of problems for everybody: the citizens, the defendants.”  Judge in habeas corpus hearing.  Schildknecht (Texas Commission 2017) (reprimand).
  • “I love her accent,” and “I wasn’t planning on having you deported.” Judge to public defender.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Star Parker,” “Bun Head,” “Ms. Dimples,” and “Shorty.” Judge referring in court to deputy city attorney and interns for public defender.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “The lovely attorney next to you went over the form, correct?” Judge to defendant about public defender.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “If you’re good during your argument, I’ll give you some cookies, little boy.” Judge to law student intern with the city attorney’s office who appeared for an arraignment.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “And I had a Filipino teacher who always used to ask for a sh** of paper.” Judge during trial about misunderstanding what someone said.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Does the 30-day notice require the abandonment of property wording?” Judge asking attorney for advice about a case the attorney was not handling.  Kreep (California Commission 2017) (censure for this and other misconduct).

To or about court staff

  • “Besides, she is sexy as hell.” Judge in letter of recommendation for his judicial secretary.  In re Iddings, 897 N.W.2d 169 (Michigan 2017) (6-month suspension without pay and censure for this and related misconduct).
  • “That c***! That f******g b***h!”  Court commissioner after learning an interpreter had reported to her supervisor that he had spoken harshly to her in the courtroom.  Kliszewski (California Commission 2017) (admonishment for this and other misconduct).
  • “Sperm donors.” Judge about men in general and a bailiff specifically.  Haviland  (Nevada Commission 2017) (1-year suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).

To abuse the prestige of office

  • “So we need to call her today.” Judge to another judge about a third judge who was presiding over her son’s case.  Roca, 173 A.3d 1176 (Pennsylvania 2017) (removal).
  • “Hi, I figured it out and I took care of it.” Judge to another judge reporting that she had provided favorable treatment to a third judge’s son.  Segal, 173 A.3d 603 (Pennsylvania 2017) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “Give this to Judge Hawthorne and have him dismiss it for me.” Judge to office assistant at another court about a ticket received by an acquaintance.  Aluzzi (New York Commission 2017) (censure).
  • “If this ticket was in my courtroom, I’d dismiss it.” Judge to prosecutor about a ticket issued to his daughter.  Ayres, 85 N.E.3d 1011 (New York 2017) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “Part of my family.” Judge in character letter on judicial stationery in support of a motion to vacate her former babysitter’s gambling conviction.  Ramirez (New York Commission 2017) (admonishment for this and other misconduct).
  • “Well, does she just need a ride or something?” Judge to police officer at the scene of an accident involving his intern.  Simpson, 902 N.W.2d 383 (Michigan 2017) (9-month suspension without pay).
  • “Please! I’m a judge.  Don’t do this to me.  I did not flunk this.  I didn’t flunk it!”  Judge to trooper during a traffic stop when she did not pass a field sobriety test.  Williams (Ohio 2017).
  • “Bring it Angleton, Texas, County Court Number Three . .. you s**k!” Judge to umpire at his son’s baseball game.  Warren (Texas Commission 2017) (warning).
  • “Hey Connie, this is Kurt, um, when you’re testifying in that trial there might be a couple of things that you could do that would really help Stacey.” Judge in voicemail message to witness prior to his wife’s trial on federal charges.  Pomrenke, 806 S.E.2d 749 (Virginia 2017) (removal for this and related misconduct).

To reporters

  • “I stand behind what we did. I have no qualms about what happened and how we prosecuted the matter.  I believe it was completely justice done.”  Judge to reporter about a pending case he had tried as a prosecutor.  Kephart (Nevada Commission 2017) (reprimand).
  • “[T]here’s no way” it was in the child’s best interest to stay with his stepmother. Judge to reporter explaining custody decision.  Potter (Nevada Commission 2017) (60-day suspension without pay and $5,000 fine for this and other misconduct).

What they said that got them in trouble in the first half of 2017.

 

 

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