What they said that got them in trouble so far in 2019

  • “You can’t down a couple of 40s before you go pick [your children] up before a visit because that’s not good. Do you understand?”  Judge to father in a hearing on a request for a domestic violence restraining order.  In the Matter Concerning Symons, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 20, 2019) (severe censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “I cannot avoid the observation that the party who represents himself has a fool for a client. That is a well-known quote.  It’s too bad that someone did not perform the older and more gracious function, not simply of attorney, but counselor at law.  Counselors at law used to advise people not to go to court, to let the matter go and resolve it outside of court.  And that might have been a kindness in this situation.”  Judge in case in which an attorney was representing herself.  In the Matter Concerning Symons, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 20, 2019) (severe censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Prayer might be the answer. ‘Cause, he just signed an order to start building the wall and he has no money to do that, and so if you think you are going to get taxes back this year, uh-yeah, maybe, maybe not.  But don’t worry[,] there is a tax cut for the wealthy so if you make over $500,000 you’re getting a tax cut.  You’re right[] there[,] right?  Pretty close?  All[]right, so do you have a plan?  Other than just get the tax cut and pay it off?”  Judge to a defendant who could not pay his fines, referring President Trump’s immigration and tax policies.  In re Kwan (Utah Supreme Court May 22, 2019) (6-month suspension for this and other misconduct).
  • “Okay.   I will do it this way.  Please delete the prior stuff.  I’ll find you not guilty, ma’am.  Thank you.  Trying to clean up the docket, guys, not add to it.”  Judge changing her verdict in a bench trial from guilty to not guilty after the prosecutor refused to dismiss an unrelated charge against the same defendant.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Salerno (Ohio Supreme Court February 12, 2019) (1-year suspension for this and other misconduct).
  • “You have a hard time understanding me? Two lawyers can’t argue one argument.”  Judge, during a felony criminal trial, just before ordering his courtroom deputy in front of the jury to remove one the defendant’s attorneys from a sidebar conference.  Inquiry Concerning Bailey, 267 So. 3d 992 (Florida 2019) (public reprimand).
  • “[Your] lies are getting [you] in trouble,” “close [your] mouth,” and your “license in the State of Illinois does not exist.” Judge to criminal defendant who was a former nurse after incorrectly deducing based on independent internet research that she had never been licensed as a nurse in Illinois.  Judicial Commission v. Piontek, Opinion (Wisconsin Supreme Court May 21 2019) (5-day suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “Today I have to eat humble pie.” Judge apologizing in treatment court for his sexual relationship with the girlfriend of a defendant.  In re Shaw, 192 A.3d 350 (2018), Order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline April 23, 2019) (severe reprimand of now-former judge and $5,000 fine for this and other misconduct).
  • “Sit on my lap if you want . . . no, no I take that back.” Judge to a participant in a drug court proceeding when she seemed confused about where to sit or stand when her case was called.  Fell, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct June 10, 2019).
  • “When God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it.” Judge after telling deliberating jurors that a defendant was innocent.  Public Warning of Robison (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 20, 2019).
  • “Take a read of People v Solmonson, 261 MA 657 (2004), cited in People Rassoull Omari Janes, COA Unpublished June 15, 2017 (I have a copy).” Judge providing caselaw to assistant prosecutor in an ex parte e-mail.  In re Filip, 923 N.W.2d 282 (Michigan 2019) (public censure for this and related misconduct).
  • Prosecutor “handled himself in in [sic] a completely unprofessional manner, never notified me of his concerns,” and “is a fool that I suffered” and a “cancer” in the prosecuting attorney’s office. Judge in disqualification hearing referring to prosecutors who had told the defense attorney about his ex parte e-mails.  In re Filip, 923 N.W.2d 282 (Michigan 2019) (public censure for this and related misconduct).
  • “Just get rid of them.” Judge to clerk about search warrant materials in boxes that should have been matched up and transmitted to the clerk for filing.  In the Matter of Russell, Opinion (Maryland Court of Appeals June 28, 2019) (6-month suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “So did you do it? Are you going to own up to it?  No one is owning up to it?  Somebody … did it.  People aren’t telling the truth.”  Judge to clerks in “line-up” in clerk’s office to identify who had assisted a domestic violence petitioner in a case with a missing file.  In the Matter of Russell, Opinion (Maryland Court of Appeals June 28, 2019) (6-month suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • The administrative judge “is not your boss. You don’t need to listen to her.  You don’t need to listen to [the chief judge.”  Judge to new judge while they were eating lunch together.  In the Matter of Russell, Opinion (Maryland Court of Appeals June 28, 2019) (6-month suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • The administrative judge “is a complete and utter incompetent vicious coward.’” Judge to several court employees in the courthouse hallway.  In the Matter of Russell, Opinion (Maryland Court of Appeals June 28, 2019) (6-month suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “No! It was a gift from my parents.  I’m not taping the meeting.  I don’t know how this thing works.”  Judge trying to explain the recorder found in her purse during a meeting with other judges.  In the Matter of Gross-Quatrone, 200 A.3d 411  (New Jersey 2019) (2-month suspension for this and related misconduct).
  • “We had an oral argument yesterday re: fracking ban where there was standing room only and a hundred people in our overflow video room.  The little Mexican is going to write in favor of the Plaintiffs and it looks like I am dissenting in favor of the Oil and Gas Commission.”  Appellate judge about colleague and non-public vote in pending case in text to intimate, non-spousal partner.  In the Matter of Booras (Colorado Supreme Court March 11, 2019) (public censure of now-former judge for this and related misconduct).
  • “We had many times where we didn’t have enough clerks, plus the clerks that were there were not trained in some of the areas, and we fell behind. And so, in falling behind trying to keep a very busy court going, I stepped in – was trying to answer phones, dealing with people at the, at the, uh, window.  Uh, in doing that, I made some mistakes.  And so the Censure involves some of the mistakes that I made.”  Judge in radio interview misrepresenting the grounds, extent, and nature of misconduct for which he had been previously sanctioned.  In the Matter of Walton, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court March 12, 2019) (3-week suspension without pay).
  • “[I] would never have thought [you] would have stolen anything.” Judge in voicemail to unqualified friend he had appointed as a trustee after failing to respond promptly to evidence of friend’s mismanagement and embezzlement.  In the Matter of Freese, Per curiam opinion (Indiana Supreme Court June 4, 2019) (45-day suspension without pay).
  • “To start with, the whole system, quite frankly, sucks;” “Most of these individuals, if l had my way, you’d see them probably swinging outside the door, okay? That’s the way I was brought up;” and “But thanks to lawyers, everybody has rights.”  Judge at a public meeting of the village board addressing concerns about recent criminal activity in the village.  In the Matter of Stone, Decision and Order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 30, 2019) (complaint concluded with judge’s resignation and agreement not to seek or accept judicial office in the future).
  • “‘Okay, you need to stop for a minute,” and, “You are lying. You’re such a liar.”  Judge interrupting a deposition during her divorce case when the deponent began answering a question about an allegation that the judge had been intoxicated in her office.  In re Brennan (June 19, 2019) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “If I hear the basketball bounce one more time I am going after Chico’s disability.” Judge to next-door neighbor about her husband during dispute with his neighbors that “erupted” periodically and resulted in the judge’s neighbors filing several police reports.  In the Matter of Guthrie, Order and public censure (New Mexico Supreme Court April 8, 2019) (public censure).
  • “[I want] to take the trooper back to 1982 . . . when there was professional courtesy [my] daughter would not have received a ticket.” Judge to prosecuting attorney about a state trooper who had ticketed  his daughter for speeding.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Marshall (Ohio Supreme Court February 28, 2019) (1-year suspension for this and other misconduct).
  • “I am Judge Abbott of Palmyra and I just won’t do any arraignments for you anymore.” Judge when police in a neighboring town refused to help unlock his personal vehicle.  In the Matter of Abbott, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2019) (public censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “I recommend the Redd Group for all your polling needs. Excellent work! – Steven C. Bailey.”  Judge in a testimonial used on a business’s web-site with his title.  Inquiry Concerning Bailey, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance February 27, 2019) (public censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Quick question: Is the fact that the IRS has audited you almost every year when your peers hardly ever or never have been, something to be proud of?  What does that say . . . about your business practices?”  Judge in Facebook post critical of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.  In re Kwan (Utah Supreme Court May 22, 2019) (6-month suspension for this and other misconduct).

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