20 years ago this month:
- Affirming the findings and recommendations of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court removed a judge who had engaged in a pattern of conduct in which he acted with hostility towards attorneys, court personnel, and fellow judges, including (1) intimidating 2 attorneys into withdrawing from representation of a client by threatening to recuse from all of their cases; (2) entering an order directing a litigant to show cause why she should not be held in indirect criminal contempt for writing a letter to the governor complaining of the judge’s handling of her case; (3) seeking to hold a guidance clinic counselor in contempt and threatening to put the clinic out of business; (4) limiting the rights of pro se petitioners with domestic violence complaints by requiring employees of the domestic abuse shelter to submit affidavits that stated that they did not furnish any assistance to the petitioners, which chilled the willingness of victims and staff to come forward with legitimate claims, and falsely stating in a letter to a newspaper that the staff of the shelter agreed to use the forms; (5) engaging in a pattern of antagonism with court staff and other judges; (6) independently investigating a bailiff by interviewing a witness without notice to the bailiff and without counsel on his behalf, intending to release the information to a newspaper; (7) slamming a door in a bailiff’s face; (8) inappropriately criticizing a bailiff; (9) entering an order in a capital case improperly implying that 2 attorneys were guilty of unethical conduct without allowing an opportunity to respond and threatening that he would refer any failure of counsel to comply with his directives to the chief justice; (10) denying a motion for recusal and then entering an order inaccurately criticizing defense counsel without affording them an opportunity to respond; (11) suggesting that attorneys in a domestic violence case were encouraging their client to disobey his orders when they filed motions for a stay and finding the client in contempt; (12) falsely accusing an assistant state attorney of attempting to make ex parte contacts with him and threatening to report him to The Florida Bar; (13) falsely accusing an assistant state attorney of stating that he had engaged in ex parte communications; (14) improperly seeking to involve third parties in an internal dispute concerning court administrative matters by publicly disseminating his version of events; (15) verbally attacking fellow judges in a judges’ meeting; (16) violating the confidence of another judge by disclosing the contents of a confidential memorandum; and (17) threatening to assess attorney fees against the clerk of the circuit court. Inquiry Concerning Shea, 759 So. 2d 631 (Florida 2000).
- Approving a recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission based on stipulated facts, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded an appellate judge for berating 2 legal interns who were presenting arguments before the court, cutting short their oral arguments, and making discourteous remarks about the professor who was supervising their arguments. Inquiry Concerning Schwartz, 755 So. 2d 110 (Florida 2000).
- Acting on an application of the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, the Iowa Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) holding a hearing to set aside a temporary injunction that another judge had issued while counsel for one of the parties was engaged in the trial of a previously scheduled matter in the same courthouse, (2) failing to recuse from an attorney fee application after announcing his bias toward an attorney who opposed the application, (3) subverting the Commission’s authority to rule on a discovery request by serving on the complaint a subpoena issued by the clerk for the judge’s court, and (4) showing disrespect toward the Commission chair. In the Matter of Stigler, 607 N.W.2d 699 (Iowa 2000).
- Adopting the findings of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended from the practice of law for 6 months a judge who, after observing a car being operated erratically, had written the owner a letter on court stationery telling her to contact the court and held an inquisitory hearing without legal authority; the Court stayed the entire 6 months suspension provided the judge engages in no further violations. Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Hoague, 725 N.E.2d 1108 (Ohio 2000).
- Adopting the findings, conclusion, and recommendation of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former judge who, while a judge, had used invitations to pool parties at his residence that were undignified, lacking in taste, and may have been offensive to many of the invitees. Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Mascio, 725 N.E.2d 1111 (Ohio 2000).