What they said that got them in trouble so far in 2020: Part 1

To or about litigants

  • “And good luck to [the child], because it ain’t going to turn out well for her;” and “she’s going to get divorced. And your grandkid is going to go through the same things she’s going through because this is all she knows.”  Judge to parents in a family law case.  In the Matter Concerning Gary, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 14, 2020) (admonition for this and related comments).
  • “This is a self-created, self-inflicted wound that I’m ready to give up on. You can bleed out.  It’s not my responsibility anymore.”  Judge to parents in a family law case.  In the Matter Concerning Gary, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 14, 2020) (admonition for this and related comments).
  • “Death is part of life. In fact, it’s one of the certainties of life.  And the reason I raised religion is not to get into a deep philosophical religious discussion, but to address this witness’s concern with these two parents that a child not understanding the permanence of death, that is true, but parents or adults also struggle with the permanence of death.  And one of the ways they cope with the permanence of death is through religion, through the promise of when you die, somehow you will live again.  The Christian religion — I know dad goes to church, or at least I’ve heard testimony.  The Christian religion, you will have everlasting life, John 3:16.  If you go through that, what is the purpose for that for adults?”  Judge to retired licensed clinical social worker testifying in family law case.  In the Matter Concerning Gary, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 14, 2020) (admonition for this and related comments).
  • “The only person you should be sending naked pictures to [is] . .. Hugh Hefner.  He will pay you $100,000 for the use of them.”  Judge to plaintiff seeking the return of photographs taken of her for the benefit of her then-boyfriend.  In the Matter of Rivas, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court March 23, 2020), accepting (censure for this and related comments).
  • “[Fish] said he was a minister. What’s the story with that? * * *  A Christian minister even though he’s Jewish;” and “Do Jewish people have halos?  I think they have angels though, right? * * *  The Catholics got lots of angels or uh * * *  ‘Halos.”  Magistrate in ex parte conversation with one party after the other party left the courtroom following a hearing in a protection order case.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Porzio (Ohio Supreme Court April 23, 2020), adopting (stayed 6-month suspension without pay).
  • “[A]t the end of this, who looked like * * * an as—le and who looked like a good guy?’” Magistrate in ex parte conversation with one party after the other party left the courtroom following a hearing in a protection order case.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Porzio (Ohio Supreme Court April 23, 2020), adopting (stayed 6-month suspension without pay).
  • “He is a most obnoxious mean man.” Judge in email to law clerk about a party in a case.  Public Reprimand of Leahy (Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards March 19, 2020).
  • “You know, sounds like she was using meth and she’s a meth head.” Judge referring to the victim in a domestic violence case.  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “[Stop] shucking and jiving.” Judge to African-American defendant who gave what the judge believed to be evasive answers to his question.  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Stop, now, just stop with that! Jesus . . . .  Come on.  That’s getting old, that’s getting really old;” and “Why can’t you just be quiet when other people are talking?” Judge to pro se litigant in small claims case in which a close friend was representing the other party.  In the Matter of Gorski, 937 N.W.2d 609 (Wisconsin 2020) (reprimand for this and related misconduct).
  • “Close your legs? Call the police?  Did you do any of those things?”  Judge asking domestic violence victim about a sexual assault.  In the Matter of Russo (New Jersey Supreme Court May 26, 2020) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “For the record I’ve known Al Carbonetto and his wife since high school. Tina Bizzucci at that point.”  Judge before reducing the amount of spousal support a husband had been ordered to pay by another judge.  In the Matter of Russo (New Jersey Supreme Court May 26, 2020) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “If he’s not using the illicit drugs, then what is he transporting them up his backside for?” Judge in the courtroom about a case pending in a different court.  In the Matter of Pebler, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 17, 2020) (censure for this and related misconduct).
  • “I am going to look at those [sic] traffic stuff and see what we can do. Your [sic] really trying and I hate to see u [sic] buried in fines.  I would do that for anyone who’s trying;” and “Message me first thing in the morning and I will call.  Make sure you don’t tell anyone ur [sic] talking to me for lots of reasons.”  Judge on Facebook Messenger to woman about cases pending before other judges.  Letter of resignation and prohibition from office (Throesch) (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission May 1, 2020)  (resignation and permanent bar for this and other misconduct).

To or about attorneys

  • “I don’t care what anybody wears, Ms. McKeegan, if you wear yoga pants to court, it’s okay with me;” and “Oh, I should not have said that. Are there cameras in here?”  Judge to assistant district attorney.  In the Matter of Gerber, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 27, 2020) (admonition for this and other misconduct).
  • “[Do you] want a room?” and “[Should I] turn off the lights?” Judge to an assistant district attorney and her friend as he was leaving the courtroom.  In the Matter of Gerber, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 27, 2020) (admonition for this and other misconduct).
  • “I will let your client withdraw his plea. However, no matter what happens, I am putting him in jail for 10 days for wasting the court’s time.  Unless he gets a not guilty, he should expect to go to jail for 10 days.  If the jury gives him 30 days, I will give him forty.  If he pleads, he’s going in for at least 10 days as a condition.”  Judge after defendant rejected a plea agreement.  Public Warning of Gray (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2020) (warning for this and other misconduct).
  • “I’m not sure I want to shake your hand;” and “Do you know how much trouble you have caused me? Do you know how much money I have had to pay lawyers because of you?”  Judge to attorney he believed had complained about him to the Commission.  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “I have the biggest balls in the courthouse.” Judge in hallway to 2 female assistant district attorneys.  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “You should see their faces. They start to roll up their sleeves, and I just drop ‘trou’ and take my shot in the a**,” or words to that effect.  Judge about getting flu shot at employee health center in conversation in chambers with 2 female attorneys.  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “And, I don’t need a cheering section okay? So, if I need something from you, I’ll ask you, all right.”  Judge after attorney said, “That’s correct, Your Honor.”  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “You can tell [Attorney General Xavier] Becerra that’s what he gets for going against my president;” and “It’s my job to give the government a bad time,” or words to that effect. Judge after excluding most of the prosecution’s evidence in a case.  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Tell [DDA Brent] Nibecker he’s an idiot. I’ve told him to his face, I don’t care.”  Judge to deputy district attorney.  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020)  (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “You don’t have to act like a scared little girl in my courtroom,” or words to that effect. Judge in ex parte communication with deputy district attorney after a hearing.  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “He is an awful attorney;” “Kill me;” “Deep sigh;” and “the [S]tate will ask a million dumb questions about burden of proof, etc.”  Judge in emails to law clerk about proceedings.  Public Reprimand of Leahy (Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards March 19, 2020).

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