What judges said that got them in trouble in the second half of 2020

What judges said that got them in trouble in the first half of 2020 was summarized in two previous posts:  Part 1 and Part 2.

To or about litigants

  • “[I could] split [you]r baby in half like Solomon and sleep like a baby that night;” and “And when I say communication, I don’t mean ‘and den da b**ch done dis, and den da b**ch done dat.’”  Judge to couple during custody dispute, affecting an Ebonics accent and dialect.  In re Tranquilli, Order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline November 19, 2020) (ordering that pay withheld from a former judge since his suspension be permanently withheld and that his pledge not to serve be irrevocable).
  • “Deadbeat.”  Judge referring to tenant in an eviction proceeding.  In the Matter of Knopf, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 23, 2020) (censure for this and related misconduct).
  • “Okay, time-out;” and “If you open your mouth one more time, you’re adding on to your misery ma’am.”  Judge jailing for contempt a woman who screamed in the hallway outside his courtroom.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Bachman (Ohio Supreme Court December 18, 2020) (6-month suspension from practice of law for former judge).
  • “Send him to jail.”  Judge to a bailiff about the defendant in a non-support case without conducting a hearing or making a written finding of contemptIn re Conley, Public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission September 9, 2020).
  • “B***h.”  Judge referring to school liaison officer who followed her employer’s instructions rather than the judge’s regarding the filing of truancy, dependency, neglect, and abuse cases.  Gentry v. Judicial Conduct Commission (Kentucky Supreme Court December 17, 2020) (removal for this and other misconduct).

To or about criminal defendants

  • “The Mormon’s [sic] the Court are [sic] associated with are good people that live up to their responsibilities.  The court knows because He is the Sunday School President at an LDS ward.”  Judge in minute order responding to defendant’s excuse that he was a full-time college student, an employee making minimum wage, and a Mormon.  Staggs, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 17, 2020) (reprimand for this and other misconduct).
  • “[I will] cast [the defendant] down among the [S]odomites . . . in state prison.”  Judge during sentencing.  In re Tranquilli, Order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline November 19, 2020) (ordering that pay withheld from a former judge since his suspension be permanently withheld and that his pledge not to serve be irrevocable).
  • “I think you’re a f***ing addict and maybe you need treatment.  I don’t think it’s got nothing to do with anger management.  You think I give you anger management and that’s gonna get you clean and sober?  What the hell are you talking about?  Have a seat, over here…  Percocet and alcohol…  I’m gonna relax a little bit and then figure out what to do with him. . . .”  Judge to defendant in drug court.  In re Wilson, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 20, 2020) (censure for this and similar misconduct).
  • “Then you can just leave.  And I’m going to order a bench warrant for your arrest when you do.”  Judge to defendant before ordering his arrest for contempt for “constructively” failing to appear and disruptive behavior.  In re Jurado, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 20, 2020) () (reprimand).
  • To “make a point.”  Judge explaining why he was proceeding with a probable cause hearing without the defendant’s counsel present at the time the judge had directed.  In re Inquiry Concerning Clontz (North Carolina Supreme Court December 18, 2020) (reprimand).

To or about attorneys in criminal cases

  • “You weren’t out of strikes when you decided to put Aunt Jemima on the jury,” and “[you] knew darn well that when she goes home to her baby daddy, he’s probably slinging heroin too.”  Judge to prosecutor about a Black female juror who wore her hair in a kerchief.  In re Tranquilli, Order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline November 19, 2020) (ordering that pay withheld from a former judge since his suspension be permanently withheld and that his pledge not to serve be irrevocable).
  • “This level of ‘service’ is far below what the citizens of this community expect and deserve.”  Judge in email to district attorney about handling of criminal case.  In the Matter Concerning Tamietti, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance October 14, 2020) (admonishment for this and other misconduct).
  • The district attorney’s office was “unprofessional,” “stupid,” and “superfluous.”  Judge in chambers conference with district attorney and others.  In the Matter Concerning Mason, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 9, 2020) (admonishment for this and other misconduct).
  • “So you’re going to hear that all the time, and you’re going to be sick of hearing it, just like I get sick of reading it, but it’s – it’s what I have to do.”  Judge about disclosing his relationship to an attorney.  In the Matter Concerning Mason, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 9, 2020) (admonishment for this and other misconduct).

To or about court staff

  • “I’ll talk to you the way I want.  If you weren’t so incompetent I wouldn’t talk to you like that.”  Judge to clerk.  In the Matter of Pineda-Kirwan, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020) (censure for this and similar misconduct).
  • “How can you do that?  I have more seniority than he does. . . .  You treat me like sh**.”  Judge to courthouse supervisor about giving a table loaned to her courtroom to another judge.  In the Matter of Pineda-Kirwan, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020) (censure for this and similar misconduct).
  • There was “no pan ocha [sic].”  Judge explaining to court staff why he left the priesthood, using term he believed meant “brown sugar,” but which is slang for the female anatomy.  Pollard, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 15, 2020) (reprimand).
  • “Gag Order, Esquire,” and, “Thinking of you, Billy.”  On patch depicting a man with a ball gag that judge gave to a female judge and 3 female staff members.  In the Matter of Potter, Stipulation and order of consent to public admonishment (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline September 30, 2020).
  • “[If I] knew [you] could also cook, [I] would have gone for [you];” and “[You] look[ed] really hot.”  Judge to chief clerk.  In the Matter of Miller, 158 N.E.3d 87 (New York 2020) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “Do not shake your head at me,” and “Do you want to be held in contempt?”  Judge to court staff member in lobby outside of courtroom while trying to get a group leaving an investiture to stop disrupting the trial over which he was presiding.  Inquiry Concerning Miller, 304 So.3d 1214 (Florida 2020).
  • “It was much easier in the old days when they used to call them all [English and Spanish derogatory slurs for undocumented immigrants from Mexico].”  Judge to court reporter in courtroom during recess about coverage of mass shooting in El Paso.  Public Admonition of Luitjen (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 4, 2020).
  • “Get to work woman!” and “Let’s go woman!”  Judge referring to female employees.  Staggs, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 17, 2020) (reprimand for this and other misconduct).

To police officers

  • “I’ve been vetted, take the cuffs off,” and “All I did was help this person.  He was my boyfriend.  There was never any incident before this.”  Judge to police officers who arrested her for hindering apprehension of her boyfriend.  In the Matter of Brady, 235, A.3d 175 (New Jersey 2020) (3-month suspension without pay).
  • “I’m a judge and I was trying to get home but I just got lost.”  Judge to officer responding to a report of an intoxicated driver.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Hawkins (Ohio Supreme Court August 12, 2020) (reprimand).
  • “None of them had driver[‘s] licenses, since they are Mexican.”  Judge requesting that law enforcement officers issue traffic citations to commercial vehicles with a solar farm project that was next to her family property.  Public Warning of Plaster and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020).

On social media

  • “WHAT DOES THE SHEEP SAY?  WE NEED COMMON SENSE GUN CONTROL.”  Meme posted by judge on Facebook.  In the Matter of Schmidt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 3, 2020) (admonishment for this and other posts).
  • “Sign of the time.”  Judge in Facebook post linking to newspaper article entitled, “Fatal DWI suspect bragged about bail reform:  ‘I’ll be out tomorrow.’”  In the Matter of Schmidt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 3, 2020) (admonishment for this and other posts).
  • “This makes me so sad.  I wonder how Judge Johnson would feel if the woman that was pistol whipped was his daughter, wife, or sister?  He sounds like an activist judge trying to prove a point.  That doesn’t help the woman who was hurt.”  Judge in Facebook post about another judge’s bond determination.  Public Warning of Crow and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 28, 2020).
  • “Write short letters stating the ‘irreparable harm’ cutting teachers at CHS will cause to your children.  Students should write as well.  Post on Twitter & send to BBS & BTF!”  Judge on Twitter publicly supporting the teachers at her daughter’s school in litigation with the board of education.  In the Matter of Panepinto, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 9, 2020) (censure).

During election campaigns

  • “Re-elect Kelly Allen Gray!  Fort Worth City Council, – District 8.  #teamkelly.”  Judge on Facebook about friend’s campaign for city council.  Public Warning of Woodard and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 28, 2020).
  • “Now, we need you to watch our backs, we need you to vote for Cheryl Johnson.”  Judge at a fund-raising event for the county tax assessor-collector’s re-election campaign.  Public Warning of Cox (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 4, 2020).
  • “I haven’t knocked it down.  I have taken signs down prior that were placed illegally.”  Judge in interview in chambers about video on YouTube purportedly showing him removing from his neighbor’s property the campaign sign of a candidate for the Texas House of Representatives.  Public Admonition of Metzger (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 12, 2020).
  • “Her boyfriend went to prison for assaulting her several times.”  Judge about a woman who clapped for her opponent at a campaign forum.  Public Reprimand of Howard (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020) Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020).
  • “Bruce Staggs – Justice of the Peace, Benson JP Court.”  On nail files distributed by judge during court hours.  Staggs, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 17, 2020) (reprimand for this and other misconduct).

Off-the-bench

  • “Sit tight” and, “Do you have any questions?”  Judge on cell phone to boyfriend of friends’ daughter after arranging for his release on a recognizance bond before his scheduled arraignment.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Goulding (Ohio Supreme Court September 29, 2020) (6 month-suspension, stayed with conditions).
  • “Is this what you are talking about?”  Judge showing handgun to a man during a public confrontation.  Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020).
  • “Stay away.”  Judge warning friend after law enforcement requested a search warrant for a mutual friend as part of a drug trafficking investigation.  In the Matter of Kamada, 476 P.3d 1146 (Colorado 2020) (censure of former judge).
  • “I would not have made the choice to write and fax those orders, knowing I had a conflict, outside of the chaos, confusion and fear of the immediate circumstances I was inside of on September 18, 2017.”  Judge in self-report to commission about her intervention in her husband’s arrest.  Maze v. Judicial Conduct Commission (Kentucky Supreme Court December 17, 2020) (reprimand).

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