20 years ago this month:
- Based on a complaint brought by the Judicial Inquiry Board, the Illinois Courts Commission removed a judge who had engaged in “intimidating and sexually inappropriate behavior” in the courtroom and chambers toward 4 assistant state’s attorneys and twice had sexual intercourse in his chambers with a court reporter. In re Spurlock, Order (Illinois Courts Commission December 3, 2001).
- Affirming the findings of the Judicial Tenure Commission, the Michigan Supreme Court suspended a judge or 6 months without pay for appointing an attorney with whom she had an intimate relationship to represent indigent defendants in 56 cases and presiding over the cases, presiding over a criminal case in which the attorney was retained counsel, without disclosing the relationship, and making false statements to police officers investigating the attorney for the murder of his wife. In re Chrzanowski, 636 N.W.2d 758 (Michigan 2001).
- Adopting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance pursuant to an agreed statement of facts and proposed recommendation, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for ex parte communications with alcoholic beverage control agents in 5 cases, remanding charges to the file in cases placed on other judges’ dockets, requiring those before him to pay court costs or forfeit confiscated alcohol prior to a final disposition of their cases, and continuing to hear cases involving the alcoholic beverage control division during the Commission’s investigation of him that was initiated by the alcohol beverage control agents. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Lewis, 801 So. 2d 704 (Mississippi 2001).
- Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for participating in litigation on behalf of his residential cooperative board against a restaurant that was a commercial tenant. In re Huttner, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 26, 2001).
- Pursuant to an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for personally intervening in a business dispute involving his spouse by contacting an attorney 3 times within 5 days to urge the attorney to convince his clients to pay a bill related to a real estate transaction handled by the judge’s spouse, a real estate agent. In the Matter of Whelan, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 27, 2001).
- Pursuant to an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a non-lawyer judge for (1) engaging in an ex parte discussion with the defendant in a small claims case, rendering a judgment based on the discussion, and advising the plaintiff that the plaintiff did not have a right to confront the defendant; (2) advising the defendant in a traffic case that she was not entitled to a supporting deposition because she had been offered a plea reduction, effectively coercing the defendant’s plea to a reduced charge; and (3) holding court in his chambers and allowing the prosecutor to call cases and offer plea bargains in the courtroom. In the Matter of Fuller, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 26, 2001).
- The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for engaging in a verbal altercation with defense counsel, failing to maintain proper order and decorum and directly contributing to an undignified atmosphere in a high-profile criminal case against a veteran police officer charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. Public Warning of Angelini (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 2001).
- The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for failing to provide contemnors in 10 cases with full and unambiguous notification of when, how, and by what means they had been guilty of contempt and failing to advise them at the contempt hearing of their right to counsel, to admonish them about proceeding without counsel, and to obtain their knowing and voluntary waiver of counsel. Public Admonition of Dulin and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 2001).
- Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, following her public contact at a service station with a driver, using court resources to obtain the motorist’s traffic infraction record; and sending a letter to the state patrol, county sheriff, court staff, and the motorist describing her experience, providing information about the motorist, and advising the recipients that she would recuse herself on any traffic-related matter involving the motorist. In re Meadows, Stipulation, Agreement, Order of Admonishment (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2001).