What judges said that got them in trouble in the second half of 2021: Part 1

“What judges said that got them in trouble in the first half of 2021”

During or about court proceedings

  • “I’m going to tell you like I tell a lot of people with this same charge because all of these charges are the same. We as men – and I can speak to you as man, because I’m a man, as well, we get frustrated with the women human beings because we try to straightened out a creation because they was created with a curve, but we as men, we think we are above creation, and we can straighten it out. No matter how much you try, or how you try to straighten out that curve, you can never do it. We get frustrated, and then — but in our frustration you can’t come at them like you’re Mike Tyson, and they’re in the ring like they’re Leon Spinks. You can’t do it. You can’t punch, you can’t hit. At best, you treat as if you’re holding a feather, just to let them know you’re the man, and you’re in control. But on each one of these five complaints it said you went at ‘em like Mike Tyson.” Judge to defendant with multiple domestic violence charges pending against him. In the Matter of Brister, 258 A.3d 1045 (New Jersey 2021), adopting (1-month suspension without pay).
  • “Not that you can do in front of all these people, no.” Judge after a female defendant he had released on her own recognizance asked, “do I owe you anything?” In the Matter of Rodriguez, 260 A.3d 848 (New Jersey 2021), adopting (public reprimand).
  • “Didn’t live in the U.S.” Magistrate explaining why he ordered a defendant held on an $8,000 bond as a flight risk. In the Matter of Guthrie, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court October 29, 2021) (30-day suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “ID.” Judge on a note pad he showed to a state police officer testifying in a trial because the officer had not identified the defendant as the same person the officer had stopped and ticketed. In the Matter of Guthrie, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court October 29, 2021) (30-day suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “Oh, before we get started, I think [A.O.’s] under the influence. I want her drug tested.” Judge about a criminal defendant’s girlfriend who was quietly observing the proceedings in his courtroom, whom he subsequently sentenced to 10 days in jail for contempt for refusing to submit to a drug test. Disciplinary Counsel v. Repp (Ohio Supreme Court November 9, 2021) (1-year suspension with 6 months stayed with conditions for this and related misconduct).
  • “[You are putting your dispute] in the hands of a guy who wears a costume;” and Judge Spitzer will “wade through the bulls**t.” Judge to parties in 2 family law cases. In re Hinson, Order of suspension (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct September 7, 2021) (30-day suspension with pay for this and a comment in a second case).
  • “It’s frustrating because I don’t think this ever should have been tried. It’s a simple misdemeanor. The guy has no record. Best case scenario, he got carried away. I mean this is the best possible case scenario is that he got carried away in the moment. Do you really want to f*** with someone’s life like that? Apparently. Worst case scenario … The thing is, like I didn’t hear anybody say they saw the guy throw jack.” Judge criticizing city’s decision to file and try a case in comments that were broadcast through the court’s YouTube channel although he thought he could only be heard by the 2 court employees in the courtroom. In re Antush, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 19, 2021) (public admonishment).
  • “I am the judge trying to effect equitable distribution. We’re having a hearing. Now, you let me in that house or [the bailiff] is going to arrest you for being in direct contempt of court.” Judge before searching a self-represented ex-husband’s home for marital property. In the Matter of Goldston (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals November 18, 2021) (public censure and $1,000 fine).
  • “No probation=u buying drinks.” Judge in text to attorney/friend who had texted the judge that he “wanted no probation” for a client. Grievance Administrator v. Easthope, Opinion (September 17, 2021), Notice of suspension (Michigan Attorney Discipline Board October 19, 2021) (180-day suspension of former judge’s law license for numerous other ex parte communications with his friend, an attorney who appeared before him in cases).
  • “An appeal to the higher courts in Alabama on behalf of a capital defendant sentenced to death by judicial override is ceremonial at best.” Judge in decision declaring state’s capital murder sentencing scheme unconstitutional. In the Matter of Todd, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary December 3, 2021) (90-day suspension without pay for this and related misconduct).
  • “Interesting!” and “That’s sad.” Judge via Facebook Messenger in response to messages from ex-husband complaining about his ex-wife in a custody dispute over which the judge was presiding. Disciplinary Counsel v. Winters (Ohio Supreme Court August 18, 2021) (6-month suspension without pay, stayed with conditions, for this and multiple other communications with the same litigant about 4 cases).
  • “I guess I really shouldn’t since you have a case pending in my court. Thanks for asking. Let get this done. . . . Before your personal injury case gets filed.😊” Judge via Facebook Messenger in response to litigant’s invitation to a private dinner. Disciplinary Counsel v. Winters (Ohio Supreme Court August 18, 2021) (6-month suspension without pay, stayed with conditions, for this and multiple other communications with the same litigant about 4 cases).
  • “Aww that’s too bad to be leaving like that. I’ll include her in my prayers. Family strife is the worst. I’m glad you have Bill and his family.” Judge via Facebook Messenger in response to message from litigant in civil stalking protective case. Disciplinary Counsel v. Winters (Ohio Supreme Court August 18, 2021) (6-month suspension without pay, stayed with conditions, for this and multiple other ex parte communications with the same litigant about 4 cases).
  • “[The courthouse is not] the most safest place in the world;” “I have tried the County Board, I have tried everything to get people to do something to keep guns out of this courthouse, and nothing happens, so you know, you got to protect yourself;” and “[I keep it] up here on the bench just because I want to protect myself.” Judge while removing his handgun from a holster under his robe while sentencing a defendant who had pled no contest to stalking charges. In the Matter of Woldt, 961 N.W.2d 854 (Wisconsin 2021) (7-day suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “And ma’am, if you come in here and tell me that you just want a fine, everything’s fine, then don’t pick up the phone and dial 911, don’t call the cops. I mean if you think you want to handle it, then you handle it; but if you want to pick up the phone and call the police, we’re going to get involved and we’re going to make him get the counseling which he needs. I’m just sick and tired of victims coming in here and they call the cops when they need ‘em but then later on they come and say: Oh, no, this person’s an angel. I’m sick and tired of hearing it.” Judge castigating domestic violence victim who said she wanted the defendant to be fined and get community service. In the Matter of Woldt, 961 N.W.2d 854 (Wisconsin 2021) (7-day suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “Counsel, there’s a thin line between being an advocate and being a ‘d**k’ – thin line – and you’re blurring it.” Judge who did not like an attorney’s line of questioning during the cross examination of the director of the county family court services in a custody/placement modification hearing. In the Matter of Woldt, 961 N.W.2d 854 (Wisconsin 2021) (7-day suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “I would love to grant this motion, I would love to have a trial on this issue, I’d love that he get found guilty, and I’d love to give him a year in jail for wasting my time today. I would love to do that, but unfortunately I can’t. . . .” Judge denying defendant’s post-conviction motion arguing that trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance. In the Matter of Woldt, 961 N.W.2d 854 (Wisconsin 2021) (7-day suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “I mean that’s a stupid argument;” “Attorneys that practice in front of me a lot know, that when things are getting behind, they know the best thing they can do is to shut their ‘pie holes;’” and “jump to the chase.” Judge displaying irritation with defense counsel’s attempt to argue on behalf of his client. In the Matter of Woldt, 961 N.W.2d 854 (Wisconsin 2021) (7-day suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).
  • The “so-called victim in this case,” and “You’re a very smart man. You would be amazed at the amount of defendants that come in and say, ‘Yeah, there is,’ and then they continue to go on.” Judge referring to the 13-year-old victim in a sexual assault to which a defendant had pled no contest and congratulating the defendant for not exercising his right to speak in allocution after the judge had discouraged him from doing so. In the Matter of Woldt, 961 N.W.2d 854 (Wisconsin 2021) (7-day suspension without pay for this and other misconduct).

One thought on “What judges said that got them in trouble in the second half of 2021: Part 1

  1. Pingback: What judges said that got them in trouble in the second half of 2021: Part 2 | Judicial ethics and discipline

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