Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • Approving an agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for an ex parte conversation with the father’s attorneys in a custody case in which the attorneys told the judge that a psychologist who had counseled the mother and children had committed forgery; at the father’s attorney’s suggestion, referring the matter to law enforcement without telling the mother’s attorney or disqualifying himself from the case; and making comments about the alleged forgery during a hearing in the case.  In the Matter of Morton, 770 N.E.2d 827 (Indiana 2002).
  • The Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Judicial Conduct Commission suspending a judge for 180 days without pay for (1) suspending a 9-day jail sentence in a pending misdemeanor criminal action on the condition that the defendant pay child support to his ex-wife following ex parte communications from the defendant and his attorney and without notice or involvement of the attorney for the state; (2) asking a state trooper, as a personal favor, to be present when a woman retrieved her personal belongings from the residence of an ex-boyfriend in order to move in with the judge; (3) threatening the ex-boyfriend of a woman with whom the judge was having a relationship that he would inform law enforcement authorities that the boyfriend, who was the owner of a used-car dealership, was altering odometer readings; and (4) during an informal appearance before the Commission, representing that he did not have a personal relationship with a woman until November 2000, when the personal relationship began at least as early as August 1998.  Thomas v. Judicial Conduct Commission, 77 S.W.3d 578 (Kentucky 2002).
  • Affirming the decision of the Trial Division, the Appellate Division of the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary removed a judge from office for (1) threatening a locksmith with contempt if he did not give the judge a key to the clerk’s office; (2) ordering sheriff’s deputies to arrest a defendant without a warrant and hold him without bond; (3) failing to follow proper procedures in terminating a defendant from the drug court program and relying on ex parte communications and inadmissible polygraph results in sentencing the defendant; and (4) issuing a written general order directing all law enforcement agencies to assist a father take physical custody of his minor children based on ex parte communications, without any allegation that the children were in any danger or any written request for relief.  State v. Colcazier, 106 P.3d 138 (Appellate Division Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary 2002).
  • Pursuant to the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) repeatedly failing to produce transcripts or produce them timely and accurately and (2) willfully and persistently refusing to comply with supervisory orders from the court of appeal directing the production of necessary transcripts, resulting in the commencement of contempt proceedings.  In re Hunter, 823 So. 2d 325 (Louisiana 2002).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for writing a letter on judicial stationery to a school official challenging an administrative determination concerning the judge’s son.  In the Matter of Nesbitt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 21, 2002).
  • In an attorney disciplinary proceeding, the Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspended an attorney for, while a judge on the court of appeal, receiving loans from attorneys who regularly appeared before him.  Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Cox, 770 N.E.2d 1007 (Ohio 2002).
  • Accepting an agreement for discipline by consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former magistrate for failing to deposit money received in payment of a fine and spending some of the money on personal items.  In the Matter of Addie, 564 S.E.2d 668 (South Carolina 2002).
  • Accepting an agreement for discipline by consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former magistrate for consistently failing to comply with record-keeping and money-handling requirements.  In the Matter of Sanders, 564 S.E.2d 670 (South Carolina 2002).
  • Accepting an agreement for discipline by consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a magistrate for making a directed verdict in a criminal case without allowing the defendant to present testimony, call witnesses, or offer any evidence in his defense.  In the Matter of Dash, 564 S.E.2d 672 (South Carolina 2002).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for (1) using official judicial letterhead for a letter to the district attorney concerning the independent audit of the courthouse drug vaults and providing the local newspaper with a copy of the letter; and (2) engaging in a “relentless extra-judicial pursuit of alleged illegal or unethical conduct by the District Attorney, the Texas Rangers, and the Department of Public Safety,” including using official judicial letterhead and providing copies of letters to the state legislature, for their failure to pursue a case against 2 women who allegedly kidnapped a third women at gunpoint, beat her up, and smeared her with cow manure.  Public Warning of Gibson (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 5, 2002).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for chasing an 11-year-old child who had squirted the judge in the back with a water pistol, placing the boy in a headlock, pulling his head back by the hair, and squirting the child in the face with the water pistol.  Public Admonition of McGee (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 5, 2002).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for (1) intentionally demeaning a game warden by using the term “bird and turtle” in reference to his work, allowing his court staff to create a hostile atmosphere in connection with the warden’s visits to the judge’s offices to inquire about the disposition of several alcohol-related citations he had issued, conveying that hostility to the warden, and being less than candid about what transpired at his meeting with the warden; and (2) unreasonably and purposefully delaying signing a death certificate for 4 days based on court staff’s statements that the funeral home staff had been rude, demanding, and unreasonable. Public Admonition of Boyett (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 5, 2002).
  • • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for (1) exhibiting favoritism and partiality in appointments and (2) removing new family law and juvenile cases from the jurisdiction of a new judge, creating an appearance the judge was using his position and authority to advance his own private interest or the private interests of others. Public Warning of Emerson (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 28, 2002).
  • • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge who ordered a bailiff to remove a prospective juror’s 4-year-old child from the courtroom and forcing the tearful mother to remain in the courtroom until the judge had completed qualifying the jurors. Public Admonition of Ott (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 21, 2002).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former part-time judge for her conviction of DUI for an incident that took place while she was a judge  and for a delay in ruling on a case from December 21, 1999, until she resigned on October 2, 2000.  In re Lake, Stipulation, agreement, and agreed order of admonishment (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 7, 2002) ().
  • • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for a delay of over 4 years in rendering a final detailed opinion following a preliminary letter opinion in a case. In re Van Nuys, Stipulation, agreement, and agreed order of admonishment (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 7, 2002).

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