25 years ago this month:
- The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for 3 ex parte contacts with a defense attorney in a capital murder case, for example, asking if she had applied for investigator expenses and making suggestions related to defense strategies. Public Admonishment of Maciel (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 1, 1997).
- The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications publicly admonished a judge for releasing a defendant being held on drug trafficking charges on his own recognizance without giving the prosecution a chance to be heard and making an unsubstantiated entry in the record that the release was due to the state’s failure to proceed. Admonition of Evrard (Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications December 31, 1997).
- Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a judge from office for (1) without fundamental constitutional and procedural safeguards, ordering the arrest of a woman who had failed to pay an installment of a statutory surcharge in a case involving a $1.50 cab fare and sentencing her to 89 days in jail; (2) making callous comments about domestic abuse crimes, such as, “every woman needs a good pounding every now and then;” (3) failing to disclose in a civil suit brought by a dentist for an unpaid bill that the plaintiff was his wife’s dentist; and (4) loudly and rudely criticizing a woman who complained to the court clerk about the amount of the fine the judge had imposed on her husband for dog-control violations. In the Matter of Roberts, 689 N.E.2d 911 (New York 1997).
- Rejecting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct that removal was the appropriate sanction, the New York Court of Appeals publicly censured a judge for disposing of 2 criminal cases without affording the prosecution the right to be heard and giving evasive and disingenuous testimony before the Commission. In the Matter of Skinner, 690 N.E.2d 484 (New York 1997).
- The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for making intemperate remarks and engaging in an intemperate diatribe that included name-calling and dehumanizing remarks. In the Matter of Hannigan, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 1997).
- Pursuant to an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for attempting to coerce guilty pleas in traffic cases, failing to hold public court sessions as required by law, and his practice of receiving ex parte communications from police officers about the merits of traffic cases before him, including representations that the actual speed that defendants had been driving was greater than the speed charged. In the Matter of Westcott, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 1997).
- Based on a stipulation of facts and the recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a former judge for (1) making handwritten entries of “guilty” in the cases of 2 individuals who had previously indicated their intent to plead “not guilty;” (2) attempting to have a defendant plead guilty even though she knew that the defendant was represented by counsel and that the counsel was not present in court; (3) sentencing a defendant to a 45-day active sentence but refusing to credit the defendant with jail time served pending disposition as required by law; and (4) making statements and taking actions, in and out of court, that could be considered by some as less than patient, dignified, and courteous to attorneys, witnesses, litigants, and court personnel. In re Renfer, 493 S.E.2d 434 (North Carolina 1997).