Throwback Thursday

5 years ago this month:

  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judicial Hearing Board based on an agreement, theWest Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals publicly censured a magistrate and fined him $2,000 for inappropriate comments he made about the victim in a domestic assault and battery case after finding a defendant not guilty following a bench trial.  In the Matter of Summers, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals February 25, 2018). http://www.courtswv.gov/legal-community/JICAnnualReports/2018.pdf
  • The Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications ordered a former judge to cease and desist from verbal and/or physical conduct that is offensive and demeaning to female court reporters and judges and to continue his retirement without seeking election or accepting appointment to any judicial office.  Inquiry Concerning  Yeoman, Order (Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications February 7, 2018) (http://www.kscourts.org/appellate-clerk/general/commission-on-judicial-qualifications/cases/In%20re%20Yeoman%20(1328)%20-%20Public%20cease%20and%20desist%20-%202018.pdf).
  • ).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for engaging in an intimate relationship with the city’s prosecutor; the Commission also ordered that he obtain 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Reprimand of Berry and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 21, 2018) (http://www.scjc.state.tx.us/media/46664/sberry17-1480pubrepoaesigned.pdf).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for sending a letter on official letterhead notifying the defendant in a public nuisance case filed by his brother that he was in violation of non-existent laws and ordering him to abate the nuisance; the Commission also ordered the judge to complete 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.   Public Reprimand of English and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 8, 2018) (http://www.scjc.state.tx.us/media/46665/english17-1105-jpfinal-signed-pubrepoae.pdf).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for posting on his Facebook page a meme endorsing the extermination of Muslims and statements “railing” against liberals.  Public Reprimand of Burkeen (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 21, 2018) (http://www.scjc.state.tx.us/media/46666/burkeen17-0381-copubrepwebsite.pdf).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for refusing to allow a man to inspect and copy case files and for engaging in a heated conversation with the man; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 4 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Warning of Smith and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 21, 2018) (http://www.scjc.state.tx.us/media/46667/smith17-1018-jpfinalpubwarn.pdf).

Throwback Thursday

5 years ago this month:

  • Approving a stipulation for discipline by consent and based on the judge’s agreement to resign and never serve in judicial office, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) making a material misrepresentation to the Commission during a prior investigation; (2) improperly using her court credit card 14 times; (3) frequently arriving to court after her calendar was scheduled to start, including arriving 30 minutes late on 3 occasions; (4) twice, contrary to the provisions of the California Rules of Court, revising local court rules without providing the public and legal community with notice and an opportunity to comment; and (5) appointing her former law partner to represent a conservatee in a matter before her without disclosing the relationship or disqualifying herself from the case.  In the Matter Concerning Johnson, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance January 16, 2018).
  • Accepting a stipulation, the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications ordered a judge to cease and desist from using official letterhead to conduct personal business after the judge used the court fax machine, letterhead, and fax cover sheet to send a petition that he and his wife obtain interested party status as foster parents in a case and signed for petition as “Judge Boone.”  Inquiry Concerning Boone (Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications January 29, 2018).
  • Based on a report by the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court publicly reprimanded a former judge for failing to disqualify himself from a child support and guardianship case after his wife had directly contacted the mother through social media and after the judge acknowledged that he had a personal bias that required disqualification.  In the Matter of Nadeau, 178 A.3d 495 (Maine 2018).
  • The Nebraska Commission on Judicial Qualifications publicly reprimanded a judge for taking a guilty plea from a defendant the judge knew or reasonably should have known was probably too intoxicated to enter a competent, knowing, and voluntary guilty plea. In the Matter of Barrett, Public reprimand (Nebraska Commission on Judicial Qualifications January 23, 2018).
  • Based on the unanimous report and recommendation of the Disciplinary Board, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court disbarred a former judge from the practice of law for stealing cocaine from the evidence locker in his courtroom and using it for his own recreational purposes. Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Pozonsky, 177 A.3d 830 (Pennsylvania 2018).
  • Pursuant to the judge’s agreement with an investigative panel, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge and suspended him from judicial duties with pay for failing to timely file a petition for a client and making false statements to the client and/or her daughters.  Letter to Boyd (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct January 11, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished 3 hearing officers for strictly following directives not to issue personal bonds to defendants from the judges in whose court the underlying cases were assigned; the Commission also ordered the hearing officers to obtain 4 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Admonition of Licata and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 10, 2018); Public Admonition of Hagstette and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 10, 2018); Public Admonition of Wallace and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 10, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to disqualify himself from the case of a former client and directing the Department of Public Safety not to test DNA evidence in the case; the Commission also ordered the judge to complete 4 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Reprimand of Muncy and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 10, 2018).
  •  The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to provide the parties in a small claims case with adequate notice of a hearing, issuing a criminal summons in the case, and failing to enter a final, appealable judgment. Public Reprimand of Melendrez (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 25, 2018).

What they said that got them in trouble in the second half of 2022: Part 2

What they said that got them in trouble in the second half of 2022: Part 1

What they said in the pandemic

  • “Because that may require someone (staff person/IT person/lawyer who doesn’t have access to the technology?) to leave home and violate Gov. MeMaw’s order.” Judge referring to Governor Kay Ivey’s stay-at-home order when cancelling a hearing scheduled to be held over Zoom. In the Matter of Patterson, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 27, 2022), accepting agreed resolution of a complaint (45-day suspension without pay and censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “That’s all I needed. You can go. Put the mask back on there—it’s like Gestapo-Land! Are you allowed to say that? The Taliban! It’s like the Taliban.” Judge after a witness’s testimony. In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022), accepting agreed resolution of a statement of charges (12-month suspension without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, reprimand, and counseling for this and other misconduct).
  • “Too late to ask that ridiculous question. My [journal entries] reflect corona day 1, 2, or 3. Time case was called and no defendant or [failed to appear] in which my journalizer notes NO WARRANT TO ISSUE.” Judge in “patently false” text to the administrative judge denying she had issued arrest warrants for defendants who did not appear after their cases had been rescheduled due to COVID-19. Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022) (indefinite suspension).
  • “Brave enough [to appear].” Judge waiving fines and court costs for defendants who were in court despite the potential for exposure to COVID-19. Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022) (indefinite suspension).
  • “Little idiot.” Judge mocking public defender to her staff after instructing him not to tell his clients not to appear in court even though their cases had been rescheduled due to COVID-19. Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022) (indefinite suspension).
  • “[Tell him] to get his a** back on that phone and put all [my] civil cases back on.” Judge to her bailiff referring to the court staff person who had rescheduled her civil cases pursuant to a COVID-19 administrative order. Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022) (indefinite suspension).
  • “Can you imagine if this was in person?”, “I don’t seem to have the rest of this,” and “And while you’re looking through that, I’m gonna go pee.” Judge under his breath apparently to a staff member during a telephone hearing in a marital case. In the Matter of DalPra, Order (New Hampshire Supreme Court November 10, 2022) (order to pay costs), based on findings and recommendation.
  • “Like.” Judge in response to LinkedIn post stating, “Biden’s been in office 2 days and Democrat cities across the country are reducing Covid restrictions and opening indoor dining. YOU LITERALLY CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP! They ruined American businesses, livelihoods and lives for an election. This should repulse you.” In the Matter of Elia, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 28, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).

What they said to or about court staff or other judges

  • “Just think, if you die before me, I will get to see your naked body,” and “find a fat man like [me] because they have plenty of fat to snuggle with even though their peckers shrink.” Judge to court clerk. Public Warning of Grissam (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 22, 2022).
  • “I seen that car. I can’t even—I’m the judge and I can’t even afford a Mercedes. What you doing, selling drugs?” Judge to an African-American court employee. Jinks v. Judicial Inquiry Commission (Alabama Supreme Court October 21, 2022), affirming, Final judgment, following hearing on a complaint (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “It was just one person,” and “those sons of b**ches.” Judge referring to the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter demonstrators. Jinks v. Judicial Inquiry Commission (Alabama Supreme Court October 21, 2022), affirming, Final judgment, following hearing on a complaint (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “What did their black a**es want?” Judge to a court employee who had assisted an African-American couple with a marriage license. Jinks v. Judicial Inquiry Commission (Alabama Supreme Court October 21, 2022), affirming, Final judgment, following hearing on a complaint (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “Don’t tell nobody but look at this.” Judge showing a court employee a video on his phone of women dancing with their breasts exposed. Jinks v. Judicial Inquiry Commission (Alabama Supreme Court October 21, 2022), affirming, Final judgment, following hearing on a complaint (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “We have a damn thief in this office. I can’t have sh*t in this office.” Judge in a tirade after not being able to find his lunch in the office refrigerator. Jinks v. Judicial Inquiry Commission (Alabama Supreme Court October 21, 2022), affirming, Final judgment, following hearing on a complaint (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “G*d d*mn snowflake.” Judge referring to circuit’s presiding judge in front of attorneys and staff. In the Matter of Patterson, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 27, 2022), accepting agreed resolution of a complaint (45-day suspension without pay and censure for this and other misconduct).
  • N****r.” Judge comparing calling someone a “Nazi,” to using the N-word in a Zoom meeting with several court staff members. In re Mahoney, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 9, 2022) (reprimand for this and other racially insensitive and/or race-based stereotypical comments).
  • “[She] loves watermelon.” Judge about a non-judicial court employee who is Black in an introductory online video meeting with the employee and a new judge. In re Mahoney, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 9, 2022) (reprimand for this and other racially insensitive and/or race-based stereotypical comments).
  • “You notice I’m no longer the bill collector for the Clerk’s Office. I’m not your b-*-*-c-h. See, you get it? Collect your own money. There you go, player, mm-hmm. Collect your own money, player, mm-hmm. I’m not your b-*-*-c-h. Run tell that, mm-hmm. Mmhmm. How you like them apples? Suckas.” Judge eliminating her use of warrants and incarceration to collect fines and costs. Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022).

What they said on social media

  • “The worst case of document hiding that I’ve ever seen. It was like a plot out of a John Grisham movie, except that it was even worse than what he could dream up.” Judge on Facebook about opioid manufacturers being sued by local governments. In re Young, Order (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct July 26, 2022) (30-day suspension with pay for this and other misconduct).
  • “Time to bring the unrest to an end.” Judge in comment on LinkedIn post by “Blue Lives Matter” that shared an article from The Police Tribune entitled, “BREAKING: Shots Fired At Louisville Riots, Officer Down.” In the Matter of Elia, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 28, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “UNTIL YOU LEAVE YOUR FAMILY AT HOME EVERY DAY TO PROTECT EVERYONE ELSE’S, DON’T TRASH TALK POLICE OR SOLDIERS TO ME.” LinkedIn post shared by judge. In the Matter of Elia, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 28, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Like.” Judge in response to LinkedIn posts stating, among other things, that President Biden was in favor of “Killing babies;” and criticizing the Biden administration’s “wacky spending.” In the Matter of Elia, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 28, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Need legal help? I’m a defense attorney in the State of Nevada.” Instagram and TikTok ads for pro tem judge’s law practice that used videos of him presiding over actual proceedings. In the Matter of Vander Heyden, Stipulation and order of consent to public reprimand (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline December 12, 2022).

What they said outside the courthouse

  • “One more ticket needs to go away before trial.” Judge in telephone call to colonel of the game and fish commission enforcement division. Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission v. Carroll, Opinion (Arkansas Supreme Court November 18, 2022) (18-month suspension without pay, with 6 months held in abeyance for one year contingent on compliance with remedial measures).
  • “Neighbor, friend, and co-worker,” “currently serves as my appointed Court Clerk,” and a “wonderful and trusted friend and neighbor.” Judge on character reference forms in support of applications for pistol licenses. In the Matter of Aronian, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 7, 2022).
  • “Your Honor, I’ll state that to the court that it’s no secret I’m a judge in another locality, and prior to that, I was a state trooper for 30 years.” Judge appearing at a small claims trial as if he were an attorney for his wife. In the Matter of Kennedy, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 24, 2022) (censure).
  • “Judgeklr@. . . .” and “City Court Judge.” Part-time judge using title on emails and pleadings when representing a client. In the Matter of Robichaud, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 24, 2022) (censure).
  • “Please please please get things worked out today for Dalton to serve some time as a consequence.” Judge in text message to the county attorney about criminal cases pending against her son. Gordon v. Judicial Conduct Commission, 655 S.W.3d 167 (Kentucky 2022) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “I wanted to clean up one thing, like your photos or something, and I noticed a screenshot on Instagram or somewhere. So then I—I was like, this isn’t good. They’re going to—all that Instagram, and had to do some severe editing of all things on Instagram.” Judge telling her son she had deleted material from his social media accounts after he had been arrested. Gordon v. Judicial Conduct Commission, 655 S.W.3d 167 (Kentucky 2022) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “I had two beers,” and “Doing something stupid.” Judge at the scene of an accident falsely telling police officer how much he had had to drink and that he had been texting while driving. In the Matter of Mulvihill, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance October 27, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Come on, let me touch you. Let me play with you.” Part-time judge to client’s representative in his private law office after pulling her into an embrace. In the Matter of Falcone, 278 A.3d 782 (New Jersey 2022), adopting findings and recommendation (censure and permanent disqualification of former judge).
  • “Pd. Pol. Adv. By the Committee to Re-Elect Mark Blumstein and Mark Blumstein, a Non-Partisan Candidate for Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Group 34. Not endorsed or sponsored by DoD or its affiliates. Mark Blumstein is a Retired Officer of the U.S. Navy.” Disclaimer on judge’s campaign ad in writing “so small that it appeared, from a short distance away, to be a solid line as opposed to words or text,” contrary to Department of Defense regulations for use of a photo of a candidate in uniform in campaign ads. Inquiry Concerning Blumstein (Florida Supreme Court January 4, 2023, nunc pro tunc to December 14, 2022), accepting stipulation (reprimand).
  • “Unfortunately, I was unaware of the existence of the 2020 Judicial Campaign Ethics Handbook nor was I aware of the existence of the advisory opinions posted on your website.” Magistrate “mak[ing] excuses” for campaign ads and social media posts in which he wore a law enforcement uniform and for appearing in photographs with campaign signs for other candidates. In the Matter of Jeffries (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission August 16, 2022) (admonishment).

NCSC job opening

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Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • Accepting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Alaska Supreme Court removed a former judge for, in ex parte communications, suggesting relevant case law to the prosecution in 2 cases.  In re Cummings, 292 P.3d 187 (Alaska 2013).
  • The Delaware Court on the Judiciary publicly censured a judge for delays in 8 family court cases of from 5 to 11 months and failing to comply with reporting mandates.  In re Coppadge, 74 A.3d 593 (Delaware 2013).
  • The Louisiana Supreme Court suspended a judge for 1 year without pay for (1) failing to disqualify himself from a hearing on an inmate’s motion to reconsider his sentence after it became clear that the inmate was making allegations that would benefit the judge and (2) giving advice to the inmate in an ex parte letter.  In re Boothe, 110 So. 3d 1002 (Louisiana 2013).

What judges said that got them in trouble in the second half of 2022

What they said that got them in trouble in the first half of 2022

What they said in criminal cases

  • “I am not going to appoint a lawyer for you.  Get a job.”  Judge to defendants seeking appointment of counsel.  Bourne, Letter of censure (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission August 1, 2022).
  • “You should have stayed in south Arkansas;” “I wish you would have stayed in Illinois;” and “I get a lot of troublemakers from California.”  Judge to defendants from outside the county.  Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission v. Bourne, Per curiam (Arkansas Supreme Court August 9, 2022) (90-day suspension without pay with 75 days held in abeyance subject to conditions).
  • “[Does everyone speak] Engrish?”  Judge addressing a jury pool using an Asian accent.  In the Matter of Patterson, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 27, 2022), agreed resolution of complaint (45-day suspension without pay and censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Prison Patterson” and “Judge Hard-a*s.”  Judge referring to himself when speaking with attorneys.  In the Matter of Patterson, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 27, 2022), agreed resolution of complaint (45-day suspension without pay and censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “And you know and I know that the State is broke. . . .  And memaw’s prison system is going to let him out at some point.”  Judge to victim in a case.  In the Matter of Patterson, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 27, 2022), agreed resolution of complaint (45-day suspension without pay and censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “You don’t want to be somebody’s girlfriend when you go up the road,” and “butt raped.”  Judge referring to defendants going to penitentiary.  In the Matter of Patterson, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 27, 2022), agreed resolution of complaint (45-day suspension without pay and censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “So you have been dumping some waste off the side of the road, in streams and so on?” and, “I’m going to read you the rights.  Well, in this case, I don’t think it’s necessary.”  Judge to defendant at arraignment.  In the Matter of Arndt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 28, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “Esteemed.” Judge referring to testimony of police officer. Staggs, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2023) (reprimand for this and related misconduct).
  • “Zero credibility with myself or the prosecutor’s office.”  Judge before dismissing cases involving a particular deputy sheriff.  Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission v. Carroll, Opinion (Arkansas Supreme Court November 18, 2022)  (18-month suspension without pay, with six months held in abeyance for one year contingent on compliance with remedial measures).
  • “Wasting [my] time,” and “idiots.”  Judge about police officers during arraignments.  Public Admonishment of Harshbarger (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission December 15, 2022).
  • “[T]he prosecutor isn’t here.  Let’s see how much we can get away with.”  Judge before engaging in ex parte plea bargaining with defendants.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022) (indefinite suspension).
  • “You can trust me.  I know I’m not dressed like a judge, but I’m really the judge.”  Judge “reveling” in her lack of decorum, which included wearing tank tops, t-shirts (some with images or slogans), spandex shorts, and sneakers while presiding in court.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022) (indefinite suspension).
  • “Little boy.”  Judge berating male defendants who called her “ma’am,” which she resented.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022) (indefinite suspension).
  • “Always getting us the hookups.  Don’t worry, we don’t have to pay.  It’s on him.”  Judge joking in court about accepting food, beverages, flooring, and car repair for herself and her staff in exchange for waiving fees.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022) (indefinite suspension).

What they said in family law cases

  • “Am I invited?  Do you have any single friends?”  Judge to attorney after being told female litigant was getting married.  In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022) accepting agreed resolution of statement of charges (12-month suspension without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, reprimand, and counseling for this and other misconduct).
  • “Did I already say it’s because they are women?”  Judge talking about 2 daughters who refused to attend a wedding.  In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022) accepting agreed resolution of statement of charges (12-month suspension without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, reprimand, and counseling for this and other misconduct).
  • “That’s bullsh*t!”  Judge to male litigant in child support case.  In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022) accepting agreed resolution of statement of charges (12-month suspension without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, reprimand, and counseling for this and other misconduct).
  • “Or you’re going to prison forever!  I will send you down to live with the sodomites.”  Judge to male litigant in child support case.  In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022), accepting agreed resolution of statement of charges (12-month suspension without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, reprimand, and counseling for this and other misconduct).
  • “We all look alike.  Didn’t you know it’s a Trans world?”  Judge to female witness after accidentally referring to a male witness as “she.”  In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022) accepting agreed resolution of statement of charges (12-month suspension without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, reprimand, and counseling for this and other misconduct).
  • “You don’t know?  I’ll take the child and put it up for adoption then.  What do you mean you don’t know what you’re going to do?”  Judge to parents in child custody case.  In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022) accepting agreed resolution of statement of charges (12-month suspension without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, reprimand, and counseling for this and other misconduct).
  • “I don’t give a f*ck!  You have until 5 o’clock today!  Go get it!”  Judge when a litigant did not provide proof that he was in compliance with a drug program, after throwing a file in the litigant’s direction.  In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022) accepting agreed resolution of statement of charges (12-month suspension without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, reprimand, and counseling for this and other misconduct).
  • “Because you’re lazy and don’t give a sh*t maybe?”  Judge asking litigant why he had not produced records regarding his drug screens.  In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022) accepting agreed resolution of statement of charges (12-month suspension without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, reprimand, and counseling for this and other misconduct).
  • “Who gives a f*k?” and “Of course not, they’re a bunch of morons.’”  Judge under his breath during a telephone hearing in a marital case.  In the Matter of DalPra, Order (New Hampshire Supreme Court November 10, 2022), based on findings and recommendation (finding of misconduct with no additional disciplinary action against former judge).
  • “Sinister plan.”  Judge during an in camera interview accusing a six-year-old girl of implicating her mother in false allegations against her father.  In the Matter of Hummel, Public admonishment (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission December 2, 2022) (admonishment).

What they said in small claims and other civil cases

  • “Get the f**king wax out of [your] ears.”  Judge to plaintiff’s counsel in an exchange about a motion. In the Matter of Martin, 878 S.E.2d 865 (South Carolina 2022) (reprimand for this and other misconduct).
  • “Smart aleck,” “smart-alecky,” and “I understand what they were going to testify about, ma’am, I’m not an idiot, okay.”  Judge to litigant in unlawful detainer case.  In the Matter of Mulvihill, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance October 27, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “So what’d you do with the money?” and “Just will you stop getting mouthy with me?”  Judge to defendant in small claims case.  In the Matter of Arndt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 28, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “I’m going to think this out and do a judgment against him, more than likely . . .  And then you put a lien on his house, but I’m not sure about your ladders.  You might have to give him his ladder back.”  Judge to plaintiff in small claims case after the defendant left the courtroom.  In the Matter of Arndt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 28, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “You’re trying to get me to figure out this whole mess and it’s really a mess . . .  This is not something I can do fairly and understand . . .  I’m not that qualified to take care of it, to be honest with you;” and “because really, it’s way over my head.”  Judge to parties in small claims case.  In the Matter of Arndt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 28, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “I think you’re abusing this . . . woman;” “You could’ve just changed the fricken part here;” “You didn’t do anything . . .  Where the hell did you go in eight hours?” Judge to defendant plumber in small claims case.  In the Matter of Kraker, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 6, 2022) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “The way it works is, file when you can.  I’m not going to turn it down.  I start reading.  And when I get bored, I stop reading … [p]ut the good stuff up front.”  Judge to attorney about filing an opposition to a motion.  Public Admonishment of Hunt (California Commission on Judicial Performance July 5, 2022) (admonishment for this and similar misconduct).

Next week:

  • What they said in the pandemic
  • What they said to or about court staff or other judges
  • What they said on social media
  • What they said outside the courthouse

Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • Pursuant to the recommendation of the hearing panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge and fined her $50,000 for, while a candidate, (1) in campaign literature and during an interview on a radio station, demonstrating a commitment to the prosecution side of criminal cases, exhibiting a hostility or apparent hostility towards defendants in criminal cases, cloaking her entire candidacy in the umbrella of law enforcement, and portraying herself as a pro-prosecution/pro-law enforcement judge while characterizing her opponent as not holding criminals accountable; (2) knowingly misrepresenting that her opponent, the incumbent, had not revoked a defendant’s bond at an emergency bond hearing when, in fact, he had revoked the bond; and (3) knowingly giving the false and misleading impression that a defendant to whom her opponent had granted bond had been charged with attempted murder and burglary when, in fact, no such charges had been pending.  Inquiry Concerning Kinsey, 842 So. 2d 77 (Florida 2003).
  • Pursuant to the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended a judge for 120 days without pay for (1) establishing a worthless checks program that did not meet statutory requirements; (2) conducting arraignments and accepting guilty pleas when no prosecutor was present; (3) accepting requests to “fix” traffic tickets and/or other offenses and having a court employee contact the prosecutor’s office to relay the messages; and (4) holding a Wal-Mart loss prevention officer in contempt for failing to appear as a witness in a criminal case, dismissing the criminal charge against the defendant, notifying Wal-Mart that its employee had ignored a subpoena, causing her to be fired, and misrepresenting to Wal-Mart that its employee had lied to him about why she did not appear in court.  In re Fuselier, 837 So. 2d 1257 (Louisiana 2003).
  • Adopting the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the Commission on Judicial Performance but disagreeing with its recommendation of a public reprimand, the Mississippi Supreme Court privately reprimanded a judge for, as a member of an association of concerned citizens, participating in writing a petition requesting the removal of a deputy sheriff from the county sheriff’s office.  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Justice Court Judge S.S., 834 So. 2d 31 (Mississippi 2003).

Recent cases

  • Accepting a stipulation and approving a proposed sanction, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former judge for campaign advertisements picturing him wearing a Navy uniform that were contrary to Department of Defense regulations.  Inquiry Concerning Blumstein (Florida Supreme Court January 4, 2023, nunc pro tunc to December 14, 2022).
  • Based on a stipulation and the judge’s consent and agreement not to serve as a pro tem judge in the future, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a pro tem judge for using as advertisements for his law practice Instagram and TikTok videos of him presiding over court proceedings.  In the Matter of Vander Heyden, Stipulation and order of consent to public reprimand (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline December 12, 2022).
  • Based on a stipulation and the judge’s consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a judge for delays in issuing decisions in 6 cases; the Commission also ordered that the judge complete a judicial education course/seminar on caseflow, workflow, or time management.  In the Matter of Delaney, Stipulation and order of consent to public reprimand (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline December 21, 2022).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and affirmation that she will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a former judge; in April 2022, the Commission notified the judge that it was investigating a complaint that she had promoted prejudicial and inflammatory content on Facebook and lent the prestige of her judicial office to advance the private interests of others.  In the Matter of Keppler, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 15, 2022).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and affirmation that he will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a former judge; in August 2022, the Commission notified the judge that it was investigating complaints that he failed to make mandatory reports and remittances to the State Comptroller in a timely manner, which resulted in the Comptroller directing the town supervisor to stop paying his judicial salary.  In the Matter of Franklin, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 15, 2022).
  • With the judge’s agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct suspended a judge for 30 days with pay for driving under the influence; in addition, for 5 years, the judge will be monitored for adherence to his substance use disorder recovery monitoring agreement with Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program.  In re Harvey, Order of suspension (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct December 5, 2022).
  • Based on an agreement and the judge’s resignation and agreement to never again seek judicial office in the state, the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission publicly admonished a former judge for (1) during in camera interviews of 2 girls whose father had been accused of sexually abusing them, calling the 7-year-old girl a liar and suggesting the 6-year-old girl had taken part in a “sinister plan” regarding her father; (2) using his position to obtain money from county commissions, incorrectly placing half the money with a general receiver, retaining control of the money, and spending thousands of dollars for improper purposes; and (3) violating an administrative order by pulling out a gun and showing it in the courtroom.  In the Matter of Hummel, Public admonishment (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission December 2, 2022).
  • Based on an agreement that included the magistrate’s resignation and agreement never to seek judicial office in the state, the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission publicly admonished a former magistrate for discourteous, disrespectful, and indecorous treatment of police officers during 3 arraignments.  Public Admonishment of Harshbarger (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission December 15, 2022).

Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • Reviewing a recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability, the Oregon Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for (1) using his judicial assistant’s work time and other public resources for personal and campaign-related business, and (2) using official letterhead to correspond with people, companies, and government agencies.  Inquiry Concerning Gallagher, 951 P.2d 705 (Oregon 1998).
  • Adopting the recommendations of the Judicial Hearing Board, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals publicly admonished a supreme court justice for, during his campaign, sending a letter asking for an endorsement to members of a county labor council committee.  In the Matter of Starcher, 501 S.E.2d 772 (West Virginia 1998).

Favorite word and adequate funding

Accepting the parties’ proposed resolution and stipulation that the Judicial Inquiry Commission could establish by clear and convincing evidence the allegations in its complaint, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended a judge for 45 days without pay and publicly censured him for (1) before, during, and after court proceedings and in court orders, subjecting attorneys, litigants, jurors, and court staff to inappropriate demeanor and temperament; and (2) declaring statutes regarding court fees unconstitutional and issuing an order redirecting court funds to address budget concerns.  In the Matter of Patterson, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 27, 2022).

(1) On multiple occasions, the judge made highly inappropriate comments to or in front of attorneys, litigants, jurors, and court staff while on the bench and/or during official court proceedings.

The judge referred to Governor Kay Ivey as “Governor MeMaw” on multiple occasions and often referred to the State’s prison system as “Governor MeMaw’s prison system.”

In front of attorneys and staff, the judge referred to the circuit’s presiding judge as a “G*d d*mn snowflake,” and later as a “snowflake.”

While on the bench during proceedings and in the courtroom, the judge used cuss words and/or profanity before attorneys, litigants, jurors, and court staff.  According to his former court reporter, the judge used “a*s” all the time in court as if it was his favorite word.  After the conclusion of court proceedings, but still in the courtroom, the judge used “sh*t” and “f*cking” in conversation with assistant district attorneys and public defenders although he did not direct the cuss words at them.  The judge constantly referred to the circuit’s financial state as “dead a*s broke” and “broke a*s” even in orders.

While addressing a jury pool that included an Asian American, the judge used an Asian accent and asked if everyone spoke “Engrish.”  The judge immediately apologized to the jury pool, later characterizing the comment as a “stupid, stupid joke.”  He also apologized on Facebook:

Yesterday, while qualifying the jury pool, I made a joke in very poor taste about whether everyone could speak English.  I immediately recognized and apologized for my blunder, and I do so again.

When speaking with attorneys, the judge has referred to himself as “Prison Patterson” and “Judge Hard-a*s.”

In court, the judge referred to defendants being “somebody’s girlfriend” while they are incarcerated.  When covering another judge’s docket, the judge said more than once to defendants that they would be “butt raped in the penitentiary.”

(2) After Mandy Brady did not show up for a jury trial before the judge because she had mistakenly been released from custody, the judge ordered the circuit court clerk and the jail warden to show cause why Brady had been released from custody.  In his order, the judge stated that the circuit is in an “austere funding environment,” the clerk’s office is understaffed, and it costs the judicial system $4,000 for a 300-person jury venire to appear at the courthouse.  He continued:

Thus, when this court ensures that bond is revoked, and when a defendant is already in custody when her bond is revoked, I am wondering why and how she is not here today—and again, we are wasting valuable resources when jurors are here ready to go and the accused is not.

At the show-cause hearing on September 12, the judge found that the circuit court clerk was not reasonably or adequately funded as required by the state constitution, that that underfunding had caused the inadvertent release of a defendant who was a danger to citizens of the circuit, and that the clerk “is in imminent danger of not fulfilling her constitutional and statutory duties to support” the courts.  Therefore, the judge held, “Any state statute or act that charges litigants in Mobile County Alabama any fee involving litigation, which then takes funds away from this county leaving the Clerk and her staff underfunded . . . is unconstitutional as applied.”  The judge ordered the circuit court clerk to withhold 10% of court fees and costs collected until the state adequately and reasonably funded the circuit clerks’ office.

The judge had not given notice to the Alabama Attorney General that the constitutionality of state acts and statutes would be an issue at the show-cause hearing.  On receiving notice of the judge’s order, the attorney general filed a petition for a writ of mandamus.  The Alabama Supreme Court granted the writ, finding that the judge had gone “far beyond [his] authority to conduct a contempt proceeding.”

In addition to the suspension and censure, the judge was ordered to refrain from joking or other inappropriate or offensive colloquies with litigants, attorneys, or court staff while in the courtroom; to refrain from profanity and off-color language in the courthouse including in chambers or other private settings; to complete 15 hours of education on judicial ethics to include at least 3 hours of training focused on cultural sensitivity; to review weekly emails forwarded to him by the Judicial Inquiry Commission from the Center for Judicial Ethics for 6 months; and to meet with another judge as a mentor monthly for 6 months.