20 years ago this month:
- Adopting the findings of the 3 masters, the California Commission on Judicial Performance removed a judge from office for (1) making a statement to an assistant prosecutor that gave the appearance that he had ruled against her on a legal issue to teach her how to handle adversity; (2) making disparaging comments about a defendant’s attorney in front of the jury; (3) questioning a prosecutor’s motives for seeking to introduce certain evidence, ridiculing her perspective, and threatening to declare a mistrial; (4) telling a public defender, in the presence of his client, that he should lose his accent; (5) in front of a jury, a defendant, and opposing counsel, unnecessarily attacking a prosecutor’s legal training, professional competence, and motives and accusing her of breaking the law; (6) belittling a prosecutor and ordering her to admit to the jury that relevant evidence did “not mean anything;” (7) badgering a prosecutor into agreeing that certain evidence to which she had objected was relevant; (8) throwing a stack of files over the ledge of the bench in anger at a fill-in clerk; (9) telling a clerk that she had wasted 20 seconds of the court’s time by swearing in the bailiff on the record; (10) telling a deputy sheriff in a belittling tone when a prisoner had not been transported to his court that she needed to learn how to do her job; and (11) after a jury sent a written question during deliberations, saying “one of the things you can help me to do is to make your questions as precise as possible, which means look them over several times, because an English teacher would object to the wording of that question.” Inquiry Concerning VanVoorhis, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance February 27, 2003).
- Approving a joint recommendation and stipulation of facts, the Illinois Courts Commission suspended a judge for 1 month without pay for (1) showing a star-shaped badge that said “judge” (which he had made by a private company) to a police officer who stopped him for a traffic violation and telling the officer that he was a judge; (2) calling a police officer and demanding that another motorist be arrested and later complaining to the police chief when the other driver had not been ticketed; and (3) calling another judge, identifying himself as a judge, and asking that an arrest warrant against his daughter for failing to pay a fine be quashed. In re Travis, Order (Illinois Courts Commission February 21, 2003).
- Accepting a conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for signing a faxed order form releasing an ex-husband who had been incarcerated for contempt for non-payment of support without prior notice to the ex-wife or her attorney or requiring the ex-husband to post bond and for signing a re-typed version of the original order. In the Matter of Danikolas, 783 N.E.2d 687 (Indiana 2003).
- Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a non-lawyer judge for presiding over a probable cause and suppression hearing involving an individual whom the judge had paid to perform odd jobs and for seeking ex parte advice from a prosecutor as to the lawfulness of the defendant’s arrest. In the Matter of Valentino, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 3, 2003).
- Pursuant to an agreed statements of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge who had been convicted of endangering the welfare of a developmentally disabled person by engaging in sexual relations with a woman who had been entrusted to his care. In the Matter of Westcott, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 3, 2003).
- Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, at the beginning of each traffic mitigation calendar, informing the respondents that he would base his decision whether to grant a reduction in penalty solely on their traffic record and not on any statement that the respondent might make. In re Wisman, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2003).
- Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for delays in 4 cases for from 6 to 14 months. In re Clark, Stipulation, agreement and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2003).