Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • The Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission publicly admonished a judge for holding in criminal contempt of court a woman who had posted on his office door a letter that said his daughter was responsible for the woman’s husband being convicted of sexually abusing 2 girls. Letter to Lewis (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission July 20, 1998).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for ex parte e-mails with an attorney about a pending case. Public Admonishment of Caskey (California Commission on Judicial Performance July 6, 1998).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended a judge for 60 days without pay for having an extra-marital affair with a felon who was on parole from a prison sentence she had imposed. In re Harris, 713 So. 2d 1138 (Louisiana 1998).
  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court suspended a judge for 3 months without pay and publicly reprimanded him for (1) routinely failing to properly advise defendants during plea colloquies even though he knew the legal requirements and (2) an ex parte communication to another judge that caused the other judge to dismiss an abuse prevention order she had issued. In the Matter of Markey, 696 N.E.2d 523 (Massachusetts 1998).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judicial Tenure Commission, the Michigan Supreme Court removed a judge from office for making public misrepresentations at a press conference, attempting to introduce a fraudulent letter into evidence in a Commission hearing, and, throughout the proceedings, engaging in conduct that was inappropriate, unprofessional, and demonstrated a lack of respect for the proceedings. In re Ferrara, 582 N.W.2d 817 (Michigan 1998).
  • Following the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a non-lawyer judge for 90 days without pay and fined him $1,500 for assaulting a defendant in the courtroom and directing profane language at the defendant during the altercation. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Guest, 717 So. 2d 325 (Mississippi 1998).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, the Nebraska Supreme Court removed a judge from office for consistently using intemperate, threatening language over a long period; sending a death threat to another judge and igniting firecrackers in that judge’s office; using false signatures and odd bond amounts on court documents; and consistently having close contacts with people placed on probation. In re Jones, 581 N.W.2d 876 (Nebraska 1998).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for conveying the impression of bias in favor of the prosecution and against defendants, failing to effectuate the rights of defendants at arraignment, having ex parte communications with prosecutors, and displaying intemperate demeanor. In the Matter of McKevitt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct July 27, 1998).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for entering a judgement in a case without holding a trial, administering an oath to the witnesses, or receiving evidence that would support his judgment and even though he knew that the defendant had no legal obligation to pay the amount claimed and that the decision was contrary to law. In the Matter of Degenhardt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct July 27, 1998).

Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • Granting the application for discipline filed by the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Iowa Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for a series of inappropriate and unnecessary characterizations of persons appearing before him, for example, describing a witness as a “beer-bellied, full-bearded, unemployed, seedy, coverall-clad lout.” In the Matter of Jenkins, 503 N.W.2d 425 (Iowa 1993).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court involuntarily retired a judge who had continued to hold office beyond the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70. In re Wingerter, 621 So. 2d 1098 (Louisiana 1993).
  • The New Jersey Supreme Court suspended a judge for 60 days without pay for a pattern of sexually harassing behavior that was personally offensive to an employee. In the Matter of Seaman, 627 A.2d 106 (New Jersey 1993).
  • Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a judge for twice signing his dead mother’s name to a credit card application to procure a user’s card for himself and, when questioned by bank investigators, repeatedly implying his mother was alive. In the Matter of Mazzei, 618 N.E.2d 123 (New York 1993).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge who used a shotgun, physical threats, vulgarities, and verbal intimidation in a personal dispute over property rights, which led to his convic­tion on menacing, trespass, and criminal mischief charges. In the Matter of Gloss, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct July 27, 1993).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for (1) filing his 1990 financial disclosure statement 10 months late despite 2 notices from the Ethics Commission, (2) filing an incomplete 1991 statement and failing to complete it for over 6 months even after 2 notices and even though he knew the Commission was investigating him, (3) failing to answer letters from Commission staff about his financial disclosure statement, (4) failing to open a letter from the Commission and, consequently, failing to appear as requested, and (5) failing to open 9 letters received in his chambers from attorneys, litigants, and witnesses concerning matters pending before him and failing to have his staff open the letters.  In the Matter of Burstein, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct July 27, 1993).
  • Agreeing with the findings of the Board of Commissioners on Judicial Standards, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) twice disclosing to newspapers confidential correspondence from the Board regarding its investigation; (2) allowing signs favoring 2 candidates for the Republican nomination to the state senate to be placed on his property, sponsoring and attending a barbecue for one of the candidates, and allowing his photo to appear in a newspaper endorsement for the second candidate; and (3) interrupting a town council meeting, levying accusations of criminal conduct against the town police chief, and calling on the council to suspend the chief. In the Matter of Martin, 434 S.E.2d 262 (South Carolina 1993).

Throwback Thursday

5 years ago this month:

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a hearing officer for berating a litigant for attempting to cite Arizona law in a small claims proceeding, advising the parties against “quoting any of the rules or regulations of Arizona law,” and employing a bullying tone and demeanor throughout the hearing. Madanick, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct June 27, 2013).
  • The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for granting an ex parte verbal request by a paternal grandmother to take children involved in a domestic matter to a family gathering without notice to the parties or a hearing, even though he was aware that a domestic violence order prohibited the father from having visitation with the children. In re Langford, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Final Order (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission June 17, 2013).
  • Affirming the Judicial Tenure Commission’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Michigan Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) committing perjury in a hearing in her divorce case; (2) signing her former attorney’s name on legal documents and filing those documents without the attorney’s permission; and (3) making numerous misrepresentations under oath during the Commission proceedings. In re Adams, 833 N.W.2d 897 (Michigan 2013).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and stipulation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for sending an unsolicited letter on judicial stationery to the division of parole on behalf of the son of a family acquaintance. In the Matter of Smith, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 19, 2013).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and stipulation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for filing his 2010 financial disclosure statement 11 months late and failing to cooperate with the Commission investigation. In the Matter of McAndrews, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 18, 2013).

Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • Based on a stipulation, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a former judge for soliciting donations to a fund-raising auction for a charitable organization, selling auction tickets and having court staff sell tickets, acting as an auctioneer, and using his judicial secretary, court resources, and court letterhead in personal matters. In the Matter of Quall, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance June 2, 2008).
  • Based on the findings of 3 masters, the California Commission on Judicial Performance removed a judge for deliberately making false and misleading statements concerning her registration and attendance at a judicial education seminar to obtain court funds to which she was not entitled. Inquiry Concerning MacEachern, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance June 26, 2008).
  • Based on the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Kansas Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for losing her temper with potential jurors during voir dire in a criminal case. In the Matter of Pilshaw, 186 P.3d 708 (Kansas 2008).
  • Adopting in part the recommendation of the Judicial Tenure Commission, the Michigan Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) making false statements under oath in her divorce proceedings; (2) making and soliciting false statements to the Commission, including submitting fabricated evidence; (3) improperly listing cases on the no-progress docket; (4) excessive absences, commencing proceedings late, untimely adjournments, and improper docket management; (5) allowing a social relationship to influence the release of a criminal defendant from probation; and (6) recklessly flaunting her office in an incident at a gas station. In re Nettles-Nickerson, 750 N.W.2d 560 (Michigan 2008).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for ex parte communications and other conduct in 3 eviction cases that indicated partiality towards the tenants. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Sutton, 985 So.2d 322 (Mississippi 2008).
  • Affirming the findings of the Commission on Judicial Discipline but concluding that the record did not support the Commission’s imposition of a public censure, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered a judge to issue a formal apology to a woman for threatening to detain her until her boyfriend, the defendant, arrived and for using language that his marshal reasonably believed was an instruction to detain the woman. In re Assad, 185 P.3d 1044 (Nevada 2008).
  • Adopting the presentment of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for presiding over a traffic case involving a defendant with whom she had a personal relationship and, following an ex parte meeting with the defendant in her chambers, dismissing the ticket off the record and waiving court costs. In the Matter of Elias, 948 A.2d 1272 (New Jersey 2008).
  • Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a judge from office for revoking the recognizance release of 46 defendants when no one took responsibility for a ringing cell phone. In the Matter of Restaino, 890 N.E.2d 224 (New York 2008).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, in 3 cases, making rude, intemperate comments to and about litigants that conveyed the appearance of bias. In the Matter of Pines, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 17, 2008).
  • The North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for signing an order striking findings made by another judge following ex parte communications from an attorney. In re Taylor, Public Reprimand (North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission June 6, 2008).
  • The North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to provide a written judgment for almost 4 years after a trial. In re Frye, Public Reprimand (North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission June 9, 2008).

Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge who had motions in 1 criminal case under submission for 7 months and demurrers in 2 misdemeanor criminal cases under submission for 13 months and who, while he had those cases under submission, executed salary declarations under penalty of perjury stating that he had no cases pending and undecided for longer than 90 days to continue to receive his judicial salary. Public Admonishment of Oliver (California Commission on Judicial Performance June 16, 1998).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for, while one of the first prosecutions under the state’s new capital punishment statute was pending before him, giving a speech to a group of police officials that noted constitutional problems with the statute, questioned the need for the capital defenders office, stated that murder cases can cost as much as $2 million and that half of the convictions are overturned on appeal, and criticized defense lawyers for using “technicalities” to block prosecutions and obtain appellate reversals. In the Matter of Bruhn, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 24, 1998).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a part time, non-lawyer judge for implying in campaign materials that he was a lawyer. In the Matter of Fiore, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 25, 1998).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for reducing the charges in 2 traffic cases based on conversations with the defendants and without notice to or the consent of the prosecution. In the Matter of Hooper, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 29, 1998).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for (1) speaking in 2 cases to defendants whom she knew to be represented by counsel to urge them to enter guilty pleas; (2) engaging in ill-placed humor, minimizing charges before her, and making remarks concerning the reliability of prosecution witnesses; (3) engaging in ex parte communications; and (4) suggesting that the conduct of one member of an ethnic group reflected on all members of that group. In the Matter of Smith, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 29, 1998).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a former judge for consuming beer on court premises with jurors and attorneys following a driving while under the influence case. In re Baldwin, Stipulation, order, and resignation (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 5, 1998).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and consent, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge pro tempore for serving while suspended from the practice of law for non-payment of dues. In re Seidlitz, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 5, 1998).
  • Accepting an agreement, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals publicly censured a judge, who had also agreed to resign, for “initiat[ing] a physical confrontation” with a criminal defendant in his courtroom. In the Matter of Troisi, 504 S.E.2d 625 (West Virginia 1998).

Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • With the judge’s consent, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly reproved a judge for playing jokes on 2 defendants. Letter to Judge Friedman (California Commission on Judicial Performance June 21, 1993).
  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for sending a letter on his judicial stationery to 2 newspapers responding to the opposition to the retention of the chief justice, praising the chief justice and supporting his retention. Inquiry Concerning Glickstein, 620 So. 2d 1000 (Florida 1993).
  • Approving the findings and recommendations of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) repeatedly using his position to make allegations of official misconduct and improperly criticize fellow judges, elected officials, and others without a reasonable factual basis or regard for their reputations; (2) imposing improper sentences and improperly using the contempt power; (3) acting in an undignified and discourteous manner toward litigants, attorneys, and others appearing in his court; and (4) closing and attempting to close public proceedings. Inquiry Concerning Graham, 620 So. 2d 1273 (Florida 1993).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a former judge for a pattern of subjecting subordinate women in the court system to uninvited sexual activity, touching, and crude and suggestive comments and for taking advantage of his position as a judge and employer in a series of sexual encounters with his young court reporter and secretary. In the Matter of LoRusso, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 8, 1993).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a part-time town court justice for (1) considering an ex parte communication concerning a case pending before her; concluding on the basis of that conversation that the defendant’s purported diabetic condition was a justification for the criminal conduct alleged; initiating an ex parte contact with the complaining witness that conveyed the impression that she wanted him to withdraw his complaint; having an ex parte conversation with the arresting officers that gave the impression of prejudgment and partiality; and failing to disqualify herself until she learned that defense counsel had complained about her meeting with the complaining witness; and (2) being employed as a secretary and paralegal for an attorney who appeared regularly as a prosecutor in her court, although not before her. In the Matter of McCormick, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 9, 1993).
  • Approving the recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a judge who had barred an attorney from sessions of juvenile court over which she would be presiding because he had initiated the Commission’s preliminary investigation of her. In re Bissell, 429 S.E.2d 731 (North Carolina 1993).
  • Pursuant to the former magistrate’s consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former magistrate for using a credit-type card issued to him in his official capacity to purchase vehicles for his personal use through the state surplus property office. In the Matter of Ulmer, 432 S.E.2d 481 (South Carolina 1993).
  • The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) threatening to cancel the public defender contract of an attorney who had filed several affidavits of prejudice against him; (2) after a deputy prosecuting attorney presented an agreement with defense counsel that would dispose of the charges in a case, arresting the deputy prosecuting attorney and holding him in contempt for refusing to arrest a state trooper who was a key witness; (3) visiting a defendant in jail after the defendant was arrested for failure to appear; releasing the defendant without setting an appearance date; and instructing one of his staff to talk to the arresting officer about the identity of the person who received the ticket; and (4) dismissing sua sponte a DWI charge against a defendant who had had knee surgery and could not get into the courtroom when there were other reasonable alternatives for taking the plea. In re Junke, Decision (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 4, 1993).

 

Throwback Thursday  

5 years ago this month:

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for describing a pro se criminal defendant’s legal arguments as “stupid” and “screwy” and stating to him, “If you don’t like it, move to Mexico.” Holt, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct May 31, 2013).
  • Pursuant to the judge’s agreement, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) directing that a subpoena duces tecum be issued to provide an audio tape recording of a traffic stop and documentation, reviewing the tapes, and relying on them to deny a motion to suppress and (2) directing his case coordinator to contact another court to inquire about a prior conviction and proof of representation. Letter of Reprimand to Crow (Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission May 17, 2013).
  • Pursuant to the judge’s agreement, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission publicly censured a judge for filing a complaint with the Committee on Professional Conduct against a public defender after the public defender had filed a complaint against him with the Commission. Letter of Censure to Crow (Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission May 17, 2013).
  • Pursuant to the judge’s agreement, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for calling a criminal defendant a racist and saying “there goes another angry black man” as the defendant left the courtroom. Letter of Reprimand to Batton (Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission May 17, 2013).
  • Pursuant to the judge’s agreement, the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission disclosed that it had privately reprimanded a judge but not disclose the content of the reprimand; the report of disposition notes that the Commission had received complaints about inappropriate campaign activities by the judge on behalf of his son, a candidate for chief magistrate judge. In re Smith, Report of Disposition (Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission May 21, 2013).
  • Accepting a recommendation of the Judicial Tenure Commission based on stipulated facts, the Michigan Supreme Court suspended a judge from office for 30 days without pay and publicly censured him for (1) remanding an attorney he had found in contempt to the custody of the sheriff’s department without providing direction as to how they should transport him and (2) making comments to the attorney that were improper and failing to be patient and dignified toward the attorney. In re Post, 830 N.W.2d 365 (Michigan 2013).
  • Based on a stipulation, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a judge for taking possession of 2 pieces of heavy equipment that he knew were subject to a court order in a divorce case that prohibited the ex-husband, who was dating the judge’s court clerk, from disposing of community property and making misrepresentations to the Commission investigator. In the Matter of Graham, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Imposition of Discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline May 17, 2013).
  • Adopting the Judicial Conduct Commission’s findings, conclusions, and proposed sanctions, based on stipulations, the Utah Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for exceeding the statutory salary cap for justice court judges employed by more than 1 municipality; the Court also ordered him to repay the excess salary. In re Christensen, 304 P.3d 835 (Utah 2013).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for (1) signing bench warrants in cases in which he had been disqualified and (2) making a comment that created the appearance he had relied on unsolicited factual assertions from a court clerk when imposing a sentence and revoking bail without disclosing the ex parte communications. In re Porter, Stipulation, Agreement, and Order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 10, 2013).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge who identified himself as a judge to a law enforcement officer and mentioned several times that he had been with another judge earlier in the evening. In re Ryan, Stipulation, Agreement, and Order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 10, 2013).