Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judicial Conduct Commission, the Arizona Supreme Court suspended a judge for 90 days without pay for (1) acting as an intermediary between an acquaintance and the owner of a Nevada casino about the establishment of gambling operations in Mexico; (2) discussing a proposed enterprise to recover stolen property from Mexico for insurance proceeds; (3) inducing a pro tem justice of the peace to sign an injunction in a case from which he had recused himself; (4) involving himself in the police investigation of a domestic complaint brought against a court clerk by her husband; (5) permitting ex parte contacts by criminal defense lawyers, including discussions about the terms of release for their clients; (6) allowing others to gain the impression that a local attorney, who had represented the judge in a divorce proceeding and from whose mother-in-law the judge had borrowed money, enjoyed a favored position with the judge and in his court; (7) failing to report his wife’s employment with a Nevada casino on his financial disclosure statement; (8) occasionally ignoring established court procedures and dismissing or otherwise disposing of traffic tickets for acquaintances; (9) allowing his staff to receive gifts from persons and organizations doing business with the court; (10) requesting that the police issue a traffic citation to a truck driver who passed him in a no passing zone and then presiding over the matter; (11) failing to disclose to litigants and counsel that certain attorneys appearing in his court had represented him personally in the past; (12) carrying a concealed weapon without a license; (13) attempting to obtain information from his staff about the Commission’s investigation, then denying having done so in a deposition; and (14) signing, without authority, a letter purporting to appoint an acquaintance as a justice court police officer. In the Matter of Gumaer, 867 P.2d 850 (Arizona 1994).
  • Accepting the findings and recommendations of the Judicial Qualifications Commission based on a stipulation and the judge’s agreement, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge who had failed to vacate an order that both parties agreed was mistakenly entered. Inquiry Concerning Vitale, 630 So. 2d 1065 (Florida 1994).
  • Adopting the conclusions of law of the Commission on Judicial Qualifications based on agreed facts, the Kansas Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for (1) as a district court judge, presiding over contested cases in which the Garden City was a party while also serving as municipal judge of Garden City; (2) signing an offer to purchase a condominium from an estate 18 days after signing orders admitting the will to probate; (3) purchasing a home that was the subject of a foreclosure action while the lawsuit was still pending before him; and (4) apparently breaching a contract to buy a piece of property and then failing to notify the realtors, the lenders, or the buyers of his own property that he had been sued and served with process for that breach. In the Matter of Handy, 867 P.2d 341 (Kansas 1994).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended 4 municipal judges for as long as they also served as mayor of their municipalities. In re Grant, Herring, Beamon, and Ward, 631 So. 2d 758 (Mississippi 1994).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for, (1) committing 5 defendants charged with misdemeanors, violations, or traffic infractions to jail without setting bail, in violation of a state statute; (2) stating to a defendant charged with several traffic violations, “You’re going to jail; no bail,” and failing to advise the defendant of the charges against him and of his rights concerning counsel, resulting in the defendant remaining in jail for 21 days, even though the maximum period that he could properly be held awaiting trial was 5 days; (3) after his home was vandalized on Halloween, asking a defendant charged with throwing an egg at the mayor’s truck on Halloween whether he would tell what had happened to his home and increasing the defendant’s bail in subsequent cases without making any inquiry until the defendant eventually spent 64 days in jail in lieu of bail, even though the law mandated release after 30 days; and (4) accusing a defendant of directing foul remarks at him at a previous appearance, demanding an apology, and saying that, if he had not been wearing his robes, he would have thrown the defendant’s a** through a wall, which compelled the defendant to accept a plea bargain. In the Matter of Yusko, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 27, 1994).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for (1) suggesting in a political advertisement that his opponent would be biased as a judge and was not respected in his profession and comparing him to comic characters and (2) publicly supporting the re-election of the county executive and publicly criticizing the county executive’s opponent. In the Matter of Decker, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 27, 1994).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge for (1) failing to deposit court funds into his official account within 72 hours of receipt as required by statute, (2) failing to remit court funds to the state comptroller by the tenth day of the month following collection as required by statute, (3) failing to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of the disposition of 272 traffic tickets as required by statute, (4) with respect to 170 traffic tickets, failing to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of the defendants’ failure to appear in court or otherwise answer the charges or to pay fines imposed by the court, (5) failing to respond to letters from Commission counsel, and (6) failing to appear to give testimony before the Commission even though he was notified by letter that his appearance was required by law. In the Matter of Tiffany, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 26, 1994).

Throwback Thursday

5 years ago this month:

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to comply with legal requirements in advising defendants of their constitutional rights. Quezada, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct December 12, 2013).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for calling the victim in a domestic violence case an idiot and negatively characterizing her motivations. Conn, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct December 13, 2013).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a court commissioner for, at a hearing on extension of a protective order, summarily rejecting an attorney’s attempt to appear for the defendant; failing to be patient, dignified, or courteous with the litigants; and making substantive modifications to the order without providing the parties with notice. Newell, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct December 11, 2013).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a former judge and barred him from seeking or holding judicial office for (1) while an attorney, breaching his fiduciary duty toward 2 elderly clients and, after becoming a judge, committing theft from an elder; (2) failing to disclose on his statements of economic interests a $250,000 personal loan from his elderly client, investments, and income he received from those investments; (3) making a false statement about the purchase price of a car on an application for title or registration; and (4) causing court personnel to access registration records to obtain information about vehicle license plates for a purpose unrelated to his judicial duties. In the Matter of Seeman, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 16, 2013).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge and fined him $2,500 for abusing his contempt powers, failing to recuse himself from contempt proceedings, and preventing those he charged with contempt from presenting any defense. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Harris, 131 So. 3d 1137 (Mississippi 2013).
  • Sustaining the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a non-lawyer judge from office for (1) failing to disqualify from a case against a defendant whose family he had a professional and social relationship with; ex parte communications with the defendant; and dismissing the charge without notice to the prosecution; and (2) engaging in ex parte communications with a prospective litigant in a small claims matter. In the Matter of George, 3 N.E.3d 1139 (New York 2013).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a non-lawyer judge for, during an arraignment on charges arising out of a domestic dispute, failing to advise a defendant of his right to assigned counsel, making statements that appeared to prejudge the case, and threatening to have the alleged victim’s children taken from her home because she did not want to pursue the criminal charges. In the Matter of Prince, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 18, 2013).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for operating his automobile while under the influence of alcohol, causing an accident, and being uncooperative with police during his arrest. In the Matter of Newman, Determination (York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 18, 2013).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for, on numerous occasions, asking and/or causing her court staff to perform non-work-related personal tasks for her and to participate in activities associated with her religion or church. In the Matter of Brigantii-Hughes, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 2013).
  • Pursuant to the judge’s agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for dismissing a relative’s traffic citation. Re Kittrell (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct December 19, 2013).

Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • Based on an agreement for discipline by consent, the Arizona Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for relating an inappropriate joke while chatting in the courtroom with a court clerk and another woman. Inquiry Concerning Tolby, Order (Arizona Supreme Court December 2, 2008).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for her remarks in numerous criminal and domestic violence cases and for appearing to set distant trial dates in 2 cases to reflect her view that the cases should not be tried. Public Admonishment of Moruza (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 16, 2008).
  • Approving the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a court of appeal judge for filing a concurring opinion in which he accused a fellow appellate judge of corruption based on unverified facts from outside the record and motivated by his dislike of the other judge. Inquiry Concerning Allen, 998 So.2d 557 (Florida 2008).
  • The Louisiana Supreme Court suspended a justice of the peace from office without pay until the end of his term for failing to resign when he became a candidate for the non-judicial office of police juror. In re Freeman, 995 So. 2d 1197 (Louisiana 2008).
  • The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court publicly reprimanded a former judge for sending 2 letters on judicial stationery to the publisher of the Boston Herald after a $2 million jury verdict in a libel suit against the newspaper in the judge’s favor. In the Matter of Murphy, 897 N.E.2d 1220 (Massachusetts 2008).
  • Based on a settlement agreement, the Michigan Supreme Court censured a judge and suspended her from office for 90 days without pay for driving while intoxicated. In re Steenland, 758 N.W.2d 254 (Michigan 2008).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, while a candidate for another court, personally soliciting the support of 2 attorneys who were in the courthouse and about to appear before her. In the Matter of Yacknin, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 29, 2008).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for threatening to hold an agency and 2 police investigators in contempt after the investigators took into custody a litigant from the courtroom’s waiting area. In the Matter of Shkane, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 29, 2008).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a court of appeals judge for allowing his acrimonious relationship with his fellow justices to influence his conduct and judgment and failing to treat those with whom he interacted in an official capacity, including court personnel, in a patient, dignified, and courteous manner. Public Admonition of Gray (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 18, 2008).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) campaign finance violations of the Texas Election Code and the Texas Penal Code and (2) pleading guilty to tampering with a government docket. Public Reprimand of Abascal (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 18, 2008).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for following a driver who cut his car off, requesting that she appear in his court, admonishing her from the bench, and directing the bailiff to issue a citation after becoming annoyed with her father. Public Admonition of Boyett (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 18, 2009).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for telling an assistant city attorney, “Hey, shut up. Lower your voice,” and interrupting a defense attorney’s and yelling at her in front of her client, “Shut up.  I’m telling you to shut up.”  In the Matter of Hurtado, Stipulation agreement and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 5, 2008).
  • The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) yelling a profanity at the city chief of police and yelling in anger at the court administrator and a court employee; (2) taking action to enforce a policy that restricted the courthouse activities of a city employee, which gave the impression that the judge was retaliating against him for complaining about a comment by the judge; (3) making comments to court staff that could reasonably be perceived as intimidating, including communicating that he would terminate them and replace them with clerks from the superior court, questioning why a clerk would challenge his authority, noting “all the dead bodies” in his court, and raising his voice and slamming his office door; and (4) making jokes and comments to court staff that were or that could reasonably be perceived to be inappropriate, including, commenting about another judge’s alleged personal issues, referring to a former judge as a “moron,” and criticizing other judges, attorneys, and staff in derogatory terms. In the Matter of Morgan, Stipulation agreement and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 5, 2008).

Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • Adopting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the California Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) in a small claims case, entering a judgement against someone who had not been named as a party; (2) when an attorney was not present when her case was called, saying, “She shouldn’t be handling criminal cases. Here’s another example of a civil attorney who shouldn’t be handling criminal cases,” and, “she probably had something more important to do today, like go to a PTA meeting.  She has a whole bunch of kids.  She’s been having kids ever since I’ve known her;” (3) using in a campaign advertisement without permission, a group photo taken at the end of a court session of court staff and others who appeared before him; (4) telling a court employee she was in contempt when the employee stated she wanted to call her union representative; (5) engaging in ex parte communications with members of his family in a case in which the defendant was charged with cocaine possession, failing to disqualify himself, improperly delegating the question of diversion to the district attorney, directing alteration of a minute order to support his explanation after the Commission’s letter of inquiry, and submitting the minute order to the Commission without disclosing that he had had it altered; (6) having ex parte contact with a man with several family cases before him at the judge’s Bible study class and a men’s fellowship; (7) after several ex parte contacts, giving an unusually lenient sentence to a defendant whom the judge knew personally and who had pled guilty to drunk driving, second conviction; (8) granting a friend a chance to do community service and attend traffic school after the friend approached him at a restaurant and complained about a speeding violation; (9) counseling a probationer he had sentenced and failing to disqualify himself from a subsequent zoning case involving the man and his wife; (10) rejecting a plea bargain after telephoning the victim and the park ranger on the bench without putting them on speaker phone; (11) telephoning 25 to 30 defendant he knew to advise them to come to court after bench warrants had been issued for them; (12) stating that he had dealt with a witness “many, many times and his credibility is not too high” and that another witness would not have much more credibility because they are “both recovering alcoholics that are working hard to try to stay out of trouble;” (13) refusing to appoint a specific public defender after she expressed the desire to disqualify him; (14) his treatment of a defendant in a shoplifting case; (15) denying a dismissal motion because he thought “in the interest of justice” that a man with a drunk driving and 2 priors should go to trial and refusing to disqualify from the motion; and (16) failing to disqualify himself when a peremptory challenge was filed against him in a criminal case, setting a hearing to consider whether the defendant’s right to a speedy trial was being violated, ignoring a writ prohibiting him from presiding in the case, criticizing the district attorney, and urging the defense to seek a writ.  Fletcher v. Commission on Judicial Performance, 968 P.2d 958 (California 1998).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission in part, the Louisiana Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for inappropriate language and insensitive, discourteous, and impatient behavior towards those appearing in his courtroom. In re Bowers, 721 So. 2d 875 (Louisiana 1998).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for graphic and sensational campaign advertisements that lacked the dignity appropriate to judicial office and portrayed him as a judge who was biased against criminal defendants. In the Matter of Polito, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 23, 1998).
  • Pursuant to agreed facts and a joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, at his son’s home when a police officer was investigating a complaint by his son’s neighbor, angrily shouting that the neighbor was “crazy” and a “son of a b***h,” urging the officer to arrest the neighbor, accusing the neighbor of cutting tree limbs that were on his son’s property, and advising the police officer to charge the neighbor with criminal mischief. In the Matter of Stevens, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 23, 1998).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for personally soliciting campaign contributions and improperly using the county mail system to distribute campaign materials. In re Paja, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 4, 1998).

Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifi­cations Commission based on a stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) in several cases in which the defendants did not appear, finding the missing defendant guilty and sentencing him or her to credit for time served and (2) in several driving under the influence cases in which a defendants failed to appear, convicting the defendant and ordering forfeiture of the bond without a plea or trial. Inquiry Concerning Colby, 629 So. 2d 120 (Florida 1993).
  • Affirming a joint motion for approval of recommendations based on an agreed statement of facts, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge and fined him $250 for (1) printing up business cards that identified him on one side as a judge of the Pike County Justice Court and on the other side as “Certified Legal Technician (C.L.T.) Legal Consultation,” and making these cards available at the court office; (2) sending a letter on court stationery to local attorneys advising them that he was available for legal consultation work; (3) appointing as the attorney for indigent criminal defendants in 12 cases an attorney for whom he performed work as a legal consultant without advising the defendant of the relationship although the county attorney was aware of the relationship; (4) presiding over 8 cases in which that attorney represented a party in the proceedings without advising the defendant although the county attorney was aware of the relationship; and (5) his conduct as a certified legal technician in a divorce. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Felder, 629 So. 2d 618 (Mississippi 1993).
  • Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a judge for mishandling court funds and failing to recuse himself or disclose the relevant facts in several cases involving an acquaintance from whom the judge had borrowed $500 several years earlier. Murphy v. Commission on Judicial Conduct, 626 N.E.2d 48 (New York 1993).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge for failing, as required by statute, to remit court funds and report cases to the state comptroller by the 10th day of the month following collection, to deposit court funds in her official account within 72 hours of receipt, and to maintain adequate records of the receipt of court funds; failing to remit to the state comptroller $550 that she collected; and failing to respond to 3 written inquiries from the Commission. In the Matter of Armbrust, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 16, 1993).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge for falsely subscribing that the signature on the petitions to place him on the ballot as the Republican candidate for town justice had been executed in his presence. In the Matter of Heburn, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 16, 1993).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a judge who, from January 1988 through December 1989, failed to deposit court funds in his official account within 72 hours of receipt as required by statute and who cashed 7 personal checks for his relatives and 20 personal checks for himself from cash that he had collected in court. In the Matter of Slomba, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 16, 1993).
  • The North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for giving legal advice and counsel to an employee of the county department of social services with regard to her discharge and intervening on her behalf in his official capacity. In re Cornelius, 436 S.E.2d 836 (North Carolina 1993).
  • The Ohio Supreme Court suspended the law license of a former judge for 1 year for 6 acts of unwelcome and offensive sexual remarks and/or physi­cal contact, 5 of which took place while he was either a judge or a judicial candidate. Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Campbell, 623 N.E.2d 24 (Ohio 1993).
  • The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals publicly censured a magistrate who had been in­volved in his wife’s campaign for circuit judge and had sought disparaging information about her opponent, including contacting the granddaughter of the victim in a murder case handled by the opponent while a prosecuting attorney, facilitating the publishing of advertisements that contained disparaging information about his wife’s opponent, and misrepre­senting who paid for the ads, whose opinion was presented, and who signed them. In the Matter of Codispoti, 438 S.E.2d 549 (West Virginia 1993).

 

Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • The Arkansas Discipline & Disability Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to promptly enter an order and to accurately calculate the time that the case had been ready for adjudication. Letter of Reprimand (Simes) (Arkansas Discipline & Disability Commission November 21, 2008).
  • The Arkansas Discipline and Disability Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to promptly decide several matters and to accurately reflect the time the matters had been ready for adjudication, failing to report 7 cases that had been pending for more than 90 days as required by an administrative order, and several lapses of demeanor while on the bench. Letter of Reprimand (McGowan) (Arkansas Discipline and Disability Commission November 21, 2008).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a former judge for (1) failing to be patient, dignified, and courteous with the parties and lawyers and becoming embroiled in a matter and (2) presiding over a bench trial in consolidated unlawful detainer cases while he was a defendant in a lawsuit in which tenants of apartment units he owned raised a similar issue. In the Matter Concerning Watson, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance November 6, 2008).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) improperly advancing a trial date without notice to, or the consent of, the attorney assigned to the case; (2) improperly relieving the public defender and appointing new counsel for the defendants in several cases; and (3) making discourteous and disparaging remarks to attorneys in 3 cases. In the Matter Concerning McBride, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance November 18, 2008).
  • Accepting a statement of circumstances and agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended a judge for 3 days without pay for disrupting a sentencing hearing before another judge and confronting the defendant’s family. In the Matter of Scheibenberger, 899 N.E.2d 649 (Indiana 2008).
  • Based on a judge’s admission of some of the allegations in a formal statement of charges and his statement that he would not contest other allegations, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline removed the judge for (1) a sexual affair with a court employee, ensuring the employee was paid when she was absent from work attending their sexual trysts, allowing her to work “flex” hours even though the chief district judge had prohibited such an arrangement, retaliating after she ended the affair, attempting to entice her to return to work for him in exchange for not pursuing her office of diversity complaint, violating instructions not to contact her, and destroying pictures that he should have known would be important after being contacted by the Commission; (2) sexual comments about or to court employees, his ex-wife, a fellow judge, and a female attorney; (3) inappropriate references to the race and ethnicity of employees; and (4) insulting his former law clerk. In the Matter of Del Vecchio, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Imposition of Discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline November 6, 2008).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and argument on the issue of sanction, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for (1) permitting her co-judge’s law partners and associates to appear before her and (2) failing to disqualify from cases in which her personal attorney appeared. In the Matter of Lehmann, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 10, 2008).
  • Based upon the agreed facts and argument on the issue of sanction, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for permitting his co-judge’s law partners to appear before him. In the Matter of Pelella, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 10, 2008).

Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • The Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission publicly censured a judge for failing to enter a decision in a case for over 3 years and failing to cooperate with the Commission. In the Matter of McKimm, Final Decision and Order (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission November 24, 1998).