Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • Based on a conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for driving while intoxicated. In the Matter of Felts, 902 N.E.2d 255 (Indiana 2009).
  • The Indiana Supreme Court suspended a judge from office for 60 days without pay for excessive delays in ruling on prisoners’ petitions for post-conviction relief, which resulted in 1 prisoner being incarcerated for nearly 2 years longer than necessary, and for delay in reporting to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and providing incomplete and inaccurate information to the Commission. In the Matter of Hawkins, 902 N.E.2d 231 (Indiana 2009).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a non-lawyer judge, for, in a summary eviction matter, visiting the office of an attorney who represented the defendant in a related matter, questioning the attorney’s secretary about the defendant’s finances, and, based on the information, ruling against the defendant and issuing an order of eviction. In the Matter of Bishop, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 18, 2009).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for permitting 6 defendants charged with speeding to plead guilty to a reduced charge without the consent of the prosecutor. In the Matter of Schurr, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 23, 2009).
  • Based on a referee’s proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, to which the judge stipulated, and a joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for, while a part-time judge (1) arranging to have charges against his client filed in a court that did not have jurisdiction to circumvent the prohibition against practicing law in his own court; (2) failing to disqualify himself in a case notwithstanding that he had previously represented the complaining witness and holding the defendant in summary contempt without complying with proper procedures; and (3) representing defendants in 3 cases that had originated in his court. In the Matter of Aison, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 26, 2009).
  • The Ohio Supreme Court permanently disbarred a judge who burned down his house to defraud an insurance company for which he had been found guilty on 2 federal counts of mail fraud, 1 count of use of fire to commit mail fraud, 1 count of conspiracy to use fire to commit mail fraud, and 2 counts of money laundering. Disciplinary Counsel v. McAuliffe, 903 N.E.2d 1209 (Ohio 2009).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a justice of the peace for facilitating and permitting the paddling of juveniles in his courtroom. Public Warning of Garza (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 9, 2009).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a justice of the peace for failing to provide notice to the plaintiff in a small claims case or to hold a hearing before ruling on the defendant’s untimely motion to set aside a default judgment; setting the case for trial without expressly granting or denying the defendant’s motion; conducting the trial after the court had lost jurisdiction; entering a second judgment in the case after the default judgment in favor of the plaintiff became final; and preventing the plaintiff from testifying about the car wreck or the damage to her vehicle. Public Warning of Torres and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 9, 2009).

Balls, strikes, and self-represented litigants

In an advisory opinion, the California Judges Association Judicial Ethics Committee encouraged judges to “understand the difficulties encountered by self-represented litigants” and “to exercise discretion to treat them differently.”  California Judges Association Advisory Opinion 76 (2018).  The opinion emphasized that a “judge may make reasonable procedural accommodations that will provide a diligent self-represented litigant acting in good faith the opportunity to have his or her case fairly heard.”

The committee explained:

Some judges take the position that the job of the judge is to call the balls and strikes, not to throw the pitches.  Is this an accurate statement of the role of the judge?  Not necessarily. . . .  Fundamental justice should not be sacrificed to procedural rules and cases should be decided on their merits.  Exercising discretion – not just calling balls and strikes – is the nature of judging, from granting motions for extensions of time to handing out sentences.

Frequently, there is tension between the represented party and the self-represented litigant.  One side is ready to proceed, has done the legal work, and would like to complete the proceeding as soon as possible.  The self-represented litigant often is struggling with legal terms, time limits, and court procedures.  The judge must decide what reasonable accommodation is proper and when it is unreasonable.  Judges may grant continuances, explain legal terms, refer a litigant to self-help services or the library, or refer him or her to the local bar association for a low-cost meeting with an attorney.  Whether the judge should take any of these or other steps is a matter of judicial discretion.

The committee concluded:

The adversary system is not embedded in the Code of Judicial Ethics, nor is it the primary purpose of the code to protect the formalities of the adversary system.  Reasonable procedural accommodations for self-represented litigants do not change the facts, the law, or the burden of proof, nor do they ensure a victory for the unrepresented.  Such accommodations simply mean that both sides will have a fair opportunity to tell their stories.

The committee applied its analysis to several courtroom situations.  For example, the committee stated, a judge may, at the beginning of a civil case in which one litigant is unrepresented by counsel and the other is represented, explain how the proceedings will be conducted, including that the party bringing the action has the burden to present evidence in support of the relief sought, the kind of evidence that may be presented, and the kind of evidence that cannot be considered.  In addition, the opinion advised:

  • A judge may give a self-represented litigant a neutral explanation of how to respond to a motion for summary judgment.
  • A judge may provide a self-represented litigant information about the requirements for entry of a default judgment.
  • A judge may ask a self-represented litigant if she wants a continuance to bring a witness to court.
  • During a trial, a judge may ask witnesses neutral questions to clarify testimony and develop facts.
  • A judge may sign a settlement agreement prepared by the attorney for 1 party and signed by an unrepresented party, but, as a best practice, should ask the parties if they understand the document and ask the unrepresented party if she understands her responsibilities under the agreement.
  • When a self-represented litigant refers to information after being instructed not to, a judge is not required to grant a motion for a mistrial but may instruct the jury to disregard the testimony.
  • If an unrepresented plaintiff makes no specific claim for damages at the close of her case, the judge may ask the plaintiff, “Are you asking for damages in this case? If so, what is the amount you are asking for?  And why are you asking for this amount?”
  • In a criminal case, if a prosecutor tries to take advantage of a defendant’s unrepresented status to introduce the defendant’s prior drug-related arrest and the factual basis for a search, the judge should immediately intervene even if the defendant does not object.

In domestic violence cases, the committee stated, a judge:

  • May give the self-represented plaintiff a short continuance to learn about the relevant rules of evidence and the procedural requirements for the admission of hospital records,
  • Should permit a support person to accompany a self-represented moving party to counsel table, and
  • Should inform a self-represented respondent that he could present oral testimony.

Commentary to the California Code of Judicial Ethics states:  “[W]hen a litigant is self-represented, a judge has the dis­cretion to take reasonable steps, appropriate under the circumstances and con­sistent with the law and the canons to enable the litigant to be heard.”  Comment 4 to Rule 2.2 of the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct states:  “It is not a violation of this Rule [requiring that a judge be fair and impartial] for a judge to make reasonable accommodations to ensure pro se litigants the opportunity to have their matters fairly heard.”  34 states and the District of Columbia have added comment 4 or a version of comment 4 to their codes of judicial conduct.  Click here for more information.

Recent cases

  • Accepting the findings and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Alaska Supreme Court ordered that a judge be immediately placed on medical disability retirement for a disability that seriously interferes with her performance of judicial duties and that is or may become permanent. In the Disability Matter Involving Greene, Order (Alaska Supreme Court January 11, 2019).
  • Pursuant to the judge’s retirement and agreement not to serve in the judiciary, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission publicly reprimanded a former judge for improperly using court premises, equipment, or other resources for extra-judicial activities that did not concern the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice and improperly using court computer equipment after regular work hours at the office, as he admitted under oath during divorce litigation. Smith, Letter of reprimand and agreement not to serve in the judiciary (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission February 22, 2019).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a former judge and barred him from holding judicial office for (1) allowing a business to use his testimonial on its web-site without assuring that it did not use his judicial title; (2) ordering defendants in 5 cases to use an alcohol monitoring service without disclosing that his son worked for the company and that the owner was a friend and ordering a defendant to pay restitution to the company contrary to the law and based on a letter from his son; (3) appointing an attorney as a special master without disclosing that the attorney was a personal friend; (4) receiving improper gifts from Court Appointed Special Advocates, an attorney he had appointed as a master, and a law school; (5) failing to accurately report travel-related payments or reimbursements for attending judicial education programs; (6) commenting in the courthouse that gay men are “snappy” dressers;” (7) running for California Attorney General without taking a leave of absence and using his judicial title to raise funds for and promote his campaign; (8) failing to file a candidate intention statement until after his campaign had received contributions in violation of the Political Reform Act; and (9) permitting a campaign coordinator to use his judicial title on the Facebook page for his campaign for Attorney General and in posts on her law firm’s Facebook page promoting his candidacy. Inquiry Concerning Bailey, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance February 27, 2019).
  • Approving a second revised stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court suspended a judge for 90-days without pay, fined her $5,000, and publicly reprimanded her for failing to take reasonable steps to stay apprised of her financial circumstances and failing to verify the accuracy of her 2016 and 2017 financial disclosures, which did not report that the accommodations and other benefits she received on 3 trips with her husband were provided by the hotel for free. Ortiz (Florida Supreme Court January 29, 2019).
  • Accepting a conditional agreement and petition to dismiss as moot following the judge’s resignation and the closing of his court, the Indiana Supreme Court dismissed the statement of charges filed by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications alleging that a non-lawyer judge, without the authorization of the county prosecutor’s office and contrary to the prosecutor’s directions, permitted state infraction cases to be filed in the city court and allowed individuals to be placed in the infraction deferral program, used the prosecutor’s signature stamp to approve deferral agreements, permitted juveniles to participate in a deferral program contrary to statute, and dismissed with prejudice state infractions in which the court had accepted partial payments with no adjudication. In the Matter of Robison, 116 N.E.3d 452 (Indiana 2019).
  • Based on the judge’s agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge for 7 days without pay for leaving the scene of a vehicular accident. In re Roberts, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission January 17, 2019).
  • Based on the judge’s consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline ordered a judge to resign and to be barred from serving in judicial office based on his lack of knowledge and ability to handle the legal and administrative duties of his family court docket. In the Matter of Humke, Stipulation and order of consent to discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline January 11, 2019).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended a judge for 2 months for surreptitiously recording 3 meetings with other judges and denying that she recorded 1 of the meetings. In the Matter of Gross-Quatrone, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court January 24, 2019).  The Court does not describe the judge’s conduct; this summary is based on the Committee’s presentment.
  • Granting a petition to accept a stipulation, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the permanent resignation of a judge based on her arrest for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs and the resulting criminal proceedings. Inquiry Concerning Walker, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court January 31, 2019).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for invoking his judicial position when asking the police for assistance in unlocking his personal vehicle and threatening to refuse to do arraignments if they refused his request. In the Matter of Abbott, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2019).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of fact and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for holding a preliminary hearing without the defendant’s attorney after his request to adjourn because he was required to appear at a sentencing proceeding in federal court at the same time and committing errors during the hearing that gave the appearance she was biased against the defendant. In the Matter of Wachtman, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2019).  The judge is not an attorney.
  • Accepting the Board of Professional Conduct’s findings of fact and misconduct, based on stipulations and an agreement, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a judge for 1 year for (1) reducing bail in a case from $350,000 to $85,000 following ex parte texts from the defendant’s attorney forwarded to her by her bailiff and (2) changing her verdict in a bench trial from guilty to not guilty out of frustration with the prosecutor for refusing to dismiss an unrelated charge against the same defendant; the Court stayed the suspension conditioned on the judge not engaging in further misconduct, paying the costs of the proceeding, and completing 6 hours of CLE. Disciplinary Counsel v. Salerno (Ohio Supreme Court February 12, 2019).
  • Accepting a consent-to-discipline agreement, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a former judge from the practice of law for 6 months for his actions after his 17-year-old daughter was pulled over for speeding, including trying to talk to the prosecutor about her case during a hearing in an unrelated case, complaining that the state trooper who pulled her over had not shown him professional courtesy, saying in unrelated cases that he did not trust troopers like he used to, testifying as a radar expert in his daughter’s case, and complaining that the magistrate who presided in his daughter’s case had questioned his credibility. Disciplinary Counsel v. Marshall (Ohio Supreme Court February 28, 2019).
  • Based on an agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for delay in entering a final ruling in a domestic relations case, failing to promptly enter a ruling following a remand from the state supreme court, and failing to respond to notices from the Board. Weiss (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct January 11, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a former judge for engaging in a sexual relationship with an employee and giving her preferential treatment in raises and promotions. Public Reprimand of Riley (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 20, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for telling a jury that the defendant was not guilty and exhibiting prejudice against the prosecution and bias in favor of the defense during the trial. Public Warning of Robison (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 20, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for appointing as foreperson of a county grand jury a detective whose agency investigates cases in the county. Public Warning of Strother (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 20, 2019).

 

Delay

As in every year, in 2018, delay in issuing a decision was sanctioned in several cases.

  • A judge was suspended for 30 days without pay for failing to rule for more than five years on a motion for permanent child support. In re Chapman, 819 S.E.2d 346 (North Carolina 2018).
  • A judge was publicly reprimanded for failing to rule for more than two years on a motion for attorney’s fees and expenses and failing to respond or to respond promptly to inquiries about the status of the ruling. In re Henderson, 812 S.E.2d 826 (North Carolina 2018).
  • A judge was censured for failing to decide a petition for post-conviction relief for over two years and falsely certifying that he did not have any matters under submission that were pending for more than 60 days. Inquiry Concerning Jantzen, Order (Arizona Supreme Court June 15, 2018).
  • A judge was suspended for 60-days without pay for, in addition to other misconduct, failing to rule on a defendant’s motion for relief from an ankle monitoring program for over three years and, in five cases, failing to consider motions for shock probation within 60 days and to rule within 20 days after considering the motion, as required by statute. In re Langford, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission April 2, 2018).

The five-year delay in Chapman is one of the longest recorded in a judicial discipline proceeding.  (In fact, the motion remained undecided at the time of the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision in October 2018, over six years after it was taken under advisement and almost one year after the judge recused himself.)  In the motion, the mother had argued that, based on the father’s income, she was entitled to an over $3,000 increase a month in child support and over $17,000 in attorney’s fees.  Following a multi-day hearing that concluded on November 30, 2012, the judge reserved his ruling and took the matter under advisement.

From January 2013 until April 2016, the mother’s attorney contacted the judge every couple of months to inquire about the ruling.  Sometimes, the judge responded with a promise to rule soon; sometimes, the judge did not respond.  For example, in a January 2013 e-mail, the attorney stressed that the order was required to resolve ongoing financial issues.  The judge, over a month later, said that he would be “taking it home with him” because the courts were closing due to inclement weather.  When the judge failed to rule after a request in April 2016, the attorney stopped contacting the judge, concerned that further contact was futile and could harm his client’s interests.

The judge offered no justification for the delay.  During his exchanges with the attorney, however, the judge did express compunction about his inaction.  For example, in April 2016, the judge replied to an inquiry from the attorney:  “[T]here is not a day, and seldom a night, that goes by that this case has not been on my mind.  I understand your clients [sic] needs.”

Similarly, in Jantzen, during a status hearing almost 18 months after taking the petition for post-conviction relief under advisement, the judge apologized for the delay and stated, for example, “I know that you’re irritated by the delay, but I have now made a record that the canons need to be effected.  I may write the Judicial Commission myself and tell them what I’ve done in this case.”

In Henderson, the defendant’s counsel withdrew after receiving no response to her many inquiries over the year and a half since the judge took under advisement her client’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs associated with her claims for post-separation support, permanent child custody, and sanctions.  The defendant, now appearing pro se, e-mailed the chief judge asking for assistance and expressing her frustration with the then 18-month delay.  That afternoon, the judge replied to the chief judge that he had been “dragging [his] feet” and had no excuses other than his “dread” of the case and committed to “making a decision soon.”  The judge, however, did not respond to the defendant or otherwise inform the parties about the status of the ruling.  On August 26, the judge finally e-mailed the parties to apologize for the tardiness of his decision and to inform them that he intended to issue a decision by the end of the week of September 5.

The judge failed to do so, however, and the defendant e-mailed the judge again on October 10, imploring him to issue a decision.  The judge again did not respond.  On November 9, the defendant filed a complaint with the Commission.  On March 27, 2017, the judge informed the Commission that the order had been entered, over two years and three months after the final hearing on the motion for attorneys’ fees.

Pattern and practice

Addressing more than a single delay, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended a judge for 180 days without pay and publicly reprimanded her for a pattern of unreasonable and unjustifiable delay in the management of her family court docket, preventing the timely resolution of disputes and profoundly affecting the lives of those, in particular children, whose interests were before her court.  In the Matter of Kelly, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary May 11, 2018).  The Court found:

  • In termination of parental rights cases, the judge engaged in a pattern and practice of failing or refusing to complete the trials within 90 days of service and to enter orders within 30 day of completing trial as required by statute and the rules of juvenile procedure.
  • The judge failed or refused to manage court dockets to make timely decisions, failed or refused to allocate sufficient time on her dockets to hear pending matters in one hearing, regularly continued dockets, unreasonably delayed setting hearings and re-setting continued trials, and unjustifiably delayed or failed to rule on applications for uncontested divorce and requests for modification of divorce decrees, many of which included agreed proposed orders.
  • The judge failed failed or refused to submit accurate and timely six-month reports.

The Court noted “credible opinion testimony” that the judge takes her job seriously and wants the best outcome for all parties.  However, it emphasized that “well intentioned or not, Judge Kelly has demonstrated sustained inefficiency in managing – and an overall inability in administering – her busy and complex docket.  Unfortunately, the victims of that inefficiency are some of the most vulnerable of any under the power of the court system.”  The Court acknowledged the “shortages in staffing and budgeting” that all courts in Alabama have had since at least 2003, but also noted the other two family court judges, who had less experience, managed their dockets in much more efficiently than Judge Kelly.  The Court also cited the judge’s “failure to accept responsibility and her attempt to blame others – including specifically the juvenile clerk’s office – for the many delays that resulted in this matter being filed.”

Throwback Thursday

5 years ago this month:

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a court commissioner for hearing testimony in a child support case from the mother at a hearing when the father was not present because he had a medical emergency, ordering the father to pay a purge amount by a specified date, issuing an arrest warrant for the father when he failed to pay the purge amount, and providing specious and incomplete responses during the Commission investigation. Morton, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct February 3, 2014).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a former court commissioner for operating a vehicle while under the influence. Madden, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct February 12, 2014).
  • Based on a stipulated resolution in which the judge agreed to resign, the Colorado Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for inappropriate jokes and comments in the course of his duties and ex parte communications. In the Matter of Rand, 332 P.3d 115 (Colorado 2014).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, which were accepted by the judge and based on stipulations, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly admonished a judge for using his judicial stationery when communicating with school officials in an effort to secure funding for a summer camp for the son of the woman with whom he was in a relationship. In the Matter of Isabella (New Jersey Supreme Court February 19, 2014).  The Court’s order does not describe the judge’s misconduct; this summary is based on the Committee’s presentment.
  • Adopting the findings of fact of the Judicial Conduct Commission, the North Dakota Supreme Court suspended a judge for 1 month without pay for failing to diligently and promptly decide judicial matters assigned to him. In the Matter of Hagar, 842 N.W.2d 873 (North Dakota 2014).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for encouraging defendants at an arraignment to enter a guilty plea that afternoon, promising a specific outcome, and failing to require written plea forms when 12 defendants accepted her offer. In re Seitz, Stipulation, Agreement, and Order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 24, 2014).

Judicial Conduct Reporter

The winter issue of the Judicial Conduct Reporter has been published.  The issue reviews 2018 and has articles on:

  • State judicial discipline in 2018
  • Removal cases in 2018
  • Top judicial ethics and discipline stories of 2018
    #MeToo and the judiciary
    Indictments and impeachments in West Virginia
    Facebook fails
    Legal error plus
  • What judges said that got them in trouble in 2018
    What they said to or about litigants
    What they said to or about attorneys
    What they said to or about court staff
    What they said that abused the prestige of office
    What they said on social media
    What they said during campaigns

The Judicial Conduct Reporter is published electronically, and an index and current and past issues of the Reporter are available on-line.  Anyone can sign up to receive notice when a new issue is available.

 

 

What judges said that got them in trouble in the second half of 2018

  • “You could have had a job. I had a job, okay. . . .  Went to school full time, worked part-time. . . .”  Judge to college student who had failed to pay fees.  In the Matter Concerning Elswick, Public admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 13, 2018).
  • “If you have [ADHD], then I don’t know how you can drive, but that’s a different story.” In the Matter Concerning Elswick, Public admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 13, 2018).
  • “Tattoo right now the next court date.” Judge to defendant who had missed previous court dates, before handling him a pen to write on his arm.  In re Ponomarchuk, Stipulation, agreement, and order of admonishment (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct July 20, 2018).
  • “I understand there’s a battle between your office and myself okay. I’m not trying to make a battle is my point.”  Judge to public defender after public defender’s office disqualified the judge in an unrelated case.  In the Matter Concerning Elswick, Public admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 13, 2018).
  • “You don’t have to sarcastically say thank you every time I make a ruling, okay counsel?” and “I don’t see any other way to take it, counsel …. It’s obviously clear.”  Judge to attorney.  In the Matter of O’Connor, 112 N.E.3d 317 (New York 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “Is there some course in law school now, how to be discourteous and how to be rude? Because if there is, you must have gotten an A in it.”  Judge to attorney.  In the Matter of O’Connor, 112 N.E.3d 317 (New York 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “No wonder people think lawyers are a disgrace. It’s people like you who give them that impression.”  Judge to attorney.  In the Matter of O’Connor, 112 N.E.3d 317 (New York 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “I heard she’s going crazy;” “Well, tase her;” “Shoot her?”; “What do you do, billy-club people?”; “Well, punch her in the face and bring her out here.  You can’t take a 16-year-old?;” “She needs a whoopin’“; and “Is she crazy or is she bad?”  Judge to sheriff about a woman who had been cursing, kicking, and punching sheriff’s deputies while being transported to the court for arraignment.  In the Matter of Astacio, 112 N.E.3d 851 (New York 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “Stay out of the street. It’s super annoying.  I hate when people walk in front of my car.  If there was [sic] no rules, I would totally run them over because it’s disrespectful.”  Judge at arraignment of defendant charged with disorderly conduct for walking in the middle of the road.  In the Matter of Astacio, 112 N.E.3d 851 (New York 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “She [the prosecutor] didn’t think it was funny … She was offended.  I thought it was hilarious.”  Judge after laughing when a defense attorney said that a request for an order of protection was “a case of buyer’s remorse.”   In the Matter of Astacio, 112 N.E.3d 851 (New York 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “I feel like I’ve sat for the last four and a half or five hours dealing with junior high school students, both of you, even though you have some gray over your ears, all right;” and “[I]t was like Mr. Stowell was pretty much the big man on campus, had the bucks in his back pocket, and the petitioner was the best looking girl in school, and he was going to get her any way he possibly could, all right. And she knew it, and she liked it, because she got things.”  Judge in a hearing before denying a request for a restraining order.  In the Matter Concerning Stafford, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 13, 2018) (admonishment).
  • “[D]o you want to know what I would have done?” Judge offering advice to prosecutor about countering defense argument in a DWI case while jury was deliberating.  Inquiry Concerning Mills, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance August 28, 2018) (censure for this and other misconduct).
  • “I was hoping we could just get the State to dismiss it.” Judge in court to prosecutor about a ticket involving “a friend of mine.”  In the Matter of Johanningsmeier, 103 N.E.3d 633 (Indiana 2018) (reprimand).
  • “I can do that” and “we do that all the time in St. Johns County.”  Judge to administrative judge about ordering his bailiff to search a father and turn over his money to the mother in a hearing involving child support.  Inquiry Concerning DuPont, 252 So. 3d 1130 (Florida 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “Eric was not going to be released because he was a threat to society.” Judge to detention center staff about frequent defendant indefinitely detained without due process following arrest for indecent exposure.  In the Matter of Van Gundy, Order and public censure (New Mexico Supreme Court December 31, 2018).
  • “[T]here is not a day, and seldom a night, that goes by that this case has not been on my mind.  I understand your clients [sic] needs.”  Judge to attorneys inquiring about a decision on a motion for permanent child support almost 4 years after the case was taken under advisement.  In re Chapman 819 S.E.2d 346 (North Carolina 2018) (30-day suspension).
  • “I have spoken with E.K. about this land dispute situation prior to E.K. being charged with Harassment 2nd.” Judge explaining why he was disqualifying himself from a boundary dispute involving his neighbor’s daughter — belatedly as he had already made numerous rulings.  In the Matter of Porter, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 13, 2018) (admonishment).
  • “You the tax payers decided that a long time ago.” Judge referring to not getting a pay raise when explaining to court personnel that he wanted to dispute a cost of living increase applied to his own child support payments.  In the Matter of Palmer, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court November 8, 2018) (censure).
  • “You don’t have to do this. This isn’t part of your job.”  Judge to police officer arresting her for driving while intoxicated.  In the Matter of Astacio, 112 N.E.3d 851 (New York 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “With all due respect, I don’t know you, so you don’t do DWIs, and you don’t know what you’re doing, but you’re making a very big mistake … I’d rather you call someone who does know what they’re doing.” Judge to police officer arresting her for driving while intoxicated.   In the Matter of Astacio, 112 N.E.3d 851 (New York 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “You know that. I’m a f**cking judge.  I would never do anything to hurt you man.  Come on.” Judge to police officer while being handcuffed during arrest for driving while intoxicated.  In the Matter of Benitez, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court September 6, 2018) \ (censure).
  • “Just let it slide,” or words to that effect. Judge to police officer who struck a police van at a traffic light about a report after voluntarily identifying herself as a judge several times.  In the Matter of Michels, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 27, 2018) (admonishment).
  • “When [Obama] said he was going to ‘fundamentally transform’ this nation, he was gaining success.  He was going to transform it from a primarily Judeo-Christian nation into Islam.  Got it now?  Thank God for Trump.”  Court commissioner on Facebook.  In the Matter Concerning Gianquinto, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance August 22, 2018) (censure).
  • “For the Indian Rez that will not permit the wall built on 75 miles of border on their land — how about building the wall around that rez, fencing them into Mexico? That should please them.”  In the Matter Concerning Gianquinto, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance August 22, 2018) (censure).
  • “[N]ice body for a 70 year old.” Judge to another judge in a text message with a group photo taken at a social function honoring a third judge.  Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 14, 2018).
  • “I heard [you were] one of my victims.” Judge to clerk after social function at which he had inappropriately touched her, another clerk, and another judge.  Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 14, 2018).
  • “Nine inches.” Judge in response clerk stating, “I have a question for you,” after a court session.  In re Kathren, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018) (admonishment).
  • “Heifers” and “DW” (double wide). Judge referring to court personnel.  In the Matter of Peeler, 818 S.E.2d 723 (South Carolina 2018) (reprimand).
  • “The Burlington Fire Department Pancake Feed is happening now and 100% of the proceeds go to benefit the families of the victims of the recent tragedy at Cascade Mall. Please consider attending, it runs until noon today.”  Judge in Facebook post.  In re Svaren, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018) (admonishment).
  • “Support these folks who are just trying hard to earn some money in an honest way.” Supreme court justice in Facebook post about homeless who sell a newspaper to raise funds.  In re Yu, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018) (admonishment).
  • “Judge James Metts and Constable Rowdy Hayden’s Annual School Supply Drive” and “AR-15 Raffle Ticket $10 . . . . Donated by Judge James Metts and Constable Rowdy Hayden” to charitable auction.  On judge’s Facebook page.  Public Admonition of Metts (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 3, 2018).
  • “But even though I’ve been asked to find a statute unconstitutional as a sitting judge, I have refused to do so. Because again, it’s not my job to legislate from the bench.”  Judge explaining his judicial philosophy during a candidate forum.  Inquiry Concerning DuPont, 252 So. 3d 1130 (Florida 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • Campaign opponent was “a member of http://www.hideyourpast.com, which is a website that you join to hide your personal history.” Judge while a candidate insinuating that his opponent had secrets that he sought to conceal.  Inquiry Concerning DuPont, 252 So. 3d 1130 (Florida 2018) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • “Attorney Gregg Lerman has made a lot of money trying to free Palm Beach County’s worst criminals. Now he’s running for judge!”  Judge about her opponent while a candidate.  Inquiry Concerning Santino, 257 So.3d 25 (Florida 2018) (removal for this and related misconduct).
  • “I’m ‘almost’ taller than him. ”  Judge while a candidate in a comment to a photoshopped picture of herself and an actor on her campaign Facebook page, which misled the public that “the Rock” had endorsed her campaign.  In the Matter of Almase, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and imposition of discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline October 22, 2018) (reprimand).
  • “Keep this talented team working for our families and for our children.” 2 judges in joint mailer for their re-election campaigns.  Public Warning of Martin and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 20, 2018); Public Warning of Cooks and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 20, 2018).
  • “Judge Eleazar Cano & Rep. Roland Gutierrez look forward to seeing you!” On mailer advertising a campaign event for a state representative running for state senate.  Public Warning of Cano (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 13, 2018).

What they said that got them in trouble in the first half of 2018.