Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) delays of 320 days, 237 days, and 110 days in deciding 3 matters in less than a year, (2) submitting 11 false salary affidavits, (3) failing as presiding judge to circulate a list of cases under submission, and (4) failing to respond to e-mails inquiring about submitted matters.  In the Matter Concerning Kirihara, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 16, 2012).
  • Based on findings by a Board of Examining Officers supported by the judge’s admissions, the Delaware Court on the Judiciary removed a judge from office for advising a young female attorney in an e-mail how to prepare a memorandum in a case before him and hearing cases involving the attorney after developing and expressing romantic feelings for her.  In re Henriksen (Delaware Court on the Judiciary May 3, 2012).
  • The Illinois Courts Commission suspended a judge for 60 days without pay for striking an unattended parked car, then driving his damaged car from the scene at a high rate of speed, disobeying multiple stop signs, causing a 13-year-old girl to move away from the road quickly to avoid being struck, later causing the police to wait when they arrived at his home, and being less than candid before the Commission.  In re Popejoy, Order (Illinois Courts Commission May 9, 2012).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a former judge for (1) in an adoption proceeding, failing to return a child to the child’s biological parent, failing to recognize the mother’s right to revoke her consent, failing to provide the unrepresented biological parents with adequate information about obtaining counsel, and injecting the father’s immigration status into the matter and (2) displaying an impatient, undignified, and discourteous demeanor in a custody case.  In the Matter of Poyfair, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 4, 2012).

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for posting on his Facebook page a photograph of a litigant’s request for an extension of time because his puppy ate his paperwork. Williams, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct March 21, 2022).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for meeting with 2 police detectives who were being investigated for misconduct in a case over which she had presided and sending 2 letters to the police chief on official court stationery about the matter. In the Matter Concerning Meyer, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance April 5, 2022).
  • Based on the judge’s retirement and agreement not to serve in judicial office in the state, the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission resolved its investigation of a former judge for conduct that failed to promote public confidence in the judiciary and for failing to be truthful during the investigation. In re Inquiry Concerning Brown, Report of disposition (Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission April 4, 2022).
  • Based on the judge’s retirement and agreement not to serve in judicial office in the state, the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission resolved its investigation of a former magistrate judge; the investigative panel had authorized formal charges alleging that the judge had engaged in ex parte communications and independently investigated the facts in a criminal matter pending in her court and used her judicial status to influence determinations in a criminal matter pending in her court involving a family member. In re Inquiry Concerning Dowling, Report of disposition (Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission April 4, 2022).
  • Following a hearing, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission removed a judge for (1) numerous actions to exert her influence to affect the outcome of her son’s criminal proceedings; (2) creating and failing to disclose conflicts of interest in the appointment of guardians ad litem and in cases involving certain attorneys; (3) retaliating against family services case workers who advocated actions contrary to her views; (4) using her court staff to administer drug tests; and (5) a lack of candor and misrepresentations to the Commission. In re the Matter of Gordon, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and final order (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission April 22, 2022), on appeal.
  • The Louisiana Judiciary Commission publicly admonished a judge for 2 campaign ads, one that criticized her opponent and one that stated that a vote for her showed support for President Trump and the Republican party. Public Admonishment of Marchman (Louisiana Judiciary Commission April 26, 2022).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge from office for engaging in professional misconduct as an attorney as evidenced by 2 orders that suspended him from the practice of law in New York for a total of 24 months. In the Matter of Gonzalez, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 13, 2022).
  • Adopting the findings of the Board of Professional Conduct, based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months for berating a litigant for nearly an hour during a status conference after the litigant had criticized him at a board of commissioners meeting for not disqualifying himself from cases in which his daughter appeared as an attorney; allowing his daughter “to continue his line of intemperate interrogation;” and appearing at a commissioners’ meeting to accuse the litigant of “publicly disparaging and slandering him and [his daughter];” the suspension was stayed on the conditions that he commit no further misconduct and complete 6 hours of continuing judicial education. Disciplinary Counsel v. O’Diam (Ohio Supreme Court April 28, 2022).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge for failing to cooperate in the Commission’s investigation of complaints against him. Public Admonition of Nolen (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 7, 2022).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for (1) posting and reposting racial, ethnic, and religious comments and/or memes on social media; (2) issuing peace bond warrants for President Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci based on alleged “threats to commit an offense” against multiple anonymous complainants; and (3) lending the prestige of his judicial office to advance the private interests of a charitable organization he had created and soliciting funds for that organization. Public Warning of Black (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 7, 2022).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) during a protective order hearing, ordering an attorney escorted to the jury box where her bailiff shackled him to a chair and then continuing with the hearing; and (2) just over a week later, having a second attorney escorted to the jury box where her bailiff shackled him to a chair and instructing the attorney’s son, who had arrived to represent him, never to come into her courtroom again. Public Reprimand of Stalder (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 20, 2022).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for his outbursts during the trial in a divorce case and during an ex parte confrontation with one of the lawyers in his chambers; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 2 hours of instruction with a mentor. Public Admonition of Wells (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 20, 2022).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former part-time judge for donating to the campaign of a mayoral candidate and introducing the candidate at the campaign kick-off rally. In re Bennett, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 22, 2022).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for reckless driving and telling the arresting officers that an arrest would damage his career. In re Imboden, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 22, 2022).
  • The West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission publicly admonished a magistrate for (1) making statements to a reporter in response to a police captain’s criticism of his bond in a case and a heated exchange during a meeting with police officers about the criticism; (2) swearing at a police officer during a telephone call about the bond in another case; and (3) asking lawyers who appear before him and a bail bondsman to submit letters in support of him to Judicial Disciplinary Counsel. Public Admonishment of Gaujot (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission April 25, 2022).
  • The West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission publicly admonished a magistrate for (1) when police officers responded to a neighborhood incident, swearing, invoking his position as a magistrate, making a demeaning stereotypical comment about his neighbor’s wife, and denigrating the homeless; and (2) serving as an administrator for a neighborhood watch Facebook page and an unseemly comment by his wife on that page that people thought the magistrate had posted. Public Admonishment of Weiss (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission April 25, 2022).
  • The West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission publicly admonished a judge for holding 2 correctional officers in contempt because they asked to contact their supervisor before transporting a prisoner to a different jail. Public Admonition of Murensky (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission April 25, 2022).

Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline by consent, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a former judge for a pattern of improper financial dealings and fiduciary activities, continuing to serve as a trustee of several trusts after becoming a judge, failing to disqualify from cases involving trusts for which he was trustee, and failing to disclose trustee fees, loans, and property interests on his statements of economic interest.  Inquiry Concerning Sullivan, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 17, 2002).
  • Approving an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for asking another judge on behalf of a friend to vacate an order of protection he had issued.  In the Matter of Williams, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 17, 2002).
  • 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 convicting an unrepresented defendant and imposing a jail sentence after the defendant had pleaded not guilty, without a trial, relying on the defendant’s incriminating statements at arraignment, and without the defendant changing his plea to guilty or waiving his right to a trial.  In the Matter of Hise, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 17, 2002).
  • 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 (1) writing an article for a newsletter in which he attempted to obtain support among local residents for construction of a highway bypass and stating that he had increased the fines on truck drivers to discourage them from using local routes and that he would continue to do so and (2) in 16 cases after accepting guilty pleas, imposing fines that were $20 to $70 in excess of the statutorily authorized maximum fine for the specific convictions.  In the Matter of Reid, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 17, 2002).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for receiving and considering an ex parte communication from the victim in a criminal case and failing to disclose the communication prior to trial.  In the Matter of Lukevich, Stipulation, Agreement and Order of Admonishment (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 9, 2002).

Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for delays in rendering decisions in 13 cases.  In the Matter of King, Final Decision and Order (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission May 21, 1997).
  • Pursuant to the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) addressing an assistant state attorney as she attempted to state an objection in a raised tone of voice and remarking, for example, “Yeah, you’ll be sorry.  Keep your mouth shut while I’m talking to him,” “Well, there’s no objection required here and if you talk any more it’s an order,” and “You don’t open your mouth anymore until I invite you to do so and if you do I’m gonna hold you in contempt;” and (2) during a second case, berating a second assistant state attorney in an improperly raised voice; refusing to allow the victim to make a statement as was her right, addressing the victim in an improperly raised voice, and acting in an overbearing and dictatorial manner; and having the bailiff physically escort the victim to the rear of the courtroom and making gestures and noises mimicking a shooting gun as she was led away.  Re Wright, 694 So. 2d 734 (Florida 1997).
  • Based on a joint statement of circumstances and conditional agreement, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay for failing to disqualify himself from a case in which he had submitted written materials highly critical of the defendant and in support of an attorney against whom the defendant had filed a grievance or to disclose that fact to the defendant; imposing a lengthier sentence on the defendant who demanded a jury trial than he would have imposed if she had submitted to a bench trial or pleaded guilty; and  misrepresenting the law to the defendant and forcing her to choose between proceeding without counsel or exercising her right to counsel and facing contempt and incarceration.  In the Matter of Cox, 680 N.E.2d 528 (Indiana 1997).
  • The Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications ordered a judge to cease and desist imposition of a probationary condition that prohibited a juvenile offender from associating with Hispanic males under the age of 21 unless in the company of an adult or unless they were family members.  Inquiry Concerning Robertson, Order (Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications May 16, 1997).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court publicly censured a court of appeal judge who had sat as a member of a panel that heard the appeal of a party with whom the judge had a close, personal relationship.  In re Cooks, 694 So. 2d 892 (Louisiana 1997).
  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, the Nebraska Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for disseminating religious materials to jurors and for offensive and unwelcome conduct that amounted to sexual harassment toward female court personnel, citizens having business in the courts, and student interns  In re Empson, 562 N.W.2d 817 (Nebraska 1997).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for issuing a warrant of eviction based solely on the ex parte request of the landlord, without any notice to the tenant and without conducting any court proceeding.  In the Matter of Holmes, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 29, 1997).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for stating, “Oh, it’s been a rough day — all those blacks in here” and conditioning his disqualification from a case on the withdrawal of complaints against him.  In the Matter of Jensen, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 29, 1997).
  • The Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to enter a decree and judgment on a dissolution case that he had under advisement for more than 11 months, contrary to administrative policies and statute.  Rosas, Press release (Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards May 1997).

Throwback Thursday

5 years ago this month:

  • A special Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of the Judiciary suspending the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court from office without pay for the remainder of his term for entering an administrative order that directed all probate judges to follow Alabama’s marriage laws in disregard of a federal court injunction regarding same-sex marriages; demonstrating an unwillingness to follow clear law; deciding substantive legal issues while purporting to act in his administrative capacity; substituting his judgment for the judgment of the entire Court on a substantive legal issue in a case then pending in the Court; interfering with the legal process and remedies in the U.S. District Court and/or the Alabama Supreme Court; and making a public comment about a pending proceeding and then failing to disqualify from the case.  Moore v Judicial Inquiry Commission 234 So.3d 458 (Alabama 2017).
  • Based on the judge’s agreement, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission publicly admonished a judge for driving while intoxicated.  Letter of Admonishment of Pearson (Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission April 25, 2017).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for violating financial reporting laws during her campaign for office.  In the Matter of Flanagan, Public admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance April 11, 2017).
  • Agreeing with an agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a non-lawyer judge who had been convicted for battery against a public safety official and ordered that he not be eligible for future judicial service; the reprimand was conditioned on the judge tendering his resignation.  In the Matter of Phillips, 72 N.E.3d 917 (Indiana 2017).
  • Pursuant to a former judge’s approval and acceptance, the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications found that, while running for re-election in 2016, the former judge used an out-dated statement by another judge in support of his campaign without obtaining permission and ordered him to desist from providing misleading campaign material.  Inquiry Concerning Henderson, Order (Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications April 17, 2017).
  • Based on the judge’s agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for, as a joke, holding an attorney in contempt for adding expungement cases to her docket contrary to a “no add-on” order for the day.  In re Leibson, Agreed order of public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission April 13, 2017).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, based on a stipulation of agreed facts and proposed recommendation, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a judge from office for 30 days without pay, fined him $1,100, and publicly reprimanded him for threatening to use a weapon on a defendant; interrogating the same defendant concerning his drug use, which had no bearing on the charge before the court; and interrogating, demeaning, and intimidating the defendant’s mother about the defendant’s drug use and her parenting skills.  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Vess, 227 So.3d 952 (Mississippi 2017).
  • Based on the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge and fined him $3,000 for issuing a default judgment that differed in kind and exceeded in amount what was demanded in the complaint.  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Roberts, 227 So.3d 938 (Mississippi 2017).
  • Based on stipulations, the New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee publicly reprimanded a judge for revising a negotiated plea agreement sua sponte and refusing to allow the state to strike amendments to the complaints.  In the Matter of DeVries (New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee April 7, 2017).

“Rabid,” “grave,” and “apoplectic”

In 3 recent cases, judges were sanctioned for verbal and/or physical confrontations inside and outside the courthouse and courtroom.

Tweeted confrontation about a parking space

Based on an agreement that included continued counseling for the judge, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission publicly censured a judge for a verbal confrontation about a parking space.  Re Karren, Letter (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission January 21, 2022).  In mitigation, the panel noted the judge’s desire to improve his “emotional and mental well-being,” “a topic that far too few people are willing to address in a public forum,” and expressed its hope that his candor “will help others in the judiciary who face complicated and stressful situations as part of their profession.”

On Friday, April 30, 2021, Davy Carter and his wife went to dinner in downtown Bentonville.  Their 20-year-old son, a college student at the nearby university, was meeting them and parked in a government parking lot a little after 7:00 p.m.  There were well-marked signs that stated, “Benton County employee parking only, 7 am to 5 pm.”  However, the location where Carter’s son parked had 4 spots reserved for the judge and others and a sign on the wall of the building that stated, “Reserved parking 24/7 violators towed.”

The judge had been sitting as special judge in Hot Springs, Arkansas during the workday.  He and his bailiff then drove back to the Benton County Courthouse where the bailiff had left his vehicle.

After dinner, Carter’s son and wife walked to the son’s vehicle.  When they arrived, the judge and his bailiff were there.

On Twitter, Davy Carter described what happened when he joined his wife and son in the parking lot:

I walked out and saw a very angry man with a gun on his hip and a cane berating my son and wife because my son parked in ‘his’ parking spot.  It was beyond berating, and like any dad or husband, immediately caught my attention.

Carter described the judge as “rabid” and “angry” even after his wife and son had repeatedly apologized.  In another tweet, Carter posted a 27-second video in which the judge, who was using a walking cane due to recent knee surgery, is shown throwing his cane to the ground while moving aggressively towards Carter.  During the confrontation, pedestrians, cyclists, and cars were passing by.

The incident attracted public attention through social media and traditional media coverage, particularly as Carter had been a member of the state general assembly and served as house speaker.  Eventually, local and national news outlets picked up the story.  Videos of the incident have been viewed thousands of times online.

Almost immediately after the incident, the judge sought professional counseling through the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

The Commission noted that “judges routinely order people to conduct themselves with self-control, show restraint, and avoid confrontation” and emphasized that “it is incumbent” on judges to “adhere to the same behavioral standards in their life encounters.”  Stating that the case “was about common courtesy and conduct when in a minor confrontation,”

the censure emphasized that judges “live in the same communities as the attorneys, staff, parties, and witnesses that appear on their dockets.  It is not too much to ask that our judiciary interact with the public with the same patience, self-control, and kindness that should be the social normal throughout our state.”

“Grave violation”

Accepting an agreement, the Georgia Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay and ordered that he be publicly reprimanded for engaging in a verbal and physical altercation with a defendant.  Inquiry Concerning Hays, 868 S.E.2d 792 (Georgia 2022).

In December 2020, a defendant appeared before the judge for a first appearance hearing held in the jail complex.  The defendant began cursing at the judge in response to the bond determination and continued to curse at the judge while being led out of the hearing.  The judge verbally engaged with the defendant, followed him into a hallway, and exchanged more words with him.  The judge then grabbed the defendant and pushed him against the wall.  The defendant was handcuffed, his feet were shackled, and he was accompanied by a law enforcement officer.  The defendant never physically threatened the judge or anyone else and did not attempt to flee.  The defendant was not injured.

The Court noted that a 30-day suspension is one of the most significant sanctions it had “ever imposed, short of removal from office” but stated that, “given the circumstances, it would have to be.”  The Court explained.

It is a grave violation for a judge to use violence against any person appearing before him, except in self-defense or defense of others, which was not the situation here.  The rule of law enables our society to resolve disputes without resort to force.  When a judge uses force against someone appearing before him, that judge thus undermines the rule of law.  It removes the judge from the role of neutral arbiter.

However, the Court also concluded that removal was not necessary, explaining that “the incident — grave as it was — was momentary, and no actual injury was inflicted.”  In mitigation, the panel and the Court noted that the judge “is a well-respected member of the community who has served his country honorably as a member of the military,” had no “prior disciplinary history,” and had “forthrightly accepted full responsibility for this isolated, but serious, incident.”

“Excessively loud, to the point of yelling”

Based on its findings of misconduct, which were based on stipulations of fact, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a former judge for engaging in rude, loud outbursts towards counsel and witnesses in 6 cases.  In re Placey, Opinion and order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline February 14, 2022).  The Court acknowledged the judge’s “resignation and realization that he cannot serve as a judge in the future,” noting that he had “sought medical help for his psychological difficulties before he was charged and has continued with that treatment” and that his “difficulties clearly played a major part in his misconduct.”

For example, one incident occurred while the judge was presiding over a hearing in which Nanci Samento asserted that Tony Samento had breached their marriage settlement agreement.  During Tony’s testimony, counsel for Nanci raised a hearsay objection, and the following exchange took place:

Judge:                Well, I don’t know what he is saying so I don’t know.
Attorney:          He was indicating what he learned from the State Police.
Judge:                And I don’t –
Tony:                  I’m sure there’s a record of this.
Judge:                Sir.
Tony:                  I’m sorry.
Judge:                Sit down now.  Down.  Out of that seat.
Tony:                  I’m sorry.
Judge:                Move it like you have a purpose.
Tony:                  I’m sorry, Your Honor.

The judge then stood up, and Tony abruptly slid his chair back, colliding with the wall behind the witness stand.  As the judge stood to leave, he had the following exchange with Tony’s attorney.

Judge:                I’ll tell you when I’m coming back.  It’s not going to be today.  You get your client under control or I am going to tear him up on the stand.  Do you understand me?
Attorney:          I’m not sure, Your Honor, but I’ll try to.
Judge:                He talks over me one more time, I am going to rule summarily against him.  Do you understand that?
Attorney:          Yes, Your Honor.

The audio recording of the proceeding established that the judge’s voice was “excessively loud, to the point of yelling.”

The judge then left the courtroom and did not return to the bench that day for the Samento matter.  Tony was not afforded an opportunity to finish his testimony or present further witnesses regarding the issue that was the basis for the hearing.

Subsequently, the judge found partially in favor of Nanci on the issue.  On review, the superior court vacated the judge’s decision and remanded the case for a hearing before another judge.  The superior court found that the transcript was “disconcerting” and confirmed the judge’s “hostility” toward Tony, concluding that the judge had denied Tony’s due process rights by abruptly terminating the hearing and had abused his discretion when he denied Tony’s motion for recusal.

In other incidents, the judge’s conduct was described as an “explosion,” “apoplectic,” “blanket screaming,” a “12” on a scale of “1-10,” “intimidating,” and “upsetting.”

Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge who had pled nolo contendere to a misdemeanor charge of willful or negligent cutting or mutilation of trees growing on public land without permission.  Public Admonishment of McBrien (California Commission on Judicial Performance April 25, 2002).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for making contributions from his excess campaign funds to 7 candidates for public office.  In re Shea, 815 So. 2d 813 (Louisiana 2002).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for failing to submit a decision for almost 14 months in the judicial review of an administrative decision of the shoreline hearings board.  In re Sheldon, Stipulation, Agreement and Order of Admonishment (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 5, 2002).

Free National Judicial College webinar on abuse of the prestige of judicial office

On Wednesday April 27, the National Judicial College is presenting a webinar on abuse of the prestige of judicial office.  There is no charge for the 90-minute on-line course, which will take place at 3 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Central/1 p.m. Mountain/ Noon Pacific/11 a.m. Alaska/9 a.m. Hawaii/.  Judges will learn:  What not to say during a traffic stop – What requests for favors by friends and family should be rebuffed – What abusing the prestige of office looks like on social media and in business activities – When using judicial stationery is inappropriate – When writing a letter of recommendation is permissible.  The faculty are Judge Louis Frank Dominguez, Chair of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct, and Cynthia Gray, Director of the Center for Judicial Ethics of the National Center for State Courts.  The webinar will be moderated by Keith Fisher, Distinguished Fellow, National Judicial College.

Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • Based on stipulated facts and an agreement, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a judge for (1) displaying a crucifix in the courtroom, (2) authorizing the use of his name and title in an advertisement celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, (3) announcing a policy for sentencing persons convicted of DUI that allowed for no exceptions, and (4) making public statements disparaging other judges and local attorneys.  Inquiry Concerning Velasquez, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance April 16, 1997).
  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court removed a judge from office for ordering her clerk to back-date convictions in 47-52 DUI cases to disguise the length of time that she had taken to dispose of the cases.  Inquiry Concerning Johnson, 692 So. 2d 168 (Florida 1997).
  • Acting on a complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Board, the Illinois Courts Commission publicly censured the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court for, on 4 occasions, failing to cooperate with and disobeying law enforcement officials who had stopped him for violations of traffic laws and volunteering the information that he was a member of the judiciary after being stopped by the officers.  In re Heiple, Order (Illinois Courts Commission April 30, 1997).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court publicly censured a former part-time judge for presiding in 20 criminal cases in which attorneys with whom he was associated in the practice of law represented the defendants and for frequently engaging in financial and business dealings with lawyers likely to come before him.  In re Lemoine, 692 So. 2d 358 (Louisiana 1997).
  • Adopting the decision and recommendation of the Judicial Tenure Commission, the Michigan Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for conducting activities relating to community affairs radio and television programs she produced and hosted during court hours in her chambers; on occasion appropriating the services of court personnel to perform tasks related to the production of the programs during court hours; using the court postage system to circulate correspondence and advertisements related to the programs; using the court’s phone service, voice mail system, fax machine, photocopy machine, and other court materials for the programs; soliciting and receiving funds from a car dealer to sponsor the programs; and failing to report any of the funds received.  In the Matter of Cooley, 563 N.W.2d 645 (Michigan 1997).
  • Pursuant to a joint motion for approval of a recommendation, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for ex parte conversations with a defendant, the defendant’s mother, the arresting officer, and the prosecutor and his interference with the defendant’s bonding process.  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Vess, 692 So. 2d 80 (Mississippi 1997).
  • The Missouri Supreme Court suspended a judge from office without pay for 30 days for reneging on his agreement with a police chief to drop contempt charges if the police chief released an individual charged with domestic abuse, filing an incomplete and misleading contempt affidavit, and making a public statement regarding a pending case that reflected pre-judgment.  In re Conard, 944 S.W.2d 191 (Missouri 1997).
  • Approving an agreed statement of facts, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for making undignified, discourteous, and disparaging statements while sentencing a citizen of Great Britain who had pled guilty to manslaughter in connection with the death of her infant child.  In re Hanophy, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 2, 1997).
  • Pursuant to the recommendation of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, based on a stipulation, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former judge for making derogatory remarks regarding a litigant’s national origin in one case; ordering marriage as a condition of probation in 3 cases; and displaying a lack of judicial temperament in 4 domestic violence cases.  Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Mestemaker, 676 N.E.2d 870 (Ohio 1997).
  • The South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former judge who had, while a judge, been served with an arrest warrant charging assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.  In the Matter of Brown, 484 S.E.2d 875 (South Carolina 1997).
  • The West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission publicly admonished a judge for telling a defendant during his arraignment that, if he wanted appointed counsel his jail time, fine, and costs would be stiffer, and during 2 arraignments, advising the defendants that if they asked for appointed counsel, they could expect the maximum jail time.  In the Matter of Jarrell (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission April 21, 1997).