The Daily Judge
© 2009 Burton Randall Hanson
      Archives - April 01, 2009 - April 30, 2009
"All the news that gives judges and lawyers fits."
BurtLaw's Daily Judge is not an online newspaper and is not affiliated with or intended to be mistaken for any existing or previously-existing newspaper or journal. Rather, this is a so-called "blawg," a law-related personal non-profit pro bono publico First-Amendment protected "web log" or "blog," one with a subjective, idiosyncratic, and eccentric sociological and social-psychological slant that focuses not on the latest judicial decisions of supposed great legal importance but on a) the institution of judge in the United States and in other countries throughout the world, b) the judicial office and role, c) judicial personalities, d) the great common law tradition of judging as practiced here and throughout the world, e) judges as judges, f) judges as ordinary people with the usual mix of virtues and flaws, etc. We link to newspapers and other sources in order to alert you to ideas, articles, stories, speeches, law books, literary works and other things that have interested us and that may interest you. In linking to another site or source, we don't mean either to suggest we necessarily agree with views or ideas expressed there or to attest to the accuracy of facts set forth there. We urge you in every instance to click on the link and read the entire story or other printed source to which we link. We often use the linked piece as a springboard for expressing our opinion, typically clearly labelled "Comment."

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About Burton Hanson. Burton Hanson is a graduate of Harvard Law School, admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Minnesota. He has devoted his entire professional career to the public interest. He worked one year as Hennepin County District Court Special Term (Civil) Law Clerk, two years as law clerk for the late Justice C. Donald Peterson of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and over 26 years as Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He was a nonpartisan candidate for Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in the general election in November 2000 and a liberal anti-war candidate for Congress in the Republican primary in the Minnesota Third District in September 2004. He was one of the first law bloggers (blawgers). He began planning his first blog, BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else in 1999 but delayed starting it until after the 2000 general election. His campaign website, the no-longer extant VoteHans.Com (archived here), contained a personal campaign weblog, possibly the first campaign blog. In 2004 he also used the personal blog format in his primary campaign for Congress. That site, BurtonHanson.Com, has morphed into a public interest political opinion blog and also contains the archives of his 2004 campaign web pages and blog postings.

 "BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else, a Web Site produced by Burton Hanson, is part of the Library of Congress September 11 Web Archive and preserves the web expressions of individuals, groups, the press and institutions in the United States and from around the world in the aftermath of the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. Dates Captured: September 20, 2001 - December 17, 2001"

A few of our recent postings. a) Minnesota's 'Three Stooges'-like handling of Coleman-Franken recount.b) Annals of judicial aversion to sunshine. c) Judge Parker gets another reprieve. d) Chief justice is 'slammed' for lobbying against election of judges. e) C.J. Abrahamson, supporter of judicial elections, wins big. f) A study of the actual results of 'merit selection' of judges in Tennessee. g) Courageous Iowa corn-fed judges unanimously declare ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. h) Judge Wilkinson frets over demise of daily newspapers. i) Parents get cheerleading coach fired over old nude photos. j) The 'Sue Me State' reconsiders its own much-touted judicial selection plan. k) Annals of judicial masochism -- herein of law clerk domination of judicial decisionmaking. l) Group urges impeachment of Bush judge who wrote notorious torture memo. m) Congressman turns SCOTUS budget hearing into forum on cameras in court, transparency. n) SCOTUS doesn't appear bothered if your kid gets strip-searched by school principal -- to see if the kid has ibuprofen in her underpants! o) Annals of idiotic statements by justices during oral argument. p) Family files lawsuit over judge's death. q) Oh, dear, another judge caught being rude. r) Will SCOMN justice recuse in Coleman-Franken case? s) Annals of pre-judicial 'texting.' t) How the 'meritorious' become top judges in Kenya. u) The NYT reports on increase in unrepresented litigants. v) The 'dumping judge' is disciplined. w) Annals of specialized courts -- do we need 'semen courts'? x) Caught on camera and broadcast on national TV: Judge accepts bribe in open daylight! y) Torah! Torah! Torah! Torah! z) SCOFLA is reprimanding judge for discourteous, harsh manner in court. aa) Judge wins ignominious award for violating First Amendment. bb) Judge to clear record of yet another innocent man in Texas -- this one spent 13 years in prison and died there. cc) Meanwhile, MN's tortoise-paced justice system drags on in Senate recount case. dd) SCOPA to review defamation award by crooked judge. ee) FLA courts try to squeeze money from poor people; jail 'em if they can't pay. ff) NEB judge answers ethics charges. gg) Is 'policing' of judges getting less funding? hh) New judge in the Blago case in ILL -- judge-shopping? ii) Conservative papers endorse 'liberal' Chief seeking reelection in WIS. jj) Feds charge state judge with corruption involving money, sex. kk) Prankster illegally links websites in judge's name to gay dating web sites. ll) Jewish judge from South Africa will investigate allegations of Israeli war crimes for UN. mm) Mistrial in case of GA judge charged with voter fraud. nn) Embattled judge resigns after report criticizes his rulings. oo) Commission publicly warns 'spanking judge.' pp) A renowned judge's little white lie. qq) Judge's $1,000-a-day giveaway to trial watchers. rr) Not good at deciding close elections, MN leads the way in medical detecting. ss) Judge who was accused of playing hooky is censured, will resign. tt) Judge is accused by judicial conduct commission of patronizing prostitute. uu) Searchlight Justice of the Peace Wendell Turner. vv) Judicial independence ain't always a grand thing. ww) The Iowa judicial savings plan. xx) Another judge is indicted by the feds. yy) Study: wide variability among immigration judges in granting/denying asylum. zz) Dancers break in new dance floor at the old courthouse. aaa) Swede judge in file-sharing case is accused of conflict of interest. bbb) Yet another judge is charged with drunk driving. ccc) What's liberal, what's not. ddd) When judges and others in government play word games. eee) Annals of judicial speech -- Russia vs. FLA. fff) Paper: judge seeking aid failed to disclose $2 million in real estate holdings. ggg) Why the Missouri Plan has failed in Tennessee. hhh) The Great Missouri Judicial Merit-Selection Plan. iii) Judge will stop writing column that raised a racial ruckus. jjj) Recent developments in invidious age discrimination against judges. kkk) Did SCOMN fumble the ball in the U.S. Senate recount case? lll) The Minnesota Scariners are at it again, trying to persuade voters to give up their role in judicial selection. mmm) Competency -- what mandatory retirement takes away, the big law firms restore. nnn) On Geo. Soros, the hedge fund billionaire who doesn't want voters having a role in judicial selection. ooo) Did God tell judge to create program? ppp) America's broken, wasteful misdemeanor courts.

 A study of the actual results of 'merit selection' of judges in Tennessee. "Between 1995 and 2008, the Tennessee Plan's selection commission nominated twice as many appellate judges more affiliated with the Democratic Party (67%) than with the Republican Party (33%)...[even though t]he imbalance between Democratic and Republican nominees is not reflected among the Tennessee electorate...." -- Brian T. Fitzpatrick, A Report on the Political Balance of the Tennessee Plan (Federalist Society 2009). Fitzpatrick concludes that "[m]any scholars...believe that it is futile to try to remove 'politics' from any system of judicial selection" and that "the more helpful question to ask about designing a system of judicial selection is whose political views should drive judicial selection: the political preferences of the public and their elected representatives, or the perspectives of a professional class of lawyers within the bar associations that control the membership on the nominating commissions." Id. Comment. For links to some of my many relevant postings on the Quie Commission's proposal that Minnesota abandon its historic and highly successful Minnesota Plan -- the Populist system of voter participation in selection of state judges -- see, The campaign to deprive MN voters of a role in judicial selection.

 Did God tell judge to create program? "A judge facing judicial misconduct allegations [Pulaski County Circuit Judge Willard Proctor] said on more than one occasion that God told him to create the anti-addiction program at the center of the charges against him, a former law clerk testified at a disciplinary hearing Tuesday...." Details (ARK News 04.28.2009).

 America's broken, wasteful misdemeanor courts. "The explosive growth of misdemeanor cases is placing a staggering burden on America's courts. Defenders across the country are forced to carry unethical caseloads that leave too little time for clients to be properly represented. As a result, constitutional obligations are left unmet and taxpayers' money is wasted...." So says a report released by The Nat'l Ass'n of Criminal Defense Lawyers titled Minor Crimes, Massive Waste: The Terrible Toll of America's Broken Misdemeanor Court. Executive Summary.

 Another judge is indicted by the feds. This one's Judge Wayne G. Cresap of St. Bernard Parish in the Bayou state, Louisiana. He was arrested on a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He allegedly agreed with some lawyers to accept money in return for converting secured bonds into unsecured personal security or "signature" bonds. Details (NOLA 04.27.2009). Comment. Boy, as I've noted before, the know-it-all feds sure are expending a lot of time and resources cleaning up state government, purifying state politics, etc. One who doesn't know any better might assume that the federal "house" is in fine order -- that the feds, e.g., are doing a great job keeping our national financial system in fine order, free of fraud and graft. Or one might assume that our federal court system is in tip-top shape. Dear friend, read on....

 Study: wide variability among immigration judges in granting/denying asylum. Abdon M. Pallasch, political reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times has an interesting report on a study by two Georgetown profs finding wide variability among immigration judges in granting/denying asylum. Female judges seem far more likely to grant asylum than make judges (54% vs. 37%), "northern" judges moreso than "southern" judges (52% in NYC vs. 12% in Atlanta). And there's wide variability among judges within individual districts: one NYC judge granted One New York judge granted asylum in 91% of cases and one in only 6% of cases. Want Judge Richard Posner's views on all this? Read the article. Details (Chicago Sun-Times 04.27.2009).

 Dancers break in new dance floor at the old courthouse. "This year, for its annual spring concert series, Fusionworks Dance Company abandoned the traditional stage for the black box space of the Courthouse Center for the Arts, where it presented a dynamic medley of works from its repertoire to an appreciative South County audience...." Details (South County Independent - SC 04.27.2009). Comment. Good way to preserve an old courthouse that otherwise might be torn down. Maybe in these hard times, when courts and other branches and divisions of government -- like the people who hold the highest offices (the citizens) -- must deal with budget cuts, courts ought to start renting out public spaces in the courthouses, etc., for private parties, wedding receptions, etc. Retired judges could volunteer their services, with their set fees and the rental fees and permit fees going to the court's coffers.

 Swede judge in file-sharing case is accused of conflict of interest. "The judge who ruled against The Pirate Bay defendants on Friday is a member of two copyright organizations, an alleged conflict of interest that could require the case to be tried again, Swedish press reported Thursday morning...." Details (CNETNews 04.23.2009). Comment. Note: The judge is not -- I repeat, NOT -- Norwegian. Further reading. Annals of biased Swede judges (The Daily Judge 10.02.2008).

 Group urges impeachment of Bush judge who wrote notorious torture memo. The judge in question is Bush-appointee, Jay Bybee, of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Some "liberal" groups are calling for his impeachment following release of a memo he wrote as head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel back in 2002. In it he rationalized the use by the CIA of what some (I'm one of them) call torture in interrogating a captured al-Qaida "detainee." Details (San Jose Mercury News 04.22.2009). Comments. Two extended comments:

a) There's a rule that we like to call, in our clever way, "The Golden Rule," an obscure little rule that prompted us to oppose from the very outset the Bush Administration's nice little "end justifies the means" plan to allow the use of torture in interrogating and summary justice in trying "enemy military detainees" in its "War on Terror." One virtue of following The Golden Rule is that it doesn't require a law degree or even much intelligence to follow. Of course, it only helped us in forming our opinion that we knew in our bones that turture just doesn't work. People will say anything to stop being tortured, and therefore what they say is unreliable. Moreover, a corollary of the Golden Rule is that those who do wrong to others inevitably hurt themselves. A former Navy lawyer is quoted in a NYT piece making this very point: "The problem is, once you've got a legal opinion that says such a technique is O.K., what happens when one of our people is captured and they do it to him? How do we protest then?" Further reading. My post-09.11 postings at BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else are part of the Library of Congress September 11 Web Archive, which preserves the web expressions of individuals, groups, the press and institutions in the United States and from around the world in the aftermath of the events on 09.11. Click here to gain access to my postings that are in the LOC 09.11 Web Archive. See, also, BurtLaw on the War on Terrorism I, II, III and IV; Burton Hanson for Congress Campaign Archives; Burton Hanson Political Opinion Journal (Sometimes Left, But Always Right).

b) That said, do I favor the impeachment of Judge Bybee or, say, the prosecution of him and the others who wrote such memos? No. For three reasons: i) I think if you look at the record, you'll find that a lot of those who are out for political blood now are those who either stood silent or acquiesced in the Bush-Cheney follies. When Bush, Cheney et al announced the Administration's intent to use military tribunals, these people acquiesced. When word got out that Bush, Cheney et al were authorizing the use of torture, they acquiesced. When Bush, Cheney et al stampeded the country into a transparently-unjustified, obviously-immoral, and downright-foolish pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, they acquiesced. ii) In general, I oppose criminalizing politics as much as I oppose the politicization of the subject of crime. iii) Congressional investigations are notoriously unfair. So-called independent commissions aren't much better. History, however, is a great judge. So is conscience. I suggest we leave the men in question, whose good faith I'm not inclined to question, to the judgments of their conscience and of history. Update. Frank Bowman, Congress shouldn't impeach Bybee -- much as he deserves it (Slate 04.24.2009).

 Congressman turns SCOTUS budget hearing into forum on cameras in court, transparency. The Blog of Legal Times (04.23.2009) reports that a GOP Rep. from Texas, John Culberson, turned an appropriations subcommittee hearing on SCOTUS' budget request into a forum for once again urging the Court to come into the sunlight of the 21st Century by providing live streaming of SCOTUS arguments. Further reading. I expressed my views on this issue in detail in an essay reproduced at SCOMN's timidity about letting the sun shine in on courts (The Daily Judge 02.25.2009).

 SCOTUS doesn't appear bothered if your kid gets strip-searched by school principal -- to see if the kid has ibuprofen in her underpants! "When constitutional historians sit down someday to compile the definitive Supreme Court Concordance of Not Getting It, the entry directly next to Lilly Ledbetter ('Court fails utterly to understand realities of gender pay discrimination') will be Savana Redding ('Court compares strip searches of 13-year-old girls to American Pie-style locker-room hijinks')...." Dahlia Lithwick, Search Me -- The Supreme Court is neither hot nor bothered by strip searches (Slate 04.21.2009). Comment. As always, I urge you to read Lithwick's entire posting. Her closing is right on point: "[W]e now have school districts all around the country finding naked photos of teens and immediately calling in the police for possession of kiddie porn. Yet schools see nothing wrong with stripping these same kids naked to search for drugs. Evidently teenage nakedness is only a problem when the children choose to be naked." Further reading. A modest BurtLaw proposal: Random drug testing suggested for judges, court staff (The Daily Judge 10.13.2006) ("Perhaps daily checkups are in order, including the giving of urine samples for drug testing at the discretion of the Juristic Health Czar"). See, also, Fighting JWI (judging while under influence) with aftenoon BAC breath tests (The Daily Judge 03.02.2008).

 Annals of idiotic statements by justices during oral argument. From SCOTUS Transcript of Oral Arguments in Safford Unified School District #1 vs. April Redding pp. 57-8 (04.21.2009):

JUSTICE BREYER: Do you have any studies on this? I doubt it.
MR. WOLF: No, but neither -- neither do they.
JUSTICE BREYER: So what am I supposed to do? In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, okay? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear --
JUSTICE BREYER: Or not my underwear. Whatever. Whatever. I was the one who did it? I don't know. I mean, I don't think it's beyond human experience, not beyond human experience.

 Annals of judicial masochism -- herein of law clerk domination of judicial decisionmaking. I don't watch Law & Order very often but I enjoyed the one that was rerun the other night, 04.15.2009 (Season 19, Episode 7 titled "Zero," originally aired on 12.16.2008). Ned Beatty plays a judge who's "lost it," and Sherry Stringfield plays the judge's law clerk, who sits off to the side and furiously "texts" messages to the judge telling him how to rule and what to say whenever an objection is made. Detailed minute-by-minute plot summary (All Things Law & Order). Comment. On the possible authenticity of the episode, we reproduce herewith this excerpt from an extensive 2 hour and 32 minute YouTube interview with our resident expert, Dr. F. Lavoris Pusso, Ph.D.:

Q - Is the episode far fetched?
A - No.
Q - Has anything like it ever happened?
A - Yes.

Further readings on law clerk-judge relations. Alito joins Stevens in opting out of cert. pool (The Daily Judge 09.26.2008); Those SCOCLERK opinions (The Daily Judge 07.18.2008). Further viewing. Are you a law clerk fetishist who wants to watch other Law & Order episodes involving law clerks? Here are a couple: a) Plot: "The discovery of a law clerk's body in a judge's home results in Goren and Eames first investigating the judge's personal life. The investigation then turns to his professional life when a suspect is found to have connections to one of the judge's competitors for a seat on the appellate court." Semi-Professional, Law & Order - Criminal Intent (Law&OrderWiki). b) Plot: Fired law clerk gets revenge on judge by anonymously sending detectives animal porn videos that were in judge's private e-mail. Smut, Law & Order SVU (All Things Law & Order).

 Parents get cheerleading coach fired over old nude photos. "'Sis boom bah' will never have the same meaning again at a California high school after the family of an ousted cheerleader ratted out a coach for posing nude on a Playboy web site. But the family insists it was a matter of morals and respect -- not sour grapes -- that led them to full dis-clothesure...." More (MSNBC 04.20.2009). Comment. Awhile ago BurtLaw "rose to defend" renowned Federal Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski against some allegations against him relating to what some referred to as "porn postings" on the Internet. See, my extended "defense" (and updates following those remarks) at Sir Burton rises to defend Chief Judge Kozinski over porn postings (The Daily Judge 06.12.2008). Chivalrous BurtLaw now rises to defend "the coach." He says we'd all better get used to "forgiving" women in the workplace, etc., over the discovery -- OMG! -- that they once posed for photos in the nude. With all the free websites where people post voluntarily-posed nude photos of their girl friends and ex-girlfriends and with all the so-called "sexting" (girls sending cellphone camera pics to their bf's) going on, the day is not far off when there'll be similarly revealing previously-posted photos of female judges and other female politicians "discovered." Lighten up, I say. Here's a somewhat relevant entry Sir Burton posted at BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else Collector's Edition Swimsuit Issue back in, I think, 2003:

On "swimsuit issues" and the development of a sense of the beautiful. My mom gave me my first camera for my [13th] birthday in 1956, a twin-lens reflex box camera. Photography was a great way for me to develop my interest in things visual -- including "pretty women." In those days, when everyone was more modest about everything, particularly in small town America, some guys like me who were "interested" in women found that amateur photography was an acceptable way of getting access to "artistic" photographs of "the female form." MPLS-based Fawcett Publications, e.g., had a line of publications for serious amateur photographers. These publications, which sold for 75 cents at places like Shinders' News on the southwest corner of 6th St. and Hennepin Ave., were in paperback booklet format and were filled with glossy professional photographs of all sorts of subjects and objects, including of "the female form." For each picture, the camera model, film type, lens, shutter speed and f/stop were given, helping maintain the pretense that the readers' interests were entirely professional and artistic. Let's say, in the interest of truth, that my interests were only partly professional and artistic. But the Law of Unintended Consequences was at work, and I think I benefited from the fact that that was then the only way -- at least, the only way I could figure out -- to see and own pictures of that sort. Well, I should add, parenthetically, that one could also "read" The National Geographic, motion picture magazines, and the bra, slip and corset section of the Montgomery Ward catalog. In any event, as a result of my "reading" the Fawcett publications, I became a pretty good photographer and I developed my sense of the beautiful. Who[, I ask,] are we to deprive boys of access to the current day's equivalent of those Fawcett publications, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else Collector's Edition Swimsuit Issue? (BRH 02.19.2003)

Further readings on pornography. Nadine Strossen, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights (1995) (During the 1975-1976 term of the Minnesota Supreme Court Strossen served as personal law clerk to Justice John Todd).

 Not good at deciding close elections, MN leads the way in medical detecting. "In just about every major contaminated food scare, Minnesotans become sick by the dozens while few people in Kentucky and other states are counted among the ill...The different numbers arise because health officials in Kentucky and many other states fail to investigate many complaints of food-related sickness while those in Minnesota do so diligently, safeguarding not only Minnesotans but much of the rest of the country, as well..." Details (NYT 04.20.2009). Comment. Too bad we here in MN don't lead the way in deciding close elections. See, Minnesota's 'Three Stooges'-like handling of Coleman-Franken recount (The Daily Judge 04.14.2009).

 The 'Sue Me State' reconsiders its own plan. "The Missouri plan for choosing judges may be the law of the land in some two dozen states, but its home court is having second thoughts. Last week, the Missouri House of Representatives approved a ballot measure that would modify the state's namesake selection process. The measure is one step toward junking a system that has made state courts less accountable...." From Missouri Brakes -- The Sue Me State reconsiders judicial selection (WSJ - Editorial 04.18.2009). Comment. The WSJ editors' label "Sue Me State" is a play on one of MO's nicknames, to wit, "Show Me State." I like to refer to "The Missouri Plan," much-beloved by bespectacled college political science professors, as "The Ozark State Plan." For a detailed analysis of the plan and an exposition of why I oppose its adoption, see, inter alia, my essay titled The campaign to deprive MN voters of a role in judicial selection (with links to more information).

 Judge's $1,000-a-day giveaway to trial watchers. "Each weekday starting April 23, 2009, and ending May 20, 2009, two people will have a chance to win $500 as part of WPXI's Judge Judy Giveaway!" Details (WPXI 04.18.2009).

 A renowned judge's little white lie. "In 2006 a speed camera in Sydney caught his silver Lexus doing 6 mph over the limit. At this point we have to forget about the dizzy speed of the car and try to slow down the thought processes going on in his head. There he is, at the top of his profession, with a national, indeed international, reputation for wisdom...And right there, the fatal error begins to take form. It wasn't so much the £36 fine. He could afford that. It was that the penalty points would bring him closer to losing his licence. Somehow the top judge and national treasure didn't see himself in a position where he was not allowed to drive...." Clive James, The little white lie that grew (BBC News 03.27.2009). Comment. The renowned judge whose downfall renowned critic Clive James recounts in dramatic detail is Judge Marcus Einfeld, whose story we have recounted a number of times. See, e.g., Judge Einfeld is stripped of his silk (The Daily Judge 11.27.2008).

 Judge Parker gets another reprieve. "Post readers winced when stock tables were eliminated. They grimaced when TV listings were trimmed. They glared when a crossword puzzle and games were dropped. But when some comics were recently removed from the newspaper, they revolted. The focus of their anger was the strip 'Judge Parker,' which was sentenced to appear only online...." The verdict? He done got his reprieve.... Andrew Alexander, 'Judge Parker' Wins His Case (Washington Post 04.19.2009). Comment. "Judge Parker" was one of the many newspaper comics I read as a kid, and I've included him in my BurtLaw's Law and Comics. "Judge Parker" first appeared in 1952. I was only nine then, but I'd already been reading the two Minneapolis papers (the morning Tribune and the afternoon Star) -- or parts of them -- for years. What drew me to becoming a lifelong newspaper reader? A number of things, including: a) The fact my parents subscribed. Dad took the Tribune at work and brought it home for noon when he came home for lunch. We got the Star delivered at home after school. b) The fact my parents were active in the community and in politics and talked about things in the paper. Indeed, the Mpls. papers occasionally had stories about my mom, copies of which I have in my personal archives. c) The sports pages. The sports pages were far better than the ones in the Strib (the combined Star-Tribune) today. d) The comics pages. These were far better and more readable than the ones in the Strib (the combined Star-Tribune) today. Kids like me started out reading sports and comics and got hooked. By 1952, when "Judge Parker" started, I was reading the hard news in the paper. I still remember reading the long lists naming all the returning POW's after Ike was elected & "went to Korea" and ended that war. Sadly, papers like the Strib and St. Paul's Pioneer-Press have been on a downward slide for years and, when they lose life-long subscribers like me and no longer are able to "hook" the kids, those potential lifelong subscribers, their own future doesn't seem bright. Further reading. For an idea of mine on how to help save troubled newspapers and the troubled USPO in one stroke, see, my commentary at Judge Wilkinson frets over demise of daily newspapers (The Daily Judge 04.03.2009).

 Minnesota's 'Three Stooges'-like handling of Coleman-Franken recount. "What's wrong with Minnesota if 5 1/2 months after the election they still don't know who the winner is?" So asks CNN's Jack Cafferty. He also says, "Minnesota has become a joke...I'm exhausted watching this…looks like a Three Stooges movie...." And if that's not enough, he says, "Minnesota is starting to look like a third world country -- the land of 10,000 lakes and a dysfunctional democracy. We send people to monitor elections in foreign countries. Maybe next time we should send some to Minneapolis." Jack Cafferty, 5 months after election, still no winner in Minnesota (CNN.Com 04.14.2009). Comment. Boy, back in 2000 I was highly critical of the FLA judiciary over its handling of the Bush-Gore recount, but at least the FLA courts acted expeditiously, as did SCOTUS, and we got "a President" installed on time, by January 20. Here in good ol' Minnesota, a) the actual physical recount took way too long; b) the canvassing process (in which as a basic policy matter no member of SCOMN ought to participate) took way too long; c) SCOMN didn't take an active enough approach to speeding up the resolution of the judicial challenge; d) the three-judge panel allowed the "trial" to proceed at the pace of a turtle parade; and e) (can you believe it?!) the damn thing still ain't over. Moreover -- and this is coming from a liberal Republican who voted for Franken -- I don't have the slightest confidence at this point that the count, as certified by the three-judge panel, was a fair and accurate one consistent with constitutional equal protection principles. So, no, I can't blame Cafferty for saying we're the laughing stock of the nation and a stunning example of how-not-to-do-it. Earlier. Meanwhile, MN's tortoise-paced justice system drags on in Senate recount case (The Daily Judge 04.08.2009; Did SCOMN fumble the ball in the U.S. Senate recount case? (The Daily Judge 02.22.2009).

 Chief justice is 'slammed' for lobbying against election of judges. Here's what Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said about Tennessee Chief Justice Jan Holder's efforts against election of judges, which the Tennessee Constitution mandates:

I guess it bothers me now when we have Supreme Court justices going across the state putting politics back into this. I know Janice Holder was down in, I think, Memphis this week saying that we shouldn't be electing judges. I don't know exactly how far that goes and still be ethical, to be honest, for them to be out here speaking to Rotary clubs and Kiwanis clubs lobbying for a bill. That seems to be against their code of ethics. Maybe it's not. But it seems to me that it almost crosses the line. They're saying we don't need to get politics in this, yet what are they doing? Lobbying. Ironic.

Details, including the chief's response, at Jeff Woods, Ramsey Slams Chief Justice Holder for 'Lobbying' Against Electing Judges (Nashville Scene 04.16.2009). Background. Has Tennessee's unconstitutional 'merit selection' plan expired? (The Daily Judge 05.27.2008); Dissatisfaction with 'merit selection' in Tennessee (The Daily Judge 05.10.2008); Why the Missouri Plan has failed in Tennessee (The Daily Judge 03.09.2009).

 Yet another judge is charged with drunk driving. The judge this time is Judge Christine M. McEvoy, 58, a MA trial judge. She's apparently owning up to the charges. Details (Boston Herald 04.17.2009). Comment. A judge's quickly taking responsibility following a valid DWI arrest is sort of "the Minnesota way." See, Minnesota judge pleads guilty to DWI (The Daily Judge 06.16.2005). Related. For a "different" sort of DWI case, see, Teacher guilty of DUI while giving a driving lesson (Salem News 04.17.2009). Update. Howie Carr, the Boston Herald columnist who loves blasting judges when they get caught doing something bad, writes that when Judge McEvoy's nomination was being considered by the Judicial Council, U.S. District Court Judge William Young [my classmate at HLS] described her as "a person of absolute integrity, extremely sensitive to the ethical issues which all of us face whether on the bench or at the bar," to which Carr adds: "Surely Judge Young meant to say 'Absolut integrity.' As for those ethical issues 'at the bar' -- fill in your own joke here." Howie Carr, Talk about going before the bar -- another OUI judge (Boston Herald 04.19.2009). Comment. I don't see the need to make it so personal or to play to the crowd in this way. But I post the link and the excerpt as a way of once again letting judges know that this is the sort of public ridicule they may face if they drive after drinking. You all know how to avoid getting caught and avoid going through the ringer on this, don't you? Don't drive if you've had anything to drink. I've come to believe it's as simple -- and as necessary -- as that.

 Annals of judicial aversion to sunshine. Last January U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner (MA) granted a defense request to allow live Internet streaming of a motions hearing in a highly-publicized case involving alleged illegal file-sharing brought by the recording industry. Judge allows live-streaming in upcoming RIAA file-sharing suit. More (The Daily Judge 01.16.2009). Now the First Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the order. Details (Boston Globe 04.17.2009). Comment. Sad to be linking to this on April 18, the eve of Patriots' Day. A skeptic might ask whether judges fear having their ultimate bosses, ordinary citizens-patriots, get first-hand the kind of information they need to evaluate judges? Judges always prate on about their "independence," which is fine and well, but the Siamese twin of judicial independence is judicial accountability (one doesn't survive without the other) and, sadly, you almost never hear judges breathe the word "accountability." Let Justice Brandeis' disinfecting sun shine in on courtrooms, I say. Further reading. SCOMN's timidity about letting the sun shine in on courts (The Daily Judge 02.22.2009); Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Paul Revere's Ride (1860); Paul Revere's Ride (Wikipedia).

 Judge who was accused of playing hooky is censured, will resign. The judge is Superior Court Judge Christopher Sheldon. Details (San Francisco Chronicle 04.16.2009). See, my extensive remarks on the phenomenon at Judge is accused of playing hooky (The Daily Judge 01.16.2009).

 Judge is accused by judicial conduct commission of patronizing prostitute. The judge is Washington State Superior Court Judge Michael Hecht. He's also accused of other things, including stealing his opponent's campaign signs. Details (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 04.17.2009). Earlier. Supporters of defeated judge allege judge-elect patronized prostitute (The Daily Judge 01.11.2009); Judge is criminally charged with harassment, patronizing prostitute (The Daily Judge 02.28.2009).

 Searchlight Justice of the Peace Wendell Turner. Nevada's chief justice has announced the death by an apparent stroke of 72-year-old Searchlight, NV J.P. Wendell Turner, a former highway patrol officer who has been riding the bench since 1994. According to a story in the San Jose Mercury-News (04.15.2009), one of Judge Turner's main accomplishments was "pushing for" the building of what is known as the "Searchlight Justice Center" (they used to call them courthouses). Before the SJC was erected, court was held in a "trailer along U.S. Highway 95." Comments. a) We here at The Daily Judge extend our sympathies to the friends and family of Judge Turner. b) Without reference to Judge Turner, the mention of the holding of speed court in a trailer next to the highway reminds me of an episode of the old 1950's Adventures of Superman TV show, which I recounted in this posting a year ago: Annals of outrageous judicial corruption (The Daily Judge 04.12.2008). You may find the posting amusing.

 Judicial independence ain't always a grand thing. I'm referring to the "independence" of certain judges in a renegade province of Pakistan from the common law system that prevails in the rest of Pakistan. As reported on CBS, "The Taliban cleric in charge of Pakistan's Swat Valley has declared the area judicially independent from the country's federal government. Sufi Mohammad said Wednesday that Islamic law, or Shariah, decisions handed down by militants in the mountainous region will not be subject to appeal or overrule by the Pakistani Supreme Court or any other avenue of appeal in the justice system...." Details (CBS.Com 04.15.2009). Comment. The federal government in Pakistan announced yesterday that it was allowing the implementation of Shariah (Muslim) law in Swat, but my understanding, and that of the author of the CBS story, was that the feds did not cede reviewing authority over the Swat court's decisions.

 Complaint is filed against new judge over failure to resign from corporate board.  In a January posting we linked to a story in the Charlotte Observer reporting that a newly-elected NC trial judge, Bill Belk, was continuing to serve as a $150,000-a-year director of a corporate board after being told the judicial conduct rules didn't allow him to do so. Now The Observer is reporting that counsel for the conduct board has filed a complaint accusing Belk of "'willful misconduct' for continuing to serve on corporate boards and for his behavior during a confrontation with a chief judge." Details (Charlotte Observer 04.15.2009). Link to statement of charges (it's worth reading).

 The Iowa judicial savings plan. Facing cuts in the state court budget, Iowa's Chief Justice, Marsha Ternus, recently imposed -- among other cost-cutting actions, including unpaid furlough days -- a ban on judges traveling to counties without resident judges, even if the judges were willing to forego reimbursement for their travel expenses. This meant that trials that should be held in certain counties without resident judges were going to have to be moved, at great inconvenience and cost to litigants, witnesses, and spectators. Now the Iowa House of representatives has voted unanimously to let judges to travel to nearby counties to hear cases, if they're willing to do so at their own expense. Details (Chicago Tribune 04.15.2009). Related postings. Guv says 80% of SCOMN C.J.'s requested budget increase is for salary and benefit increases (The Daily Judge 01.15.2009); Herein of SCOMN budget woes, 'p.r.' specialists, and Thoreauvian economics (The Daily Judge 08.08.2008); MN court cuts back customer service in response to budget cuts (The Daily Judge 03.04.2008); FLA C.J. talks of 'suicide,' 'murder,' & 'paralysis' over budget cuts (The Daily Judge 03.22.2008); BurtLaw's Law and Judicial Economics (LawAndEverythingElse.Com).

 Family files lawsuit over judge's death. A year ago 46-year-old Judge Kathleen Voor Montano died of complications of pneumonia, a little over a week after seeking medical treatment. Now the judge's family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the hospital where she was treated and the doctors who treated her. Details (Louisville Courier-News 04.15.2009).

 Oh, dear, another judge caught being rude. "King County's own 'Judge Judy' is once again being punished for rudeness. The state's Judicial Conduct Commission censured Judge Judith Eiler on Friday and suggested that the Supreme Court suspend her for 90 days without pay...." Details (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 04.13.2009). Earlier. On the rude again (The Daily Judge 06.20.2008).

 Will SCOMN justice who gave to Coleman recuse in Coleman-Franken case? Justice Christopher Dietzen, a GOP/Pawlenty-appointee, apparently made a contribution, in 2004 (i.e., before he was either a judge or a member of SCOMN) to Coleman; the contribution apparently was "rolled over" to the 2008 Coleman campaign (not sure how that's done). Details (Minnesota Independent 04.13.2009). Comment. Nothing improper about a contribution before he became a judge (although I can't help noting that gubernatorial appointees so often turn out to have been party contributors, party men, political pals, old law firm partners, etc). Should Dietzen recuse? If he is somehow perceived to be biased in Coleman's favor as a result of his contribution, might not those other justices who, say, owe their jobs to their political party services also be similarly "tainted"? Want a hint toward what my position might be if I really cared? Here's what I said regarding the FLA recount case on 11.19.2004 in one of the final entries of my pioneering 2000 campaign-for-the-court blog:

11.19.2000 - A well-known somewhat-cynical, not-entirely unjustified definition of "judges" is "politicians in robes." "Imagine," goes the Beatles song, "it's easy if you try...." I say, "Imagine if those seven supreme court judges in Florida hearing the election dispute tomorrow were not 'Democratic judges' appointed by a Democratic governor but 'just plain judges,' of no known political leanings selected initially by the voters in nonpartisan elections conducted with no endorsements/contributions by politicians or lawyers or interest groups?" Seriously, as things stand, if the judges vote in Gore's favor, the Bush folks will be able to claim that the decision at least appears political. But the Gore folks perhaps should be worrying that the judges might be so worried about appearances that they will go out of their way -- maybe too far -- to appear to be nonpolitical. Politicians in robes sometimes convince themselves they're being judicial and fair if they simply vote against the grain of their own personal preferences. I think if I were Gore or Bush, I'd prefer to have the case decided by my imagined court.... My guess is that if Rudy Perpich were alive, he'd "second" what I just said. Does anyone recall the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision in the election case that led to the Rudy Perpich-Arnie Carlson election contest, which Carlson won?  Rudy felt betrayed -- I think, understandably so -- when his friend and appointee, Sandy Keith, voted against him in the case. Keith's decision was perhaps courageous but, or so I have always felt, wrong -- wrong without regard to whether it was correct on the merits. In my opinion, Keith should have recused.

 Annals of pre-judicial 'texting.' Back in the period 2002-2004 Ruth Carter, who is now a judge, was a top lawyer in the administration of Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick, the perjurer who recently was forced from office. During that time she sent a large number of "text messages" that have now come to light in the comet trail left by Kilpatrick's departure. In one text she referred to a colleague as an "evil" woman who "must be destroyed" and to a prosecutor as resembling "an Easter Egg on crack!" Her views on the police? "F--- the PO-LICE!" And those are just examples. Details (Detroit Free Press 04.12.2009). Comment. Like the "case" of SCOMN Justice Dietzen, discussed elsewhere, this "case" doesn't involve conduct that occurred after Judge Carter was appointed a trial judge. But, some say, the disclosures could make her service as judge difficult. And, it appears, she's personally hired a "crisis manager." How did public officials in "the old days" ever do without "crisis managers" and "p.r. people" and "press information officers"?

 How the 'meritorious' become top judges in Kenya. "There are 24 vacancies for judges in Kenya and, unless the appointment mode is changed the following are the qualifications. First, the jobs are not advertised, so you cannot apply. Appointments are by invitation only. Perhaps you can talk to your MP, arrange for a mbuzi party, or somehow worm your way to the attention of the Judicial Service Commission....The commission will claim judges are selected on merit, but then, merit is almost always wholly subjective. Moreover, the commission has not publicly spelt out its concept of merit, or what evidence it needs to show a candidate has merit...." From an op/ed piece by Peter Mwaura in The Daily Nation (04.10.2009) that I recommend reading in its entirety.

 The NYT reports on increase in unrepresented litigants. Details (NYT 04.10.2009). Comment. We've reached a state of affairs where poor people may be able to get free representation in certain cases and rich people, of course, can hire expensive lawyers (aren't they all expensive?) to get the "best representation money can buy." But, if you're middle class -- unless, of course, your case is an accident case sought by the personal injury lawyers who desperately want to get their share of what you've "got coming" -- you may find it not worth your while hiring a lawyer. This, of course, is just one of many, many problems with the legal profession. Here's what I said in my court campaign in 2000:

We are overlawyered, overlitigated, overlegislated. We have an ongoing crisis of court delays, high legal costs ("even lawyers can't afford to hire lawyers"), and a poor imitation of justice. Our court's response is to regularly ask legislators for more money to throw at problems and continue its failed policies of hiring more judges, clerks, administrators, programmers. More legislation is not the answer.

Sadly, I don't think there's been any significant improvement since then. Want reform? It seems that the judiciary's main idea of "reform" these days is to try solidify their hold on office by getting the state constitution changed so a) voters won't have any say in judicial selection and b) judges thereafter will run unopposed in one-candidate Soviet-style retention "elections." Further reading. The campaign to deprive MN voters of a role in judicial selection (with links to more information).

 The 'dumping judge' is disciplined. The MD judge, Askew Gatewood, has received a private reprimand (if so, why is it public?) for illegally dumping landfill debris into the river near his home. Details (Baltimore Sun 04.09.2009). Earlier. Judge is convicted of unlawfully filling in wetlands (The Daily Judge 06.03.2008); Annals of Judicial Pollution (The Daily Judge 01.24.2008).

 Annals of specialized courts? Herein of the dire need for specialized 'semen courts.' Two items: a) Judge okays mom's collecting dead son's semen (Houston Chronicle 04.08.2009). b) Ex spouses battle in court over custody of dog's frozen semen (Detroit Free Press 04.09.2009). Comment. If it wasn't clear already, it is now clearer than semen that, along with all the other specialized courts, we now need -- desperately -- specialized "semen courts," with specially-trained experienced "semen judges" presiding.

 Caught on camera and broadcast on national TV: Judge accepts bribe in open daylight! "Alan goes to visit the judge in Phillip's trial. She reminds him that they shouldn't be talking. He tells her that he is trying to 'go green' for the community and shows her a car. When he pops the trunk, he points out the bag of money inside. 'Now that's green,' he says. 'We have to rid this city of all its toxins so the next generation will be safe,' he suggests. She takes the money...." From Soaps.Com summary of Tuesday, 04.07.2009 episode of CBS' The Guiding Light. Comment. Shocking, indeed! But wait! The governor's daughter gets Pops to pardon Phillip the next day!! See, Soaps.Com summary of Wednesday, 04.08.2009 episode.

 Torah! Torah! Torah! Torah! A common law court judge in CA has overturned a Jewish religious court's determination as to the ownership of four Torahs. Details (LAT 04.09.2009). Further reading. Want to read a good book about a traditional rabbinical court? The late and prolific Yiddish writer, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature, wrote a book I like about his father, a Rabbi, titled In My Father's Court - A Memoir (1966).

 SCOFLA is reprimanding judge for discourteous, harsh manner in court. The judge is Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Alemán. You can watch the reprimand on the Internet. More (Miami Herald 04.08.2009). Comment. On public in-court discipline of judges (with a reference to the great Bogart movie Across the Pacific), see, my comments at Judge Einfeld is stripped of his silk (The Daily Judge 11.27.2008). (For more on Einfeld, see, Clive James, The little white lie that grew (BBC News 03.27.2009).

 Judge wins ignominious award for violating First Amendment. Details (Michigan Messenger 04.07.2009). Berrien County (Michigan) Judge Dennis Wiley is #3 on the 2009 Jefferson Muzzle Award List for revoking a defendant's probation entirely on the basis of statements the defendant made in a letter to the editor published in a newspaper. Here's the complete list. Number 4 on the list is Virginia Circuit Court Judge Westbrook J. Parker.

 C.J. Abrahamson, super-annuated supporter of judicial elections, wins big. Details (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 04.07.2009). Comment. Congratulations to C.J. Shirley Abrahamson. For my views on Abrahamson, who is a strong, courageous supporter of judicial elections, see, Why Eric Magnuson, SCOMN's novice chief justice, should listen to SCOWIS's more experienced chief, and SCOWIS' Chief leads the way -- herein of experienced judges, judicial elections and judicial independence. BTW, Abrahamson, who was appointed to SCOWIS in 1976, is 75. Despite her brilliance and energy and experience, she'd be rendered incompetent as a matter of law to serve in MN, because of our outrageously discriminatory and downright foolish policy mandating retirement of judges at age 70. See, BurtLaw on Mandatory Retirement of Judges, a widely-relied-upon position paper opposing mandatory retirement of judges that I first published in 2000.

 Judge to clear record of yet another innocent man in Texas -- this one spent 13 years in prison and died there. Details (Houston Chronicle 04.08.2009). Comment. He was cleared by DNA evidence. My suggestion? The taxpayers of Texas ought to have to pay the poor guy's heirs -- "bigtime," as Dick Cheney might say.

 Meanwhile, MN's tortoise-paced justice system drags on in Senate recount case. Details (Star-Tribune 04.08.2009). Comment. What an embarrassment. As the late, great Chief Justice Peter S. Popovich used to say, "Justice delayed is justice denied." Earlier. Did SCOMN fumble the ball in the U.S. Senate recount case? (The Daily Judge 02.22.2009). Further reading. See, Burton R. Hanson, "The Voices of a Judge -- The Judicial Opinions of Chief Justice Peter S. Popovich of the Minnesota Supreme Court," The Judicial Career of Peter S. Popovich (MN. Justices Series No. 10, 1998).

 SCOPA to review defamation award by crooked judge. Apparently a final judgment was entered some time ago in the $3.5 defamation matter but now SCOPA, using "king's bench power," has granted an extraordinary review to consider new evidence brought forth by the newspaper that two crooked-and-now-convicted judges, one who presided over the case, may have contaminated the process, rendering any judgment voidable. Details (Philly Inquirer 04.08.2009). Earlier. NYT's in-depth piece on the kickback judges (The Daily Judge 03.28.2009); Judges plead guilty in profiting-from-harsh-juvie-justice scheme (The Daily Judge 02.13.2009).

 FLA courts try to squeeze money from poor people; jail 'em if they can't pay. "Advocates for the poor have urged other states not to follow Florida's example of squeezing defendants harder to make up for budget cuts. Rebekah Diller, deputy director of the justice program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, said the state's system wasted resources 'to get blood from a stone.' Judges, she said, should not become 'debt collectors in robes,' which she called both demeaning to the judges and humiliating for the people who must stand before them...." Pinched courts push to collect fees and fines (NYT 04.07.2009). Comments. a) Florida is jailing some poor folks who can't pay. Florida is playing word games to bypass the constitutional ban on jailing for indebtedness. Constitutional law forbids jailing people solely over fees and fines they cannot pay, but Florida officials says that "technically they are jailing people because they violated court orders." Yeah, sure. b) One of the fathers of my spirit, a fellow fifty years my senior, told me years ago that he spent some time in a MN county jail back in the 1930's because he hadn't paid (because he couldn't pay) some alimony owed his ex-wife. She had him put in jail, a relatively easy thing to do in those days. Gender bias in the courts? It's politically correct to say courts are biased against women. I doubt he'd have agreed. Further reading. Annals of gender bias in the courts: Are they unfair to men? (The Daily Judge 02.25.2009).

 NEB judge answers ethics charges. More (North Platte Bulletin 04.06.2009). Earelier. Did judge improperly interfere in cases involving school softball team he helped coach? (The Daily Judge 02.14.2009).

 Is 'policing' of judges getting less funding? Pending investigations involving judges in GA include that of "[a] judge who used public money to buy gifts for courthouse employees and computers for family members," one "who set a bond while presiding over a case and then inappropriately posted the bond for the defendant and contacted the victim to seek resolution," one "accused of multiple drunken driving charges," one "who owes significant back taxes," one those "who communicated with the parties in the case outside of court, which violates judicial ethics," and one "who jailed people for offenses in which jail time is not allowed under the law." More (AJC 04.05.2009). Now, it appears, some of the funds needed to administer the judicial disciplinary system may be cut. Comment. Perhaps some lawyers might be willing to volunteer their services to help the system out during these hard times. Giving one's services "pro bono publico," as I do by maintaining this free blog, is, as Martha Stewart might say, "a good thing."

 New judge in the Blago case in ILL -- judge-shopping? "Fresh off handling one of Chicago's biggest mob cases in decades, U.S. District Judge James Zagel will preside over the corruption case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. And it's no accident. Normally, prosecutors would have issued a new indictment against Blagojevich and a circle of aides, prompting the case to be randomly assigned to a judge. But instead prosecutors on Thursday added the former governor and four top associates to an existing indictment against Springfield power broker William Cellini. That ensured that Blagojevich would be tried before Zagel, who was randomly assigned the Cellini case when it was filed last fall...." More (Chicago Tribune 04.05.2009). Comments. a) Prosecutors shouldn't be able to "work" the system this way, thereby indirectly getting their choice of judges. b) I'm not a big fan of the grandstanding, self-aggrandizing chief prosecutor, Fitzgerald. See, my comments at How do you solve a problem like Fitzgerald? (The Daily Judge 12.13.2008). c) I lived on the same floor of Story Hall as James Zagel my first year at Harvard Law School. Zagel was a 3-L. I didn't know him personally, other than by sight and name, but I did know of him. Zagel
later became a prosecutor himself, and -- as prosecutors tend to do in greater numbers than defenders -- went on to nab a choice plum, a life-tenure federal judgeship from Ronnie Reagan. d) Let's hope Blago gets a fairer hearing in court than he got from the ILL Senate.

 Conservative papers endorse 'liberal' Chief seeking reelection in WIS. "Election Matters blog: Conservative papers back Abrahamson...." More (Madison.Com 04.03.2009). Comment. For my views re C.J. Abrahamson, who is a strong, courageous supporter of judicial elections, see, Why Eric Magnuson, SCOMN's novice chief justice, should listen to SCOWIS's more experienced chief, and SCOWIS' Chief leads the way -- herein of experienced judges, judicial elections and judicial independence. Update. C.J. Abrahamson, super-annuated supporter of judicial elections, wins big (The Daily Judge 04.07.2009).

 Courageous corn-fed judges unanimously declare ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. "Iowa became the first state in the Midwest to approve same-sex marriage on Friday, after the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously decided that a 1998 law limiting marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional...." More (NYT 04.03.2009). Text (PDF). Update. "Like the state's earlier landmark civil rights cases -- striking down slavery in 1839, for example, and segregation in 1868 and 1873 -- the ruling on gay marriage by Iowa's Supreme Court is a refreshing message of fairness and common sense from the nation's heartland...." Iowa Decency (NYT - Editorial 04.04.2009). Comments. a) Sadly, the record of the MN Supreme Court doesn't match that of SCOIA in this regard. b) For my views on same-sex marriage, which I support, see, my campaign position paper titled Marriage and the Law, which I wrote and published on personally-maintained campaign website in my 2004 anti-war primary campaign against entrenched Republican pro-war Congressman Jim Ramstad in MN's 3rd District. c) Just for the 'l of it, we here reprint our 2007 posting on the decision by "Judge Hanson" that started ye olde historic ball rolling in Iowa:

Should Judge Hanson be impeached over decision in same-sex marriage case? "A conservative political activist is demanding that the Iowa Legislature impeach Polk County District Judge Robert Hanson, who ruled in August that the state's gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional...." More (Des Moines Register 09.13.2007). Comment. Impeach a judge named Hanson? Nay! Let no one suggest it! It is so difficult in places like Iowa and Minnesota -- where Andersons rule the public roost -- for a Hanson to achieve public office. See, 'If I change my name to Anderson, will the MN governor name me a judge?' That being so, we believe it is incumbent upon Iowans, Minnesotans, etc., who believe in equality of opportunity for all Scandinavian-Americans, not just those named Anderson, to rise up and defend Judge Hanson. Besides, what's so awful about a judge following his oath and deciding a case according to the constitution as he reads it? Further reading. Burton Hanson on Marriage and the Law.

Update. Andrew Sullivan, the conservative commentator, who supports same-sex marriage, writes, in The Role of the Courts (The Atlantic 04.07.2009: "I repeat my prediction that, within a decade, the Supreme Court will strike down bans on gay marriage nationally." Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is playing to the crowd by calling the Iowa decision "judicial arrogance." People said the same thing when courageous judges in various states like Iowa issued rulings outlawing segregation, bans on mixed marriages, etc. Those "arrogant" judges were right, as History has shown them to be.

 Judge Wilkinson frets over demise of daily newspapers. "In an opinion filed yesterday, Judge Harvie Wilkinson of the 4th Circuit offered a pretty thorough analysis of the ills affecting the newspaper business and investigative journalism in particular. A lot of judges seem to enjoy the pastime of taking potshots at the press for its often sloppy reporting, but Wilkinson seems deeply concerned that an institution critical to American democracy is in crisis...." Josh Gerstein at Politico (04.03.2009). Comment. Here's an idea off the top of my head: The USPO is suffering the loss of usage and revenue and our daily newspapers are either cutting back on home delivery or folding because of cost constraints, so why not help them both out -- and our troubled economy -- by indirectly subsidizing both by appropriating funds to the USPO (say, a nickel per paper delivered) to pay for home delivery by the USPO of daily (but not Sunday?) newspapers. Note. I posted this commentary in the readers' comments section following the above-linked posting at Politico.Com.)

 Feds charge state judge with corruption involving money, sex. "A [Texas] state judge[, Manuel J. Barraza, 53[,] faces federal charges of taking money and asking for sex from defendants in exchange for help in felony cases in his El Paso court...." Details (Dallas Morning News 04.03.2009).

 Prankster illegally links websites in judge's name to gay dating web sites. "Collin County Judge Keith Self has filed reports with the district attorney's office and the FBI alleging identity theft and attempted extortion by cybersquatters who linked Web sites in his name to gay dating sites...." More (Dallas Morning News 04.03.2009).

 Jewish judge from South Africa will investigate allegations of Israeli war crimes for UN. "The UN Human Rights Council has tapped a lion of international law, Judge Richard Goldstone, to head an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza during the December-January war...." More (UNDispatch 04.03.2009).

 Mistrial in case of GA judge charged with voter fraud. "A mistrial was declared late Thursday in the voter fraud trial of suspended Chattooga County Judge Carlton Vines after the jury could not reach a unanimous decision...." Details (Rome News-Tribune 04.03.2009).

 Embattled judge resigns after report criticizes his rulings. "Ontario Superior Court Judge Paul Cosgrove has resigned from office, Canada's Minister of Justice and Attorney General announced Thursday...." More (Globe&Mail 04.02.2009).

 Commission publicly warns 'spanking judge.' Texas' Commission on Judicial Conduct has issued a public warning in the matter of Judge Gustavo Garza, the judge who "routinely facilitated and permitted the paddling of juveniles in his courtroom...which subjected the students and their parents to public embarrassment, humiliation, fear...." Story (ValleyCentral.Com 04.01.2009). Decision (PDF). Comment. For a review of the law relating to spanking, a critique of Judge Garza's practices, and a critique of the shocking unanimous decision of SCOMN in In the Matter of the Welfare of the Children of: N.F. and S.F., Parents,    Minn.    (2008, filed 05.30) (upholding the lower appellate court's reversal of a trial court's determination that striking a child 36 times with a wooden paddle was neither reasonable nor moderate discipline but instead constituted physical child abuse), see, my extended posting titled Herein of paddling judges and paddling of kids (The Daily Judge 06.05.2008).

 History of political campaign blogging. Some credit the Howard Dean presidential campaign in 2004 with maintaining the first campaign blog. Others cite as the first campaign blog one maintained by a congressional candidate in 2002. Actually, one has to go back earlier, to 2000. I was a nonpartisan candidate for Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in the general election in November 2000. I began planning my first law blog, BurtLaw's Law And Everything Else, one of the pioneering law blogs, in 1999, but I delayed starting it until after the 2000 general election. My 2000 campaign website,  the no-longer-extant VoteHans.Com, contained a personal campaign blog (weblog or web journal), i.e., a blog actually written and maintained by the candidate, not by some staffer. I like to think it was the first campaign blog (a/k/a weblog or web journal), although it's quite possible someone else independently came up with the idea and executed it contemporaneously in 2000 also. Because most "web archivers" were not in business in 2000, there has been no web record of my campaign website and campaign blog. For archival purposes and in the public interest, I have reproduced and reposted as near as I can, given software changes, the backed-up contents of what was VoteHans.Com as it appeared in 2000. Here are the links: Campaign Home Page; Campaign Journal; Earlier Journal Entries; Even Earlier Journal Entries; Earliest Journal Entries; Endorsements and Contributions; Mandatory Retirement of Judges; Judicial Independence and Accountability; Questions and Answers; BRH Speech; Emerson for Judges; Quotations for Judges; MN Const. Art. VI; About BRH.

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