The Daily Judge
© 2009 Burton Randall Hanson
      Archives - 08.16.2009 - 09.30.2009
"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"

Some of our current postings. a) Court clerk's accepting ads for office website is target of complaints, suit. b) Massachusetts decides against firm-sponsored judicial clerks. c) Sonia the Savior? How 'bout Harry the Savior? d) O'Connor says voters a) are ignorant, b) shouldn't be allowed to pick judges. e) Want more patronizing talk about O'Connor's 'ignorant' citizenry? f) Annals of dogs as expert witnesses. g) The dog as ultimate judge of character. h) Needed: More courthouse dogs. i) Oh that Sonia had had the guts to say 'No!' to Sandra and Ruth's jabot -- herein of fopishness among the political elite. j) And ladies of the club... k) Despite MI budget woes, SCOMI justices will get to keep extra offices. l) Judge with lifetime tenure quits because he feels he's not paid enough. m) Annals of judges who don't want to share 'historic' photo ops with mere lawyers. n) SCOWI's Chief Justice reaffirms support for retaining judicial elections. o) SCOWASH Chief Justice opposes denying voter role in judicial selection. p) 'Merit judicial selection' in Tennessee as selection by legal oligarchy. q) SCOMICH justice's recusal = 3-3 tie affirming conviction -- Why did she recuse? r) Back to the future: Minnesota-educated FLA judge makes house calls. s) Annals of clogged courts: herein of harassment order mania. t) Thus spaketh the 'great judge' on errant judges. u) Facilities for memoir writing - a judicial retirement perk whose time has come? v) Retired judges as superheroes, saving the day during budget crisis -- a morality play. w) CTI -- Courthouse Theft Investigation investigates thefts at muni court! x) In Re Souter: If Court won't set reasonable policy on preservation/availability of justice's work product, Congress should. y) Is SCOTUS now SCOCATH? z) Some politicians are finally seeing the light on harsh prison sentences. aa) Police officer shoots fire chief in front of judge. bb) Of Superman and speed traps. cc) Annals of judicial interpretation -- herein of textualism, activism, and politics. dd) Annals of memos to legal staff -- herein of messy toilets. ee) Retiring clerk's portrait will hang next to those of other courthouse greats. ff) SCOTUS and the 'will of the people.' gg) Annals of merit-selection panels and commissions. hh) Texas court rejects defendant's appeal despite judge's affair with prosecutor. ii) Little David stands up to the Big Bad Bankers. jj) Yet another judge injured while bicycling. kk) 'Terribly fit' judge dies at age 54 while bicycling in the Outback. ll) Justices Story, Brandeis, Frankfurter, and Brennan are now stamps. mm) Annals of judicial selection commissions. nn) Retention politics in PA. oo) Judicial politics in the Bronx. pp) Judicial law clerk complains to feds over broken courthouse elevator. qq) Courthouse spokesperson found possessing pot after leaving scene of crash. rr) Annals of court money-saving measures. ss) Judge resigns after DWI arrest while on bail for DWI. tt) Swede judge is removed for bias. uu) Ex-judge pleads guilty to assaulting wife, a radio personality. vv) Bar begins disciplinary proceeding against judge. ww) Another claim of MWP (masturbating while presiding). xx) Veteran judge, subject of court probe, resigns. yy) South Carolina's honey-sweet courthouse. zz) Federal judges play 'hot potato' with terrorism case. aaa) Man is charged in plot to blow up U.S. courthouse in the Land of Lincoln. bbb) Prominent Egyptian judge quits, blasts ruling regime. ccc) Does a lawyer have constitutional right to wear jeans, cap in court? ddd) How Chicago Democrats select their judges. eee) Complaint by board alleges N.J. judge acted improperly, then lied. ddd) Those damned Brits. eee) Recommended reading: one; two; three; four. fff) Annals of judicial prose. ggg) SCOMN censures, suspends judge who steered people to his divorce attorney. hhh) Incumbent judge denies allegation he impersonated election foe online. iii) Annals of attempts to regulate campaign and judicial speech. jjj) Annals of life after judging. kkk) Do courts exist for litigants or do litigants exist for courts? -- some judges' views. lll) Do female judges convict less often? mmm) On the fake judicial elections in NYC. nnn) Militants lob grenade at judge's house. ooo) Judge's jailing of a man who berated him in restroom is questioned. ppp) Magistrate finds Judge Motata guilty in drunk driving. qqq) An appointments commission as threat to judicial independence -- the South African experience. rrr) Is Stevens going to retire at the end of the Term? sss) Judicial education enters new phase in the UK. ttt) Idaho county doesn't plan to remove swastika tiles from 1921 floor during remodeling. uuu) Vegas city attorney won't prosecute judge over soccer incident. vvv) Ex-judge is convicted of soliciting bribes from lawyer appearing in his court. www) Judge is charged with misdemeanor for allegedly soliciting sex from DWI defendant. xxx) Trial date is set for spouse of state's top judge. yyy) Judge, clerk, juror file notices of claim against county over in-court attack by defendant. zzz) Muslim woman is suing MI judge over hijab ruling. aaaa) SCOINDIA Justices will disclose assets. bbbb) Courthouse clerk in Missouri is accused of faking cancer. cccc) Judge is duped into issuing $3M defamation award to molester in fake lawsuit against his victim. dddd) Judge Joe is a big winner. eeee) When is judging like working in an ER? ffff) Latest on Judge Keller's misconduct trial over handling of death penalty appeal. gggg) India's judges debate disclosure of judges' assets. hhhh) Judge is accused of FUC (finagling under cover). iiii) How does a retired judge manage to get hit by his own car? jjjj) Annals of courthouse protests. kkkk) Annals of judicial bright ideas that backfire. llll) Sewage leak leads to closure of Colorado Judicial Center. mmmm) Jury finds judge guilty of voter fraud. nnnn) Commission declines to publicly discipline judge who's being sued for sexual harassment of court administrator. oooo) Obituary: Simon S. Porter, 1924-2009, described as 'gregarious judge loved horse races.'

 09.30.1955 - The real 'day the music died'? Here's a link to an essay that generated a nice response at the time, my 2005 essay on the fiftieth anniversary of the death of James Dean (Sometimes Left, Always Right 09.30.2005).

 Court clerk's accepting ads for office website is target of complaints, suit. Dorothy Brown, the court clerk for Cook County, ILL is getting flak from some attorneys -- and getting sued -- for selling ads, including to law firms, on the clerk's office web site, which is topped by a banner prominently featuring her visage. The website contains a set of detailed guidelines as to ad content, etc., guidelines a professor of constitutional law conceivably (and this is only an opinion) might find worth presenting to students in a seminar on the First Amendment for discussion. Brown thinks the ads, which are sold by a media firm but reviewed by the clerk's office, might bring in $250,00 this year, maybe a cool million in future years. Lynne Marek, Court Clerk Sells Ad Space to Law Firms on Office Web Site (The National Law Journal via Law.Com 09.29.2009). As noted by Marek, a Chicago lawyer, David Novoselsky, has filed a class action suit in federal district court seeking to end the selling of ads. According to Courthouse News, the suit claims, inter alia, a) that, despite website disclaimers, the clerk's office, by allowing the ads, gives the appearance of an impliedly endorsing the advertisers, and b) that Brown, instead of giving the revenues to the court, is using or plans to use the revenues and the site to promote her political career. Source (Courthouse News 08.13.2009). Marek says Brown denies this and deems the suit frivolous. Comment. On a somewhat related note, see, Massachusetts decides against firm-sponsored judicial clerks (The Daily Judge 09.01.2009).

 Judicial law clerk complains to feds over broken courthouse elevator. Richard Schisler, a judicial law clerk for a county court judge in New York State, has a bad foot and has trouble climbing the stairs to the third floor of the four-story Dutchess County Courthouse in which he works. The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that Schisler, "[f]ed up with chronic breakdowns of the only public elevator in the...[c]ourthouse...has filed a discrimination complaint...under the Americans with Disabilities Act on behalf of 'all persons with disabilities working or utilizing' the courthouse." Apparently the elevator has been inoperable 50% of the time since July, but workers are busy trying to get it working properly. Detailed story (Poughkeepsie Journal 09.29.2009).

 Swede judge is removed for bias. The latest on the various allegations of judicial bias on the part of the Swede judges at the trial and appellate level of the so-called Pirate Bay file-swapping case brought by the recording industry who have been challenged on the ground they're biased in favor of the recording industry. Details (Wired 09.29.2009). Comment. Pretty amazing reading. As we Norwegians always say, "Those darn Swedes -- they just can't help themselves!" Further reading. Annals of Swedish notions of judicial bias; Swede judge in file-sharing case is accused of conflict of interest; Annals of biased Swede 'judges'; Blogging from a show trial in federal district court in MN.

 Annals of dogs as expert witnesses. "Earlier this year, based on scent matches from [dog handler Keith] Pikett's dogs, a man was charged with rape and robbery in Yoakum County -- but DNA evidence later cleared him. After a 2006 Pikett scent lineup, a man was named the prime suspect in a Victoria murder -- but then someone else confessed to it. Yet another Pikett scent lineup following a 2007 string of Houston burglaries led to an incorrect arrest...." -- From an editorial in the Houston Chronicle noting that  the Innocence Project of Texas has issued a paper contending that so-called canine "scent lineups," as the Chronicle editorialist puts it, "don't pass the smell test." Full editorial (Houston Chronicle 09.30.2009). Comment. Dogs are quite amazing at detecting and distinguishing odors that we lesser humans can neither detect or distinguish very well. But that doesn't mean judges ought to casually admit any and all "expert testimony" by dogs, particularly evidence of the results of a so-called scent lineup -- any more than they should mindlessly exclude all evidence of scent-tracking and -identification evidence. Many, many corporeal and photo identification lineups conducted by police in the presence of a victim or witness are just as impermissibly suggestive and therefore as worthless as a poorly-conducted dog scent lineup, but we don't exclude all evidence of identifications made at such lineups. Rather obviously, if police even want a judge to consider admitting testimony of the results of a dog scent lineup, they should videotape the lineup for later judicial review at an evidentiary/admissibility hearing. Notes. a) Evidence of the results of a scent lineup conducted by police ought not be confused with evidence in a criminal case of a dog's use by police in, say, finding a missing or buried body and/or tracing an item from a crime scene to where the defendant is found cowering in a ditch. Here as always judges are advised to follow Justice Holmes' admonition to "Think things, not words." b) Moreover, it is important to distinguish between i) the admissibility issue (mere admissibility of and use of a dog's scent-based behavior/opinion to the extent it is relevant to an issue and not unfairly prejudicial) and ii) the sufficiency-of-the-evidence issue (allowing the evidence to be more than just an item of the grand totality of circumstantial evidence but the main or only evidence of, say, guilt). c) The dog depicted (upper right) is the late Butterscotch Hanson (04.18.1982 - 12.14.1995), a male Golden Retriever who had the heart of a poet, loved digging holes in the sand on Forest Beach on Little Traverse Bay near Harbor Springs, MI, loved going for swims all by himself just to cool off on a hot August day, and loved sleeping it off in the shade of some beach grass. I took the photo as he was swimming in hot pursuit of a criminal who had been terrorizing members of the FB Association. Further reading. a) If a dog's expertise at discerning, tracking and identifying scents sometimes but not always translates into admissible identification testimony, might her expertise at judging character sometimes but not always translate into admissible character evidence? See, The dog as ultimate judge of character (The Daily Judge 09.08.2009). b) Cathleen Schine, Grrr, Sniff, Arf (NYT Sunday Book Review 09.13.2009), reviewing Alexandra Horowitz, Inside of a Dog - What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (2009), excerpted here (NYT 09.09.2009). c) Needed: More courthouse dogs (The Daily Judge 08.24.2009) (with links to some of my other dog postings).

 Ex-judge pleads guilty to assaulting wife, a radio personality. "An attorney[, John Paragano,] who formerly served as a municipal court judge in Union Township pleaded guilty today to a disorderly persons offense of assaulting his soon-to-be-ex-wife[, NYC radio personality Diane Prior,] in 2007 at their home in Chester Township...." Details (Daily Record 09.29.2009).

 Bar begins disciplinary proceeding against judge. The Oregon Bar has begun a displinary proceeding against County Judge Carroll Tichenor, alleging that way back in 2001, when he was a prosecutor, he "filed criminal charges without probable cause, intentionally violated rules of evidence and knowingly advanced an unwarranted claim." Details (The Oregonian 09.25.2009).

 Another claim of MWP (masturbating while presiding). "A district court judge appeared to be masturbating and used foul language during a divorce mediation, an attorney claims in Federal Court...." Details of news story based on complaint (Courthouse News 09.29.2009). Justicia link. Comment. Anyone can file a lawsuit. The claim is just a claim at this point. It has not been proven.

 Sonia the Savior? How 'bout Harry the Savior? "Justice Sonia Sotomayor...will throw out the first pitch Saturday before their game against the Boston Red Sox...In 1995, when Sotomayor was a federal trial judge, she issued an order that helped end the Major League Baseball strike of 1994-95...'Some say that Judge Sotomayor saved baseball,' {President] Obama said [when he nominated her]...." Joan Biskupic, writing in USA Today (09.22.2009). Comments. a) Reminds me of that old hymn from my youth, "Sonia, like a shepherd, lead us, lead us,/ Lead us on to v-i-c-t-o-r-y!/ Lead us, Sonia! Lead us, Sonia!/ Lead us on to v-i-c-t-o-r-y!" b) If Sonia is the precious savior of baseball, then who is Harry Seymour Crump? Why, he's the Minnesota state trial judge who engaged in what some have referred to as "utilitarian jurisprudence" and others as "Homer Hanky Jurisprudence" (and perhaps others as "result-oriented hometown jurisprudence") in issuing an injunction holding the Minnesota Twins baseball team to their HHH Metrodome lease nearly a decade ago, thereby preventing MLB from eliminating the Twins franchise via contraction. See, Jason Solomon and Paul, Minnesota's 'Homer Hanky Jurisprudence': Contraction, Ethics and the Twins, in Eric Bronson, Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Batter's Box (2004); Marshall H. Tanick, Metrodome's 25th Anniversary Recalls Litigation Feats (Hennepin Lawyer 05.25.2007); Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission v. Minnesota Twins Partnership, 638 N.W. 2d 214 (Minn. App. 2002), rev denied (Minn. 02.04.2002). All of which prompts me to recall that old high school cheerleaders' song that goes, "'Hoo Rah for Harry!/ Hoo Rah for Harry!'/ Someone in the crowd is yellin'/ 'Hoo Rah for Harry!'/ One-two-three-four/ Who ya gonna yell for?/ Harry, that's who!"

 Courthouse employees are perplexed by new tile logo. Rich Cholodofsky is author of a story titled New tile logo perplexes Westmoreland County Courthouse employees in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (09.28.2009) that I found amusing in the same way that occasionally a story in The Onion is amusing. The story concerns the temporary installation (until the floor is replaced) of some new tile on the floor of the county courthouse lobby in Greensburg, Westmoreland County. Part of the tile "design" is a big letter "W." What's amusing is that, according to the story, "It's been there for a week, but many courthouse workers said they still hadn't figured what the ['W'] logo means." Further reading. For another Onion-like story (or, at least, story title), see, Kate Leckie, Judicial law clerk announces he's ready to practice law -- Former Md. judicial clerk ready to join practice (Washington Examiner 09.28.2009) ("In November 2000, Stephen LeRoux followed a girl he liked onto Frederick High School's mock trial team and fell in love -- with the law. 'From then I knew I only wanted to do one thing,' said LeRoux, 25, of Frederick. 'I was going to law school.'").

 Thus spaketh the 'great judge' on errant judges. "Any judge on the bench administering justice at variance with the ethics of the legal profession should be removed immediately, retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Nnamezie Aniagolu, has said. Speaking in Abuja at the launching of a book titled, The Great Judge, written in his honour, Justice Aniagolu called on judges in the country to take their job as doing God's work on earth, adding also that God is the greatest Judge...." More (Daily Trust (Nigeria) via AllAfrica 09.28.2009). Comment. If the excerpts are representative, the judge has an oracular style of issuing general pronouncements that I enjoy musing over. Take this one: "Any Judge who is not doing the right thing should be removed immediately."

 Facilities for memoir writing - a judicial retirement perk whose time has come? From the same news report on which the above posting -- Thus spaketh the 'great judge' on errant judges -- was based: "The chairman of the occasion, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Salihu Modibbo Alfa Belgore, said the country loses a lot when her judicial officers retire into obscurity, noting that Nigeria will benefit if retired judicial officers are provided with facilities for at least one year to write their biographies." Comment. One underlying assumption is that judges in general know how to write. It may be a valid assumption but, given that many judges rely so much on law clerks in writing opinions, I, for one, will pardon anyone of you who doubts its validity.

 SCOMICH justice's recusal = 3-3 tie affirming conviction -- Why did she recuse? SCOMI is one of the most fractured, divided state supreme courts in the country. It seems to split 4-3 more than any of the seven-member state supreme courts. Recently, however, it split 3-3 in refusing relief on an appeal by a defendant in a drug case. The reason? Justice Maura Corrigan recused. Why'd she recuse? Because she's agreed to act as a character witness for former Wayne County Circuit Judge Mary Waterstone, who is charged along with a prosecutor and two cops of feloniously allowing lies in the trial of the fellow whose recent appeal resulted in the 3-3 split denying him relief. Details (Detroit News 09.28.2009). Comment. I haven't bothered to check to see what Michigan's Canons of Judicial Conduct provide. Last time I checked before today, Federal Canon 2 ("A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities") provided in part B. that "A judge should not testify voluntarily as a character witness." However, effective 07.01.2009, part B is worded thusly: "Testimony as a character witness injects the prestige of the judicial office
into the proceeding in which the judge testifies and may be perceived as an official testimonial. A judge should discourage a party from requiring the judge to testify as a character witness except in unusual circumstances when the demands of justice require. This Canon does not create a privilege against testifying in response to an official summons." I don't agree with all the Canons of Judicial Conduct, but I'd strive to follow them if I were a judge, just as I strove to follow them as a judicial aide de camp for nearly 30 years (all attorneys serving judges as research assistants, aides, etc., are bound by the canons to the extent the canons or rules are relevant to their roles and duties). However, it seems to me that if a person's liberty or good name is at stake in a trial and a judge's testimony concerning the good character of that person could make a significant difference, the judge should be as willing to testify as anyone else possessing relevant knowledge of that person's character. A judge ought to be able to present such testimony without necessarily putting the prestige of his office into play. Related. On the propriety of sitting justices testifying in support of or in opposition to a President's nomination of a SCOTUS justice, see, Sitting judges to testify in support of Alito -- is that okay? (The Daily Judge 01.07.2006).

 Veteran judge, subject of court probe, resigns. "The Indiana Supreme Court says Fredrick R. Spencer is resigning as Madison Circuit Court judge after an investigation by the state's judicial ethics commission...." The judge allegedly told an attorney he'd reduce a convicted defendant's prison sentence from 30 to 20 years if the defendant didn't appeal. The resignation closes the investigation. Details (Muncie Star-Press 09.27.2009). Saying a tearful goodbye to well-wishers in his chambers, the judge, in his 70s and with over 40 years of public service behind him, said, "It's gonna be OK. I'm going to be all right. It's not cancer, and I don't have a sick grandbaby. I'll be fine." Details (Anderson Herald Bulletin 09.27.2009). Comment. Judge Spencer says he's not ruling out a run for another public office.

 SCOTUS and the 'will of the people.' Reviewing Barry Friedman's new book on the effect of public opinion on SCOTUS decisionmaking, Slate's Emily Bazelon writes for the NYT's Sunday Book Review that "[Friedman] sees the justices and the people as partners in a 'marriage' that bypasses the elected legislature and the president. 'It frequently is the case that when judges rely on the Constitution to invalidate the actions of the other branches of government, they are enforcing the will of the American people,' he says...'What history shows,' Friedman argues, 'is assuredly not that Supreme Court decisions always are in line with popular opinion, but rather that they come into line with one another over time.'" Book Review: Barry Friedman, The Will of the People -- How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution (2009), reviewed by Emily Bazelon (NYT 09.27.2009). Book excerpt appearing in NYT (09.25.2009). Comment. Looks like a book worth reading. Bazelon says, "These days, when the court gets into trouble with the public, it's often on an issue it's confronting for the first time. (The eminent domain case Kelo v. City of New London, for instance, provoked a populist outcry in 2005.)" My 06.23.2005 posting criticizing SCOTUS' decision in Kelo v. City of New London is reprinted at What's liberal, what's not? (The Daily Judge 03.22.2009). Not to brag, but it turns out my critique in fact represented "the will of the people."

 SCOWASH Chief Justice opposes denying voter role in judicial selection. King County Superior Court Judge Deborah D. Fleck and Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander have written an op/ed piece explaining why they oppose attempts by "reformers" to deny voters in Washington State a direct role in judicial selection: Judicial elections continue to serve Washington state citizens well (Seattle Time 09.27.2009).

 South Carolina's honey-sweet courthouse. "Contractors working on the outside of the [historic Dillon County Courthouse] discovered millions of honey bees had constructed a massive hive inside the cavities of the 100-year-old terra cotta stone wall on the building's exterior...." Removal (as in "moving" them, not killing them) by a team of beekeepers started this month. Details (South Carolina Now 09.27.2009). Comment. If the government would deliberately kill a historic courthouse honey bee, it arguably would also deliberately impose the death penalty, something we can't imagine happening in the life-loving, life-preserving South Carolina judicial system. So, we say to our friends in The Palmetto State, "We're with you. Save the bees!"

 Federal judges play 'hot potato' with terrorism case. "It was the case nobody wanted. Three federal judges balked at handling Najibullah Zazi's case after they were randomly assigned by a courthouse computer, the Daily News has learned. Nina Gershon, Carol Amon and Sandra Townes all declined to take the case on Wednesday -- a day before the indictment charging Zazi with planning a bomb attack was made public...." The fourth judge randomly chosen was Raymond Dearie, a former prosecutor who is chief judge of the Eastern District of New York. As of now, he'll be presiding, but we'll see.... Details (NY Daily News 09.26.2009).

 'Merit judicial selection' in Tennessee as selection by legal oligarchy. Although the Tennessee constitution requires judicial elections ("Judges...shall be elected by the qualified voters"), the state supreme court, not exactly a disinterested body on the issue of judicial selection, upheld as not violating the constitution a bit of legislative word-play that in effect abolished judicial elections and substituted therefore a) a supposedly merit-based system of commission screening of candidates and b) fake Soviet-style one-candidate retention "elections" for the real judicial "elections" contemplated by the constitution. Legislative proponents of remedying this outrageous wrong and restoring true judicial elections came close to achieving that in the legislature this year. Meanwhile, the campaign to restore legitimacy continues. As part of that campaign, consider this not surprising info from a provocative essay by David Oatney, Selection by a Legal Oligarchy (Tennessee Statehouse Examiner 08.28.2009):

The new Judicial Nominating Commission has been appointed... Tennesseans were told that this new panel would at least be more representative of the people of this State as a whole, and would have fewer attorneys...[O]f the 17 members of the Judicial Nominating Committee, 15 are lawyers who can, in theory, dwarf the power of those who are not members of the bar. That is not a panel that is more representative of Tennesseans.

Comment. In 1915 a French fellow named Rémy de Gourmont sent Ezra Pound a notebook of "Things Thought, Felt, Seen, Heard, and Dreamed" that he titled Dust for Sparrows. It's included in the 1963 New Directions paperback titled Ezra Pound: Translations. In re-reading the translations this month, I came across one "thought" of Rémy de Gourmont that bears on SCOTEN's unTENable interpretation of the phrase in the Tennessee Constitution that "Judges...shall be elected by the qualified voters" as allowing the substitution of the one-candidate retention elections for the judicial elections that rather obviously were contemplated by the Framers. Here's Rémy de Gourmont's "thought":

There are words so ordinary, and which have assumed in our minds an aspect so characteristic and precise, that on hearing, they almost give us the sensation of the things which they designate.

Id. at 374. The word "elected" in the phrase "Judges...shall be elected by the qualified voters" clearly "give[s] us the sensation" of that great American thing we know as selecting between or among candidates by voting -- not the sensation of that un-American thing known in other political systems as getting the chance to say yes or no in a one-candidate election in which no one but a designated candidate is allowed to run. Further reading. For more on my views on the word games that were used by the Tennessee legislature and the Supreme Court of Tennessee to deprive voters by statute of their state constitutional right to select judges, see, my mini-essay (with links to some of my other relevant postings) at When judges and others in government play word games (The Daily Judge 03.15.2009). You might also want to compare and contrast, Saetre v. State, 398 N.W.2d 538 (Minn. 1986), critiqued in my 2000 campaign position paper on mandatory retirement of judges, where I, in so many words, argued that the Supreme Court of Minnesota engaged in similar word games in mistakenly holding that a 1956 amendment of the MN Constitution authorizing the Legislature to provide for the retirement of judges gave the Legislature the green light to mandate the retirement of judges at a certain age. In my long, detailed essay, in which I criticized the decision on multiple grounds, including policy grounds and federal constitutional grounds, I wrote in relevant part:

I submit, respectfully, that the court's decision upholding the law, although precedential, is unpersuasive. Instead of even reaching the issue of the reasonableness of the legislature's policy decision, the court should have simply held that the 1956 amendment did not authorize the legislature to adopt any mandatory or compulsory retirement law. The test for the court in interpreting the 1956 amendment should have been whether ordinary intelligent voters would have realized that the language in question authorized the legislature to mandate the retirement of judges at a specified age, thereby removing from the voters the right to choose judges no matter their age. A court solicitous of the rights of the electorate to choose judges should have required an unambiguous expression in the amendment that the legislature was being authorized to "mandate" retirement of judges as opposed to simply being authorized to "provide for" retirement of judges. (If a parent "provides for" his children's college education, he does not "mandate" their college education.) Since the amendment didn't clearly, as the court said, or even impliedly take away voters' rights to choose judges no matter their age, the court should have ruled that the legislature acted without authority.

 Justices Story, Brandeis, Frankfurter, and Brennan are now stamps. "The U.S. Postal Service commemorates the contributions of four U.S. Supreme Court associate justices -- Joseph Story, Louis D. Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter and William J. Brennan Jr. -- on a stamp souvenir sheet issued nationwide today...."
USPS News Release (USPS 09.22.2009). Comment. Of course, it goes without saying, all four are just your typical offspring of Harvard Law School, my alma mater. Further reading. BurtLaw's Harvard Law School (LawAndEverythingElse.Com); Is Harvard Law now in direct control of two branches of our Government? (The Daily Judge 11.08.2009); Two Harvard Law grads botch the oath of office (The Daily Judge 01.21.2009).

 Retention politics in PA. "Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said a photo of him partying with a convicted drug dealer and former judge/accused racketeer Michael T. Conahan was leaked to media outlets Thursday to damage his retention campaign. Judge Olszewski said he was unaware of either man's alleged criminal activities when the photo was taken in 2005...." Details (Scranton Times 09.25.2009).

 Judicial politics in the Bronx. "The chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party and a local assemblyman got into an in-your-face blowup Thursday night at what was supposed to be a relatively scripted convention to nominate judicial candidates...." Details (NY Daily News 09.25.2009).

 Man is charged in plot to blow up U.S. courthouse in the Land of Lincoln. "Michael Finton loved to hang out with pals at Seals Fish & Chicken restaurant in Decatur and give an acerbic running commentary on the news shows playing on the kitchen TV. He would also preach about religion...On Thursday afternoon, stunned staff at the fast-food shack gathered around the tiny TV to watch reports of Finton's arrest on charges that he tried to blow up the federal courthouse in Springfield on behalf of al-Qaida...." Details (Chicago Tribune 09.25.2009).

 Prominent Egyptian judge quits, blasts ruling regime. The judge, Mahmoud Khodeiri, with 46 years of experience in the courts under his belt, quit his job as deputy chief of Egypt's appeal court, "citing corruption and lack of objectivity within the judicial system during the last few years of President Hosni Mubarak's reign." Details (L.A. Times 09.25.2009). Comment. Worth reading. Khodeiri alleges that "certain judges...get assigned [to] sensitive and political cases in order to give a certain ruling." The question in my mind is...Should we invade preemptively?

 Does a lawyer have constitutional right to wear jeans, cap in court? The lawyer, Todd Bank, who appeared at a hearing in housing court wearing a button-down shirt, jeans, socks, shoes and a baseball cap, didn't like being told by Judge Anne Katz and court clerk Jude Albano, sued them in federal court claiming they violated his constitutional rights. A judge has tossed the complaint. Details (Reuters 09.25.2009). Comment. Want a whole lot more on courthouse and judicial fashions? See, Oh that Sonia had had the guts to say 'No!' to Sandra and Ruth's jabot -- herein of fopishness among the political elite (The Daily Judge 09.09.2009) (with links to our extensive postings on this highly important subject).

 Despite MI budget woes, SCOMI justices will get to keep extra offices. All of the justices of SCOMI have spacious chambers in the Hall of Justice in Lansing, the state's capitol. But five of the current seven also have spacious state-provided "satellite" offices -- in either Cadillac Place in Detroit or in lovely Traverse City on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay of the loveliest of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan. There's a split on SCOMI. Some think all seven should work full time at the Hall of Justice in Lansing. Last November I noted that the court, which frequently splits 4-3, often acrimoniously, had once again split 4-3, this time voting to close so-called satellite offices. According to the article I linked to in the Detroit Free Press, the court system was paying $265,000 a year for the Detroit offices $62,000 for the Traverse City chambers, and $100,000 a year for support services for the satellite offices. See, SCOMI splits 4-3 on ending another perk (The Daily Judge 11.14.2008). The decision to close the offices was reversed, again 4-3, by a newly-reconstituted court in January of this year, with Chief Justice Cliff Taylor having left the court following his electoral defeat by Judge Diane Hathaway. Now, despite the horrible economic depression Michigan is experiencing, state lawmakers apparently have approved a judiciary budget "that says it's the Legislature's intent for the offices to stay open." More (Chicago Tribune 09.23.2009). Comment. In Minnesota, and Minnesota is typical in this, justices are expected to maintain full-time chambers in the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul, with newly-selected justices from outside commuting distance being given a travel expense allowance for a reasonable period of time until they are relocated to the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Perhaps one reason SCOMI is so terribly divided most of the time is because they don't work in physical proximity to each other in the Hall of Justice in Lansing on a full-time basis and thereby have an opportunity to develop the sort of collegial relationship that typically develops when people work together in a single place. (In this, perhaps the line in the Robert Frost poem "The Tuft of Flowers" from A Boy's Will (1913)  -- "'Men work together,' I told him from the heart,/ 'Whether they work together or apart'" -- is not true with respect to judges on a multi-member appellate court.) Anyhow, I'm surprised the taxpayers in Michigan put up with the continued funding of this perk that so few justices in other states have. But if they want to subsidize the perpetuation of a fractured court, it's their business and their taxes, not mine. Further reading. Links to many of my postings on the fractured, fractionalized court may be found at Voters get a choice for chief of SCOMI (The Daily Judge 10.04.2008).

 Judge resigns after DWI arrest while on bail for DWI. Details (Guardian 09.23.2009). The judge in question is Crown Court Judge Bruce Macmillan, 63, of Sefton Park, Liverpool. I hate to see a judicial career end this way. Update. Subsequent details (including the news that the judge recently checked into a treatment center). (UK Times 09.30.2009).

 Annals of judicial interpretation -- herein of textualism, activism, and politics. "In a stunning reversal, New York State's highest court on Tuesday upheld Gov. David A. Paterson's authority to appoint a lieutenant governor. Though the decision was divided -- four judges agreed that Mr. Paterson exercised proper authority while three said he did not -- it was unambiguous in its affirmation of the governor's authority...." Details (NYT 09.22.2009). Here's a link to the 4-3 decision. Update. "After seven months on the job, [Jonathan Lippman,] the chief state judge, picked by Gov. David A. Paterson, has played a key role in salvaging the governor's legally murky appointment of a potential successor. Before July, a nonelected lieutenant governor like Richard Ravitch was unheard of...The 4-3 opinion of his Court of Appeals majority overrules eight of the 12 judges who heard this case between its inception on Long Island in July and its unexpected resolution in Albany yesterday." Don Janison, Judge picked by Paterson swings court in guv's favor (Newsday 09.23.2009).

 Annals of judicial selection commissions. "High Court Judge Kathy Satchwell dealt swiftly with a complaint that her sexuality made her an unsuitable candidate for the Constitutional Court, when she was interviewed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in Soweto on Tuesday. 'My private life is my private life...' said Satchwell...Zehir Omar, a lawyer [for the Society for the Protection of the Constitution,] had complained that 'god fearing people would not accept a lesbian as a judge...." Details (Independent - South Africa 09.22.2009).

 Recommended reading. William L. Anderson, Channeling the Soviet Union: How U.S. Federal Criminal Law Has Reincarnated Beria (Lew Rockwell.Com), reviewing Harvey A. Silverglate, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (2009). Comment. Harvey was a star classmate of mine at Harvard Law School in the mid-1960s. He's a well-known Boston civil liberties lawyer, lecturer, and author. I've read most of a pre-release copy of the book, which is now in stores and available online. I intend to review it soon. Readers of The Daily Judge, who are aware of my frequent criticisms of abuse of their powers and office by federal prosecutors and Justice Department lawyers, will find that Harvey's criticisms and mine mesh at many points.

 Annals of judicial prose. "Objectors' request and their motion ill-befit attorneys admitted to the bar. Accordingly, the Court holds, as a matter of fact and law, objectors have conferred no benefit whatsoever on the class or on the Court. Objectors' Counsel are entitled to an award equal to their contribution...nothing." -- From a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James M. Rosenbaum of Minnesota, quoted at Floyd Norris, The Judge Unloads on the Lawyers (NYT 09.22.2009).

 Annals of merit-selection panels and commissions. "Capitol reporter Gary Fineout scores an impressive scoop today with a story about how Gov. Charlie Crist has created secret groups to interview potential judicial appointments after they've already been screened by the state's judicial nominating commissions...." Details (Orlando Sentinel 09.22.2009). Comment. Yet another of a thousand reasons why I prefer the great Minnesota Plan (which has given us such a great court system, the envy of the rest of the country) and oppose the well-funded efforts of some members of Minnesota's political and judicial power elite to deprive voters of their historic role in judicial selection under Minnesota's great populist-era constitutional provision dealing with judicial selection.

 Courthouse spokesperson found possessing pot after leaving scene of crash. "A Hillsborough County courthouse spokesman was found with marijuana at his home about an hour after he left the scene of a crash, Tampa police say...." Details (Tampa Bay Online 09.22.2009).

 Judge with lifetime tenure quits because he feels he's not paid enough. "U.S. District Court Judge Stephen G. resigning to go into private practice, saying that the job doesn't pay enough to support his wife and seven children...." Details (L.A. Times 09.17.2009). Comment. Wow! Seven kids! I'm tempted to ask what law jobs pay enough to support a spouse and seven kids. But then I recall that Antonin Scalia's pay for teaching and then for judging, etc., apparently was enough for him and his wife to raise nine kids, "all conservative, all successful." Jamie Heller, Nine Kids, But No Soccer Games for Justice Scalia (The Juggle - WSJ 04.28.2008). BTW, according to a story in the NYT on 06.06.2009, at last report Scalia's "reported assets were between roughly $1.2 million and $2.8 million." Economic Downturn Didn't Spare Justices' Bottom Lines Either (NYT 06.06.2009). Further reading. Are judges paid too much? (The Daily Judge 01.20.2009).

 Annals of judges who don't want to share 'historic' photo ops with mere lawyers. "The row of shovel-wielding dignitaries at the groundbreaking for Austin's new federal courthouse this month included members of Congress, federal judges and others with a hand in planning and funding the $100 million-plus project. At the end of the row was George Lobb. It's not clear how Lobb, a 31-year-old lawyer who sometimes practices in federal court, got there...." Actually, it appears he just showed up with his own shovel and, like Mr. F. Gump, "crashed" the photo op when all the dignitaries lined up for the "historic" picture. One fellow who seems pretty irked by it all is U.S. Magistrate Judge Andy Austin because the pic is "going to be the photograph that you kind of look back on" and there grinning out at you is "This guy had nothing to do with the courthouse." Read the details and see the 31-year-old lawyer's pic at Did lawyer crash courthouse groundbreaking photo? -- Judge said he's mystified about why lawyer got into the shot (Austin American-Statesman 09.18.2009). Comment. I admire Mr. Lobb for his moxie and hereby award him our BurtLaw Judicial Pretension-Buster of the Month Award. Further reading on courthouse groundbreaking and dedication ceremonies. Court named for him, Gus promises to call people 'whackjobs' as TV judge (The Daily Judge 05.11.2008).

 Annals of court money-saving measures. "Times are hard in much of Spain, but down south it's getting serious: Court clerks are reduced to forgoing taxis and catching a bus when they have to serve a summons...." Details (YahooAP 09.18.2009).

 How Chicago Democrats select their judges. "'Mysterious forces' hover in the air in this Hotel Allegro conference room as Cook County's Democratic ward and township committeemen carve up 'The Beast.' 'The Beast' is three seats on the state appellate court and seven seats on the Cook County Circuit Court. In the old days, cigar smoke hung in the air as ward bosses parceled out the judgeships as prizes to lawyers who'd been loyal to the party or were relatives of powerful Democrats. Loyalty and blood still count for plenty here but now diversity in race, gender and sexual orientation matter as do, believe it or not, legal skills...." Abdon M. Pallasch, Inside the beast: How Cook County judges are elected (Chicago Sun-Times 09.20.2009). Comment. One can see how a state with a history of machine politics -- think Missouri -- would dream up a plan like the Missouri Plan, with its supposedly merit-based selection commission and its retention elections. We're lucky in MN to have a great populist history of clean two- and three-party politics, including honest, open judicial elections, with highly astute voters. As as a result, we have one of the top-rated judiciaries in the country, something Missouri, home of the so-called "merit plan," can't say even now. Sadly, some members of the well-financed MN power elite don't trust the voters and want to trash the Minnesota Way and replace it with the Missouri Plan, which is beloved primarily by political science professors and lawyers who want to control the selection process. What a delight, then, to see that Wisconsin's great chief justice, Shirley Abrahamson, has reaffirmed her support for retaining direct elections in Wisconsin. Read on....

 SCOWI's Chief Justice reaffirms support for retaining judicial elections. "Mixing history lessons with political observation, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson affirmed her belief in judicial elections at the close of a conference held to debate their merits Sept. 17. The Portage County Bar Association, Justiceworks, and the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point Continuing Education organized the conference, entitled Judicial Elections: Navigating the Collision Course, in Stevens Point...." Alex De Grand, Abrahamson argues merits of judicial elections outweigh those of appointment system (WisBar.Org 09.18.2009). Further reading. Why SCOMN's novice chief should listen to SCOWIS's more experienced chief (The Daily Judge 06.18.2008); The Minnesota Scariners are at it again, trying to persuade voters to give up their role in judicial selection (The Daily Judge 02.22.2009); Strib. urges longer terms for judges, no role for voters in their selection (The Daily Judge 02.05.2008); Election of judges as a check on corruption and as guarantor of judicial independence from other branches of government (The Daily Judge 04.01.2008); The Return of the Ancient Mariner -- or is it Minnesota Scariner? (The Daily Judge 04.06.2008); 'Reality check' on Missouri-Plan 'merit' selection commissions (The Daily Judge 08.23.2008); 'If you want to become a judge, go to law school with a senator' (The Daily Judge 04.01.2008); Annals of cronyism: MN's Pawlenty appoints another colleague to bench (The Daily Judge 06.25.2008); Gail Chang Bohr wins election to open seat on district court in MN (The Daily Judge 11.05.2008).

 SCOMN censures, suspends judge who steered people to his divorce attorney. "[Judge Timothy Blakeley, the] south-metro judge who steered clients to his divorce attorney and got a deep discount on his bill[,] will be suspended without pay for six months, the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled...." Details (Star-Tribune 09.18.2009).

 And ladies of the club... Fifty-three year old Mary Jane Trapp, a Democrat and current presiding judge of Ohio's 11th District Court of Appeals, says she's planning on running next year against Judith Ann Lanzinger, a Republican justice of SCOHIO. The ambitious Trapp has the support of the Ohio Democratic Party and Gov. Ted Strickland, also a Democrat. Details (Columbus BizJournal 09.14.2009). Comments. a) Last January Pratt got mud on her face, mud that was slung at her in a scathing dissent to the 3-2 order formally appointing her presiding judge of the five-member (four gals and one guy) Ohio 11th. For your reading pleasure, we link here to a PDF of that dissent (by Judge Diane Grendell, who is married to a GOP state senator) and a similarly unflattering but shorter concurring dissent (by Judge Colleen Mary O'Toole).The link is provided to us courtesy of the Ohio GOP, which has issued a press release kindly reminding the judicial selectors, i.e., the voters, of the contents of that dissent. b) SCOHIO is currently controlled by, in Gov. Strickland's words, "one party," to wit, the Grand Old Party. He doesn't think that's a good thing. Nor do I. c) In referring to Supreme Court of Ohio as "SCOHIO" instead of SCOOH," I'm trying to call to mind the great song, 'Ohio' (a/k/a 'O-H-I-O') from Wonderful Town, the 1953 Broadway musical featuring music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Greene. My favorite version of "Ohio" is that of Bing Crosby with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra; it's on the flip side of a 45 rpm Decca recording I bought in 1953 of his version of "A Quiet Girl" (with Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra), a song I still like that is also from Wonderful Town. I also like (and have on my IPod) the version of "Ohio" by Rosalind Russell and Edie Adams from the original Broadway cast album. d) To my knowledge, i) Judge Trapp is not related to the Trapps of Sound of Music fame; ii) Judge Grendell has never visited Grendel's Den Restaurant and Bar, 89 Winthrop Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA 02138, whose application for a liquor license was the subject of the famous SCOTUS case of which Grendell, as judge, is presumed to be aware, to wit, Larkin v. Grendel's Den, Inc., 459 U.S. 116 (1982); iii) Judge O'Toole, who joined Grendell in criticizing Trapp, is not related to famed actor Peter O'Toole. e) We all know that Justice Sonia Sotomayor (please remember to be politically correct and say "MY-YOR" when pronouncing the last two syllables of her last name) suggested, seriously or playfully, that a wise Latina female judge would do a better job of deciding cases than a wise old male judge. See, Quote/Misquote of the Day -- herein of the proverbial wise old woman and the wise old man (The Daily Judge 05.15.2009), and John Leguizamo says Sotomayor will 'steam roll' fellow SCOTUS Justices (The Daily Judge 07.09.2009). But who was it who said "When women occupy a majority of the seats on Ohio's 11th, all will be sweetness and harmony"?

 Texas court rejects defendant's appeal despite judge's affair with prosecutor. "The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said Wednesday that it would not allow a man on death row to pursue a claim that he got an unfair trial because the judge and prosecutor in his case had a romantic relationship before the trial...." Details (Dallas Morning News 09.17.2009). Earlier. Latest on death row inmate who claims prosecutor, judge affair (The Daily Judge 09.04.2008) (containing links to earlier and later entries). Comments. a) Just the sort of ruling you'd expect from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. If someone ever asks you if specialized courts of criminal appeals are a good idea, just tell her to take a look at the sad record of Texas' court of criminal appeals. b) As readers of The Daily Judge know, I'm not a big fan of the specialized-court fad. See, e.g., MN Supreme Court Justice gushes with praise for drug court; Annals of specialized courts - rape courts?; 'Protest Court' and 'Equality Court.' For the ABA's views, see, Concept Paper on Specialized Courts (ABA 06.25.1996) (PDF) (HTML). c) To my knowledge, the only other state with a specialized criminal court of appeals is Oklahoma. While I'm not as familiar with the decisions of the OK court, it strikes me that, as a general proposition, it's in the nature of things that specialized criminal courts tend to become even more prosecution oriented, if that is possible, than courts of general jurisdiction. For a window into Oklahoma justice, see my related blog entries titled Oklahoma justice: pumping a small thing into a big thing (The Daily Judge 09.24.2008); Annals of MWP (Masturbating While Presiding) (The Daily Judge 12.06.2006).

 Yet another judge injured while bicycling. "[Lee Solomon, a New Jersey] Superior Court judge is recovering after fracturing his skull in several places during a bicycle accident Sunday morning...." Details (Cherry Hill Courier-Post 09.17.2009). Comments. a) I've linked to a number of reports of judges getting involved in bicycling accidents over the last few years. The judge, age 55, was wearing a helmet. I'm happy to say he's out of intensive care. His recovery will take awhile. b) MN's best-known bicycling judge is Eden Prairie's most-illustrious and most-humble son, Hon. Paul H. Anderson of SCOMN. Whereas I'd rather 'waltz across Texas' with Ernest Tubb crooning in the background, PHA apparently would prefer to "bike across Minnesota" with fellow bicyclers at his side. Good for him... c) Want more on the risks of judicial cycling? Read on...

 'Terribly fit' judge dies at age 54 while bicycling in the Outback. "A 'brilliant' judge who was set to be the first president of a new Queensland tribunal has died while on an outback bike-riding holiday. Justice Peter Dutney, 54, suffered an apparent heart attack...while riding...near the South Australian mining town of Coober Pedy...[According to] Bar Association of Queensland president Michael Stewart, who was a friend of Justice Dutney...'He was terribly fit and full of life....'" The late judge's wife is a magistrate, Bronwyn Springer. Details (Brisbane Times - Queensland article 09.07.2009). Comment. We are all -- judges, lawyers, lay people -- just leaves in the wind.

 Those damned Brits. "Several times this summer, science journalists in London have leaned over to me and said something along the lines of, 'I was thinking of writing,' and gone on to describe an article that was going to be critical of someone. 'But then,' the speaker would gloomily conclude, 'I thought to myself, Simon Singh, and I decided not to.' Who is Simon Singh, and why is his name giving people the jitters? [Emphasis supplied]" -- From Olivia Judson, Cracking the Spine of Libel (Judson Blog at NYT 09.15.2009). Comment. Defamation is an art form among some Norwegian-Americans, of which I am proud to say I'm one. I, myself, have been defamed a number of times by relatives and/or friends (hey, the target always finds out about it and always learns its source). You probably have been, too. I've never let it bother me and never considered taking legal action (I'm not big on suing people). Anyhow, over the years I've slowly come to the conclusion that, for multiple reasons, the cause of action for defamation ought to be abolished. Links to some of my many postings urging the abolition of the cause of action for defamation in the U.S. may be found at Singapore jails U.S. lawyer for criticizing Singapore judge on blog (The Daily Judge 09.18.2008).

 O'Connor says voters a) are ignorant, b) shouldn't be allowed to pick judges. a) "Public schools in America have largely abandoned teaching civics and history, leaving a public largely ignorant of government...according to retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor." Details of speech to Town Hall Seattle (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 09.15.2009). b) O'Connor believes judicial elections are a threat to judicial independence and "believes the solution lies in an independent commission recommending a list of judicial candidates to a state governor, who will make the final decision." Details of conference at Seattle U. Law School (Seattle Times 09.15.2009). c) Justice O'Connor also has said that video games (well, her video game) may help promote and protect independence of courts, and has suggested that if if judges don't get that big pay raise they want, they'll stop being independent. Details (The Daily Judge 05.28.2008). Comment. Justice O'Connor ain't alone in thinking voters are ignorant. Stated baldly, the members of the judicial elite in Minnesota -- who are doing their best to change our populist-inspired state constitution to deprive voters of a role in judicial selection -- really don't trust voters to make a valid choice between an incumbent judge and a challenger. I find this insulting to the voters of Minnesota, who throughout our state's illustrious history have played such a responsible role in exercising the franchise. If you don't believe that the members of the judicial elite don't trust Minnesota voters, read the revealing piece by Dan Pero at American Courthouse about Chief Justice Magnuson's insulting statements about the capacity of MN voters. See, also, my recent posting titled Why SCOMN's new chief should listen to SCOWIS's more experienced chief. Unlike the members of the judicial elite, I trust the voters and I believe that the ultimate appointing authority, at least in states like Minnesota, with its astute electorate, ought to continue to reside with the voters. Further reading. Among my many relevants postings with comments, see, a) Justice O'Connor says Minnesota should emulate Arizona; b) A judge responds to O'Connor's 'hyperbole'; c) Justice urges preemptive strike against weapons of incumbent destruction; d) On politicians and the 'playing of cards'; e) Strib urges longer terms for judges, no role for voters in their selection; f) The Return of the Ancient Mariner -- or is it Minnesota Scariner? Update. SCOWI's Chief Justice reaffirms support for retaining judicial elections.

 Want more patronizing talk about O'Connor's 'ignorant' citizenry? "Standing before a Boston ballroom packed with hundreds of judges and lawyers, Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer last night urged them to continue their efforts to educate the public about the role of the judiciary and to engage them in the judicial process...'You know whether you're deciding [a case] fairly, but don't expect anyone else to.'" But Breyer cautioned his "elite audience" (my words) that "making the public understand why the judiciary is an institution worth supporting 'isn't such an easy thing to do.' After all, he said, we are asking them to support an institution that will not always do what the public believes it should." Robert J. Ambrogi, Breyer Urges Judges to Engage the Public (Legal Blog Watch 09.23.2009). Compare and contrast. "If you state a moral case to a plowman and a professor, the farmer will decide it as well, and often better, because he has not been led astray by any artificial rules." Thomas Jefferson.

 Incumbent judge denies allegation he impersonated election foe online. "Door entry logs, security camera footage and computer hard-drive records are among evidence being scrutinized by state Public Disclosure Commission investigators in a complaint against Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Michael Morgan...." Details (Seattle Times 09.16.2009). According to the Times, the commission is probing allegations that the judge "may have assumed the identity of a clerk on Aug. 3 and used his city computer to post Internet comments critical of two political opponents." The judge says he wasn't at his desk at the time. Earlier. Did judge yell at staff, make sexist/rude remarks to clerks, boast about his status, retaliate? (The Daily Judge 06.13.2009). Comments. a) It's always possible that someone else could sit down at a judge's computer and pull off something like this. I worked at a state supreme court for many years and had a computer provided by the court and connected to the court's e-mail system as well as to the internet. Any number of people had access to my office and therefore to my computer. (I had a TV provided to view oral arguments via a closed-circuit channel. Some mornings when I got to work I'd turn it on and discover that it was tuned to a different channel, meaning someone likely had been in there watching TV overnight.) Anyone with such access to a judge's office in any number of American courthouses could use the judge's computer, assuming it is not password-protected (and some people know how to bypass those), to send a fake e-mail under the judge's name. See, i) Prankster illegally links websites in judge's name to gay dating web sites; ii) Judge denies sending e-mail -- did someone try to 'set her up'? and iii) Further reading on priestly -- and judicial -- fakery. b) Thanks to true judicial elections, which I support, the choice of the voters in Federal Way is not simply to retain or not retain the good judge, which is the only choice they'd get if the opponents of judicial elections got there way. No, they also get to decide who his successor should be if they do not want him to continue as judge. In August the voters got to chose among the good judge and five others who were running against him in the primary. The judge came in a distant second. The general election is in early November. If the voters want to retain the good judge, fine. If they prefer his remaining opponent, fine. I say we should trust the people and be comfortable with their weighing all the information available to them at election time and deciding who they prefer to be their judge.

 Annals of attempts to regulate campaign and judicial speech. "What, exactly, is a lie? A panel of three appeals-court judges is being asked asked today to weigh that question in deciding whether a controversial ad run in the 2008 race for Wisconsin Supreme Court was 'false' and should result in discipline for the winning candidate, Justice Michael Gableman...." Details (Wisconsin State Journal 09.16.2009). I posted my views on the campaign in some detail (with links to other relevant postings) at Pointing fingers after Wisconsin's recent judicial election (The Daily Judge 08.05.2008). On the ultimately-dangerous and constitutionally-suspect attempt by judges to regulate campaign speech, see, Are 'campaign lies' free speech protected from government regulation? (The Daily Judge 06.30.2006); Wendy Kaminer, Government Truth Squads (The Phoenix 10.06.2007).

 Annals of life after judging. "After what he described as a 'gut-wrenching' months-long process, U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval stepped away from his lifetime appointment Tuesday and into the 2010 Nevada governor's race...." Details (Reno Gazette-Journal 09.15.2009). Comments. a) Here's a good candidate for Quote-of-the-Day: "'I've been off the bench now for an hour and a half,' he said looking at his watch. 'I'm not going to pretend to have all the answers.'" b) It's not unprecedented for a supreme court justice to get elected governor. Back in 1946, when gambling was still called a racket, Luther Youngdahl resigned his position as a Minnesota state supreme court justice, to which he was directly elected in 1942 (so much for voters being unable to pick good judges), to run successfully for governor as a Republican, promising to clean illegal one-armed bandits out of country clubs, bars and other "establishments." On taking office in 1947, he did just that. (Minnesota did well without legalized gambling for many years but now one can't turn on the evening local TV "news" (which is not news but a species of "info-tainment") without being reminded through the announcement of "today's lottery numbers" that the state basically sold its soul in legalizing gambling.) President Truman executed an adroit manuever in 1951, appointing the then-tremendously-popular Youngdahl, who was considered a possible opponent to DFL Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1954, to the federal district court in Washington, D.C., where Youngdahl was, both politically and geographically, safely out of Humphrey's way. As Time magazine put it, "With one round from his gun, Harry Truman had just about blown off the head of the Minnesota Republican Party. Slick Senator Humphrey, who had laid the gun on the target, could chuckle...When word of Youngdahl's appointment got out, [Harold] Stassen cried foul: 'A typical Truman trick.'" c) Speaking of the 1954 race, HHH's GOP opponent that year was the popular Icelandic-American State Treasurer, Val Bjornsen. During his campaign Bjornsen gave a short speech to his local supporters on the south front lawn of our house. My mom was county GOP chairwoman. I was 11 at the time and already very interested in politics and government. Further reading. Former SCONC justice is running for governor (The Daily Judge 04.07.2008).

 Worth reading. Are Obama's judicial appointees truly 'liberals'? Jeffrey Toobin, Bench Press: Are Obama's judges really liberals? (The New Yorker - Annals of Law 09.21.2009).

 Back to the future: Minnesota-educated FLA judge makes house calls. "It's unusual, but not unheard of, for civil court judges to [make 'house calls']. But [Broward County Judge Louis] Schiff, 54, a jurist for 12 years whose docket has many small claims cases, ventures out of his Deerfield Beach courtroom more than most of his colleagues...Mostly he tours houses and apartments in eviction cases where tenants claim they don't have to pay rent because the places are uninhabitable...." This judge makes house calls (South Florida Sun-Sentinel 09.13.2009). Comments. a) Lou is a graduate of Hamline Law School in St. Paul and has returned there a number of times to present his popular CLE seminar on the depiction of lawyers, judges, etc. in the movies. b) In my pre-teen years, the late 1940's and early 1950's, our family's local doctors -- Oscar Daignault, Silas Waldimar Giere and T. S. ("Tobe") Eberly -- occasionally made after-hours house calls to our house to tend to "poor little Randy who isn't feeling so good." In my memory, those house calls, which pretty much went out with the 1950's, were usually the occasion for a much-dreaded penicillin (pronounced pen-í-cill-in, with the accent on the first "i" by Daignault) shot in the derriere. Of those town docs of my memory, Daignault and Giere were bridges to the earlier era of horse-and-buggy doctoring. Daignault and Giere, and their town compatriot, Doc Scofield, who was also the town historian, regularly made horse-and-buggy calls in the middle of the night in all kinds of weather. I recall hearing of one such call when Daignault performed an appendectomy on a family member on some family's kitchen table. c) Each doc typically had a favored driver from the livery barn. Doc Scofield's favorite driver was a bachelor named Jule Hull, who lived in a shack, loved horses and made his modest living from working with them (and for Doc Scofield). Not everyone knew this but Jule also loved books and was one of the best-read people in town. It was an era when the libraries in towns tended to be either private family libraries or cooperative subscription libraries, and school books were not provided "free" to the students. Anyhow, Jule used to loan out his books to some of the turn-of-the-century high school kids who knew him from the livery barn. When Jule died and was buried in the city cemetery, Doc Scofield, who was as classy a guy as ever lived in my hometown, bought a nice tombstone and put on it the inscription, "He loved horses" and, for good measure, added a nice chiseled depiction of a horse. It's not far from where the remains of my grandparents, Otto and Pauline Herfindahl, are buried. Ultimately, it is not one's fame or office or wealth that matters, nor whether one has a nice tombstone or whether one's tomb is visited. But you won't hear me say that "nothing" matters. As George Eliot puts it at the end of her greatest novel, Middlemarch, "the growing good of the world is partly [I'd say "mostly"] dependent on unhistoric acts [like Doc Scofield and Jule Hull making house calls in the middle of the night in the middle of the winter out at some farm on the middle of the wind-swept prairie]; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs." Jule was appreciated and remembered not just by Doc Scofield but by the boys to whom he lent books and served as mentor. Years later, one of those boys, in his 80's at the time and a mentor to me (and one of the fathers of my spirit who I think og every day), told me this story.

 Complaint by board alleges N.J. judge acted improperly, then lied. "Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Steven P. Perskie repeatedly acted improperly and then lied about his actions to a state senate panel, according to a three-count complaint made by a state judicial conduct committee...." Perskie says he's confident he'll be vindicated. Details (Press of Atlantic City 09.10.2009).

 Annals of clogged courts: herein of harassment order mania. "It has been 15 years since the Legislature created PPOs as a tool against domestic violence. Judges, though, note that in recent years, personal protection orders are being used more and more for relatively frivolous matters such as neighborhood disputes, brouhahas with ex-lovers, fence feuds, even cases of school yard fights...." And yet in one urban county, which says it needs an extra judge to help handle all the PPOs, the judges are granting a higher percentage of petitions -- a whopping 73%, up from 47% in 2004. Details (Detroit Free Press 09.10.2009). Comments. a) Good story. Two points worth highlighting that emerge from the story: i) Judges understandably fear the fallout of denying a petition, then being blamed by the press and other rabble-rousers when the petitioner is harmed or killed by the respondent. ii) Some judges also fear that the use of PPOs may actually create and/or exacerbate problems. b) My view? I'm not convinced that the easy availability of such orders is, on balance, a good thing. We need to ask of the policy of easy availability of these orders the kinds of questions Justice Holmes suggested we ask of our policies relating to crime and punishment in his amazing 1897 speech, The Path of the Law, 10 Harv. L. Rev. 457 (1897). There he asked, "What have we better than a blind guess to show that the criminal law in its present form does more good than harm?" And he asked, further, "whether fine and imprisonment do not fall more heavily on a criminal's...children than on himself." Of the policy or practice of easy availability of PPOs we need to ask, "Does the policy or practice do more harm than good?" If you're afraid to ask the question, maybe it's because you're afraid of the answer. Many politicians, even the kind who wear robes, are afraid to ask questions like these or suggest reasonable answers because they worry that the answers won't win them any votes, something talking tough has been proven to do. We could just blame the politicians, those "rabid partisans and empty quacks," saying that they lack the kind of civic courage of which the great William James spoke. But we voters, all of us "above average," definitely share the blame for being persuaded by their cheap rhetoric and by electing them in droves.

 Oh that Sonia had had the guts to say 'No!' to Sandra and Ruth's jabot -- herein of fopishness among the political elite. The N.Y. Daily News reports that Justice SS "debuted her new black robe at a special Supreme Court induction on Tuesday." The robe was given to her by her former law clerks. The "white lace jabot" -- you know, the silly neckwear that Justices O'Connor and Ginsburg are so proud of -- was given her by Ginsburg. More (NYDailyNews 09.09.2009). Comments. a) A "jabot" is a form of frilly neckwear that was especially popular in the fopish 17th and 18th centuries, especially among sailors, including pirates, and, of course, Colonial officials who wanted to look distinguished when they looked at themselves in the mirror. In the late 19th century the wearing of a jabot became a popular accessory for women's dress-up clothing. You'll see them on women in old formal family photographs. The jabot is the bib-like accessory that was commonly held in place at the woman's neck with a fancy brooch. Among those fashionistas who still wear jabots are judges of the federal constitutional court in Germany, French magistrates during court sessions, French academicians during formal ceremonies, Scots as part of formal evening attire, and...well, uh, Justices O'Connor (retired), Ginsburg and Sotomayor. Further reading on jabots (Wikipedia). b) Am I being hard on O'Connor et al? I don't think so, because I believe that the impulse behind female SCOTUS judges' wearing of jabots, frilly collars, towel-like ties, and other neckerchiefs is similar to the impulse that: i) led President Nixon (a guy) to commission the design of those much-derided, then-quickly-abandoned uniforms for White House security personnel, the ones that made them look like they worked for, say, the Vatican; ii) led Chief Justice Rehnquist (a guy) to commission a $30,000 black robe, the one former Nixon aide John Dean has described as having "four gold chevrons on each arm -- inspired by Gilbert & Sullivan's Lord Chancellor from the comic operetta Iolanthe"; and iii) led the Brit judiciary (a bunch of guys) to commission their new Star Trek-inspired gowns. Essential further readings on judicial and courthouse fashions.  Many judges not only aren't satisfied with their standard issue robes but are not satisfied with the way the rest of the world dresses -- that is, they are desirous of imposing their own fashion notions on not only lawyers who appear before them but ordinary litigants, jurors, and even the hoi polloi (us) who have the audacity to attempt to watch trials in their (?) courtrooms. Here are just some of my many postings on these related topics:  a) Annals of Courthouse Fashion, part I: Another judge tries instituting courthouse dress code. b) Courthouse Fashion, part II: The Viking influence on judicial fashions. c) Courthouse Fashion, part III: Judges voice objection to some lawyers' attire. d) On judicial swimsuits & the Rules of Judicial Conduct. e) Judge-endorsed BurtLaw Bench Pants. f) BurtLaw Super-Privacy Robes. g) Durham courts follow lead of NBA. h) Judge Hlophe speaks out on courtroom dress & decorum. i) Contemptuous courtroom attire? j) What's so bad about shorts & tube tops in courtroom? k) A nostalgic look back at another instance of judicial stickling. l) Judges allowed to go bare-headed during U.K. heat wave. m) Should you beware of a judge who dresses up as a clown or Santa Claus? (scroll down). n) Judge's no-exceptions approach to caps in courtroom upsets cancer sufferer. o) Judge won't accept attorney's ascot as alternative to neck- or bow-tie policy. p) Judges to toss wigs, get new 'Star Trek' gowns. q) Bluegrass courts nix short shorts.

 Do courts exist for litigants or do litigants exist for courts? -- some judges' views.  a) "The duty of the judicial branch is not to satisfy the parties that appear before it, or even society at large, but to say what the law is and to apply it in particular cases." -- Judge Anthony Kline, California Court of Appeals, rejecting a settlement reached on appeal in a defamation case. b) "The parties are the persons...most affected by a judgment, which is the ultimate product of their sustained effort and expense. Homilies about judicial integrity and legal truth will ring hollow in the ears of the parties. The courts exist for litigants. Litigants do not exist for the courts." Justice Marvin Baxter, California Supreme Court, in a 6-1 decision reversing Judge Kline's decision. Neary v. Regents of the University of California, 3 Cal.4th 273 (1992). c) Judge Kline then tesified before the Legislature successfully urging passage of a law in effect overturning the rule underlying Justice Baxter's decision. That law "allows the courts -- not the parties -- to decide whether to settle a case once it's already in front of the court of appeal, at least when that settlement involves an agreement to reverse the lower court's ruling." Frank Zotter Jr., Judicial Follies - You're There for the Court
(Ukiah Daily Journal 09.08.2009). d) Readers of The Daily Judge may be surprised to learn that while I don't necessarily agree with all the rhetoric used in Judge Kline's decision, I think the principle underlying the rule adopted by the Legislature (which, by the way, shouldn't be telling courts what procedural decisional rules to follow) is correct. Specifically, while two opposing parties may settle a case between themselves pending appeal, they oughtn't be able to dictate a formal reversal of a lower court's legal ruling.

 Do female judges convict less often? "Women are more likely to view someone as dishonest, but are less likely to convict, suggests an online study on attitudes to theft called Honesty lab...." Sudeep Chand, Women judge, but do they convict? (BBC News 09.07.2009). Comment. Actually, the study wasn't a study of female judges versus male judges. But you might want to read the article anyway. :-) In my vast personal experience, are female judges softer on crime than male judges? I don't think I could generalize. Some female judges are tough on crime, some not so tough; same goes for male judges. If I were a judge, something I've never been, I'd want to be counted among the softies. My prayer as a judge would be, "Lord, take away my heart of stone, and make my heart like unto yours, a heart of flesh."

 On the fake judicial elections in NYC. "...New York City is home to an exceptionally large number of talented and impressively credentialed lawyers. Unfortunately, that distinction is not reflected in the decidedly uneven caliber of the candidates running for Civil Court...Actually, to call this an election glosses over the dismal political reality: most Civil Court seats are filled by the reigning political clubhouses in each borough, which still largely control who gets to run on the Democratic line -- the key to victory in November...." Editorial: Civil Court Follies (NYT 09.07.2009). Comment. The fake party-controlled elections in NYC ought not be confused with the open real elections that are possible under the Minnesota Plan, which allows lawyers to file against judges appointed by the governor when they don't measure up. Most appointees in Minnesota are good and don't face challengers when they file for another term. When an appointee doesn't measure up, it's nice to have the option of mounting a challenge and giving the voters, the ultimate selectors, a choice. Sadly, some members of the political elite in Minnesota, which has one of the best judiciaries in the country, want to tempt Fate by replacing our great populist-era state constitutional provision for direct elections with Missouri's (the Ozark State's) so-called "merit selection plan," which substitutes fake one-candidate Soviet-style retention elections for the real elections that occur when a lawyer challenges the rare appointed judge who doesn't measure up.

 Militants lob grenade at judge's house. "Unidentified militants hurled a grenade on a judge's house in Baramulla town of north Kashmir leaving a police constable injured, police said...." Details (The Hindu 09.09.2009).

 Judge's jailing of a man who berated him in restroom is questioned. This last summer a 69-year-old man, irked over a Texas district judge's ruling in a custody matter involving his granddaughter, berateded the judge in a public restroom, calling him "a fool." The judge, Jack Robison, then directed bailiffs to arrest the man and proceeded to sentence him to 30 days in jail for contempt. Now it's Judge Robison whose conduct is being questioned. Chuck Lindell, Judge's sentencing in out-of-court incident is questioned (Austin American-Statesman 09.08.2009). Comment. BurtLaw Rule-of-Thumb #139 for avoiding judicial discipline provides: Avoid using the contempt power altogether.

 Retired judges as superheroes, saving the day during budget crisis -- a morality play. "Judge Catherine Stevens pictured her retirement full of lazy mornings with her coffee and newspaper and a few days a month serving lunch to the poor at a soup kitchen. But these days, Stevens' retirement looks much like her working days. She is judging again. This time for free...." Until recently, retired judges in NC got $400 a day to work as "emergency judges," filling in "to keep courtrooms operating when judges call in sick or juggle a family emergency." Now, because of budget cuts, money ain't available to pay them. But they're filling in anyway, for free.... Mandy Locke, Retired judges fill in free - Courts' budget suspends pay (News-Observer 09.08.2009). Comment. Here's a "treatment" for a heartwarming entirely fictional made-for-TV movie to be broadcast some Thanksgiving or Christmas: Act I: Cruel discriminatory mandatory retirement law forces Walter Job, brilliant, hard-working, healthy 70-year-old judge, to retire ("You may be competent in fact, Walter, but the mandatory retirement law says you're incompetent as a matter of law to fill the office of judge"). Act II: The Great Recession hits hard. The judiciary's budget is slashed and the oafs who run things say they just can't cut back on their travel or conferences at resort hotels but they're willing to share the pain by going without their secretaries for two days a month, putting them on "unpaid furlough status" for those days. Act III: Unable to raise their families and pay for their McMansions and SUVs on their "paltry" judicial salaries without a raise, young Turk judges quit, assuming they'll get hired for big bucks by corporate law firms. The offers don't come in. Act IV: Irked, the young Turk judges who quit lobby the merit selection people to get reappointed as judges, but a populist governor, Joe Peepul, says no when the "merit-based" nominating/screening commission presents him with only the quitters as finalists. Act V: Things come to a standoff between the commission and the Guv. "The people" flood the streets, demanding "Justice!" Act VI: The retired "incompetent as a matter of law" judges, including Walter Job, volunteer their services for free. Justice returns! Act VII: "The people," with the support of the populist Guv, ram through a constitutional amendment restoring direct election of judges and abolishing mandatory retirement. Act VIII: The old geezers, including Walt Job, run and beat the crap out of the young Turks who are trying to get their jobs back. Act IX: Walt Job assumes the captaincy of the judicial ship and, with the aid of the other old wise men and women who got elected to their old jobs, cuts 50% of the chaff from the court budget in the process, all while continuing judging wisely and efficiently and fairly. Act X: Like "Job" of old, Walt Job lives a long life, continuing judging term after term after term, defeating young Turk after young Turk after young Turk every six years, dying finally, in the middle of gaveling a hearing to an end, at a "hundred and forty years...being old and full of days." Act XI: Walt's will is read as the movie's credits roll. The voice sounds very much like that of Orson Welles. "Welles" says, "And I leave my fourteen thousand sheep and six thousand camels and a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand she asses to my children, scattered as they are across the state's judicial districts to which I traveled oh those many times over many years on circuit. And to my fellow citizens, well, to them I leave a little something I like to call...J-U-S-T-I-C-E!"

 CTI -- Courthouse Theft Investigation investigates thefts at muni court! "Imagine someone stealing your iPhone at the office. Now imagine three Kansas City police detectives coming to detain your colleagues after work, question them and ask them to submit to searches and DNA samples. Unthinkable?" The "unthinkable" happened after Elena Franco, presiding judge of municipal court in Kansas City reported someone had swiped her iPhone and Judge Katherine Emke reported someone had taken $79 from her purse. According to this report in the Kansas City Star (09.07.2009), 18 employees were interviewed. Some of the employees, it's not clear how many, were detained after work and some say they had their belongings searched and were asked o (but did not) provide DNA samples and submit to polygraph exams. Comment. The news report says some court employees "questioned the response as a bit too much." You think? All I can say is I worked for many years in the Capitol in St. Paul and then in the Minnesota Judicial Center. Occasionally I'd hear of some secretary's purse being stolen from a desk drawer. And once someone stole some personal property belonging to law a couple clerks. It's my opinion it would not have been tolerated if capitol security had responded to any of these thefts in the way the police are reported to have responded in "up-to-date" KC. Someone is quoted in the article saying it's routine in theft cases like this to ask the various people who are interviewed if they'd provide a DNA sample or submit to a polygraph exam. Really? The "KC, Missouri way" is too up-to-date by half for this small town rube from Minnesota.

 The dog as ultimate judge of character. The thesis of this piece in the 9.08.2009 Kansas City Dating Advice Examiner is that the noble dog -- doesn't seem to matter which breed -- is the ultimate judge of the character of a gal's boyfriends. Comment. No suggestion is made that dogs would make good common law judges. But who knows? They couldn't be worse at it than some people are.

 Magistrate finds Judge Motata guilty in drunk driving. The author of this piece, Mia Swart, a professor at Wits Law School in South Africa, asks, "Why is it more acceptable for a judge to leave a trail of destructive and unethical behaviour than to hit the bottle? In short, why is it more acceptable for a judge to be drunk on power than drunk on alcohol?" The judge he opines was drunk on power was the controversial Judge John Hlope, who is back on the job as Presiding Judge of the Cape High Court after the Judicial Service Commission, in a controversial decision, in effect let him off the proverbial hook. Mia Swart, A tale of two judges and some sobering questions for the JSC (Business Day - Financial Mail 09.08.2009). Earlier. Links to pages containing our earlier Motata postings.

 In Re Souter: If Court won't set reasonable policy on preservation/availability of justice's work product, Congress should. "Justice Souter agreed last month to donate his personal and professional papers to the New Hampshire Historical Society...[b]ut he ordered that they be off-limits to the public, including academic researchers, historians and journalists, for 50 years from the date of his retirement -- or until 2059. This restriction is excessive...." Safeguarding History - Why the records of Supreme Court justices should be governed by rules -- not individuals (Washington Post - Editorial 09.06.2009). Comment. The Post editors opine that if the Court, via the Judicial Conference, does not set reasonable rules on preservation and reasonable time limits on restrictions on public access to a justice's work product, Congress should step in the void and do so. I agree.

 Some politicians are finally seeing the light on harsh prison sentences. "After decades of pursuing lock-'em-up policies, states are scrambling to reduce their prison populations in the face of tight budgets, making fundamental changes to their criminal justice systems as they try to save money...." Details (LATimes 09.05.2009). Comment. I've been arguing for years that our harsh sentencing policies are counterproductive and fiscally imprudent. See, e.g., BurtLaw on Crime & Punishment; BurtLaw's Law and Judicial Economics; 2004 Campaign Position Paper on Crime and Punishment. Ans see, my comments at

 An appointments commission as threat to judicial independence -- the South African experience. One of South Africa's most respected jurists, Johann Kriegler, has provided the press with the "notes" for his 08.18.2009 address to the prestigious Wits Law School titled "Can Judicial Independence Survive Transformation?" Kriegler identifies two main types of external threats to the independence, integrity and competence of South Africa's judiciary during what is being called the transformation period following the end of apartheid and the adoption of the new constitution. The first set of external threats consists of those that "have emanated mainly from national office bearers of the governing party" in the form of proposed legislation that would put in place a system of "[m]icromanagement of the courts and monitoring of judicial officers by bureaucrats or politicians." The second main external threat to judicial independence he identifies "emanates from the Judicial Service Commission, an institution that [Kiegler formerly] proudly held up to envious colleagues abroad as an ideal solution to the selection of judges, much better than the bruising dogfights seen in the US Senate Judiciary Committee when important federal court appointments are being considered." But Kriegler has come to the sad conclusion that "the manner in which the JSC has performed both its primary function of selection and its disciplinary function has increased the threat to the independence of the judiciary." And he gives cogent examples of how the commission has emphasized race and politics over qualification in the exercise of its functions, with the result that qualified lawyers are increasingly reluctant to put themselves forward as candidates for judicial appointment. Text (Politics Web 09.06.2009).

 Is Stevens going to retire at the end of the Term? "Justice David H. Souter's failure to hire clerks this spring accurately signaled his decision to step down. On Wednesday, the court confirmed that Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 89, has hired only one clerk, instead of the usual four, for the term starting in October 2010. That ignited speculation that Justice Stevens may be planning to step down next summer...." Adam Liptak, Supreme Court Memo: A Justice Slows His Hiring, and Some Wonder About His Future (NYT 09.03.2009). Comment. Worth reading.

 Annals of memos to legal staff -- herein of messy toilets. Here's a link to an amusing piece that reprints an apparently serious, apparently authentic memo that was apparently sent to staff at a prominent law firm: Kashmir Hill & Elie Mystal, Sheppard Mullin Potty Puddle Watch: Make sure to wipe the seat, ladies (Above the Law 09.03.2009). Comment. For what it's worth, a janitor with impeccable credentials, including vast experience in cleaning ladies' and men's toilets, told me that in his opinion the ladies are much messier. Earlier. Chief Justice Roberts' hypocritical views on memos (The Daily Judge 10.08.2005); Annals of toilets as a mark of status within the judicial hierarchy (The Daily Judge 05.08.2009) (includes extensive list of postings on "judicial luxury fever," "courthouse toilet crises," "courthouse toilet inequities," etc.). For an amusing story about a newspaper's "spoof" memos ostensibly (but not really) written by a FLA chief judge -- memos asking that special emergency hurricane shelters be built for judges and court personnel and their families, including pets, and that they be equipped "with generators, food and kitchen equipment, a link with the court's computer network and video teleconferencing capabilities with the county jail" -- see, Special shelter from storm for judges? (The Daily Judge 05.01.2005), which links to Counties balk at judge's wish for 5 storm shelters for court (St. Petersburgh Times 04.28.2005); Judge not if shelter is needed (St. Petersburgh Times 05.01.20005) (spoof memos); and Judge's comfort is no small matter (St. Petersburgh Times 05.01.2005) (with letters from outraged citizens who didn't realize the memos were fake). For Google search results for "stupid office memos," click here.

 Judicial education enters new phase in the UK. Detailed article (UK Times 09.03.2009).

 Police officer shoots fire chief in front of judge. Here's a link to an interesting piece of Americana, subspecies Arkana or Arkansan, titled Man shot by cop in front of judge ( 09.04.2009). The setting of the tale is the tiny Arkansas town of Jericho, population 174. The town is so small that you can't buy a loaf of bread there. But the town employs a number of police officers. Guess how many? The answer is 7 -- s-e-v-e-n. According to the above-linked news report, "The fire chief[, Don Payne, 39] and local officials have accused Jericho's police force of setting speeding traps and issuing illegitimate $US150...fines, purely to generate extra revenue for the cash-strapped town." I don't know if this is true, but a Crittenden County Sheriff's investigator is quoted saying, "'You can't even get them to answer a call because normally they're writing tickets.''' What distinguishes this alleged small town speed trap from the typical one is that the trap, if it is that, isn't directed just at unwitting passers-through. Rather, local residents (i.e., people who are aware of the alleged trap) "say they are issued speeding fines even when they drive below the town's speed limits." What led to the international coverage as far away as Australia? Fire Chief Payne went to court to get a ticket dismissed, but the judge refused. Hours later Payne apparently was issued another ticket. Payne's lawyer says Payne returned to the courtroom to complain to the judge, a woman named Tonya Alexander. Apparently a scuffle broke out between Payne and one of the police officers who were present (the story says all seven were present). One of the officers then shot Payne in the hip -- allegedly "from behind." Payne, whose lawyer says was unarmed, had to be hospitalized. A prosecutor is quoted saying Payne might face a misdemeanor charge. Details ( 09.04.2009). Comment. Perhaps this will be settled in another court, you think? Speaking of speed traps, read on...

 Of Superman and speed traps. Here's a reprint of a piece I posted in April of 2008 about a 1957 episode of the TV series titled The Adventures of Superman that dealt with an illegal speed trap. In posting it, I do not mean to suggest that there is any merit (or lack of merit) to the accusations that are being made about the enforcement of the speed laws in Jericho, ARK.

Annals of outrageous judicial corruption. "Crooks have constructed a small mobile 'town.' They use it as a speed trap to snare money from unsuspecting motorists and, for bigger game, as a way to hijack trucks carrying valuable merchandise. After two hijackings, Lois Lane comes upon the 'town' and is captured. Now, Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen and Inspector Bill Henderson are trying to track her down. After they, too, are incarcerated, Clark turns into Superman to shut down the criminal operation." -- From IMDB entry on the 03.22.1957 episode of The Adventures of Superman TV show titled "The Town That Wasn't" (Season 5, Episode 3). More (IMDB). Comments. a) Back in the 1980's my then pre-teen son and I enjoyed watching this series, which is now out on DVD, on reruns. This episode -- with the mobile "town," mobile "court," mobile "jail," and phony "judge," well played by Dick Elliott -- is particularly amusing. Sadly, most speed traps -- and I know of one that regularly nabs people who are not aware of it -- are run by real towns, not phony ones, and the fines are ultimately imposed by real judges, not phony ones. b) One of the "transformational problems" facing Clark Kent as he shares a jail cell with Lois, Jimmy, etc., is how to transform himself into Superman in order to rescue everybody and apprehend the bad guys without Lois, Jimmy, etc., realizing that Clark and Superman are one and the same. Clark Kent/Superman's "transformational problem" in the episode is not unlike that faced by an intensely-partisan Superlawyer/Politician who, when appointed to the bench by his pol pal, the Governor, must somehow, through an exercise of "Supermaniacal" will, reclaim his "Clark Kentish" lost political virginity and "act" henceforward as if he is still a political virgin. Cf, Proud to be a virgin (NYT 06.19.1994).

 Idaho county doesn't plan to remove swastika tiles from 1921 floor during remodeling. The courthouse is in Bonneville County. The decorative swastika tiles stem from an innocent era -- pre-Hitler -- when the swastika was merely a symbol of luck and other good things. In the past they've been painted over but the paint wears out and they show through. Some say they should be removed. Others say an explanatory sign would do the job. Apparently there's no plan to remove them during the current remodeling. Details (Salt Lake Tribune 09.03.2009). Comment. What do you think they should do? As the guy says on the local TV non-newscast every night at 10 on the CBS outlet here in MPLS-STP, "Good question!"

 Vegas city attorney won't prosecute judge over soccer incident. Some woman complained that Clark County District Court Judge Stefany Miley bumped her during an argument at a soccer field. The Las Vegas city attorney won't prosecute. Insufficient evidence to proceed. Details (San Jose Mercury News 09.02.2009). Comment. It's not that easy being a judge -- or any public figure, for that matter.

 Massachusetts decides against firm-sponsored judicial clerks. Last June the chief administrative justice of Massachusetts' trial courts -- having sent "Dear John" letters to a number of judicial clerkship hirees telling them that there was no money in the budget proposal to pay them -- floated a proposal to fill those unfunded positions by taking on as "volunteer" judicial clerks some of those new big-law-firm associates who have been given a nice stipend from their firms but have had their start dates deferred for a year. Now the judge has announced he's dropped the idea. Robert Ambrogi at Legal Blog Watch says he agrees, as I do, with the decision. Details (Legal Blog Watch 09.01.2009), an entry based on this story in the Boston Globe (09.01.2009). Comment. I opposed the proposal when it was first put forward. See, Your judicial law clerk is sponsored by.... (The Daily Judge 06.22.2009). Here's what I said in my commentary:

a) Gosh, Massachusetts apparently has sent out these "too bad" letters to at least 24 hirees. And it is too bad, considering how dependent many judges are on their clerks. Overly dependent, I'd say. However, given the political nature of so many judicial appointments (contrary to what you hear, not only do the "best" people generally not get appointed but Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., himself probably couldn't get appointed today), many judges really do need -- and I mean need -- law clerks. b) Are there ethical problems with the proposed arrangement? As stated in the article, which I recommend reading, some people think so. I'm not so sure the ethical problems are that different from the ethical problems of current judicial law clerks interviewing for post-clerking permanent positions with the big, well-known firms while those same firms have cases pending before the court, something that goes on all the time. c) Is there a fairness issue? You bet. The law school grads who decided to spend a year clerking were, in the spirit of public service, willingly foregoing a year of much higher pay (as much as $150,000 for starting associates -- way too high, in my opinion). Now these public-spirited recent law school grads are left high and dry, to be replaced, in many instances, by their classmates who opted to bypass the judicial clerkship option and "go for the gold" right away. Further reading. For my extensive critical comments on law clerk use at SCOTUS and at other appellate courts, see, a) Those SCOCLERK opinions (The Daily Judge 07.18.2008), and b) Alito joins Stevens in opting out of 'cert. pool' (The Daily Judge 09.26.2008).

 Is SCOTUS now SCOCATH? Now that six of the nine justices on SCOTUS are Roman Catholics, does that make it SCOCATH? I've just phrased the question in that provocative way in order to draw your attention to this post on Huffington Post today that's worth reading: Geoffrey R. Stone, Justice Sotomayor, Justice Scalia and Our Six Catholic Justices (Huffington Post 08.28.2009) ("Now that Justice Sotomayor has officially donned her robe, I'd like to muse a bit about the extraordinary fact that we now have six Catholic justices...."). Further reading. SCOTUS' Roman Catholic majority attends annual pre-term 'Red Mass'; A farraginous supreme court ("My ideal state or federal 'final' appellate court would involve, as 'Sir T. Browne' (whoever the heck he was) put it, 'A farraginous concurrence of all conditions, tempers, sexes, and ages'"); Burtlaw on Pied beauty, pied lawns, pied dogs, pied politics [and pied judges] (BurtonHanson.Com - entry dated Sunday, 05.08.2005 - scroll down).

 Little David stands up to the Big Bad Bankers. "The judge, Arthur M. Schack, 64, fashions himself a judicial Don Quixote, tilting at the phalanxes of bankers, foreclosure facilitators and lawyers who file motions by the bale. While national debate focuses on bank bailouts and federal aid for homeowners that has been slow in coming, the hard reckonings of the foreclosure crisis are being made in courts like his, and Justice Schack's sympathies are clear. He has tossed out 46 of the 102 foreclosure motions that have come before him in the last two years...." Michael Powell, A 'Little Judge' Who Rejects Foreclosures, Brooklyn Style (NYT 08.31.2009).

 Ex-judge is convicted of soliciting bribes from lawyer appearing in his court. "A former New York State Supreme Court Justice with ties to the Republican Party was convicted by a federal jury in Albany today of soliciting bribes from an lawyer with cases pending before him...." Details (Village Voice 08.28.2009). Comment. The ex-judge is Thomas Spargo, an election-law specialist who helped out the George W. Bush team in FLA in 2000. He was a NY state trial judge in 2003 when he allegedly pressured the lawyer in question to give him $10,000. He was removed in 2006. Further reading. 2006 Ruling of NY State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

 Judge is charged with misdemeanor for allegedly soliciting sex from DWI defendant. "[Donald W. Jackson, 59, a] Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law judge was indicted Thursday on a misdemeanor charge of official oppression, accused of offering to get a DWI defendant in his court help getting her case dismissed in exchange for a sexual relationship...." The judge's attorney says he'll plead not guilty. Details (Houston Chronicle 08.27.2009). Comment. We presume he's innocent. Why? Because of a little doctrine we like to call "the presumption of innocence."

 Trial date is set for spouse of state's top judge. SCOIA (Supreme Court of Iowa) Chief Justice Marsha Ternus lives with her hubby, Dennis Drake on a "29-acre property" near Grimes, IA. On 07.12.2009 Drake was charged with interference with official acts, a misdemeanor, in connection with a party there that resulted in seven teens being charged with underage possession of alcohol. Some of those charges apparently have been dismissed. Drake's trial has now been set for October 10. Details (Des Moines Register 08.28.2009). Comment. The Daily Judge will not be sending a representative to attend this highly-important trial but if we hear anything about it, we might let you know. We don't know whether the judge's hubby did anything wrong but, based on the presumption of innocence, we presume not. We should add that cases like this pop up on The Daily Judge's radar screen from time to time. See, e.g., Annals of judges as parents/grandparents (The Daily Judge 06.30.2009) (about a PA judge).

 Judge, clerk, juror file notices of claim against county over in-court attack by defendant. "San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Cinda Fox and two others[, her court clerk and an alternate juror] who were in the courtroom when she was attacked earlier this year by murder defendant David Paradiso[,] filed claims Tuesday against the county...." Details (San Jaquin Record 08.26.2009). Comment. Actually, as the article makes clear later, they filed those notices of claims that typically one must file within, say, six months if one wants to preserve one's right to sue the county or other governmental entity for negligence or other tort under a state's tort caims act. If they sue, they apparently will base their claim in part on the failure of the sheriff's office to provide beefed-up security after allegedly receiving an anonymous tip from the defendant's mother warning he'd made threats. A police detective who was present in court shot and killed Paradiso after he stabbed the judge. The article includes links to prior articles on the attack, the judge's return to work, etc.

 Muslim woman is suing MI judge over hijab ruling. "The local chapter of an Islamic group said a federal lawsuit is to be filed today in Detroit against a Wayne County judge[, William Callahan,] for allegedly demanding that a Muslim woman remove her hijab, an Islamic headscarf, while in court...." Details (Detroit Free Press 08.26.2009). Comment. For my thoughts not on whether plaintiffs should prevail but on the general underlying issue of hijab scarves, hats, etc., in court, see, my comments (and embedded links) at Judge jails Muslim woman for refusing to remove hijab scarf (The Daily Judge 12.18.2008), which I posted in connection with a story out of GA.

 SCOINDIA Justices will disclose assets. "In a landmark move, the Supreme Court Wednesday decided to make public the assets of all its judges and put up the information on its website at the earliest...." Details (Hindustan Times 08.27.2009).

 Retiring clerk's portrait will hang next to those of other courthouse greats. "A couple of weeks into her 40th year at the same job and coming up on her 65th birthday, Appomattox Clerk of Courts Barbara Williams sat in her office Thursday and cried just a little. As of Aug. 31, the fourth-longest-serving clerk of courts in Virginia will retire....Soon her portrait will hang along with those of the seven other clerks to serve the county since the mid-1800s...." Details (News and Advance via WTKR 08.26.2009). Comment. As I always say on bittersweet occasions like this, "When will we see her likes again?" Somewhat related. Late judge is posthumously inducted into Minot, ND High School Hall of Fame (The Daily Judge 09.27.2008); On the need for a Judicial (and, perhaps, Court Clerk) Hall of Fame, see, my comments at Should we televise judicial awards shows? (The Daily Judge 07.11.2006). Note: We have also proposed a Judicial Secretaries Hall of Fame, and -- once that project comes to fruition -- we intend to propose a Judicial Law Clerks and Legal Staff Hall of Fame. Perhaps one day there'll even be a Courthouse Dog Hall of Fame. See, also, Annals of courthouse coincidences: courthouse ceiling art (The Daily Judge 09.11.2006) (The "coincidence" referred to is that a $100,000 fresco in the remodeled courthouse features the visages of important county employees, including the outgoing county executive who proposed the renovation project).

 Needed: More courthouse dogs. "A dog-loving Jacksonville judge...Duval County Judge Emmet Ferguson, 48, a volunteer service dog trainer, supports a growing national trend of using well-trained friendly dogs to provide a calming influence to tense victims, witnesses, defendants, lawyers, judges or law enforcement officers...." Details (Times-Union 08.24.2009). For more information on "courthouse dogs," click here. Previously. See, story and commentary at Teacup terrier, a 'miniature institution' at courthouse, reminds clerk of her late hubby (The Daily Judge 01.09.2009). And see, Iowa judge nixes dog-friendly cafe (The Daily Judge 08.03.2006) (with extended comments); The courthouse dog -- or, what are dogs up to? (The Daily Judge 03.19.2006); and The courthouse dog (The Daily Judge 07.25.2006) (with extended comments and links to some of my other memorable "dog posts," including "Judge caught on tape demeaning man with service dog," "Annals of eccentric judges," "Dog saves courthouse from deliveryman," "Courts are going to the dogs," and "Judge under fire for saying dog rescuer should have shot dogs"). Note. In anticipation of the day when, as a logical result of the animal civil rights movement, dogs are allowed to serve as judges, I have developed a line of BurtLaw Specially-Designed Courthouse Dog Judge Robes.

 Courthouse clerk in Missouri is accused of faking cancer. A 41-year-old clerk who works in a county courthouse in Missouri told co-workers this last winter she had Ewing's sarcoma. Fun-raisers were held, etc., etc. Now, after being fired, the young woman stands accused of two felony counts stealing filed by a special prosecutor. A news report at KansasCity.Com quotes the sheriff as saying that the woman, who apprently doesn't have cancer and hasn't spent any money on any cancer treatments, received around $10,000 from the fundraisers. Details (KansasCity.Com 08.24.2009). Comment. When a judge is accused of something, we presume her innocent. Same goes for the young courthouse employee.

 Judge is duped into issuing $3M defamation award to molester in fake lawsuit against his victim. According to the Washington Post, the judge who signed the order is Judge Ellen S. Huvelle. Fortunately, the scheme that led to the judge's signing the order was discovered quickly thereafter and the "judgment stood for one day" only. Read the details in Del Quentin Wilber, Man Lives 2nd Nightmare as His Molester Fakes Lawsuit - D.C. Judge Is Duped in Defamation Conspiracy Against Ohio Victim (Washington Post 08.24.2009).

 Judge Joe is a big winner. "Judge Joe and Broadway Bistro, an odds-on favorite and a 15-1 shot, won Saturday night's pair of $40,000 elimination races for Yonkers Raceway's Yonkers Trot...." Details (Google.AP 08.23.2009). Comment. Some of the greatest race horses -- well, work horses -- of all time have been named "Judge This-or-That."

 When is judging like working in an ER? " Howard Mintz, Study: Immigration judge as stressed out as emergency room doctors, prison wardens (San Jose Mercury-News 08.23.2009). Comment. As I've said, it's not that easy being a judge -- or anything else, for that matter.

 Latest on Judge Keller's misconduct trial over handling of death penalty appeal. Details (NYT 08.22.2009). Earlier. Lawmaker seeks impeachment of top criminal judge (The Daily Judge 02.17.2009) (with links to our earlier postings/observations).

 India's judges debate disclosure of judges' assets. Manoj Mitta, To reveal or not? Two judges, two views (Times of India 08.23.2009).

 Judge is accused of FUC (finagling under cover). "Federal Way's police chief says Municipal Court Judge Michael Morgan may have assumed the identity of a clerk who works for Morgan and used his court computer to make Internet postings critical of two of the judge's primary election opponents...." Morgan denies it. Details (News Tribune 08.22.2009). Earlier. Did judge yell at staff, make sexist/rude remarks to clerks, boast about his status, retaliate? (The Daily Judge 06.13.2009). Update. Incumbent judge denies allegation he impersonated election foe online (The Daily Judge 09.16.2009) (with comments).

 How does a retired judge manage to get hit by his own car? "Judge William Murray, 73, of Southington, was standing in the driveway of the dealership when a dealership employee driving the judge's car accidentally hit him, according to information from the Bristol Police Department...." Details (New Britain 08.22.2009).

 Annals of courthouse protests. "A mentally disturbed homeless man cut his wrists about 11 a.m. Monday outside the St. Louis County courthouse and used his blood to write on a window and scrawl his ex-wife's maiden name on a sidewalk, police said...." Details (St. Louis Post-Dispatch 08.18.2009). Further reading. Judge dismisses indecency charge against nude protester (The Daily Judge 09.23.2005).

 Annals of judicial bright ideas that backfire. "[Lubbock] County Judge Tom Head's decision to post racially charged material on a bulletin board outside his office was not very smart. He began posting to the bulletin board inside the courthouse several years ago to reflect his conservative views, saying the material was intended to spark conversation...." Instead, the material -- including an exhibit of nine booking photos, at least six of people of color, all wearing Obama tee-shirts, accompanied by the question "Did you ever see anyone arrested wearing a Bush T-shirt, or for you older folks, an Eisenhower? Gerald Ford? Ronald ... " -- has sparked controversy. The editors of the local newspaper want Judge Head to apologize for posting the material, which the editors characterize as racially insensitive. Editorial: County Judge's posting of offensive material in courthouse inappropriate (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 08.12.2009). Comment. In Texas there's an office in the counties known as "county judge," with the county judge's duties being part judicial, part administrative. His "court" is not a typical general jurisdiction court. His "judicial" duties vary from county to county. In Lubbock County the judicial duties are limited to certain probate and mental health issues.

 Sewage leak leads to closure of Colorado Judicial Center. Howard Pankratz, Sewage leak closes Colorado Judicial Building (Denver Post 08.17.2009). The building houses both the state supreme court and the intermediate court of appeals as well as the state law library. Comment. As the saying goes, "Stuff happens" (Norwegian-American Lutheran translation of uncouth American street jargon).

 Jury finds judge guilty of voter fraud. A jury has found a former Sunland Park Municipal Court Judge, Horacio Favela, guilty of voter fraud for "falsely declaring himself a resident of Sunland Park in 2008 so he could run for judge, falsifying a document that declared him a qualified voter, and voting twice in the 2004 general election -- once in El Paso, Texas and once in Doña Ana County." Details (New Mexico Independent 08.17.2009).

 Commission declines to publicly discipline judge who's being sued for sexual harassment of court administrator. Tim Gurrister, Judge in limbo in sex lawsuit (Standard-Examiner 08.16.2009). The judge, Craig Storey, admittedly gave the woman, Marcia Eisenhour, a love poem he wrote back in 2007. Complainant says he also harassed her in other ways. The judicial conduct commission interviewed him but not any witnesses pro or con. Utah keeps disciplinary matters confidential unless and until the judge is publicly disciplined. Eisenhour apparently plans to sue Storey in federal court. Meanwhile, they're both working in the same building. Storey is up for a retention vote in November of 2010. Comment. From this distance, it's of course impossible to form an opinion one way or the other.

 Obituary: Simon S. Porter, 1924-2009, described as 'gregarious judge loved horse races.' Judge Porter "served as a Circuit Court judge in Cook County for 35 years, met Frank Sinatra and spent his free time playing the ponies at Arlington Park...[H]is son Daniel Porter said his most enduring image of his father is of the love Mr. Porter shared with his late wife, Renee...[But, s]econd to his beloved wife, Renee, Mr. Porter's other love was horse-racing...." Details (Chicago Tribune 08.17.2009). Comment. Worth reading.

 Worth reading. David P. Barash, We Are All Madoffs - Our relationship to the natural world is a Ponzi scheme (Chronicle Review 09.01.2009). Comment. I made the same basic point in a comment I made at Phil Greenspun's Weblog on 02.22.2008, before the Madoff matter came to light:

Sometimes I think our entire economy is a giant Ponzi scheme that explodes every five or ten years, with the biggest victims being those who buy in too late and the biggest winners being those who get out early enough and with enough to start another Ponzi cycle all over again. Those who practice the old-fashioned "middle-class virtues" of saving, postponing gratification, paying in cash, being prudent in investments, saving for the kids' college, paying in full for the kids' college, planning for old age, etc., are finding that these virtues aren't worth as much as they used to be.

 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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