[Organized crime defendant John “Junior”] Gotti helped Manhattan federal Judge Shira Scheindlin celebrate her 60th birthday by serenading her from his seat at the defense table yesterday.
“I led the attack,” Gotti said outside of court. “Everyone was saying, ‘We’re going to sing, we’re going to sing,’ and then they started chickening out.”
The bizarre and unusual birthday celebration was carried out in the courtroom – which was mysteriously closed to the public – before jury selection in Gotti’s racketeering trial resumed for a third day.
What makes this even more unusual is how the judge reacted:
Later in the day the judge got some chuckles when she agreed to excuse a potential juror who had plans to travel to Paris to celebrate her mother’s 60th birthday. “I’m particularly sympathetic to 60th birthdays,” Scheindlin said.
It’s surprising to hear that Judge Scheindlin took things so well. Although she’s not related to “Judge Judy” (a.k.a. Judge Judith Sheindlin — different spelling), one couldn’t be blamed for thinking so. The Honorable Shira has a reputation has a holy terror. She works her clerks like dogs, berates them frequently, and sometimes even makes them cry. Don’t pee on her robe and tell her it’s raining!
So Judge Scheindlin’s good-humored reaction to the in-court birthday festivities is somewhat unexpected. Guess it just goes to show that even the toughest judge can be buttered up with birthday wishes.
‘JUNIOR’ SINGS SOPRANO: SERENADES JUDGE WITH HAPPY B’DAY [New York Post]