The Honorable James M. Brooks — a California trial judge and prior Judge of the Day honoree, with a history of getting himself into hot water — might want to leave comedy to James L. Brooks.
Judge Brooks’s attempts at humor didn’t go over too well with the folks upstairs. From On Point News:
A California judge’s jocular behavior backfired as an appeals court ordered a new trial in an employment bias case, ruling that he had created a “circus atmosphere” and “a courtroom is not the Improv.”…
Brooks’s performance in the bias case against Ricoh Electronics suggests the CJP let him off lightly. The jury returned a defense verdict after a 31-day jury trial during which, the 4th District Court of Appeal said, the judge “allowed, indeed helped create, a circus atmosphere, giving defendants’ lawyer free rein to deride and make snide remarks at will and at the expense of plaintiffs and their lawyer.”
Among other things, Brooks flashed a hand-lettered sign saying “Overruled” when plaintiffs’ counsel Michelle A. Reinglass made objections. “It’s lightening things up,” he said when she objected to the sign.
The appellate court was not amused:
[A] courtroom is not the Improv and the presider’s role model is not Judge Judy. We can only imagine what was in the jurors’ minds as they endured a 30-plus day trial in this atmosphere or the impression of the judicial system they took away with them posttrial.
“[T]he presider’s role model is not Judge Judy.” Well, it depends. If the presider wants to be a respectable and responsible jurist, fine. But if the presider wants his own courtroom television show — a la Judge Larry Seidlin, of Anna Nicole Smith case fame — Judge Judy is a veritable Cardozo.
Court Finds No Humor in Joking Judge’s Trial Antics [On Point News]
O.C. judge rebuked for antics [Orange County Register]
Earlier: Judges of the Day: Wilbur Mathesius and James Brooks