When I first got this job, I thought that it might be a good idea for me to hook up a Breathalyzer to my laptop to prevent me from posting drunk. Then I realized people enjoy this site more when at least one of us is drunk, and so I sacrifice my liver for you fine readers.
Of course, making internet pronouncements about which law schools should be avoided is one thing; it’s not like I’m sitting on a bench wearing a black robe and banging a gavel. I’m not a judge (or a driver), only my shrink needs to know how many Bloody Marys it takes before I feel like dealing with commenters.
In short, I’m not Judge W. Kennedy Boone III, a Washington County Circuit Court judge in Maryland. In November 2009, Judge Boone got into a car accident where his BAC was .18 — twice the legal limit in the state of Maryland. In March he pleaded guilty to a DUI. And now the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities is making him submit to a Breathalyzer twice a day when he goes to work.
So yeah, Maryland can’t trust the guy to remain sober for an entire work day, but as long as he can prove that he’s sober he is allowed to be a judge, with power over people’s lives…
I thought we wanted to hold judges to a higher standard, not a standard considerably lower than what we hold cab drivers to. The Baltimore Sun has the report on Judge Boone:
The accident was in early November 2009. It took the disabilities commission all this time to conclude that Judge Boone had violated Maryland’s code of judicial conduct and to come up with a sanction. And this is it: twice-daily breathalyzer tests. The judge must also go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and lay off the booze.
Let me be clear about my position here: I don’t have a problem with judges who like to get freaky in the bedroom, I do have a problem with judges who drive drunk, injure people, and cannot even be trusted to make it through an entire work day without getting drunk. That’s reasonable, right? Judges with impaired judgment shouldn’t be judging people.
And before people start screaming that there’s no reason to believe that Judge Boone would ever drink while on the job, I’ll point out that the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities considers the possibility relevant enough to make the man blow into a machine twice a day.
And there’s this, from Dan Rodricks’s Baltimore Sun column:
Still, it’s reasonable to ask: Why is the commission being so nice in the matter of W. Kennedy Boone III? This is the same judge who, in 2007, referred to three black, female public defenders as “the Supremes” and advised their client to get “an experienced male attorney.” In that case, the judge received a reprimand from the disabilities commission for “a serious lapse in judgment,” and he apologized to the public defenders.
In light of what’s happened since, you have to wonder if Judge Boone had been drinking before he made the “Supremes” remark. In fact, any litigant who had business in front of the judge after Nov. 6, 2009, might have wondered the same thing. According to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, that was the day Judge Boone’s SUV crossed the center line on North Prospect Street and struck a car driven by a 25-year-old woman and occupied by a 3-year-old in a car seat. (The child was not injured.)
Great, he’s occasionally drunk, and seems kind of racist and sexist. Just taking a wild guess here, but I’m gonna bet that Judge Boone is also extremely old:
The commission ordered the judge, who is 68, to take the blood-alcohol tests because he had been involved in a car accident…
Perhaps the commission thought it would be kind to keep Judge Boone on the job until his mandatory retirement age of 70.
Bang. I think I’ve pegged him now. We’ve got an old dude who probably thinks Beyonce is Diana Ross’s daughter, doesn’t remember when they started letting the stenographers talk in open court but doesn’t like it, and remembers guys in his high school who had three martinis for lunch but doesn’t recall it being that big of a deal. Yeah, let’s make sure that guy gets two more years of judging people in court before we unleash him on suburban kids who lose baseballs in his yard.
But you have to ask: Is Maryland really this hard up for judges? I’m sure there are lots of recent graduates from the University of Maryland Law School who are still looking for work. Why don’t we throw one of them on the bench? You’re really telling me that a 28-year-old, inexperienced lawyer is going to be a whole lot worse than a 68-year-old man who can’t be trusted to show up to work without being liquored up?
Even I could stay sober for eight hours if I had to.