Peggy Ableman

Earlier this week, we reported on the latest benchslap from Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.). In his order, Judge Sparks invited attorneys to a “kindergarten party,” to address what he perceived as childish behavior.

Judge Sparks eventually called off the party. That makes sense, since he had already achieved his goal of publicly shaming the attorneys appearing before him.

Other judges have apparently taken notice. Now comes Judge Peggy Ableman of Delaware. She has called for attorneys appearing before her to attend “a ‘special’ emergency refresher course in first year ethics and civility.”

UPDATE (5:20 PM): Darn it. Delaware Superior Court Presiding Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. has taken over the case and canceled the “refresher course,” as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

What’s really going to make the allegedly childlike attorneys squeal is that Judge Ableman scheduled her remedial class for the middle of Labor Day weekend….

Judge Ableman’s letter to counsel, very reminiscent of Judge Sparks’s “kindergarten” order, drips with sarcasm:





You know, I’m torn. On the one hand, I always like it when judges get outraged at the bar. I’m the kind of guy who laughs in the supermarket when parents completely lose it on their kids and end up screaming “We’re NOT CUCKOO FOR COCOA PUFFS,” as if they were Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart.

But I also like originality, so I’m forced to dock Judge Ableman serious points for her derivative work. The Labor Day weekend thing was a nice touch, but I don’t know — what about a civility bake sale, or a gold star system for documents submitted to court?

Of course, I’ve never met the woman; let’s hear from someone who has.

“She’s a very smart and capable judge with some history of writing biting opinions when she is unhappy with the attorneys in the case,” a Delaware tipster said about Judge Ableman. “There was a very public episode nearly six years ago in which an attorney moved to have her recuse herself from a capital murder case, and she wrote a scathing opinion in response. People still talk about it today.”

Of course, Judge Ableman beats Judge Sparks if she actually hosts these guys over the weekend (assuming they don’t resolve their differences through a meet-and-confer session first). Judge Sparks was clearly doing it just for show; maybe Ableman has the courage of her benchslaps.

UPDATE (5:20 PM): Judge Ableman’s Sunday festivities have been canceled. Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Earlier: Benchslap of the Day: Judge Sparks Burns More Attorneys


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