Brandt Downey

porno judge.JPGOkay, maybe he should be “Judge of Yesterday,” since this was in yesterday’s paper (and was picked up by How Appealing yesterday too). But it’s Saturday, and we’re still working hard to entertain you, so stop your quibbling.

A judge who repeatedly viewed pornography on the computer in his chambers apologized Friday after receiving a public reprimand from the Florida Supreme Court for violating judicial ethics.

Circuit Judge Brandt C. Downey III of Clearwater told the high court he was “sorry” after Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis called his conduct “truly shocking” and an embarrassment to his friends, his family, the judiciary and the citizens of Florida.

It may have been, er, somewhat imprudent for Judge Downey to check out porn in chambers. But at the risk of sounding like libertines, we have to ask: What’s the big deal? Millions of Americans enjoy pornography.
As for the workplace aspect, we say: If he’s keeping up with his judicial workload, who cares about de minimis use of his computer for, um, other activities? Is it that different from, say, making flight arrangements online for your Hawaiian vacation, while on your lunch break?
To put it another way: What’s wrong with a judge admitting he shares something in common with at least 14 percent of American men? (A figure that’s surely on the low side, due to the study’s reliance upon self-reporting.)
What’s next? Judges getting censured for banging their own gavels? What century are we living in? Or, for that matter, what country — a theocracy?

[At the hearing, Judge Downey] added that he believes God has forgiven him. He said his family and friends also have forgiven him and urged him to seek re-election, but he declined to avoid further embarrassment and publicity, Downey said.

So we don’t think judicial porn viewing is such a big deal. These allegations are far more problematic:

Downey allegedly showed inordinate interest in a young state attorney, asking her to approach the bench to tell her that she “looked nice today.”

He also was accused of asking another female lawyer to approach the bench for personal conversation and sending her an e-mail saying “it was nice seeing u in court looking so pretty.”

“What were you thinking?” Lewis asked.

Using “u” instead of “you” in an email? Now THAT warrants censure.
(Final observation: What is up with these Florida state court judges? See Wednesday’s Judge of the Day.)
Judge Apologizes, Gets Reprimand for Viewing Porn in Chambers [Associated Press via How Appealing]
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Richard Albritton Jr.