Judge of the Day

Judge Rae Lee Chabot

Society has a deal with judges. We don’t pay them very well — but, in exchange for salaries that are much lower than what they could earn in the private sector, they get to do whatever they heck they want. And get to be addressed as “Your Honor,” and wear really cool black robes.

One of the perks of judicial office is that it isn’t a nine-to-five job. Judges don’t have to punch a time clock; they come and go as they please. Court isn’t court until the judge takes the bench.

As long as a judge is reasonably current with his docket, he should be left alone. There is no face-time requirement for judges. (Sure, judges have to be on the bench for trials and oral arguments and such — but that’s not “face-time,” since the judge’s presence is actually necessary for the proceedings.)

In light of all this, I’m puzzled by the controversy over Judge Rae Lee Chabot. Judge Chabot has served on the Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan for over 10 years.

Sure, the allegations about how she spends her days are amusing — and we’ll name her our Judge of the Day, just for the heck of it. But is there really a problem here?

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If I were in their role and in their position, I probably wouldn’t understand it either, that a club really can’t attract minority members.

– Judge Gilbert S. Merritt Jr. of the Sixth Circuit, commenting to the New York Times about two of his colleagues on the court — Eric L. Clay and R. Guy Cole Jr., both African-American — and their strong reactions against a bankruptcy judge’s membership in an all-white, all-male country club.

(Judge Merritt is also a member of the Belle Meade Country Club, although an honorary one without voting privileges.)

Does this sign also mean no blacks or women allowed?

It’s the ruling that is splitting the Sixth Circuit apart. A federal bankruptcy judge, George Paine II, belongs to an all-white country club in Nashville. But there is a pesky judicial code of conduct that says that judges “should not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin,” according to the New York Times (gavel bang: ABA Journal).

That seems cut and dry to me. An all-white, all-male country club sounds a hell of a lot like an organization practicing “invidious discrimination.” But I’m not on the Sixth Circuit.

And the Sixth Circuit essentially told Judge Paine: guys in my high school used to belong to discriminatory clubs all the time, it was no big deal.

In a 10-8 decision, the circuit decided to allow Paine to continue his membership in the club and on the bankruptcy court.

So that code of judicial conduct means what exactly?

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Judge Philip Kirk

On Monday, Judge Philip Kirk of Wisconsin sentenced Delton D. Gorges, a 71-year-old former bus driver, to seven years in prison. Gorges was convicted on charges of sexually assaulting boys, after pleading no contest.

Judge Kirk had some odd words for the defendant at sentencing. Most notably, he told Gorges: “I think you were born gayer than a sweet-smelling jock strap.”

(I’m sorry, but is anyone else finding this transcript a little titillating? Maybe even Judge Kirk?)

Judge Kirk — today’s Judge of the Day, naturally — also expressed skepticism toward Gorges’s claim of heterosexuality: “I think that if anyone believes that in the last 10 years or 15 years all of a sudden you developed an interest in homosexuality and young boys, then I must have looked ravishing in my prom dress this year.”

(Well, Your Honor, you do wear a little black dress — well before the start of cocktail hour.)

Okay. Can we get some context up in here?

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What is up with judges in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area? Why are they such bad drivers?

Last month, Justice Antonin Scalia got into a fender-bender in northern Virginia. According to at least one witness, he was at fault — and got ticketed for it.

Today we learn about the roadway misadventures of a Maryland jurist, Judge Brian Kim. In case you’re wondering, yes, he’s Asian.

But his alleged offense doesn’t seem stereotypically Asian….

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A memo to judges: we do not want to see you naked (with the possible exception of the Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary). Please keep your clothes on, Your Honors.

We’re not talking just about Madam Justice Lori Douglas, the Canadian jurist whose nude photos surfaced on the internet. This message goes out to male judges too.

Like Pennsylvania judge Douglas Gummo, 42, who was arrested after he was apparently discovered naked, wrapped in nothing but a bed sheet, trying to access the hotel room (and maybe more?) of a female colleague….

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Madam Justice Lori Douglas, clothed.

It’s been a while since we last checked in on Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas, the Canadian jurist featured in pornographic photos that found their way to the internet. Today we have an update.

The update relates to Justice Douglas’s husband, Jack King — the Canada lawyer responsible for posting the pictures of his wife engaging in bondage, playing with sex toys and administering fellatio, among other activities….

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If you see this sign, turn in the opposite direction and START RUNNING.

We’ve spent a lot time covering Wisconsin’s dysfunctional state legislature. But did you know the state’s judicial branch is just as messed up?

We’ve discussed this before, but now there’s more to report. You know any semblance of bipartisan civility has broken down when one justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court calls the chief justice a “bitch” and vows to “destroy” her.

That would be shocking language if it was bandied about in a courthouse in the Bronx, but it’s just another day of state politics in Wisconsin. I’m telling you, we’re going to have to station the USS Inside Voices Please in the Great Lakes to chill this state out…

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Who says the Midwest is more laid back than the coasts? Who says Midwesterners are more polite than people who live in big cities? Who says working in a place like Iowa affords a higher quality of life and a better work/life balance than working in a place like Chicago?

Not United States District Court Judge Mark Bennett. No sir.

We’ve written about Judge Bennett before. He’s a funny guy. The last time we saw him, he was expressing his personal bias against “East Coast law firms,” in part because he think big city lawyers possess “unsurpassed arrogance.”

But Judge Bennett might be selling himself short. I don’t think the average East Coast lawyer’s arrogance even approaches what His Honor rolls with…

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It was quite shocking last October when word first surfaced that then-federal judge Jack Camp, at the time a senior judge for the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta), might have indulged in cocaine, marijuana, and sex with a prostitute. The charges were hard to believe, especially given Judge Camp’s judicial office.

But, as it turned out, there was some truth to the allegations. In November, Judge Camp pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from his role in a scandal that involved drugs, guns, sex, and a stripper named Sherry Ann Ramos.

Now new information has come to light that makes Judge Jack Camp’s behavior perhaps more understandable, even if still illegal….

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