Judge of the Day

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor

Oh, condominiums. To own your own box of air in the sky, subject to the terms and conditions of your neighbors and building managers. Lex Luthor always had this right: either you own land or ponces wearing underwear on the outside can swoop in and ruin your good time.

We’ve got a couple of lawyer/condo issues floating around, so let’s tackle them together. We’ve got a Miami judge who allegedly likes to kick in doors to her own unit. And we’ve a New York lawyer who wants satisfaction over 109 missing square feet…

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Mmm... lunch.

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…

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Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas - with her clothes ON.

We’ve been covering the salacious tale of Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas, a Canadian judge, for several months now. Justice Douglas — associate chief justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba, and a member of the Canadian Judicial Council — is currently the subject of an ethics investigation. As mentioned earlier, “naked photographs of [Justice Douglas] engaging in bondage, playing with sex toys and performing oral sex were previously posted on the internet.”

Our stories on Justice Douglas, collected here, have been quite popular. They have generated strong traffic. But some readers had the predictable reaction of TTIWWOP — “This Thread Is Worthless Without Pictures.”

Well, now we have the pictures….

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Judge Gary Sharpe

Do you think there is a child porn “gene”? It’s an interesting scientific question (although I don’t really care, because I don’t believe in genetic determinism). I’m sure that one day science will give us some kind of answer.

But it is not this day. At this point we don’t know if there are any genetic predispositions that explain why sick-ass people are sexually excited by naked children.

This limit in our scientific understanding did not stop U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe from sentencing an offender based on his belief about what science will one day uncover.

Well, the power of judges may be inscrutable, but it’s not absolute. They can’t make entire sequences of DNA show up on demand. They can’t see into the future. And apparently they can’t keep their sentences from being overturned on appeal when they base their decisions on science that does not exist…

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Justice Lori Douglas: Underneath her robe lies the body of a porn star.

The last time we checked in on Madam Justice Lori Douglas, the Canadian judge who once appeared in internet porn, the news for Her Honor was good. Alex Chapman, the computer programmer who sued Justice Douglas for sexual harassment, dropped his $7 million lawsuit against the judge.

But Douglas isn’t out of the woods just yet. The civil suit against her may be gone, but the ethics complaint filed by Chapman remains — and has been deemed substantial and credible enough to merit further investigation, from a five-judge panel….

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We’ve covered in loving detail the alleged misadventures of Judge Jack Camp (N.D. Ga.). As you may recall, Judge Camp is the Atlanta federal judge who stands accused of purchasing and enjoying illegal drugs. And purchasing — and presumably enjoying — illegal sex, from an exotic dancer named Sherry Ann Ramos.

Last month, Judge Camp’s attorney stated that His Honor planned to plead not guilty. The possibility of seeing Judge Camp back in the courtroom, but maybe in an orange jumpsuit rather than a black robe, got us all excited.

But it now appears that the judge has had a change of heart. Much to the dismay of trial-seeking AUSAs around the country, defendants plead, they always plead….

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You think making pop culture references is something only bloggers do? Well think again. Because it seems judges on the Maryland Court of Appeals are getting into the game.

A reader dug up a case from this summer involving whether or not the state met the burden of proof necessary to show that a pot smoker “possessed” a blunt he wasn’t physically holding at the time.

The court ruled that he did, and analogized the situation to a Cheech and Chong movie.

I’m not sure if it was the decision or the dated reference which enraged the other side, but the dissenting judge pulled out South Park….

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We don’t usually have a lot of time to scour minute orders from the Orange County Superior Court.

But our readers do, and we rely on you guys to bring us the excellent news nobody knows about. Today, a loyal reader sent us some rulings from the Orange County last month. And one ruling caught our eye. We’re going to reprint it below, but scroll to the bottom of page 1 of this document if you want to see it in the original.

But before you look, take a second and think about the etymology of the word “piecemeal.” Don’t Google, just think. Okay, now think about whether it would be appropriate to use the word as a verb.

Okay, now consider what the judge thinks (especially if you are a lawyer in Orange County)…

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Court approved sippy-cup for lawyers appearing before Judge Gene Gasiorkiewicz.

If you’re a fan of state officials wasting valuable time, resources, and mental energy over issues of decorum and etiquette, you’re going to love Wisconsin Judge Gene Gasiorkiewicz. The Journal Times (gavel bang: ABA Journal) reports that this new Racine County Circuit Court judge has hit the bench with all sorts of decorum rules for lawyers appearing in his courtroom.

Many of the new rules are of the dress-code nature that we’ve come to expect from judges more concerned with style than substance. Judge Gasiorkiewicz requires Reagan-esque “coat and tie” attire in his courtroom. And, of course, ladies must have a mastectomy show absolutely no cleavage. We can’t have judges being distracted by barrel-chested men wearing mock turtlenecks or women with plunging necklines.

But while everybody is aware that judges have the attention span of goldfish and can be easily distracted by attorney attire, nobody expected Judge Gasiorkiewicz to take his Orwellian need for conformity all the way down to the level of beverage holders. But that’s because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Lawyers appearing before Judge Gasiorkiewicz now must use court-issued mugs.

And Wisconsin lawyers don’t seem to be pitching a fit over it. Either these attorneys are as docile as dairy cows, or they’ve decided to “let the baby have his bottle”….

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If you spend any time around criminal defense lawyers, progressive lawyers, or people in a black barber shop, you’ll hear the claim that African-American criminal defendants receive harsher sentences than their white counterparts. People have done studies about this, people have written reports about this, people have held conferences about this institutional expression of discrimination.

Rarely do we see anybody trying to do anything about it. There are many reasons this fundamental unfairness persists, but only one of those reasons makes any sense: at the end of the day, nobody wants to be more lenient on a convicted criminal just because that criminal is black. And nobody wants to be more harsh towards a white criminal just because he’s white. So while we have these wide variations in sentencing outcomes, judges can’t re-balance the system from the bench. They have to sentence the criminal in front of them.

But that doesn’t mean judges are blind to the racial injustice of the system. And it doesn’t mean that judges can’t do what they have to in order to make sure that a particular punishment fits the crime.

I’m sure that Judge Joseph Williams of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, will be making all of those arguments shortly. Because he just threw out a plea on the grounds that the prosecutor had been too lenient on the young criminal, just because the criminal is white.

And to be clear, this wasn’t a passing or offhand remark from Judge Williams. Instead, he really laid into the prosecutor in this case…

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