State Judges Are Clowns

Linda Greenhouse 6 New York Times Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* The best argument for immigration reform: qualified (i.e., hot) fashion models are being kept off American runways. [Fashionista]
* What rating does ATL get — e.g., G, PG, R, etc. — using this tool? To give you context, NBS is a PG-13. [Nasty, Brutish & Short]
* What blogs does Linda Greenhouse read? [My Times ("Journalist's Picks") via Romenesko]
* What blogs do judges read? [May It Please the Court]
* And what blogs should they read? [Blawg Review]
* Speaking of judges, here’s our Judge of the Day — possibly offensive, and wrong on the law too. [AP via NYT]
* The Weekly Standard’s Jonathan Last, on the Nixon Peabody non-theme-song: “Some things you just can’t un-hear.” [Galley Slaves]

Marian Shelton Bronx Family Court Judge Marian Shelton Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLast week we described the Honorable Marian Shelton, of Bronx Family Court, as “a true judicial diva.” Here’s more about her, from the New York Post:

A Bronx judge had a court clerk’s wife handcuffed and tossed in a cell for contempt – because she whispered “a**hole” after her husband was kept late at work, a state panel has charged.

Family Court Judge Marian Shelton screamed at the woman, “He’ll leave when he’s finished his work, not when you tell him!” before ordering court officers to take her to a holding cell for the weekend….

Pretty awesome. Should we be surprised to learn that Judge Shelton’s wedding was presided over by another colorful and cantankerous New Yorker, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani?
Interesting enough, Judge Shelton is being eyed for elevation — but not to an appellate court. Details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Marian Shelton: A Judge Judy in Waiting?”

John Plough Ohio Portage County Judge John Plough Above the Law blog.jpgWe alluded to this briefly last week (item #3). But since a number of you have emailed us about it, let’s take a second look.
Judge John Plough, of Portage County, Ohio, is our hands-down Judge of the Day. From the Law & Justice Unit of ABC News:

Portage County Judge John Plough had assistant public defender Brian Jones arrested for contempt of court last week after Jones refused to begin a misdemeanor assault trial because he said he was unprepared. Jones was assigned to the case one day earlier….

Plough’s ruling prompted an outcry from defense lawyers, both in Ohio and across the country. Carmen Hernandez, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said in a statement that defense lawyers have an ethical obligation not to start trial if they are not prepared.

“Asking a lawyer to go to trial without preparation is like asking a doctor to perform surgery before diagnosing the patient,” she said.

Well, look on the bright side. At least the defendant’s speedy trial right is being vindicated!
Judge Has Unprepared Lawyer Arrested [ABC News]

* Ann Althouse is a visiting professor at Brooklyn Law School this year — and they’ve put her up in an apartment with some pretty sweet views. (Perhaps she can see 125 Broad Street, home of Sullivan & Cromwell, where she once worked as an associate.) [Althouse]
* Pope Benedict: Tax evasion is sinful (in case you didn’t know that already). [TaxProf Blog]
* Judge to public defender: What, you’re not ready to go to trial on a case you’ve had for less than a day? I’m holding you in contempt! [Record-Courier]
* Courtesy of Orin Kerr, pointers for how to talk about the Jose Padilla verdict at the next cocktail party you attend. [Volokh Conspiracy]

Michael Joyce Judge Michael Thomas Joyce Michael T Joyce Above the Law blog.jpgWe fondly remember this episode of 90210: “Brenda gets into a car accident. The woman involved in the accident claims she has whiplash and threatens to sue the Walsh family.”
But then, when Brenda visits the woman at home to apologize, she looks through the living room window — and sees the woman jazzercising in front of her TV!
We were reminded of it by this AP story:

An appeals court judge was indicted on charges of scamming $440,000 from insurers by claiming he suffered debilitating injuries in a car crash, even while he golfed, skated and went scuba diving, federal prosecutors said….

“The bodily injury he says he sustained we believe was fraudulent,” U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said.

According to the indictment, Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Michael Thomas Joyce “received $390,000 from his insurer, Erie Insurance Group, and $50,000 from State Farm Insurance, which insured the other driver.” But maybe the insurers should have been a little suspicious:

Prosecutors said Joyce’s car was rear-ended at about 5 mph in August 2001, and no police or medical personnel were called…. [Yet] Joyce complained of debilitating injuries, anxiety and difficulty sleeping and claimed they prevented him from pursuing higher judicial office, prosecutors said.

Being indicted on federal fraud charges might “prevent[] him from pursuing higher judicial office,” too.
Pa. Judge Accused of Bilking Insurers [Associated Press]

Elizabeth Halverson 3 Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.jpg
Since the last coverage of her on ATL, the Energizer-bunny-esque Judge Elizabeth Halverson has been ordered on the inactive list by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline.
Following an emotional plea by Halverson in a rare television interview, and a similar public plea by two sexy ex-Halverson staffers (a law clerk and a secretary), the hearing transcripts have been released by the Nevada Supreme Court.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal published a story this morning that basically places the final nail in the 425 500 lb jurist’s cavernous coffin career:

District Judge Elizabeth Halverson’s former bailiff testified that she fell asleep daily in court and frequently told him to shoot her husband, according to transcripts of a closed-door hearing that were made public Wednesday.

Yes, you read that right: “frequently told him to shoot her husband.”
(Dozing off on the bench is no big deal. Some highly regarded judges do it all the time.)
The balance of the insanity, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Update on the Large (and Decidedly NOT In Charge) Judge Elizabeth Halverson”

Marian Shelton Bronx Family Court Judge Marian Shelton Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, she looks like a cross between Chelsea Clinton and your fourth-grade English teacher. But make no mistake about it: Judge Marian Shelton is a true judicial diva, and not to be messed with.
From the New York Daily News:

Bronx Family Court Judge Marian Shelton allegedly yelled at a lawyer to “shut up,” tossed a woman from court for wearing “inappropriate” clothing, told a Caribbean man to “take those stupid things out of your hair” and said a lawyer had “mental health issues.”…

“Go to therapy, but don’t act out in my courtroom,” Shelton allegedly snapped at one law guardian in a 2005 case.

In another instance, she allegedly mocked the accent of lawyer Mariana Toledo-Hermina.

“How is Toledo-Hermina an attorney when you cannot understand what she is saying?” Shelton allegedly said.

But Judge Shelton has her defenders. Like her husband:

In May, anticipating the [disciplinary] charges, Shelton’s husband, wealthy former Proskauer Rose lawyer Saul Cohen, took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to bash the commission.

Full-page NYT ads aren’t cheap. But then again, neither is chivalry.
Bronx judge scorn to be wild? [New York Daily News via Gothamist]

Larry Seidlin Judge Lawrence Seidlin Above the Law Anna Nicole Smith.jpgJudge Larry Seidlin is best known for tearfully presiding over the Anna Nicole Smith proceedings in Florida state court. But perhaps it’s the American people who should be shedding tears right now. From the Daily Business Review:

Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin – the weeping probate judge who presided over the recent legal fight for custody of Anna Nicole Smith’s body – announced today that he is leaving the bench at the end of this month.

“It is now time for me to devote more of my daily life to my own young family and to pursue the many opportunities that have been offered to me outside the judicial system,” Seidlin wrote in his resignation letter to Gov. Charlie Crist.

So why should we shed tears over the departure of this fine jurist?

It has been rumored that Seidlin has a television show in the works.

Update: The rumors appear to be true. Seidlin reportedly has reached a deal with CBS.
Judiciary: Judge Seidlin resigns [Daily Business Review]
Anna Nicole Smith Judge Larry Seidlin Cuts Deal With CBS [Fox News]

Miami Beach Golden Girls Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgMake that EX-judges of the day, since they’ve both resigned from the bench — one after being arrested on drug charges, and the other after allegedly making inappropriate comments to a female prosecutor.
What is up with state court judges in South Florida?
(Remember this guy?)
Judge accused in pot-smoking case resigns [Daily Business Review]
Courts: Judge abruptly exits [Daily Business Review]
Resignation of Judge Klein [Rumpole via Southern District of Florida Blog]
Earlier: Bong Hits 4 Anna Nicole Smith Judge?

Wilbur Mathesius Judge Bill Mathesius Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThere aren’t many two-time winners of ATL’s Judge of the Day award. The members of that distinguished group are true pieces of work — jurists like Judge James M. Brooks and Judge Elizabeth Halverson.
But we think that Judge Wilbur Mathesius, of Mercer County, New Jersey, richly deserves membership in the club. If you question this conclusion, just click here, to read what one tipster described as “a judicial hissy fit, with great footnotes.”
Some background. The New Jersey Supreme Court recently disciplined Judge Mathesius, suspending him from the bench for 30 days, and directing him to “reflect on his position of authority and the manner in which he exercises that position of authority.” So Judge Mathesius did just that:

I removed to a remote and undisclosed location to encourage contemplation and reflection. To provide further catalyst to my reflective capacities, I subsisted on a Zen macrobiotic vegetarian diet, an occasional leaf or two of organic radicchio and Evian water, foraging as best I could for native fruits and nuts. The occasional tuna sushi was like gold. I report herewith the product of that reflection…

That’s just the beginning. Check out the whole thing by clicking here.
In the words of a second source: “Shhhh, listen, that’s the sound of his judicial career going down the toilet.”
The Full Mathesius [New Jersey Lawyer]
Judge’s critique pounds system [Trenton Times]
Judge’s Words Cost Him A Suspension Of 30 Days [New York Times (TimesSelect)]
Earlier: Judges of the Day: Wilbur Mathesius and James Brooks

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