State Judges Are Clowns

halverson.jpg
Hello and good morning everyone. This is Billy Merck once again (yes, yes, “we hate you” and so forth; get it all out on the first post), filling in for Lat today. Don’t worry, we’re still going to be on the lookout for associate bonus announcements, so send them in if they happen and we’ll get them up pronto.
But we don’t know of any new announcements yet this morning, so we’ll start with an update on your favorite Nevada state judge, the immeasurable Elizabeth Halverson.
Yesterday the Nevada Supreme Court upheld an interim suspension of Judge Halverson by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. The slip opinion can be accessed here.
Our favorite part is the section dealing with Halverson’s propensity for falling asleep on the bench:

The deputy district attorney in the child molestation case testified that Judge Halverson had fallen asleep on the bench during the trial testimony before the jury. According to this witness, by that time, Judge Halverson had generated a reputation for falling asleep on the bench. Additionally, Judge Halverson’s former bailiff testified that Judge Halverson fell asleep on the bench virtually every day. Although the former JEA’s testimony did not reflect that Judge Halverson consistently slept while on the bench, the former JEA did testify that she had seen Judge Halverson dozing on a few occasions, and that on one occasion, she was called in by the former bailiff and a former court clerk because they could not awaken her.
With respect to this one occasion, the former bailiff and former JEA gave differing accounts as to Judge Halverson’s views on why she had fallen asleep. The former bailiff testified that she claimed that her blood pressure “must be going up” and that she “did not feel well.” The former JEA testified that Judge Halverson blamed the problem on medication “that did not agree with her” and also on the former JEA’s failure to “let her take a long enough nap” in chambers before trial proceedings recommenced. Judge Halverson did not testify at the hearing, but she did submit an affidavit to the Commission, which indicated that she lapsed into slumber on one occasion because of low blood sugar arising from her diabetes and her failure to eat. Although the record demonstrates that the occasion of sleeping described in Judge Halverson’s affidavit did not occur during the criminal trial, as depicted by the deputy district attorney, the record does not specify whether or not this instance of sleeping was the same as that described by Judge Halverson’s former staff.
The only testimony contradicting the testimony about Judge Halverson’s propensity to sleep while on the bench was the statement given by the JEA working for Judge Halverson at the time of the hearing that, in her two months with the judge, she had never seen the judge fall asleep on the bench.
The Commission’s written order noted that one confirmed occasion of falling asleep on its own would not warrant an interim suspension, but that when added to the other conduct, her sleep issues formed part of the basis for its decision. Additionally, the Commission noted that although a physical reason could explain Judge Halverson’s sleep issues, the judge had not offered any proof regarding the possible etiology of this tendency.

Come on, Halverson, don’t let pride make a fool of you. We suspect there are “physical reasons” for most of your difficulties. You should have embraced this as an ADA case, and you probably would’ve been able to stay on the bench.
As it is, you’re just obnoxious and large, and most definitely not in charge.
Prior ATL Halverson coverage
Slip opinion upholding Halverson’s suspension [Nevada Supreme Court (PDF)]

gay football Above the Law blog.jpgOne of the perks of being a judge is that everyone has to laugh at your jokes. Except when they’re in poor taste and arguably offensive.
If you’re going to make an attempt at humor in the courtroom, proceed with caution — even if you’re the one wearing the robe. From Rumpole (via S.D. Fla. Blog):

Well, those fine folks North Of the Border have done it again.

This time it is Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Levenson, who put his robed foot in his mouth by making an inappropriate joke about the Defendant in a sexual battery case during the charge conference….

To summarize, apparently the Defendant is a high school football player, and the case involved the allegation of illegal sexual contact with another male. Judge Levenson asked what position the defendant played. He was told “linebacker” and another person in the courtroom said “Tight End” at which point Judge Levenson said “Wide Receiver?”

A little bit more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Jeffrey Levenson”

He likes PD butts, and he cannot lie. From the New York Daily News (of course):

skirt suit nice butt Above the Law blog.jpgWhen a local judge laughingly said in open court that criminal defense lawyer Ruth Boyer had “a nice butt,” she was not flattered.

The sexist comment by LaGrange Town Justice Edmund Caplicki, made in July 2005, was reported to the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which yesterday publicly scolded the jurist for his “inappropriate” remark.

Caplicki, 62, told the watchdog group he was merely parroting the comments Boyer’s client – a man accused of theft – had made about the lawyer’s backside. But the panel noted the jurist not only quizzed three other male defendants on whether they agreed with the evaluation, but then mentioned it again to Boyer….

Boyer’s supervisor at the Dutchess County Public Defender’s office had the incident reported to the commission. Friends described Boyer, 42, as being anything but thin-skinned. “She has a very cordial, respectful and diplomatic approach to everything,” an assistant at Boyer’s law office, Larry Clark, told the Daily News. “It’s very hard to get a rise out of her.”

“But apparently not so difficult to get a rise out of Justice Caplicki,” as one of you notes.
Someone should put the Ed Caplicki in touch with Peter Barta, another connoisseur of court-appointed ass. And keep His Honor away from Ursula Ungaro at judicial conferences.
Public censure for judge who said lawyer had ‘nice butt’ [New York Daily News]


Herman Thomas Judge Herman Thomas spanking judge Above the Law blog.jpgJudge Herman Thomas — the Alabama state court judge who allegedly enjoyed spanking male prisoners, traded favorable treatment for sexual favors, and improperly interfered on behalf of a cousin in legal trouble — has resigned from the bench.
We sure will miss having him to smack around.
Judge Thomas resigns [Mobile Press-Register]
Alabama Judge Resigns Amid Investigation [AP]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Judge Herman Thomas (scroll down)

prostitute intern tramp Judge Ann Lokuta Above the Law blog.jpgHow have we not heard of her before? She’s fabulous! And for reasons that will soon become obvious, a Pennsylvania state court jurist, Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta, is today’s Judge of the Day.
From the Citizens Voice:

A former intern of Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta testified tonight the jurist called her a tramp for wearing a sleeveless shirt to work.

Rebecca Sammon took the stand in Lokuta’s misconduct trial and described another incident where Lokuta yelled at her for being nice on the phone.

Awesome. And there’s more:

Prothonotory Jill Moran testified lawyers got yelled at for clicking pens or writing too loudly in Lokuta’s courtroom. Prothonotary clerk Maura Cusick said Lokuta was either a good judge or a wicked judge.

A dichotomy couldn’t be more false: a wicked judge IS a good judge. The Honorable Ann Lokuta is a delicious judicial diva.
[Ed. note: Yes, we just learned what "prothonotary" means too. See here.]
More obscure terms for judicial staff members, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Ann Lokuta: My Intern Is a Tramp”

Gone Fishing Gone Fishin Above the Law blog.jpgOooh boy. What is it about jurists with the surname “Thomas”?
More lurid allegations are being made against Judge Herman Thomas, the Alabama state court judge who allegedly likes to spank male prisoners. From the Mobile Press-Register:

In affidavits filed in support of Michael Dewayne Anderson’s 2003 federal suit against Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas, three men made similar accusations about Thomas.

John Richardson said he saw Thomas “constantly” driving up his block to pick up a neighbor. That neighbor, Richardson said, “told me that as long as he plays the sex game with Judge Thomas, he wouldn’t have to worry about staying in jail.”

Nathaniel Agee said Thomas “inflicted burden and humiliation in my life.”

“Herman and I started off going fishing together, hanging out together. He would even drop by my house early some morning(s), and say he wanted to talk.”

Brokeback Pond? Apparently so:

Thomas increased the visits to his home, Agee said, “but when he found out my children were there, he started to become angry because we couldn’t be alone with each other. I tried to explain to Judge Thomas that it was all right to be friends and hang out, but I’m not into sexual relationships with a man.”

The funny and talented Jolene Roxbury, the ex-paralegal turned comedian and singer, has dedicated another song to Judge Thomas: You Bring the Paddle.
Check it out here. For more about Jolene, see her website. Delightful stuff — thanks, Jolene!
Claims Against Judge Thomas [Mobile Press-Register]
Jolene Roxbury: Certified Verbal Conversationalist
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Judge Herman Thomas (scroll down)

spanking small Society of Janus spank Herman Thomas Above the Law blog.jpgRemember Judge Herman Thomas, the Alabama state court judge who allegedly spanked a number of prisoners? Now there’s a theme song for the scandal, entitled “Spank Me.” Check it out here.
The creator and artist, Jolene Roxbury, is a former paralegal who decided several years ago that comedy was her true calling. You can learn more about her over at her website. Nice work, Jolene!
Jolene Roxbury: Certified Verbal Conversationalist
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Herman Thomas

spanking Society of Janus spank Herman Thomas Above the Law blog.jpgMobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas is ATL’s Judge of the Day. He takes the prize for his innovative approach to sentencing. From the Mobile Press-Register:

Authorities are investigating allegations that now-suspended Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas periodically removed prisoners from Mobile County Metro Jail and spanked them in a room at the courthouse, according to courthouse sources involved in the inquiry.

Once inside the room, according to the sources, the judge would ask the young men to drop their pants and prepare to be spanked with what they described as a wooden or fraternity-like paddle.

To quote ex-inmate Paris Hilton, “That’s hot.” We agree with these commenters:

“[I]n San Francisco we have lots of people who pay $200 a session for that kind of treatment. Perhaps this judge has a bright future in Bay Area.”

“That’s some kinky place. I think Senator Larry Craig would like to break INTO that prison!”

More details — including a description of the secret six-by-eight room that allegedly served as the judge’s S-and-M dungeon — are available here.
Authorities investigating paddling allegations against Judge Thomas [Mobile Press-Register]
Judge Accused Of Paddling Inmates [WKRG.com]

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?”

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