The Honorable James M. Brooks — a California trial judge and prior Judge of the Day honoree, with a history of getting himself into hotwater — might want to leave comedy to James L. Brooks.
Judge Brooks’s attempts at humor didn’t go over too well with the folks upstairs. From On Point News:
A California judge’s jocular behavior backfired as an appeals court ordered a new trial in an employment bias case, ruling that he had created a “circus atmosphere” and “a courtroom is not the Improv.”…
Brooks’s performance in the bias case against Ricoh Electronics suggests the CJP let him off lightly. The jury returned a defense verdict after a 31-day jury trial during which, the 4th District Court of Appeal said, the judge “allowed, indeed helped create, a circus atmosphere, giving defendants’ lawyer free rein to deride and make snide remarks at will and at the expense of plaintiffs and their lawyer.”
Among other things, Brooks flashed a hand-lettered sign saying “Overruled” when plaintiffs’ counsel Michelle A. Reinglass made objections. “It’s lightening things up,” he said when she objected to the sign.
The appellate court was not amused:
[A] courtroom is not the Improv and the presider’s role model is not Judge Judy. We can only imagine what was in the jurors’ minds as they endured a 30-plus day trial in this atmosphere or the impression of the judicial system they took away with them posttrial.
Jane Ann Morrison, columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, had a column yesterday that put quite a smackdown on two-time Judge of the Day Elizabeth Halverson (see her previous honors here and here). Along with some catty renditions of some of the facts we already knew (like the fact that Judge Halverson’s pre-judicial legal experience apparently consists of 9 years as a state court law clerk, getting FIRED from that job, losing her first election, and then somehow winning her second), Morrison provides some of the juicy details of the hefty judge’s outrageous behavior that led to her needing her own security force in the first place.
From the column:
Halverson spent nine years as a fairly lowly law clerk. (I always assumed the 425-pound woman, according to her driver’s license, stayed as long as she could for the county’s health insurance coverage.)
After she was fired, she ran for one judgeship, lost, but in 2006 won on her second try.
Before long, stories started coming out of the Regional Justice Center about her contemptuous behavior toward her staff, particularly her bailiff, Johnny Jordan. Halverson, who had never had real power, was relishing it, throwing a pencil on the floor and ordering him to pick it up. Jordan was ordered to give her foot rubs and back massages. He has since filed a complaint against his former boss alleging discrimination based on sex and race. He is black and says she treated him like a “house boy.”
Apparently the other judges in the courthouse felt the need for a judicial intervention with Halverson:
Court officials realized they were going to be slapped with multiple lawsuits alleging hostile work environment if no action was taken. Three judges were asked to help Halverson, Family Court Judge Art Ritchie and District Judges Stewart Bell and Sally Loehrer.
A memo details an April 6 meeting between Halverson and the three judges:
• She’s told it’s inappropriate to have staff rub her feet or her back. Her answer: She’d told the bailiff to stop that, that he’d become too familiar with her.
• She’s told she should not require staff to show up at 6:45 a.m. to wait for her arrival at 8 or 8:30 a.m. Her answer: She’d told the bailiff not to come early, but he wouldn’t listen.
• She’s told she should not have staff make her lunch. Answer: The bailiff wants to make her lunch.
• She’s told there are 20-25 orders missing. Answer: She’s shocked.
• She’s told it’s unethical to make statements showing bias against attorneys, particularly those who didn’t give to her campaign. Answer: Yes, she said it, but since nobody gave her money for her campaign, she’s not discriminating against anyone.
• She’s told the demeaning way she talks to her husband, Ed, referring to him as a “bitch” (and worse), is offensive to staff. Answer: She doesn’t know why that would upset the staff, but the solution is to have him not come to her chambers.
• Told she should treat people with dignity and respect, Halverson said she didn’t know specifically what she was doing wrong.
After she answered every allegation made against her, Judge Bell told her, “If you can’t see it, you can’t fix it. Get some psychological help.”
On April 12, the three judges tried to meet with Halverson again at 4:30 p.m. She was in a civil nonjury trial. The three judges waited until 6 p.m. before leaving. Later, the judges said they confirmed her trial was over, but she waited in the courtroom until she confirmed they had departed. The judges said Halverson will “falsely” claim she was in trial. Essentially, the judges called her a liar.
We also have it on good authority that she told her doctor she was just “big-boned.”
But despite all of this, Las Vegas voters will have to wait 18 more months to get rid of the behemoth they so nonchalantly voted into office. That is unless a complaint is filed with the Judicial Discipline Commission; the article says that investigators are working on putting one together.
Oh yeah, did we mention that she’s huge?
[Justice] Rivera-Soto is a New Jersey Supreme Court justice, and he now faces an ethics complaint charging that he abused his position when he contacted several local officials in an attempt to help his son, who was having trouble with a teammate on his high school football team.
In a rare action against a member of New Jersey’s highest court, the state’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, which filed the complaint on Friday, accused Justice Rivera-Soto of violating court rules, including engaging in conduct “prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.”
So what’s the basis for the complaint? More discussion, after the jump.
State court judges are like bratty kids, or pets that aren’t housebroken. You can’t take them anywhere.
Because they’ve probably already been banned from where you were planning to take them. Even if the place in question is the courthouse.
Consider the Honorable Elizabeth Halverson (at right). From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
The District Court chief judge on Thursday banned District Judge Elizabeth Halverson from the county courthouse.
In an administrative order, Chief Judge Kathy Hardcastle said Halverson jeopardized security at the courthouse this week by bringing her own two bodyguards into the courthouse and allowing them to bypass security checks.
As for why Judge Halverson needs two (2) bodyguards — and no, we won’t make the obvious joke — there’s quite a backstory, full of juicy judicial infighting. You can read all about it here.
And Judge Halverson isn’t the only state judge getting banned from public places these days. Meet the Honorable Fred Axley.
From the Legal Reader:
A Memphis judge is banned from a Florida resort. He is accused of sexually harassing an employee. Eyewitness News Everywhere uncovered this is not the first time Criminal Court Judge Fred Axley has been accused of sexual harassment….
Now he has been banned from a resort in Destin, FL, after an employee there says he sexually harassed her last week….
When we called the resort, an employee who asked not to be named, told us Axley had propositioned a massage therapist there for oral sex.
Wow, that’s quite a ways to go just to get your way on a motion to suppress. A 57-year-old Douglas County, Colorado judge and a 29-year-old female prosecutor in the same county have admitted to having sex on multiple occasions in the courthouse. From the Rocky Mountain News (via How Appealing):
As rumors of their romance became fodder for courthouse gossip, the complaint said, [Judge Grafton Minot] Biddle encouraged [prosecutor Laurie] Steinman to permanently delete messages they exchanged using their e-mail accounts at work.
“If people read this stuff, we’re dead,” Biddle told Steinman, according to the complaint.
The pair is accused of other ethical lapses, including Steinman prosecuting two cases in Biddle’s court without disclosing their relationship. Biddle gave Steinman feedback following one of the trials, which ended in an acquittal, the complaint said.
The judge resigned, the prosecutor was fired, and both face disciplinary action from the Bar. Here’s hoping that was some good, worth-losing-my-career-over lovemaking.
We’re giving this guy our “Judge of the Day” award, ’cause there’s no telling what he might do if he didn’t get it. From the Florida Times-Union:
A Jacksonville judge pulled a handgun in his courtroom after a spectator attacked a defendant.
The fracas occurred Friday after a crime victim’s father hurdled a railing and punched the handcuffed defendant.
Circuit Judge John Merrett then handed his gun to a clerk for safekeeping when he realized bailiffs had subdued the attacker. He met with the man in his chambers and later ordered him released without bail even though he was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors.
Judge Merrett is awesome. When he ran for office, he pledged that he would “do whatever was necessary to give defendants and the public speedy trials.” And that includes whipping out a pistol in open court!
Of course, a whiny PD complained about Judge Merrett exercising his Second Amendment rights:
Most judges in Duval County have concealed weapons permits and have gone through firearms training even if they don’t carry a gun. Merrett, a former assistant state attorney, said he has had extensive firearms training.
Duval County Public Defender Bill White said the incident was scary enough for lawyers in the courtroom that he plans to talk to the chief judge about disarming the judges.
Thankfully, this effort probably won’t get much traction:
The chief judge said he encourages all the judges to receive firearms training and obtain concealed weapons permits.
Let’s hope this trend of judges packing heat under their robes continues. There are some encouraging signs. We hear that a certain elderly female judge, in the Southern District of New York, has a fondness for firearms (and carries a concealed weapon). Fantastic!
P.S. We can’t say we’re entirely surprised by this story. Doesn’t Judge Merrett look like a bearded version of Scott Savol, the former American Idol contestant who was charged with misdemeanor assault? Judge Pulls Pistol in Court [Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)] Merrett takes lead as new judge in the 4th circuit [Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)]
Remember the Michigan Supreme Court benchslappery that we wrote about earlier today? We left out the best part.
Justice Maura Corrigan argues that it would be embarrassing, petty, and just plain silly for a justice to explain each and every recusal decision. She employs a little “reductio ad absurdum” to make her point:
WOW. And you thought YOUR mom was embarrassing!
P.S. As for Daniel Corrigan Grano being “very handsome,” you don’t need to take Justice Corrigan’s word for it. As a city councilman, Daniel Grano is a public figure, and his picture is readily available on these internets.
We’ve posted it at right — what do you think? He’s not a bad-looking fellow, in our opinion. But maybe he could do something more interesting with his hair? Earlier: Back to the Sandbox: The Michigan Supreme Court
Forget about the proverbial “Girls.” The justices of the Michigan Supreme Court have “Go[ne] Wild,” according to the Detroit News (via How Appealing).
It’s a long and tortured saga. The upshot is that Justice Elizabeth Weaver believes that when a Michigan Supreme Court justice recuses herself from a case, she is obligated to explain the reasons for her recusal. A number of Justice Weaver’s colleagues disagree — vociferously. And they have traded benchslaps over it.
You can read their dueling statements here (PDF). Some highlights (all emphases added):
– Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., asks Justice Weaver to give the recusal issue a rest: “It is well past time for Justice Weaver to end her siege and begin to again devote her energies to the work of this Court rather than the destruction of her colleagues and the reputation of this Court.
– Justice Maura D. Corrigan — who, as Jan Crawford Greenburg reveals in Supreme Conflict, was considered by the Bush Administration as a possible SCOTUS nominee (but withdrew from consideration) — cattily kicks off her opinion by quoting the lyrics to a Broadway show. She quotes Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics for “Comedy Tonight,” which she brings back near the end of her opinion, by imploring Justice Weaver to “cut the comedy.”
– Justice Corrigan addresses Justice Weaver by her first name (yeah, we’re LOVING it): “Betty, can’t we stop wasting the taxpayers’ money on this frolic and detour?… Whatever your goal, this low comedy of your making can only end in tragedy: the public’s loss of respect for this Court and for our state’s judicial branch.”
– And there’s more. In the final paragraph of her opinion, Justice Corrigan calls upon Justice Weaver, “my one-time friend and still colleague, to rejoin the fold of ordinary mortals with the other six of the people’s justice, doing the people’s important work.”
“One-time friend”? OUCH. It’s très playground, but deliciously so.
Justice Corrigan to Justice Weaver: “We are NOT BFFs. And gimme back my fruit roll-up, bitch!” Mich. top judges go wild [Detroit News] Feuding justices spar as they work [Detroit Free Press] People v. Parsons (PDF) [Michigan Supreme Court]
[All links via How Appealing (hefty linkwrap).] Earlier: Benchslapped: Michigan Supreme Court Justices — Why Can’t They All Just Get Along?
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
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