State Judges

Toilet Stocks.JPG* California’s Supreme Court agreed to hear the case against Prop. 8. [Reuters]

* For all the associates who go crazy working late into the night in dark conference rooms dreaming of embezzling money from the firm–let this be a lesson to you. Employee Angela Marie Dees was arrested for stealing 1.67 million dollars from the California law firm Moore and Waxler. The crazy thing? The firm didn’t even notice until they did an audit. [mysuncoast.com]

* “Stung by outsize investment losses, some of the nation’s biggest companies are pushing Congress to roll back rules requiring them to put more money into their pension funds, just two years after President Bush signed a law meant to strengthen the pension system.” [NYT]

* A jury heard opening statements yesterday in the MySpace hoax case, the one where the suburban mother used a fake alias to terrorize a 13-year-old who killed herself as a result. [ABC]

* Even though bankers basically caused a world-wide recession causing thousands of lawyers to lose their jobs (thanks a lot), at least Barclay’s is giving the litigators some love. Barclay’s is suing a hedge fund for hiding $150 million in investments. [Bloomberg]

* Yesterday was National Toilet Day. Everybody who works on Wall Street already knew that. [UPI]

Philip Straniere before and after.jpgSalaries for New York judges have been capped at $136,700 for the past ten years. We reported on their attempt to force a raise by suing the New York legislature. New York Supreme Court justice Edward Lehner ruled in favor of mo’ money in June and gave the legislature 90 days to up their pay.

The state’s chief judge, Judith Kaye, was the force behind the lawsuit. But a lesser-known judge, Philip Straniere, of Staten Island, did his part to support the movement. He grew a big, bushy protest beard. He’s been wearing it for the last 14 months.

Unfortunately for cash-strapped New York judges, neither the beard nor lawsuit have done the trick as of yet. According to the New York Law Journal, New York Governor David Paterson has appealed Lehner’s decision. The judges’ brief defending Lehner’s decision is due Friday, with argument scheduled for November.

Straniere has not given up the protest, but he has given up the beard, in order to look less like Father Christmas while he runs for a state Supreme Court judgeship. His shave made the news. From the Staten Island Advance:

Straniere scores points for his Family Guy reference with a shout-out to Peter Griffin’s bird-infested growth. Negative points for the barber for butchering Straniere’s chin.

Paterson Seeks Reversal of Order to Boost Judges’ Pay [New York Law Journal]

Shave and a haircut (not pictured) [Staten Island Advance]

Earlier: Judicial Pay Raise Watch: New York

no_poop.jpgWe like the occasional poo-poo joke here at ATL, but we’re torn between amusement and disgust in the case of Cornell Tyler, 37, who is being tried for murder in Markham Courthouse in Illinois. His actions give new meaning to Freud’s anal-sadistic phase.

Tyler used sandwich bags from lunch to create excrement bombs on Thursday. He tried to use them on Circuit Judge Kathleen Panozzo, but her deputies took the hit. From the Chicago Tribune:

“The judge said, ‘Is your name Cornell Tyler?’ ” [Assistant State Atty. Ted] Lagerwall said. “He said, ‘My name is Self Destruction, but you can call me Smitty–well, I mean [expletive].’”

Tyler then quickly reached down the front of his pants and pulled out the baggie but the deputies beside him pounced on him.

“In that scuffle, he did throw the excrement toward the front of the courtroom,” Mateck said. “The judge was not injured, but unfortunately our deputies were . . . adversely affected.”

Poor deputies. The courtroom had to be cleared because it “stunk to high heavens.”

It seems likely that Tyler’s nickname will change from “Self Destruction” to “No More Fiber For Me.”

Defendant tosses excrement at Markham Courthouse judge [Chicago Tribune]

ShawnDya L Simpson Judge ShawnDya Simpson.jpgOver the weekend, the New York Times had an interesting article about New York judges and their robes. It begins:

In Britain, judges are wedded to a tradition of elegant attire: scarlet and ermine robes, tippets over the shoulders, black girdles and, of course, the crimped, gray horsehair wig.

Minor correction: British judges have dispensed with wigs, except in criminal proceedings.
The article then discusses the robe-wearing styles of various judges. Judge ShawnDya Simpson, for example, “rarely fastens all the buttons and often accents [her robe] with a scarf or necklace,” or sometimes dispenses with a robe in favor of a lime-green suit.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Do Robes Make the Judge?”

tills.jpgNew York judge Ronald Tills is the guy you want in charge of your bachelor party. You might think he’s out of touch at 73 years old, but he still knows where to find the ladies. Unfortunately, they’re the kind you have to pay for.

Tills pleaded guilty last week to violating the Mann Act by bringing a prostitute across a state line. Among his other prostitute-related offenses, as reported by the Buffalo News:

  • He was responsible for recruiting out-of-state prostitutes to work a Jesters meeting in Dunkirk “in or about September 2001,” while serving as director of the Buffalo chapter of the Jesters.

  • He recruited an illegal alien prostitute from a North Tonawanda massage parlor to service men at a Jesters event in Kentucky in October 2005.
  • He arranged for transporting prostitutes from Buffalo Niagara International Airport to a national Jesters meeting in Niagara Falls, Ont., in the spring of 2006.
  • A retired acting New York Supreme Court justice and Court of Claims judge, Tills must have been known as the “Grand Poobah of Prostitute Procurement” to the Royal Order of Jesters.

    According to the Jesters website, it’s a Masonic organization descended from the Shriners, but it’s not into charity like most Masonic groups. It has “a fun ‘degree’, with absolutely no serious intent.” Just the serious intent to get busy with prostitutes.

    Former judge Tills faces likely prison term after admitting he recruited prostitutes [Buffalo News]

    Former Judge Pleads Guilty to Transporting Prostitute Across State Lines [New York Law Journal]

    Surely You Jest: Former New York Judge Admits to Violating Mann Act [WSJ Law Blog]

    Daisy Duke Daisy Dukes Jessica Simpson.jpgJudges who hold people in contempt, or even jail them, for letting their cellphones go off in court — e.g., Robert Restaino, Diane Boswell — may be overreacting.
    The same can’t be said for Judge Janet Booth, of Garrard County, Kentucky. Judge Booth just sent a woman to jail, for three days, for wearing short shorts to court.
    This was completely justified. Short shorts do not belong in court. Nor do they belong in the office.
    Fashion lesson over. Class dismissed.
    P.S. And if you’re a guy, don’t forget to wear a tie to court — especially if you’re arguing before the Federal Circuit.
    Judge jails woman for wearing short shorts [On the beat in the Bluegrass]
    Note to West Coast Lawyers: The Federal Circuit Requires a Tie [WSJ Law Blog]
    Earlier: Shorts Crack the Code [Dealbreaker]

    Ernest Murphy Judge Ernest B Murphy Above the Law blog.jpgBack in 2007, Judge Ernest B. Murphy won his libel case case against the Boston Herald. The Herald had reported that Murphy was soft on crime and, well, nobody puts Baby in the corner.
    But winning just wasn’t enough for Judge Murphy. After he won he sent two threatening letters to Patrick Purcell, publisher of the Herald, on court stationery. The letters, which included the use of all-caps as pioneered by Chief Justice John Marshall, demanded that the Herald drop its appeal and hand deliver a check for half a million dollars more than the judgment, plus interest.
    According to the Boston Globe, “Purcell testified that the letters were intimidating and looked like ransom notes.”
    Yesterday, Murphy agreed to resign. Murphy claimed to have post-traumatic stress from his battle with the Herald. The Commission on Judicial Conduct had recommended a $25,000 fine, but they may amend their report in light of Murphy’s resignation.
    We’d make a joke about how a judge could incur psychologically destructive stress from participating in a lawsuit, but we’re terrified that Murphy will sue us under the ADA.
    Judge who sued Herald agrees to leave bench [Boston Globe via WSJ Law Blog]
    Earlier: Murphy v. Boston Herald: Some Beantown Benchslappery

    Elizabeth Halverson small Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.JPGA tipster dubbed yesterday “the day legal comedy died.” From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

    While the Judicial Discipline Commission weighs the fate of embattled District Judge Elizabeth Halverson, voters delivered their own verdict Tuesday, deciding Halverson must go.

    Halverson, who faces complaints of falling asleep on the bench and harassing her staff, received less than 10 percent of the vote, trailing opponents Stefany Miley and Jason Landess, who will move to the general election in November.

    Alas, it appears that the ATL endorsement was not enough to save her candidacy.

    A woman who declined to give her name as she walked out of Ruth Fyfe Elementary School said she and her husband specifically showed up at the polls to voice their displeasure with Halverson. The couple called her “goofy.”

    “I voted against her because of the recent happenings, her health issues … everything,” the woman said.

    Voter Barbara Lloyd said she too wanted to be sure Halverson wasn’t re-elected.

    “I want her out of office,” Lloyd said. “I haven’t been impressed with her at all.”

    Really? Despite her Harvard Law Review-quality work?

    Halverson’s run for office appeared to be bleak before she faced the discipline commission. According to her campaign contribution reports, she had $5,200 in her election coffers thanks to a loan from herself.

    La Halverson, taking a page from the Hillary playbook. But five grand is nothing compared to $25 million.
    Halverson ousted; Miley top vote-getter [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

    Elizabeth Halverson small Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.JPGThis just in, from a West Coast tipster who has been following L’Affaire Halverson obsessively:

    Halverson passes out at hearing; adjourned due to medical reasons. Based on live observations…

    Update: More details from the AP:

    A disciplinary hearing for a suspended Nevada state judge has been postponed, after she reported she felt ill.

    The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline suspended the hearing in its fifth day after Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Halverson’s lawyer said the diabetic judge experienced a hypoglycemic, or low blood sugar, episode.

    The hearing is due to resume next Thursday and Friday in Las Vegas.

    Further Update: More from our Halverson-obsessed tipster, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Judge Halverson Passes Out; Hearing Postponed”

    Elizabeth Halverson small Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.JPGAmerica’s favorite plus-size jurist, Judge Elizabeth Halverson, is back in the news. The disciplinary hearing to remove her from the bench — figuratively, not literally — got underway today.
    Earlier this afternoon, from a Halverson-following reader:

    CNN.com has live video stream of the Judge Halverson trial/hearing. I just started listening to it, so there hasn’t been anything real juicy yet. The first issue was Judge Halverson’s ability to use the restroom and the adequacy of the facilities at the hearing location.

    And an update:

    [So far] nothing that is new news. Her bailiff has been testifying about all the things he had to do for her. They are on a lunch breach until 4 PM Eastern time.

    Ah, Judge Halverson’s lunch break. Expect the proceedings to resume around…. 8 PM?
    In defense of Judge Halverson, is she getting a fair shake from the State Commission on Judicial Discipline? From the AP:

    Nevada’s state judicial disciplinary panel is being asked to ban a suspended judge from calling witnesses or introducing evidence during hearings next week that could strip her of her elected position.

    Insert Guantanamo joke here.
    Panel Asked to Limit Judge Halverson’s Defense in Hearings [Las Vegas Now]
    Panel asked to limit judge’s defense in hearings [AP]

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