State Judges

justice oconnor.jpgRetired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is not really retired yet. “I am more busy in retirement than before,” she told Above the Law in a recent interview. One of her myriad projects is Our Courts, a non-profit organization that develops Web-based games to teach seventh- and eighth-graders about government. We spoke with Justice O’Connor recently for our piece for the Washington Post reviewing the games.
We had hoped to actually play the games with her, but it turns out she’s not much of a gamer. Not being the computer type, she hasn’t actually played the Web-based games herself. “I watched young people play it. They have a lot of fun. They’re actively engaged. I think it’s very exciting,” she told us.
Justice O’Connor has been touring the country to promote the games. She even stopped in to chat with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. We got to catch up with her via conference call last month. We rung her up at One First Street — like some retired Biglaw partners, retired SCOTUS justices get to keep an office. After her secretary connected us, Justice O’Connor answered the phone: “Sandra Day O’Connor.”
We discovered that O’Connor is adamant about bringing an end to the election of judges in America. Read more from our interview, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Should Judicial Elections Be Abolished?
(Or: ATL chats with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.)”

judge herman_thomas.jpgFor long-time readers of Above The Law, Herman Thomas is a familiar name. He’s the former 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.
He gave up the paddle gavel two years ago. Now he’s headed to trial.
From the Associated Press:

Chief Assistant District Attorney Nicki Patterson said authorities began looking at Thomas after he changed a jail sentence in 2006 for his cousin, former Mobile County school commissioner David Thomas, even though the case was being handled by another judge. Other cases that Thomas had taken over from other judges without their approval soon surfaced, she said.

And what happened to the prisoners in the cases commandeered by Thomas?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ex-Judge Herman ‘Who Needs a Spanking?’ Thomas Now on Trial”

kevin_moriarty.jpgKimberly and Kevin Ireland, of Kansas, decided in 2007 to file for a divorce. Their case was mediated by state judge Kevin Moriarty. Things did not go well from there.
From a pro se complaint [PDF] against Moriarty posted at Courthouse News Service:

Defendant Moriarty used the word “f*&%” during the mediation… Defendant Moriarty discussed plaintiff Ireland’s female undergarments and referred to the same as “panties” during the mediation… Defendant Moriarty discussed plaintiff Ireland’s sex life during the mediation.

According to Kathy Ireland, none of this was relevant to the mediation. But Moriarty thought it was important. And exciting:

Defendant Moriarty appeared to be masturbating during the mediation.

It all sounds pretty crazy, right? But Ireland’s ex-husband is actually backing her up on this.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Kevin P. Moriarty”

flat tire judge robert nalley.jpgSpeaking of judges with tempers… From the Washington Post:

A Charles County judge is under investigation for allegedly letting the air out of the tire of a car belonging to a woman who works as a part-time cleaning worker at the courthouse, according to the car owner and sources familiar with the incident.

Two county sheriff’s jail officers said they saw Circuit Court Judge Robert C. Nalley letting the air out of the back right tire of a 2004 Toyota Corolla parked just outside the La Plata courthouse about 3:45 p.m. Monday, according to the two sources.

Apparently, the woman had taken Nalley’s spot:

Jean Washington, the owner of the Toyota, said in an interview that she had just entered the courthouse for her work shift when a sheriff’s deputy alerted her, “Jean, you need to move your car. Judge Nalley’s going to let the air out of it.”
Washington, 51, said she rushed out and moved her car to a different parking lot, farther from the courthouse. When she pulled into another parking spot, another sheriff’s deputy told her that her rear passenger tire was flat, Washington said.

Judge Nalley, we kind of love you. That’s what you get for taking a judge’s parking spot, cleaner lady!

Unfortunately, Nalley may not be entitled to his parking spot righteousness.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Robert C. Nalley”

fuck.jpgJeffrey L. Marcuzzo is a Nebraska county judge with a temper. Leigh Jones at the National Law Journal reports that Marcuzzo’s corn got husked when a prosecutor rescheduled a matter before him back in October 2007. Marcuzzo called and left a vulgar message on the prosecutor’s voicemail:

“I did not appreciate that one f**king bit. And if I find out you ever did that again to me or any other members of the county court bench, I’ll shove it up your a** so f**king far it will make your throat hurt.”

The Supreme Court of Nebraska has disciplined the judge for violating judicial disciplinary rules and sentenced him to a 120-day suspension without pay.
We were curious: How did the prosecutor react to the profane message?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the F&*%ing Day: Jeffrey L. Marcuzzo”

Pat Quinn Tax on Lawyers.JPGIllinois Governor Pat Quinn, the guy who replaced Rod Blagojevich, wants to institute public financing for judicial elections. He’s set up a commission and everything!
The latest proposal floating around the Illinois statehouse would require lawyers to foot the bill on behalf of campaigning judges. A tipster reports:

[Pat Quinn] has proposed public financing of judicial elections beginning in 2010. Of course, Illinois, like many big states, is deeply in dept, so the governor plans to pay for this “reform” by taxing each lawyer $50, as an extra charge on his or her annual bar registration fee. Needless to say, many lawyers see this as bad policy and a terrible precedent. Why should a government, which has no money, pay for the cost of judicial campaigns, or transfer the cost to lawyers?

I’m surprised the government hasn’t put more “sin taxes” on the legal profession already. Should lawyers have to pay for a judge’s campaign? Probably not. Are you going to get the general public to rally to the defense of lawyers? Certainly not.
But it’s not too late to act. More details about the plan after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Public Financing of Judicial Elections? Only if Lawyers Pay For It.”

dallas judge smackdown.jpgTwo civil court judges in the Lone Star State got physical in their benchslapping yesterday, reports the Dallas Morning News Crime Blog:

It was a reported shoving match between Judge Carlos Cortez of the 44th Civil District Court and Judge Eric V. Moyé of the 14th Civil District Court. The fight occurred in Cortez’s chambers in front of a witness — a Dallas County sheriff’s deputy, according to Roger Mandel, who is Cortez’s attorney.
“Judge Cortez was physically assaulted by Judge Moye in Judge Cortez’s chambers,” Mandel said. “Judge Moye’s conduct is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Department.”

Moyé went after Cortez in Cortez’s own chambers! That’s so wrong. One tipster explains why Moyé might have had an advantage in the tangle:

I’d take Moyé in the fight… [he] is a long-time student of Aikido (see this – he’s also a top Amazon reviewer) and I think he still teaches at his dojo. In any event, the interesting question is what this would do (true or not) to Moyé’s alleged aspirations to the federal bench (he was nominated by Clinton back in the day and is rumored to have a continuing interest).

Well, we now know Moye is mighty capable of the judicial smackdown, an important part of being a federal judge. But it looks like he’s going to be the subject of a criminal investigation, which can’t be good for his aspirations.
More on this, why the judges were mixing it up, and Judge Cortez’s MySpace page, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Judicial Smackdown in Dallas… Literally”

Judge DeBello above the law.jpgThe story of New Jersey Superior Court Judge Lawrence DeBello has the makings for a great romantic tale — the forbidden love between a judge and his law clerk.

From the New Jersey Law Journal:

A Mercer County, N.J., judge has admitted breaching judicial ethics and policies by sending romantic e-mails to his former law clerk via his judiciary e-mail account and by using his judicial office to help land her a public defender job.

The alluring law lovely, who has not been named, clerked for DeBello in Hudson County Family Court from 2006 through 2007. When she left, she and DeBello kept in touch, exchanging e-mails that discussed “personal matters” and used “offensive language”, according to the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct complaint [PDF].

DeBello unwisely used his judicial e-mail account for their correspondence, rather than opening a account. Even after being warned by his judicial superiors, DeBello could not keep his passion tamed:

DeBello admitted that at a December 2007 meeting with Hudson County Assignment Judge Maurice Gallipoli and Hudson County Trial Court Administrator Joseph Davis, he conceded the e-mails were inappropriate…. But after that meeting, the e-mails continued and even heated up. DeBello admitted that in December 2007 and mid-January 2008, he “participated in the escalation of the intimate tone and nature of those e-mail exchanges, which concerned their respective romantic feelings for one another.”

In January 2008, DeBello was transferred to Mercer County, but kept up the e-mails, trying to help the former clerk get a new job. He admitted he “used the power and prestige of his office” to advance her “private interests” by making an unsolicited telephone call to Deputy Public Defender Edward Marable — head of the Office of Law Guardian for the northwest region, who had appeared before him in court — telling him the former clerk was interested in a law guardian job.

Love obviously made this justice blind to the error of his ways. We just hope he got more than legal research out of his judicial Juliet.

DeBello has filed an answer [PDF] to the complaint which basically amounts to “Busted.” As Will S. said, the course of true love never did run smooth.

Judge Admits Ethics Breach Over Torrid E-Mails With Former Clerk [New Jersey Law Journal]

Judge Hit With Ethics Charges Over Steamy E-Mails With Former Clerk [New Jersey Law Journal]

Baby Mama Poster.jpgIf you’re sick and tired of paternity tests on every episode of Maury Povich, join the club — the baby mamas club, that is. In a decision by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the court ruled that the trial court’s use of the term “baby mama,” along with other comments about the African-American defendant’s habits, could lead to the reasonable perception that the defendant’s sentence was impermissibly influenced by race.

A quick review of the exchange between the trial court and the defendant reveals that the trial court judge (the Honorable Joseph Wall) is a jerk. But damned if he isn’t a hilarious one:

THE COURT: Where are you working now?
THE DEFENDANT: I’m unemployed right now.
THE COURT: You’re unemployed still?
THE COURT: Have you gotten a job since January?
THE COURT: You’re kidding.
THE COURT: What do you do all day?
THE DEFENDANT: I just stay at home with my daughter and that’s it.
THE COURT: Where is her mother?
THE COURT: So the mother works and you sit at home, right?
THE COURT: And watch the child?
THE DEFENDANT: I got all types of things goin’. My personal family.
THE COURT: Where does the baby’s mama work?
THE DEFENDANT: Metro Market.
THE COURT: Did she finish school?
THE COURT: Is she going to college, too?
THE COURT: Where do you guys find these women, really, seriously. I’d say about every fourth man who comes in here unemployed, no education, is with a woman who is working full-time, going to school. Where do you find these women? Is there a club?

Wait, it gets better… after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Joseph R. Wall, You Can Find Me at The Club”

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. []

* “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]

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