State Judges

Diane Cannon Judge Diane Gordon Cannon Judge Dyan Cannon.jpgIn today’s Morning Docket, we mentioned the recent benchslap administered to Sidley Austin by Judge Diane Cannon (pictured), an Illinois state court judge. Lynne Marek of the NLJ reports:

A court hearing on Tuesday in Chicago at which former Northwestern University journalism students planned to fight a subpoena for their records and grades turned into a judicial lambasting of their Sidley Austin lawyers.

It started when Judge Diane Gordon Cannon of the Cook County Circuit Court called the lawyers, partner Richard O’Brien and associate Linda Friedlieb, to the bench before prosecutors from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office had even arrived. She asked who had written the brief she was holding. O’Brien and Friedlieb responded that they had submitted the reply supporting the motion to quash the subpoena.

Judge Cannon was, suffice it to say, not happy about the Sidley Austin brief.
Her Honor’s complaints — plus discussion of whether they were justified, and a reader poll — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Sidley Brief in the McKinney Matter:
Was It Appropriate?”

judge herman_thomas.jpgRemember Judge Herman Thomas? He’s the former Alabama state court judge who was accused of spanking male prisoners, trading favorable treatment for sexual favors, and improperly interfering on behalf of a cousin in legal trouble.
Judge Thomas challenged the charges at trial, and this afternoon the jury returned its verdict. From the Mobile Press-Register:

Herman Thomas has been found not guilty on charges of sex abuse, sodomy and assault. The jury initially returned seven not guilty verdicts on five sex abuse charges, one sodomy charge and one assault charge and reported they were deadlocked on the remaining counts. Judge Claud Neilson dismissed those deadlocked charges against the former Mobile County Circuit Court judge.

Now that’s what we call a “happy ending.”
Herman Thomas acquitted on all charges [Mobile Press-Register]
Alabama Spanking Judge Cleared of All Charges [Blogonaut]
Earlier: Prior coverage of Judge Herman Thomas

Ronald George Chief Justice Ronald M George Ron George.jpg
In a speech last night before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, Ronald M. George, criticized his state’s reliance on the initiative process. His remarks focused on how that process, direct democracy taken to the extreme, has paralyzed state government, especially when it comes to fiscal matters.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “California: The Not-So-Golden State?”


kevin_moriarty.jpgLast month, we linked to a story in Courthouse News Service about Kansas Judge Kevin Moriarty. Kansas attorney Kimberly Ireland filed a lawsuit against Judge Moriarty, alleging that he had used inappropriate language and masturbated during her divorce mediation.
In her suit, she said that her ex-husband supported her and had testified about the judge’s inappropriate behavior at the mediation during their divorce trial.
After the post went up, her ex, Kevin Ireland, reached out to us to set the record straight:

First off, I am not in support of this lawsuit. I never had issue with anything the judge did during our mediation.

There may have been some bad language, but there was no beating of the honorable gavel, says Ireland.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Coming to the Defense of Judge Kevin P. Moriarty”

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.”

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