State Judges

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]

Vines.jpgJudge Carlton Vines presides over traffic violations and DUIs in Chattooga County, Georgia. It’s a tiny county with a population of just over 25,000. The local newspaper, The Summerville News, has an ongoing investigative series examining the county’s drunk-driving phenomenon and growing number of DUI arrests.
Unfortunately, Judge Vines has become a part of the phenomenon. He was arrested in November of last year for driving drunk and leaving the scene of an accident after swerving into another car. The coppers just released the dash-cam video from the arrest. The man was trashed, slurring, and stumbling… though still cogent enough to refuse the breathalyzer.

From WBS TV:

Vines pleaded guilty to DUI charges in April. He has since spent three nights in jail, paid fines, done community service and was on house arrest.

On the tape, Vines can be heard admitting he has had “over the limit.” At one point on the tape, an officer asks, “Do you remember the wreck you were involved in?” Vines can be heard responding, “I’m not going to admit or deny it but I will take responsibility.”

A nolo plea — or just good drunken logic? Vines is under voluntary suspension, and the Georgia State Judicial Commission gets to decide whether he returns to the bench.
Judge Vines makes some bizarre comment about sharecropping at the end of the YouTube video. Can someone from rural Georgia please explain?
Caught On Tape: Georgia Judge Arrested For DUI [WSB TV]
Drunk Judge Arrested [YouTube.com]

Elizabeth Halverson small Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.JPGTwelve Angry Men, move over; now there’s someone meatier. A juicy judicial celebrity sighting, from the Las Vegas Sun:

Suspended District Judge Elizabeth Halverson returned to the Regional Justice Center on Friday — for jury duty.

While waiting for an assignment, Halverson, who can’t roll through the courthouse on her motorized scooter without attracting attention, turned quite a few heads, including those of several prosecutors at the district attorney’s office, which is on the same floor as the jury service room.

Las Vegas lawyers: If you’re hoping to have Halverson on your jury, sorry. Her Honor wound up being assigned to a civil trial that was subsequently postponed, “bringing an abrupt halt to her brief public service on the other side of the bench.”
Suspended judge can’t even get out of jury duty [Las Vegas Sun]

Jay Spechler Judge Jay Spechler Jay Sprechler Above the Law blog.jpgThe fabulous Monica Goodling — if you’re on Facebook, join her fan club — isn’t the only person being accused of anti-lesbian bias these days. From the Daily Business Review (via JAABlog):

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Jay Spechler”

judge_halverson.jpgJudge Elizabeth Halverson has graced stomped through these pages many times before. But this is her first appearance of 2008. The LA Times recounts some Halverson highlights:

Her former bailiff said he was forced to heat and serve her lunch, check the temperature of her ice water, brush lint from her robe, help her put on her shoes, massage her neck and cover her with a blanket before her nap.
An assistant said Halverson, of the 8th Judicial District Court, made her answer questions — under oath — about courthouse gossip.

She’s been stripped of her criminal cases. She has been suspended with pay. She has a hearing this month that may result in her being removed from the bench. But she’s STILL running for reelection. We apologize to Halverson fans out there, but we will not be running a “Re-Elect Halverson” campaign, even if she does provide great blog fodder…

Halverson also referred to her husband as “Evil Ed,” her former bailiff testified, and told Jordan to “pull out your gun and shoot him.”
“I’ll dispose of the body,” Jordan quoted the judge as saying.
Halverson’s newer staffers told commissioners she acted respectfully and professionally. But commissioners said that didn’t excuse her treating Jordan and others in a “truly bizarre and inappropriate manner.”
Two people are challenging the suspended judge in the August election. Halverson said she entered the race because community members encouraged her to hold onto her judgeship.
“Do I think the public will see the truth about me?” she said. “Yes, I do.”

The truth is out there. I mean, seriously, how could she dispose of her husband’s body? She is a LARGE woman, with an oxygen tank, who can’t even get her own nap-time blanket. She was making a joke. Obviously.
Update: A commenter sent us to this bizarre kid-sploitation reelection video.
Judge Elizabeth Halverson courts trouble in Las Vegas [Los Angeles Times]

Since yesterday, when the big Eliot Spitzer news broke, we’ve been on a bad-behavior kick here at ATL. So let’s keep going down that path. A tipster sent us a juicy story, with this intro:

This is wild. And by wild, I mean INSANE… He’s 61. She’s 25. He likes booze, cocaine, and turtlenecks.

How’s that for a teaser? From the Albuquerque Journal (subscription):

John Brennan Judge John Brennan New Mexico Above the Law blog.jpgPolice drew their guns and broke open a door to get former District Court Judge John Brennan to stop choking his 25-year-old girlfriend, according to Albuquerque police reports released Monday.

According to the reports, Brennan, 61, appeared to be extremely intoxicated, denied that he attacked the woman and was wearing only a mock turtleneck and gray underwear when confronted by officers.

Brennan was arrested on charges of domestic violence, kidnapping and aggravated battery against a household member in connection with the Sunday incident. He made his first appearance in Metropolitan Court on Monday.

Well, good for him for having a girlfriend young enough to be his granddaughter (at least in our nation’s more rural areas).
More details — and yes, once again, allegations of prostitute involvement — after the jump.

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