State Judges

Michael Joyce Judge Michael Thomas Joyce Michael T Joyce Above the Law blog.jpgWe fondly remember this episode of 90210: “Brenda gets into a car accident. The woman involved in the accident claims she has whiplash and threatens to sue the Walsh family.”
But then, when Brenda visits the woman at home to apologize, she looks through the living room window — and sees the woman jazzercising in front of her TV!
We were reminded of it by this AP story:

An appeals court judge was indicted on charges of scamming $440,000 from insurers by claiming he suffered debilitating injuries in a car crash, even while he golfed, skated and went scuba diving, federal prosecutors said….

“The bodily injury he says he sustained we believe was fraudulent,” U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said.

According to the indictment, Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Michael Thomas Joyce “received $390,000 from his insurer, Erie Insurance Group, and $50,000 from State Farm Insurance, which insured the other driver.” But maybe the insurers should have been a little suspicious:

Prosecutors said Joyce’s car was rear-ended at about 5 mph in August 2001, and no police or medical personnel were called…. [Yet] Joyce complained of debilitating injuries, anxiety and difficulty sleeping and claimed they prevented him from pursuing higher judicial office, prosecutors said.

Being indicted on federal fraud charges might “prevent[] him from pursuing higher judicial office,” too.
Pa. Judge Accused of Bilking Insurers [Associated Press]

Elizabeth Halverson 3 Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.jpg
Since the last coverage of her on ATL, the Energizer-bunny-esque Judge Elizabeth Halverson has been ordered on the inactive list by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline.
Following an emotional plea by Halverson in a rare television interview, and a similar public plea by two sexy ex-Halverson staffers (a law clerk and a secretary), the hearing transcripts have been released by the Nevada Supreme Court.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal published a story this morning that basically places the final nail in the 425 500 lb jurist’s cavernous coffin career:

District Judge Elizabeth Halverson’s former bailiff testified that she fell asleep daily in court and frequently told him to shoot her husband, according to transcripts of a closed-door hearing that were made public Wednesday.

Yes, you read that right: “frequently told him to shoot her husband.”
(Dozing off on the bench is no big deal. Some highly regarded judges do it all the time.)
The balance of the insanity, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Update on the Large (and Decidedly NOT In Charge) Judge Elizabeth Halverson”

Marian Shelton Bronx Family Court Judge Marian Shelton Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, she looks like a cross between Chelsea Clinton and your fourth-grade English teacher. But make no mistake about it: Judge Marian Shelton is a true judicial diva, and not to be messed with.
From the New York Daily News:

Bronx Family Court Judge Marian Shelton allegedly yelled at a lawyer to “shut up,” tossed a woman from court for wearing “inappropriate” clothing, told a Caribbean man to “take those stupid things out of your hair” and said a lawyer had “mental health issues.”…

“Go to therapy, but don’t act out in my courtroom,” Shelton allegedly snapped at one law guardian in a 2005 case.

In another instance, she allegedly mocked the accent of lawyer Mariana Toledo-Hermina.

“How is Toledo-Hermina an attorney when you cannot understand what she is saying?” Shelton allegedly said.

But Judge Shelton has her defenders. Like her husband:

In May, anticipating the [disciplinary] charges, Shelton’s husband, wealthy former Proskauer Rose lawyer Saul Cohen, took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to bash the commission.

Full-page NYT ads aren’t cheap. But then again, neither is chivalry.
Bronx judge scorn to be wild? [New York Daily News via Gothamist]

RobberBarronFinal.jpg
Judicial Reports thinks they might. From the article:

As the State Legislature slouched toward adjournment late Thursday with no breakthrough on the issue of pay raises for judges, an infuriated judiciary began to contemplate an escalation in the salary wars.
For many that might mean new or expanded litigation. Some are even whispering “strike.”

New York judges haven’t had a raise in 9 years, and they’re getting pretty pissed about it:

“Judges don’t need to hire lobbyists or public relations people, we need to hire an FBI hostage negotiator,” said Montgomery County Family Court Judge Philip V. Cortese in an interview — distilling the judges’ collective belief that the Legislature essentially held salary negotiations captive to other legislative priorities.

Of course, there are some slight problems with a judicial strike, such as the fact that they can’t legally do it:

Just like the transit workers, judges are explicitly prohibited from striking under New York’s labyrinthine Taylor Law — a statute governing labor organizing of state public servants.
According to Jerome Lefkowitz, chairman of the Public Employment Relations Board, the law treats judges as “management” whose members are not allowed to unionize. At the same time, it prohibits them from striking.
In other words, judges have even fewer options than transit workers or other public employees. “The law says that managerial employees are excluded from the Taylor Law, except Part 210 which says: ‘Thou shalt not strike,’ ” Lefkowitz explained.
In the stern language of that section, no judge can “cause, instigate, or condone a strike.”

So one judge suggested they all just get really lazy instead:

“Another idea is to review all papers submitted very carefully for any errors — typos, misspellings, matters left out — particularly orders and decrees. No handwritten corrections or having your own secretary retype to fix them up. Return them to attorney for correction, and return them again until they are totally correct. Particularly for any firms with legislators in them.”

That sounds very mature, and bound to work.

Larry Seidlin Judge Lawrence Seidlin Above the Law Anna Nicole Smith.jpgJudge Larry Seidlin is best known for tearfully presiding over the Anna Nicole Smith proceedings in Florida state court. But perhaps it’s the American people who should be shedding tears right now. From the Daily Business Review:

Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin – the weeping probate judge who presided over the recent legal fight for custody of Anna Nicole Smith’s body – announced today that he is leaving the bench at the end of this month.

“It is now time for me to devote more of my daily life to my own young family and to pursue the many opportunities that have been offered to me outside the judicial system,” Seidlin wrote in his resignation letter to Gov. Charlie Crist.

So why should we shed tears over the departure of this fine jurist?

It has been rumored that Seidlin has a television show in the works.

Update: The rumors appear to be true. Seidlin reportedly has reached a deal with CBS.
Judiciary: Judge Seidlin resigns [Daily Business Review]
Anna Nicole Smith Judge Larry Seidlin Cuts Deal With CBS [Fox News]

Larry Manzanares Denver City attorney porn pornography Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgYou graduate from Harvard Law School. You head off to a good-sized but not enormous city, thinking you’ll be a big fish in a smaller pond. You make it on to the local bench; you can see a federal judicial appointment in the distance. What could go wrong?
Well, lots — if you allegedly load up a state-owned computer with porn, then allegedly steal it. Meet Larry Manzanares:

Manzanares, 50, was charged with three felonies Wednesday in the theft of a state-owned computer from the courthouse. Investigators found “massive” amounts of pornography on the computer, which Manzanares tried to delete before turning the computer over to police.

“This is a hard fall for a person whose career appeared to be on a rapid rise to even greater achievement, said Denver lawyer and former prosecutor Craig Silverman.

“It’s a sad and tragic situation. Larry Manzanares had a wonderful reputation. I think it’s going to be tough for him to resume a legal career in Colorado even if he’s acquitted,” he said.

“Even if” he’s acquitted? Somehow we doubt Judge Manzares will have trouble getting off.
P.S. We rolled our eyes at the mention of “massive” amounts of pornography on the allegedly stolen laptop. What exactly qualifies as “massive”?
Everyone with a wank collection wants a certain amount of diversity in the materials. Does a stack of Playboys under the bed constitute a “massive” collection of porn?
Update / clarification: Sorry if the foregoing was unclear. As a commenter explains, the allegation is that Larry Manzanares stole a state-owned computer, THEN filled it to the gills with porn.
It’s the “stealing” part that’s potentially criminal, NOT the downloading of porn. Last time we checked, Denver was not governed by Sharia.
Black Cloud Will Linger for Judge [Rocky Mountain News]

Miami Beach Golden Girls Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgMake that EX-judges of the day, since they’ve both resigned from the bench — one after being arrested on drug charges, and the other after allegedly making inappropriate comments to a female prosecutor.
What is up with state court judges in South Florida?
(Remember this guy?)
Judge accused in pot-smoking case resigns [Daily Business Review]
Courts: Judge abruptly exits [Daily Business Review]
Resignation of Judge Klein [Rumpole via Southern District of Florida Blog]
Earlier: Bong Hits 4 Anna Nicole Smith Judge?

* So what’s the solution here? Let another state’s appellate court hear the appeals? [AP via Kane County Chronicle via How Appealing]
* Come on, you can get the man a bond hearing earlier than three weeks from now. They’re killing me with this; let him go, damnit! [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* Mississippi sues State Farm for bad faith. [Jurist]
* Texas is uncharacteristically deliberate about executing somebody. [CNN]
* What is it with lawyers and sports tickets? [WSJ Law Blog]

Wilbur Mathesius Judge Bill Mathesius Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThere aren’t many two-time winners of ATL’s Judge of the Day award. The members of that distinguished group are true pieces of work — jurists like Judge James M. Brooks and Judge Elizabeth Halverson.
But we think that Judge Wilbur Mathesius, of Mercer County, New Jersey, richly deserves membership in the club. If you question this conclusion, just click here, to read what one tipster described as “a judicial hissy fit, with great footnotes.”
Some background. The New Jersey Supreme Court recently disciplined Judge Mathesius, suspending him from the bench for 30 days, and directing him to “reflect on his position of authority and the manner in which he exercises that position of authority.” So Judge Mathesius did just that:

I removed to a remote and undisclosed location to encourage contemplation and reflection. To provide further catalyst to my reflective capacities, I subsisted on a Zen macrobiotic vegetarian diet, an occasional leaf or two of organic radicchio and Evian water, foraging as best I could for native fruits and nuts. The occasional tuna sushi was like gold. I report herewith the product of that reflection…

That’s just the beginning. Check out the whole thing by clicking here.
In the words of a second source: “Shhhh, listen, that’s the sound of his judicial career going down the toilet.”
The Full Mathesius [New Jersey Lawyer]
Judge’s critique pounds system [Trenton Times]
Judge’s Words Cost Him A Suspension Of 30 Days [New York Times (TimesSelect)]
Earlier: Judges of the Day: Wilbur Mathesius and James Brooks

Paris Hilton 3 mugshot Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgApparently Judge Michael Sauer agreed with the 60 percent of ATL readers who viewed her release from prison as “a miscarriage of justice.” From TMZ.com, the authoritative source for all things Paris:

Paris Hilton was just ordered back to jail in Lynwood to serve out the remainder of her sentence! She’ll get credit for 5 days already served.

Hilton left the courtoom in tears, screaming, “Mom, Mom, Mom.”

One witness described the scene as: Paris was “physically escorted” out of the courtroom by a female deputy.

Hilton’s mother was later seen pacing the hallways, telling reporters, “I’m paralyzed right now.” Paris’ father Rick is still in the courtroom.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer made his ruling after a hearing that followed a tumultuous sequence in which Hilton was brought to court in a sheriff’s patrol car. Earlier, it seemed that she would only attend the hearing via telephone.

“The defendant is remanded to L.A. County jail,” Sauer said after an hourlong hearing. “The order is final and forthwith.”

Wearing a beige zippered sweater, Hilton crumpled into tears.

You go, girl — right back to the slammer. As for the anal herpes, good luck with that.
Hilton Ordered Back to Jail! [TMZ.com]
A crying Hilton is sent back to jail [Los Angeles Times]
Screaming Paris Hilton Sent Back to Jail [Associated Press via Washington Post]
Earlier: Paris Hilton’s Jail Break: What Do You Think?

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