State Judges

medina.jpgThe home of Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina was destroyed by a fire on June 28. Officials investigating the fire are now saying that the fire appears to have been intentionally set:

Investigators said they considered the fire as incendiary after ruling out all other accidental causes, such as an electrical short, that could have ignited the June 28 blaze that resulted in about $900,000 in damages to Medina’s Spring-area home….

Members of Medina’s family have been questioned during the investigation. His wife and one of his children were the only people in the home that night, arson officers said.

“They have been cooperative throughout the interview process,” said Dan Given, chief investigator with the fire marshal’s office.

At this point, there are no charges pending in the case, officials said.

“This is an active and ongoing investigation,” said Harris County Fire Marshal Mike Montgomery.

Nathan Green, a fire marshal investigator on the case, had earlier said six “persons of interest,” all of whom are Medina family members or friends, have been identified in the investigation. He had said there were inconsistencies in Medina’s and his wife’s accounts of where he was the night of the fire. She was at home.

Contacted by telephone on Tuesday, Medina said he would not comment about his whereabouts that night.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Did A Texas Supreme Court Justice Burn Down His Own House?”

Herman Thomas Judge Herman Thomas spanking judge Above the Law blog.jpgJudge Herman Thomas — the 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 — has resigned from the bench.
We sure will miss having him to smack around.
Judge Thomas resigns [Mobile Press-Register]
Alabama Judge Resigns Amid Investigation [AP]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Judge Herman Thomas (scroll down)

prostitute intern tramp Judge Ann Lokuta Above the Law blog.jpgHow have we not heard of her before? She’s fabulous! And for reasons that will soon become obvious, a Pennsylvania state court jurist, Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta, is today’s Judge of the Day.
From the Citizens Voice:

A former intern of Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta testified tonight the jurist called her a tramp for wearing a sleeveless shirt to work.

Rebecca Sammon took the stand in Lokuta’s misconduct trial and described another incident where Lokuta yelled at her for being nice on the phone.

Awesome. And there’s more:

Prothonotory Jill Moran testified lawyers got yelled at for clicking pens or writing too loudly in Lokuta’s courtroom. Prothonotary clerk Maura Cusick said Lokuta was either a good judge or a wicked judge.

A dichotomy couldn’t be more false: a wicked judge IS a good judge. The Honorable Ann Lokuta is a delicious judicial diva.
[Ed. note: Yes, we just learned what "prothonotary" means too. See here.]
More obscure terms for judicial staff members, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Ann Lokuta: My Intern Is a Tramp”

Gone Fishing Gone Fishin Above the Law blog.jpgOooh boy. What is it about jurists with the surname “Thomas”?
More lurid allegations are being made against Judge Herman Thomas, the Alabama state court judge who allegedly likes to spank male prisoners. From the Mobile Press-Register:

In affidavits filed in support of Michael Dewayne Anderson’s 2003 federal suit against Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas, three men made similar accusations about Thomas.

John Richardson said he saw Thomas “constantly” driving up his block to pick up a neighbor. That neighbor, Richardson said, “told me that as long as he plays the sex game with Judge Thomas, he wouldn’t have to worry about staying in jail.”

Nathaniel Agee said Thomas “inflicted burden and humiliation in my life.”

“Herman and I started off going fishing together, hanging out together. He would even drop by my house early some morning(s), and say he wanted to talk.”

Brokeback Pond? Apparently so:

Thomas increased the visits to his home, Agee said, “but when he found out my children were there, he started to become angry because we couldn’t be alone with each other. I tried to explain to Judge Thomas that it was all right to be friends and hang out, but I’m not into sexual relationships with a man.”

The funny and talented Jolene Roxbury, the ex-paralegal turned comedian and singer, has dedicated another song to Judge Thomas: You Bring the Paddle.
Check it out here. For more about Jolene, see her website. Delightful stuff — thanks, Jolene!
Claims Against Judge Thomas [Mobile Press-Register]
Jolene Roxbury: Certified Verbal Conversationalist
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Judge Herman Thomas (scroll down)

Mikal Watts Mikal C Watts Law Firm Above the Law blog.jpgEven when they’re not getting indicted or pleading guilty, high-profile plaintiffs’ lawyers can still entertain us with their antics. From Walter Olson, over at Overlawyered:

Looks as if the legal tactics of one politically ambitious Texas plaintiff’s lawyer may have blown up in his face:

“Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mikal Watts of San Antonio once tried to pressure a legal opponent into a $60 million personal injury lawsuit settlement by claiming he would have an advantage on appeal because of his firm’s ‘heavy’ campaign financial support to an appellate court’s justices, ‘all of whom are good Democrats.’

Guess Brad Schlozman isn’t the only arbiter of “good”-ness. Anyway, back to Watts:

A “nine-page letter Watts wrote to opposing counsel in 2001 apparently was intended to make an out-of-state corporation think the donations could sway” the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi. The letter was sent to a defense lawyer representing American Electric Power in an auto-accident case. “Politely put, south Texas venue by itself makes this a very dangerous lawsuit,” Watts wrote.

We commend Mikal Watts for his candor. Why should walking into a south Texas courtroom be a trap for the unwary?
Furor over Mikal Watts “judges owe us” letter [Overlawyered]

spanking small Society of Janus spank Herman Thomas Above the Law blog.jpgRemember Judge Herman Thomas, the Alabama state court judge who allegedly spanked a number of prisoners? Now there’s a theme song for the scandal, entitled “Spank Me.” Check it out here.
The creator and artist, Jolene Roxbury, is a former paralegal who decided several years ago that comedy was her true calling. You can learn more about her over at her website. Nice work, Jolene!
Jolene Roxbury: Certified Verbal Conversationalist
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Herman Thomas

* Short list of possible attorney general nominees includes George J. Terwilliger III and Judge Laurence H. Silberman (D.C. Circuit). [Washington Post via WSJ Law Blog]
* “Sen. Larry Craig should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea… because he was under extreme stress after being hounded by journalists asking questions about his sexuality, his lawyer argues.” Umm, okay. [Associated Press]
* Judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court hike up their robes a little more, show the world about national security. [Sidebar / New York Times via How Appealing]
* Prominent Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu flipped out on train, “at one point stripping off his shirt and shoes,” before his crazy ass got arrested. [San Francisco Chronicle via Drudge Report]
* Uproar over Missouri Supreme Court culminates with Gov. Blunt offering a half-hearted endorsement of his own appointee. [Kansas City Star via How Appealing]

spanking Society of Janus spank Herman Thomas Above the Law blog.jpgMobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas is ATL’s Judge of the Day. He takes the prize for his innovative approach to sentencing. From the Mobile Press-Register:

Authorities are investigating allegations that now-suspended Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas periodically removed prisoners from Mobile County Metro Jail and spanked them in a room at the courthouse, according to courthouse sources involved in the inquiry.

Once inside the room, according to the sources, the judge would ask the young men to drop their pants and prepare to be spanked with what they described as a wooden or fraternity-like paddle.

To quote ex-inmate Paris Hilton, “That’s hot.” We agree with these commenters:

“[I]n San Francisco we have lots of people who pay $200 a session for that kind of treatment. Perhaps this judge has a bright future in Bay Area.”

“That’s some kinky place. I think Senator Larry Craig would like to break INTO that prison!”

More details — including a description of the secret six-by-eight room that allegedly served as the judge’s S-and-M dungeon — are available here.
Authorities investigating paddling allegations against Judge Thomas [Mobile Press-Register]
Judge Accused Of Paddling Inmates [WKRG.com]

What’s up with all these federal judges seeking to leave their life-tenured quarters? We understand that the pay’s not great (which is why we urge them to marry rich). But being an Article III judge is still nice work if you can get it.

Despite the power and prestige, two federal judges are moving on — temporarily or permanently. First, from the Daily Business Review:

Martin Jenkins Judge Martin J Jenkins Above the Law blog.jpgIn a highly unusual move, U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins [N.D. Cal. (at right)], a life-tenured federal judge in San Francisco, is prepared to give up his seat and has applied for an opening on the California State Court of Appeal bench.

Jenkins, 54, a moderate Democrat and former state trial court judge in Oakland, Calif., was appointed by President Clinton a decade ago. He confirmed rumors that he has submitted an application with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for the vacancy.

We understand the allure of an appellate over a trial court gig. But still, giving up the federal bench for a state court is “highly unusual” — especially since the state court in question isn’t even the California Supreme Court (the move that Judge Morrison England (E.D. Cal.) was contemplating, before he withdrew his name from consideration).

Second, from the Houston Chronicle (via Sophistic Miltonian Serbonian Blog):

U.S. District Judge Sam Kent [S.D. Tex.] will take a four-month leave from his Galveston bench for unspecified reasons, according to an order made public Monday.

No one involved would comment on the order, but students of the federal judiciary said it is unusual.

We smell a story here. A little more about Judge Kent, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Federal Judges Fleeing the Bench?”

Linda Greenhouse 6 New York Times Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* The best argument for immigration reform: qualified (i.e., hot) fashion models are being kept off American runways. [Fashionista]
* What rating does ATL get — e.g., G, PG, R, etc. — using this tool? To give you context, NBS is a PG-13. [Nasty, Brutish & Short]
* What blogs does Linda Greenhouse read? [My Times ("Journalist's Picks") via Romenesko]
* What blogs do judges read? [May It Please the Court]
* And what blogs should they read? [Blawg Review]
* Speaking of judges, here’s our Judge of the Day — possibly offensive, and wrong on the law too. [AP via NYT]
* The Weekly Standard’s Jonathan Last, on the Nixon Peabody non-theme-song: “Some things you just can’t un-hear.” [Galley Slaves]

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