Judge of the Day

Judge Wade McCree, in repose.

[T]here is not much, if anything, that is more prejudicial to the actual administration of justice than having a sexual relationship with a complaining witness without recusing oneself, engaging in ex parte communications with this mistress/complaining witness, attempting to use the prosecutor’s office as leverage against this now ex-mistress by concocting charges of stalking and extortion against her, and then lying under oath about these matters.

– Judge Stephen J. Markman of the Michigan Supreme Court, writing for the majority in affirming nearly all of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission’s findings as to Judge Wade H. McCree. The judge has been suspended for six years, without pay.

Judges can usually keep it together even when the lawyers deserve a paddlin’ for their disrespectful behavior. And I cannot imagine how a judge summons the depth of patience required to deal with a pro se litigant without constantly losing their composure. While lawyers may privately think of judges as arrogant and imperious from time to time, when you really look at the job, judges spend most of their time holding their tongues.

Which is why a uncontrolled outburst from a federal judge is such a rare treat.

Now you may think, “This is probably a minor rebuke blown out of proportion.” To that I quote David Frank, the managing editor of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly: “I have heard judges raise their voice. I’ve heard judges get tense. I have never heard something as loud as that.”

I guess this was less of a benchslap and more of a benchpunch….

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How many racist emails does it take to brand someone a racist? My personal rule is “one.” If you send one horribly racist email that actually manages to leak out into public discourse, it’s probably not your only one. Seeing a racist email from someone is like seeing a mouse in your apartment: there’s never just one. I believe in temporary insanity, but I don’t believe in sudden onset racism that magically appears once and only once and then disappears forever.

Of course, whenever anybody gets caught in a racist email scandal, they always say that it’s the only one. It’s always “Whoops, that email was racist, but I’m not racist.” The racist email is always allegedly “out of character,” and the person always claims to have shown “poor judgment.” And that person always has some apologists, as if sending one or two racist emails is just something that “happens” in the normal course of business to non-racist people.

That’s what Judge Richard Cebull claimed. In 2012, he was busted sending around a racist email about President Obama. He claimed that he didn’t mean to be “racist” — he just meant to voice his displeasure with the president (as if it wasn’t bad enough for the judge to be taking public opinions about the sitting president).

Some people bought the Cebulls**t. Not me. And Cebull eventually retired. But the investigation into his misconduct continued, and now that investigation has been made public.

Surprise, Richard Cebull sent a ton of racist, sexist, and otherwise inappropriate emails….

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It’s Election Day today. Go vote. Go vote now, or make sure you go before the polls close. Whatever you are doing today isn’t as important as participating in your community. Sorry there’s no “president” on the ballot. Instead it’s just a bunch of local officials and local issues that affect your day-to-day life way more than the President of the United States. GO VOTE.

In New York, we’re going to elect a new mayor, I can only hope that Mike Bloomberg actually allows the new guy to take office.

But if you are going to vote in New York, make sure you flip the ballot over and vote on all the propositions. There are some fun things there: should we institute the regressive, idiot tax that is opening a casino? I say yes! We need money and regressive, idiot taxes are the only ones you can pass in this environment.

Gothamist has a good breakdown of all the New York ballot issues. But the one that’s most legally interesting is Proposition 6: raising the mandatory retirement age for judges to 80.

Eighty! That’s having somebody decide the latest issues in eDiscovery who was alive for D-Day.

Of course, judges are in favor of this…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Old Can Your Judges Be? Decide Today In New York.”

Judges are a fun lot. When they aren’t busy trawling for strippers or sharing racist remarks on the record, judges can have perfectly entertaining meltdowns over explicitly judicial matters.

Like this judge. She wasn’t too keen on the defendant, and let the jury hear about it when they voted to acquit…

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Let’s discuss your case.

A judge probably shouldn’t frequent a strip club. Forget all the arguments about the morality of strip clubs, or the need for judges to adhere to higher standards, or how the human brain can’t sustain that many playings of Girls Girls Girls by Mötley Crüe, the place is just crawling with people bound to show up in your courtroom for one reason or another.

But if a judge is going to frequent a strip club, it’s hard to top this judge’s style. He allegedly leveraged his legal know-how into sleeping with a dancer. Not bad. Better yet, instead of the clap he earned only a disciplinary complaint.

There’s no justice in the champagne room…

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[She] surprised me and thrilled me…. I lusted after that woman. I’m in my middle 50s and she’s a double dozen years my junior.

– Judge Wade McCree, demonstrating that there is “no shame in his game,” in his testimony this week before the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. Judge McCree testified about his affair with a woman who appeared as a party in his courtroom and allegations that he asked her to get an abortion when she ended up preggers.

Judge Wade McCree

You must remember Judge Wade McCree. Not only is he the son of the first African-American to be appointed to the Sixth Circuit, but he’s also the man who sent sext messages to his bailiff and had an affair with one of the litigants who appeared before him while he was on the bench. Note that we’re no longer using the word “allegedly” in that sentence.

We now know for sure that McCree — who’s been referred to as Judge McCreep since the media caught wind of his sexual derring-do — was getting down and dirty with the woman who he claimed had been stalking and extorting him, the same woman who shouted from the rooftops that she’d banged McCree’s gavel “[o]n his desk, in the chair, the couch, you name it.”

We know with relative certainty that McCree did all of these things because he just admitted it all in his response to the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission’s (MJTC) formal complaint.

Let’s see if he’s got any “shame in [his] game” now….

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My personal favorite: Peepemptory Challenges.

* To those of you who celebrate it, Happy Easter! Welcome the holiday by voting in the ABA Journal’s fifth annual “Peeps in Law” contest. [ABA Journal]

* If law firm brackets aren’t your thing, check out Professor Kyle Graham’s brackets for (1) law school classes and (2) law blogs. I’m thankful for ATL’s #1 seed but terrified by who we’re up against (because they’ve ripped me a new one before). [noncuratlex]

* Sorry, Judge Steiner, you wuz robbed; you should have been our Judge of the Day. It’s tough to top “allegations of a sexual quid pro quo with a female lawyer and the eye-opening confiscation of carpet from [chambers] for forensic analysis.” [OC Weekly]

William Shatner

* “William Shatner’s Seductive Powers Don’t Create a Fiduciary Duty.” Robyn Hagan Cain explains why. [U.S. Second Circuit / FindLaw]

* Citi settles securities cases for $730 million. Matt Levine is not impressed. [Dealbreaker]

* And Ted Frank is incensed by Bernstein Litowitz’s nine-figure fee request. [Point of Law]

* If you’re already depressed by public ignorance about the Supreme Court, don’t look at the responses to question 9 of this opinion poll. [Penn Schoen Berland]

* Steven Harper — author of a new (and very good) book about the legal profession, The Lawyer Bubble (affiliate link) — offers thoughts on the billable hour in the wake of the DLA Piper overbilling allegations. [New York Times]

Remember Judge William M. “Chip” Watkins III? He’s the temperamental West Virginia jurist who was recorded on video yelling at — and we mean literally yelling at, not just “scolding” or “raising his voice at” — a pastor. In another case, Judge Watkins called a woman seeking a protective order against her husband “stupid,” criticizing her for “shooting off [her] fat mouth about what happened.”

Last summer, Judge Watkins was hit with expedited ethics charges. This week, the West Virginia Supreme Court issued its ruling. What do you think happened? Take a guess….

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