Judge of the Day

Here’s a cautionary tale for every woman. Never, never, never allow your husband (or anybody else) to take dirty pictures of you. The pictures could wind up on the Internet. You could be publicly humiliated. You could lose your privacy, your dignity and your career….

Lori Douglas’s only crime was to choose an unstable spouse, and have sex with him. If that’s enough to lose your job, then a large proportion of our judiciary should be removed.

Margaret Wente, a columnist for the Toronto Globe and Mail, commenting on the controversy over Madam Justice Lori Douglas, the Canadian judge whose nude photos made their way to the internet.

Judge Rhonda Hollander

We mentioned this in yesterday’s Morning Docket, and still you emailed. We mentioned it again in Non-Sequiturs, and still the tips kept coming. Well, fine. By popular demand, here is a full post on the Florida judge who stands accused of photograping a guy peeing in the men’s bathroom.

The Honorable Rhonda Hollander is a traffic court judge. But she seems to have a pretty interesting hobby. She was arrested last week for allegedly taking out her cell phone and snapping pictures of a man peeing in the bathroom. A courthouse police officer tried to stop her from taking these photos.

And that’s when things got weird….

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Madam Justice Lori Douglas will be publicly probed.

This week brings good news for law firms in Canada. Apparently they weathered the recession better than their U.S. counterparts.

The news for Canadian judges, or at least one high-profile jurist, is less good. Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas — the Canadian judge featured in pornographic pictures showing her engaging in bondage, playing with sex toys and administering oral sex — will be subjected to a public inquiry.

Let’s take a look at the nudie pics procedural posture and possible consequences, shall we?

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In March, we ran a story about how the justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court had basically devolved into caricatures of themselves worthy of MTV reality show fame.

Apparently, in the midst of a heated debate, Justice David Prosser fell into the role of the hothead. He called a female justice a “bitch” “total bitch,” and threatened to “destroy” her. I guess this is what happens when members of the judiciary stop being polite, and start getting real –- The Real Prize World.

Anyway, you know what usually happens on the next episode of the show. We find out that the hothead isn’t just abusive with his words, but also with his fists. And that is exactly what allegedly happened earlier this month behind closed doors.

Did Prosser need to choke a bitch?

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Yes, I get that June 14th is a little bit late to be doing the May Lawyer of the Month poll. Yes, I also understand that the person who will almost undoubtedly be June’s Playmate Lawyer of the Month, Reema Bajaj, is ineligible for May — and that fact might leave some of our readers with blue balls.

But you know what? There were some really interesting candidates for May. And they deserve their moment of fame/infamy on these pages. Not every lawyer has to allegedly sell vaginal access in order to be special.

For instance, some people can become famous simply with an attempt at sexual trespass….

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Judge Fred Biery

Three years ago, we bestowed Judge of the Day honors upon the Honorable Fred Biery, a federal judge in the Western District of Texas. Back in 2008, Judge Biery rejected a religious school’s attempt to join an influential statewide extracurricular organization. In the process of ruling against Cornerstone Christian Schools, Judge Biery took the Bible and turned it around on them, in a snarky opinion quoting religious texts to refute a religious school.

(His Honor apparently enjoys colorful writing. See also this amusing ruling, with shout-outs in the footnotes to such fabulous creatures as Barbra Streisand and Stephen Sondheim.)

Well, it seems that Judge Biery — make that Chief Judge Biery, as of last June — continues to antagonize organized religion. Let’s read about the latest controversy he’s incited, this time involving an imminent high school graduation ceremony….

UPDATE: Judge Biery’s ruling in the case discussed below was overturned on Friday afternoon by the Fifth Circuit. Details and links appear in the update at the end of this post.

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Judge Rae Lee Chabot

Society has a deal with judges. We don’t pay them very well — but, in exchange for salaries that are much lower than what they could earn in the private sector, they get to do whatever they heck they want. And get to be addressed as “Your Honor,” and wear really cool black robes.

One of the perks of judicial office is that it isn’t a nine-to-five job. Judges don’t have to punch a time clock; they come and go as they please. Court isn’t court until the judge takes the bench.

As long as a judge is reasonably current with his docket, he should be left alone. There is no face-time requirement for judges. (Sure, judges have to be on the bench for trials and oral arguments and such — but that’s not “face-time,” since the judge’s presence is actually necessary for the proceedings.)

In light of all this, I’m puzzled by the controversy over Judge Rae Lee Chabot. Judge Chabot has served on the Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan for over 10 years.

Sure, the allegations about how she spends her days are amusing — and we’ll name her our Judge of the Day, just for the heck of it. But is there really a problem here?

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If I were in their role and in their position, I probably wouldn’t understand it either, that a club really can’t attract minority members.

– Judge Gilbert S. Merritt Jr. of the Sixth Circuit, commenting to the New York Times about two of his colleagues on the court — Eric L. Clay and R. Guy Cole Jr., both African-American — and their strong reactions against a bankruptcy judge’s membership in an all-white, all-male country club.

(Judge Merritt is also a member of the Belle Meade Country Club, although an honorary one without voting privileges.)

Does this sign also mean no blacks or women allowed?

It’s the ruling that is splitting the Sixth Circuit apart. A federal bankruptcy judge, George Paine II, belongs to an all-white country club in Nashville. But there is a pesky judicial code of conduct that says that judges “should not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin,” according to the New York Times (gavel bang: ABA Journal).

That seems cut and dry to me. An all-white, all-male country club sounds a hell of a lot like an organization practicing “invidious discrimination.” But I’m not on the Sixth Circuit.

And the Sixth Circuit essentially told Judge Paine: guys in my high school used to belong to discriminatory clubs all the time, it was no big deal.

In a 10-8 decision, the circuit decided to allow Paine to continue his membership in the club and on the bankruptcy court.

So that code of judicial conduct means what exactly?

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Judge Philip Kirk

On Monday, Judge Philip Kirk of Wisconsin sentenced Delton D. Gorges, a 71-year-old former bus driver, to seven years in prison. Gorges was convicted on charges of sexually assaulting boys, after pleading no contest.

Judge Kirk had some odd words for the defendant at sentencing. Most notably, he told Gorges: “I think you were born gayer than a sweet-smelling jock strap.”

(I’m sorry, but is anyone else finding this transcript a little titillating? Maybe even Judge Kirk?)

Judge Kirk — today’s Judge of the Day, naturally — also expressed skepticism toward Gorges’s claim of heterosexuality: “I think that if anyone believes that in the last 10 years or 15 years all of a sudden you developed an interest in homosexuality and young boys, then I must have looked ravishing in my prom dress this year.”

(Well, Your Honor, you do wear a little black dress — well before the start of cocktail hour.)

Okay. Can we get some context up in here?

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