State Courts

In the past week or two, our bathroom coverage has exploded. We’ve written about a law firm and a law school experiencing toilet shortages, a law school that has a sense of humor when selling naming rights to its bathrooms, and a law firm that wants its employees to follow proper restroom etiquette.

Do we talk too much about bathrooms? Well, not necessarily. Think about it this way: how much time does a person spend over the course of a lifetime in the bathroom, engaged in excretory functions?

(By the way, that’s a great management consulting case-study interview question. Try to answer it if you can; put your reasoning and calculations in the comments.)

If you’re tired of the toilet humor, stop here. But if you want to see a funny sign from a courthouse bathroom, keep reading….

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Roy Lee Conger Jr.

You take my … money you better get a federal law agency like the F.B.I. on the case. You will hear about me and read about me. I promise that.

Roy Lee Conger Jr., complaining about a lien placed on one of his bank accounts after his divorce train wreck. Conger had been involved in child support proceedings with his ex-wife, and his motion to reduce payments was denied earlier this month.

This morning, Conger, a truck driver, tried to ram his big rig into the Madison County Courthouse. The 18-wheeler got stuck on the courthouse steps.

Maybe I’m just naive, but I find the concept of conducting any courtroom business via video enthralling but also a bit unnerving. It seems so inconsistent with the mythical and timeless ideals of the hallowed halls of justice, yadda yadda yadda.

Whether we like it or not, however, video conferencing is creeping into courthouses across the country. For example, as I previously reported, a Georgia court let a criminal witness testify via Skype.

Last week a government survey revealed that Pennsylvania state courts conduct more than 15,000 video conferences each month. More than half were preliminary arraignments, but the state used videoconferencing for warrant proceedings, bail hearings and sentencing hearings, too.

According to the survey, not only does video conferencing save the state a boatload of money, it also saves magistrate judges from having to personally interact with the pesky “derelicts” charged with crimes.

Keep reading to find out how virtual arraignment conserves dollars and judicial peace of mind….

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We live in the age of ulcer-inducing, never-ending budget cuts. It’s surprising, though, when the chopping block can help the government achieve some progress, instead of just slicing its legs off.

And what do you know? We happen to have recent news of that sort from the New York Unified Court System.

Last week, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman proposed to cut $100 million from the $2.7 billion 2011-2012 state court budget. But his plan doesn’t just take money away from cute little babies and helpless lawyers. If Lippman gets his way, a big chunk of the cuts will come from implementing mandatory e-filing statewide.

Why didn’t this happen years ago? Way to make lemonade, Judge!

How did this come to pass?

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The Wisconsin State Supreme Court

There’s a simple rule in Wisconsin regarding judicial elections. You can’t make a campaign ad that knowingly misrepresents your opponent. While you’d imagine that reasonable people might disagree about what constitutes misrepresentation, one expects that judges wouldn’t really get anywhere close to the line.

But not so in the election between Justice Michael Gableman and Louis Butler. Gabelman made a controversial ad and won the election, and then all hell broke loose. People argued he violated judicial codes of conduct, it went to the State Supreme Court, Gabelman had to recuse himself, and then the court split 3 -3 and issued two different decisions. So, you know, all the trappings of anarchy.

Of course race is involved. Because people don’t generally lose their minds and start acting like idiots in this country unless race is involved somehow…

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