State Judges

Ex-judge of the day, David E. Barrett.


I don’t even know where to begin with this, so let’s just play it straight:

Last week, a now ex-judge in Georgia pulled out a handgun during a bond hearing, pretended to hand it to an alleged rape victim who was testifying, and said she was “killing her case” and “might as well shoot” her lawyer.

What?

I wish this was a joke or a hoax story. But no, it actually happened.

Keep reading to find out who this former judge is (spoiler: it’s not Rooster Cogburn) and why he pulled his piece in court…

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Zombie Mohammed

What can we say? Around these parts, we enjoy talking about zombies. Zombies that usher in the apocalypse. Zombies that can do document review. Even zombie law firms.

So let’s discuss what everyone else is discussing: the “Zombie Mohammed” case. Earlier this month, Judge Mark W. Martin dismissed a harassment charge against Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim man who allegedly attacked Ernie Perce, an atheist who was dressed up as “Zombie Muhammad.” The incident took place during last year’s Halloween parade in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

Since news of the ruling became public, things have gone crazy. Let’s discuss, and take an opinion poll….

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If I were in charge, people would look forward to getting one of these.

For my entire life, Republicans have been telling me government doesn’t work. It’s not true, government works just fine: taxes get collected, snow gets removed, communism gets toppled.

Government works, it’s just extremely inefficient. It’s bureaucratic. It’s unable to effectively deal with exceptions. It wastes time.

The waste of time is an unforgivable sin to most Americans. We believe that time is money. We believe our time is our own. We hate when somebody else wastes our time. When the state does it — at the DMV, or at the post office — we’re likely to blow a gasket.

Watching people’s faces in the jury room is like watching time itself being ripped away from people. And half of the people in here have the Liam Neeson face like they’re about to talk to the time thieves and say: “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

Does jury duty have to be like this?

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* Apparently attorneys at a “prestigious firm” in Washington, D.C. are fans of hobo hunting. What the hell does that mean? Well, there’s an app for that (one that Apple has rejected three times for its outrageous offensiveness). [VICE]

* “I want to (blank) Michelle Bachmann in her (blank) with a Vietnam era machete.” First of all: eww. Second of all: not a proper use of Twitter. Third of all: this is going before a grand jury. [Suits & Sentences / McClatchy]

* When your kid is an alleged aficionado of pilfered products, it helps to have friends in high places — like judges who look like Christopher McDonald and expect people to respect his authoritah. [Houston Chronicle]

Justice Jim Sharp

* I don’t think “gunner” means what you think it means. A 1L from Osgoode Hall Law in Toronto is accused of shooting up a residence hall with a 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun. O Canada! [CityNews]

* It’s been a while since we wrote about law license plates, but just in case you’re thinking of getting vanity plates that read “NO TAGS,” don’t do it. You could get $20K in tickets like this clever guy. [Legal Blog Watch]

* FYI: you can only sometimes get away with paying kids to slap you in the face and pee on you. The rest of the time, you’re going to jail. [Legal Juice]

I have successfully avoided jury duty since I moved back to New York in 2003, but this week they finally caught up with me. This week, I’ve had to perform my civic responsibility of sitting in judgment of my peers (like I don’t do that enough already).

Sorry, I had to “be available” to sit in judgement of my peers. Nobody is ever going to pick me for a jury. I blog about law for a living, hold two Harvard degrees, and have a checkered past. I’m not getting impaneled. Instead, I was just looking forward to the rare business day when I didn’t have to invent an opinion or listen to “the internet” pontificate on my weight.

Then the lady who seemed to be in charge of the proceedings told me that I was looking forward to three days of that. I went to protest, but Nurse Ratched told me to sit down and wait for my lobotomy. So i started paying attention to my surroundings — because blogging is how I cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous people asking me to behave like a normal person.

I’ll deal more directly with Nurse Ratched at another time. Today I got an up-close look at the voir dire process in a criminal trial. While I was not picked, I feel like my McMurphy-esque fingerprints will be all over the case.

Let’s take a look inside our clearly broken jury system…

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Judge Christina Harms

Being a judge is not like being a contestant on “American Idol.” You are not looking for votes.

– Former Judge Christina Harms, commenting on the need for judicial independence in the court system. Harms recently came under fire after ordering that a schizophrenic woman have an abortion and be sterilized.

Controversy arose when the Massachusetts Appeals Court overturned the decision, and now Harms claims that Boston University School of Law has reneged on a job offer due to her “unpopular” ruling.

Judge Allen Beldock

If I were not a judge, I wouldn’t be doing anything. What would I be doing if I were not a judge? What am I even qualified to do? I’ve been a judge for 44 years. My father was a butcher. I’m not trained to be a butcher.

– Judge Allen Beldock, explaining why he continues to go to work every day at the Queens Supreme Courthouse. Beldock is 92 years old, works four days each week, and doesn’t earn a single dime.

Fricano asserts that the Cleveland Indians are “the arch rival” of the Chicago White Sox. While the two teams maintain a healthy rivalry, this court notes that it is generally accepted, at least among informed baseball followers, that the title of arch rival belongs to the reviled Minnesota Twins, to be shared, during inter-league play, with the Chicago Cubs.

Judge Joseph Gordon of the Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District, in a fact-checking footnote to Fricano v. Chicago White Sox, Ltd. Marianne Fricano unsuccessfully sued the South Side Chicago baseball team, alleging civil rights violations and other torts, after she was arrested for fighting at a 2004 game against the Indians.

People have really given Mitt Romney hell for saying he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” But really, it’s not just wealthy Republican Mormons who lack compassion for the very poor in this country. Ronald Reagan’s greatest legacy to the Republican Party was that he made it okay for them to categorically disregard the plight of the structurally poor and blame them for their own suffering. And for the most part Democrats have decided that in order to win they must show a similar callousness towards the poor. The poor don’t vote, and so both parties conspire to ignore the impoverished — or worse, talk down to those who were stupid enough to be born to the wrong parents.

At an individual level, nearly all of us are complicit as well. Well, I’ll just speak for me: I do my part to not care about the permanent underclass that lives in the richest society on Earth. I won’t even give money to homeless people on the street unless they sing or dance or perform some sort of talent. One time I gave “James,” a blind man who panhandles on the 4/5/6, line at the same times I head into the office, $20 — not because I wanted to be kind but because I got so sick of his spiel (“I’m legally blind, I get a little bit of disability but that only leaves me $18 a month for food.”). I thought he might leave me alone for the rest of the month.

I don’t think I’m the only one who sometimes wants poor people to just go away….

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Being a judge is hard work. So hard, in fact, that sometimes these distinguished members of society go out in search of more plebeian ways to relax. We’ve taken the time to write about their hobbies in the past. For example, some judges get off by packing penis pumps underneath their robes. Some judges prefer prostitutes, and other judges like to blow through thousands of dollars at strip clubs. Hell, some judges just like blow.

But other judges are apparent aficionados of the classic gateway drug — marijuana. One judge in Texas was recently arrested for allegedly smoking two joints before he smoked two joints, and then smoking two more….

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