Monday, August 26, 2013

Even a judge needs some self-control.

This criminal defendant was not pleased Judge Gary Bennett  imposed a "no contact" order as a condition of her pretrial release on assault charges. But Judge Bennett went a bit nutty by imposing 300 days of jail time just because the defendant was disrespectful.


In Maryland, similar conduct by a judge was strongly rebuked.  Where a criminal defendant received a similar contempt sentence for mouthing off in court, the appellate court rolled back the sentence.  A judge must give a Maryland defendant a chance to cool off and purge himself/herself of the contempt.

In lay terms, that means the defendant needs time to cool off and apologize. In this case, Judge Bennett could have sent this woman back to lock up, called the rest of his docket, and returned to her in an hour or so.  She could have then been given a chance to apologize. But by the end of this video, both parties could have used a bucket of ice water over the head!

And like the late-night advertisements say, BUT THERE IS MORE!  On June 2, 2014, a Brevard County, Florida judge assaulted a public defender after an argument in the courtroom.
The day after, the Chief Judge issued a public apology for this conduct. In my view, however, the lawyer was largely responsible for igniting the fight by accepting the judge's invitation to meet in the hallway, where the punches were thrown. At that point, the lawyers only civil response should have been "thank you, judge, may I be excused?" They could repair the relationship over dinner, through the local bar association's omnbudsman program, or a civil phone call. Shame on him!