Former TV judge Joe Brown, 66, has surrendered to Tennessee deputies to begin serving a five-day jail term for contempt of court. Brown was held in contempt by Magistrate Judge Harold Horne for an outburst in Juvenile Court in March 2014. He took the issue all the way up to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which denied Brown’s application to appeal a Court of Appeals upholding the ruling. Brown called the court a “circus” and a “sorry operation.” Of course real judges do not have producers and set designers. When Horne told him to stop, Brown did not. He gave him a day in jail but Brown continued until he had five days in jail.
We previously discussed the disturbing ethics cases against Texas district Judge Elizabeth E. Coker who was caught sending text messages to prosecutors to help them with a case. Coker is now stepping down in a voluntary agreement with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, though some have objected that such a voluntary departure is not sufficient punishment for such an egregious lack of ethics.
Hillary Clinton has insisted throughout the ongoing email scandal on two points repeated as a virtual mantra: there was no classified material sent on her unsecured personal email system and she was in total compliance with the law. I have questioned both points and noted that she is really saying that no “marked” classified material was sent (a less than compelling argument) and she is speaking of federal criminal laws as opposed to the clear official policy not to use such personal servers. It appears clear that some of this material was indeed classified and, as I discussed this week on NPR, the policy against doing what she did was clear and strong at the time of her tenure at State. Now, United States District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has weighed in with comments this week that Clinton clearly did violate State Department policy and that violation caused much of the difficulty in retrieving her communications while in office.
Judge Michael Coll of Delaware, Pennsylvania has vacated a child support order and apologized after a bizarre exchange with a party and his lawyer. Coll seemed intent on commenting on the Greek heritage of Kostas “Gus” Hartas despite repeated objections by his lawyer. To the credit of his lawyer, he continued to object as Coll demanded to be able to establish that “Greeks never pay taxes.” No doubt he will now warn his colleagues to beware of Greeks bearing lawyers.
I am rather perplexed by a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman to order not just four more years of community service for filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza but continuation of psychological counseling despite the countervailing findings of two experts in the case. Judge Berman was on solid ground in much of his opinion on the conditions of the prior sentencing order. While tough, the defense was trying to curtail key aspects of the order. However, the counseling component does concern me.
The Chinese government is carrying out another infamous sweep of human rights lawyers and activists with over 100 people arrested nationwide. The authoritarian communist regime has offered preposterous excuses for the arrests but the message is clear: human rights will not be tolerated in the worker’s paradise that is China. Indeed, with pollution and corruption choking the life out of the public, the communist rulers still view human rights lawyers as the priority danger for the country.
Judge Reese Holley of Dickson, Tennessee has agreed to stop conditioning representation of counsel on making donations to his favorite charities or performing public service. What is most astonishing is not that Holley did not know what any first-year law student could tell him but that he has only been reprimanded and will be allowed to continue to serve as a judge in Tennessee after doggedly maintaining such facially unconstitutional and abusive rule. He only received a public reprimand.