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.
Coll asked Kostas “Gus” Hartas if he was “of Greek background,” during Hartas’ hearing for past due child support. Hartas answered in the affirmative. This exchange followed:
Coll: Right, the Greeks never pay taxes.
Coll: That’s why their country—
Coll: Is in bankruptcy.
Coll: So can I take judicial note of the fact that the Greeks are in bankruptcy as a nation and one of the reasons, the principal reason is because none of them ever pay taxes?
Lawyer: Your Honor, I object to lumping my client in with the entire country of Greece.
I am fairly confident that the lawyer prepared for various possible issues except for an effort to tie his client to the national economic crisis and membership in the European Union of the nation of Greece.
Coll later apologized and insisted “My language does not accurately reflect my feelings about the Greek community. I regret the language I used during the hearing.”
Coll was elected to the Court in 2003 and is a graduate of Villanova University and Villanova Law School.
Coll wisely (though belatedly) vacated the child support order and ordered a hearing with a new judge. However, it might have been interesting if further litigation would end up in front of District Court Judge Harry Karapalides. I expect he pays his taxes too.
This may in the end be all over compensation. After all, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (one of my favorite movies), Gus Portokalos declares “There are two kinds of people – Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek.”
Source: ABA Journal