Judge Fights Public Defender — Literally

Sometimes attorneys find judges to be annoying, and sometimes judges find attorneys to be annoying.

I thought I was a very patient person – until I became a judge. There are a select few annoying and aggressive attorneys who can push my buttons. Aggravating a judge is not in their client’s best interest. There is an adage, “Beware the wrath of a patient person.” Also, “Don’t poke the grizzly bear!

 I occasionally wanted to say, “Counsel, please approach the bench. A little closer, please.” Whereupon I plant my gavel in their forehead. I never did that.  It was just a fantasy.

There is one judge in Florida who recently carried out such a fantasy. His calendar was overloaded. In order to manage his caseload, he needed to continue a jury trial. The obstinate public defender refused.

 The judge became so angry, he challenged the attorney to fight. Although the judge was much older than the public defender, the judge knew how to fight. He was a retired colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces and had served in Afghanistan.

 The judge shouted: “You know, if I had a rock I would throw it.”  He continued, “If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll beat your ass.”

The public defender followed the judge out of the courtroom and into the hallway.  They never made it “out back.” They immediately started fighting. The bailiff rushed into the hallway and separated the combatants.

The public defender claimed the judge punched him first. The judge claimed that the public defender was the aggressor.

The judge returned to the bench and handled eight more cases, without the public defender, who was conspicuously absent.

There are always consequences when judge carry out such fantasies. (Apparently, the event made its way to YouTube.) After eighteen months of investigation, the Florida Supreme Court removed the judge from the bench. The judge’s, “grievous misconduct became a national spectacle and an embarrassment to Florida’s judicial system.” 

 On a personal note, I have never been in a fight in my life, and I am much too old to start. I will to continue to restrain myself from planting my gavel in an attorney’s forehead.

(Source, “Bullying from the Bench,” Wendy Davis, American Bar Association Journal, Mar. 1, 2019, http://www.abajournal.com)

(Other articles: http://www.londonedition.net)

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