A Vietnamese Judge Reminds Us Americans “What We Have”

 In Honor of the Fourth of July I was privileged to be the mentor judge for Nho Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American judge in the country. He is a living hero. A Living Hero In college, he protested the South Vietnam military dictatorship and led a student democratic movement. He risked his life to establish freedom … Continue reading A Vietnamese Judge Reminds Us Americans “What We Have”

Judges “Threatened” by Their Bench Chairs

One of the greatest threats to judges is their own bench chairs.  We judges get very used to our bench chairs. These plush chairs are very comfortable. Since we spend years sitting in the same bench chair, they get to “know” them and their limits.  Occasionally, we go beyond those limits. My "loaner chair" "made … Continue reading Judges “Threatened” by Their Bench Chairs

We Can Never Judge Another’s Heart

After a lifetime of experience as a judge, bishop, and father, I am convinced that we are never, ever, in a position to judge another’s heart. Prospective jurors often ask to be excused saying, “I cannot judge another person.”  I explain: “You are not being asked to judge whether the defendant is a good person … Continue reading We Can Never Judge Another’s Heart

Angry Judge Gets Caught Flattening Tire of Handicap Van

(I was bored and tired of listening to the election results, so I decided to move this "Court Case Friday" article to Thursday.) Over the years, I have presided over dozens of parking-lot-rage cases.  Fortunately, most of these cases were minor misdemeanors. I remember a high-publicity parking-lot-rage case that occurred a long time ago.  It … Continue reading Angry Judge Gets Caught Flattening Tire of Handicap Van

“Bizarre” Religious Attire in Court

Religious Attire in the Courtroom: The General Rules Judges have broad discretion in establishing rules of practice in their own courtrooms.  This power includes standards of personal appearance and attire.  Sometimes, the judge's dress standards must yield to someone’s sincere religious beliefs.  For example, the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause generally requires the judge to … Continue reading “Bizarre” Religious Attire in Court

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 … Continue reading Judge Fights Public Defender — Literally

Judge Physically Attacks the Defendant in Court

One of the most stressful things for trial attorneys is the unpredictability of judges.  One of the most stressful things for judges is the unpredictable trial attorneys and their clients. Although almost all of my courtroom articles are from my personal experience there is one New York judge, whose unpredictable sentencing hearing, is one of … Continue reading Judge Physically Attacks the Defendant in Court

2 More Major Judicial Pranks

The Rude Angry Traffic Offender One of our judges shared coffee in chambers every morning with one of the local police department's transportation officers who brought prisoners to the courthouse each morning. They became good friends. The day the officer retired, he and some judges, clerks, and bailiffs decided play a prank on the judge. The officer … Continue reading 2 More Major Judicial Pranks

Jury Selection Speech: Trial by Combat and Ordeal

While serving my mission in Britain, I visited the island of Jersey off the coast of France. This is where the Jersey cows come from. The neighboring English island of Guernsey is where the Guernsey cows originate.    On the coastal road on Jersey, high above the rocky shore, is a plaque dedicated to “Geoffrey’s Leap.” I use … Continue reading Jury Selection Speech: Trial by Combat and Ordeal