Under normal circumstances I’d be in Chicago right now, checked into the Hotel Palomar, hanging out with my nerd friends from the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers at the Annual Meeting. This blog would be quiet but I’d be annoying everyone on Facebook with out-of-context giddy snippets from the conference.
Instead, it’s Yet Another Zoom. I’ve signed up, because of course I did–the program is still valuable even if the best things about it have fallen victim to the Shenanigans. Still, it was good to see some of my nerd friends at the virtual reception and I look forward to the sessions over the next couple of days.
I know that missing an in-person conference is far from the biggest thing on anyone’s mind right now, but it’s still an annoying reminder of everything.
But, rather than drag everyone down again with Just How Much Everything Sucks (it’s Day 153, not that I’m counting, except that I’ve been counting since Day 1) I’ll move on.
I’ve written a bit about judicial ethics s before, but it’s usually gray-area stuff (like appropriate social media use) or really stupid stuff (like these judges, who ended up in criminal trouble after a lot of drinking after a judicial conference—which, I guess, is not a risk this year).
Today, I was alerted to some really malignant stuff. A very short summary—a judge in Pennsylvania is facing removal for (allegedly) abusing his position and lobbing some racist and obnoxious commentary at parties and jurors in his courtroom over a period of years.
As I often do, I read through the complaint and wondered whether and how this case would be defensible, or whether I would be recommending he offer his quiet resignation. Proof doesn’t seem to be the problem; this conduct was on the record. Of course, I have no idea what this judge’s circumstances are, or what’s in the Judicial Conduct Board file. I do not know whether soul searching and rehabilitation is possible here.
But still. It’s 2020. I’m not saying that judges need to be protesting in the streets, but they can’t claim any sort of entitlement to espouse racist views or use the language he did. It’s contrary to judicial canons, but even if it wasn’t, how can a party trust the system if they’re made to feel less-than for qualities having nothing to do with why they’re in court in the first place.