Was That Wrong? Judicial Conduct Edition

Last June, I used this question at a training I did for the Defender General:

  • On May 23, a Nevada judge presiding over a contested sentencing hearing made the news by:
    • A. Ordering the defense attorney handcuffed to the jury  box.
    • B. Holding a defense attorney in contempt for tweeting updates during the hearing.
    • C. Vacating the conviction & confessing to the crime.
    • D. Sending a Facebook ‘friend request” to the defendant during the hearing.

As you think about your answer, I’ll take a moment to explain Was That Wrong? to new readers.

Was That Wrong is a column in which I attempt to use satire to write about conduct that, hopefully, lawyers don’t need a CLE or confidential inquiry of bar counsel to know to avoid. An episode of Seinfeld served as the column’s inspiration.  The entries so far:

Ok. Ready for the answer?  As first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a Nevada judge presiding over a contested sentencing hearing made the news by ordering the defense attorney handcuffed to the jury box .  The transcript of the incident is here.

Now for the fallout: per the ABA Journal, last week, the judge was publicly censured and banned from the bench.  Here’s how I imagine it on Seinfeld:

  • Judicial Commission: We’re going to get right to the point. It has come to our attention that you ordered a defense attorney handcuffed to the jury box during her client’s sentencing hearing. Is that correct?
  • Judge: Who said that?
  • Judicial Commission: She did.
  • Judge: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve held defendants in contempt and, well, this lawyer kept interrupting me.
  • Judicial Commission: You’re censured. And you can never be a judge again.
  • Judge: Well I’d already lost my re-election so you didn’t have to say it like that.

As always, be careful out there folks.


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