Too much pressure?

July 16, 2008
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We see them as the authority behind the bench, applying the law and dispensing justice on a daily basis. But what happens when a judge crosses the line – criminal conduct or not – and allows work or personal pressure to cloud judgment enough that it has a direct impact on their career?

A trial judge in Indiana faces misconduct charges for apparently going to a colleague’s courtroom during a sentencing hearing, while wearing his judicial robe, then causing a disturbance with a deputy prosecutor and verbally berating the defendant’s family. Earlier this year, another trial judge and his commissioner had several counts lodged against them alleging delays and dereliction of duty, including charges that the judge didn’t adequately supervise his staff and allowed delays in at least one case that resulted in a man being kept in prison almost two years longer than he should have been.

Don’t forget about other examples where judges have been disciplined for drinking and driving. Or high-profile examples of when a New York judge was tossed from the bench after jailing 46 people because a cell phone interrupted his courtroom proceedings. Or a federal bankruptcy judge in Massachusetts who resigned a week after he was arrested for driving drunk while reportedly wearing a woman’s dress, heels, and stockings.

What is the effect these examples have on the legal community and judiciary?
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