I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Right to criticize judges is under attack

A recent sharp upswing in violence and threats of violence against judges is being exploited to attack the right to criticize judges. An article titled "Judges Clamor for Protection After Killings, Threats" said,

The shooting deaths last February of the husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow in Chicago brought the issue of judicial security into sharper focus both for judges and the U.S. Marshals Service, which protects federal judges and other court employees .......

"Generally, people today are much more aggressive in communicating their concerns to government officials," he says. "Some are just people who are expressing their displeasure with a ruling. Others go far beyond and cross over into a threat."

Lefkow, in her first public statements after the murders, begged Congress to turn sympathy for her into real protection for judges and their families. She also asked the lawmakers to repudiate political attacks on judiciary ......

"Fostering disrespect for judges can only encourage those that are on the edge, or the fringe, to exact revenge on a judge who ruled against them," she said.......

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who has proposed court security legislation in the Senate, agreed.

"The rhetoric can only stir the pot, and it must stop," Leahy said in a statement. "It is irresponsible."

Well then, I guess that I am irresponsible, because several of my articles on this blog are devoted to disrespecting Judge John E. Jones III, the infamous judge who decided the Kitzmiller v. Dover intelligent design case.

Judge Jones himself said in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League,

We cannot know if, in fact, the killer of Judge Lefkow's family members, who later took his own life, was influenced by the creeping disrespect for the judiciary that exists today. However, I would respectfully suggest that it is entirely likely that it was.

Judge Jones is wrong. Ending public criticism of judges would not end resentment of them. People would still have personal grudges against judges who ruled against them.

Judge Jones went on to say,

And I will share something else with you that I have in common with Judge Whitamore, who presided in the Terri Schiavo case. That is, after our respective decisions, mine in the Dover case and Judge Whitamore's in the Schiavo case in 2005, both of us were under round-the-clock marshal protection for a period of time due to threats that we received, in my case, from various parts of the country.

As the following excerpt from the conclusion section of the Kitzmiller opinion shows, the threats have obviously not discouraged judges from disparaging litigants or controversial ideas:

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

Judges should not abuse their positions by taking potshots at litigants or controversial ideas. Judges should follow Chief Justice John "Ump" Roberts principle that judges are like umpires -- it is not their job to pitch or bat and no one ever came to a baseball game to watch the umpire. In contrast, the "umpire" has become the star player of the Dover trial -- the trial made Judge Jones a hot speaker on the lecture circuit and he was chosen to be on the list of Time magazine's 100 most influential people.

Writing this article prompted me to search the Internet for judge jokes. Here is one of my favorites:

Q: What do you call a judge who has an IQ of 40?

A: Your honor.


Anonymous ha ha ha said...

"Q: What do you call a judge who has an IQ of 40?

"A: Your honor."

Just out of curiosity -- who thought this was funny?

Friday, July 28, 2006 1:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity -- who thought this was funny?

A sad, crazy old man who humiliates himself on the internet.

Friday, July 28, 2006 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the best lawyer story of the year, decade and probably the century.

A Charlotte, NC, lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, and then insured them against fire among other things. Within a month having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed claim against the insurance company.

In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires."

The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason: that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion. The lawyer sued ... and won!

In delivering the ruling the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The Judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable fire, and was obligated to pay the claim.

Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the "fires."


After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!!!

With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000 fine.

(This is a true story and was the 1st place winner in the recent Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.)

Friday, July 28, 2006 4:56:00 PM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

The cigar story is false.

Friday, July 28, 2006 8:26:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

Thanks for the Snopes reference, Kevin.

I thought the story sounded less than believable -- although it was more believable than the idea that a judge might have an IQ of less than 100 or so.

I wonder if the "this is a true story" claim was part of the tale as originally told, or added later?

Saturday, July 29, 2006 1:56:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

W. Kevin Vicklund said ( 7/28/2006 08:26:19 PM ) --

>>>>The cigar story is false.<<<<<<

I am not surprised that the story is false, because it looked very fishy. For example, collision insurance on a car does not give one the right to push the car over a cliff and then collect insurance money. Also, there is the question of why the insurance company did not raise the arson (or deliberate destruction or whatever) issue in the first trial. I think that the principle of collateral estoppel should prevent the arson issue from being raised in the second trial when it was not raised in the first. One definition of collateral estoppel is: "The principle that any fact or issue that has been decided in a previous suit should not be litigated by the same parties in another suit. The earlier determination is binding, and a party is estopped, or prevented, from disputing the matter." However, though the definitions of collateral estoppel usually assume "mutuality of parties" (both parties in the second action are the same as in the first), sometimes one of the parties in the second action is different -- see Wikipedia article on collateral estoppel. The first trial's judgment that the smoker was entitled to the insurance money implied that he did not commit arson, because otherwise he would not have been entitled to the money. Also, collateral estoppel applies to issues and arguments that could have been raised as well as issues that arguments that were raised, i.e., the insurance company cannot claim that the arson issue could be raised in the second trial just because it was not raised in the first -- res judicata is similar to collateral estoppel, and "under res judicata, a final judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or their privies from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in that action" -- from this reference. Collateral estoppel is now applied to criminal trials as well as civil trials. In applying the results of a criminal trial to a civil trial, the following principles might apply:

Acquittal of a crime is not given collateral estoppel effect in a civil proceeding because the plaintiff in the civil suit was not a party to the criminal proceeding and could not offer evidence against the defendant. This rule prevented O. J. Simpson from using his acquittal of murder as a defense in the civil trials brought against him by the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman following the murder trial.

In addition, the difference between the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof necessary for a criminal conviction and the preponderance of evidence standard in civil actions would make it unfair to allow the acquitted defendant to use his or her acquittal to bind the opponent in the civil matter in which the standard of proof to obtain a judgment is not as stringent.
-- from this reference

However, I think that going the other way, from a civil trial to a criminal trial in the cigar smoker's case, the above reasoning shows that collateral estoppel should apply.

As for the joke about the judge with an IQ of 40, I liked this joke for two reasons:

(1) -- its breathtaking inanity.

(2) -- It poked fun at the practice of calling judges "your honor" and "honorable." I think that a lot of judges are not honorable and also I consider usage of these terms to be brownnosing.

Saturday, July 29, 2006 3:53:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

< (2) -- It poked fun at the practice of calling judges "your honor" and "honorable." I think that a lot of judges are not honorable ... >

I believe the purpose of titles such as this (besides stroking egos who may or may not be deserving) is also and more importantly to serve as a reminder (to both the honoree and others) of the seriousness of their responsibilities. I.e., it is related (for example) to the demand for sworn testimony and to the condemnation of perjury.

If it does not have that meaning and that effect, then I would share the skepticism as to the value of the custom.

Noblesse oblige.

Saturday, July 29, 2006 11:48:00 AM  

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