Monday 9 March 2015

STUPID JUDGES: Why are they still in courtrooms?                              

It is a sad commentary of our times that we have really stupid and uncaring judges sitting in courtrooms. Stupid judges often get away with outrageous sentences and courtroom shenanigans because either governments won’t step in or in the US, people keep electing them to office. And when judges do misbehave, they hide behind the ruse, “We can't talk about the case,” It appears that they are not held accountable to anyone. Well actually they are. There are judicial councils that can reign them in. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

What follows are some terrible examples of judicial stupidity.

When I was practicing law, I filed complaints against judges when they misbehaved. In one of them, the judge made a decision that was totally stupid. The judicial council ordered him to reverse his decision and pay my client his costs of the case. In another case, the judge insulted me during a trial in which I was representing a client.  The judicial council ordered him to appear before the deputy chief judge of the province for chastisement. One judge in the criminal court in Toronto refused to let paralegals represent their clients in his court despite the fact that the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that paralegals had every right to represent their clients in his court if the crown (prosecutor) was proceeding summarily (misdemeanors). 

Maryland Judge Joseph Manck is a perfect example of judicial stupidity.  In 2007, Judge Manck sentenced a brutal child molester, a man who sexually abused his eight-year-old daughter for seven years to only four months in jail. That was a totally irresponsible sentence.

 This stupid judge made another irresponsible decision and this one eventually indirectly led to the death of 19-year-old Samantha McQuillin in Florida. Twenty-three-year-old Matthew Dieterle was convicted of assault and unlawfully carrying a handgun in 2002. Judge Manck gave him 18 months and released him on probation four months short of the 19 months. The sentence should have been much higher considering the number of gun shootings occur in the US.

Almost immediately after Dieterle’s release, he was into legal trouble again. Another judge ordered him to stay away from a woman he was bothering. Soon after that, authorities charged the man with another assault. Judge Manck did nothing about these new crimes and he even allowed Dieterle to move to Florida, thereby cancelling his Maryland probation entirely. He shouldn't have done that. That decision resulted in a young woman being murdered by Dieterle. The victim was 19-year-old Samantha McQuillin. Florida police say he stabbed and strangled the woman to death, leaving her bloody body in a bathtub. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

Could anyone successfully complain against Judge Manck? I doubt it since he was also a member of the judicial council.                                                      

Judge Roy Pearson launched a lunatic legal siege on a dry cleaners over a lost pair of pants, claiming $67 million compensation. Pearson claimed that the cleaners lost the pants to a $1,800 suit. They claimed they found them later that week, but he disagreed. They then offered him $12,000 compensation, but he demanded the outrageous figure of $67 million.  After two full years of people all over the planet telling him he was totally insane, he lowered the claim to $54 million. That is 50,000 times the cost of the original item, which he claimed accounted for his inconvenience and mental anguish. The cleaner’s legal fees ($80,000) nearly drove the owners back to South Korea until a community effort raised some money to help them pay their legal bill.

And now for the really good news. Pearson's term as an administrative law judge expired in May 2007, and the Washington D.C. Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges voted not to reappoint him to his $100,000 job. His wife also left him and to add salt to his wounds. he became bankrupt. Did this fool learn anything from his fiasco? Not really. He filed an appeal to a higher court to reconsider the lower court’s decision and his appeal was refused. The infamous $67 million pants case finally ended in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and he lost his appeal again. The owners of the cleaners sued the former judge and he ended up having to pay them which may have contributed to his bankruptcy.

Thomas Jefferson said it best when he remarked; “It is not honorable to take mere legal advantage, when it happens to be contrary to justice.” 

Because the Agriculture Department tests only a small percentage of cows for the deadly disease, Kansas meatpacker Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wanted to test all of its cows. A federal appeals court says it couldn’t. I wish those fools had eaten meat from the infected cows and gone crazy like the cows. Hey, maybe they ate the meat before they made that crazy decision.  The court made its decision after it heard the pleas of the larger meat packers. They were concerned that if the smaller meat packer had to test all of its cows, so would the larger ones.

An appeals court ruled that a Mississippi school district was not liable in a federal civil rights suit for failing to protect a 4th grade student from sexual assault by a man who checked the girl out of school without authorization from her parents. The 16-2 decision by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, held that the student did not have a special custodial relationship with her school, and thus the school had no constitutional duty to protect her from harm inflicted by the sexual predator who illegally took her out of the school so that he could molest her. The man was convicted of sexual battery in the assaults and was sentenced to a 10-year prison term. What would be the decision of one of the 16 judges who voted against the student’s best interests if his daughter was taken out of her school illegally and molested by a child molester?

Ms Rania El-Alloul was in court to apply to get her car back after it was seized by Quebec's automobile insurance board. The car was seized after the police stopped Ms. El-Alloul's son for driving while his licence was  suspended and the board was set to keep the car for a month. Ms. El-Alloul was asking the court to return her car sooner.

Eliana Marengo, a Quebec judge told the Muslim woman appearing in her Montreal courtroom that she would not hear her case until she removed her headscarf. What a stupid judge that woman was. It was not a head scarf that Ms. El-Alloul was wearing. It was a hijab.

A hijab is a veil that covers the head and chest, which is particularly worn by some Muslim women beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate families.  It is worn by Muslim women as a symbol of modesty. Most Islamic legal systems define this type of modest dressing as covering everything except the face and hands in public. Many Muslims believe that the Qur'an does not mandate wearing a hijab but Muslim women wearing a hijab has been a custom in Islamic countries and elsewhere for a great many centuries.

The stupid judge went on to say to Ms.  El-Alloul. “You are not suitably dressed. Hats and sunglasses for example, are not allowed. And I don't see why scarves on the head would be either.” Would this incredibly stupid judge also tell a male Sikh that he can’t wear his turban in court? Would this woman also tell a male Jew that he can’t wear his kippa (a hemispherical cap) in court? It is usually made of cloth and it is worn to fulfill the customary requirement held by some orthodox male Jews that their heads be covered at all times. As to sunglasses, there are occasions when people with highly sensitive eyes have to wear sunglasses at all times. There are many Muslim lawyers who wear their hijabs in courtrooms and the judges in those courtrooms haven’t spewed out the nonsense that judge in Quebec  did.

What this stupid judge didn’t know and should have known was that not too long ago, the chief judge of the Supreme Court of Canada said that a secular approach that requires people to park their religion at the courtroom door is inconsistent with the jurisprudence and Canadian tradition and limits the freedom of religion where no limit can be justified.”  This means that Christians can bring a small cross into a courtroom and even when testifying, hold it in his or her hands. I should point out however that the wearing of a hijab is not based on Islamic religion. It is a Muslim custom that goes back centuries.

When I was practicing law and representing a client in court and the judge noticed that my tie was loose. She said to me, “Mister Batchelor. I don’t like looking at skin below the neckline.” My immediate response was, “Your Honour. You must get really hysterical when you see women wearing low cut gowns.” Needless to say, she was not amused. Quite frankly, I didn’t give a tinker’s dam if she was amused or not. (a tinker’s dam was a small round piece of metal worth less than a penny)

Now back to that stupid Quebec judge. She adjourned Ms.  El-Alloul’s case indefinitely after first taking a thirty-minute break to decide what she should do.  If her brains were functioning properly, she would have invited Ms. El-Alloul into her chambers and asked her to explain why she was wearing her hijab in court. Unfortunately, the judge didn’t have a proper functioning brain so she just increased her stupidity by refusing to hear the poor woman’s case any further.

The judge’s thirty minute break brings me back to a time when I was representing a client in a criminal court. The judge took a thirty-minute break after I said something he didn’t like. He originally said, “Mister Batchelor. I hope you aren’t being contemptuous of this court.” I replied, “Your Honour has every right to hope.”  He suddenly stood up and scowled at me and then walked briskly out of the courtroom. He returned thirty minutes later and believe it or not, he dismissed the case against my client. That night, the judge died of a heart attack. I didn’t think he was that upset at what I had said to him.

The incident in Quebec went viral. It was heard on the radio and TV and published in newspapers in a great many cities. Now the judge has finally left her mark in history. Well, actually, it is a smudge. What this stupid woman didn’t fully understand is that if judges can be authorities on what constitutes suitable attire in courtrooms, there would be a degradation of Canadian values. That kind of intolerance about how people are dressed in courtrooms has no place in Canada or elsewhere.

We must always keep in mind that judges are not gods and great wizards. They are human beings and like human beings, some of them are extremely stupid. My comment to this stupid Quebec judge is, “Congratulations for having been so dense which has resulted in you coming across as a retarded dunce.” 

UPDATE:  March 10, 2015. The Canadian government  has filed an appeal on this Quebec case. When I learn what the appeal decision is, I will again update this article. 

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