The System of Judges Typically
Most people don’t really know that much about the judges that preside in their hometowns and federal courts. Most time, the only interaction people have with a judge is to appear in front of him or her to pay a fine for a traffic ticket or something similar. All judges in those situations are generally fair and nice, as the people on the traffic docket in front of them are not there for criminal offenses. Other than, “the judge was nice to me,” what did you actually learn about that judge and his or her beliefs or policies? Many times, judges simply get elected on name recognition, and re-elected because they get to run as an incumbent. Incumbents generally win judicial elections unless there is some sort of scandal or issue that marks a sitting judge. Judicial appointments, nominations, and endorsements are just as political as the rest of our process, it’s just hidden a little better. If a judicial seat opens up in the middle of that seat’s term, then the governor or the president will appoint judges to fill those roles for the remainder of their terms. Once they run in the next election, they get to run as in incumbent, a huge advantage.
There are about 1,700 federal judges and about 30,000 state judges nationwide. Federal court is home to about 400,000 cases per year, while state courts account for over 100 million cases each year. From a traffic ticket, to a divorce, to a criminal case, these sitting judges have a huge say in how you live your lives. It is important to know who your judges are, what they stand for, and what kinds of misconduct they have committed, if any.
Examples of Judicial Misconduct
Reuters put together the first comprehensive accounting of cases involving the misconduct of judges nationwide, covering the last 11 or so years. From 2008 to 2019 there were 1,509 cases where judges resigned, retired, or were disciplined publicly following misconduct accusations. In addition to that, there were 3,613 cases during the same period where states disciplined judges privately, often hiding the judge’s name from the public.
90% of judges who are sanctioned for misconduct return to the bench. That includes a California judge who had sex in his courthouse chambers with his former law intern as well as an attorney on separate occasions; a judge from New York who criticized victims of domestic violence; and a judge from Maryland who was allowed to return to work following a DUI as long as he took a breath test each day before court.
Other examples of judicial misconduct include:
• A judge in Utah who texted a video of a man’s scrotum to court clerks. He returned to the bench after being reprimanded.
• Three judges in Indiana got drunk and started a massive fight outside a white castle at 3 am which resulted in two of the judges getting shot. Even though they were disgraced, they still returned to the bench after their suspensions.
• A judge in text busted into a deliberation room while the jury was deliberating a case in his court and told the jurors that God had told him that the defendant was innocent. The judge got a warning and returned to his position on the bench.
The moral of this story is to get to know your judges before you elect them. Find out who they are, what they stand for, and make sure you think they are truly the people you want entrusted with so much power from your vote.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.