Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Three cases on the consequences of improper speech by judges and attorneys

Law.com reported yesterday that an Atlantic County, New Jersey, Superior Court Judge has been hit with ethics charges for allegedly launching into a tirade against an unrepresented family court litigant who complained about a child-visitation schedule he ordered. Go here for the full story. In the complaint, Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct counsel alleged that the heated invective called into question Baker's ability to remain impartial.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin is reporting today of case in which a convicted murderer has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to order a new sentencing hearing because the sentencing judge called him a derogatory term for gay men in court before sentencing him to more than a century behind bars. In his petition for leave to appeal, the defendant contends that the utterance of the derogatory slur used to describe gay men was "indicative of the sentencing judge's abandonment of impartiality in the sentencing process."

Finally, Law.com reported a few days ago (here) that a Florida state appeals court has thrown out a $1.4 million jury verdict because of "inflammatory and prejudicial comments" made in court by the plaintiffs attorney. Go here for the court's opinion. The Court concluded that the attorney engaged in "improper litigation tactics" that went well beyond "partisan zeal" and that "indisputably require reversal."

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