Smackdown for Texas Judge Sparks

Judge Sam Sparks, a federal judge in Austin, has had a lot of fun at the expense of the lawyers who appear before him. Recently, Judge Sparks publicly chastised both counsel in a hearing and ordered them to attend at the Courthouse on the weekend to attend a “kindergarten party”. The purpose of the party was to offer remedial education to the apparently squabbling lawyers who the judge said were practicing law at the level of a first year law student. A stinging rebuke if ever there was one.

Sparks unusual behavior includes rendering “cute” court orders that are apparently meant to be humorous, but are nothing short of denigrating and demeaning, to the lawyers involved and to the administration of justice.

For example, this is a portion of an order of Judge Sparks dated August 23, 2011:

“…The Court now enters the following opinion and order DENYING the motion. The Court has already turned down two extremely tempting offers to transform this case from a boring old federal lawsuit into an exciting, politically-charged media circus. As any competent attorney could have predicted, the Court declines the latest invitation as well. However, the Court is forced to conclude that Allan E. Parker Jr., whose signature appears on this motion, is anything but competent… The Court assumes Mr. Parker is as incompetent as he appears.”

Judge Sparks caustic judgments have flown around the internet, garnering amusement in many quarters and spiking the judge’s Google entries. But the party may be over for Judge Sparks.

A leaked memo from Edith Jones, Chief Judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal, who oversees the federal courts, may put an end to Judge Sparks frivolity. The memo reads, in part:

“…Frankly, this kind of rhetoric is not funny. In fact, it is so caustic, demeaning, and gratuitous that it casts more disrespect on the judiciary than on the now-besmirched reputation of the counsel.
It suggests either that the judge is simply indulging himself at the expense of counsel or that he is fighting with counsel in what, as Judge Gee used to say, is surely not a fair contest….Ultimately this kind of excess, as I noted, reflects badly on all of us. I urge you to think before you write.”

In my view, Judge Sparks has turned his bench into a “bully pulpit”. Fortunately, there are only a few judges in Vancouver who rip counsel apart as a blood sport and one of them has just recently retired. Thank goodness!

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

2 thoughts on “Smackdown for Texas Judge Sparks

  1. There are many other issues with judges in this district. In a recent civil case in Texas, District Judge Royal Furgeson made the following remarks on the record in a civil case:

    “THE COURT: They do and I have jurisdiction, too. So I’ll tell you what…. You want to challenge the court order, I have the marshals behind me. I can come to your house, pick you up, put you in jail. I can seize your property, do anything I need to do to enforce my orders. I’m telling you don’t screw with me. You are a fool, a fool, a fool, a fool to screw with a federal judge, and if you don’t understand that, I can make you understand it. I have the force of the Navy, Army, Marines and Navy behind me.

    THE COURT: You realize that order is an order of the Court. So any failure to comply with that order is contempt, punishable by lots of dollars, punishable by possible jail, death”

    The conduct in the rest of the case is even more harrowing. More information about this case is available at

  2. Courts are not known for Judicial innovation, and Judges are compelled to “call it as they see it” whether or not it might be demeaning to a court of lawyers with so little respect for law that they would appear before a Judge with misplaced priorities than justice, and misplaced protocol that anticipates legitimacy of courts rather than rubber stamping courts.

    Fraud upon courts is a very serious matter, and no one except attorneys exist who regularly pull such schenanigans because they know how the court works, and know it can be manipulated – as if they were sixth graders in a classroom with a substitute teacher.

    If lawyers do not take responsibility for law and justice, and prefer to sweep under the rug their own malfeasance, how are Judges to maintain courtroom decorum? It is a travesty of justice to criticize a Judge for using innovative techniques to discipline attorneys appearing before him who would readily distort what is meant to be the only location for Constitutionally prescribed justice, and honest judgement.

    Failing that, courts are mere transactionaries, capable of being used for great injustices, and infliction of human pain and anxiety – physical or emotional. It may begin with lawyers, but it typically ends with Judges, and no Judge with self respect would allow himself to be used as the king/queen pawn of lawyers in fictitious chess games that affect the real lives of citizens before it. Human chess games are for entities who cannot be harmed by money transfers, not among citizens who can be harmed. One is real, the other pure fantasy.

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