More Bad Judges

10950859361151CDPMichigan’s District Court Judge Ken Post is at it again. You may remember him as the judge who found junior lawyer, Scott Millard, in contempt for protecting his client’s right not to incriminate himself. Millard became a folk-hero of sorts for standing up to Judge Post, even as the judge directed the court sheriff to remove him from the court and escort him to the cells. Judge Post was later disciplined and suspended from the bench for thirty days.

Judge Post’s latest stunt occurred when Philip Mallery, age 23, failed to appear for his scheduled court hearing on drug and traffic charges, although his lawyer was in attendance.

Judge Post telephoned the young man and left the following message:

“We’re waiting for you because you’re supposed to be here today, you missed a drug test yesterday, and it would appear as though you’re not coming today, so a bench warrant is being issued for your arrest. My strong suggestion is that you, uhhh, when you get this message you keep going because if I find you, it will not be pleasant. Have a good day.”

Mallery’s lawyer, Joshua Blanchard, whose law partner, Scott Millard ended up in jail, has now applied to have Judge Post recuse himself from his client’s case and has reported him to the Judicial Tenure Commission. Blanchard described Judge Post’s telephone call as “threatening” and queried why the jurist would take the action he did without knowing the reason for Mallery’s absence, speculating that his client could have been ill, in a traffic accident, or his wife could have died.

I’m looking forward to hearing Judge Post explain why he thought it appropriate to call an accused, rather than relaying a message through his lawyer, which is the usual practice.

However, Judge Post’s behaviour is trifling compared to the charges against Kentucky Circuit Court Judge Steven Combs, who was suspended last week pending a decision from the Judicial Conduct Commission.

The allegations include:

1. Presiding over a gas and oil case despite his personal financial interest in the company and using information elicited in the case to make personal demands to the company;

2. Making numerous aggressive calls to the local police insisting they lay criminal trespass charges against members of the public who parked in his church’s parking lot;

3. During one of the phone calls to police, he allegedly said the next police officer who pulled him over would get a “bullet to the head.” When confronted with the statement, he allegedly said, “I’m elected by the people and not pieces of trash like you.” He also called the police department “a bunch of thieves”;

4. Calling local officials names such as “coke head, Dumbo Donovan, Fishface Jimmy, and Retarded Reed the little police chief”;

5. Using court letterhead to send personal letters to county officials;

6. Calling a lawyer who appeared before him “a prick and a coward”;and

7. Soliciting donations from lawyers who appeared in his courtroom for a local high school golf team.

My research indicates that American judges fall afoul of judicial ethics rules much more frequently than Canadian judges, a phenomenon probably related to the absence of elected judges in Canada.

In many American states, like Michigan and Kentucky, judges are democratically elected and accountable to voters, however, the election of judges is also subject to the “tyranny of the majority” and is open to corruption and the purchase of votes.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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