The National Law Journal's list of ten
judges who won't be on the bench next May 1 includes a
Scottsdale, Arizona City Court judge whose sending naked
photos by e-mail made him the "first dot com fiasco in
the annals of judicial discipline." It's part of the
magazine's annual Law Day listing of what they consider
the ten biggest miscreants among the nation's jurists.
Judge George Preston resigned last August 31, ahead
of the Scottsdale City Council's getting together to
strip him of his robes themselves. Judge Preston of the
Dot Com was accused - and he never denied it - of
sending raunchy material to court personnel by
old-fangled and newfangled means, including his e-mail.
And this was just months after he went to a mandatory
seminar on how to duck sexual trouble in the workplace,
the Law Journal said.
But five days after that seminar, Hizzoner used his
court computer to e-mail a video clip of nude skydivers.
When someone told Scottsdale's human resources officer,
he got a warning. Two months later, Preston gave a
female bailiff a greeting card showing exposed genitals
of three women. "She was not amused," the Law
Journal said, "and neither was her husband." She
sued for sexual harassment, and the city settled with
So what was Preston's comment in his retirement
letter? After saying he tried to uphold the bench's
dignity over the years, he said he'd committed a mere
error in judgment, according to the Law Journal.
Lest anyone think the magazine singled Preston out
for top dishonors, however, the journal's top ten list
was primarily populated by the like of these
Onandaga County (New York) Judge J. Kevin
Mulroy. Talking outside court with the prosecution
is one thing (and risky business at that, if you'd like
to avoid accusations of trying to twist the case a bit).
But telling him to be reasonable about plea bargains
because the murder victim was just a 67-year-old "nigger
bitch" is something else again. The state commission on
judicial conduct said as much, and the state Supreme
Court agreed, and Mulroy - who also ordered a female
prosecutor in a rape case to issue a misdemeanor plea
bargain if she didn't want Hizzoner to call a mistrial -
now wears no robe but his bathrobe.
Delaware State Family Court Judge Gary Grubb.
You can bet Pink Floyd's "Have A Cigar," from their
Wish You Were Here album, has new meaning to this
now former judge. A Dover tobacconist caught his Grubby
little hands in the humidor taking the price tags
($7.10) off top-of-the-line cigars and replacing them
with price tags from cheaper stogies. Grubb resigned in
March after he was found guilty of shoplifting.
Pierce County (Washington) Superior Court Judge
Grant L. Anderson. The state's judicial conduct
commission decided Anderson should sit it out for four
months because he wheeled and dealed with an estate he
controlled. Anderson challenged that ruling, largely on
the grounds that Washington's state Supreme Court had
never enhanced any judge's sanction. And, technically
speaking, he was right this time, too - the state
Supreme Court ruled the suspension was too
lenient. Can't have judges selling off bowling
alleys to friends at 30 percent discounts when they're
told by the deceased owner before dying that they want
the proceeds going to a hospital. And last July, the
court disrobed Anderson permanently. Anderson also drove
himself off the bench by buying a new Cadillac Eldorado,
with a friend picking up the $800 a month payments and
the judge never declaring them on his financial
disclosure reports. On the other hand, Anderson did
avoid part of the originally recommended sanction - he
won't have to go to judicial ethics class, after all.
Potosi (Missouri) Municipal Judge Ronald Hill.
Talk about nitpicking - Hill cut all city fines, no
matter the crimes, would be cut to a dollar apiece, in a
bid to strong-arm Mayor John Byers into agreeing the
city should pony up for elected officials' health
insurance. Hill swore there was nothing more than a bid
to get nonviolent cases off his docket, but the state
Supreme Court said two beneficiaries of the dollar fines
included two convicted of assault, one of whom had
attacked a police officer. Hill might still get the last
laugh - after he was ordered to sit out his ninth
judicial term, he decided to run… for mayor.
San Bernardino (California) County Judge Fred
Heene. Going into Heene's court without your lawyer
was hazardous to your mental health - the California
Judicial Performance Commission recorded what it called
a pattern of abusing such respondents. Before the
commission could censure Heene, he agreed not to run for
re-election. Perhaps his signature offense was his
ordering an alleged rape victim into custody for
changing her story while under oath - even though
prosecutors pointed out she hadn't been charged with any
Coconino County (Arizona) Superior Court Judge J.
Michael Flournoy. In eight years, this judge was
reprimanded six times. Perhaps one would expect as much
from a judge who - confronted with a slander case in
which courtroom audience sang a Beatles song while a
medium on the stand channeled testimony from a 15th
century Englishman demanding the case end - ended the
case right there. That's not what got him channeled off
the bench, though. That happened because he tampered
with a court transcript in another case, and was
suspended through December 2000.
Marshall County (Iowa) Associate Judge Sandra J.
Holien. Paranoia strikes deep, wrote songwriter
Stephen Stills in 1966. It struck Holien deep enough
that she thought - mistakenly - that she was the subject
of an investigation that hadn't even been suggested. She
mounted a five-year campaign in a bid to get to the
bottom of the conspiracy that never did exist, and it
ended up getting her suspended in February by Iowa's
judicial conduct commission. Apparently, Holien
questioned everyone including police officers about
their spying on her, and caused clerks to quit
regularly. She's challenging her suspension, though.
New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice Stephen Thayer
III. All it took was a court clerk telling him a
lawyer for his former wife was checking financial
disclosure forms. Thayer did a little amending of his
own, making it read that he got a $50,000 loan from a
Manchester attorney - who just so happened to have
business before the Court, a bid to disbar another
attorney. Thayer, the Law Journal said, recused
himself on conflict of interest grounds because he once
worked for the Manchester attorney. But there was one
little detail - that didn't mean Thayer lacked input;
indeed, state officials confirmed Thayer tried to
influence two cases before the court after recusing
himself from both - including trying to get the Chief
Justice to change who he'd put on a special panel to
hear an appeal of the terms of Thayer's divorce. Thayer
quit on March 31.
Grayson (Kentucky) District Judge William
Woods. Returning to the bench last May after doing a
60-day suspension for ethical lapses (sentencing
defendants to private programs involving companies where
his own family members worked), Grayson got distracted
by efforts to get onto the circuit court, was either
late or inaccessible, and took retaliatory actions when
he lost the circuit court election. That action included
ordering a sheriff to arrest himself and accusing a
clerk of not voting for him. He's still awaiting
Kentucky's first public hearing on judicial misconduct
and, thus, inactive.