Courts

The Face of Evil May Be Behind The Judge’s Bench

by Lee Gesmer on February 13, 2009

The Face of Evil May Be Behind The Judge's Bench

Judge: Miss West, are you trying to show contempt for this court?’
Mae West: On the contrary, your Honor, I was doin’ my best to conceal it.’
(During a trial in which she was accused of indecency on stage)

“The thing to fear is not the law, but the judge”
Russian Proverb

“One bad apple ruins the barrel”

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History is replete with judges who are open to bribery, who serve special interests or who are otherwise corrupt.  We often read of judges who are sanctioned or prosecuted for misconduct. When a person dons a judge’s robe her character and values don’t change.

Despite the long history of judicial misconduct, I still was surprised to read about this kickback scheme in the February 13, 2009 New York Times. Quoting excerpts from the article:

[O]n Thursday . . . judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, [judge] Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care.

Read the full article

Cameras in Judge Gertner’s Court? Not Quite Yet

by Lee Gesmer on January 22, 2009

Cameras in Judge Gertner's Court?  Not Quite Yet

The Boston Globe reports that U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner has stayed last week’s decision allowing a motion hearng in the Tenenbaum music downloading case to be “narrowcast” on the Internet, pending an appeal to the First Circuit by the RIAA.  Apparently, the RIAA feels strongly enough about this issue to ask for immediate appellate review, and Judge Gertner agreed to keep cameras out of court, at least for the moment.

My take? Cameras in the courtroom should be within the discretion of the judge, who exercises control over that courtroom, and the First Circuit should deny the RIAA’s appeal.  The more that the public sees what goes on in our federal courts, the better for our judicial system.… Read the full article

Will Massachusetts Lose Judge Saris to the CAFC?

by Lee Gesmer on January 17, 2009

According to the front page of the January 12, 2009, National Law Journal (above the fold), Massachusetts U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris is on the “short list” to be appointed to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit – the so-called “science court” that sits in Washington D.C. and hears patent appeals from all of the U. S. District Courts in the United States.

When it comes to patents, Judge Saris is the “stand out” judge in Massachusetts. She’s shown a liking and a knack for patent litigation, and lawyers who draw her in their patent cases are appreciative.   She also is active on “the circuit,” speaking at seminars and events where judges are asked to share their thoughts on patent law issues – in other words, she’s an authority on the subject, and her influence extends far beyond her court room.

The NLJ has an extensive article, the main point of which is that the CAFC, which has 12 judges, is expected to lose as many as half that number to retirements in the next few years.  … Read the full article

When I discussed the copyright case Gatehouse Media v. The New York Times over the weekend I hadn’t reviewed the court docket, and hadn’t been aware that Judge William Young had pulled the trick that he is famous for (at least locally): when a party requests a preliminary injunction, he responds by ordering an expedited trial. And I do mean expedited.

The case was filed on December 22, 2008.

Docket entry 13, issued the same day, states in relevant part (cleaned up a bit for readability):

Electronic Clerk’s Notes for proceedings held before Judge William G. Young: Motion Hearing held on 12/22/2008 re MOTION for Preliminary Injunction and MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order filed by Gatehouse Media Massachusetts, Inc.

The Court rules denying Motion for TRO; because the matter will be collapsed with a trial on the merits. The Court is reserving ruling on Motion for Preliminary Injunction; ( Jury Trial set for THE RUNNING TRIAL LIST AS OF 1/5/2009 09:00 AM before Judge William G.

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