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Monday, October 29, 2007

Judge Claims Vulgar Comments Were Intended to Theraputically Benefit Defendants

From All right, what do you say to a career criminal who tells you to suck his dick? On Jan. 23, King County District Court Judge Mark Chow's response was: "I would, if you pulled it out—but you can't find it."

Chow now regrets that, but it seemed a fair enough rejoinder to someone he'd just sent back to jail with a record of more than 30 theft convictions and 10 assaults. Yet later that day, Chow moved from the jail court to the mental health court, and asked a female defendant, "What flavor are you?" Japanese, she replied. "No Chinese? See I'm Chinese," Chow shot back. No Chinese, she said. "That's OK," Chow replied. "My wife's Japanese; you've got some good." When another woman stepped to the bench, he said, "I think I know what flavor you are, so I'm not even going to ask."

The 53-year-old Chow, a judge for 16 years, now stands before the state Commission on Judicial Conduct facing ethics violations for lack of courtroom decorum and undignified comments. He's had a few run-ins before: a 1996 CJC admonishment for improperly involving himself in a relative's divorce case, and a 2002 lawsuit for sexual harassment filed by a mental health court worker (the case was later tossed).

His recent comments in the mental health court now seem to be the CJC's biggest concern. Chow has hired a high-profile attorney, Anne Bremner, and is mounting an unusual defense: His racial comments were intended to therapeutically benefit the defendants.

In a written response to the CJC, signed by Chow and authored by Bremner, he says "therapeutic jurisprudence" allows a judge to interact with mental health defendants through "purposeful engagement." That's a clinical way of saying that friendly racial banter reduces a defendant's anxiety. Bremner says it "therapeutically creates a non-adversarial environment. IT WAS IN THIS CONTEXT [caps hers] that Judge Chow was using such engagement" with the women in mental health court.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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