Saturday, February 10, 2007
Posted by Alan Childress
I am stealing from Nancy Rapoport when I raise (yet again, by me) the professionalism problem of the Judge Judy-fication of the profession or, in particular, of judges' impatient behavior exemplifying her "style" from the bench--possibly spurned on by the known presence of TV cameras and folks at home watching. Here may be a video example ("may" because perhaps there's some preliminary context that the news channel is not reporting--some exchanges, perhaps, that make this dress-down seem inevitable--which tempers the Judyrific aspect of this "exchange" [well, I still think it's rude]).
On the news website of Atlanta Channel 11 ("11 Alive!"--I guess other channels offer news from Sherman's pyromaniac days) is this video snippet and judicial smack-down [HT to Electronic Ephemera's What not to say to a judge...]. Note the camera doing a close-up on the judge as he gets himself going. I don't doubt that the lawyer's statement could have been worded better. I can see how it might have been interpreted insultingly to the judge (or could just as easily be interpreted much more benignly). But the latter's rant assumes the worst about the statement -- and clearly misheard the essential point of the prior matter not being "on the record." So the judge's demand that the lawyer show him where the statement is found in the record misses the point -- or even proves the point about it not having registered with the judge, who seems to react and emote before processing (at least with this snippet, and aren't snippets a problem too?). The lawyer does not even get a chance to apologize for the misimpression and re-clarify that the prior matter was not on the record.
Am I the only one that thinks this judge is just being rude and imperious rather than trying to defuse the situation or answer the concern (or just dismiss it, judiciously, if he is ruling that prior matters must be on the record)? Am I the only one that reads the tone of the lawyer as more benign and the actual wording of his statement as way less flame-throwing than the judge does? The lawyer, btw, could do a great Bill Clinton voice impression. I also am curious about the result of this -- did the judge apologize to the lawyer for mishearing him and not paying attention? Tell me the context, please, 11alive or anybody.
I have this same reaction when baseball umpires walk right up to a manager after throwing him out. Why not act like the judge instead of a porcupine? Except here the lawyer isn't even kicking dirt, really, toward the judge, if he were paying attention to the lawyer's substantive point. As my 14-year-old would say, this judge is being way too emo for me.