Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Disciplinary Counsel prosecuting the Tennessee judge accused of ethics violations arising from her changing a child's name from Messiah has filed a prehearing memorandum arguing that the name change and a subsequent interview violated judicial canons.
The memo acknowledges that there is no Tennessee case precisely on point and gathers precedents from other jurisdictions that have dealt with judges who inject personal religious beliefs into court proceedings.
The best of the bunch involves a Pennsylvania judge named named Fink:
Among the various charges lodged against the judge in Fink, was the inclusion of a bizarre incident where the judge interrupted a delinquency hearing and called for an in-chambers conference...At this meeting, [he] suggested that the boy might be possessed by demons and that a local priest should examine him to determine whether an exorcism was required. [He] then called a separate meeting with the boy's parents and told them the same thing.
He also had been found to regularly engage in religious commentary during Court hearings of various natures, and admittedly favored criminal defendants who professed belief a belief in Christianity.
We will post any response filed on behalf of the accused judge.
Update: There is now in place an order governing media coverage. The media is, among other things, directed to wear appropriate attire (unspecified) and comport themselves in a manner befitting the dignity of the proceedings. (Mike Frisch)