Judge tells jury to acquit accused sex trafficker because God said she's innocent

    In Comal County, Texas, judge Jack Robison, presiding over the trial of accused sex trafficker Gloria Romero Perez, walked into the jury room after the jurors landed on a guilty verdict and urged them to reverse their decision because God says she's innocent. Unswayed, the jurors stuck to their guilty verdict. Another judge later ruled the case a mistrial while the Texas Judicial Commission let Robison off with a public warning. From My San Antonio:

    "The judge later apologized to the jury, and said something to the effect of, 'When God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,'" officials wrote in the report...

    In his self-report, Robison told the committee he was experiencing memory lapses at the time and was under extreme stress due to treatment for a medical condition and the death of a close friend.

    Robison provided letters from two medical professionals that Robison's outburst was caused by a "temporary, episodic medical condition referred to as a 'delirum.'" The professionals said that the issue appears to be resolved and that Robison is not currently experiencing the same impairment.

    Read the rest

    Juror's concern that man on trial didn't swear on the bible results in the verdict getting tossed

    On Friday, an appeals court judge in Camden County, New Jersey tossed out a verdict against Dr. Abbas Husain who in 2011 a jury found guilty of having sexually harassed an office employee. It came out later that one of the jurors was "very passionate" and concerned that Husain, who is Hindu, hadn't put his hand on the bible when taking the oath to testify. The juror had raised her concern with other jurors. From NJ.com:

    “The juror's comment regarding the Bible raises the specter of religious bigotry,” the court’s ruling said.

    The decision reversed a Camden County Superior Court judge’s denial of a new trial for Husain in 2016. A jury in 2011 found Husain created a hostile work environment, sexually harassed and retaliated against a then-part time office employee, who was awarded $12,500 in the civil case...

    “The Law Division judge said the juror who made the observation was only concerned with Husain's credibility, i.e. that a person who refused to place his hand on the Bible was incapable of taking the oath seriously and was therefore incredible,” the decision said. “He contrasted this with out-and-out religious bigotry. But if he was correct, that too is simply impermissible. The exercise of a person's religion should not make him or her per se incredible.”

    “Only a new trial would ensure that the outcome was untainted,” the decision continued. “The possibility that the verdict was a miscarriage of justice is too great for us to decide otherwise.”

    Read the rest

    Man who yelled "guilty!" to get out of jury duty was promptly arrested

    I guess it's kind of like yelling fire in a crowded theater: Jacob Maldonado of Honolulu, Hawaii had been called as a possible juror in a misdemeanor assault trial but really didn't want to serve on the jury. So just before the selection process began, Maldonado yelled “He is guilty! He is guilty!” outside the courtroom. From TheGardenIsland.com:

    (Judge Edward) Kubo declared a mistrial, finding the man’s disturbance had affected the 44 other potential jurors, according to the judge’s order.

    The judge ordered Maldonado’s arrest on a contempt charge and set a $10,000 cash bail. Maldonado spent the night in jail and appeared before Kubo on Wednesday morning...

    (Attorney Jason) Burks told the judge that Maldonado’s father was recently diagnosed with cancer and his wife was also dealing with medical issues...

    Maldonado was released without being charged or fined.

    image: "An empty jury box at an American courtroom in Pershing County, Nevada" by Ken Lund Read the rest

    Neil Gorsuch, Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, was founder of "Fascism Forever Club" at his prep school

    Who among us can say they didn't found Fascism Forever clubs in an age when totalitarian autocracy was an impossible dream? It's a joke, see, about what's needed to resist a world ruined by liberals. Laugh already, would you!

    Read the rest

    Supreme Court: Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch

    Neil Gorsuch, currently serving on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, is Donald Trump's pick to fill the seat opened by Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia's death. The youngest nominee in 25 years, 49-year-old Gorsuch could provide decades of reliably conservative opinion from the bench.

    "A special thank you to @POTUS," was posted to an as-yet-unverified Twitter account in Gorsuch's name. "As Mr. Trump's Supreme Court nominee I promise to always do what is best for the American People. #SCOTUS"

    Though Scalia died a year ago, Congressional Republicans refused to consider any pick from then-president Barack Obama, let alone his nominee, Merrick Garland.

    Gorsuch is described by the Washington Post as "a less bombastic version" of Scalia, ruling in favor of allowing corporations religious exemptions from federal regulations. Conservatives hope to see aggressively anti-abortion opinions from Gorsuch, though the opportunity to issue one has apparently not come before him so far in his career.

    He's also shown a libertarian bent when it comes to law enforcement, dissenting when two colleagues on the bench sided with a cop who arrested kids who belched at them. Read the rest

    Judge throws off robe, kicks ass in court after defendant struggles with officer

    His name is McBain. Judge McBain. If you're a walking protection order violation trying to intimidate your victim in court, God will not save you from the contempt citations, or indeed the whirling limbs, of Judge McBain.

    A court officer seen in the video told Mlive.com that as he tried to take Larson into custody, the defendant “tensed up” and tried to fight him. Larson and the officer, identified by Mlive.com as Jared Schultz, struggled as Larson continued to point and talk to the woman.

    “Tell me to leave you alone!” he said. “Tell him right now!”

    “Tase his a– right now!” McBain shouted, as he threw off his judge’s robe, ran over to the two men and then physically helped pin Larson to the ground. Throughout the scuffle, Larson is heard cursing periodically.

    Read the rest

    Republican Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore removed from office for gross misconduct

    It's officially a suspension, but it lasts the rest of his term: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office for gross misconduct Friday for abusing his office to try and block same-sex marriage legislation. It's his second canning; always the same old shit with Roy.

    Moore’s misconduct regarding same-sex marriage litigation was sweeping and extensive. In January of 2015, a federal judge invalidated the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Moore promptly wrote letters to probate judges insisting that they remained legally prohibited from marrying gay people—in effect, demanding that they violate a federal court order. In May of that year, the judge explicitly held that probate judges must issue marriage licenses to all couples, same-sex or opposite-sex. The next month, the Supreme Court held that same-sex marriage bans violate the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    Meet Alabama's next governor! Read the rest

    L.A. judge admonished for mistreating prospective jurors

    The L.A. Times reports that L.A. County Judge Edmund W. Clarke Jr. was admonished after abusive remarks to prospective jurors in a 2014 murder trial. His "misconduct demonstrates a pattern of discourteous and undignified treatment of jurors," wrote The Commission of Judicial Performance, in a 34-page report that details several examples of belittling people in his courtroom who were too poor or Spanish for his tastes.

    ... [two] jurors wrote how much money they had in the bank and each amount was less than $50.

    “It’s an impressive and convincing figure,” Clarke told one of the jurors, according to the commission.

    “Thank you for not sharing it,” the juror replied.

    “Well, every one of these lawyers spent more than that on lunch today,” he said.

    “Great,” the juror sarcastically replied.

    As soon as the juror exited the courtroom, the judge announced that she had listed her bank account balance as $25

    It's not the first rodeo in Clarke's courtroom: he was disciplined in 2013 for misconduct toward a defendant, and the Commission adds that he "has shown a very limited appreciation of the impropriety of his conduct." Read the rest

    Antonin Scalia, 1936-2016

    Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is dead at 79. The longest-serving judge on the court, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and became its most outspoken conservative, joining textualist and originalist interpretations of the U.S. Constitution with a scathing attitude that made his dissents and opinions enjoyable to laymen.

    The New York Times describes him as having led a conservative renaissance on the Supreme Court—one likely to end sharpish having died during a liberal presidency.

    He was, Judge Richard A. Posner wrote in The New Republic in 2011, “the most influential justice of the last quarter century.” Justice Scalia was a champion of originalism, the theory of constitutional interpretation that seeks to apply the understanding of those who drafted and ratified the Constitution. In Justice Scalia’s hands, originalism generally led to outcomes that pleased political conservatives, but not always. His approach was helpful to criminal defendants in cases involving sentencing and the cross-examination of witnesses. …

    He was an exceptional stylist who labored over his opinions and took pleasure in finding precisely the right word or phrase. In dissent, he took no prisoners. The author of a majority opinion could be confident that a Scalia dissent would not overlook any shortcomings.

    Read the rest

    Watch Judge Vonda Evans sentencing racist cops to years in jail

    Racist cops in Inkster, MI., set out to pull over a black motorist and beat him up. One of them, William Melendez, was jailed for no less than 13 months today for his part in the attack, and Judge Vonda Evans's sentencing statement was a powerful and stirring moral condemnation of his behavior and that of his fellow officers, police culture, and the cynicism it leads to.

    Watch the footage at Fox 2 Detroit's website. Warning: racial slurs.

    Judge Vonda also spoke before the sentencing, saying Melendez and his officer were playing a "game" when they decided to pull over Dent.

    "You forgot the eye of justice was watching. The dash cam designed to protect you - caught you. You knew better," she said.

    Update: thanks to Aaron Hamer for the embed link. If you're looking for the best quote, it starts at 4h 22m Read the rest

    Cushy plea deal for Maryland Judge who had defendant tortured in court

    Maryland Judge Robert Nalley pleaded guilty Monday to ordering deputies to shock a defendant with a 50,000-volt charge. Nalley, who presided over Charles County Circuit Court, reportedly agreed to a plea deal whereby he receives a year of probation.

    It's not Nalley's first trouble, either: In 2010, he pleaded guilty to tampering with a vehicle after deflating the tires of a cleaning woman's car, to punish her for parking in his space. For that, he was suspended for five days without pay.

    CBS News reports that he was charged with violating the victim's rights in the July 2014 stun cuff incident. The maximum sentence is a year in jail and a fine of $100,000.

    During jury selection, the defendant, reading from a prepared statement, objected to Nalley's authority to conduct the proceedings. After the man repeatedly ignored Nalley's questions and his commands to stop speaking, Nalley ordered a deputy sheriff to activate a "stun-cuff" the defendant was wearing.

    "Do it. Use it," Nalley said.

    The defendant stopped speaking when the deputy sheriff approached him and activated the device, which administered an electric shock for about five seconds. The defendant fell to the ground and screamed and Nalley then recessed the proceedings, according to the plea deal's statement of facts.

    Ars Technica's David Kravets reports that stun cuffs are the hot new thing.

    [Victim/defendant Delvon L.] King eventually agreed to serve two years after withdrawing a motion for a new trial. In that motion, he said he could not adequately represent himself out of fear of being shocked again.

    Read the rest

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