When a Judge Makes a Mockery of the Law

In Alienable Rights, first book of my Other Worldly series, protagonist Rowan Layne is preparing to take the test on legal ethics required of those practicing law or aspiring to practice law, including some who might one day become judges:

               There’s a big push to maintain the public’s positive perception of the integrity of the legal profession as described in the rules I’d be tested on tomorrow via a series of multiple-choice questions some deemed an exercise in choosing the best of four wrong answers.

                Given the frequency of headlines about White House lawyers indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, or judges convicted of extortion, or lawyers and judges committing acts of moral turpitude against women and children, it might be less about maintaining a positive image than obtaining one.

Good luck in ending 2021 with a positive impression of the judicial system, especially in light of the abhorrent, unprofessional, and outrageous behavior of an elected judge in the recent Wisconsin farce of a trial in which he appeared to do everything possible to eviscerate his neutrality, miscarry justice, and malign the judicial process.

First, a bit of background on Alienable Rights. I drafted the aforementioned portion of it in early 2018, having recently taken the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct test in November 2017 as part of the process for sitting for the Nevada bar exam. This test includes a section on judicial ethics, whether those taking it become judges or not.

And, presumably, all judges are required to follow these rules of professional conduct, whether elected or appointed, and regardless of their personal politics. But after viewing any or all of the televised recent trial for the Kenosha Killer who gunned down civilian protestors on city streets after crossing a state line with his AR-15 to do so, any number of folks might just be outraged to learn the following.

Judges are supposed to uphold the law. Judges are not supposed to blatantly make a mockery of the law. Judges are supposed to act with integrity and maintain objectivity and neutrality. Judges are not supposed to show flagrant bias towards a criminal defendant. Judges are not supposed to hamstring a prosecution by ignoring or twisting established law. Judges are supposed to maintain impartial decorum and a professional demeanor in the courtroom.

Judges, for instance, shouldn’t behave like an immature buffoon (uncannily like the criminal defendant), letting their personal cellphones ring not once but twice during the trial, the chosen ringtone a song used to launch rallies of a sociopathic former president who himself had no respect for law or basic human decency.

Way to telegraph your personal politics and lack of sound moral judgment to the jury and everyone else in a trial over which you are supposed to be presiding, judge. Was that little sideshow designed to merely interrupt the proceedings, or to intimidate or influence members of the jury?

If judges don’t have respect for their own courtrooms or the judicial process, why should anyone else?

Furthermore, judges shouldn’t blame the media for their personal misbehavior in their own courtrooms, as viewed firsthand by many in America—no need for media interpretation. People who are not bigoted idiots know corruption and blatant bias when they see it, and they commented on what they saw on social media, which is their right to do so.

Perhaps part of the problem is that judges shouldn’t be elected, and if they continue to be, their political affiliation should be displayed on ballots so that we know who and what we are voting for. Because it’s a total fantasy to pretend judges don’t have political bias, especially these days, when they’re clearly not shy about broadcasting their partisan position.

Not only do judges have sociopolitical and sometimes, apparently, sociopathic leanings, they blatantly display a lack of objectivity in their own courtrooms during televised trials. And if they do so in an attempt to influence a jury, it’s not only unethical and unprofessional, it’s illegal. Judges are not supposed to engage in jury tampering.

The discerning public’s perception of the integrity of the legal profession has been utterly trashed these past few years, especially with a villain like Barr at the helm of the Justice Department, not to mention ethically dubious Supreme Court justices shoved onto the highest court in our nation via Federalist Society corrupt and unconstitutional machinations, aided by members of Congress, some of whom are also lawyers sworn to uphold the rule of law and rules of professional conduct.

But after seeing this atrocity of a judge in action, does anyone with a modicum of common sense and human decency not believe that patriarchal racial supremacy is the driving force both in politics and in the farce that our judicial system has become and, in many respects, always was?

We might as well have reverted to the Spanish Inquisition or Salem Witch Trials, wherein judges found innocent people guilty under the guise of “religion” while making a mockery of procedural process and human rights.

In this recent Wisconsin trial, the very foundations of human decency and the sanctity of human life were eviscerated by a pathetic excuse for a judge who seemingly decided for the jury that the defendant was not guilty and shouldn’t even be on trial, in his personal estimation.

How does that insipid phrase go? Guns don’t kill people? I suppose that’s partially right—or alt right. The truth is, people with guns kill people. Except when a judge unilaterally decides there were no victims and there was no illegal gun possession. There was no juvenile vigilante sporting an assault weapon aided and abetted by his mommy and those actually tasked with law enforcement. You can’t make this stuff up, but apparently a certain Wisconsin judge feels free to engage in crafting fiction from his not-so-lofty bench.

Whether elected or appointed, judges must abide by the rules of professional ethics. The problem is, what good are rules if the profession who insists on them doesn’t actually enforce them? What good are laws if white males in America don’t have to follow them because they aren’t held accountable for breaking them?

If the legal profession persists in forcing lawyers to take a special test on legal ethics, perhaps state bars, as the licensing authorities, should actually enforce those ethical rules of conduct. What say you, State Bar of Wisconsin? Because this is no victimless crime.

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