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October 11, 2007

Great moments in the courtroom

Everyone once in a while, you read a story that pulls the mask off -- well, a better image would be "pulls the robe off" -- a judge. And no, I'm not thinking of that story, either.

Judges serve an important function in society. They adjudicate disputes; they stand between the citizen and the state; they wear black robes. So we tend to think of judges as serious and dignified human beings, even though we all know what Ruth Bader Ginsburg does in her spare time. (She talks about the tax code with her husband.)

Then, what do we make of this story? A judge in LaGrange, New York, a town located around 80 miles north of New York City, violated the first canon of judicial ethics: "A judge may not, even jokingly, remark that a female public defender has a 'nice butt.'" (via Fark)

I mean, you really can understand this judge's behavior, can't you? A guy sitting under a black robe all day sees numerous lawyers who have fat butts, and he can't resist mentioning a nice one. Right?

Wrong. It didn't happen that way at all. According to the AP version:

After the defendant told [Justice] Caplicki that he thought his attorney was "cute and had a nice butt" -- the judge noted the comments on the arraignment sheet and repeated them to the attorney 10 days later in a sidebar conference in the courtroom.

The judge later repeated them in open court, asking the defendant and three other male defendants if they agreed with them. He repeated them again when the attorney appeared before him the next day.
I mean, once is a compliment. Twice is creepy. Three times is stalking. And four times is a "misguided attempt at humor."

Actually, Pillage Idiot is a misguided attempt at humor. Asking the defendant and three other male defendants if they agreed the lawyer had a nice butt is nothing short of repulsive.

Justice Capicki "agreed that he should be censured," and the state's Commission on Judicial Conduct "decided Caplicki's behavior amounted to 'an aberration' and limited his punishment to a public censure."

Although the Commission has the power to defrock -- er, disrobe -- er, "strip judges of their robes," it apparently was concerned that the butt that the judge would then expose was not "nice."