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Cursing in Kansas

March 15, 2021

Stop your scrolling and check out this recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling that goes into some detail on the issue of whether to discipline a foul-mouthed judge.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

I fully admit I have a warped sense of humor and it hasn’t helped that I’ve read way too many legal opinions. So I could be way off-base here, but I think I’ve found a really hilarious appellate ruling for your entertainment pleasure.

Check out this recent 37-page ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court called In the Matter of F. William Cullins, District Judge that goes into some detail on the issue of whether to discipline a foul-mouthed judge.

I can’t go into all the details here, but I have so many thoughts and questions about this case.

My first thought was: Nobody likes a goody-two-shoes except maybe other goody-two-shoes. So it wasn’t terribly surprising to read that the judge in question here swore at a district court clerk who “created a swear journal documenting multiple instances of (the judge’s) profanity.”

Fussy bureaucracy at its finest and most frightening. Obviously, the clerk was asking to be sworn at. For some reason, though, the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications held this against the judge.

There were plenty of other things to hold against this judge. My favorite is the time the judge yelled at the chief clerkand a nearby guy who was laying carpet said he “was so uncomfortable that he put his head down and ‘literally crawled back into the room I was working on.’”

This is how you motivate your employees.

Favorite argument from the judge on the use of the word “fuck”: “(H)e claims cussing is so common in Southeast Kansas that the entire region would take offense at the suggestion that the use of the word connotes a negative reflection on an individual’s character.”

So he was being nice!

What do you with a nice judge like this? Well, the Kansas Supreme Court suspended the judge for a year but said he could get his job back after 60 days if he completed a counseling and training program. My guess is that the counselor/trainer is going to get an earful.

I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. What the court should have done was order everyone in the judge’s courthouse to swear back at him.

Fair is fair. It’s Southeast Kansas, after all.

Pharmaceutical dysfunction. Can you put a price on love? Those of you who think you can are confusing love with another kind of transaction.

Be that as it may, we may eventually get an answer to that question once a case described in an Arizona Supreme Court ruling gets resolved. It seems that the plaintiff’s attempt to get back together with his ex-wife was ruined after he asked her to pick up a prescription. When she got to the pharmacy, the ex-wife was given an erectile dysfunction prescription for the plaintiff that he didn’t actually want.

You’d think an ex-wife considering reconciliation would be happy that her ex-husband was taking care of himself but, according to the ruling, she instead told him she no longer wanted to be with him. Apparently, she was looking for a quieter life.

She also “later told (the plaintiff’s) children and friends about the E.D. medication.” A good laugh, I guess, was had by all.

The ex-husband sued the pharmacy for, among other things, “public disclosure of an embarrassing medication that he twice rejected.”

The lawsuit, of course, publicly disclosed what happened to him and the story got even more attention (at least from me) by being retold by the state Supreme Court. So much for protecting privacy.

My advice for those of you getting a client like the ex-husband: tell him to take the medication and stop worrying. Someone is bound to appreciate him.

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