SALEM, Ore. (CN) - Judge Vance Day testified Tuesday on the second day of a hearing on allegations that he refused to officiate at same-sex marriages, hung a portrait of Hitler in the Oregon courthouse and let a felon handle a gun.
Victoria Blatchley, attorney for the Commission for Judicial Fitness and Disability, called Day as a witness in the afternoon. In the morning, the commission heard testimony from William B. Brown, a professor of criminal justice at Western Oregon University who specializes in the reacculturation of veterans adjusting from war back to civilian culture.
Brown criticized the way Day ran the Marion County Veterans Treatment Court, saying some practices in Day's courtroom could endanger the safety of veterans and showed lack of understanding of military culture.
Brown, who served in the Vietnam War and was a platoon leader, said veterans appearing before Day, who referred to himself as "officer in charge," were required to stand in "parade dress," a military stance with feet shoulder-width apart, hands clasped behind the back and mouth shut.
"You can't speak," Brown said. "I mean, not a word. It doesn't make much sense in a court proceeding."
Day said he did not insist that veterans observe parade dress, though he acknowledged in his deposition that it was a rule in the Veterans' Court participant manual.
Brown also criticized the requirement that veterans in Day's courtroom recite the Pledge of Allegiance before proceedings began.
"To me, the Pledge of Allegiance has always seemed a little bit like a patriotic formality," Brown said. "It was surprising on the one hand and a little bit demeaning on the other to have veterans who have served their country having to demonstrate their patriotism."
Day said veterans were not required to recite the pledge, and were welcome to opt out if they preferred.
But Brown said the idea that a veteran in Day's court could breezily refuse a request from the judge betrayed his lack of understanding of the rules of authority in military culture.
"People with a military background would offer respect and obedience to a judge," Brown said. "Obedience in the military is obeying and conforming and responding to all orders. In some cases they say, unless it's illegal or immoral or something like that. But the reality is, in the military, you follow all orders."
Day acknowledged that he called veterans in his court "raggedy asses." He said it was a way to relate to veterans in terms with which they were familiar.
Brown took issue with that.
"We use terms like that in basic training, when we're indoctrinating trainees," Brown said. "We actually use terms worse than that. But to me, in the civilian world it's ridiculing, demeaning. I know sometimes it is joking, but in a formal, courtroom atmosphere, it's my opinion that it's insulting."
Financing the Heroes Hallway
Day acknowledged that he took donations from attorneys to cover the cost of some of the military memorabilia he hung on the fourth floor of the Marion County Courthouse.
The hallways of the fourth floor, where Day's courtroom and chambers are, were covered with dozens of displays of military art - an area Day named the Heroes and Heritage Hallway.