Politics in Court

I know that courts are political these days, but does it really matter in a misdemeanor, small claims or traffic court? And how exactly do you define improper political statements in court? Shouldn’t the entire U.S. Supreme Court be disqualified from hearing anything controversial because all the justices seem pretty political?

I bring this up in light of news reports about a Utah Supreme Court ruling that a small-time judge in Taylorsville, Utah must be suspended for six months for making some snide comments about the current president. This at first seemed weird and excessive to me. I’d rather have a sardonic judge than one of those guys in a perpetual bad mood.

Or at least that’s what I thought after reading some of the stories about the ruling.

Then I read the ruling. The judge did some other stuff too that he probably shouldn’t have, including trying to kick a staff member out of the courthouse, improperly revoking someone’s probation and ordering excessive bail.

Still, do I care if my traffic or small claims judge is a Republican or a Democrat? Are there conservative and liberal positions on speed limits?

I’m not going to answer these questions (thereby avoiding discipline), but I do recommend reading the Utah Supreme Court opinion for its entertainment value. There are some interesting things here.

For example, three of the court’s justices recused themselves. That, I think, doesn’t happen all the time and there’s no explanation for this. Do you think those guys have said snide things about Trump on the Internet too? How ironic would that be?

The second sentence of the ruling contains the phrase “seemingly shirty.” Do you think that’s a typo? I’m so hoping that’s a typo.

According to the opinion, the judge has received two “letters of education” from the Judicial Conduct Commission in the past. How educational could those letters have been? If someone does something wrong, is writing an instructional letter the best method for rehabilitation? Shouldn’t there at least have been a test afterwards?

The most astonishing — and, to my mind, controversial — sentence in the ruling is this: “It is an immutable and universal rule that judges are not as funny as they think they are.”

Or could it be that state supreme court justices have no sense of humor?

This needs to be discussed in law reviews.

Russian hacking? Favorite press release headline from the past week: “Ontario man fined for smuggling medicinal leeches into Canada in carry-on luggage.”

No, there’s no explanation as to why anyone would want to smuggle leeches into Canada, but I have my suspicions. It seems the smuggler was caught at the airport after getting off a flight from Russia. I’m guessing there were bugs or mind-controlling drugs in those leeches.

No explanation either of how the guy got caught. I’m guessing it was the luggage moving on its own.

Beer goggles. Diet-conscious Bud Light and Miller Lite drinkers may be a little confused. I’m not sure there actually are any diet-conscious Bud Light and Miller Lite drinkers, but if there are, they may be confused, and not just because they’ve been drinking.

A federal judge in Wisconsin issued a ruling in a suit over ads run by Anheuser Busch claiming that Bud Light doesn’t contain corn syrup but Miller Lite does. This was followed immediately by press releases from both companies claiming they’d won.

The Bud Light release headline: “Consumers Win As Court Rules That Bud Light’s Ingredient Transparency Focused Super Bowl Ads Can Continue To Run.”

The Miller Lite release headline: “Federal Judge Rules in Favor of MillerCoors on Key Elements of Preliminary Injunction.”

Everything is wonderful in the world of public relations.

I’d advise having a beer and not worrying about this.

%d bloggers like this: