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VA Judge Removed for Thigh Inspection, Coin Flip

Posted Nov 5, 2007 7:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Virginia judge who ordered a woman to lower her pants in the courtroom so he could check out her thigh wound has been removed from the bench.

In another case, the judge, Michael Shull, was accused of deciding a dispute over visitation during the Christmas holidays with a coin flip, the Associated Press reports.

The Virginia Supreme Court ordered Shull removed in a Friday opinion (PDF), the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The court said the judge’s conduct shows "his disregard for the dignity of litigants appearing before him and for the dignity of the judicial process."

In the case of the woman, Shull had refused to issue a protective order against her allegedly abusive husband unless he could see the wound. He later called the hospital where she had been treated, but he did not give the parties in the case a chance to participate.

A bailiff also testified that after the pants incident he asked the judge if he had seen what the woman was wearing. Shull allegedly replied, "A black, lacy thong. … It looked good, didn't it?"

Shull denied he made the comment and said he was concerned about the woman’s allegations because she had a history of mental problems and had engaged in self-mutilation in the past. He also said that in the coin-flip case, he was trying to encourage the litigants to settle the case themselves.

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