Letters: Behavior unbecoming
Wendy Davis’ article “Bullying from the Bench,” March, is well-documented and well-written on a subject that should concern us all. What she does not discuss is the thin line that exists between a judge who requires attorneys appearing before him or her to toe the line in the name of efficiency and a well-run docket and the judge who abuses the process in the name of efficiency. Those attorneys who abuse the process by pursuing interminable delays will be the first to complain about a judge who requires them to toe the line. That is not abusive in my book.
Alan B. Schaeffer
Your article about “bullying judges” emphasized those judges who lost control at some moment or did specific anti-judicial things. But there were also judges before whom I tried cases who had a more insidious form of lawyer-bashing. One such judge refused to let the competing lawyers address the jury on voir dire and did it all himself. His first comments to the jury were to the effect that jurors got tired of the lawyers always talking, and he’d do the questioning “to protect” the jury from that abuse. Then he’d make scurrilous anti-lawyer comments before continuing, even once using the apparent “slip-of-the-tongue” comment speaking about the “liars-I-mean-lawyers.” This hurt both sides of the case with the jury, but particularly the plaintiff’s side. He was never stopped or censured before retirement, to my knowledge. Your article was both thoughtful and well-taken.
Paul G. Rees