Benchslapping Judge... Benchslapped By Higher Judge

from the judgefight! dept

Well, well. We recently wrote about how district court judge Sam Sparks was attracting some attention for his rather humorous, but caustic, "benchslaps" of lawyers whom he felt were misbehaving, including inviting them to a sarcastically named "kindergarten party." We, like others, did wonder if perhaps the judge was going too far. Apparently, some of his superiors felt the same way. After the story showed up on various blogs, the chief judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Edith Jones, who oversees Sparks' district, sent him a private email, which has now been leaked, scolding him for his benchslappings:
"Dear Sam, It has not escaped my attention, or that of my colleagues or, I am told, nationally known blog sites that you have issued several 'cute' orders in the past few weeks. The order attached below is the most recent. Frankly, this kind of rhetoric is not funny. In fact, it is so caustic, demeaning, and gratuitous that it casts more disrespect on the judiciary than on the now-besmirched reputation of the counsel. It suggests either that the judge is simply indulging himself at the expense of counsel or that he is fighting with counsel in what, as Judge Gee used to say, is surely not a fair contest. It suggests bias against counsel. No doubt, none of us has been consistently above reproach in our professional communications with counsel. We are all prone to human error. But no judge who writes an order should allow such rhetoric to overcome common sense. Ultimately, this kind of excess, as I noted, reflects badly on all of us. I urge you to think before you write. Sincerely, Edith Jones."
Consider the benchslapper benchslapped. Though, I disagree on one point. It was pretty funny, even if it may not have been appropriate.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Mr. Smarta**, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 10:20am

    Kind of funny observation

    Is it just me? Or does the word "benchslap" sound a lot like b****slap? Not that I condone such on the latter, it's just an observation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Fzzr (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 10:28am

    Re: Kind of funny observation

    That's the point, I believe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    I rest my case. As I said:

    "He risks having his judgements overturned by this sort of action, because he puts plenty of extra stuff in the judgements that could be argued as invalid. It also opens up plenty of potential for appeals based on the judge being biased.

    It seems like a pretty stupid thing for a judge to be doing, especially to this level."

    Clearly someone above this loose cannon judge feels the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 10:55am

    Re:

    Judge rulings on questionable activities on the part of the councel...

    Serious Business

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    "Frankly, this kind of rhetoric is not funny."

    Frankly, just because you put "Frankly" in front of your opinion does not make it true. Frankly, I don't care if you think dead baby jokes are funny, but your opinion of funny is not a part of your job.

    "In fact, it is so caustic, demeaning, and gratuitous that it casts more disrespect on the judiciary than on the now-besmirched reputation of the counsel."

    It may "cast direspect on the judiciary" but just to let you know, it is a grain of sand on a mountain for the cynical.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 11:44am

    Sometimes it is probably in their best interest for members of the judiciary to break the fourth wall to remind us that theyre just actors working with someone else's script. Otherwise we'll have to conclude that theyve jumped down the rabbit hole part and parcel, willingly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Re:

    OR over the shark. Either way works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    Judge Jones is absolutely right. Judge Sparks' ridiculous behavior reflects poorly on the judiciary, and that is completely unacceptable. It's not funny or cute. It's simply wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 1:03pm

    Re:

    It's not funny or cute. It's simply wrong

    Those things are not mutually exclusive. I think it's funny, cute, and wrong. I know whores like that as well so I know it doesn't just apply to this particular situation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

    Re:

    I find that this is even worth attention to the judiciary reflects poorly on them. Then again, who wants to make a big deal out of the stuff that actually makes you look bad. I think someone understands the streisand effect and diversion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Jeffhole (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 3:26pm

    Yeah

    Frankly, this kind of rhetoric is not funny. In fact, it is so caustic, demeaning, and gratuitous that it casts more disrespect on the judiciary than on the now-besmirched reputation of the counsel.


    Don't worry lady, there aren't very many people who really have a very good opinion of the judicial branch of the government, anyway.

    Ultimately, this kind of excess, as I noted, reflects badly on all of us.


    That's kind of like one turd telling the other turd "The large number of flies you have all over you reflects badly on all of us."

    Can we please just give texas back to Mexico?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    kenichi tanaka, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 3:27pm

    I have to agree with the chief judge on this one. While I have no doubt that these lawyers deserved to be ridiculed, that is something that is best left to the media, blogs or the bar association for the state or states that they are licensed to practice law in.

    Judge Sam Sparks should have been more respectful to these lawyers when handing down his rebukes. Not only did he disrespect these lawyers for just doing what their profession (and the law) allows them to do but that the Honorable Sam Sparks ridiculed and disrespected an "officer of the court". If these district court judges expect these attorneys, who appear in their courtroom, to respect their court and their honors, then they must be held to the same level of professionalism that they expect to receive.

    His Honor, Sam Sparks, should have worded his rebukes with a little more respect because in this age of social networks, word of his "rebukes" would eventually make it back to the chief justices, or chief judge, which oversees his district court.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Kind of funny observation

    Edith Jones is such a bench.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 4:46pm

    Re:

    Perhaps, but it wasn't overturned, was it? I've not seen any indication of that. Could you, perhaps, provide a link showing where it was?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 9:14pm

    "It suggests bias against counsel."

    No it doesn't. It just suggests reproach.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    RowdyRebel (profile), Sep 22nd, 2011 @ 9:21am

    Well, if one cannot take the heat of trial...

    ..then one should not practice law in a courtroom. Lawyers should remember that the "neutral" judge still is the court 'over-lord' and can rebuke any argument said lawyer has. If the lawyer puts forth a stammering ability in said court, why isn't the judge allowed to tell said lawyer that he/she needs to go back to school to "learn to be a real lawyer"? Court is not for the weak minded. Granted, too many judges these days believe television is mainstream, and good drama rhetoric deserves to be publicly acclaimed, however, and unfortunately, no lawyer is worth an Oscar outside of the movie industry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Harris, Sep 28th, 2011 @ 1:48pm

    Judicial Misconduct

    There are many other issues with judges in this district. In a recent civil case in Texas, District Judge Royal Furgeson made the following remarks on the record in a civil case:

    "THE COURT: They do and I have jurisdiction, too. So I'll tell you what.... You want to challenge the court order, I have the marshals behind me. I can come to your house, pick you up, put you in jail. I can seize your property, do anything I need to do to enforce my orders. I'm telling you don't screw with me. You are a fool, a fool, a fool, a fool to screw with a federal judge, and if you don't understand that, I can make you understand it. I have the force of the Navy, Army, Marines and Navy behind me.

    THE COURT: You realize that order is an order of the Court. So any failure to comply with that order is contempt, punishable by lots of dollars, punishable by possible jail, death"

    More information about this case is available at http://www.lawinjustice.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This