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.

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Comments on “Benchslapping Judge… Benchslapped By Higher Judge”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Lord Binky says:

“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.

Jeffhole (profile) says:


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?

kenichi tanaka says:

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.

RowdyRebel (profile) says:

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.

Harris says:

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

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