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.