f/k/a . . . the archives

May 18, 2004

Judge Says Everybody Does It

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 12:50 am

Facing a recommendation that her law license be suspended for two years, Franklin County [OH] Common Pleas Judge Deborah P. O’Neill replied with a refrain familiar to any parent: “But, everybody does it!” — every judge, that is.

 

judge mercy  Eight of her fellow judges brought the initial complaint against Judge O’Neill.  She says that she is “a conscientious judge” and will appeal.  According to News Channel 4, the feisty jurist responded to the filing of the complaint in June, 2002, with a statement that the charges were political in nature and:


“There isn’t one allegation in this complaint that could not be immediately directed toward any judge in Ohio, including the eight who initiated this groundless complaint.”

 

“I will not allow the independence of the judiciary to be tarnished by this obvious attempt to personally discredit me or thwart my candidacy for higher office at the expense of the public.”


Per Columbus’ News Channel 4, charges in the 56-page complaint include, inter alia:



  • “[T]hat O’Neill consistently displayed rude behavior toward her own staff and others in her court, including members of the public, and denied due process to litigants in her court.


  • “[T]hat O’Neill consistently displayed rude behavior, including showing up for court sometimes two hours late, not allowing a court reporter a lunch break and allegedly yelling at staff and sheriff’s deputies in open court.”


  • That “O’Neill also allegedly pressured both sides to reach a plea agreement because she was going away. She allegedly told the lawyers, ‘No plea, no bail, and he’ll sit in jail until I’m back from vacation’.”

You judge for yourself, dear visitors, and let us know your feelings.  


prof yabut small flip  Okay, but would Judge O’Neill push a lawyer off a bridge, if her colleagues did?

 

20 Comments

  1. David:
    This is one instance where I do agree with the action. When I was in court more frequently back in my CJA days, one of my major peeves was when the judges would show up late. Clients were often told to show up in court at 9 (when court did not start until 9:30) and in many instances, the judge would not take the bench until 10:00 or 10:30. With a system like this, it was virtually impossible to get a client to come to court on time, since he or she would know that the judge wouldn’t show up.
    If judges want to treat lawyers rudely, so be it – that’s part and parcel of the system that we’re trained to deal with. But they ought to at least act in a way that sends a good impression to the parties in the case so that they maintain some confidence in our judicial system.

    Comment by Carolyn Elefant — May 18, 2004 @ 6:31 pm

  2. David:
    This is one instance where I do agree with the action. When I was in court more frequently back in my CJA days, one of my major peeves was when the judges would show up late. Clients were often told to show up in court at 9 (when court did not start until 9:30) and in many instances, the judge would not take the bench until 10:00 or 10:30. With a system like this, it was virtually impossible to get a client to come to court on time, since he or she would know that the judge wouldn’t show up.
    If judges want to treat lawyers rudely, so be it – that’s part and parcel of the system that we’re trained to deal with. But they ought to at least act in a way that sends a good impression to the parties in the case so that they maintain some confidence in our judicial system.

    Comment by Carolyn Elefant — May 18, 2004 @ 6:31 pm

  3. Why should judges be allowed to treat lawyers rudely? How does that maintain confidence in the judicial system?

    Judges should treat litigants and lawyers civilly. That’s what maintains confidence in the judicial system. If litigants or lawyers do something that deserves admonishment, then a judge should do so in a reasonable fashion. If neither litigants nor lawyers have done anything improper, then there is no excuse for treating them rudely.

    Just my two cents.
    Ann Byrne
    Quid Pro Quo
    http://www.bremernelson.com/blog (server is down today, sorry.)

    Comment by Ann M. Byrne — May 18, 2004 @ 9:04 pm

  4. Why should judges be allowed to treat lawyers rudely? How does that maintain confidence in the judicial system?

    Judges should treat litigants and lawyers civilly. That’s what maintains confidence in the judicial system. If litigants or lawyers do something that deserves admonishment, then a judge should do so in a reasonable fashion. If neither litigants nor lawyers have done anything improper, then there is no excuse for treating them rudely.

    Just my two cents.
    Ann Byrne
    Quid Pro Quo
    http://www.bremernelson.com/blog (server is down today, sorry.)

    Comment by Ann M. Byrne — May 18, 2004 @ 9:04 pm

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Carolyn and Ann!  From what I’ve read, I agree that Judge O’Neill needs strong discipline.  Like you, Ann, I don’t see any excuse for judges to be rude to lawyers — strict or firm, when needed, but being uncivil is not an appropriate part of a judicial temperament.
    Law school didn’t give me any training at all about how to treat judges — or clients, or colleagues.  That was in the Dark Ages, of course.  What I really could have used was training on keeping a poker face when confronted with judicial ignorance.

    Comment by David Giacalone — May 18, 2004 @ 9:57 pm

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Carolyn and Ann!  From what I’ve read, I agree that Judge O’Neill needs strong discipline.  Like you, Ann, I don’t see any excuse for judges to be rude to lawyers — strict or firm, when needed, but being uncivil is not an appropriate part of a judicial temperament.
    Law school didn’t give me any training at all about how to treat judges — or clients, or colleagues.  That was in the Dark Ages, of course.  What I really could have used was training on keeping a poker face when confronted with judicial ignorance.

    Comment by David Giacalone — May 18, 2004 @ 9:57 pm

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