Don't take my man card for this, but I'm not a sports fan. I never have been. I could care less who is in the NFL, who's playing whom---whatever---just not my thing. But I read on the news yesterday that former NFL star Chad Johnson is going to jail for thirty days.
The judge was some woman who had just accepted a plea deal worked out regarding him violating his probation. She had already read him his new conditions (community service, three more months of probation), and asked him if he had any questions. She concluded by commending his attorney to him.
At that point, he fraternally (an appreciatively) reached over and patted his attorney on the butt, and said "good job"--you can see him mouthing the words. This provoked some laughter in the courtroom, but it's obvious from the footage that this was the equivalent of pat on the back or a thumbs up, with no disrespect for the procedure intended (see below):
This is so ridiculous that it's beyond belief. The judge quite obviously was miffed about the laughter, but even a casual observer can see that he was not being flip or trying to "entertain" the courtroom--it was an honest (if slightly too casual) effort to thank his attorney. If "Her Honor" can't control her emotional reactions and discern intents any better than this, then I don't think she belongs on the bench "playing God", as it were, with people's lives. A judge is supposed to make rulings based on justice, public safety, and what is truly warranted, not based on being in a cranky mood at the moment or having a disdain for gestures of male camaraderie (which is what this is). We've got some serious flaws in our system that need to be fixed--and things like this make that glaringly apparent.
Damnit, I actually fully agree with you. She was way in the wrong
Did he deserve 30 days in jail for head-butting his wife?
What fixes do you propose? End discretion in the criminal justice system, with mandatory prosecutions and mandatory sentences? No more female judges? All paper trials - no live hearings - so there can be no emotional out bursts? Closed courtrooms (fewer people, fewer and smaller disruptions)?
Oh please, he got 30 days because he showed appreciation to his lawyer after the judge told him that he needed to be sure to show appreciation to his lawyer. She just had a personal problem with how he showed the appreciation. It is a very real and pertinent display based on his profession and brought no real disrespect into the court, to her, to the lawyer or anyone else. She had a perceived problem with how he did it and he is in jail because of her perceptions.
I do hate it when someones background or environment is brought up to justify someones actions that resulted in harm, violence or destruction.
In this case however nobody was harmed, humiliated or even bothered except for the judge. People express emotions in different ways and he expressed emotion in his way without any negative impact on anyone else. Total over reaction by the judge.
My questions were sincere, not rhetorical. I carefully didn't express an opinion on the latest ruling.
OP is complaining about something deep in the criminal justice system. You can't change this ruling without changing how probation and courtrooms operate. So, what exactly needs to change? I asked questions to figure out how he proposes to fix the problem. After all, isn't that what men do when they find a problem?
Now stating my opinion, I agree the incident should have been handled through the civil contempt process, not the criminal justice process. But from what I've read, he's served no time for domestic battery, and had at the time of this hearing attended no ordered anger-management classes. That shows problems with the system, too.
[Also, it looks like he's got a cause of action against the great lawyer. He wouldn't have had a hearing on violating probation at all if the lawyer had examined the original probation order.]
Rebekah, I believe Tom stated, and from what I saw this morning, that the judge had accepted the plea but rescinded after the butt-slap incident. So, if there was any injustice regarding the original plea and acceptance of that plea then it should have been addressed prior to the butt-slap. As for contempt I don't believe there was any given the defendant's background in sports. He may have been a bit casual but did it offend anyone else other than the judge? Not from the reactions I saw in the clip. But the judge is the judge and final (to a point) arbiter of these cases so she was within her rights to rescind her agreement to the plea and slap him in jail but I think it was wrong to do so simply because of his method of thanking and congratulating his attorney. I wonder what she would have done if Mr. Johnson had hugged and kissed his attorney on the mouth?
"defendant's background in sports" - The judge may have been unaware of the defendant's profession. It's irrelevant to the rulings. You also can't run any kind of justice system on such individualized standards.
I've been involved in cases with immigrants who come from cultures where appointments are not kept with precision. Should they be allowed to show up to court 40 minutes late to account for their background?
There are all sorts of professions where calling out of turn is part of the job - stock traders, antique dealers - should they be allowed to disrupt courtrooms because of their "backgrounds"?
Less seriously: Senior trial attorneys are used to being in charge. Should they be allowed to control courtrooms because being in control is their professional background? The reality is, at a trial with experienced counsel, most of the judge's task is controlling the attorneys.
Quite possibly, if she has been hiding under a rock for the last 5 years. And the rescinding of the plea agreement had nothing to do with the particulars of the case only, and after the fact, of the butt-slap. The butt-slap had nothing to do with the judge only with the attorney. The judge over-reacted in my estimation. Maybe she is one of those who feel we should hold sports figures, or any public figure, to higher standards than the average citizen.
What are you even babbling on about? The deal was taken back because the judge got her panties in a wad over him patting the ass of his lawyer. She is the same judge who just seconds before talked down to him because she obviously felt that he didn't appreciate his lawyer enough.
How do we fix it? By having proof that this judge is overly emotional and allows preconceived prejudices cloud her judgement, we should strip her of her job as she obviously cannot do so without her own emotions getting in the way.
Todd says the problem is with the "system." If you think the problem is this one judge, then the outraged citizens of her jurisdiction should write to their elected representatives to begin the impeachment process.
If the system defends the actions of the judge, then the system is flawed.
More honest questions. I'm sincerely interested in the thoughts of people who don't work in courtrooms.
What do mean "defend"? My comments here (and others like them all over the country)? A difficult disciplinary/removal process?
I have no idea how judicial appointments work for this judge. Of course, classically in this country, judges are appointed by an executive and serve as long as they want unless impeached. Thus my recommendation. Today, a lot of trial judges are elected. Or they may be recruited through a civil service process. If you want to change these processes, especially the appointment/impeachment set-up, that's a big systemic and ideological change.