Judge: Are You Emotionally Challenged?
By Rick Friedman
"Time expended on the case varies in inverse ratio to the certainty of liability, severity of injury and depth of pocket."
--Gail Roy Fraities, purporting to quote "Gucker's Maxim" in the Summer of 1980 Bar Rag.
This issue's column is for judges only. Everyone else should stop reading now. As promised, this is a test to take in the privacy of your own chambers, with the robe off, with no one else around. It is a serious scientific instrument, developed after consultation with some of the most knowledgeable experts on the subject of emotional dysfunction. These include Terry Venneberg, Jim Kentch, and Peter Ehrhardt. This test should not be administered to anyone who is not a judge.
Circle the appropriate response. There are directions for scoring at the end.
1. You consider sentencing criminal defendants:
a. One of the hardest things you've ever had to do;
b. All in a days work, not that bad;
c. Kind of fun;
2. Which best describes you:
a. I have cried in court, one or more times.
b. I have never cried in court, but came pretty close a time or two.
c. I would rather die than cry in court.
d. What could happen in court that would make someone want to cry?
e. I don't cry in or out of court, ever.
f. What is 'crying?'
3. Which best describes your reaction to the following statement: "The Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but is infallible, because it is final."
a. Strongly agree.
b. Strongly disagree.
c. Strongly disagree; this would be grounds for contempt in my court.
d. Strongly disagree; if we were not infallible, we would not have been made judges.
4. If you learned that the sentiment expressed in question #3 was authored by Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson in Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 540 (1953) you would:
a. Admire his wisdom and wit.
b. Have your clerk check to see if Brown v. Allen has been overruled.
c. Be inclined to change from disagreement to agreement in an effort to more fully align your person with perceived authority.
d. Find your desire to align with perceived authority in direct conflict with your desire to view judges (and yourself) as infallible, and immediately put the whole line of thought out of your head.
e. Be unaware of any internal conflict, but feel a rising anger and a strong desire lash out at someone.
f. Wonder if Robert H. Jackson was any relation to Michael Jackson?
5. Describe your reaction to the following statement: It is better that 10 plaintiffs be under-compensated for their injuries, than one plaintiff be over-compensated.
a. strongly disagree.
b. answer depends on when my next retention election is being held.
c. strongly agree.
d. Anytime someone without an advanced educational degree receives more than my annual salary, it is overcompensation, and it won't happen in my court.
6. You believe summary judgment motions:
a. Should be reserved for cases with an absence of disputes over material facts;
b. Keep your law clerks busy and out of trouble;
c. Are a good way to flex judicial muscle;
d. Are a quick, efficient solution for an overcrowded calendar.
7. Matters submitted to you:
a) Are given prompt, thorough and thoughtful evaluation (emphasis on prompt),
b) Will not be ruled on until the parties settle the damn case;
c) Will be ruled on when you get around to it;
d) Will maybe just go away if you don't think about them.
a. Sometimes fantasize about advancing to a higher judicial post.
b. Constantly fantasize about advancing to a higher judicial post.
c. Write your opinions with an eye towards whether they will help you advance to a higher judicial post.
d. Write your opinions with an eye towards whether they will help you advance to a higher judicial post and you think the rest of us can't tell.
9. Circle any of the following which accurately describe your chambers:
a. Most of the photographs are of family or friends;
b. There are more than 3 photographs of you, alone;
c. There are more than three photographs of you with a famous person;
d. You have no photographs of any kind; photographs have no place in a legal workshop.
10. [Only male judges should answer this question] When you put on your black robe, you feel:
a. Kind of silly-like you're wearing a black dress;
b. The awesome historical majesty of the law, and are proud to be a part of it;
c. Strong and powerful;
d. Strangely aroused, but try not to think about it and channel that energy in some other direction.
11. I think Mr. Spock on Star Trek would make a great judge:
a. Strongly disagree.
b. Slightly disagree.
c. Not sure.
d. Strongly agree.
e. You would have to perform the Vulcan mind probe on yourself before answering.
12. Which is true for you?
a. I was never loved as a child.
b. I was never loved as an adult.
c. I was never loved as a child or as an adult.
d. I don't need love; love is for wussies.
e. I was never a child.
13. My favorite self-help book is:
a. I'm OK, You're Guilty.
b. When Bad Rulings Happen to Good Lawyers.
c. Free to Be, A Detainee.
d. Chicken Soup for the Soulless Legal Scholar.
14. What is your favorite thing about being a judge?
a. Grabbing my gavel publicly.
b. Hearing "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez;" thinking it's time for "The Three Stooges."
c. Telling everyone to be "Please be seated," then saying "Just kidding!"
d. Laughing when someone refers to "The State's Highest Court," imagining it's a drug reference.
15. I need to be a judge because:
a. "Honorable" much more impressive than "Mr." or "Ms."
b. "Being judgmental" not frowned upon.
c. Can't stand to pay for parking next to courthouse.
d. Casual use of "nunc pro tunc" very enjoyable.
16. The gavel makes you feel:
a. As powerful as Thor.
c. Like every problem is a nail.
d. Like a proctologist.
17. The fringe on the state flag:
a. Is kind of cute.
b. Might really (under the law merchant) void all your decisions.
c. Would look rather fetching along the hem of your robe.
d. Point that thing somewhere else [According to expert Kentch, this is a reference to the cover of the Jefferson Airplane's Volunteers album. If you understand this, don't even finish scoring--seek professional help immediately.].
Give yourself 0 points for each "a" answer, 1 point for each "b" answer, 2 points for each "c", 3 for each "d" answer. For each "e" or "f" answer, give yourself 5 points; if you have more than one "e" or "f" answer, seek professional help immediately.
0-17 points--you are remarkably well-adjusted for a judge or a lawyer; relax and enjoy your life.
18-25 points--conventional, once per week psychotherapy recommended.
25-32 points--conventional psychotherapy augmented by prescription drugs and abstention from all judicial conferences for at least 5 years recommended.
32-40 points--There's not much point in telling you anything, is there?
40 points and over--You will have a long and successful judicial career.
Now, a tip for our friends opposing the death penalty.
This idea is inspired by attorney Jay Felix of Tucson, Arizona. It seems attorney Felix represents a woman whose adult son was on Arizona's "death row." She received a solicitation in the mail, offering to provide life insurance to any of her family members for a modest monthly fee. She ended up purchasing $30,000 in life insurance on her son, who, within a few years time met the fate decreed by Arizona justice. She then submitted her insurance claim. Mom needed to hire a lawyer to get her insurance claim paid, but who doesn't these days? In the end, the benefits were paid.
Much money and time is spent by death penalty opponents. But the quickest way to achieve change in our society is to align yourself with corporate financial interests. It would be relatively cheap to buy life insurance on all death row inmates in America. Once the polices were purchased, let the insurance companies know their insureds are in jeopardy. Watch the best legal talent in the country rush to court to save the lives of prisoners. There would be a certain congruence in having the defenders of tobacco, asbestos, the Dalcon Shield, etc., defending more ordinary murderers.
The editor seems a bit worried about some of the responses to this column.
I should remind him that controversy is not new to these pages. As proof, I submit a letter to Gail Roy Fraities, c/o The Bar Rag, published here some 21 years ago:
You know that through these many years I have supported you and your efforts, and that in doing so, I have often stood alone. So, too, I have been a fan of the articles you have submitted to The Bar Rag as part of the requirement of your creative writing course at Bell Island Community College.
Your last article embarrassed me and went beyond the bounds of good taste that I taught you. I won't read your articles anymore.