Gerry Spence says the following about judges in his book, "O.J. The Last Word," beginning on page 170, "Night after night on the talk shows, I heard criticism being leveled at Judge Ito. But I took a different position, born of years spent enduring the relentless abuse of tyrant judges, from having seen my clients' rights placed in severe jeopardy at the hands of blockheads in robes whose only claim to judicial excellence was their ability to scream and shout and intimidate everyone who came before them. Ask trial lawyers who have been around the block even once, and they will tell you that many judges are mammal eating monsters that feed on lawyers and their cases, trample over justice, and spew their venom randomly over the courtroom because they do not possess the intelligence or judicial temperament to preside over a fair trial.
"Courtroom are frightening places. Nothing grows in a courtroom--no pretty pansies, no little children laughing and playing. A courtroom is a deadly place. People die in courtrooms, killed by words. If you wake up someday in a courtroom and long to tell your story to someone who can hear and understand you, someone who will give a damn, who will give you a just hearing, you will be shocked. You want to tell the jury that you are being railroaded? You aren't allowed to speak. Your lawyer isn't, either. Perhaps he can sputter. He can object. He can bow and scrape before the judge. If he's not too frightened of the despot up there, he can crowd into the half hour, arbitrarily allowed by the judge, an opening statement that should take at least two hours.
"I have seen those judges pace back and forth across that little stage up there, smirking, peering down, hollering, interrupting. I have seen them nail lawyers to podiums like goats tied to a stake, or banish them to counsel table like lepers. Your lawyer can't communicate tied to a stake or banished to a tabletop. I see judge who, the day before they ascended to the bench, couldn't ask the first intelligent question on voir dire, but who, the day after, sat up there as a judge, carrying on a voir dire, carrying on voir dire for the litigants that, if I had conducted it, would have been adjudged as gross malpractice. Often the result is the selection of a jury riddled with prejudice or jurors who are predisposed to convict. I watch judges bullying prospective jurors into saying what the judge wishes them to say. I hear them read instructions to the jury that are critical to justice but that no one, not even the lawyer who submitted the instructions, can understand. I, and every other lawyer who has practiced more than a few years, have endured their intemperance, which so often leads to error and pain and injustice. I see them rule one way one day and another way another day, depending on what they had for breakfast. God help you if you come before such a judge after he has had a bad night under the connubial covers."
Write to your Representative in Congress
U.S. Senate: Committee on the Judiciary
Judicial Hall of Shame
This page was updated on 7 October 2006