August 05, 2005

Judge Nodd

by Ruth

This sleeping judge in Australia retired for medical reasons.

Okay, falling asleep during a rape victim's testimony? Probably not a smart thing to do. But a lot of stuff that goes on in court is just plain boring, so can a judge really be blamed for nodding off every now and again? I suppose falling asleep every day during a seven day trial probably isn't every now and again, though. Yeah, maybe retirement was smartest.

I have a feeling though, that if the judge was in Texas he needn't have retired. Unless judges are held to a higher standard than lawyers, of course. This would make sense, but making sense isn't always necessary in Texas.

August 5, 2005 12:05 AM | TrackBack

I have never experienced a judge falling asleep during a trial. But I have personally experienced judges carrying on conversations with their clerks while a witness was being interrogated. Once, while I was questioning my client to establish his defense in a civil action, the judge (no jury involved) got into an extensive conversation with his clerk. Since the judge did not appear to be paying attention to what I considered crucial testimony, I stopped my questioning. After many seconds that seemed like minutes, the judge asked if I was through with the witness. No, I responded, I was merely politely waiting for him to finish his conversation. The judge was taken aback and eventually ruled against my client. But what was my alternative at the time? If a judge falls asleep, perhaps one of the attorneys can make an objection loudly enough to awaken the judge, who can then ask that the question be repeated. The problem is greater when the judge is also the factfinder; but it is even a problem when there is a jury, as the judge's instructions to the jury and rulings of law should reflect all of the evidence presented, including during his nap. There is no valid boredom excuse. It is the duty of an attorney in such a situation to speak up.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline at August 5, 2005 08:32 AM

If you haven't noticed yet, I'm rarely very serious on this or my personal blog. I get plenty of time to be serious in real life, and there are plenty of other serious people on the net. When I said can you really blame a judge for falling asleep? That wasn't serious. Perhaps I should mark such things with [Warning: cheap attempt at humor ahead] or similar.

I would never seriously suggest that it's okay for a judge to fall asleep in court. I get upset when lawyers fall asleep in court and yet their clients still fail on ineffective assistance of counsel claims.

So for future referene, if you see "by Ruth" underneat a post, you can assume that the post's contents is not meant to be taken seriously.

Posted by: Ruth at August 5, 2005 01:07 PM

I didn't take you seriously on this post. But the subject is serious. Keep in mind that all a judge is is a lawyer who knew a governor (state level) or someone who knew a president (federal level). As the transvestite judge said about Judge Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court, "He puts his robes on the same way I do, but I'm prettier." Are you too young to remember on TV's Laugh In: "Here come de judge, here come de judge"?

But Ruth, I won't make the assumption when I see "by Ruth" that the post's contents are not meant to be taken seriously; rather, I shall leave that to the context, as I construe it. Lawyers do need a sense of humor; after all, we have to deal with sleeping and inattentive judges. Now how about those law profs ... that put you to sleep during class?

Posted by: Shag from Brookline at August 5, 2005 03:46 PM

You know it. You're talking to the runner-up for the Sleeping Beauty section award for my section.

And I may or may not have had a stern talking-to by the law clerks about falling asleep in court this summer. In my defense, I'm not a morning person, hadn't had caffeine, it was during a set of guilty pleas, and it was only for a few seconds at a time. And I stayed awake after the talking-to that may or may not have occurred. So maybe when I said some stuff is plain boring, I was only half-joking there.

And we elect most of our judges in Texas. Which means we don't have to know Governor Hair-Do. This makes me happy, because he's a jerk (no, he's really an asshat, this has nothing to do with politics). And that's me being serious. ;)

Posted by: Ruth at August 5, 2005 05:08 PM

now when a judge falls asleep wouldn't it be just cause for a mistrial or would there be a new trial?

Posted by: lynda at October 5, 2005 07:14 AM
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