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September 27, 2018


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Mark Regan

Then there's the judge as defendant (from the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sequence):

Clerk: Call the next defendant! (the court applauds the judge who bows and sits; the whole mood changes) Call the next defendant. The Honourable Mr Justice Kilbraken. (a very elderly judge in full robes comes into the dock) If I may charge you m'lud, you are charged m'lud that on the fourteenth day of June 1970, at the Central Criminal Court, you did commit acts likely to cause a breach of the peace. How plead you m'lud, guilty or not guilty?

Judge Kilbraken (Terry Jones): Not guilty. Case not proven. Court adjourned.

(He hits the dock. Everyone gets up and starts walking out talking to each other.)

Judge: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. (they all stop, go back and sit down again) No, you're in the dock, m'lud.

Judge Kilbraken: I'm a judge, m'lud.

Judge: So am I, m'lud, so watch it.

Judge Kilbraken: Hah! Call this a court?

All: Call this a court. Call this a court. Call this a court.

Judge: Shut up. Right now get on with the spiel.

Ray McKoski

These ethics opinions may offer a start: ABA Opinion 95-391 (cited in People v. Perez, 946 N.Y.S.2d 835 note 31 (2012)); United States Committee on Codes of Conduct Advisory Opinion No. 72; and Ohio Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline Opinion 2013-3. Also, its not a Southern thing. Illinois's judicial ethics advisory committee only answers questions from judges and judicial candidates.

Rick Underwood

I did find Trading on Titles

6 No. 4 Prof. Law. 14

It refers to an amendment to the Delaware Code of Judicial Condut that supposedly says:

"In court proceedings, judges or former judges participating as litigants or counsel shoud not be called by their current or former titles or treated with greater familiarity or deference than other participants."

Bernie Burk

Steve Lubet and I had some back-and-forth on this subject in this space a while back. Our focus was not on the positive law but on the normative and policy underpinnings for any rule, and how they should influence the shape of the rule. Commenters did bring up a little positive law. You can find my post, with reference to Steve's, here:


Bill Turnier

And then there is Mark Judge, of recent notoriety, who does not want to be called on for anything.

Brett Kavanaugh Macho Macho Man Association of America

I think a good lawyer can turn this around..."So, you say you are a former Judge? What are you implying here? You have more credibility than other witnesses? You are better? Wink, Wink, Wink.... This is a blatant attempt by the Plaintiff to somehow gain an advantage where none exists. That's how they play, folks.

Eric Rasmusen

Regarding Mark Judge--- there must be some sleazeball expert witness who's changed his name to Judge. "Mr. Judge, what is your unbiased opinion on whether the patient's taking of Bufferin caused his lung cancer?

Eric Rasmusen

Using former titles is *always* bad and deceptive, and undemocratic. We should only call Ambassadors "Ambassador" and only Presidents "President". The rectification of names.

They call me "The Maestro" (usual handle: concerned_citizen)

I'm trying to remember in which forum I participated in a vigorous discussion of former judges bitterly clinging to and insisting on being addressed by their glory-year titles. I don't think it was in any of the three of Bernie's or Steve's prior good posts on the subject.

Anyway, from my lawyer's point of view, use of a former "judge" title (or even if a current title, no matter) by a witness for a litigant should be viewed as potentially prejudicial in jury trials, given the chance the title may cause members of the jury to lend undue credence to that testimony. I wouldn't object in a bench trial, though (see Mark's skit).

Then again, I also dislike fact witnesses with academic degrees (PhD) who insist on being called "Doctor". And perhaps contradictorily, I don't care about expert witnesses being called "Doctor". But then, there is always a balance there, with dueling experts on each side.

They call me "The Maestro" (usual handle: concerned_citizen)

P.S. I also don't think it's limited to the Southern US.

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