A recent story in the ABA online zine called “Video of Angry Jurist Shouting ‘Shut Up’ Gains You Tube Traction” features a rare “Viewer Discretion Advised” courtroom video of a Southern judge screaming at an elderly minister who’s representing himself in a divorce case. The judge accuses the minister of masterminding the publication of a photo of the judge’s house in the local paper.
All you can see of the judge is his jabbing index finger, but turn down the sound because he does an earsplitting shout into the mic, “MAH HOME HAS BEEN VANDALIZED FOUR TIMES BEFORE AND AH’M HOLDING YEW PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE! MAH HOME! MAH WAHF! MAH FAMILY! AH WILL PERSONALLY SEE TO IT THAT YEW NEVER SEE A FREE DAY OF YOUR LIFE! YOU’RE GOING TO JAIL! ” and so on, for several long, loud minutes.
The minister, a grey, soft-spoken man with his court papers in a plastic shopping bag, doesn’t exactly fit the image of a rock-throwing, graffiti-spraying vandal and you wonder why, if he’s vandalized the judge’s house four times before, the judge has waited until now to bring it up. Meanwhile, the divorce lawyer for the wife sits coolly primping her hair throughout the tinpot tyrant’s tirade. When the judge finally winds down, the lawyer moves in for the kill, rattling off a list of fees and expenses. The judge gleefully piles them onto the minister without any silly formalities about documentation, and rather unnecessarily reminds the lawyer not to forget her own fee.
The minister tries to explain that it’s illegal to sell the marital home because it has termites and mold. The judge opines, “SHUT UP! I DIDN’T ASK YOU TO SPEAK! ARE YOU DEAF? HUH?” and says he’ll direct the District Attorney to file criminal charges.
The readers’ comments fly thick and fast:
WarStory: Hell, I practice in front of much worse judges every day. Good old Judge Troutwater used to set pit bulls on lawyers who came in late. Yessiree, Family Law ain’t for sissies.
SuzieQ: The judge was fair and impartial. It was the minister who was disruptive with that rattling shopping bag.
Tallulah: A minister getting divorced! What would Jesus do?
LaVonne: He’d call 1-800-DIVORCE. We provide high quality representation for reasonable fees.
WarStory: LaVonne is committing champerty and barratry. Otherwise known as ambulance chasing.
LaVonne: You hush your mouth, Earl. I saw you crying in court after Judge Magnolia said your tie was ugly.
Clem: The minister should call us at 1-800-TERMITE. We also do marriage counseling and mold elimination.
SamSpade: Obviously it was the divorce lawyer who put the photo of the judge’s house in the paper. She knew he’d blame the minister and award her client all that money.
Miss Marple: Not so. It was the judge’s wife trying to give her husband a heart attack. Arsenic in his morning coffee just wasn’t doing the trick.
BillyBob: Y’all are missing the point. All us folks here in Copperhead Junction know where the judge lives. He’s sore because the photo in the paper shows his front lawn with that old Chevy up on blocks.
Pecksniff: The judge is going to tell the DA to bring criminal charges? You mean they’re two different people?
Vernon: You Northern carpetbaggers quit disrespecting the South, hear? Our local DA is a member of the executive branch. That’s completely separate from the judicial branch her daddy belongs to.