The NY Law Journal is a daily source of laughs if you know where to look. Anything by or about judges is sure to contain nuggets of hilarity, such as Justice Saxe of the Appellate Division advising new judges not to bother reading briefs and rely on the bench memos instead (NYLJ 5/13/2009), or recently declaring, “Even though I torture them, I love the lawyers” (NYLJ 1/9/2013). Hahahahahaha, what a card. Even though you don’t read our briefs, we love you too.
But for the best of deadpan humor, nothing beats the Advice to Judges column appearing opposite Mohan’s Custom Tailor for Giants, where a composite “Dear Abby” calling itself the Judicial Ethics Committee provides tactful but stern guidance to perplexed jurists wandering as in a maze.
In the latest installment, a judge who does criminal cases asks if it’s okay to preside over a mock trial competition for prosecutors (NYLJ 1/9/2013). The Ethics Committee says nix, fussing that playing to this “one-sided” audience might give the appearance of providing “partisan advice.” We think that’s unreasonable. Why should judges be held to higher standards in a “mock” trial than in a “real” trial?
The Committee then lists the audiences that they’ve said it’s okay for judges to lecture to, for example, “real estate managers” and “a local school district’s bus drivers.” Judges can also give “forensic science and crime scene processing training” to cops, teach fire police officers about their duties, and lecture on Vehicle and Traffic Law to “aspiring police officers.”
Scene: Elk’s Club Lodge of Oseobego Falls, NY.
Chairman: Our esteemed speaker tonight is none other than Justice Napoleon Winknudge of Oseobego Falls Village Court. He’ll be addressing us on how to drive a schoolbus, gather crime scene evidence, get a kitten down from a tree and sell off that termite-infested barn to an Arts Foundation. We look forward to a most instructive evening.
Audience of schoolbus drivers, real estate managers, crime scene detectives and aspiring fire cops: Hear, hear!
Chairman: I understand, Judge, that you can’t talk about pending cases?
Justice Winknudge: Hell, I don’t even do that in court.
Chairman: And you can’t say anything one-sided that looks like you’re giving partisan advice?
Judge Winknudge: That’s right. I love you even though I torture you (takes off robe, revealing black leather outfit).
Chairman: Heh, heh. Now you’re cooking with gas. (Loud pounding at the door). What’s that?
Voice: Open up! It’s the Judicial Ethics Committee!
Chairman: Oh, no, not again! I thought we had everything fixed.
Judge Winknudge: Must have been a leak to the Law Journal.
(Everyone flees out the back).