The Feds are an interesting bunch.
You’ve got your State Court Judges who were nominated to the Federal Bench. All in all a very good group of Judges. Then you have your lawyers who were nominated. A mixed bag at best. Some of these Judges are very good, dedicated and hard working. And some of these Judges are just higher priced political hacks.
If one more of these federal hacks threatens to send a US Marshall over to my courtroom to grab an attorney who is in trial before me, I’m going to call their bluff and tell them that I will have the Marshalls arrested by Metro Dade for trespass.
Do these Judges really think their cases are more important than mine? And while they may be appointed for life, do they really want a public showdown on this?
Here’s a common scenario- we have a murder trial that’s gone three weeks instead of the planned two, and I have the defense attorney begging me to call the Federal Judge because they have to try a two day disorderly conduct in a post office case, or some such federal nonsense. Now, if I’m lucky enough to get a former state court Judge on the phone- no problem. But if I get one of these self anointed Kings or Queens of the Legal Profession, then I start hearing about Federal Marshalls and holding attorneys in contempt. If I can just get the right defense attorney to play along- then one day I’m going to call that pompous Ass’s bluff and get the Metro Dade Police to bar the Marshalls at the courthouse. Then I’m going to get a dozen state court judges to appear at the contempt hearing, along with a few former judges as defense attorneys, throw in the Herald and The Daily Business Review- and maybe I can get one of these blowhards to back down from their precious two witness petty theft from a National Ranger Station case in light of my 35 witness death penalty trial.
And people don’t think we day dream from the bench.
The current politically correct thing to say is that “it’s the people’s seat, not my seat.” Hogwash. This is my seat. I went out for it. I fought for it. I risked ruin for it. It’s mine and it will stay mine until they pry it from my cold dead hands. That being said, it’s important to remember I am one election away from sitting in my office and hoping the 2500 dollar check clears so I can pay my rent. I’ve been there- and while I don’t want to go back- I will if I have to.
I’m all for closing the door behind me, and making my seat a merit retention seat. And yet, I know a dozen or more of my colleagues will become completely insufferable if they don’t have the threat of an election to keep their ego in check.
I’ll tell you Rumpole- I re-read my diary to prepare for these little missives I write- there is 80% of material I cannot ever disclose. The massive egos- the moronic statements- the stupidity- the inexperience and just plain meanness that I have seen. And through it all, what I remember most are the decisions my colleagues have made that have caused them anguish. The life and death decisions- those are obviously hard. But I have had colleagues cry in my office over sending someone to jail for thirty days. Those are the great Judges. The ones who never forget for one moment the hardship a case causes everyone. Those Judges, who even after 20 years, still struggle to do the right thing- big case or small. I hope I’m one of those. I really do. Because If I’m not- If somehow without knowing I’ve become a bitter "know it all", well, I will never forgive myself. Because I know better.