Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bizarre, Yes; But Not That Uncommon

Rob Vischer over at Mirror of Justice quips that Judge Larry Seidlin's handling of the Anna Nicole Smith case makes a compelling case for a return to jurisprudential formalism.

Here's a sampling of the reported behavior by Judge Seidlin:

The flamboyant Seidlin, rumored to be coveting his own reality TV show, let the proceedings spin out of control. The judge interjected himself into testimony, talked about his daily routine and wardrobe, and chatted nostalgically about his roots in New York, where he was once a cab driver. He freely gave nicknames such as "Texas," "California" and "Mama" to the people involved in the trial.

As crazy as this stuff is, Judge Seidlin's behavior isn't all that uncommon as far as judges are concerned. Fact of the matter is that a lot of judges, not all of them, are big time ego-manics who treat the courtroom as their little kingdoms where they can do almost anything they want. So when Vischer rhetorically asks if we can agree on the need to return to formalism, my answer would be an enthusiastic "yes!" Problem is, this kind of stuff has been going on for so long there's really nothing to return to.

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