"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Judges as advocates for causes in their own courtrooms: a novelist Kentucky #JudgeTomPhilpot promotes marriage as "Biblical analogy for God's love" while acting out his novel in the courtroom

Here is a judge, a Kentucky judge Tim Philpot who could not abstain from using court proceedings in front of him to impose upon people his personal and religious views - and do it for his own financial profit, in addition to his judicial salary.

Judge Tom Philpot wanted to put his experiences as a judge into a book.

He first reportedly wanted to share his knowledge of what is going on in divorce courts by writing a "serious scholarly about marriage"  - but then found it to be "just too complicated".

When a judge finds writing a "serious scholarly book" on the subject he is supposed to be an expert in "too complicated" - an issue of his competency already arises.

But, what the judge did is simply beyond bizarre - he wrote a novel in lieu of a "serious scholarly book", invented procedures in that novel, took his invented procedures from the novel into his courtroom, and is acting out those procedures upon litigants.

Judge Philpot's "pro marriage" novel promoting marriage as a "Biblical analogy of God's love" is trading for $20 at the website

Since Judge Philpot admits that he is "pro marriage" and that he wrote the novel in lieu of a "serious scholarly" book on divorce, because writing a "serious scholarly book" was "just too complicated", it is safe to assume that judge Philpot put his own personal views into the book.

And that is already a problem for litigants who must now think whether to come with their divorces in front of a "pro marriage" judge, and whether to come with their custody cases of children born out of wedlock in front of a pro marriage judge.

Judge Philpot also wrote in his book about the alleged bad consequences of marriages broken up - such as children born out of wedlock.  It is, of course, an insult to any parents who consciously made their decision not to marry and to stay together without marriage, having children together.  This judge considers their relationship, and children born of such a relationship a "bad consequence" of the broken institution of marriage - and publicly expresses that view in a book.

And that is a big issue for parents of children born out of wedlock appearing in front of Judge Philpot in custody, or child neglect proceedings where such parents never planned to marry in the first place - because there is a clear possibility that Judge Philpot may rule adversely in their cases simply because they were not married when they gave birth to a child.

Moreover, in his book Judge Philpot promoted his religious views - he "writes about marriage as the Biblical analogy for God’s love", so when he is promoting marriage in his courtroom, he is promoting also his religious views on that issue.

Unfortunately, Judge Philpot did not stop at writing a novel in lieu of a "serious scholarly book" because writing "serious scholarly" books is "just too complicated" and putting in his novel his personal views about the vices of having children born out of wedlock and the virtues of marriage "as the Biblical analogy for God's love".

Judge Philpot started to also act out his novel's plot in his courtroom, because the judge "decided if I was going to write about a crazy judge, I had to act a little crazy myself".

Well, at least, Judge Philpot recognizes that he was acting "crazy [him]self".

The issue that concerned the judge the most was - was marriages that people wanted to dissolve "irretrievably broken" enough to actually dissolve those marriages.

In other words, can couples be forced to stay married if one of the spouses wants out?

Judge "Philpot said he has recently been conducting short, informal Irretrievably Broken Hearings in divorce cases assigned to him that involve children. When a couple’s testimony makes him think there is a chance for reconciliation, he asks them to attend a “discernment counseling” session to better think through their decisions.

Philpot said it is too soon to say if the process has stopped any divorces. Because he is acting within the 60-day waiting period allowed by Kentucky law, there is nothing couples who object or their attorneys can do but grumble privately."

Now, one thing is to share custody of the children.

Quite another is to be coerced or forced to stay in an intimate relationship with a person you don't want to stay in that relationship with - for a variety of personal reasons.

It is apparent that the judge does not make a distinction between these two issues.

"Philpot said it is too soon to say if the process has stopped any divorces. Because he is acting within the 60-day waiting period allowed by Kentucky law, there is nothing couples who object or their attorneys can do but grumble privately" - so, the judge uses the guise of the 60-day "waiting period" to force his religious views upon parties in divorce proceedings, so "there is nothing couples who object or their attorneys can do but grumble privately".

A great approach by a judge, isn't it?

Philpot actually conducted an off-the-record "Irretrievably Broken hearing", acting out his novel, in front of a newspaper reporter trying to coerce a couple seeking an uncontested divorce to reconcile.

And, after that off-the-record "acting out the judge's novel" hearing, the judge ordered the couple to attend a "discernment counseling session".

Again, these people wanted out of their marriage, they wanted an uncontested divorce, and that's why they came before the judge.

Wanting a divorce is not good grounds to order people into counseling of any kind.  They obviously could do that before they came to court.

It is also obvious that they were going to amicably share custody of their children, but that does not mean that anybody, including a judge, has the power or right to invade their privacy and force them to stay together in an intimate relationship if they do not want to.

I also resent the fact that Judge Philpot openly advertises his proselityzing in the courtroom by inviting a reporter, telling him about his novel, about marriage as the "Biblical analogy of God's love" and by even demonstrating his obviously illegal off-the-record "Irretrievably Broken hearing" spawned not by the law, but by the judge's novel.

Consider that litigants and attorneys will probably be afraid to even raise the issue of judicial misconduct in this case, and of judges imposing his own personal views, including his religious views, on the divorcing couples.

Yet, what Judge Philpot is doing - is judicial misconduct.  Whatever Judge Philpot's intentions are, he is imposing his personal views, including his religious views, upon people in lieu of the law of the State of Kentucky, and makes it harder, longer and more expensive for people to divorce - court-ordered counseling does not come free.

It is also disgusting that the judge uses his taxpayer-paid job to spawn books, and then uses courtroom proceedings and live people as guinea pigs to advertise that book and boost his sales.

I wonder if the judge also gets kickbacks from the "discernment counselors" where he sends the divorcing couples.  

Judge Philpot already lack integrity enough to use his position not only to impose his personal, and religious, views upon litigants in his courtroom, but to use his courtroom proceedings as a source of additional profit, so I would not put it beyond such a judge to get a little more profit by sharing in the proceeds of discernment counselors.

I will follow the story whether Judge Philpot will be disciplined for his shenanigans in the courtroom.

When a judge starts to use the courtroom as a playroom and as a religious pulpit, acting out procedures he invented in novels, because writing a scholarly treatise in the subject he is supposed to be an expert in is "just too complicated" for him - he should be taken off that bench immediately.

Judge Philpot is right.

It is not just a judge acting as an advocate.

It is not just a judge acting as a proselytizer of his religious beliefs in the courtroom.

It is not just a judge deriving additional financial benefit from court proceedings and using litigants as captive actors to advertise his book.

It is simply crazy.

It is like reality-TV for this judge to get noticed and advertised for his book - there is no justice in this courtroom where a judge simply acts out scenes out of his book for his own financial benefit and seeks to create new scenarios he can write about.

It is like a sneak-preview for reporters - see, this off-record "Irretrievably Broken hearing" will be part of my next book.



  1. Excellent analysis - I have some observations on Judge Philpot myself -

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