August 13, 2009 11:34AM

Arrogant Judges

Item:  Judge sends a man to jail for yawning in court.   A six month jail sentence, if you can believe it.  The Cambridge arrest of the Harvard professor was an example of how the police can abuse their power by arresting people for annoying or obnoxious conduct (not real crimes!). 

This is an example of how judges abuse their power in a similar fashion.  Judges do need to maintain order in court, but this judge did not order the man to leave and did not mete out a fine.  If judges are  going to go so far as to jail a spectator, the prisoner ought to be released (in almost all cases) on his/her own recognizance, and the case should be decided by a jury, not the judge (who is now a witness). 

Item:  Judge says his conduct — deflating the tires of someone's vehicle — wasn't a "big deal."  Compared to what sir?  A person who smokes a  marijuana cigarette in her home to alleviate back pain?  Seems to me that we're lucky this judge was found out on this.  Not the type of thing we should expect or tolerate from a judge (to say the least).

But there is some good news today: When a local cop was speeding through stop signs and red lights without using a siren or flashing lights, and then broadsided a car,  killing Ashley McIntosh, the officer tried to argue that she was immune from a lawsuit because she was on official state business.  Judge Terrence Ney ruled that the cop's belief that she was acting under special emergency circumstances did not make it so.   This judge understands that in a free society, state agents do not have carte blanche.  Good judging in action.