We would like to think that the men and women who administer justice are more intelligent, rational, calm and responsible than the rest of us. We would be wrong. Judges are human beings, too, and when they get bored or angry, they become lunatics just like everyone else.
Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for us, their day of not giving a fuck at work is recorded forever in the public record.
#6. Party On Plaintiff, Party On Defendant
Two things happened in 1992 that lead to this most excellent of judicial opinions -- a boat exploded in a marina in Florida, setting other boats on fire, and Wayne's World came out in theaters.
Resulting Wayne and Garth impersonations caused the national murder rate to triple.
The presiding and awesomely named Judge Paine was apparently a big fan, as his remand of this appeal was full of more Mike Myers catch phrases than a middle school talent show. His short opinion was separated into four paragraphs with the following titles:
- "Hurling Chunks"
- "Like a Winged Monkey Flying Out of the Ashes"
- "A Schwing and a Miss"
Surely you're thinking to yourself "No way!"
His enthusiastic disregard for professional legal conduct aside, Judge Paine's implementation of the dialogue is just plain baffling ("like a winged monkey flying out of the ashes" does not appear once in Wayne's World and seems more like something a hobo would say before playing a harmonica with his asshole). His ultimate ruling against the appeal of Prime Time Charters Inc. (owners of the exploding boat) concludes with the following:
"Prime Time's removal ... is a defect deemed "way" improvident ... Prime Time's most bogus attempt at removal is "not worthy" and the Defendants must "party on" in state court."
*Sigh* Go ahead, you deserve it.
Just to make it clear, there is no known connection between the case at hand and Wayne's World. No one involved in the case was named Wayne, there was no party on any of the boats and there were no gloriously inexplicable Meatloaf cameos -- nothing at all that would prompt Judge Paine to sprinkle his ruling with references to the movie. He presumably saw it the night before and was profoundly impacted, along with a nation of 14-year-olds. We're still searching the records for his next case after he saw Austin Powers.
We know it's there. It has to be there.
But it's not like his catch-phrase-filled document actually affected the ruling at all. Unlike ...
#5. Phone Rings, Judge Loses Mind
Judge Robert M. Restaino was overseeing hearings in a domestic violence program where defendants are judged as to whether they should be put in jail or given probation with a rehabilitation program. Being short on prison space, the latter option is almost always chosen. But one day, with a courtroom full of convicted domestic abusers, somebody's cellphone went off. Judge Restaino proceeded to go apeshit, demanding:
".. .bring it to me now or everybody could take a week in jail and please don't tell me I'm the only one that heard that .... Everyone is going to jail; every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. If anybody believes I'm kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going."
Judge Robert M. Restaino, just before sprouting horns and causing an explosion with his mind.
None of the men came forward. The proceedings continued, and as each man took the stand to answer questions about the progress of his treatment program, the judge also asked him about the cellphone. No one would fess up, so the judge ruled against them each time. For one defendant after another, Restiano revoked his release and sent him off to jail, saying:
"Ultimately when you go back there to be booked, you got to surrender what you got on you. One way or another we're going to get our hands on something."
"Don't worry, citizens, you're safe now."
Yes, you're not allowed a cellphone in jail, so by sending everyone to jail, Restaino was sure to get the offending phone. And so he sentenced them, by the dozen.
Three defendants told the judge that their jobs would be at risk if they were incarcerated. One defendant said he was supposed to be in school. Another said that he had a doctor's appointment later that might result in surgery, and yet another claimed that his mother was actually having surgery. One defendant, with previously exemplary behavior in the program, begged the judge to postpone his jailing until the following week so he could make a scheduled meeting to see his little girl. Every single one of these people, a total of 46 in all, was handcuffed and taken to the County Jail.
The guilty party was never discovered, and most of the jailed men were released the following week by a more rational judge. Still, Judge Restaino had solidified his reputation as a man who would not take one ounce of shit from a noisy cellphone.
Even if it did cost him his job.
#4. Rock-Paper-Scissors for Justice
Via ABC News
Most witness testimony doesn't happen in a dramatic confrontation on the witness stand -- it's done months before trial, in some neutral location with both lawyers present. But as you can imagine, picking the "neutral" location can be a contentious issue, as with everything else in a lawsuit.
The lawyers are supposed to work this out among themselves, but in the case of Avista Management v. Wausau Underwriters Insurance, they couldn't agree, so they asked the court to pick one for them. That's an easy way to piss off a judge, since this is supposed to be routine. It's basically like a couple of employees each refusing to put paper in the copier because they insist it's the other one's turn, and demanding the boss decide.
Unfortunately, their boss is a world-class smartass.
Judge Gregory A. Presnell, eager to demonstrate just how much of his fucking time they were wasting, ordered that the lawyers:
"... shall meet on the front steps of the Courthouse .... At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of 'rock, paper, scissors.' The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11-12, 2006."
"The loser shall eat one (1) handful of my shit."
Perhaps they were embarrassed by the order, or perhaps they were both unsure of their skills as rock-paper-scissors combatants, but the two lawyers quickly decided upon a suitable location, making the game unnecessary. However, they still had to formally ask the judge to call the game off, as his little joke was now an official order. Had they not gone through with the game, they both could have been held in contempt of court and, if the judge felt like it, tossed in jail.
"We're about to play a little game I like to call rock-paper-dick."